A few weeks ago I did a post titled, “ Obedience when it doesn’t make sense“. It touched on doing what God says when you don’t really understand why. It used Peter’s example from Luke 5:4-7.
As I have reflected more on this idea I thought of some other occasions in the Bible where people followed when not knowing the full story or the outcome of their obedience. Here are a few more examples….
Abraham and Isaac – Imagine how Abraham felt when God asked him to sacrifice his son who was a child of promise. Time showed the Lord provided a ram instead. (Genesis 22:1-14)
The walls of Jericho – God asked the people to march around the city once a day for six days and then all shout. That is not the usual way to storm a city, but the walls fell down! (Joshua 6:1-20)
Noah and the Ark – God asked Noah to build an ark to save him, his family and the animals from the flooding rains. Up until that time rain had never fallen from the sky. Noah built the ark and it saved them all from the flooding rains. (Genesis 6:1-22)
Moses before Pharaoh – Imagine how Moses felt when God asked him to go to the most powerful ruler on earth and demand he lets God’s people go. History shows it worked out ok! (Exodus 5:1-5)
Gideon’s army of 300 – Imagine how Gideon felt when God told him to reduce his army to 300 men to fight and defeat a huge Midianite army. Again we see God knew what He was doing and 300 men was enough. (Judges 7:2-8)
As we can see from all of these occasions, obedience to God’s requests really does make sense. God’s knows the end from the beginning and even though He doesn’t let us know all the details, it makes sense to follow Him. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us at the time.
Psalm 34:8 TPT – Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God. Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives to all who turn to hide themselves in him.
I can tell you how good it is to follow God and how my life has changed for the better. But ultimately you have to experience it for yourself. Not only do you have to experience God for yourself, but you have to throw yourself in to pursuing God wholeheartedly. God says in Jeremiah 29:13 that if we seek Him wholeheartedly, we WILL find Him. That wis a great promise! Will you seek Him with all of your heart today?
Dear God, today I come to You with my whole heart. I come seeking You. I pray that I will be able to drink deeply of the pleasures of God. I pray that I will find You and You will find me today. I ask in Jesus name, Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT – Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
The Apostle Paul was not teaching that we should thank God for everything that happens to us, but that we should be thankful in every circumstance. There is a subtle but profound difference. Evil things happen, but they do not come from God, so we should not thank him for it. However, when evil things happen to us, we can still be thankful for God’s presence (Matthew 28:20) and for the good that he will accomplish through the situations we find ourselves in (Romans 8:28).
Dear God, right now I thank You for where I am today. I thank You for the good things. I also thank You that You are with me and working things out for long term good. Amen.
I am doing a Bible reading plan on the YouVersion Bible App called “Deeper” at the moment. On day 2 it talks about getting our hunger for God and it gives some tips. I thought I would share them today…
“To increase spiritual hunger, simply ask for it. “Ask that you may receive that your joy may be full.
Make a formal decision to pursue God until You find Him deeply. Put it in writing. He wants this very much. He is passionately waiting for you.
Open the written Word with the Holy Spirit as a guide and let what you read reveal the Author.
Take time to meditate deeply on the attributes and names of God. Say these back to Him and thank Him for specific times when He revealed Himself in your life or the lives of those you love.
Study revival. Read the testimonies of those who have experienced Him mightily. I recommend The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, for starters.
Have coffee with those you respect who are white-hot in their walk with God. Ask them to share about their quiet time, their favorite passages of Scripture, and their most significant experiences with God.”
As you can see on the screen, the title of my message today is “R.E.M.A.I.N. in Christ”. I have been thinking a lot lately how it is important for us to remain firmly connected to Christ.
In our first passage that we just heard read, John 15:1-5 Jesus talks about our spiritual connection and says it is like vines and branches. It stresses the importance a close connection and staying connected.
This passage has lots of good stuff I could speak about today. It talks about God being the gardener who trims us and prunes us. Jesus talks about us being pruned and purified by His message. It talks about producing much fruit. But the part I want to focus on today is the words of Jesus, “Remain in Me and I will remain in you”.
Today I want to share six keys using the letters of the word remain to help us remember. These are my heart, the things I want to live out.
R- Rest in the finished work of Christ
John 19:28-30 – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The Bible tells us that Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. He died to take our punishment. Just before He died He said, “It is finished”. The work of salvation is done. Now we don’t have to strive or strain any more. We just have to trust Jesus as our Lord and our Saviour.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Church if you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and Saviour it is finished.
Not only can we rest in His work, we can rest that we are safely held in His hands.
Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from Him. It says, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To remain in Christ, rest in the finished work of Christ.
E – Evangelise: share your faith with others
Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I call this passage the “All Consuming Call of Jesus”. In this passage it talks about how Jesus has ALL authority, it talks about how Jesus told us to make disciples of ALL nations, it talks about how ALL the Trinity is involved, it talks about how Jesus told us to teach the new disciples to obey ALL His commands and it finishes with Jesus promising to be with us ALL-ways.
Right from the moment I was first saved back in July of 1989 I have had a desire to tell other people about Jesus. I knew what my life was like before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and I knew how my life changed. I had no real hope, purpose or direction. I bounced from one thing to another. That all changed when Jesus entered my world. I had a new hope for the this life and the next to come, I had a new purpose of sharing my faith with others, I had a new direction to learn and grow in my faith, so I could be a light to those around me.
I believe there is something that happens to us when we share our faith with others. We become more alive and more aligned with God eternal plans of salvation. And nothing is more encouraging than people coming to Jesus, people being baptised, people committing to come to church, people truly deciding to be a lifelong follower of Jesus.
If you want to remain in Christ, evangelise others.
M – Maintain a close walk with the Lord
John 15:4 – Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
In John 15 Jesus stresses the importance of being connected to Him. Our connection to Him is where we get our spiritual life.
Anyone who has ever trimmed trees would have noticed that if the trimmed parts are left in the sun, they quickly wither and die. While the branches still connected, thrive. They can still produce flowers or fruit. They can still do the things they were created to do. We are like those branches, if we stay connected, we can produce the things we were created to produce.
As Christians we know that we keep connected through prayer, worship, serving, Bible reading and church fellowship. Connection via these things are keys to remaining Christ. They keep us strong and our connection strong.
The Greek word used in the text for remain is men’-o. It means to stay. Other words that can be used to describe it are – abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand. These all give us a sense of staying steadfast in one place. This is what Christ wants is to do.
One of the best things I ever did to keep connected to Christ was start a prayer journal. This is my prayer journal from the year 2000. I can look back and see what I prayed for on a given day, what Bible passages I read, that I did a devotion from Our Daily Bread and most importantly I can reflect on how God answered my prayers. Having a prayer journal has kept me firmly anchored to Christ no matter how big the storms of life have been.
To remain in Christ, maintain a close walk with the Lord.
A – Aim to be a vehicle of blessing
2 Corinthians 9:8,11 – And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
A great theme of the Bible is God wants to use us to bless others. In our second reading Paul talks about God blessing us, so we can bless others. It talks about God providing enough for us and leftovers to pass on to others.
As Christians we need to see ourselves as vehicles of blessings. We need to think of ways to bless, support, uphold and encourage others. Allow God to move through you each day. Serving God keeps daily keeps us in Christ.
When I was a new Christian a friend of mine had a goal to do one thing a day for others. She had become very self centred and to change her habits she became intentional in her efforts. It might be a nice phone call, a card, helping with gardening, delivering a food parcel. Her goal was to do 7 things in 7 days each week. She would tick it off on the calendar and write down what she did. Before long, her lifestyle changed to one of blessing. After about a year, she no longer had to record it any more as she had changed so much. She became a vehicle of blessing. This story inspired me so much that it has become my goal too.
To remain in Christ, aim to be a vehicle of blessing.
I – Imagine eternity with Christ
John 14:2-3 – My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Jesus said He is preparing a place for us in eternity. He also said He is coming back for us one day. A great truth of the Bible is we will spend way more time in eternity than we will in this life. It makes sense to think about our eternal home. The Bible says we are citizens of heaven in Philippians 3:20 and Colossians 3:1-2 says that we should set our hearts of minds on things above.
When I think of heaven I think of no more death (Isaiah 25:8). When I think of heaven I think of new heavenly bodies that will never wear out (2 Corinthians 5:2). When I think of heaven I think of no more sadness, suffering and pain (Revelations 21:4). When I think of heaven I think of streets paved with gold and gates made of pearl (Revelation 21:21). When I think of heaven I think of a place that needs no sun or moon as God’s glory will be its light (Revelations 21:23). When I think of heaven I think of a place where we will not need a Temple as God will the Temple (Revelation 21:23). When I think of heaven I think of a place where we will be His people and He will be our God (Revelation 21:3).
Focusing on our eternal home helps and inspires us to walk closely with Christ and Remain in Him. When I imagine our eternal home and that Jesus may come back today, it helps me to keep focused.
To remain in Christ, imagine eternity with Christ.
N – Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus told us in John 16:33 that in this life we will have many trials and sorrows. Unfortunately, this is part of living in a fallen world that is marred by sin. But Jesus also said in this verse to not lose heart, because He has overcome the world.
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our life and faith, has overcome this world. We are on His team and He is for us. A key to remaining in Christ is to not let the world overcome us.
It can be so easy when we hear bad news in the media to lose heart. But I have learned that when I hear of bad things in the media to use it as a call to prayer, rather than an opportunity to be discouraged.
The Greek word for overcome used in this passage is nik-ah’-o. It means to subdue: – conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory. It gives us a sense of something that is full and complete. Much like when Jesus said, “It is finished”.
Galatians 6:9 reminds us to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The simple fact that Galatians 6:9 tells is not to become weary in doing good, tells us that we can get weary. The world can press in and overcome us. When this happens we need to – Stand firm. Stand strong. Focus on Christ. Keep serving and know that He has overcome.
To remain in Christ, never allow yourself to be overcome by the world.
Today we have looked at a great passage from John 15. It likens our relationship with Jesus and being like vines and branches. Jesus told us that to produce much fruit we ween to be connected to the Vine.