“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”
Wow! This lesson is so timely for me. Most of yesterday, until I wrote a God List and had a Praise-Fest (based on Psalm 139) late last night, I was magnifying the challenge and heartache I’m currently experiencing. I don’t have the study book, but watched the video, read today’s blog, answered the questions re Isaiah 58:6-12 (powerful), and read the passage about what a woman of God is like. Dieting really is me-focused. Also, my focus in 12-stepping with Celebrate Recovery has also been too me-focused. Prayerfully reading and considering these scriptures pulls my attention to God and His ways. Heidi, regarding your statement about the Thin Within approach, is it part of the process that in the beginning reprogramming my mind and attitudes about eating and body image, and learning to use the Thin Within tools, will require a lot of attention until it becomes second nature? Your statement, “With the Lord, so much of life is sort of the opposite of what makes sense to us,” really hit me. I tend to want things to make sense. I need an accountability partner; so, I’m going to that page today to post. Also, I’ve had a couple of friends in my life who encouraged me and sought to draw my focus to God. I’ve failed to nurture those relationships (expectations) and, with God’s help, need to renew them. I do need godly friends, both real and online. I’m glad to be part of this community. Later, maybe this evening, I will “be still before God” and note what happens. I do want to move forward with God.
Hi, Sheila…like riding a bike…yes…at first we learn with all our focus on all the different little pieces that make up riding a bike: moving the legs around with feet on pedals, steering, balancing. But after some time, practice and some falls, perhaps, it becomes more second nature. So glad you are here with us, Sheila!
I did practice being “still” in God’s presence today and what a difference that makes! You may recall that last week I felt The Lord leading me to stop my workout DVD that promises all kinds of physical transformation and spend the time walking outside instead. Well, I did just that this morning. It was wonderful to walk on a cool (unusual in the South in June!) drizzly morning and hear the birds sing and smell the gardenias ( my favorite!) Most importantly I spent some time listening to praise music then I prayed aloud and then I was quiet and waited on Him. I have felt full of the Lord’s presence and goodness today. I’ve felt calm, kind, attentive to my daughter and I haven’t felt pulled to food at all. My “mantra” during the past 2 months as I’ve studied through this blog has been freedom, peace and now I can add joy. As I spend time with Him, listen for Him, trust Him and obey Him, I grow in my faith and the pull of the flesh becomes less. Praying for us all today. Oh, and a retreat would be amazing!!
Wow, CMK….this sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing about it. You make me want to head out for an early morning walk.
I read p. 93 of lesson 6 today before my grandkids got up that I was babysitting. I filled in the My Reflections section on defining how the world defines an abundant life:
A Better score
Lots of power
An office high in the tower
A body that’s a perfect ten
When will it end?
Life lived at a frantic pace
Let me out of this rat race!
More later as I get further into the lesson.
I love your poetry! Wow…how clever! Do you write poetry often or was this a unique situation? 🙂
I have been writing Christian poetry for years when God leads me to write them. Many I frame and give as gifts and one year I wrote a book of my poetry and gave it to my kids and my parents for Christmas along with commentary about them. A couple of them are online as well as one being in the paper.
I read this in a book about prayer today. ” If you want God to do something new in you, you cannot keep doing the same old thing. You have to do something different. And if you do, God will create new capacities within you….but you’ve got to pay the price.”
We have to spend time with Him in quiet and stillness. We have to be intentional about renewing our minds. We have to pause and look to Him before we eat. We need to be in His word and memorize scripture so that we are ready for our spiritual battles. Just felt like I should share that quote tonight.
Sue. I agree about the worldly view do abundant life. That’s something to think about!
Sheila, I’m praying for you and looking forward to hearing what The Lord speaks to you tonight.
Let me hear what God The Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His faithful, to those who turn to Him in their hearts. (Ps 85:8)
Wow…how true! So often we keep doing the same thing and wonder why we get the same results. I think AA defines that as “insanity.” I understand that for sure! I have also heard it said that when the pain of staying the same overcomes the pain of change, we will finally make the change.
It is 11:20 p.m. PST and I’ve had a beautiful quiet time with the Lord. I read Psalm 85:8 (inspired by ackroll), then quieted my thoughts and asked the Lord to tell me what needs to be adjusted within me. The powerful sense of His presence brought me to my knees in fresh surrender and such a knowing that He was asking me to surrender and allow Him guide me. The words of a chorus filled my head: ” Be still and know that I am God.” ” I am the God Who healeth thee.” The healing follows the surrender to God and yielding to the Spirit. I am filled with peace and a quiet joy. “In His presence is fullness of joy.” Intentionally having quiet time with the Lord chases away anxious thoughts. The words are still echoing in my mind and heart, “Be still.”
Sounds awesome. God seems to be on a theme with me these days…Two things keep coming through in my listening times. Go figure: 1) Be still and know I am God 2.) Keep in step with the Spirit I find this strange that these are the two things I repeatedly keep hearing from him, but it sure seems like you can’t do them both at once! LOL!