If you’re a Christian, you should be enjoying life.
Did you know that?
If you’re born again, if you’ve made Jesus Christ your Lord, you should be so satisfied—so joyful, so overflowing with life that you should seem almost ridiculously optimistic to the unbelievers around you. You should greet every day with such confident expectation that it’s going to be filled with the goodness of God that others watch you with wonder and ask, “How can you be so full of hope when the world is so dark? How can you be so certain your life will be blessed?”
Those are the kinds of questions the early New Testament believers heard all the time. That’s why Peter had to write them and say, “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). Apparently, those first century disciples understood what many, long-faced, woebegone Christians today do not. They realized Jesus truly meant it when He said in John 10:9-10 (The Amplified Bible), “I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”
Most believers today can quote those verses, but few fully believe them. They don’t realize if we, as Christians, are not enjoying abundant life we’re missing it somewhere. We’re not taking hold by faith of what Jesus came to give us.
1. Realize that You Have a Good Shepherd
“But, Brother Copeland, you don’t understand my situation,” someone might say. “I have some serious problems. I came from a poor family. I don’t have the opportunities most other people have. My circumstances are bad.”
That may be true, but according to Jesus, all those things are irrelevant. He said anyone who receives Him as the Door of salvation becomes a free person. They can come and go and find plentiful pasture (or provision) for their spirit, soul and body. They can have abundant life.
Notice Jesus didn’t say that just certain people—like preachers, or highly educated people, or people of a certain color and a certain social standing could do it. He said anybody who came through the Door could have and enjoy overflowing, abundant life.
If you are an anybody you qualify. You’re free to come and go as the Lord leads you. You’re not trapped inside your natural circumstances, or locked out of God’s blessings. You have become a free person, and wherever you go you’re going to find pasture. You don’t have to depend on someone else to give it to you. You don’t have to look to your employer, the government or anyone else. Jesus is your Shepherd and He will lead you. He will provide for you. What you have depends only upon what you are willing to receive from Him.
Oddly enough, many well-meaning believers seem more willing to receive what the devil wants to give them than what Jesus has for them. They’re constantly embracing devilish gifts like sickness, oppression and lack because they’ve been religiously brainwashed to believe God sent those things to teach them something.
But they have it backward. The devil—not Jesus—is the one stealing their health and their finances. He is the one trying to kill and destroy them. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep” (John 10:11, The Amplified Bible).
Does a good shepherd pick up a little lamb and break its legs just so he can demonstrate his ability to fix them? Does a good shepherd starve them or leave them without water? Certainly not. When you’re under the care of the Good Shepherd, you can say what David said in Psalms 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (verses 1-3).
2. Chase Away the Shadows
“Yeah, but that psalm doesn’t stop there,” someone might say. “It says that sometimes we’ll have to go through the valley of the shadow of death.”
Sure it does. But you can even enjoy life in that valley if you’ll stay with your Shepherd. That’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 40 years. I’ve found out that it doesn’t matter where I go, if Jesus is with me, things will be good.
He’ll turn that valley of the shadow of death into a banquet hall for me. He’ll lead me into green pastures. He’ll make me lie down beside the still waters. He’ll make sure I have everything I need to have and enjoy abundant life even in that seemingly dismal place.
So if Jesus says we need to go through the valley of the shadow of death, I don’t mind going there. I just say, “Well, praise God, let’s go! I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.”
“But, Brother Copeland, what about the shadow of death? Doesn’t that scare you?”
Why should it? My Lord and Savior is the biggest Person in the valley and He is right there with me. What’s more, a shadow never hurt anyone. All a shadow can do is scare you. The shadow of a dog may look big enough to bite your head off. But when you turn on the light, you find out the dog behind the shadow is half the size it appeared and it doesn’t even have any teeth!
Remember that the next time you’re in a valley and the devil tries to cast a shadow over you. Instead of letting that shadow scare you, just turn the light on and get rid of the silly thing. You’re fully equipped to do that because the Bible says you are born of light (Ephesians 5:8). It says you can walk in the light as Jesus is in the light (I John 1:7). You can cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12).
As a New Testament believer, you don’t have to put up with the shadow of death like the Old Testament saints did. You’ve been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of Light (Colossians 1:12-13). So don’t let the devil darken even one of your days. When he tries, throw him into confusion with the brightness of your light.
3. Live in the Light of Love
Think about it and you’ll see why. Have you ever walked out of a dark room into the bright sunshine? You couldn’t see anything for a moment or two, could you? That’s what happened to Saul on the road to Damascus. He’d been living in darkness, persecuting Christians, and when Jesus shined the light of God’s glory on him, he couldn’t see for three days. Someone had to go pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit before he could get his sight back.
According to John 1:5, that’s the effect light always has on darkness. That’s why, when the light of Jesus shines in the darkness, the darkness comprehends it not. The word translated comprehends (or comprehendeth in the King James) can also be translated find. So you might say it this way, when the light shines in the darkness, the darkness can’t find it.
Wouldn’t you like to live so fully in the light that the devil couldn’t find you? According to the Bible, that’s possible. It tells us we can live in such a way that the wicked one touches us not (I John 5:18).
I John 2:10 gives us the secret to that lifestyle. It says, “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” In other words, the key to living in the light is keeping the New Testament command of love.
Once the Lord spoke to me and said, Wouldn’t it be foolish to walk through the door, turn out the light, and stumble over everything in the room? Yet that’s the way most of My people try to live. They turn the light out by neglecting to keep the commandment of love. They yield to unforgiveness, strife, envy and all kinds of other unloving attitudes and behaviors. Then when they can’t find their way in life, they start crying out to Me. “Oh God, lead me! God, direct me! God, help me!” But all they really need to do is turn the light back on. All they need to do is repent and start walking in love.
The more I thought about that, the more it dawned on me how true that is. Jesus proved it when He was on the earth. No matter how hard the devil tried to corner Him, He could find the way out of any difficulty because He always walked in the light of love.
4. Get Rid of Strife, Unbelief & Unforgiveness
As His disciples, Jesus intends for us to operate the same way. That’s what He had in mind when He said, “…whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). He wasn’t telling us to just let people beat the daylights out of us. He was teaching us to put on the armor of light, to step under the protective covering of love so the devil couldn’t touch us.
The only time we see the Church as a whole walking in that kind of love was during the first great spiritual outpouring in Jerusalem right after the Day of Pentecost. The book of Acts tells us the believers at that time “were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32). They loved each other so completely that they “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:45).
As a result, the power of God got so strong among them that sick people who got within a shadow’s length of Peter would be healed. Sometimes people think the shadow itself did the healing. But there wasn’t any healing power in Peter’s shadow. The power or the light of God that was coming out of him was doing the work.
You were born again as a child of light, so that light is in you in its most powerful form. But it cannot shine forth as long as you keep clouding it with strife, unbelief and unforgiveness.
If you want to walk in the full power of that light, you’ll have to repent of all those things. I don’t mean just feel sorry for it. Repentance isn’t just being sorry, it’s getting in agreement with God about those things, acknowledging to Him that they’re wrong, and then believing you receive your forgiveness for it and your cleansing from it.
Once you’ve done that, determine to become so committed to keeping God’s command of love that you’d rather die than violate it. If someone mistreats you, take the position Jesus and Stephen did when they looked at those who were about to murder them and said, “Father, forgive them….”
That kind of love literally arms you with light. It protects you so that the ugly stuff people say and do doesn’t bother you. You stop worrying about how they’re treating you and concern yourself instead with how you’re treating them.
I’ll never forget the day the Lord showed me that perspective. I’d been moping around because I felt like Gloria wasn’t paying attention to me the way I thought she should, and I said to myself, Aw, she doesn’t care about me anyway.
The second I said that, the Spirit of God jerked me to attention and almost hollered at me. It’s none of your business whether she cares about you or not! It’s your business to care for her! It’s enough for you to know that I care about you. So you see to it that you care for her and whether she cares a thing about you or not is between Gloria and Me!
The Lord’s tone of voice was so strong it left me trembling. I didn’t want Him to ever have to speak to me like that again. So I committed myself right then and there to do what He was telling me to do.
As a result, Gloria and I have walked in the light where our marriage is concerned, and the devil hasn’t been able to touch it. It’s like heaven on earth in our house.
That’s the way our Good Shepherd wants us to live all the time. Everywhere we go, in everything we do, He wants us to enjoy green pastures and rest beside still waters. He wants us to live in freedom, coming and going wherever He leads us. He wants us to enjoy abundant, overflowing life.
Whether we’re walking through the valley or sitting on the mountaintop, He wants us to be living in the light.
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