Tag Archives: devotion

Abide in Me

Abide In Me“Abide in me…he who abides in me bears much fruit.” This is the essence of maturity.

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just before His crucifixion. They are not mystical or religious words, but relational.

God is sovereign. He is also a Person we can know and trust. His love for each of us has no measure. He is so trustworthy and loving, we can lean on His understanding rather than our own. Maturing Christians trust His inspired written Word because His Word speaks from His character, and His character speaks only truth.

What does it mean to “abide in Christ?”
“Abide.” This means to remain, to have consistency. Maturing Christian are not “in and out and back again.” They are not moved by outside forces, emotions or opinions of others.

“In.” In a good marriage, two people immerse themselves into the relationship and become “one.” As we immerse ourselves into our relationship with Christ, we learn to become “one” with His thoughts, passions, actions and strength. He already knows us completely and loves us.

“Me.” Trust in Christ alone. Maturing Christians don’t just read good books about Christ, but come to know Christ in the practical issues and challenges of life.

Maturing Christians know that a moral and religious life is not the same as to abide in Christ. Maturing Christians know Christ died and rose again, not for humanity in general but for them. They know He has done for them what no one else can do, and He did it when they were still sinners. That becomes a growing reason to trust Him in everything.

Jesus Christ gives His children the Holy Spirit to teach “all things.” Maturing Christians learn to fully trust only what Jesus Christ gives through His Spirit’s inspiration and His Word.

Maturing Christians become more aware of their imperfections, but they also become more aware of Christ’s perfections. They learn to put aside their lesser understanding for Christ’s greater understanding. Maturing Christians want to listen to God because every time God speaks to them, they receive life, truth and strength they receive from no other source. They learn to seek His word in all issues of life.

Maturing Christians learn that to abide in Christ means to bear much fruit. To bear fruit takes many forms, depending upon our personalities, abilities and circumstances:

  • We show the fruit of the Spirit.
  • We express gifts of the Spirit.
  • We carry God’s priceless treasure in bodies of clay.
  • We live in bodies that die, but our mortal lives reflect glimpses of heaven.
  • Even non-Christians see the difference, and many will hunger for it.

The greatest ministries come through people who give up on themselves and abide in Christ. They let His life flow through them into whatever calling God places upon them. This applies not only to pastors, evangelists and missionaries, but to all who abide in Christ.

Paul says it all: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Christian maturity is a continually growing relationship with Christ. As we learn to abide in Christ, others will see “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

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His Witnesses

witnessThree years before he became President, Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer, was called to defend an old family friend accused of murder. The murder took place at night, and a key witness said that he saw the defendant kill the man “by the light of the full moon.” This seemed compelling evidence, beyond reasonable doubt.

However, during cross-examination, Lincoln used a simple almanac to prove that on the night of the murder, there was no full moon. The accuser could not have seen what he claimed to see.

Today, we all stand accused by Satan of crimes against our Creator. His evidence against us appears beyond reasonable doubt: we all stand guilty before God. But through Jesus Christ, God has evidence on our behalf that saves us from our arch-accuser, Satan.

Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His disciples that they would become His witnesses to His power to save, and that their witness would carry them to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

What kind of compelling “witness” did Jesus have in mind for us? How effective is our “witness” to others?

The Greek word for “witness” used by Luke has more than one meaning. First, a “witness” is one who speaks from first-hand experience about actions in which he participates. Specifically, this “witness” means our testimony to others of our relationship with Jesus Christ and what God has done in our lives.

Second, a “witness” is one who makes an evangelistic confession of specific truths. In Luke 24, Jesus said that this “witness” must include the truths involving His suffering and death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day—the key to our salvation. It must declare the need for repentance from sin to receive forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

Luke tells us that Jesus sent His disciples forth on their mission as “witnesses” with the promise of His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, an effective witness depends upon trust in the word of God to empower us and bless our witness in great and marvelous ways.

Before He left them, Jesus grounded their “witness” firmly in the scriptures. He systematically showed them how the entire Old Testament—“the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms”—was the foundation for His saving life, death and resurrection.

In short, effective “witness” comprises four major elements for compelling communication to others: (1) personal experience, (2) clear evangelistic confession, (3) trust in Holy Spirit power and (4) solid biblical foundations. If one or more of these elements is lacking, our “witness” suffers, and a needy world fails to hear the Good News and escape Satan’s accusations.

How well are we doing? Is our society becoming more or less committed to the Christ of our “witness”? Too often, we must admit, our words and actions have denied Jesus. Too often, we have played the coward, fleeing from opportunities and hiding from opposition.

Clearly, as we read our daily news today, we have much for which to repent. But let us not become discouraged. Let us remember that the success of the disciples’ witness followed only after their own abject failures and cowardice. Let us heed their example of repentance, for God’s forgiveness and renewal is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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Glory & Grace

Glory-and-Grace-2014-12Even when we do not think of God, we all depend upon Him every moment of every day. The more we become aware of Him, the more we experience freedom. When Isaiah met God in the temple, it changed the rest of his life. On that day, he heard the angels cry out,

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3)!

The whole earth is full of His glory! Yet tragically, most of the time, we don’t see it.

Go down the streets anywhere and observe the people. How many of them walk about
with stooped shoulders, dead eyes, and grim faces.

Yet right before their eyes, may lie a glorious sunrise or a lovely child. Overhead, graceful flocks of birds may head for unknown destinations, guided by instincts still little understood.

Every moment, we are surrounded by thousands of signs of a glorious God. But more often than not, we miss them because we are consumed by our own worries, doubts and frantic schedules! All too often, WE may be those grim-faced people on the streets!

Paul says, “Since creation, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen…” In other words, HIS GLORY. But…

“Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks.”

Yes, more often than we like to think, this appalling verdict claims us, as God’s children of grace—even now. We all have myopic vision and futile thoughts. Too often, talk of God’s glory seems to contradict our daily experience of mediocrity, sorrow and failure. But…

The Gospel of John tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw HIS GLORY, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14).

His great glory is His grace. That grace and glory of God came to live among us through a young teenage girl giving birth to a Child in a manger. It ended on a cross. In Romans, Paul tells us that we, too, were crucified with Him. Three days later, we were also raised with Him, so that our life of mediocrity, sorrow and failure might become absorbed and transformed by His resurrection GLORY. He lives for all eternity, now and forever. So do we who trust in Him.

In short, through His birth in a manger, death on a cross and resurrection from a tomb, He has already given us the gift of His glory to experience now and forever. As Paul tells us, even in spite of ourselves, we can “reckon ourselves dead to [the kingdom of] sin and alive to [the kingdom of] God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Yes, God’s glory is also His grace.

So the battle is already over, and the victory is already won. The prison doors have flown open. The shades are up, and the glorious light of God already shines upon us. Already, God tells us, “Get up! You are free! Walk out into all that I planned for you before I created the universe! It is yours now!” This grace is true glory and freedom!

The rest of the world still sees only prison cells around them, and they walk about with grim faces, awaiting their freedom. Let us better see the gracious glory of God for ourselves, that we may help them to see it–and to experience true freedom!

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Lydia and All of Us

Throughout the centuries, men have tended to regard women as inferior. This judgment upon women is a judgment upon God who made women and can only quench the Holy Spirit in men who make such judgments.

Lydia is a good example of God’s great work through a woman. Overnight, the history of Europe began to change because Lydia heard the voice of the Holy Spirit speak through Paul. She responded and became Europe’s first convert.

Because of her faithfulness to the message she heard, the gospel spread to those around her, like a stone whose ripples spread out over a pond.

Lydia serves as an example to both men and women of how the Holy Spirit can work in anyone to change the world in the name of Christ.

  1. God opened Lydia’s HEART to do a work of grace in her life. God alone ordained her time to come to Christ and to use her conversion as a means to ultimately change the direction of a whole continent and the rest of the world. Through her witness, her entire household believed and received baptism. Through her and her household, the church at Philippi was born. That church became a strong witness for the Lord and served as a model for future churches. All of this began with the conversion of one woman. There are no small people in the kingdom of God. We must open ourselves to all that God chooses to work through our lives.
  2. Lydia opened her HOME for God’s servants and fellow believers. Like Lydia, we all show our gratitude to God by the way we treat God’s servants and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  3. Lydia offered her HANDS to minister to others. Lydia took Paul and Silas into her house to nurse their wounds from jail and beatings and help them recover. A helpful spirit is not just “woman’s work.” A helpful spirit is an effective witness for Christ in men and women alike. A helpful spirit is a spirit of salt and light that preserves and enlightens families, cultures and nations with the power of Christ.
  4. Lydia had a good HEAD for business and practical affairs. Lydia was a prosperous businesswoman. Lydia is a good example of a wealthy servant–one who regards all wealth and personal possessions as gifts from God to serve Him and others in need of His transformation.

Since Lydia’s generation, the Spirit of God has worked in the hearts of other women to do great and mighty things. Think of Amy Carmichael who ministered to girls caught in forced prostitution. She modeled ministries in India later founded by men.

Think of Monica, mother of a wayward youth named Augustine who became one of Christianity’s most influential theologians because of her prayers.

Think of Susannah Wesley, mother and faithful teacher to 19 children including John and Charles Wesley.

Think of Elizabeth Elliott, wife of martyred missionary, Jim Elliott, who took up her husband’s mantle and served as God’s instrument to change a savage culture for Christ.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we depend upon God’s Spirit. Let us all thank God for such boundless grace that works in so many ways. Let us especially make sure we accept all the grace He reveals through His chosen women.

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