Abiding Freedom

John 8: 31 – 32

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

I wish to draw your attention to the two statements Jesus makes in this one sentence. Although there are two thoughts, he tied them together in one sentence. That is because He wanted us to understand that the two ideas are tied together.

First, if you want truly to be a disciple of Christ, then you must abide in his word. Now abiding is not a casual once in a while visit to his word. To abide in his word means to take residence in, to remain. Another definition is to submit to. If you want to be his disciple, then you are going to have to take up his word and live in it.

Secondly, if you are his disciple, then you will know the truth. Now, how do you suppose you are going to come to know the truth? Through his word, of course. The Lord will lead you to the truth and wisdom you need through his word. Then you will be set free because you will have the truth as it relates to your particular situation.

So, since these are causal statements let us look at this backwards going from the effect backwards to the cause. The end effect is that you will be free. Do you want to be free? Free from the burdens that have tormented you? Freedom comes from knowing the truth. Truth comes by being his disciple. You are his disciple if you abide in his word. Therefore, the beginning of your freedom is HIS WORD. It all begins and ends there because he is the living word.

My Part / Your Part

Psalm 9: 3

For when you appear, I worship while all of my enemies run in retreat. They stumble and perish before your presence.

I have enjoyed our jog through the Psalms. I am continuing it, you may have noticed. Each Monday I will continue our journey through the psalms. This is one I found when we did Psalm 9. It was so good that I saved it for another day. I love this, don’t you?

In it I see our partnership with Yahweh. This partnership is such a huge and important revelation. Jesus said we are to abide in him. As we abide, he makes our hopes and dreams a reality. In today’s verse we see our part in the partnership. It is worship. We communicate with the Father about our perceived needs but then we roll the care of it over to Him and enter into worship. I even hate to say we pray about our need because we get such weird and convoluted ideas about prayer. I just talk to our Father. I tell Him what I am thinking, what I think I want and what I perceive my needs to be. Then I let it go.

Some of the things we think we need, we don’t. It may be something entirely different that we need. We can give our senior partner room to fill the need even though it is filled differently than we think it will be. Some of the things we think we want may not fit in with the rest of our lives. They can end up being a burden. Father knows that so He will re-direct us and give us something that works better in our lives.

It is exciting to me to think that our enemies run in retreat while we stand in worship. That is really crazy when you think about it, but it is not unprecedented. In 2 Chronicles 20 we see this very thing happen. The minstrels played their instruments and the singers sang while God routed the armies of the enemies. Wow!

Make this a model for your entire life, especially your work life. Let God lead you. If you will spend time reading the Word and communicating with your Father, you will find you have more time rather than less. I have seen it many times. Our Father is a multiplier, even of time. You do your part which is prayer, study and worship and God will take care of the rest. The next thing you will see is the backs of your opponents and the appearance of new opportunities. Be blessed!

Gift from God

John 14: 16 – 17

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

When Jesus left the earth, life altered for his disciples. They had to learn a new walk. Jesus began to prepare them before he left, knowing that their lives were about the change dramatically. It was a new time for them, a new beginning.

We are at a new beginning also, the beginning of a new year. Each year we look at the course of our lives and often plot out some new coordinates. How will this year be like last year and how would you like it to be different? There seems no better approach for us than that which Jesus paved for his disciples, that being a new start with the Holy Spirit of God. What better way for us to begin our thoughts about a New Year with the Holy Spirit than to see how Jesus introduced the idea to his disciples.

Jesus laid the groundwork for their introduction to the Holy Spirit in these two verses. The Spirit is a gift, that gift is from the Father and the gift is that of a helper. The disciples must have been devastated at the idea of Jesus’ departure. It is telling, I believe, that Jesus direction to the future is the path with the Holy Spirit. Here is where we need to abide. Why was this coming of the Spirit so important? What does it mean for our daily lives? What did Jesus intend to impart to the disciples that we, too, should be participants in? Jesus distinguishes believers from the rest of the world. Life with the Spirit is only for those who belong to Jesus because the world is unable to receive him, the Spirit. That means we can receive him. Jesus said the spirit was abiding with the disciples but that he was going to ask the Father and then believers would be able to receive the Spirit so that the spirit would not abide with but rather “in” the children of God.

There is a third person of the trinity who wants to have an abiding relationship with us. We are learning about the Father and the Son. Now we can invite the Spirit to participate in our lives in a very dynamic way. There is more to him than we have discovered so far but 2018 is a great year for us to dedicate to the Spirit of God: to learning more about him, to spending more time with him and to walking in the power of his might. This could be the year that changes our spiritual atmosphere forever. I believe that environmental change is in the person of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get to know him better this year. Let’s seek him and abide with him. It is a guarantee that we will have a great year.

Partnered with Christ

Psalm 25: 12

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
First let us begin with a small reminder. There is no reason to be afraid of the Lord our God and father. This fear is more akin to a reverential awe. I personally read it as, “Who is the one who loves the Lord?” I think of this as applying to the person who is living in and with the Lord. Those who so do will be instructed by the Lord. God will show such a person the profitable path, the way he should choose.
I want to use another illustration today to demonstrate the idea of partnering with God in our lives. This partnership means that we are neither exercising our own might and power nor sitting on our hands waiting for God to drop everything in our lives.
Last week I was praying over a house. I was asking the Father to abide in the property and beseeching the Holy Spirit to saturate every molecule of the house with his presence. As I prayed I kept hearing the words “abide” and “saturate” repeating in my head. Well, isn’t that what I just prayed? Then I realized that the words were not coming from me but from Father God. He was telling me to abide in the space I was praying over. “Set up a desk here and work in this space. Reside here, abide. Next, if you want the Holy Spirit to saturate this space then you saturate it with prayer and anointed music. Sit here and pray. Let your prayers saturate the walls.” As I received this message I remembered some of the old churches I have been in. As soon as you walk into them you can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Westminster Abbey was the most amazing in this respect but I remember going into an old country church and feeling that anointing. I remember thinking that one could feel the generations of prayers which had been offered in that building. The prayers of the saints had saturated the walls and the pews.

The point, though, is that through prayer, through connecting with God, He told me what to do for that property. You see, I prayed and then He told me what to do. He has a part to do and I have a part to do. When we begin our days, projects and work with Christ, then we will walk in the way we should. He will direct our paths. This is how we work in harness with Jesus, this is the way of partnership.

No Longer Sinners

1 John 3: 6

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him

Christians make a big deal about sin. It is kind of interesting really that people who have been redeemed from sin would be so sin conscious. But look, Jesus has solved the sin problem forever so let’s get sin off of our minds and focus on that indwelling victory within us. We are saints, not sinners.

You may hear people confessing that they are “an old sinner saved by grace.” Well, which is it? Are you a sinner or saved by grace. Surely, today’s verse will change our confession. We know what these folks mean though, don’t we? They are trying to give Jesus a nod for what he has done for us so it usually is well intentioned. However, I want to get those words out of your mouth because you are now a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 17). You have been reborn. The old person has died and behold you are new. Hallelujah. We need to focus on what Jesus did for us in that miracle transformation instead of always looking back at the dirty garments he took from us. Those are grave clothes and they are supposed to be in the grave with the old self. 

Are we perfect? Well, yes. When we are abiding in him and following his leading, we are with the perfect and we are perfect. But then the old man resurrects and we do something stupid or we just simply make mistakes. No problem. Jesus took care of that so we just run to him as fast as our little spirits will carry us and trade our error for his flawlessness. We run to the altar in our minds and cast our “self” on the altar and put on Jesus.

Am I minimizing sin? By no means! I am casting it into the pit of hell where it belongs. My purpose in this devotional is to get sin off our minds and out of our mouths. We should be focused on Jesus and his righteousness. I want to change your self-image. 1 John 3: 9 says, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” This is where we live. We don’t practice sin. We abide in the Holy One of God and we cannot sin. Just keep abiding. Get out of yourself and into Jesus. Let his abiding presence be louder than your former sin. Lose your sin consciousness and revel in the saving grace which abides in you. This simple paradigm shift will lead you to praise and you will be lifted up rather than down trodden.

Look, here is the bottom line, sinners aren’t getting into heaven so you better decide you are a saint. No sinner abides in Christ and Christ most certainly does not abide in a sinner. Put on your reformation in Christ. Let your eyes be fixed on Jesus and the wonder of his majesty instead of focusing constantly on yourself and your shortcomings. In other words, get yourself off your mind. Jesus is our heart, soul and has become our very existence. You are truth and righteousness in the Lord, Jesus, our Messiah.

Habitation of Jesus

2 John 1: 9

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

The Apostle John is, besides Jesus, the expert on abiding. In this passage he shows us that we should also abide in Jesus’ teaching. He makes a rather strong statement here. Anyone who does not abide (hangout, remain, live in persist,) in Jesus’ teaching does not have God. Okay, wow! Now that will shake up a person’s theology. There are “Christians” all over the world who do not pursue Jesus’ Word and thus, his teaching. John says clearly that unless we are living in Jesus’ teachings then we don’t have the Father. One would then have to ask whether or not we have salvation. How can you have salvation without the Father?

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7: 21). That is a truly frightening verse, is it not? It means there are people running around thinking they have their ticket punched for eternal life with Christ in heaven but who are instead deceived. They are not truly members of the family. We must allow ourselves to be adopted by the Father. That must mean more than just repeating a prayer. Ultimately we must choose our life in this world or His life. Unless we submit to the Lordship of Christ what meaning is there in calling him Lord, Lord?

We are entering into the final days. God is calling His children to Him. This is a time for entering in to His presence. There will be a separation of people but the good news is that we each get to choose what group to be in. Today’s message isn’t meant to frighten you but rather to invite you into the deep. It is time for all of God’s children to enter into a fully committed relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Hearken to Jesus. Abide in his teaching, abide in his word. 

Abiding Life

Joel 2:28

And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.

This pouring out is called The Pentecost. The record of this wonderful event is in the second chapter of Acts. God poured out His Spirit for all people. Jesus said of the Spirit, “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14: 17). This is the purpose of the Pentecost, that divinity would come and make a home with humanity. This abiding presence is not limited to the Spirit of God though. It extends to the Father and the Son. In  John 14: 23 Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all want to make a home with us.

Jesus talked a good bit about “abiding”. His ministry, sacrifice and victory have made it possible for us to be united with the Father, Son and Spirit as never before in history. We are now to become one with the divine trinity. Our DNA is being replicated in the image of Jesus (Romans 8: 29). For those who will submit themselves to Jesus’ words and teaching Jesus moves in and takes up residence. We are becoming enmeshed, intertwined with the Father, Son and Spirit so that there is now no separation between us and the divine. We are becoming so integrated that nothing can tear us apart. “I am convinced,” Paul said, “that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8: 38 God’s Word Translation). And since God is love that means that nothing can separate us from Him. 

This abiding in and with the triune presence of God is the key to our Christian testimony, outreach and life. Abiding in Him means that we shuck off the old self and adorn our new selves with the life of Christ which has now taken up residence within us. No longer do we have to will ourselves to act like a Christian should, no longer do we have to contemplate what Jesus would do in our situation. Now we let the life of Christ which is within us flow out of us and into the world. We put on Jesus and let his life, light and love reach out to other people. 

If you want to know if you are abiding in Him and He in you check your love walk. To the degree that you are others centered, that is the degree to which you are allowing Jesus to express himself. Put on Christ and let him abide forever with you.