Series: Kingdom Work
Message – If My Words abide in you
If My Words Abide in you
It can be frustrating sometimes to read the Bible because you can see in it, examples of the kind of relationship you’d love to have with God, but HOW to make that happen seems elusive.
Language like “seek Him” or “delight in Him” or “abide in Him” all sound so warmly righteous and morally correct….but how do I do it?
I mean when I’m seeking God, do I…
- do it through studying the Word
- Is it done in prayer
- Can it involve seeking Him concerning something or just Him alone?
…I mean what are the rules anyway?!
In recent weeks we’ve learned a lot about abiding, but I wonder if we are any closer to living it out in both deliberate and practical ways…and know for sure we are doing it.
We’ll today we are going to see how.
As we know abiding requires that we are first are ‘in Christ’.
John 15 makes the distinction between those who are ‘in Him’ and those who ‘abide in Him’ – that they are very different things! Let’s read John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. (2) Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. (3) You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (4) Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. (5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. (6) If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (7) If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. (8) My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”
These are the kind of things every sinner should be told BEFORE they become born again. They should be told the truth about the relationship they are seeking into engage in.
The other day I was contacted by a lady in Michigan who found our church on the Internet thinking it was a local church, but then began to suspect we were located in Florida so she contacted me.
Long story shortened – in our conversation she said that she had first heard the gospel message in a David Wilkerson meeting in which he explained coming to Christ in terms of a commitment to Christ – not a free ticket out of hell.
She told me that after that message she thought long and hard about making the leap into Christ. It took her 3 years, but eventually realized that it was THE thing she had been looking for, and regardless of the cost she could no longer live without making that commitment.
WOW! I only wish more people heard the Gospel like that – she and her husband took the Good News of Christ seriously and realized from the beginning that it would require the loss of everything if it was real…and I think that one of the reasons why those Christian ideals I mentioned earlier like “seeking God’s face” and “delighting in Him” are so elusive to us is because we are trying to comprehend them through a Christian worldview that is neither real nor biblical.
So if we understand the nature of the new birth and what it means that we are now ‘in Christ’, I believe that much of the concept of abiding will come into view almost on it’s own.
So, let’s consider what it means to be born again – to be ‘in Christ’.
First, it is the result of realizing the lost state you are in which Ephesians 2:11-13 describes very clearly.
“(11) So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh–called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” done by hand in the flesh. (12) At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in this world.”
Maybe if you close your eyes and look back, you can recall what it was to be without God and without hope in the world. Some of us may not have felt the despair of our lost state until after we came to Christ and looked back, but in either case, we now understand just how lost we were…remember that as we go forward in understanding what it means to be ‘in Him’.
Once we are brought to this threshold where we realize our state…the Holy Spirit unveils our eyes to see the blessed Messiah and we are encouraged towards trusting reliance in Him.
We must believe that the love of God, as revealed in the Good News of redemption, is greater than our sins and rebellion.
That as impossible as it may sound, even though God hates sin and requires justice through judgment, His love provided a way for judgment to fall on Christ for us.
And that because Jesus did not deserve the condemnation and death He bore, He was raised physically from the dead and became the Lord of salvation…so that if we would simply bow the knee to His Lordship in reverent trust in the provision He made for us, the full pardon of sin and rebellion would fall on us and our relationship of with the Father would be restored in full.
BUT as part of this belief and confession, we must realize that a knee once bowed remains so forever!
“(8) On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: (9) if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. (11) Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, (12) for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. (13) For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“(3) Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
This is the gospel message Peter preached and I want to take the time to read it so we understand how polluted the message has become in today’s world by really looking at the focus of Peter’s message and the response it provoked.
You know today so often the gospel is preached from the perspective of what it can do for you rather than what you must do and response to what Christ has done.
Acts 2:21-40, HCSB “(22) “Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. (23) Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. (24) God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. (25) For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (26) Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover my flesh will rest in hope, (27) because You will not leave my soul in the grave, or allow Your Holy One to see decay. (28) You have revealed the paths of life to me; You will fill me with gladness in Your presence. (29) “Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. (30) Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. (31) Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in the grave, and His flesh did not experience decay. (32) “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this! (33) Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. (34) For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says: The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand (35) until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ (36) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, Whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!”
(37) When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
(38) “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (40) And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”
Notice what is missing from his message…
- You can escape hell
- You will know you are going to heaven
- God loves sinners
- Give Jesus a try
- Your life will never be the same
- God will bless you
Peter’s points were clear…
- Your a sinner
- You played a part in the murder of the Messiah
- God has made Him both LORD and Christ
- Repent and be baptised in His name
What was their response?
- A very urgent “What must we do”?!
It does not say God made Him Savior. It says He made Him LORD and Christ!
I think God understands and the early church understood the ‘Good News’ in a slightly different light than most do today.
Once we understand that the door into the kingdom of God is through a belief and confession of Jesus as Lord and Messiah, much of the other statements and promises of the Bible will become less obscure to us.
One more thing is that our confession is not just about Who He is – but that you are acknowledging it as a fact which you are surrendering to.
He is not only Lord – but you are making Him YOUR LORD through trust in His promise to free you from being part of and in party with this corrupt generation.
What does this last part mean? corrupt generation.
Do you remember when I taught you about salvation is not so much what you were saved FROM but what your were saved TO?
Here Peter reveals both in their proper order.
- You are saved TO the Father through faith and surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
- As such you are snatched away FROM and beginning the process of changing out of conformity to this corrupt generation.
IN the terms we have been talking about in John 15, we would say…We’ve come ‘into Christ’ and have begun the process of ‘abiding in Him’.
Now that we are no longer a part of this corrupt generation, God’s promise is to conform you to His image which is to say that He is changing you OUT OF the image of this corrupt generation.
THIS is what Abiding does…it changes your image!
You were like the corrupt world because you thought their thoughts, you meditated on their words….so those thoughts and words abided in you!
So now that you have believed ‘into Christ’ – HIS thoughts and words become the most important things in your entire existence!
This is where modern Christian thinking has to change!
In the modern world of Christiandom, scripture has largely been reduced to quick little quotable sayings you inject into conversations to encourage people and make them feel better about who they are.
The words of their Lord are not their life… they are little more than topical band aids for bruised emotions.
But if you have truly committed yourself to Him as His servant and have surrendered to Him as your Lord and Master His words mean everything! It is in them that you are actively ‘trusting’ that He will make you His Own, give you a new heart, write His words upon your heart and change you into His nature.
“Christ in you” becomes your great favorable expectation and treasuring His words in your heart is what causes it to happen.
Remember the good heart in the parable of the heart soils… they Held on tightly to His words!
“Abide in Me and let My words abide in you.” – though it is not precisely worded this way, this is what we are learning to do today.
Jesus abides in, remains in me – taking up His permanent residence in my heart as I take in His words as would a disciple.
Jesus said it this way and we read it last week….John 8:31-32,
HCSB “(31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. (32) You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Continuing in His Word = abiding in Him. (Do you see that? – It’s imperative that you see that)
How do I do it?
Well, first off we do it out of reverence and devoted love to Him.
Like Psalm 91 of last week, God said…
“(14) Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will exalt him because he knows My name. (15) When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor. (16) I will satisfy him with a long life and show him My salvation.”
This is not a means to an end. If we want the gospel to work, we must not work it like it’s a slot machine. We do not put in our tokens, pull a lever and get a prize. It is relational.
God is NOT mocked! If you treat Him like a machine,
do not expect for Him to respond to you as a child.
There is NO substitute for loving God and revering Him.
Good thing that Love for God and reverence for Him come the same way as abiding does.
Treasure His word in your heart…but what word!?
You remember sesame street’s “word of the day”?
Well, the Holy Spirit is the One Who supplies you with your “word of the day”.
He knows you and knows how to form Christ in you…we read as much last week in 1 Jn. 2:24-27.
As we read it again, pay particular attention to the connection between abiding in Christ and His words abiding in you. I will read it from two translations.
In the Holman
“(24) What you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. (25) And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life. (26) I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. (27) The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain (abide) in Him.”
In the Weymouth,
“(24) As for you, let the teaching which you have received from the very beginning continue in your hearts. If that teaching does continue in your hearts, you also will continue to be in union with the Son and with the Father. (25) And this is the promise which He Himself has given us–the Life of the Ages (Eternal Life). (26) I have thus written to you concerning those who are leading you astray. (27) And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him remains within you, and there is no need for any one to teach you. But since His anointing gives you instruction in all things–and is true and is no falsehood–you are continuing in union with Him even as the anointing has taught you to do.”
So your word for the day comes from the Anointing you received from Him – The Holy Spirit.
Remember we read last week that Jesus told us, “I am not leaving you orphans…I will come to you…the Holy Spirit Who the Father will send in My name (representing all that I am) will take of Mine and declare it to you. He will bring to your remembrance all that I’ve said to you.”
In practical terms this takes on a life of it’s own in two ways…
- by the Holy Spirit’s faithfulness and
- our cries for help.
For example, almost every morning I am made aware of a direction for my thoughts. I will wake up with a thought, or a verse, or a song (sometimes not even a Christian song) and I realize that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. He is leading and guiding me into truth, JUST LIKE Jesus promised!
I’ve had Him use clips of movies or TV shows with which I am familiar, a dream I had, a nagging in my heart upon waking which stirs me to seek Him and ask Him what is going on – often in these times He leads me to a passage.
I’ve come to think of them as my “word for the day” by which He is seeking to form Christ in me.
Sometimes it happens when I cry out to Him in despair over something in my life…some threat, some nagging sin, some concern. In moments like these I find myself “seeking His face” – that is seeking Him – I desire for Him to speak into my world.
Sometimes we are to take the initiative. We did this for years in the Word of Faith movement, only with the wrong motive and focus…but the mechanics were not all wrong.
David said, “Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God. with my WHOLE heart have I sought You…Oh, let me not wander from your commandments” Which is to say – help me to abide in your commandments.
So, say you have an area of weakness in sin. Say you covet wealth…What do you do? (agai remember that you hard part of a new Kingdom with the new Lord. The corrupt generation you came from a espires to greed and avorous but your new Lord finds such self-seeking Repugnant.
We have to keep in our minds what it says in Hebrews
“17 Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge
From what? This corrupt generation!
might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope–like a sure and firm anchor of the soul–that enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. 20 Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
To abide in Him we must make His thoughts… Our You thoughts. We do this through meditating on His words.
You may have a specific scripture which comes to your mind or which you find by looking it up and you begin to make it your meditation ALL THE DAY.
What did Psalm 1 tell us?
Psalm 1:1-3, HCSB “(1) How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners, or join a group of mockers! (2) Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. (3) He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
Romans tells us, “Those who live according to their flesh, have set their minds on the things of the flesh” OR you could say, “Those who live a life desiring and pursuing wealth have set their minds on wealth”. The answer is… “but those who live according to the Spirit, have set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
So let’s use a desire for wealth as our token sin. What do we set on minds on… what has our lord said about covetousness and greed and desire for richest ?
Prov. 23:4-5, NKJV “(4) Don’t wear yourself out to get rich; stop giving your attention to it. (5) As soon as your eyes fly to it, it disappears, for it makes wings for itself and flies like an eagle to the sky.”
Meditate on this in statements of ownership…
“I will not labor to become rich. I will no longer lend my mind to thinking about it. It is deceptive! It takes my attention and my time and then flies away before I can even hold it.”
Then meditate on the opposite,
Psalm 41:1-2, HCSB “(1) Happy is one who cares for the poor; the LORD will save him in a day of adversity. (2) The LORD will keep him and preserve him; he will be blessed in the land. You will not give him over to the desire of his enemies.”
Then meditate on it in statements of ownership…
“I am so fortunate to be free from a covetous heart. I love the poor and seek ways to give. As a result my Lord will save me when I am in need. God will preserve me and bless me, and never give me over to the desire of the devil.”
Also, ask the Lord to cause you to see this sin the way He sees it.
When it comes to riches or averant desires, God sees it as our not being satisfied with Him.
Heb. 13:5 HCSB “Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.”
See Him as the answer!
Again own it…say,
“I will live free from the love of money. I will be satisfied with what I have – because what I have is the Lord and He will never leave or forsake me.”
In closing I want you to take notice of how that more often than not, David meditates the answer…not the problem.
In times when his faith was challenged and he was facing fear, listen to his words…
Psa. 18:2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Psa. 55:23, “But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction; Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in You.”
Psa. 56:3,4 “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”
Psa. 61:4, “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah”
Psa. 91:2, “I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
Psa 118:4-9, “(4) Let those who fear the LORD say, “His faithful love endures forever.” (5) I called to the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place. (6) The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (7) With the LORD for me as my helper, I will look in triumph on those who hate me. (8) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. (9) It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in nobles.”
This is how you abide in Him – let His words dwell in you richly!
Col. 3:14-17, HCSB “(14) Above all, put on love–the perfect bond of unity. (15) And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. (16) Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. (17) And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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