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PATHWAY OF PEACE

Walking in God’s Abundant Life

By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer


CBN.com – Jesus said in John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Do you want to experience His abundant life? Do you want to say, "Praise Jesus, I am doing great!" and mean it when others stop to ask you in the hallway at work?

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:12 that he learned to be content in every circumstance, whether rich or poor.

What's the secret?

I believe that if we avoid three pitfalls along the path of life, we will be enabled with God's grace to live life abundantly right now.

First, you can't live in the past.

God says that we are new creations. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). We serve "The Great I Am," not the "Great I Was." God is a God who lives in our day to day, granting us new mercies every morning.

If God is all about newness, why do we as humans keep finding ourselves stuck in our past? Sometimes that’s because our past is our familiar frame of reference, and what is familiar is comfortable and comforting to us. What is out there ahead, though potentially wonderful, is unseen, unknown, untouched. And that scares us. Sometimes we prefer to rustle up images of the “good old days” rather than stepping out in faith and creating better days ahead.

But living in the past has major drawbacks. First, when we live in the past, we quickly become dissatisfied with our current lives. Instead of being thankful in all things, we fuss, wishing for what we used to have. And wishing for what used to be can be a dangerous thing. Just look at the Israelites in the Bible. They got miraculously delivered out of Egypt, but then spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness instead of enjoying the Promised Land because their complaining, short-sighted mindset held them back from God’s blessings.

When we live in the past, we also can't see God's goodness in our midst. Naomi exclaimed upon her return to Bethlehem, "I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty" (Ruth 1:21). Naomi failed to see that though she had lost her two beloved sons, she had gained the undying loyalty of a daughter-in-law, Ruth, who chose willingly to become Naomi’s friend in need. Naomi wasn’t “empty,” as she pitifully proclaimed. The truth was God had brought Naomi a wonderful companion during her time of grief, but Naomi could only see a bleak future devoid of meaning because she could not see beyond how things used to be. How often we do this when life doesn’t turn out as we expected it to! We forget the blessings along the way.

Second, it isn't about your timetable.

Have you been waiting for God to give you something that it seems everyone else has? -- a husband, a baby, a new car, a promotion, a recognized, self-supporting ministry? You feel like you have been waiting long enough and now you deserve to get what God has freely bestowed on everyone else but you.

But who says that God has to do things according to your timetable? God has His timetable. As His children, we have inherited His day planner.

True, His ways are not our ways, but if we ask for bread, will He give us a stone? If we ask for fish, will He give us a serpent (Luke 11:11)? No. God gives good things to those who ask -- it's just that He might not give them right away.

And according to God's timing, it was perfect that Abraham's wife Sarah had a baby in her old age, that Lazarus would be healed only after he had died and was dead for three days, and that Jesus -- the very Son of God -- spent 30 years learning and only about three years in ministry.

When we rest in God's timetable, we are not bound by our own self-impinging deadlines or influenced by unrealistic expectations of our society or our peers. We can enjoy each moment of life without stressing out that it has all passed us by. We can go through life being joyful when others succeed because we know that God hasn't forgotten our desires and dreams.

In His perfect timing, He will answer our prayers as we delight in Him, for it says in God’s Word, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

And last, you must never let fear rule.

God knows that we as humans can get pretty wound up about our day-to-day living, which is why there are so many verses in the Scriptures that proclaim in essence, “Fear not!” The Bible tells us to let the peace of God reign in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). God says that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, of power, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

At various junctures in our lives, we can let our hearts become troubled, especially when our safety net has been threatened – financial challenges, marital discord, job insecurities, health issues, changing living situations, dreams becoming seemingly more elusive than ever. We have a tendency of doing what Peter did when he stepped out of the boat – we focus on the deep waters beneath us instead of the awesome provision of Jesus Christ straight ahead and we start sinking!

We forget that our Advocate, Jesus, is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Even though we might not see it in the turbulent times of our lives, we have to remember that God is in control. He will keep us from falling (Jude 1:24). He will not give us more than we can bear.

When we live one day at a time, understanding that God sets our course, and we let His peace rule in our hearts, the abundant life is ours, no matter what our age, rank, circumstance, hang-ups, or failures.

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