By James L. Morrisson
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10 New King James Version).
God is a God of abundance, of overflowing. He gives us all that we need, and much more.
He has given mankind the earth to live in. He has provided air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, a climate we can survive in, raw materials from which to make a wealth of structures and machines, intelligence to be able to make them, etc. He has given us great beauty to enjoy - mountains, lakes, rivers, plains, oceans; a profuse variety of plants (from majestic trees to tiny wildflowers) and animals (land animals, birds, fish, insects, etc), with beautiful colors and movements, sweet-smelling odors, delightful textures, beautiful sounds. He has given us eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, tongues to taste and skin to feel with. He has given us hearts to love him and each other, and spirits that can be united with his spirit. He has shown himself in all these things so that all men should be able to see his eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20).
As we consider the extraordinary and delicate balance of the earth's orbit around the sun and the tilt of its axis, the remarkable chemical balances of our earth's structure and atmosphere, and the way in which our bodies are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), we can be thankful that God has created just the right conditions for mankind to survive and prosper.
It is in his dealings with those who believe in him and his son Jesus Christ, who have become his adopted sons and daughters (John 1:12-13; Romans 8:17, 23), that God shows most fully the extraordinary bounty of his gifts and provision. In his Scriptures he has given us "very great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). We need to believe those promises, to be like Abraham who, in the face of circumstances that seemed impossible, believed the promise of God because he "considered him faithful who had made the promise" (Hebrews 11:11). What follows is just a sampling of the extraordinary promises God has made to those who believe. (Scripture quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.)
"If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" and "we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15). His plans for us are to prosper us and to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and his plans will not be thwarted (Job 42:1, Isaiah 14:27, 55:11). "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28). We are in a win-win situation. Whatever happens to us, God uses for our good.
God is our provider. He will "meet all your needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). He knows that we need food, drink and clothing, and he tells us not to worry about these. "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). We can cast all our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). God wants us to prosper, but he does not want us to serve him out of greed. If our primary motive for giving and serving is in order to get things from God, then we really are not giving at all. It is just an attempt to manipulate God. The Bible warns us of the temptation of riches (1 Timothy 6:9-10; Matthew 19:23-24). He is more concerned with our eternal life and our character than he is with building up our material possessions. He has promised to provide for our needs, not our wants, and he tells us to learn to be content with our situation, whatever it may be (see 1 Timothy 6:6; Philippians 4:11-12).
empowers us. Paul speaks of his "incomparably great power for us
who believe" (Ephesians 1:19). He declares, "I can do everything
through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13). Because of
God's mighty power working within us "we are more than conquerors"
(Romans 8:37). "Everyone born of God overcomes the world" (1
One of the things God has empowered us to do is to become "like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). We are to be "renewed in knowledge in the image of [our] Creator" (Colossians 3:10). As we gaze upon the Lord's glory we are "being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18). God's people will be built up until we attain "to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). We can "participate in the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). Nothing is lacking in these promises. We shall attain to "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" And God promises that when he begins a good work in us he will complete it (Philippians 1:6).
God "is able to save completely those who come to him" (Hebrews 7:25). He is able to keep our whole spirit, soul and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23) He will present us "holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (Colossians 1:22). He is "able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy" (Jude 24). Again, there is nothing lacking. He does it all.
Jesus has told us that "In this earth you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). We will encounter difficulties, and sometimes severe testing. But by God's strength working in us we will prevail if we persevere. The early Christians faced persecution and martyrdom, as do Christians in many parts of the world today. In the face of heavy persecution the church has grown mightily in Russia, China and elsewhere. Scripture tells us to see these tests and difficulties as serving to teach us, strengthen us and build our character (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7; Romans 5:3-5). So even in the midst of great trials we can see that God is working for our good.
God has allowed satan to exist in the world. But he has given us power to prevail over him. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor [weaponry] of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Ephesians 6:10-11). God has given us weapons to fight with that have "divine power" (2 Corinthians 10:4). He has given us "authority ...to overcome all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19). He has promised that, if we are excellent in what is good and innocent of evil, "the God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet" (Romans 16:19). In this area also, he has given us everything we need.
God gives "generously to all without finding fault" (James 1:5). His gifts to believers overflow with abundance. We see this expressed in many passages in Scripture. God tells us to tithe and then says, "Test me in this...and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (Malachi 3:10). God will "pour out [his] Spirit on all people" (Joel 2:28)."Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap" (Luke 6:38). The gift of God's grace and salvation overflows (Romans 5:15, 17). We "overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). Our joy overflows (Philippians 1:26). Our love overflows (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Our cup overflows (Psalm 23:5). God has "lavished" on us the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:8). God "richly blesses all who call on him" (Romans 10:12). Paul prays that we can be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
Paul prayed that we may be able to "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). He wants us to know it and yet it is more than we can ever know. If we present our requests to God with prayer and thanksgiving, "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding" will guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). God's peace goes beyond anything we can understand or explain. The abundance God has for us is beyond anything else we have ever experienced. Thus Paul speaks of God's "incomparably great power for us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19) and the "incomparable riches of his grace" (Ephesians 2:7). God is "able to do immeasurably more ["exceedingly abundantly" KJV] than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20).
When Paul says that now we see imperfectly and only in part (1 Corinthians 13:12) part of what he means, I suggest, is that God has so much more for us than we can possibly know or imagine. We can only trust in the goodness and the abundant love of a God who is mighty beyond our imagining.
We must believe. The promises referred to in the two preceding sections were made to believers; most of them were made, either by Jesus to his disciples, or by Paul and others in letters written to Christian believers. We must not only have a saving faith in God and his son Jesus Christ; we must also believe in the promises of God. James warns us that, when we pray, we should pray in faith; "he who doubts...should not think he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:6-7). The author of Hebrews commends Abraham, who believed a promise that seemed impossible of fulfillment, "because he considered him faithful who had made the promise" (Hebrews 11:11). We must believe that "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37), and "everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23).
We need to be thankful, to "forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103:2), to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). How can we expect God to bless us with new gifts if we are not thankful for what we have already received?
We may need to exert considerable effort, to persevere, to press in. Jesus told us that "the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matthew 11:12). Scripture admonishes us to "make every effort" (Hebrews 12:14), "run with perseverance" (Hebrews 12:1), "strain" and "press on" (Philippians 3:12-14), "struggle" (Ephesians 6:12), "resist the devil" (James 4:7), "always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1), "watch and pray" (Matthew 26:41), "be...alert" (1 Peter 5:8), stand "firm to the end" (Matthew 24:13). It gives examples of some who persevered against serious obstacles: the woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48), the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), the blind men (Matthew 20:29-34); and Jacob (Genesis 32:24-32). Scripture tells us that we will find God when we seek him "with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).
We must allow God to change us. We must be willing to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2), to put off the old self and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24), to become "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). We must "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1). We must "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must choose to live in accordance with the Spirit and not in accordance with the sinful nature (Romans 8:5-11; see also Romans 6:13).
To follow Christ has a cost, but the cost is far less than the treasures we receive!
2002 by James