08 Nov ABIDE
Several weeks ago, as our EbCo Team was signing up for our Encourage posts, God put the word “abide” on my heart. Originally, our schedule had me writing this the week after Thanksgiving, but some things needed to be moved around, and this assignment got pushed up. I can’t help but see God’s divine timing in this seemingly insignificant change. Over the past two weeks, He has consistently reminded me of the importance of abiding in Christ.
No matter how hard we try to make this earthly abode comfortable and secure, it seems that rarely a week goes by without being reminded of the brokenness of our world. In two weeks time, I have praised God for His protection over my brother who daily rides his bike to work in New York – just miles away from the recent terror attack, while mourning the loss of eight innocent lives. A friend gave birth to her stillborn baby. A family member and two friends just found out they either have been or could possibly be diagnosed with cancer. And this past Sunday, a madman entered a church in Texas and gunned down the body of believers who had gathered there to worship. The pastor is the uncle-in-law of a friend. The recently discovered leaking water pipe and resulting cracking walls and floor in my home pale in comparison, but also seem to be a symbolic reminder of this temporary dwelling that sometimes just looks as though it’s falling apart at the seams.
Yet God has not left us here as orphans. In John 14, Jesus is giving His disciples some final words of instruction and encouragement. He says in verses 1-3, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” How amazing is it that our Savior has gone to prepare an eternal, perfect home for us, where we will abide with Him forever? Yet, even more amazing, is that while we are here, He promises to manifest Himself to us, to make His home within us: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (vs 23) This is accomplished through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
When we place our trust in Jesus, accepting Him as our Savior, His very Spirit enters into our hearts. But this indwelling of the Holy Spirit is meant to be a relationship. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” He doesn’t come to stand silent in the corner, or to constantly look over our shoulders with a judgmental glare. No. He comes to commune with us, to have fellowship with us, to break bread with us. Our eternity is secured when we place our faith in Christ, but He invites us into a much deeper, intimate place that comes from abiding in Him.
To truly thrive as we sojourn through this life as temporary residents, we must abide in Christ – the True Vine from Whom abundant life is found. After Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, He gives His disciples these instructions: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:5, 7-11)
John Piper says, “If a branch remains or abides attached to the vine in such a way that it is receiving all that the branch has to give, then that is a picture of believing or trusting Jesus…Believing is a receiving of Christ into the soul, welcoming Him, trusting Him, as it were, drinking and eating and savoring Him.” When we truly abide in Him, we receive and believe in His words – the Word of God. When we receive His words through abiding, we obey His words. John writes in 1 John 3:24, “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
I have found through personal experience that there is no greater way to abide in Christ – to abide in His love and to experience the fullness of His joy – than to spend time in His Word. Like any relationship, it takes work for it to grow and develop into something deeper. And God has given us His Word in order to reveal Himself to us. As I fill my thoughts with His thoughts, it in turn renews and transforms my thoughts to become more like Christ’s. Allowing His words to seep down into my soul, taking root and bearing fruit.
David writes in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” How blessed are we that we do not have a temple that we must make a pilgrimage to in order to seek the Lord? He has chosen to make us His Temple. He abides in us and then calls us to abide deeply in Him.
Wherever you are in this season of your life, whether stormy seas or still calm waters, I hope that you will strive to press on to abide in the One Who humbled Himself in human form, dwelt among us, and made a way for us to abide with Him, in the present, as well as throughout eternity.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.’
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”