Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Abide in Me

Scripture:  John 15 v 4 - 9: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
 5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 
 6  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
 7  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
 8  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
 9  As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love."

The true secret of fruitfulness is revealed in these verses.  It is abiding in Jesus.  The word 'abide' means to stay.  Jesus is saying we must constantly stay in Him, which should be easy but some believers wander off into doubts, fears, sinful activities and lose their focus.

The greatest desire of our Saviour is to see more fruit growing on the vine.  Fruit is new budding disciples won by our testimony, prayers and love for the lost.  If we neglect this important part of our life in Christ Jesus, we may lose our ability to abide in Him.

We need to reflect on how much has changed within ourselves since Jesus began our extreme makeover.  I, personally, am not even remotely related to my old unregenerated self.  She died under the waters of baptism umpteen years ago.  She may have made some attempts to reappear and mock the new me but has now completely expired.

Our old self clings to memories of sinful behaviour which fell under the label of FUN.  Being born again means fundamental change of every part of our lives.  Jesus says we must work this out with fear and trembling.  Fear of being dragged back into the ravages of sin, and trembling with eagerness to grow into His likeness.

The only way to progress is to abide in Him.  Dwell in His presence no matter what our occupation may be.  Pray about large and small things and if we abide in Him those prayers will be answered.  

If we are constantly repenting of old sins and renewing our commitment to God, what I call renting a place at the altar, then perhaps our salvation was just mental acknowledgement of Jesus rather than conversion of heart.  This is a very real problem but it is rooted in pride that says I can do this for myself.

Pride is a companion of an independent nature.  This means independent of God's help until an emergency forces us to our knees.  It also seeks every other kind of help before turning to the Lord.  We need to know that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Humility is not a weakness, it is our strengths under God's control.  Humility esteems others higher than ourselves.  It yields to other opinions and is considerate, inoffensive and gracious.  In this day and age of heightened self esteem its quite rare.

Our confidence should be in God's ability not our own.  Every condition that is preceded by self- is in contradiction of humility.  Self-aggrandizement, self-love, selfishness, self-centred, self-aware etc are a small sample of those characters who will find it difficult to abide in Him.  Jesus Christ must be at the centre of all we do.  His approval keeps us in check.

Then we encounter the words of Paul the Apostle who says we must die to self.  We must put to death everything in ourselves that is contrary to God's will for us.  We must examine ourselves in His light and compare ourselves to His walk and words.  Like if men have looked on a woman who was not their wife,  with lust in their hearts, then they have already committed adultery with her.

Every movie, billboard, mobile phone etc is a source of that kind of adultery.  This is a sex mad world and 'real' men are experts at it.  Jesus never sinned and never lusted after any woman and we must be like Him to abide in Him.  Male pride has to break and learn to submit to His level of righteousness by putting away that carnality and honouring Jesus.

Women are also independent when they do not submit to their husbands, and argue, fight and send guilt trips on them by reminding them of every misdemeanour since the day they met.  A wife is meant to be a helpmeet who helps her husband live a more Godly life.

A couple who share their faith and pray together about the needs of their family, who read Bible together and enjoy fellowship with the Lord will find it easy to abide in Him and have their prayers answered favourably and timeously by God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for our independent nature which offends You and change us to be vessels of righteousness that abide in Jesus.  We don't want to be cast aside and we do need our prayers answered.  In Jesus' name. Amen.