Our Life Is In Him

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Our Life Is In Him

John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”

This is a profound truth, that is the key to bearing fruit, but it is so easy to forget. Because the fruit is borne on the branch, it is easy to credit the branch with the fruit, when it is the vine that drew the life from the earth and channeled it through the branch.

Likewise, since we are the branch through which the life of God flows, we sometimes think that it is our own holiness that produces the fruit. The moment we think that way, we are no longer abiding (trusting in; clinging to) in the vine and we will become fruitless if we persist in this mind set.

This is actually a great relief if the believer understands this and applies it properly. It puts all the responsibility on Jesus. Our only responsibility is to respond to His ability. In the same way that you have never seen a branch travailing to bring forth fruit, so all we have to do is labor to enter into His rest (trust and depend) and completely trust Jesus as our source, Hebrews 4:11. If we abide in Him, fruit will come naturally.

It’s our faith in what Jesus did for us that saved us, and our faith has to continue to be in Christ, not in ourselves, to maintain salvation. Our holiness, righteousness, and justification are gifts that we receive in our spirits through Jesus.

Just like the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found in the union with Christ.

Let God Prune You His Way

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Let God Prune You His Way

John 15:2 “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

This purging has been interpreted in many ways. The illustration that Jesus is using is one of pruning; therefore, some have said this purging is a very painful process where the Lord cuts and slashes us through things like sickness, death, poverty, and other forms of tragedy so that eventually we will bear more fruit. This teaching not only promotes problems as being good, but necessary, if we want to bear more fruit.

That thinking is not consistent with the rest of God’s Word or even the context of this verse. The text makes it very clear that the purging that Jesus speaks of is done through the Word that He has spoken unto us.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word was given to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is God’s method of pruning us, and He doesn’t need the devil’s help. His word will make us “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

That is not to say that we cannot learn through tragedy: but God has a better way. If we mistakenly think that God is bringing tragedy into our lives to make us more fruitful, then we’ll not resist the tragedies and they will not flee from us. All of us will learn by hard knocks, but the man who welcomes them with wide open arms will suffer greatly and be far behind the man who lets God’s Word have His perfect

 

Turn Back To God

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Turn Back To God

Luke 22:32 “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

The concept of “conversion” is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures at least 14 times. The basic meaning of the term is a turning or returning to God. This implies a turning away from sin and a turning to God. Repentance and putting faith in God are corresponding synonyms to conversion.

The theological basis for conversion lies in the truth of the “atonement.”

Although man lapses into sin, the truth of the atonement remains. When men turn to God in repentance and faith, the effects of the atonement – reconciliation and forgiveness – avail.

The apostle Paul expresses the act of conversion in this way: “Turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God”, 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Also, “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me”, Acts 26:18.

Jesus instructed Peter to get back into ministry after he repented of his denial. If Jesus had not given Peter this command, many people might have doubted that Peter should be in a position of leadership. Indeed, Peter himself must have doubted whether or not he was fit. After Jesus’ resurrection, the Lord again admonished Peter three times to serve Him by ministering to His sheep.

In the context of Luke 22, Peter’s faith was shaken and he denied the Lord but did not reject Him. Jesus’ admonition to Peter was that when he turned back again to Him (converted), he was to strengthen the brethren.

 

 

A New Revelation Of Love

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A New Revelation Of Love

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

Jesus previously stated that all the law and the prophets were dependent on loving God first, and then loving your neighbor as yourself. These truths were already in the law but people missed them. So, this commandment was not new in the sense that it had never been given before, but it was brought to the forefront and given new meaning through the example of Jesus. Jesus not only loved His neighbor as Himself, He loved us more than Himself.

John, the apostle who wrote this gospel, later wrote about the new commandment of love. No doubt, he received his inspiration from this teaching of Jesus. John wrote, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth”, 1 John 2:7-8. He then goes on to speak of loving one another.

This commandment, or the revelation that God gave to man through His Word, wasn’t new, but was never clearly seen by men because of the darkness that separated them from God. In the light of Jesus’ life, the darkness was removed and the old commandment of love became new through the example of Jesus in a way that mere words could never express.

Communion Is Sacred

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Communion Is Sacred

Luke 22:19 “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

The bread of communion symbolizes the body of Jesus which was broken for us through His sufferings. He not only died for us on the cross but also bore 39 stripes on His back by which we are healed. Partaking of communion should remind us of the emotional and physical salvation that Jesus provided for us.

The Lord’s Supper comes from a part of the Passover meal that was celebrated only once a year. However, the early Christian church took Communion weekly and sometimes daily. There is no specific frequency of the Lord’s Supper prescribed in scripture.

As we take Communion, we are solemnly proclaiming the Lord’s death, and our union with Him and with others through that death. This is a profession of our faith and therefore, there are serious consequences for those who profess something they don’t possess.

It is most likely that what makes a person worthy or unworthy is whether or not he is born again. This is also totally consistent with the doctrine of grace that Paul constantly preached. There were unbelievers among the true Christians just as Jesus prophesied, and this still exists today. It is a dangerous offense for an unbeliever to take the Lord’s Supper. When taking Communion, each person should examine himself to see whether or not he is in the faith, 2 Corinthians 13:5.

 

How To Esteem Others More Than Self

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How To Esteem Others More Than Self

Matthew 25:40 “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

When a kind act was done to someone in need, Jesus said it was done unto Him. The Lord deeply feels our hurts. When someone is neglected, Jesus says He is also being neglected. We have a high priest who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities, Hebrews 4:15. When we hurt, He hurts. When we are blessed, He is blessed. The God of the universe is intricately involved with every detail of our lives.

How can we esteem others better than ourselves when really we think we are better than others? Some people are better athletes than others. Some are better businessmen than others. Some are better speakers than others, and so forth.

First, we need to recognize that our accomplishments don’t make us better than others. There is a difference between what we do and who we are. Better performance does not make a better person. A person’s character can be severely wanting even though his performance is good.

Secondly, to esteem someone better than ourselves simply means to value them more than we value ourselves. To some that may seem impossible, but it isn’t.

That is exactly what Jesus did. If Jesus, who was God in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16, could humble Himself and value our good above His own welfare, then we should certainly be able to do the same. It can happen when we die to self and live to God.

If we think only about ourselves, we will be selfish. If we get out of self and think more about the benefit of others than the benefit of self, then we will be selfless. It’s a matter of focus.

Follow The Leading Of The Holy Spirit

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Follow The Leading Of The Holy Spirit

Matthew 25:14 “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.”

The parable of the talents continues the theme of being ready for the Lord’s return, but it also makes a strong point that we are accountable to the Lord for the gifts He has given us. The Lord intends us to use these gifts to further His kingdom – not keep them hidden.

This parable also shows the Lord dealing with His servants according to their own individual gifts and abilities. The servants who doubled their Lord’s money were praised equally, even though one had produced two and one-half times as much revenue for His Lord than the other. Every man’s work shall be judged as to what sort it is – not what size it is.

Most people today are preoccupied with quantity of ministry instead of quality of ministry. The Lord is going to reward us based on how well we did, not on how much we did. Those who are not governed by the Holy Spirit in their actions will see all their good works burned up on the day we stand before the Lord and He tries our works. Those who acted only under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will find that their works will endure the test and they will receive a reward.

Many people choose to do good things thinking that God will be pleased. It is our positive response to God’s direction (faith) that pleases God, Hebrews 11:6. We were created with a purpose and every individual has a God-given plan for his life. Unless our actions are in agreement with God’s plan for our life, they will not abide the test of God’s fire.

Get Ready For Jesus

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Get Ready For Jesus

Matthew 24:38 “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,”

Jesus is prophesying that just as in Noah’s day, people will be dominated with the temporary affairs of this life instead of eternal spiritual truths, when Jesus returns. Before our Lord’s second return, there will be plenty of signs to show that the time is drawing near, but few will heed them. Preoccupation with the affairs of this life can dull us to the spiritual realm.

The Lord kindly but seriously, points out the urgent need to be ready for His return. In the same way that a thief comes when people are the least prepared, so our Lord will return in a time when people are not looking for Him.

This is not because our Lord desires to surprise everyone and see how many He can catch unprepared. On the contrary, He is urging us to be watchful so that we will be prepared. Jesus gave us the signs of the end times to help us be prepared. He is simply prophesying that there will be a condition of apathy in the latter days that will tend to lull even the faithful to sleep if they don’t take heed to His words.

Believers will not be assembled on a mountaintop somewhere waiting for the Lord’s return. They will still be going about their daily routines. The Lord told us to “Occupy till I come.”, Luke 19:13. We should be ready for the Lord to come back at any moment, yet work as if His return was still far off.

Guard Against Deception

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Guard Against Deception

Matthew 24:4 “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.”

Deception can be avoided or else Jesus would not have said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Satan can only deceive those who allow him to do it.

Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Putting on the whole armour of God will protect you from the deception of the devil. Just wearing part of God’s armour will not fully protect you. Many Christians have been running around with the helmet of salvation on but nothing else. There is more to overcoming the devil than just being saved. We have to understand our righteous position in the Lord. We also must possess faith, know the Word, and understand the gospel of peace.

The Christian life is a constant struggle against Satan, who is trying to corrupt us. Most Christians are aware of the warfare, but they don’t know where the warfare is occurring. The battle is in our mind. Just as the serpent didn’t come against Eve with brute force, but rather used words to deceive her, likewise Satan tries to corrupt us through thoughts contrary to the gospel. Satan’s original tactic was deception and that is still his method of operation today.

One of the characteristics of children is that they are easily deceived. They are gullible. One of the things that must take place to move from childhood into sonship is spiritual discernment. This comes from being grounded in the Word of God.

The way to recognize deception is not to analyze all the false claims but rather to become so familiar with what is genuine that a counterfeit will be easily recognizable. Anyone who is truly grounded in the Word of God will not be deceived.

 

God Recognizes Our Sacrifices

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God Recognizes Our Sacrifices

Mark 12:41-42 “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.”

The treasury that is spoken of here is a place located in the Women’s Court that was in the temple complex but was not part of the temple itself. Women were not allowed in the temple, so the fact that this widow was casting her offering into the treasury verifies the location of the treasury.

Jesus used this instance to teach His disciples a very important lesson. He did not say these things to this widow personally. God’s promises concerning giving give us an assurance that this offering was blessed back to this woman in this life, but the widow did not hear His commendation. There is no indication that this poor widow ever knew that anyone recognized the extent of her sacrifice.

Likewise, there are times when we may feel that no one knows or appreciates our sacrifices. However, just as surely as Jesus saw this woman’s giving and knew of the sacrifice involved, God takes note of our smallest deeds and one day, will reward us openly.

The Lord does not judge the size of our gifts by how much we give, but rather by how much we have left over after we give. Men tend to compare themselves with each other but the Lord doesn’t judge our giving by what others give. He judges our gifts by what we have to give. The Lord looks at the heart of the giver more than at the gift. The Lord weighs the giver more than the gift.

When we stand before the Lord, all of our works, not only our giving, will be tried to determine what sort – not what size they are.