Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
Every pastor and church leader can testify to the abundant theft the devil achieves almost daily. Because our sinfulness causes us to see the negative quicker than we see the positive, it is easy for us to get discouraged and to overly focus on what the devil steals from us.
We must choose to be intentionally counterintuitive with the Spirit’s help, to see the abundance that God is pouring over us continually.
Many Christ-followers, including my daughter and son-in-law, hold onto Jesus’ promise of abundant life and are finding hope in it. Sure, some abuse this promise by turning it into a false message of guaranteed earthly prosperity, but its power is not diminished by their warped interpretations.
Following Christ is a life of faith, hope, and love. A life that is the only true and eternal life.
Elisha and miracles of abundance
The idea of abundance hit me while I was reading in 2 Kings 3–4.
Many Christians know the famed story of the prophet Elijah. He stood against the false prophets on Mount Carmel and faced down the corrupt leadership of King Ahab and his twisted wife, Queen Jezebel. Still today, the names Ahab and Jezebel are words of insult when used as descriptions.
Less known to me and maybe others are the life and ministry of Elijah’s successor, the prophet Elisha. I must admit that I could not recall a single story about him from memory.
As I reconnected to his story, I found it to be one of God’s abundance.
In 2 Kings 3, the three kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom called on Elisha to help them battle the rebellious king of Moab. In a musical prophecy, Elisha promised them the power of God and they prevailed.
In 2 Kings 4, Elisha met a widow who was about to starve because of a famine in the land. This widow of a prophet had only a flask of olive oil as her last resource. She is in debt, and her creditors are demanding payment. But God abundantly supplied her through the ministry of Elisha. It’s a miracle that would foreshadow what Jesus did when he fed the five thousand, arguably his greatest provisional miracle and the only one recorded by all four gospel writers.
Next, Elisha met a wealthy but barren woman from Shunem. In another of God’s humorous stories, God gives a baby to an older couple. God seems to love this miracle since he repeats it several times in Scripture. Can you imagine it? Amazon delivering diapers to a couple who just got their AARP membership?
However, when the baby grew into a boy, he got sick and died. You can imagine the heartbreak and heartache of this couple. Supporting families who lost children was the hardest thing I ever did as a pastor. The shattered mom laid the boy on Elisha’s bed. When the prophet came and laid down on the boy’s dead body twice, the boy sneezed abundantly (seven times) and was restored to life! Is that crazy or what?
Rounding out 2 Kings 4 are two more miracles of abundance I encourage you to read for yourself. All together, they form a picture of God’s amazing abundance gracefully given to people who are willing to ask, seek and knock in childlike faith.
West Texas hospitality
This past weekend, I experienced this kind of abundance in the form of hospitality as I made my first trip to Midland, Texas. I had a wonderful encounter with the rugged and gracious west Texas people of the plains. I also experienced what’s it’s like to drive for hours against a forty-mile-per-hour headwind filled with red dirt!
The people of Midland, and specifically the First Baptist Church led by Dr. Darin Wood, were abundant and overflowing in their hospitality. This historic church has long been known for its faith and generosity in mission work, literally touching the world with their consistent giving. Their generosity obviously flows from the overflowing spirit that indwells their hearts.
As we fellowshipped in the home of one of the Midland believers, I recalled again the opportunity of hospitality. The early church often met “house to house” (Acts 5:42). Jesus fellowshipped, taught, and did miracles in the homes of people like Peter and Andrew and others. Hospitality is an opportunity in these challenging times for Christians to reclaim and to use as an expression of God’s abundant presence and warm grace expressed through his people.
An Easter Open House
A few years ago, my daughter and her husband modeled this.
As a young married couple, they decided to have an Easter lunch for people they were getting to know in their new jobs and apartment complex. They made invitations and reserved the community room in their complex. Many came and enjoyed a great time of food and relationship-building centered around celebrating Christ’s resurrection.
Could there be a better way to focus on Easter?
I wonder what could happen if more of us opened our homes and our hearts for “Easter Open Houses” this April.
What if we had informal gatherings of those we don’t know or don’t know well who share our street and receive our waves of distant courtesy?
What life-changing, eternity-opening conversations and relationships might get started over a hot dog or cupcake?
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
“Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13 emphasis added).