God is the Source of all life. God is the Center of all life. In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). You cannot have life apart from God, for in him (Jesus) is life itself (John 1:4). Every good gift you may experience as a part of having a good life comes from God (James 1:17). God cannot give you all the good things that make for a good life without giving you himself. To give you joy, God must give you himself. It is the same with love, mercy, compassion, hope, strength, and wisdom.
You need God if you are to flourish. You cannot flourish on your own, or by depending on anything God created. Everything in the world is meant to be supplemental to, in the service of, and a signpost to God. When things of the world are rightly ordered around God, they point to God. If anything gets into the center of your life other than God, it becomes an idol. It becomes your “god.” It cannot and will not save you. It cannot and will not give you abundance of life.
The devotionals for the next 7 weeks will help you go deep into the Word of God. Study, pray, reflect, journal, and expect that God will speak to you through his words, and he will bring change into your life.
1. Jesus = Life
Read John 1:4, 6:27-40, 6:68-69, 8:12, 10:10, 11:25-26, 14:6.
The theme of life is one of the most powerful and recurring themes in the Gospel of John. Today’s devotional time is meant for you to become familiar with several of the main passages that speak of life. Read each passage and look for one or two main ideas in each one that helps you understand how you will experience the abundant life that Christ has for you.
Pray: Spend some time being grateful for all that Christ has done. Slow down and notice all the life around you. Be aware of your own life—the breaths you take, the sights you see, what you hear, and what you have. You are alive, and you are alive in Jesus Christ.
Note: Every day this week, spend additional time simply noticing how much life is around you. You are soaked in life. As you notice, say “thank you” to Christ for all he has done for you.
2. The Abundant Life
Read John 10:10-18.
This is the single most important passage that shapes all of my thinking about The Flourishing Project. In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates the second half of verse 10 in this way: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” Real! Eternal! More! Better! That is the life we have through Christ. Jesus contrasts his mission to give life with the thief who comes to take away life. He continues talking about what it will cost him to give you this real and eternal, more and better life. It will cost Jesus his life! Jesus will go to his ultimate end to give you life. You are that precious and the life he will give you is that essential.
Think About It: There are thieves that steal, kill, and destroy. What and who are the thieves you have encountered throughout your life? What have these thieves taken from you? How have you been hurt and diminished by these thieves? What and who are the most current thieves in your life?
Think About It More: What are some words or phrases that come to mind when you think about the quality of life Jesus has for you? Make a list of those ideas. As you make a list, think about your current experience of life.
Pray: Jesus tells us that when we pray according to his will those prayers are answered. It is certainly his will to give you full and eternal, more and better life. If you are not experiencing that kind of life, pray for the grace to know why you are not thriving. Pray for the healing and renewing work of Christ to flow into you. Pray for the wisdom to walk in the way of Christ that will lead you to a place of flourishing (John 14:6).
3. Deep Connection
Read John 15:1-8.
This is one of my favorite biblical passages. It speaks of deep connection to Jesus that leads to fruitfulness. It is the vine and branches image. Jesus is the originating Vine (the source from which all blessings flow) and you are a branch that is connected to Jesus. It is a serious problem not to bear fruit (verse 2). For those who have fruitfulness, they are pruned for even more fruit (verse 2). Bearing fruit is only possible when you are connected to the Vine (verses 4-5). You are to have much life/fruit (verse 8). Finally, you are to have a fruitfulness of life that lasts, that is sustained over time (verse 7). More fruit. Much fruit. Lasting fruit.
Study: What are the most powerful truths in this passage that grab your attention? Pay close attention to verse 8. What do you learn about fruitfulness and flourishing here?
Self-Assess: How fruitful has your life been in recent months? What are some of the good results that are happening in, through, and around you, as you serve the purposes of God? How satisfied are you with your current level of fruitfulness?
Dream and Desire: How much fruit would you like to bear in the areas that are important to you? Write down a few aspects of life that are important to you. Where do you most want to flourish and experience true abundance of life?
4. Alive in Christ
Read Ephesians 2:1-9.
This is an extraordinarily rich passage, written by the Apostle Paul. It describes what life was like for us before we began to follow Jesus. It describes why we were not thriving, but were languishing. It describes what God has done so you will flourish. These nine verses give a powerful presentation of sin and salvation. You will want to read this passage twice before you do the reflection, study, and prayer assignments.
Study: Make one list that describes what life was like apart from Christ. Then make a list of what God has done for you and all the ideas that describe the life you now possess. This is Paul’s way of describing a life of thriving.
Worship: This is one of those passages that is too good to be true, but it is true and it is the good news of Christ. Look at verse 7: the incomparable riches of Christ. Also, read Ephesians 3:20 about the immeasurably more Christ will do. Spend time in praise, gratitude, reverence, and wonder at the kind of life Jesus has for you.
Focus: Remember, you receive all this when you receive Christ. Every good gift you receive is received in Christ. In giving you Jesus, God the Father has given you abundant life and all that is contained in it.
5. The Light of Life
Read Ephesians 4:17-24; 5:8-21.
In John 1:4, we read: “In him was life and that life was the light of mankind.” The New Testament weaves together the themes of life, light, and love. These realities flow and mix together. Paul picks up the theme of light and describes a flourishing life. This final passage for devotional work is a longer one. It also tells us what must happen if we are to truly flourish and enjoy a life of abundance: We must live as children of the light. Paul gives specific details about how we should live.
Here is a VERY IMPORTANT IDEA that will be repeated throughout the entire Flourishing Project: Jesus is the way, truth, and life (John 14:6). To enjoy the life Christ has for us, we must believe the truth he tells us and follow the way he sets before us. If we do not believe the truth and live in the way, we WILL NOT experience the abundance of life that is meant to be ours.
Study: Notice all the words and phrases that describe a life apart from or before Christ. Now look at the words that describe life in Christ.
Respond: There are several main instructions given about living as a child of the light. In Ephesians 4:22, 23, 24 and 5:8, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 there are specific instructions. Make a list of each instruction. Then look them over. Assess how well and how often you put these things into practice. Here is what you need to know: If you put these things into practice, you will experience a flourishing life. If you do not put them into practice, you will not live into the fullness of life Christ has for you. What is your desire and your intention?
Pray: Spend time talking these things over with Christ. Where you are weak, ask for help. Where you intentionally resist, ask for forgiveness. Where you are feeling led to make changes, ask for his strength. With Christ, all things are possible—including living as a child of the light.
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