Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Abiding in Christ, Part 1

Psalm 127:1-2 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

"Most of us are preoccupied with our performance as Christians, rather than being occupied with the person of Christ. We are more interested in the results we achieve than in simply resting in Him—abiding in Him. We want to appropriate His power, but fail to appreciate His person. Abiding stresses the source of our life and strength, but we frequently ignore the person of Christ to seek the product of our union with Him. We have the cart before the horse.

Abiding is our obligation; fruitfulness is God’s concern. The True Vine is the Author, the Source and the Finisher of our faith. We should be seeking His fellowship, and leaving the fruit to Him."

Quoted italics found here.

John 15:1-11 
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener....Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me....I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples....As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 
The vine analogy, and the sheep analogy, both paint portraits of helplessness. The branches are dead without the vine, and the sheep are dead without the shepherd. We cannot live joyful lives in Christ, fully alive and robust, without a fellowship relationship with Him. The close walking together. The close conversations over the Bible and over prayer. We cannot go on day after day, too busy to sit at His feet. This is huge for multitasking women to grasp; we fail often at abiding.

Our fruit won't be of good quality, our comfort won't be complete, our faith will be weak, our love for others will be superficial. Such are the consequences of failing to abide. 

Abiding is our work. It is our only work.

That's a different way to think of the Christian life, isn't it? That abiding is our only work? Everything Christ wants to do through us, will come from our abiding.

So whatever you think you are doing in Christ's name, ask yourself, is it instead of my devotional time? Does it make me too busy for devotional time? Train yourself to abide (believing, depending, persevering), not perform. Practice relationship with God first, whereby you learn to believe, depend, and persevere. And this is ongoing. It is not learned, and then you're done. You continue to fellowship with God, and he continues to fill you with the Spirit, who helps you abide.

In the time leftover, let God orchestrate something for your God-given gifts and talents--for your works that bring Him glory. Works can't be forced; whatever we do in our own strength, won't glorify God. 

I say it again...Abiding is our work. It is our only work. It is also the only thing that truly satisfies our soul.

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