Series: An Abundant Life in Jesus (Pt 2)
Episode: The Blessing of Then and There
Okay, so Jesus promised us an abundant life. And so often we’re head down, pedalling so hard, we lose sight of the big picture. If there is a heaven and there is a hell and eternity to go with them, then the reality of heaven and hell is infinitely bigger than the reality of here and now. What about life then and there?
Great to be with you again today on the program towards the end of yet another week. They tick by pretty quickly don’t they? You wake up and it’s Monday morning, the whole week ahead and before we know it, it’s Friday again heading into another weekend. Seems to me that the weeks are slipping by evermore quickly. You blink and they’re gone and before you know it another year’s gone. We’re into the New Year and we’ll pretty much blink and this one will be gone too.
It’s like a video of a merry-go-round that someone speeds up. Before you know it, the little merry-go-round is spinning around and around and around a million miles an hour and one day, often with little or no warning ‘bang’, this little merry-go-round, my life, your life, will stop dead, literally.
Life on this earth will come to an end. I was listening to an interview on the radio the other day of a woman who woke up next to her husband because the radio alarm was going off in the morning and he hadn’t turned it off. Well there was a reason for that. He died of a heart attack in the bed next to her during the night.
Makes you squirm because in a lot of cultures, particularly western cultures we’re not so good at talking about death and coping with death even though death is very much part of life here on this earth.
“Gee, what’s the matter with Berni today?” You might be thinking to yourself. He’s going all-morose on us. Well not really. Over these last few days we’ve been talking about the promise that Jesus made to give us an abundant life. John chapter 10, verse 10:
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came (Said Jesus) that they may have life and have it abundantly.
And when you look at it that promise is a life and death promise isn’t it? The thief, the enemy, the devil comes only to steal and kill and destroy but Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. It’s a contrast between the abundant life that Jesus wants to give us and the death that the devil is hell bent on delivering it on our doorstep. Life and death.
We live our lives believing that we’ll go on forever; that we’ll never get sick, that we’ll never die. Of course the facts are that unless Jesus returns first, you and I are going to die, there’s no denying that. But denying it is absolutely what we do. We sweep death under the carpet as though it’s never going to happen to us, always knowing deep inside somewhere though that it will, but trying to ignore that, that inconvenient truth.
Life’s for living right? Who needs to think about dying? And so we squeeze as much out of life as we possibly can even if it isn’t all that satisfying in the vain hope that we’ll stave death off as long as we can.
I used to be petrified of dying, absolutely petrified. I just couldn’t fathom that I’d have to let go of this life here on this earth one day or at least it would let go of me. And the thought of what, if anything, lay on the other side of death was just horrid. Either there was nothing and I’d lose everything with that last breath or there was a God and indeed a heaven and a hell and I was in serious trouble in that department.
So I just put my head down and just concentrated on the here and now, living life, squeezing everything out of it that I could and no it wasn’t that satisfying. A decade and a half ago something happened to change that and it happened without me noticing it.
A decade and a half ago I gave my life to Jesus. I noticed that bit but without me realising it my fear of death evaporated over night. I first realised that when I was flying in a plane in New Zealand and it was incredibly bumpy rough flight and in the middle of that was a terrible landing and wait for it, Christchurch. I, all of a sudden realised I wasn’t gripping my seat anymore, I wasn’t afraid, I’d lost my fear of dying.
Have a listen to what the Apostle Paul writes on this subject. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 51:
‘Listen’ said Paul; ‘I’ll tell you a mystery. We will not all die but we will all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability and this mortal body puts on immortality then the same that is written will be fulfilled.
Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.’
There it is, eternal life. The one thing we all hope for delivered by Jesus through His death on the cross and His resurrection. What could be more abundant than that? I mean it’s great that we can have a rich and abundant life amidst all the trials of life here on earth, that’s fabulous and that’s what we’ve been chatting about these last few days on the program. Fantastic. But the abundance, the overflow goes beyond the grave forever and ever and ever and ever.
And that knowledge my friend of an eternal life is supposed to make a difference, a huge difference to how we live our lives here and now. Look at the last bit of that again:
Therefore my beloved be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
In other words, look the knowledge of eternity is meant to impact our lives. It changes things, it gives us hope because at the end of this life there is something worth having. Something worth more than absolutely anything and everything that this world has to offer.
And that something is eternal life and yet we’re all so busy, head down, pedalling hard through life, that we’ve completely lost sight of the finishing line and that finishing line is something to look forward to. That finishing line is the best thing that can ever happen to us. Listen again to Paul, Philippians chapter 1 beginning at verse 21. He said:
For me to live living is Christ and dying is gain. If I’m to live in the flesh that means fruitful labour for me and I do not know which I prefer. I am so hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and to be with Christ for that is far better but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.
Do you love that? Paul isn’t afraid of death, he’s not going, “Oh man, one day I’m going to die!” Paul is torn between this life and an eternity with Christ. Not just does he have eternal life foremost in his thinking but he’s literally torn between the two.
You know what I think the Lord is saying to you and me as we’re totally immersed in our respective heres and nows, He’s saying, “wake up! something much better is coming.” Again Paul, Colossians chapter 3, verse 1:
So if you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above not on the things that are on this earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
He’s saying, wake up! Stop being so focused on the here and now, look off set your mind on the things that are above. Live your life focused on eternity with an eternal perspective because that is going to add a richness and an abundance and an anticipation that’s better than anything this world has to offer. Wake up!