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Pressing On to the Abundant Life


Series: Acts

Speaker: BJ Chursinoff

Jesus said that He came to give His followers abundant life. But none of us are magically transported into this blessing once we become a Christian. We need to follow Jesus by faith, through obstacles that stand in the way of us experiencing the quality of life that our Lord came to give us.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

In the very beginning of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, little Frodo Baggins leaves the Shire to go on an adventure with the ring that was given to him by his uncle Bilbo, just securely in his pocket. At the end of the trilogy, Frodo makes it all the way to Mordor, and he destroys the Ring of power by throwing it into the lava at Mount Doom and at the armies of darkness and secured peace and blessing and abundance for all of those who called Middle earth home. Now, if you've read the Lord of the Rings, or if you've seen the movies, then you know that once Frodo left the Shire, he wasn't magically teleported all the way to Mordor. And if you're like me and you've watched the movies and read the books, you also wonder later on when you see that Gandalf has this ability to whisper to these mythical moths and that they can fly away. And then these giant eagles come and take people wherever they want.

I just think, like, why didn't he just do that at the very beginning? Take Frodo up in his talons, bring him to Mordor, drop the ring into lava and just take him home.

I have an idea. Because you wouldn't need an entire trilogy to tell that story. You just need a little booklet. No, Frodo had to make his way all the way to Mordor from the Shire. And it wasn't an easy journey.

It was perilous. From the beginning of the story to the end. At every turn, Frodo encountered opposition that not only threatened the chance of his task getting completed, the opposition he faced also threatened his very life. At every turn, he had to press on through the threats of the black riders, orcs, goblins, trolls, the Uruk-hai, a giant squid monster, and to top it all off, a man-eating spider. He had to press on through the power of dark sorcerers and demons that stood in his way.

He had to press on in the face of team members losing faith and coveting the Ring. He had to press on through rough terrain, blizzards and bogs and mountains and magical forests. He had to press on through the evil power that the Ring was having upon him. He had to press on through all of those challenges he faced. And if he had given up and went back home to the shire in the face of even one of the obstacles he encountered, then evil would have won and he would not have been able to secure the peace and abundance and blessing that came.

Only when he was finally able to destroy the Ring. He had to press on. That was the only way he would be able to experience the life that he truly wanted. If Frodo wanted to experience the abundant life of blessing, he had to press on through all of the obstacles that stood in his way. Now, I don't have to tell you this, but the Lord of the Rings is, of course, a fictional example of perseverance and resilience.

But we see the exact same characteristics when we survey the life of a very real person, the apostle Paul. We're nearing the end of our study through the book of Acts, believe it or not. And ever since we were introduced to Paul back in chapter eight, we have seen him over and over again, press on through countless challenges of his own. After Paul met Jesus and became a Christian, things got spicy for him really fast. After Paul got saved, his own countrymen conspired to kill him when he was in Damascus, and when he went to Jerusalem, they tried to kill him there, too.

He faced a real-life sorcerer named Elymas when he was in Paphos, in Psidian Antioch, the Jews were filled with jealousy over the crowds that came to hear Paul preached. And so they contradicted what he said and hurled insults at him. And the Bible says they stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. He was mistreated in Iconium, and while he was there, an attempt was made to stone him. He left Iconium and went to Lystra, but his opponents followed him there.

And the Bible says when they won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. After the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went into the town. In Antioch, Paul's friendship with Barnabas was fractured, and they parted ways. In Philippi, Paul was seized and physically dragged into the marketplace to the authorities after he had cast a demon out of a slave girl. The Bible says the crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods.

After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stalks. In Thessalonica, the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. He was ridiculed. In Athens, his ministry was met with resistance and blasphemy.

In Corinth, in Ephesus, a whole amphitheater was filled to the brim with raging citizens from the city and they were all crying out chants that lasted for 2 hours because of Paul's ministry there. When he eventually made his way back to Jerusalem, guess what? The Jews tried to kill him again there. While there, the high priest had someone punch Paul in the mouth. He endured treacherous terrain on his many travels by land and by sea, he often went hungry.

And there was even one time he miraculously survived being bitten by a poisonous snake.

At almost every turn in his Christian life, Paul had to press on through a wide variety of obstacles that came against him. This begs the question, why did you do that, Paul? Why did Paul press on through all of the trials that he faced? Why didn't he give up? Frodo had a vision of a future where Middle Earth experienced abundance and blessing, and that vision compelled him to keep pressing on.

Paul, too, had a vision of a future, a vision that the Lord Jesus personally gave him. And the vision of that future reality was what compelled Paul to keep pressing on no matter what obstacle he faced. It kept him from turning back. It kept him from quitting. In order for Paul to see that future reality come to pass, he had to press on through some of the toughest circumstances in order to see it.

Paul was given this vision for his future when Jesus interrupted his life on the road to Damascus. And Paul recounts for us what Jesus said to him that day, recorded for us in acts, chapter 26, verses 13 to 18. I'm going to put it on the screen behind me. This is Paul sharing his testimony. While on the road at midday, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me, we all fell to the ground.

And I heard a voice speaking to me in Aramaic. Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. I asked, who are you, Lord? And the Lord replied, I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.

But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. Now here's the vision. I am sending you to them to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and to share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

Jesus told Paul on the Damascus road that he was going to use him as his primary instrument to take the gospel of salvation which is the message by which sinners can be saved. The message of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection. And Jesus was going to use Paul to communicate this message all over the known world at that time. Paul was to be used by God to see countless sinners saved by the grace of God when they heard the gospel flow from his lips. Jesus used Paul to plant churches all across the Roman Empire.

And the ripple effect of the work Paul did in the name of Jesus 2000 years ago is still impacting the world today. When Jesus saved Paul, he gave him a vision for what his life was going to be used for eternal impact upon countless people's lives. Now get this. That vision for Paul's life would not have been fulfilled in Paul's life if Paul cowered in the face of the obstacles that stood in his way. Paul wouldn't have gotten to experience the fruit of his work if he ran back to his home in Tarsus, climbed under the covers of his bed, and stuck his thumb in his mouth the first time someone tried to stone him to death.

If Paul didn't press on and persevere through the not small, these are giant obstacles, giant forces that opposed him, he would not have been able to rejoice over all of the men and women who entered the kingdom of heaven through the ministry that he accomplished in Jesus' name Frodo pressed on through all the opposition he encountered, and he was able to see middle earth saved because he did. Paul pressed on through all the opposition he encountered, and he was able to see countless men and women enter the kingdom of heaven because he did. Now, here's the million-dollar question. What does any of this have to do with us sitting here in Port Coquitlam today? The answer?

You want it? Everything.

That's because we too, need to press on through the various forms of opposition that we face if we want to experience the fullness of God's vision for our life. Jesus didn't only have a vision just for Paul's life. Jesus has a vision for your life. Did you know that? And his vision for your life is so good.

It's a vision of blessing and abundance. It's a vision better than any vision any of us could conjure up for ourselves on our own. When Jesus saved you, he already had a plan for what he wants you to experience in your new life as a follower of his. There are many verses in the Bible that help us understand this life that Jesus has envisioned for us. Here's just one of them.

It's the one that Phyllis read for us at the beginning of our time together. I'm going to put it back up on our screen one more time. In John, chapter ten, verse ten, Jesus says, a thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they, my followers, may have life and have it in abundance.

I don't know if you understand what Jesus is saying here. Some of you do because you're amen-ing. But Jesus' vision for your life is that your life is a life full of abundance. It's the reason that he said he came. And none of the circumstances you face in your life have the power in and of themselves to snuff out the vision that Jesus has for you.

If you are single and if you happen to remain single for the rest of your life. Jesus envisions an abundant life for you. If you are married, no matter how sweet and rich or how hard and difficult that is, Jesus envisions an abundant life for you. If you don't have kids or if you do, Jesus envisions an abundant life for you. If you have a job you hate and you never get a new one, Jesus envisions an abundant life for you.

If you are currently battling addiction or depression or financial pressures or health ailments, Jesus envisions an abundant life for you. If you can't tell by now, let me spell it out for you. No matter who you are, no matter what circumstances you're facing in your life today, Jesus wants you to have an abundant life, period. He wants every aspect of your life to be infused with abundance. Do you believe that God wants that for you?

Jesus said it was the reason that he came, that we have life and have it to the full. Now here's the first of a few disclaimers. When we talk about abundance in the Christian life, we are not talking about abundance the same way the world talks about it. The world we live in will tell you that abundance means lots of money, lots of followers on social media, lots of health, lots of positive circumstances in your life. And the world will tell you that if you don't have these things, then you are actually experiencing lack, not abundance.

Now, the abundant life that Jesus came to give us doesn't necessarily exclude any of these things I just mentioned. It's just that, and this is very important. The abundant life Jesus came to give you does not depend on whether you have those things or not. You can have the abundant life of Jesus whether you're rich or poor. You can have the abundant life of Jesus whether you have a million friends or zero friends, you can have the abundant life of Jesus whether you are healthy or sick.

You can have the abundant life of Jesus regardless of the circumstances that affect your life. Anyone can have the abundant life of Jesus because, get this, the abundant life is Jesus. Jesus is the source of life. Goodness, power, anything lovely that you can think of. Jesus is the source of that thing, as the source and giver of everything good.

Jesus is better than those things. Beautiful things are only beautiful because a beautiful Jesus made them that way. So you may or may not experience certain physical blessings in your life, but you can experience the supreme source of all blessing in your life in real and very tangible ways. Jesus is life. He made that claim about himself in John 14 six.

Jesus is life, and you can have that life in abundance if you want it. Imagine your life as an empty cup, and you can fill that cup in one of two ways. You can hold that cup under a leaky faucet where a single drop of water falls into it once every minute, but it never gets full because the rate that the water drops into it is overmatched by the rate of evaporation. The water comes in and the water goes out. You can do that, or you can place the empty cup of your life at the base of Niagara Falls under the full force of water pouring down upon it.

And the cup is not only filled, it is overflowing. That is, abundant life, a life filled to the overflowing with Jesus. Now here's another disclaimer, though, about this abundant life. This abundant life that Jesus is the source of is not a life free from hardship and persecution. We are promised those things as followers of Jesus, too.

I think most of us know that and get that. But how often, if we're being honest, do we see the hard things? When we take a look at the inventory of our lives, how often do we see and experience the over-the-top, tangible goodness of God in our lives as Christians? Why do so many Christians fail to experience abundance in their life? If this is the life that Jesus came to give us, why do we so often miss out on this kind of life?

If this is the life that Jesus envisions for us, why is it so easy for us to see all the hard stuff in our life? But it's so hard to see and experience the good leads me to one more disclaimer about the abundant life I have to share. Although Jesus came to give us abundant life in him, he doesn't magically teleport us there, allowing us to bypass all the obstacles that would stand in our way. Frodo didn't waltz into Mordor without facing opposition on the way there. Paul didn't preach the gospel and plant new churches without facing opposition on the way there.

You and I won't experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give us without facing opposition on the way there either. And herein lies one of the reasons I believe that many Christians miss out on experiencing more of the abundant life that is available to them. Because when we encounter opposition on our way towards the abundant life, we have a choice to make. We could press on through the opposition like Frodo did or like Paul did. Or we can give up.

We can stay right where we are on our journey of faith with the abundant life just out of arm's reach. I believe this is why many haven't experienced the fullness of the Christian life that is available to them. They give up pressing on. They make peace with the way that life is, and they don't strive for more. And I get it.

Sometimes life is very hard, crushing at times. Some of you are facing giants in your life right now that you never anticipated that you'd have to fight. And it's in those moments we can tell ourselves that it's not worth the effort to press on. We can tell ourselves that it's better to stop fighting for what could be and settle for what is instead. And even though giving up is sometimes easier in the short term, it never produces the results we want in the long term.

So with those disclaimers out of the way, let's take a look at what you and I can do starting today that will help us propel ourselves through whatever obstacles we may be facing that stand in the way to us experiencing more of the abundant life in Jesus. The first thing we got to do is that we actually have to embrace God's vision for the abundant life, not our own. Right out of the gate. This is what we have to do. We need to make sure that the vision that we have for our life lines up with the vision that God has for our life.

We need to be on the same page with God if this thing is going to work. However, the details of our life unfold. An abundant life is a life where Jesus is the source and the center of it. And we need to have a clear vision of what God wants that kind of life to look like. We need to have a vision for what God wants our life to look like.

Because without that vision, how can we make progress toward it if we don't know what we're looking for, where we're going or what we're shooting for. If God's vision for our life is not our vision for our life, then we will get tangled up before we even cross the starting line. We might not even know we're doing it, but we can superimpose our vision of what we want our life to look like onto God's vision. And our vision may not be in line with what God's vision for our life is. We can dream up a vision for ourselves and then tell God that if he gives us that vision for our lives, we'd allow him to tag along and be a part of it.

Right? How generous of us to offer the sovereign almighty such a deal. Sometimes people get confused and even upset with God at times because he doesn't give them the life that they think they should have. But if God gave every person the life that they think they should have, you know what he would be like? He would be like a parent who lets their kid eat glue just because the kid wants to.

And I hope this isn't news to any of you, I really do. But if parents let their kids eat glue, that will ruin their kid's life, right? You're not hearing that. For the first time, I hope if God gave us whatever we think we should have, that would ruin our life, too. Sometimes God doesn't give us what we want in our life because he loves us too much to let us eat glue.

We don't always know what we should want in our lives and what we should want our lives to look like. God always knows what we should want our lives to look like, and he tells us as much. Now, where would a person go to find out that information? You get one guess. Yeah.

Okay, there we go. God's word determines what the abundant life looks like. Here's an example. An example? A specific one.

Take marriage, for example. Whether you are married or not, envision what a dream marriage looks like in your mind. Just take a couple of seconds for that little thought bubble right now. Just picture it. Now, you can't do this.

Maybe right this moment, but whenever you have time this week, go look up Ephesians chapter five, verses 22 to 33. And if your vision of marriage doesn't match up with God's description of marriage in Ephesians five, then understand that you are envisioning the equivalent of eating glue.

And we've already pointed out that Jesus loves you too much to help you eat glue. Only a marriage, as Jesus envisions it, is the kind of marriage where abundant life can be experienced. This is only one example, and it's a very specific one. But you can do this with any other area of your life. Take any area of your life, then search the Bible to see what God says that area of your life should look like.

And once you've done that, then you have a vision for what abundant life looks like according to the word of God. But what if God doesn't lay out specific parameters for us in his word for very specific situations that we may be facing? How then could we get God's vision for that part of our life if we can't read it in the Bible? That's a good question. I'm glad you asked it.

God doesn't lay out for us specific details for every single situation that we may or may not face in our life. But you know what? He doesn't need to. That's because we have in his word what we need to know for how we are supposed to act in any situation that we may find ourselves in.

I'm going to use myself as an example here. I'm one of the few constant denominators in every relationship and every circumstance I find myself in. Wherever I go, there I am. Now. God's word shows me how I can experience more abundance in my life because it outlines for me the way I can experience personal blessing anywhere I am.

Jesus opens his famous sermon on the mount with some sayings called the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the humble, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Do you notice that Jesus doesn't give any specific details here? He doesn't tell us what specific relationships these actions are to be applied to.

He doesn't say what specific arena they should be done in. He doesn't say in friendships or when you parent or when you're at work. He doesn't give us any of those qualifications. He just lays out the pathway to blessing. If you want to be blessed, then ask the Lord how you can walk out these characters characteristics on a regular basis in your life.

If he leads you down this path that the beatitudes lay out for you, and you follow him down that path, then you will be blessed wherever you find yourself. Because again, imagine with me this for a second. If by the power of God's spirit in you, you make a practice of being humble in every situation you ever find yourself in, and if you strive to make peace in every situation you are in that calls for it. Can you imagine how much better every single one of those situations would be? Can you imagine how much better other people would be because you're there?

Can you imagine how that might feel for you to be a part of that? And humility and peacemaking are just two of the beatitudes that, according to Jesus, is the pathway to blessing. And those are the kinds of relationships and circumstances he envisions for his people to experience. One where everyone involved gets to experience his blessing in and through us. So we want God's vision to be our vision, and his vision for us is revealed to us in his word.

But we're just kind of getting started here, because what happens when we get to the place where we finally align our vision for our life with God's vision? But that vision is currently out of reach because there are obstacles in our way to getting there. If we get to this stage, then the next step is to identify the obstacles that can stand in the way of you experiencing the abundant life. Just identify them, recognize them, see them. And there are four that I can think of.

And if you can think of any others this week, I'd be happy to hear from you about those. But I can identify four for us tonight. Number one, obstacles keep standing in the way from you experiencing the fullness of God's blessing in your life. Number one, your sin. Number two, other people's sin.

Number three, the very real enemy of your soul, where Jesus in John 1010 said, I came, that they may have life and have it in abundance. He says the enemy, though, comes to only what? Kill. Kill, steal and destroy. Number four, circumstances living in a fallen and broken world.

So each of these four roadblocks have the potential to stop our movement forward to the life Jesus is calling us to live. But out of all four of them, the first one is by far and away the most pressing one we need to address in our lives. My own sin is the number one threat to my experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to give me. Jesus told us as much, and again, we see this in his sermon on the mount. Jesus said that we are to take the plank of wood out of our own eye before ever able to see a speck of sawdust in our brother or sister's eye.

Now, why would he say that? Well, because we can't see anything at all with a log jammed in our eye. We can't see God's goodness clearly when we have a log of sin in our eye. We can't see what the abundant life looks like very well with a two-by-four of sin jammed in our eye. We can't see ourselves with sound judgment and sober-mindedness with a piece of sinful timber in our eye.

And we definitely cannot problem-solve the other hindrances that exist on our path to abundance. Like other sin, the enemy's tactics, and the fallen nature of our circumstances, we can't see those things properly if we're blinded by a big stick of sin poking our eyes out. If we can see God's vision for our life though, if we can, if we can get that stick out of there and we can see clearly and we can see what obstacles stand in the way of our experiencing that abundance, then we are ready to press on through those obstacles. And we can only do that with God's help only. Now I'm going to navigate some obstacles here and the things I'm going to share next are not going to be new to most of you.

They are things we talk about all the time here at Gospel City Church. They are graces that God gives to us that we may able to live the life he calls us to. Although they are not new to you, to most of you, I'm going to try to connect these things in a very specific way to the idea of pressing on to the abundant life. Here's the first one and we're finally there. First, fill-in on your outline.

If you're going to press on to the abundant life, you must persist in the word of God. Persist in it because persisting in the word of God will give you clarity regarding God's vision for your life. It will give you clarity regarding the obstacles in your life. It will illuminate the path through the obstacles in your life. It will change your life.

It will change your heart, your mind, and your soul. It will help you know how to recognize God's voice when he speaks to you. Persisting in the word of God helps in all of those areas now. Do not persist in the word of God only when you're facing trials. When a new tragedy or a new trial stands in your way.

That cannot be or should not be the first time you go to pick up your Bible. If that's the only time you persist in the word, then you won't be equipped when the trials come upon you. Instead, persist in the word of God every single day. That way you are constantly being filled with his word. It's being actively stored up in your heart.

So then when trials come, you're already equipped to know how to exercise the faith to walk through them. Next, write this down. If you're going to press on to the abundant life, you must persist in prayer to God. Christians need to spend time in the Bible, but they need to spend time praying to God. And there's a powerful connection between these two.

A Christian who reads their Bible consistently will be better able to learn how to recognize the voice of God when he speaks to them in prayer. When you pray, sometimes God will speak the specific instruction that applies to your circumstance. He'll speak it by way of his spirit in you, giving you a specific instruction that may not be in the Bible. For example, God may prompt you to call this person. Go to this address.

Sign up for biblical counseling with this counselor. Go ask that person for forgiveness by name. God wants to lead us, and he will at times speak to us when we are praying to him, revealing something to us that we need to know. And his speaking to us this way will never contradict what the Bible says, but it might give us a specific piece of information we need that's not in the Bible. So set aside time to be quiet with the Lord every day, and also practice praying to him throughout the day in your comings and in your goings.

Ask God to fill you with the spirit to help you see his vision for your life more clearly. Ask God to help you see and understand the nature of the obstacles that you're facing more clearly. Ask God to show you how to press through those obstacles in a way that will lead you to the abundant life that you so desperately want to experience.

Next, write this down. If you're going to press on to the abundant life, you must persist with the Church of God. The first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy isn't called the Frodo of the Ring. It's called the fellowship of the Ring. Frodo couldn't accomplish the task of getting the Ring to Mordor all by himself.

The task was too great. He needed the fellowship of his friends to get the job done. When you read about Paul's life in the back two-thirds of the Book of Acts, notice how Paul is almost never alone in his travels. He is always with a band of brothers and sisters, pressing through the challenges they face together. The exception was when Paul was on trial or in prison.

Other than those occasions, the great apostle Paul was doing life together with other believers in very meaningful ways. He needed the fellowship of the church in order to keep pressing on through the opposition that he faced. And we, I hope you know this, we are in no less need of biblical fellowship than the great apostle Paul was. You and I need the church. We have to get to this place where we don't view the church as a luxury in our life that we can dismiss or not depending on whims or how we're feeling Christian.

You have to view the church as an absolute necessity in your life if you're going to experience the abundant life that Jesus wants you to live. And that means we need more than just five minutes of small talk at the beginning and the end of every church service once a week. Hebrews chapter ten, verses 24 to 25 says this, and it's going to be on the screen. Let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other. And all the more as you see the day approaching.

The call of scripture is clear. Don't neglect meeting together with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Schedule it, prioritize it, make it happen. Why? First, because God says so.

You don't need a second. But I'm going to give you a second reason. Because we need to experience the encouragement that's available to us in such a group. There is encouragement to press on, to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, to trust him when it's hard to see what he's up to in our life. We are going to need courage to face some of the giants in our life.

Encouragement from the saints could be a means of getting that courage that we need in order to press on. So we need meaningful participation with the church for the sake of encouragement, according to Hebrews 10. But we also need the church so that we can experience more of Jesus in our life. You can't experience as much of Jesus as is possible for you to experience unless you're meaningfully connected to a local church.

If Jesus is the source of abundant life, and he is, then the more of Jesus that I can experience, the more abundance I can experience. And here's how Jesus has designed this to work. It's genius and it's beautiful. In 1 Corinthians, chapters twelve through 14, Paul explains that every Christian has a spiritual gift given to them by God, a way that they've been empowered by God to bless the rest of the members of the body of Christ. And you and I need to experience the spiritual gifts that God has given to other members in the church, gifts that you and I don't have, gifts that God didn't give to us on purpose.

He gave other people spiritual gifts that we don't have. So that we would have to spend time together in a meaningful way with our church family if we're ever going to have a chance to experience those gifts through them. There's a part of Jesus that I cannot experience unless I'm spending meaningful time with other believers in the church. This means that if you're not actively connected to the life of the church, then you are robbing yourself of the grace of God that would come to you through your brothers and sisters in Christ. And not only that, if you are not actively connected to the life of the church in a meaningful way, then you are actively robbing your brothers and sisters in the church of the grace of God that would come to them in their life through your life.

There's no way around it. You and I can't experience the fullness of the life of Jesus apart from meaningful participation in the life of the church body. And that means that it might be through the church that Jesus gives us what we need in order to press on through certain obstacles that are standing in our way.

So if you're going to press on to the abundant life, you must persist in the word of God. You must persist in prayer to God. You must persist with the church of God.

Now, all this talk about pressing on through opposition has the potential to sound like heavy work for some people. And this is why we have to talk about the grace of God. Now, I don't want you to mishear what I'm saying. You do have a role to play in this adventure with Jesus. He's not going to force you to do anything against your will.

He's not going to drag you kicking and screaming into the abundant life. You're going to have to make that choice to take the next step that he makes clear to you. But that's it. You get to choose. That's what you do.

That's what you bring to the table. That may be hard, depending on what that choice entails, but that is not the heavy lifting. God's grace is what is doing all the work in this adventure that we're on. Titus, chapter two, verse eleven, is going to be on the screen, says this, for the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. When did the grace of God appear?

Well, it appeared when Jesus came. Jesus is the grace of God in the flesh. And when he came, he had a crystal clear vision for his life. He came to do the will of his father. He came to purchase a people for God.

He came to offer up his life as a sacrifice and a substitute for ours. He came to die so that we could live. He faced enormous obstacles on the way to his securing eternal life for us. He pressed on through all of Satan's temptations. He pressed on through the religious leaders hatred and jealousy and constant conspiracy to kill him.

He pressed on through people not loving him for him, but only loving the thing he could give to them. He pressed on through one of his closest companions, selling him out to the religious leaders for a bag of 30 pieces of silver. He pressed on. When the rest of his disciples abandoned him in his toughest hour. He pressed on through the injustice of his arrest and the illegal trial he faced.

He pressed on through the mockery and taunting that he endured. He pressed on through the physical beating he endured at the hands of the Romans. He pressed on through the hearing the chants of the very people that he came to save, crying out, crucify him. Crucify him. He pressed on through the physical agony of having his body stapled to a wooden cross.

He pressed on through the spiritual, mental and emotional agony of having the weight of the sin of the entire world placed upon him while he hung on the cross. He pressed on through the punishment he incurred on our behalf when the Father executed justice for our sin upon him. He pressed on through to the very end until every single sin was satisfied. And then he uttered the words, it's finished. And he gave up his spirit and he died on that cross.

And his body was taken down, wrapped in grave clothes and placed in a tomb.

But he wasn't finished pressing on because three days later, Jesus pressed on through the power of death when he conquered it by rising from it. And because Jesus, who is the grace of God, because Jesus pressed on through every single obstacle that stood in his way, on the path that was set before him, we can have his life empower ours. God gives us the grace we need to press on to the abundant life. The grace of God saves you and causes the spirit of the living God to fill your life. The grace of God shows you what his vision for your life is.

The grace of God shows you what the obstacles in your life are. The grace of God shows you how to navigate those obstacles and to press through them. The grace of God gives you the desire to want more of the abundant life that Jesus has for you. The grace of God gives you the power to take the step of faith forward that's required to press through the obstacles on the way to abundant life. The grace of God makes everything possible for you and me.

All we have to do is take Jesus at his word and trust him to take whatever step forward he's illuminating for us.

What area of your life do you want to see the abundance of Jesus permeate? What is your vision for your life? Does it line up with God's vision for your life? What hindrances in your life are attempting to stop you from moving forward toward the abundant life in Jesus? What will persistence look like in your life?

What do you need Jesus to help you with in order to move forward in faith? The obstacles that Frodo faced seemed impossible to overcome when he was in the middle of them. But after the ring was finally destroyed, I'm sure he was happy he pressed through them. The challenges the apostle Paul faced are hard for us to imagine. But when he reflected back on his life, when he had finished running his race, I am sure that he didn't regret what it cost him to persevere through any of them because of what was experienced on the other side.

Many souls saved and many churches planted. And I am sure that many of you in this room are facing giants of your own right now. But I can promise you this, if you press through them, holding on to Jesus'hand the entire way, you will not regret the pain you overcome. When you get to experience more of the abundant life that lies on the other side of the challenge church, I implore us to press on through whatever obstacles that would try to hinder us from moving forward to the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. Amen.

Amen. Let's pray, Jesus, I just pray as we pray all the time. Lord, you know how frail we are. You know how weak we are, how slow to understand we are. You know our propensity to have taste for glue.

And you need to give us a better vision. You need to help us see. You need to fill us with your spirit, fill us with your power and lead us. You need to help us. We're desperate for you, and we could do nothing apart from you.

And so, Jesus, please don't let us give up. Help us do whatever it takes to press on through to get to the other side. Give us a taste of the abundance. Let us rest in it. Let us taste it enough that we never want to go back.

We never want to settle for anything less than it, than for more of you in every single area of our lives.

Be the center, be the focus, be the beginning and the middle of the end of everything we say, think, and do. Lord Jesus, that's the cry of our heart. Bring it to pass. We're asking these things, Lord for your glory and for our deepest joy and satisfaction. We pray these things in your name, Lord.

Amen. Amen.

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