Fullness of Life (week 8, Back to Basics series)

The video for this session can be watched at the bottom of this page.

This is our 8th week on our “back to basics” journey.  If you’ve been following along you will know we have:

  1. Looked into who Jesus was and is – the Son of God; understood as such because he uniquely demonstrated God’s authority.
  2. At what Jesus achieved dying on that cross – that he took the sins of the world upon himself, setting us free from the power of sin.
  3. We had a look at how we might read and understand the Bible.
  4. We looked at the #1 misunderstanding about Christianity – we do not earn being right with God. That comes because of Jesus alone.
  5. We looked at the ABCD of faith – acknowledging that we are sinners; believing that Jesus is the solution to our problem of sin; counting the cost because this will affect every part of our lives, and if ABC then Deciding to say yes or no to Jesus.
  6. We asked what comes after saying ‘yes’ to Jesus. The answer was “the gift of the Holy Spirit”. But we need to invite the Holy Spirit into every part of our lives, including the nasty, smelly bits.  A big part of our journey is having brokenness from the past healed and set right in us.
  7. Last week we considered how God guides us – speaking to us in words, dreams or visions, inner compulsions, words or advice from other followers of Jesus, alignment of circumstances, our conscience, and other ways. Very important, usually less than 100% clear, and impossible to defend to others.

This week, on Palm Sunday, one week out from Easter, we ask the summary question, how does Jesus’ purpose of ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10) actually work in practice.

Some of the answer is experimental and highly variable – God deals with each of us as ourselves, with our own peculiarities, good and bad.  Other parts of the answer are solid and common to us all.

First, it is a very big deal to be freed from the power of sin.  Your destiny is life with God, and nothing of this world can take that away from you.  It is a great thing to be free, and almost equally great thing to know you are free.  Jesus on the cross sets you free; the Holy Spirit within you is testimony that this is true.  Believe it, and you can life as one set free from the power of sin.

Secondly, it is a great thing to be in a living, loving relationship with God, and an almost equally great thing to know it is true.  Your saying ‘yes’ to Jesus seals the relationship – God has been waiting, and now you have come.  Again, the Holy Spirit within you is proof positive of this relationship with God.

Thirdly, it is a great thing to be set free from the poison of life’s internal injuries.  This takes time, and the Holy Spirit, and very often your cooperation, for these to be dealt with.  But it is oh so wonderful when it is done.

These three wonderful things we have already discussed, but it sounds like an annoying infomercial for me to say it, but I will anyway … “but wait, there’s more!”

What we have discussed so far is largely about restoring that which has been lost – sin resulting in estrangement with God, and damage from painful events of life.

But God wants to do more in you than restore what is lost – God wants to grow godliness in you and make you more like Jesus.

Some of this is character development – growing a godly character in you, however you may have been so far in life.  This is often referred to as “Fruit of the Spirit”, and usually taught from Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

This is a lifetime development, and it too is a glorious thing.  This is not your work or striving, this is what God will produce in you just because you are attached to the Holy Spirit.  So again don’t stress, God does this.

Then there are those particular things to which God calls you in life – particular projects and purposes, sometimes for the rest of your life, other times for a season only.  These things God first prepares you, very often growing a passion within you, then pointing you in the direction and saying “let’s go do this.”  And so we get to make a god-centred contribution, the value of which is eternal because it’s locked up in God.

And there are also those spiritual gifts, delivered to us by the Holy Spirit.  Many are perfectly natural and others beyond what is natural, but all have their origins in God.

Some build on our natural wiring, while others are quite at odds with our natural state – a perfect example is me speaking in front of people – ever.

But by these gifts we are empowered by God to make a contribution we could never have made on our own.

But the thing I want to stress to you today is this – every one of these elements of the life wants you to have, has its origin with God, not you.  Therefore it isn’t about you measuring up, whether you think you do, or whether you think you don’t.  Jesus measures up, therefore God brings these things to you if you say ‘yes’ to Jesus.

Jesus said, “my yolk is easy and my burden light.”  How can that be when life is so complex, and there is so much to be done for God in this world?  Because power for the journey comes from God.

Hence the paradox in our previous hymn – “make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free.”  The more deeply our lives are centred in God, the greater will be our trust, and the less the weight of life will crush us.

In the sentiments of St. Paul, whether I live or die is of no consequence to me, because whether I live or die I belong to God.  God is up to the task either way, and either way I am content.

In that mind and heart, I can journey through life taking up what God sets before me, and letting go of things as God directs me.  I can get things right or wrong, and God is still with me.  My worth is locked up in God, and I have been valued according to Jesus.

This is the essence of what I understand to be “life in all its fullness” that Jesus brings.  I pray that you will unwrap this gift in all its glory, to the end of your days on this earth.

Video of week 8 of Back to Basics – Fullness of Life – runs 22:09.

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