How Would You Define Your Life?

This week’s message at Central was on John 3:9 – 10. It is one of my favorite Scriptures because it ends up saying in I John 3:10 – “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” The purpose of the book that we wrote was to emphasize to Christians that God wants us to have a rich and satisfying life. We have a tremendous advantage as believers if we comply with the teachings of Christ. Yet, many Christians feel that their life has been anything but rich and satisfying. We respond by saying that there are two ways to live. We can live as the world lives and accept the consequences that the world receives; or, we can live as the Bible teaches and be rich and have a pleasant life. Therefore, many Christians who live as the world lives probably will not have a rich and satisfying life. There are always exceptions.

Let’s look at John 10:7 – 10 – “So he explained it to them: ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.’”

During the time of Jesus most everyone understood the role of a shepherd. Sometimes shepherds would bring their flocks into town. They would leave them with a person who had large holding pens and they would be placed in pens with other shepherd’s sheep. Then the shepherds would go and bath, get what supplies they needed before going back to pasture. When they went back to get their sheep they would open the gate and the shepherd would call out their names and they would come and follow him.

Jesus uses another illustration. He states He is the gate and those who come through Him will be saved. They then will be able to come and go freely and will find good pastures. When a person could come and go at will means that they were living at a peaceful time or they were at peace with themselves. There were forces of law and order that allowed them to have perfect security. We interpret this to also mean that once we become a Christian we feel a new sense of safety and security in our lives. Jesus being the gate is the one who has promised that this will happen. This is where we must accept our trust in God. But trust most often comes only when we become spiritually mature. To diminish negative fear requires putting our lives in the hands of God as the Apostle Paul did as he illustrated in the problems he went through and yet, lived with joy, peace and love in his life.

At this point we should probably define what Jesus may have meant by rich and satisfying life. Do we live realizing that our Father is the richest person in the universe and He says He will meet our needs? Do we live with the assurance that one day we will live eternally in the most luxurious cities that ever existed? Again, how are we living today? Do we live by Satan’s enticements or by the principles Christ taught? When the shepherd comes to get his sheep and calls out; who will we follow? Do we follow those who come to deceive us with the offers of the world? Or, do we listen only to the One our God has sent to be our shepherd?

Jesus goes on in Scripture to contrast the difference between a good and faithful shepherd vs. the unfaithful shepherd. The faithful shepherd will lay down his life and will accept any risk to protect his sheep. King David, as a shepherd, fought lion and bear to protect his flock. The unfaithful shepherd will run at the sight of any risk of injury. We must ask: who is our shepherd? Are we following the deceivers in life or the only true shepherd Jesus Christ? If we live as the world lives we are following the deceivers. If we say: “No we really cannot afford a new car at this time”, we probably are being a better steward of our money. The less debt a person accumulates the better chance they have of sleeping at night. Can we distinguish between what our needs really are and what our “wants” are?

Do you expect as a Christian to have a rich and satisfying life? Christ says it is there for you! If you consider rich by the standards of those living in parts of Africa and Asia you may already be rich. If you are not living a satisfying life, who is your shepherd? Is it the robbers and thieves who Jesus described (Satan) to whom you are listening? Why don’t more Christians understand the advantages that God promises if they will only live by His commands? We start by accepting the purpose for which God placed us on this earth and follow the direction the Holy Spirit leads us. (See previous blogs – Our purpose in life – God has a plan for you).

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