Tag Archives: John 10:10

Inviting the thief into your house

imageYou’ve heard about Save the Whales and Save the Rainforests. Perhaps you know a Global Seed Vault exists as a fail safe protection against natural or man-made disasters. The Harvard Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts even houses the world’s rarest pigments to make sure their distinct colors are not lost. Whether it’s Save the Pygmy Frog, Save the Pigment, Save the World, or Save the Child, you’ll find groups of people to rally behind a cause they deem worthy of protection.

Closer to home, we lock our doors to protect our belongings and loved ones. At the same time, how often do we leave the doors wide open for the enemy to come charging into our homes and our lives? We warned our children about the subtlety of movies and books that could influence them in a harmful way.  They would sometimes argue that a little bit of cussing and swearing wouldn’t bother them. They said it just goes in one ear and out the other. It was the same with movie scenes that were unfit for children or adults.

The truth is, what goes in, stays in. Our brains are hard-wired to remember things, especially things that are atracked to emotion. Be it grief or pain, horror or enticement, emotionally laden words and images chemically imprint themselves on our memory. Maybe you know from experience how seemingly impossible it is to “unsee” a gruesome or unwholesome image; how challenging it is to “unhear” coarse talk that works is its way into our vocabulary.  The deeper the emotion, the more firm the imprint and more difficult to erase. Inviting some movies, books, talk, and habits into our lives is like leaving the door unlocked and wide open when we leave on vacation. We might as well put out a sign, “Thieves, help yourself.” Jesus himself warned, “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)

Are you tired of having your joy and peace stolen by the chaos and corruption around you? Are you tired of marriages and families being destroyed by what seems to be the norm in an immoral culture? Have you sometimes found Jesus’ promise of a full, abundant life buried somewhere under an avalanche of pressing forces and influences that run contrary to your deepest values?

Consider the antidote:

Above all else, guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7


Of course, you know all these truths, don’t you? But are you applying them to protect your heart against bitterness, anger, greed, and corrupt thinking? (I’m examining myself as I ask.) Having asked God to make us a “new creation” and purify our heart and set it after his, are we guarding against the very things that threaten our peace and joy, or are we inviting divisive and coarse talk, immoral thinking, wasteful activities,  and greed to establish strongholds within us? It’s one thing to know we should lock our doors against intruders. It’s another thing to actually do it and also guard the doors to our heart.

Perhaps our children thought we were being prudish in protecting them from the horribly bad influences of the world. But protecting your heart is not about being prudish. It’s about being prudent. It’s about protecting what is most valuable. It’s easy to be seduced by the dark side. It happens so subtly. One small indiscretion leads to another and then another, until we find ourselves thinking or doing what would earlier have been unimaginable to us.

If you’re looking for a good cause to support, something worthwhile to protect, then first protect your heart from the thief who threatens to steal your joy.  Ask God, “Search my heart O Lord. Reveal what strongholds need demolished in my life. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Then actively guard your heart by what you let influence it.



Beyond the curse in your life


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


Are you enjoying a rich abundant life, full of passion and purpose, blessing in each day, a cup overflowing with goodness? Or do you feel lately that too much joy and prosperity have been stolen from your life and see life as a glass less than half full? If we find our days abundantly filled with goodness, it seems that it doesn’t take long for something to come along and threaten to steal that away from us. It’s the nature of the life we live in a world that has been cursed since the fall of man. In Genesis 3:14-17, God cursed the devil for deceiving the woman and because man did not listen to God, he cursed the ground as punishment, making life one of toil. You might wonder, “Will it always be that way?” Thankfully, the answer is NO.

While it seems Satan foiled God’s good plan for you, nothing could be further from the truth. From the very beginning, God promised he would send a rescuer, a redeemer, the very one we desperately need to restore and renew our lives, to recover and return us to how he designed us to live.

God’s plan is to save you for an eternal life of joy with him and to give you an abundant life on earth, invincible to the circumstances that come upon you. Satan’s plan is to snatch the souls of men and women before they accept Jesus, or to destroy their joy and make them live miserable lives as defeated Christians, never feeling good enough. He wants us to give up on God, or at the very least to become so busy that we easily forget him in our daily lives.

God’s plan is “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:10)  ALL things, not some. All joy and strength, love and grace, truth and hope. While God lives in heaven and we live on earth, his plan is that there be no separation between the two. Randy Alcorn states, “There will be no more divided loyalties or divided realms. There will be one cosmos, one universe united under one Lord – forever. This is the unstoppable plan of God. This is where history is headed.”

The question is not only who will reign on earth forever but who reigns in your heart right now? Does God have full dominions and authority in your life? Does he fuel your ambitions and goals? Or does he just have a tiny slice of your morning prayer and Sunday worship? Do you know anything that is able to reclaim, rebuild, restore, and redeem the woes of your life like God? Before sending his disciples out to spread the good news, baptize, and teach those they met, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Do you know why he said that? It’s because his same all powerful authority was available to them through the power of his indwelling Spirit in them.

That same authority is available to you and me – today. His authority, if we accept it, has authority over our pain, our disappointment, our sorrows, and our despair. While the day is yet to come in heaven when there will “no longer be any curse” (Revelation 22:3), we have victory over the power of the curse now, through themthe indwelling Spirit of Jesus.  It’s realizing the paradox that God’s answer to our prayers is “already and yet to come.” We pray confidently because we know he has already won the battle and his good outcome is secure.

My very best days are those I remember to begin by asking the Holy Spirit to take over my agenda, to interrupt my “precious” plans, and to heighten my senses so I will be aware of those around me so I can see them through his eyes.

Observes Alcorn, “Under the curse human culture has not been eliminated, but it has been severely hampered by sin, death and decay. But have hope. One day, sin and sorrow will be forever thwarted and his goodness displayed as far as the curse is found. The curse is real but it is temporary,”


While we wait with eager anticipation, let’s live with the resurrection power of Jesus in our lives now.


From routine to the edge of adventure



Do you ever have the feeling like you are stuck in a routine, doing the same thing over and over, never really getting anywhere, but instead just running in circles, and just wasting your life away?


That was the plight of Bill Murray’s character in the movie, Groundhog Day. Every day he would wake up on Groundhog Day and everything would be the same as yesterday. The same pointless routines, the same meaningless dialog, and the same boring and unfulfilled existence.


Maybe you feel the same way. You look back at the past year and ask, “Where did time go?” You look back over a lifetime of toil and ask, “What happened to my goals and dreams?”   You’re stuck in a rut that seems like a grave with the ends dug out. You ask, “Is there a way out?”


Maybe today is the day to drive a stake in the ground or draw a line firmly in the wet concrete that proclaims, “I’m not going to waste my life. I am going to live a life of adventure with purpose and passion!”


What does it mean for a Christian to ditch the wasted routine and start living on the edge of adventure?


Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). He said it is like one who lost a treasure and gave up everything in order to find it.


It might look like Paul who considered everything he once sought to win as becoming like rubbish, worthless compared to knowing Jesus. Not just knowing more about Jesus, but knowing Him in such an intimate way that compels you to follow Him in everything you do. As the martyred Jim Elliot said,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”


Elliot’s fellow missionary, martyred by his side, summed it this way:

I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy into it.


Francis Schaefer said it is the life being visibly marked by the expression of God’s love for others. Like a mentor of mine when I was a youth said, “To have even your unconscious thoughts and desires bear the mark of Jesus.”


Maybe the question isn’t, “Am I ready to get out of a rut?” Maybe the question is, “Do I really want to bear the full mark of Jesus and live the ‘abundant life’ adventure of following Him?” The call is yours. Answer it today.



Verily I say…whatever you ask




Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you. John 16:23b KJV


Having talked so much on the troubles and suffering we must endure, this verse offers us such great hope! Not perhaps what many have acclaimed it to say, but something greater!  Many would have this be a magic genie lamp that you rub while saying, “In your name, Lord” as the magical incantation to get whatever brings us a little pleasure. We want sweets now while He invites us to be satisfied at His banquet table forever. I believe Jesus spoke this truth so that we may know the most immense pleasure of enjoying God in all situations.


The context of this passage is Jesus preparing His disciples for His leaving this world. The bewildered followers asked, “What does He mean?” Jesus explains that they will be sorrowful for a while but their sorrow will turn into a joy that no one could take from them (v 22). In this context, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you.” “Verily” means ‘you can count on this!’


He continues by telling them that after their sorrow is done their joy will be full (v 24). It is why He came to this earth, that we may live abundantly, without fear that the enemy will kill, steal or destroy our joy (John 10:10). He offers joy known as peace in a world filled with tribulation; peace because Jesus has overcome the world (v 33).


It is what we believe as Christians, unless we follow some other doctrine than what the bible preaches. Our ultimate gift is to be able to enjoy the presence of God more than anything else; imperfectly now and perfectly forever. We are glad to worship Him because His glory exceeds the weight of our sorrows or anything else we might imagine. We take joy in faithfulness. We take joy in the great hope that when this life is done, we will see Jesus face to face. While we see only through a veil now we will then see His glory in its fullest. Our hope and confidence is in His promise we’ll enter into His perfect presence forever… no more pain, no more sorrow or tears. We take joy that the end of this life will be the beginning of an eternity of enjoying God’s greatness and goodness.


And from where comes such confidence? It comes from the promise that whoever asks the Father in the name of Jesus shall receive this great joy, whatever we ask and more if we just wait. Our hope is to “Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21





Tired of being robbed?


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. – Jesus, John 10:10


When I was a teenager, our house was broken into. The thief didn’t take much except my jar of quarters, set aside for my college fund. It wasn’t nearly so bad as those who have been robbed of much more, but to me it was a raw deal. Why would anyone take a kid’s money?


Perhaps you’ve had something stolen from you too, maybe something a lot more valuable than a jar full of quarters. In fact, we all have been robbed, and sometimes it is our own fault. We might lock the door to our house but what about the door to our life? The articles we read, the things we choose to look at, the movies we watch, the company we keep, the thoughts we think, even our private ambitions – all open the door to our life and can steal from us the very essence of an abundant life.


The enemy, a thief, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. How does he do this? He connives and lies in such a way that it sounds believable, even desirable. And what do we lose in this robbery? Joy, confidence, security, sometimes faith and hope. And so often, we are the ones who let the thief into our house…our life.


Perhaps you can reflect back on decisions you made that went poorly and resulted in turmoil for you and others. It’s said that the train of sin will take you farther than you wanted to go and charge you more than you wanted to pay. There are consequences to robberies, including the ones we choose to allow. All decisions can be forgiven, but some bring consequences we can’t control.


But wait. There is good news. Jesus tells us that He has come to bring abundant life. He offers renewed joy, restored hope, and redeemed value. The thief tries to break in and steal our joy and our hope. But the Son of God offers a full life, that cannot be stolen away. You can lose all your money but still be rich. You can lose all your property and still have a home in His kingdom. Your name can be tarnished, but it cannot be wiped from the Book of Life. Your body may be robbed of pleasure but your soul will survive. Your relationships may be torn asunder but your relationship with God is not threatened. Every circumstance may point to darkness and despair, but God’s light in you cannot be extinguished – it always shines hope.


Are you tired of being robbed? Turn to Jesus right now, and accept His free gift of a life that is abundant.


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus, in John 10:10



Abundant life



We went out early to start harvesting the Nanking cherries. Loaded with tasty red berries, they will bring an abundant crop for making jelly. It will take a while to pick them all as the ones in the shade ripen more slowly than the ones in the sunlight.


Isn’t that the way it is with us? The more we are exposed to God’s light, the better we develop and mature; the more we mature, the more abundant our life becomes. Jesus says that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy but He has come to give us abundant life.


What is this abundant life? Is it one filled with the blessings of good health, riches, lots of friends, property, fame, and success? Sometimes, these do come to the faithful; we see plenty of examples of such temporary fruit bestowed upon the unfaithful too. As satirist Mark Twain observed: the rain falls on both the just and the unjust as does the sunshine. So where is the real abundant life found?


A Russian engineer discovered this one evening. Marci had been tutoring his wife, a physicist, in speaking English and we had been invited to their home. After supper we started talking about life in Russia and life in the USA. When I asked him about the church in Russia, he proudly announced that he was an atheist scientist and that he believed only in what he could see and touch. I told him how my relationship with Jesus had impacted my daily and eternal life. He responded, “There is one thing you Christians have that we atheists do not have; you have real hope.”


In a moment of light, he grasped the essence of truth without clinging to it himself. Real hope in God’s unending love and in the constant peace of His presence is the essence of abundant life.


“The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear (respect) Him and those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18 This is real hope, fortified by the awareness that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Our hope is in the God who calls us by name and who promises that he will be with us when we pass through the floods; that when we walk through the fire the flames will not destroy us. (Isaiah 43:1-2) This is the same God who promises peace that transcends all understanding and peace at ALL times. (Phil. 4:7, 2 Thess. 3:16)


This hope for the moment, day, life now and life eternal – this real hope is the center of abundant life, life lived to the full with purpose and passion. Aren’t you tired of the enemy stealing, killing, and destroying your joy and your hope? Rest in the abundant life Jesus promises today.


“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus in John 10:10

Live Abundantly

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

When I ask people if they’ve ever felt their joy, passion, and sense of purpose has been lost or taken from them, nearly all reply ‘yes’ to some aspect of their life. When I ask them would they reclaim it if they could the answer is always a resounding ‘yes!’ That is the message of John 10:10, a message of promise and hope.

We have an enemy and he wants to kill, steal, and destroy us and our families. He wants us to live hopeless defeated lives. And sometimes we willingly let him. But Jesus wants us to have an abundant life, full of joy, love, and peace. Even when life takes away physical things: health, finances, relationships, property it doesn’t have to steal away our heart in the midst of these trials. That is what Jesus offers, the ability to endure and the real and lasting hope of restoration.

Do you think your light will shine more brightly into the world when you are held captive by despair over all that is lost, or when you maintain an abundant life by focusing on what you have: a victorious and loving God who protects and provides for you?

I’m not talking about being a bobble-head Christian with a pasted smile and prerecorded message that says, “I love Jesus and nothing bothers me.” I’m talking about real people who face real and sometimes immense problems and yet respond with the real persevering power of a risen Savior. None of us do this perfectly. All of us get drug down. And all of us need each other during those times. But living the abundant life is pursued by doing what Jesus said. Claim the promise of abundant life in the midst of everything else around you; the abundant life that is filled with compassion for others. Then watch your light glow brighter. It all starts with a daily conversation with God asking Him to draw you close and help you live life abundantly.

Cliff Barrows: Rejoicing Always – Even Through Difficulty

Cliff Barrows, long time Crusade song leader for Billy Graham has faced a number of physical challenges in the latter part of his ninety years on earth: “Part of the reality of aging,” he reflects. But what is different about Barrows from many folks, and one of the keys to aging so well is his indomitable joyful spirit. Many folks allow aging, and any number of other life circumstances to steal their joy, but Barrows knows the truth of this verse well:
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

This truth allows anyone who trust Jesus to fulfill it to live life with a deep sense of thankfulness. Barrows says it all goes back to believing, claiming, and continually reciting God’s promises.

“Expectancy is a great word,” Barrows said. “Expect great things from God.

He strongly encourages everyone to read and think about Jesus’ promise of heaven, found in John 14:1-2.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (NKJV)

“And boy that brings great comfort,” Barrows offers. “And that’s how believers, in the midst of grief, in the midst of loss, even the loss of a loved one, can know that Jesus is there. He said, ‘I will never leave thee or forsake thee.’ ”

But such an attitude of gratitude doesn’t just come upon us. Like any fruit, it must be cultivated and nurtured to grow in our hearts. “Expectancy is a great word,” Barrows said. “Expect great things from God.”

Of course, Barrows can’t help but sing hymns throughout the day, no matter what circumstances rise to meet him:
“There is joy in serving Jesus, every moment, every day.”
“The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
“ I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God.”

“What do we expect God to do?” Barrows asks. “ I’ve experienced so much with Mr. Graham because he’s a man that has a joyful spirit, a joyful heart.” Barrows offers one more word of encouragement—one that’s just as true whether you’re 19 or 90:

“God has a plan for your life,” he said. “You don’t need to step outside of the will of God to find it.”

How is your joy meter doing these days? Do you require a ‘good day’ to find reasons to be thankful? Or are you cultivating and nurturing a joyful spirit in your heart that transcends and sustains you through all of life, even the painful and difficult times?

Too Tired To Give In

We saw a Rosa Parks poster in the hospital. It reminded us of the tremendous Civil Rights museum in Memphis that featured the bus that she rode that historical day she refused to give up her seat. Parks’ quote says, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. . . The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Do you know that feeling of always giving in to some one or some habit or situation that is oppressing you? You want to stand up for yourself, your best interests, but inevitably give in to the easy way out, a way that is filled with remorse and sorrow. Maybe your health suffers also, and the wellbeing of those around you.

It doesn’t have to be that way. God has given us a resilient will that can work for us, a will that chooses to take another step, a will that says no to the things that pollute our minds and bodies, a will that chooses to believe truth, and acts on that belief, a will that thanks him in the midst of painful and uncertain circumstances.

I remember a colleague of mine, Jay Taylor responding to my comment about how tempting the donuts in the break-room were. The truth of his simple reply resonated well with me: “They aren’t tempting if you just walk away.”

Temptation, chronic pain, and anxiety are all thieves. They steal, kill and destroy that which is best for you. What are you letting oppress and steal from your life? Whether it is a hasty tongue, unhealthy sarcasm, food, caffeine, sports, TV, a defeated attitude, a worrisome heart, or an unquenchable desire, there is a solution. Refuse to give in. Walk away. Take back what is yours. Keep your eyes on the one true God who wants you to live a victorious life. Ask Him for not only his direction but also his empowerment in your life. You’ll find it in his Word. It’s part of the good plan he has for you…when you exercise the will to accept it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (Jesus) John 10:10