Image Source: Stock Exchange

Image Source: Stock Exchange

“Abundant Life” – The phrase brings to mind many things for each of us. For some, it might mean material wealth. For others, being surrounded by friends and family. For still others, it means good health and the freedom to serve others without restraint. Certainly, for as many different people there are on the planet, there would likely be definitions of “Abundant Life.”

The real question, though, is what did Jesus mean when he used the term? He said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. If he came to give it to us, if we don’t know what it looks like, perhaps we won’t know if we have it. What if, for many of us, this is an untapped resource?

This week we look at a couple of facets of the “Abundant Life Gemstone.” To do this, we will evaluate our lives a bit inviting God, once again, to search us and know us and show us what we need to adjust. He provides the strength to do it. There is a great deal of joy in following his lead!

In the past, many of us were consumed with dieting, calorie counting, weighing, measuring, researching. The countless hours that we invested in the pursuit of “Thin,” actually may have diminished our ability to be sensitive to what God was calling us to do. We may have magnified our longing for thin so much that God became small in our eyes. Can you relate to this?

If so, we don’t need to condemn ourselves. We can, however, be intentional to be sure this no longer happens.

We want to invite God to show us what “Abundant Living” is for us. This will be individual. What it looks like for me, it may not look like for you. But one thing is certain…it will cause us to look more and more like Jesus and he was definitely “others oriented.” He was God focused and driven by a desire to serve people. This isn’t something we want to fabricate, but as we fix our eyes on Him, he will form a heart in us that cares about what He cares about. There is great joy in that place as we welcome his work in our lives, making us less and less myopic and expanding our vision outwardly.

One of the great things about the Thin Within (or HEAL) approach to eating and body image changes is that, while it may take some time and attention to have it be second nature, it will ultimately become second nature. It won’t require our constant attention the way counting, weighing, measuring did. It ultimately frees us to be consumed LESS with ourselves and more with the things that  God intends for us!

Psalm 37:4 says Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.

We are made by God for a life that is filled with so much more than we often settle for. We think we are happiest when we cater to ourselves, but the truth is, we were wired for community, for service, to have a heart for others. We are going to experience a sense of purpose and joy when we live as God intends! THIS is abundant living!

Have a look at Isaiah 58:6-12.

What is the call of God on our lives based on this passage?

What are the promises offered to us when we pursue His will, His way?

Where, according to this passage, is our healing going to be found?

With the Lord, so much of life is sort of the opposite of what “makes sense” to us. Who would have ever imagined that by giving ourselves away, we would actually experience wholeness.

If we haven’t been living this way, now is a great time to make a shift! There is no condemnation for the past. We may have regrets, but God calls us forward! Let’s move forward into our future with him!

This week’s material encourages you to have a look at your friendships. Do you have supportive, loving, encouraging friends in your life and people that you can love and encourage to pursue Christ? Are there any toxic relationships or people in your life who are like that shouting voice in last Friday’s video–spurning you, criticizing you, mocking you for your faith or your approach to eating and weight? Maybe it is time to ask God to show you his will for these relationships. Are they a hindrance to abundant living? Are boundaries needed?

If you still are without an accountability partner, this website exists to support your journey and there are people who posted as recently as last week that they still would like to be partnered up. Remember this is how it works to get an accountability partner:

1. Visit the Accountability Page

2. Post a bit about yourself–how long you have been involved in Thin Within, your current life situation (kids, empty nest, single, etc.), what your availability is for a partner (daily, email only, etc.)

3. Look at the postings there and see if one sounds like a fit for you based on the bit of information that others have posted.

4. Send me a note to heidi bylsma at gmail dot com (no spaces) and let me know the name of the person you want me to send your email address to and that you are interested in partnering up with her.

There is no reason that, if you want an accountability partner, you shouldn’t have one at this point! If not here online, then get a friend in real life to join you for your journey! We are pressing on and in to know Christ more and to be more like him.

In the activities for this week is a challenge to be still in God’s presence. I highly recommend this activity. It is difficult for us to truly be still. But it is well worth working at it. Share with us what God does!

Let’s welcome what God wants to do in us so that we might experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. He gave his precious life so that we might experience it. We were made for so much more than what we often settle for!

Assignment This Week:

  • Complete the personal study portion of Lesson 6 in your HEAL book.
  • Post your thoughts, insights, questions, comments here so we can share in the experience together!
  • If you haven’t gotten an accountability partner yet, DO!
  • If you have an accountability partner, now might be a good time to connect with one another and evaluate how it is going, should you continue, in what ways you should tweak your partnership. Be honest with one another. If you are looking for more accountability, just share with your partner this is so. If your availability has changed, tell your partner that.
  • Evaluate your friendships, using the suggestions in the lesson.
  • Complete the “Be Still Before God” activity. Share with us what happened!
  • Come back here on Friday for the final “Group Session”