Far More Fight

We can think of far more life as a leisurely, pleasure-focused existence we will have someday. When we are more spiritually mature. When we are not simply surviving. When we sin less. When we are out of a bad situation. When…

But far more life is not about us. And it is not a level of maturity we will achieve someday. Far more life happens each moment we choose to walk in the Spirit. Consider these examples:

  • Every time we do what is right even though our sinful nature is pulling us toward doing wrong we seize far more life.
  • Every time we express patience we are responding with far more life.
  • Every time we give our worries and fears to God rather than being swallowed by anxiety we release far more life.
  • Every time we focus on thanking Him in the midst of a hard situation we reap far more life.
  • Every time we forgive someone who hurt us rather than holding on to anger or resentment we unlock far more life.
  • Every time we seek God’s direction and adopt His mindset we discover far more life.

Far more life is a simple choice to trust and obey Him. Simple, but not easy.

I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. (John 10:10b, PHILLIPS)

A relationship with Jesus is the only source of far more life. But His promise falls in the middle of a teaching about the spiritual battle we face. Surrounding verses describe our enemy, Satan, and his agents as thieves and wolves who want to kill, steal, and destroy us. Far more life is hard to maintain because we have an enemy working against us! Did you realize you are engaged in spiritual battle every day you live on this earth? Or have you been under siege without even knowing it? God provides all we need to overcome Satan. But He does not miraculously extract us from the battlefield; He expects us to fight.

Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. (Ephesians 6:11, VOICE)

Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12, NLT)

Even though we have to fight, He doesn’t want us stuck in a deadlock. We can win more battles and enjoy far more life as we follow our Commander, God. As we learn to replace the beliefs that underlie our worry, fear, hopelessness, apathy, and sinful choices with His truth we are strengthened and become victorious more consistently.

Some of the spiritual war we are fighting is around us:

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (I John 5:19, NIV)

Satan has transformed our culture into a minefield of anti-God pursuits: Destroying sexual purity and cheapening sexual intimacy. Seeking wealth, power, and fame. Bullying, disrespecting, and harming other people for personal gain. Failing to care for His creation. Ignoring His priorities and making creation the top priority. And many, many more. Sometimes we can skirt the minefield, but other times we find ourselves surrounded by danger. We can find far more life in Christ from either position.

The spiritual war is also fought in our minds:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8, NIV)

Satan actively advances anti-God ideas to draw people away from God: Heaven and hell aren’t real. People are good at their core. Each person has the right to decide what is right and wrong for them. We deserve to be spared from pain and difficulty. And many, many more. We walk securely in far more life when we reject Satan’s lies and cling to God’s perspective on this life and eternity.

Since battle is imminent, we are wise to keep our spiritual armor and weapons in the best condition possible. This, too, is far more life. Maintaining a close connection to our commander, God, results in far more life. Making relationships with other spiritual warriors a priority can also provide far more life. Recognizing and working to overcome our weaknesses produces far more life.

While we need to be prepared for daily battle, the intensity will vary. Some moments we will fight hand-to-hand. These are times we wrestle with our sinful nature and fight hard to achieve or maintain righteous actions and thoughts. I have engaged in sin and had to fight my way out rather than being pulled deeper. (Those moments in your life may not feel like victories, but they are!) Other times we will recognize our enemy from a distance and evade his attacks. I have learned to avoid certain situations where I know I will be tempted to sin. I am learning to recognize my “emotional hot buttons” so I can step back when they are close to being hit.

Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. (Revelation 19:6b, NIV)

Far more life is not our future goal; we can experience it today. In moments of victory over sin and Satan, we find far more life. In our moments of defeat, we can also find far more life through God’s forgiveness, comfort, and direction. Each moment we walk with God, whether in training or battle, is far more life. And when the final battle is won, every moment in heaven will be far more life. Praise God!

Sisters,
Are you waiting for far more life? Or do you embrace it in daily moments?
Are you aware of our enemy? Or is the news that you are in a battle surprising?
Where do you see the battle around you? Within you?
Stick close to your Commander this week to find far more life in and between your battles!
-Shari

Photo Credit: Blake Bottomley

Choosing Far More Life

Can I be honest? This is one of those weeks where I don’t feel like I am living far more life. I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. So I’m going to choose far more life by reviewing some of my favorite Bible verses — those that remind me of truths richer and steadier than my shifting emotions — and invite you along for the journey.

* * * * *
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8, NIV)

Thank you, God, for offering rest and hope. And for being a safe place in the struggles and storms of life. I love that you are: a rock I can cling to when strong winds blow; a fortress that keeps me safe inside strong, tall walls; and a refuge I can run to when my enemy attacks.

Far more life is trusting, resting, and hoping in God and pouring out my heart to Him. Although I am weak, I choose far more life.

* * * * *
And my God will fully supply your every need, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, EHV)

Thank you, God, for having all that I need — physically, spiritually, and emotionally — and willingly supplying it. You supply the perseverance I need when I want to quit. You supply the perspective I need when my focus is selfish. You supply the peace I need when I am overwhelmed. I am not hesitant to ask for help because Your glorious riches are abundant — blessing me doesn’t take away from You or others.

Far more life is looking to God to meet my needs, even my need to know what I truly need. In my moment of need, I choose far more life.

* * * * *
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, NLT)

Thank you, God, for reminding me to keep doing what is good. I confess that I want to pull into my shell today and only do what I want, which may feel good right now but is not truly good. I am so glad You know exactly when to send the harvest of blessing. I know I won’t see some of those blessings until heaven, but thank You for giving me a preview just when I need it.

Far more life is remembering that God sees the good I do and will bless me for it at the perfect time. Although I may not see the fruit until heaven, today I choose to do good. I choose far more life.

* * * * *
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. (Ephesians 1:13b-14a, NIV)

Thank you, God, for guaranteeing my inheritance and giving me a piece of it now. Your choice to deposit something precious in me — Your Holy Spirit — gives me confidence that You will redeem me one day. It is humbling to recognize the value You have placed on me. You are with me — inside me — every moment of my life until we can be together in heaven. This inspires me to be better for Your glory.

Far more life is realizing God chose to become a permanent part of my life. Because God has chosen me, I choose far more life in Him.

* * * * *
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! He heals the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:1, 3-5)

Thank you, God, for being both high and nigh. You are big and powerful enough to name every star and have limitless understanding. Yet you are near enough to know when my heart is breaking and tend to my hurts. You truly are great and deserve my praise! It is pleasant and fitting to give praise You.

Far more life is giving God the praise He deserves. With a humble heart, I choose praise-filled far more life.

* * * * *
I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. (John 10:10, PHILLIPS)

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth and bringing us far more life. You left perfection and subjected Yourself to the pain and struggles of this world. I will never experience as much pain as You did. And yet, despite taking the punishment I deserved, you offer me far more life. What amazing love!

Far more life is embracing Jesus’ gift.  With thankfulness, I choose far more life.


Sisters,
What Bible verses remind you to choose far more life?
-Shari

Finding Your Purpose

We all want to find purpose in life. God created us in His image; He is purposeful and instilled that desire in us. But finding our purpose can be hard. Some of us have explored many paths that ended in disappointment; we may have become discouraged and quit searching after several failed attempts. Others are so bogged down surviving life’s challenges that we don’t have the energy or desire to look for our purpose. Should we give up and settle for simply existing?

No! Remember the promise from John 10:10? “I came to bring them life, and far more life than before” (PHILLIPS).  Purpose — far more life — is waiting for you! But maybe not where you expect.

King Solomon sought the purpose of life, too. He journeyed multiple paths but deemed them all meaningless: wisdom; pleasure; work; advancement; riches; and more.  Along the way he saw God’s hand at work in the world. His ultimate finding: “After all this, there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, GNT).

This is echoed in New Testament Scriptures (GNT unless noted):

  • “You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
  • Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NCV)
  • “Whatever you do..do it all for God’s glory.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
  • “Yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.” (I Corinthians 8:6)
  • “This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” (Galatians 2:20b)
  • “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.” (I Peter 4:2)

Some people think living for God means obeying lots of rules or commands. But what if those commands reveal our purpose and offer far more life?

The instruction manual for my kitchen range shares several rules, including: “Do not store explosives on or near the oven”; “Never modify or alter the construction of the oven”; and “Never leave surface burners unattended.” I can view these rules in one of two ways: 1) maximizing the purpose of the range or 2) limiting my freedoms. One view leads to good results and greater satisfaction. The other leads to frustration and serious injury or death.

The same is true for our lives.  God has given us an instruction manual that defines our purpose and tells us how to get the most out of this life and eternity. Would your life be more satisfying if you followed His instructions in Colossians 3?  (I am including The Message translation here because its directness made me think. Please consult your favorite translation if you prefer a different tone.)

“…Be content with obscurity, like Christ. And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy…make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life…
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”

Why does God expect us to do everything for His glory?  The short answer is in Revelation 4:11 (GNT), Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. For you created all things, and by your will they were given existence and life.”  Without God we would not exist.  As our creator, He gets to proclaim our purpose and instruct us on fulfilling it.

Following Your Creator’s instruction manual and the purpose for which He designed you is far more life. Reshaping your heart, mind, and actions to match His purpose for you will bring far more satisfaction than anything you can pursue on your own. We will build on this foundation in future posts as we examine how God created each of us with an individual passion — a personalized talent, skill, or desire — that energizes us and glorifies Him. But if you haven’t found far more life, start by embracing your primary purpose; “Whatever you do…do it all for God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31).

Sisters,
Do you believe following God’s instructions bring you far more life?
Are you allowing His Word to shape your heart, mind, and actions?
Do you “do it all for God’s glory”?
If not, tell Him about it:
Tell Him what is holding you back;
Tell Him what you fear;
Tell Him what you think you will lose.
Give it a try: choose one instruction from His Word (the Bible) and commit to follow it this week.
Reap the benefits of far more life!
-Shari

What is Far More Life?

One of my favorite Bible verses is John 10:10 where Jesus says, “I came to bring them life, and far more life than before” (Phillips). Did you catch that: Jesus brought us FAR MORE LIFE! But “far more” in what sense? There are some parts of life where far more is appealing. And other parts where far more would be overwhelming. Maybe your life is good. Or at least good enough. But what if it could be better? 

First Jesus offers life, not the physical life we are already experiencing, rather spiritual life. We have some good experiences in life, but in our hearts we know something is missing or dead. A meaning, a purpose, a connection. The Apostle Paul explained, “We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you” (Ephesians 2:4-5 CEV). It’s God, our Creator, that is missing! Sin separates from God even though a part of us longs to connect with Him. In His wonderful kindness, God made a way for us to reconnect through Jesus. Jesus took the punishment for our sin, saving us from what we deserved. He then overcame death and earned the right to offer us a restored relationship with God. This restored relationship is spiritual life. And it lasts forever. Spiritual life is the best gift we could ever hope to receive. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He went on to offer us far more life.

Before Jesus walked this earth, people who wanted to please God had to follow a lot of rules — over 600 of them — governing all aspects of life from the food they ate to who they touched and from personal grooming to when they could work. People followed this set of rules, referred to as “the Law” in the Scriptures, in an effort to lead a good life and make God happy. But it was impossible to keep all the rules, and it took a lot of energy to even try. Even then, James 2:10 tells us God’s perspective: “Remember that a man who keeps the whole Law but for a single exception is none the less a law-breaker” (Phillips). What a difficult situation! When Jesus said “far more life,” His audience may have heard “far fewer rules” and had hope that they could finally please God.

When Jesus was asked which of the 600+ rules were most important, He didn’t give a top 10 list. He summarized them ALL in just TWO commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” and “Love others as much as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40 CEV). That’s it! To experience far more life: love God and love people. So simple to understand. Yet so hard to live.

Love the Lord. With all your heart, soul, and mind. This is an all-in love that directs each thought, feeling, word, and action. It is the outgrowth of a restored relationship with God; the life inside prompts us to be like Him, the perfect depiction of love. When we let this love direct us, we find a satisfaction and richness that was missing before. We experience far more life than before.

But there’s more! As we grow to understand God’s love our view of people — including ourselves — changes. We can examine both faults and strengths, seeing people as neither better nor worse than they truly are. We can celebrate strengths and help each other use them to live out our love for God. And we can work together to overcome faults so that they no longer control us. We can experience far more life through a healthy love for ourselves and others than we ever thought was possible. This doesn’t happen overnight. And the process can be painful.

You see, while having the power to transform every aspect of our life, far more life does not make us exempt from trouble. Instead it offers a different perspective on our problems. Jesus said, “While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world” (John 16:33 CEV). Far more life lets us focus on the future, on our eternal relationship with God, and live out each challenge with peace, hope, and joy in our hearts.  We understand the temporary nature of this world and anticipate the perfection — far more life than we can imagine — that awaits us.

Sisters,
Do you want to start experiencing far more life now?
Will you risk letting go of what is good to pursue something better?
I can’t promise the road will be easy, but I guarantee the destination is worth the effort.
You will lose some baggage along the way, and you may find your passion.

Join me on the journey to discover and embrace far more life with Jesus.
-Shari