Posts Tagged John 15: 4

Heavenly Shelter

Psalm 91: 1

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91 is one of the Bible passages that it really pays to meditate on. It is such a comfort. It is, however, a bit poetic. Let’s overlay New Testament ideology with it and see if it becomes more understandable.

Since Jesus’ victory, which overcame all things on our behalf, our language has turned to expressions of being “in Christ” or “in him.” This idea is a cornerstone of New Testament theology. No longer do we strive in our own might. The key now is to rest in him. In Christ we have righteousness, salvation, redemption, victory, etc. It’s all about being in him. Jesus said he is the vine and that we must, therefore, abide in him (John 15: 4). When we abide in him, then all things are possible, and we are safe. That is what this verse in Psalm means. Those who dwell, or abide, in Jesus will be safely covered by the shadow of the Almighty. Since we are in him, then we are close enough that his shadow covers us. We are hidden from the powers of evil and chaos. The Passion Translation says it better than I can, “When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.”

Yesterday, when God brought this verse out to me, the message that came with it was, “When you abide in me, you have no reason to fear.” Trusting God and dwelling in His shelter gives us the ability to stand in confidence. God is with us and watching over us. Does that give you comfort?

The other way to apply this is to ask yourself what you are frightened over or what is holding you back. Then, purposefully, abide in the shelter of God. Pray and see yourself moving into His home. See that wherever you go, wherever He goes, His shadow is over you. You are always as close as His own shadow. Meditate and pray about being in Christ and think about God in you. This is our resting place; our safe and sturdy refuge.

The world can be a scary place, but you have a friend. You are never alone. He is with you always. Acknowledge Him and His presence. Make it point to live in Him and everything will be okay.

Abiding with Jesus

John 15: 4

Abide in Me.

We know that we supposed to abide in Jesus, and we accept the idea fairly easily. However, how do you abide in him?

One of the easiest ways I know to abide in Jesus is to meditate on his Word. Meditation is dwelling mentally and spiritually with Jesus. Some of us were raised with the idea that meditation was a “new age” practice and thus forbidden to us. Well, it is only new age if you consider the Old Testament times “new age.” The first mention of meditation is in Genesis. Joshua 1: 8 records the advice God gave Joshua as he was about to take over leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses. It reads, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” Since this is the advice God gave Joshua, it must be good advice for us too.

Jesus is the Word (John 1: 1,14). What better way to abide in Jesus than to abide in the Word? As you ponder the Word of God, you are also effectively searching the heart of God. As you dwell on those words and thoughts, your heart and mind dwells in Jesus.

Sometimes we make Christian Theology way too hard. Christianity is really as simple as hanging out with Jesus. As we dwell with him he becomes our friend, then our best friend and finally the love of our lives. If you want to be a friend of God and a close friend to Jesus, then hang out in The Word. You will find Father, Son and Holy Spirit there and have fun at the same time.

Fruity

Galatians 5: 22 – 23            Index Card 13

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

What a nice and gentle reminder this is about the fruit our lives are to express. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to come live within us. When the Holy Spirit moved in, he brought his furniture and his grocery basket. He is the fruit vendor of our lives if and when we yield to him. You see, we cannot produce this kind of fruit by our own strength and will power. We need help. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15: 4). 

Jesus said that we were to be fruit inspectors (Matthew 7: 16). This is what he was talking about. We look for these characteristics flowing from others. That is how we know they are safe for us. We do not look at the calamity which has perhaps befallen their lives and make judgments about them from that. This is not a basis for judging others but rather for discernment. We are to follow after divine fruit. Jesus said we would be able to know people by their fruit. A good tree does not produce bad fruit and a bad tree does not produce good fruit. We are to demonstrate love, joy, peace . . . and we should learn to recognize this fruit in others.

Why is this one of my index card verses? I need this as a constant reminder of the fruit that should be exhibited in my life. If it is not displayed, then I know I need to reconnect with the life of Jesus within me.

Put on Jesus

Matthew 5: 48

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

How many sermons have you heard on this verse? Not many I’ll wager. No, we are too busy confessing that we are “just old sinners saved by grace.” Well, let’s get a new revelation and a new confession today. Jesus said we are to be perfect in the image of our heavenly Father.

I will tell you for a start that when some ministers come across a difficult bit of scripture like this they begin to get all theological and come up with amazing theories about what that scripture means. Perhaps I am just not as intellectual as they but I suggest that we start with taking the word at face value. Words mean what they mean. Jesus used he words he meant to use when he said be perfect and just because we are theologically challenged does not suggest that they do not mean what even a child could read and understand. I think sometimes we can be too smart for our own good. Jesus thought so too because he said we must become like children. In fact he said that if we would see the kingdom of heaven we must become like children (Matthew 19: 3). So, today’s verse really is quite simple. You are to be perfect. Let’s not confuse it with a lot of theoretical gibberish. 

Since Jesus told us to be perfect he must have known a way for us to accomplish it. I would suggest that THE WAY is Jesus (John 14: 6). Paul told us to shuck off our old selves and put on the new self which is Christ Jesus: “In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4: 22 – 24). There you go. It really isn’t at all complicated. Put on Jesus as your robe of holiness, righteousness and truth. 

Now, I said it isn’t complicated but I did not say it was easy. We love to hang onto our old selves. We enshrine the “old man” on the throne of our hearts. We were taught, “It’s every man for himself” and “You’ve got to grab all you can get.” Those are heathen values; not Godly values. We are told to die to self and live through Jesus considering other people’s needs as more important than our own but what an internal revolution that takes. We must begin by choosing to lay down our lives for our Messiah. Once we do, then we can take up Christ. We put on the perfect like donning the majestic robes of the King. As long as we stay in the perfect, we are perfect. This is our mandate. This is the commandment. “Live in Me” (John 15: 4 God’s Word Translation). 

We weren’t commanded to TRY to be perfect. We are commanded to BE perfect. In the famous words of Yoda from Star Wars, “There is no try. There is only do.” So change your self-image if need be. Please change your confession if you are still calling yourself a sinner and then change your clothes. Put on the robes of the righteous one, the perfect one. Put on Jesus.

 

Dressed for Battle

Ephesians 6: 11

Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Perhaps you have heard many teachings on the armor of God. Well, today I wish for you to think of it a bit differently. First, let’s look at the five pieces of armor. There is first truth, then righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, and salvation (v. 14 – 17). After donning this raiment of protection you then take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Having put on all of these shielding characteristics you are able to stand against the schemes of the devil and defend yourself from his fiery missiles. 

When you pull this scripture apart in this manner you may find something curious. Each of these characteristics is reminiscent of a particular person. Look again. Who are you reminded of when you hear truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God? Well, of course, each one of these is Jesus. He is the truth, our righteousness and so on. So the revelation this scripture should lead us to is that we need to put on Jesus. The essence, then, of triumphing in spiritual warfare is to put on Jesus. 

So, how do we don Jesus? Paul had the right of it. He told us that we must put off the old self with all of its encumbrances and put on this new self in Christ which is in the very likeness of God, which Paul tells us, is accomplished by renewing ourselves in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4: 22 – 24). This is very much like the teaching he gave to the Romans, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12: 2). 

We put on Jesus which is the equivalent of putting on the protective armor of God and then we are able to stand “strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6: 10). We are to abide in him and him abide in us (John 15: 4). Picture yourself taking on all that Jesus is. Imagine him stepping into your body even as you integrate yourself into him. See yourself so enmeshed, so intertwined that it is difficult to tell where you end and he begins and vice versa. Now, how would that impact your life? Might your priorities shift a little? Would your thoughts and meditations be different? This isn’t about behavior modification it is about letting Jesus live with you, letting him be a part of every part of your day? It’s not about imagining what Jesus would do or have us do and try to live that but rather to live him; to put him on and just be. This is the armor of God, living in Jesus, living with Jesus; making him a part of us and everything we do. He is our breath and our life. He is our victory.

Moving Day

John 16: 33

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

This is more of that red letter text from the Bible. I always like reading the red text. It seems to me that in this verse Jesus is giving us the chance of either being in him or being in the world. He is saying that we can be in him and have peace or be in the world and suffer its tribulation.

Now it may take a little meditation for some of us to wrap our heads around this concept but once you start looking at the Bible you find that this idea is all over the New Testament. Jesus is drawing a line between the world and the kingdom. We are to abide in him (John 15: 4). We are no longer to abide in the world.

Jesus taught his disciples this very lesson. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15: 19). But let’s look at more of Jesus’ words. These are from his conversation and prayer with the Father. “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were and Thou gavest them to Me (John 17: 6). “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (John 17: 16). So what is Jesus saying here? I think it is pretty clear that he believes we are not of the world. We were chosen out of and taken out of the world.

Paul really had a revelation of this truth too. If you run a search of the Pauline Epistles for the words, “In him” you will see how much this revelation had permeated Paul’s understanding. We are in Jesus rather than of the world and this is a pretty huge deal. Believe it or not this concept actually existed in the Old Testament as well. David frequently wrote about God being his hiding place and refuge. He wrote about being in the Father in a similar fashion as Paul’s writing about being in Christ. This is a major precept for living a true Christian life. We are to abide in Christ rather than living in the world.

In him, Jesus, is everything we need. Further, if we are in him and since he has overcome the world, then we abide in world overcoming victory. However, this is an elective life. Just saying a prayer of salvation does not correlate to living in Christ. This abiding in Christ is a choice we make and a choice we usually have to make daily. We are constantly given the choice of choosing the world’s thoughts, words, way of thinking and behavior patterns. To live in Christ is to be aware of the choices you make daily and to choose to live in him and to him rather than to just passively float down the river of the world. Move out of the world and into him. It is like moving into the Promised Land. In him is where there is peace and victory.