Leaving Laodicea
460 - What Does it Mean to “Abide in Christ”

460 - What Does it Mean to “Abide in Christ”

May 25, 2020

In John 15 we have the Lord's blueprint for the "abundant life" (John 10:10) He promised each of us.  And no, that life doesn't involve expensive cars or vacation homes or buckets of cash or having Your Best Life Now!  The abundant life in Him is defined by being able to bear His fruit, and bearing it in ever-increasing quantities.  Or, like Jesus said, "more fruit", then "much fruit", and finally "fruit that will remain".  Consider the following:

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:2)

"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:8)

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." (John 15:16)

Unless the church fully understands the importance of bearing the fruit of Christ, the Vine, this incredible teaching of Jesus will have little meaning or lasting effect on our lives.  Or on the lives of those we try to influence with the Word, our spouse, our friends, our parents, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren.  We must come to a clear understanding that the only purpose for the branch, the only reason you and I were created and chosen in Him (Eph. 1:4), is to bear the fruit of the vine.  And the only one who benefits from the fruit we bear, is the Vinedresser, the Father.  The one key to hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:23), is our commitment to being nothing but branches, committed totally to bearing His fruit. As we said last week, there is no other way.


But, How Do We Bear His Fruit?

The key to bearing His fruit is tied up in the single word, abide.  Last week we defined the word abide (ménō) as to "remain, dwell, live", but always, in John's writings, with the idea of a relationship in view.  However, in John 15, the definition of abide (ménō) expands to mean "to be and remain united with Jesus, one with Him in heart, mind, and will, and to remain steadfast, unwavering in that relationship.”  That understanding of abide (ménō) puts this entire passage under a new, incredible light. So how do we bear His fruit?  Or what part do we play in this divine equation?  Simple, abide.  It's hard to do in real life, but it's simple, nonetheless.

"Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)

"I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6)

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7)

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." (John 15:9)

“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." (John 15:10)

Remember, this is only the beginning.  If you can capture the joy of abiding in Him as a dependent branch, a life of abundant joy (John 10:10) is right around the corner.  So buckle up! The following is a study on John 15:4-6 on How to Bear His Fruit. To download the slides to this message, click - HERE

459 - “Abide in Me, and I in You”

459 - “Abide in Me, and I in You”

May 20, 2020

Once we move past identifying the characters in this teaching (Jesus is the vine, God the Father is the vinedresser, and we are the branches), we can clearly see the focus is on bearing fruit (more fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains).  But the key to having a relationship with the Lord that allows us to bear the kind of fruit that brings glory to the Father (John 15:8), is being able to "abide" in Him, in the vine.  In fact, we find that phrase repeated over and over again in this amazing discourse.  Consider the following:

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)

"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6)

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7)

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." (John 15:9)

“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." (John 15:10)

So the concept of abiding is not something to be taken lightly.  Obviously, it is a description of the relationship Jesus has with the Father, and the relationship all Three share in the Godhead.  And the amazing thing is that He commands us, no, He invites us to abide in Him the way He also abides in His Father.  What a wonderful privilege He offers each of us.

But let's address the elephant in the room, the $64,000,000 question.  What does abide in this passage really mean?


United in Heart, Mind, and Will

On a simple level, the word abide (ménō) means to "remain, dwell, live."  In John 15:11, the word is translated "remain" when it says "that My joy may remain (ménō) in you."  But the word has a much deeper meaning than that.  In John’s writings, it conveys more with the mechanics of the relationship between one thing or person and another.  Thus the context of (ménō) could be "remain in or with someone."   We see this in 1 John 2:19 where (ménō) is translated "continued with us."

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us (ménō); but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 John 2:19)

In John 15 (ménō) means "to be and remain united with Jesus, one with Him in heart, mind, and will, and to remain steadfast, unwavering in that relationship."  Now, that changes everything.

"Abide (remain united with Him in heart, mind, and will, to remain steadfast and unwavering in that relationship) in Me, and I (abide) in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides (remain united with Him in heart, mind, and will, to remain steadfast and unwavering in that relationship) in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide (remain united with Him in heart, mind, and will, to remain steadfast and unwavering in that relationship) in Me." (John 15:4)

But it gets better.  Next, He tells us how to bear fruit to bring the Father glory and to prove we are His disciples (John 15:8).

"I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who (what) abides (remain united with Him in heart, mind, and will, to remain steadfast and unwavering in that relationship) in Me, and I (abide) in him, (what) bears much fruit; (how) for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

As I shared in my last post, this is only the beginning.  Join with us as we endeavor to grow closer to the Lord by becoming a fruitful branch of His vine, for the glory of the Vinedresser.  Because at this time in our history, nothing else really matters.

The following is a study on John 15:3-5 on how to Abide in Him.

To download the slides to this message, click - HERE

430 - He is Sovereign!

430 - He is Sovereign!

July 4, 2019

When we think of Jonathan Edward's 70 Resolutions or a church mission statement, we know they are comprised of our bedrock values.  So it is the same with each of us when we attempt to put on paper what we value most about God.  For me, the choice was simple. In addition to His grace and mercy, His abounding love and forgiveness, the one attribute that I cling to the most about our Lord is His sovereignty.  Yes, the Almighty is sovereign!  Lord over all! He is the Supreme Ruler. He is the Creator. He is the Final Arbitrator. He is All in All. There is nowhere to go beyond God. He is Sovereign!


He is Sovereign!

So how can I communicate the greatness of His sovereignty?  Let's start with just a few verses that speak of that.  We'll begin with my life verse:

But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases" - Psalm 115:3.  Why?  Because He is sovereign.

"Remember this, and show yourselves men; recall to mind, O you transgressors.  Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'" - Isaiah 46:8-10.  How can this be true?  Because He is sovereign.

For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods.  Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places - Psalm 135:5-6.  How is this possible?  Because He is sovereign.

And everything belongs to our Sovereign God.

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.  For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters - Psalm 24:1-2.  How can everything belong to Him?  Because He is sovereign.

What does that really mean? He is Omnipotent (all powerful). His power is unfathomable to us. It is infinite and has no limit or end. And God is not limited to what He has already done. God can do infinitely more than He already has.


What Does that Mean For Me Today?

Understanding God's sovereignty and His unconditional love for you should forever remove any worry, doubt, fear, apathy, or depression from your life.  After all, the very one who slung the universe into existence has the hairs of your head numbered (Matthew 10:30).  And it can't get any better than that. And how can He do that?  Simple.  He is sovereign.

424 - Our Greatest Gift from Him

424 - Our Greatest Gift from Him

January 23, 2019

As the Christmas season is winding down, it would be appropriate for us to look at the greatest gift we have ever received from the greatest Person we have ever known— our Lord, and to give Him praise for that wondrous gift.  And for me, I find that gift revealed to me in Colossians. Let's look at this gift together.


No Longer Alienated and Enemies of the Lord

The Scriptures say that I, and all who are called by His name, are no longer "alienated and enemies" of the Lord.  Look at this marvelous gift found in Colossians 1:21-22:

And you (your name), who once were (past tense) alienated (apallotrióō – to estrange, alienate entirely) and enemies (echthrós – hatred, hostility, enmity) in your mind by (what) wicked works, yet now (present tense) He (Christ's actions) has reconciled (apokatallássō – the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed) in the body of His flesh (how) through death, (why) to present (paristánō – to cause to stand near or before) you (your name) holy (hágios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, a saint), and blameless (ámōmos – unblameable, without spot or blemish) and above reproach (anégklētos –unreproveable, not merely unaccusable but unaccused, free from any legal charge) in His sight (presence, before His face).

But there is more.  He keeps us from stumbling and presents us faultless before His glory.  Amazing.   Read it yourself in Jude 1:24.

Now to Him (Christ) who is able to keep you (your name) from stumbling (áptaistos – falling), and to present you (your name) faultless (where) before the presence of His glory (how) with exceeding joy (agallíasis – extreme exultation, exuberant joy),

And how do we respond to this incredible gift?  Read the next verse.

To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

I pray you will begin the next year with the same praise and passion for your Lord that you ended the last one.  And you can do that by realizing what a great God we serve and what a great gift He has given us in His Son.  Will you join with me in exalting His Name?  Then keep listening. The following is a study on realizing our great blessings found in Colossians 1:21-22 and Jude 1:24-25.