Tag Archive | prayer

“Abide in Him?” What Does it Mean? Does It Mean to Pray and Obey More?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Yes, Christ is the vine, and we are the young branches in union with Him who are toldgrapevines to “abide.” However, the mistake we make so often when reading this passage of Scripture is that we immediately begin to try to figure out what we must do in order to abide when the point of the imperative being given here is simply that we are to receive. Thus, we miss altogether the indicative statement being made, and that is that all the nourishment we need to produce fruit comes from the vine (Jesus Christ), and not from ourselves. This must first be acknowledged before we will see the fruit of true obedience, an obedience that flows from the heart and is not just an outward action in an effort to conform.

Let’s consider the new growth on a grapevine. Obviously, the new growth is helpless and unable to do anything to support the vine from which it is attached. The tendril goes on to maturity, by resting there in union with the vine, receiving all that it needs to grow in strength, endurance, and fruitfulness from the vine itself. If it becomes separated, it’s fate will be death.

You see, it is not our ability to bear fruit that is the focus here. The emphasis is to rest in Christ’s ability and His dedication because of His amazing love for us, to transform us and produce the fruit He desires of us. This passage is all about Jesus Christ, and His promise of devotion and affection to produce in and through us, fruit. It is not about what we ourselves need to try to do, separated from Him. Christ clearly tells us, we can do nothing in our own efforts. However, as we know and abide in His love by believing Him concerning His love and what He has done for us, and as we expose ourselves to the Word of God, and rest in His promise  concerning what He is doing in us, we are continually cleansed (John 15:3) and we are guaranteed to bear fruit.

In other words, yes, we are called to obey God. Our love is seen in our obedience to Him. But,  our obedience is not a life of striving. The fruit of obedience doesn’t come before receiving the nutrients from the vine, which are only received if we are abiding. We abide by trusting wholly in Christ, not ourselves. True obedience is a by-product of what God has planted and is tending within us. We must leave our self improvement programs and efforts, and our tendency to trust in ourselves, and instead, trust fully in Jesus Christ. We must trust in His love for us, believing in what He has dJohn 15_9one and is doing in us.

We can believe and rest in our union with Him in order to absorb all we need to produce fruit as His life flows into us to nourish our souls. Jesus said, “I’ve loved you with the same intensity of love that my Father has for me” (John 15:9). Believe that this kind of love is possible and that it is yours.” Rest in this love and He will see to it that you bear the fruit He has intended for you.

Furthermore, notice I said “for you.” Each branch will bear the same kind of fruit, yet perhaps a different amount of fruit, according to the Lord’s desire and plan, so don’t get caught up in comparing your fruit to another, resulting in either condemnation or pride. Remember, to rest in His love and promise, and know it is His ability not yours, to produce fruit in your life. It is all about Him and what He has done and is doing.

I will close with this quote I love from Elyse Fitzpatrick which sums it up well. “We are eternally united to Christ, the true vine, and His fruitfulness is ours. Your obedience will grow because he’s your husbandman. Rest here. Endure here. Remain here. Tarry here. Abide”

 

 

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Resisting Worry

“Worry is a form of atheism, for it betrays a lack of faith and trust in God” (attributed to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen). In this fallen world we live in, we are often faced with challenges that, if we are not careful, can overtake us with anxiety and distract us away from the very Source that can supply our need. We or our loved ones may be facing illness, living in a strained marriage, struggling through a stressed work environment, experiencing a loss of income and the list goes on and on. Worrying about things we have no control over is a waste of our time and energy and can result in “killer” stress in our lives.Keys to Freedom & Transformation

The Apostle Paul instructs us as we face our life challenges: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6). The truth is, we are not created in such a way to successfully carry the kind of burdens we are faced with that come our way as a result of the fallen world and fallen nature of humans. Therefore, Paul is telling us to take our concerns and anxieties to Christ and let Him handle them for us. Christ Himself implores us to do the same: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The Apostle Paul who suffered persecution in all forms and levels, from false allegations to beatings, walked out his journey without stressing these matters. His attitude was: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21). What was it about Paul that he could maintain contentment and hold this noble attitude in the midst of all his afflictions? To answer this question, consider the following habits we clearly see in Paul’s life as we read his New Testament letters. These habits give us insight into his worry-less lifestyle:

  1. Paul was totally surrendered to God’s purpose for his life. He knew His purpose was greater than his human mind was able to comprehend. Isaiah 55:9: As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. When we accept this truth as did Paul, we can quit trying to figure out what God’s reasoning is, and instead rest in God and His plan for our lives.
  2. Paul trust God’s love and lordship over His life. He knew that no man or circumstance could take his reputation or his life unless God allowed it. It was his steadfast belief that God was sovereignly involved in the affairs of his life that gave purpose to every situation Paul faced. His attitude was like that of Jesus as seen in John 19:10-11 when Christ stood in front of Pilate. Pilate said: Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you? Christ responded: You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…

  3. Paul focused on the reality of eternity and his rewards in Christ. We are able to remain content and at peace in every situation as we view it from the perspective of eternity. Matthew 6:25-40 informs us that as the righteousness of God in Christ, we are the partakers of divine riches. We must do as did Paul and remind ourselves of this. One of those riches is strength for every situation (Phil 4:13). Knowing you have God’s power on your side and that He will meet all your needs, gives you reason to rest. Psalm 1:3 describes the righteous who trust in God as being…like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
  4. Paul prayed and maintained a grateful heart. When we pray, we are releasing our fears and worries to God. As we do this, His peace floods our souls, as He guides us as to what we should do, if anything. There is no situation we cannot take to the throne room of grace, whether it is a situation existing because of our own sin, failure, or poor choice; or, a situation that exists due to something or someone outside of ourselves. We are told to bring it all to God with prayer, supplication (intense fervor) and thanksgiving. We can have such confidence that we thank God in advance for taking care of it. As we do this, we exchange our burdens for God’s supernatural yoke of peace and we discover His yoke is light, indeed.
  5. Paul looked at his present circumstances in light of the promises of God for his future. Search the Scriptures and know God’s promises. Put them on your lips and in your heart by meditating on them. When you are tempted to think contrary to what God has said, take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and take authority in the name of Jesus over your thought life insisting on thinking thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). When you are going through a difficult season, you may want to carry some Scripture cards with you and place them in handy places to remind you of God’s faithfulness to bring you through.

    To close, I do want to point out that there are times we can reduce the opportunity for anxiety in our lives by making changes that may be needed. If fretting over the bills, ask God to help you implement a change in your budget and lifestyle. If concerned about your health, take steps to improve it through diet and exercise and your doctor’s suggestions. Taking steps to improve the particular area of life that is giving you concern can help bridge the gap between worry and faith. Still, even in this, your first step is to go to God and allow Him to give you His guidance on the situation. Then, follow His guidance and refuse to be anxious, but instead continue to give all things in and outside of your control to God as you pray with supplication and thanksgiving. He will keep you at peace as you put your trust in Him.

Thought Patrol Part 2: Reframing Your Life Story

Did you know that if you are tired of the story you have been living, you have it within your power to create a new one?  I discussed in the last post of the “Though Patrol” series the first step in the process of change and that is you must recognize authorship of your story and take ownership of it. Without a recognition that you yourself have responsibility for life, you will not be able to successfully assess your thoughts, behavior and the results of your behavior to determine what you can and should change. Today, we will look at the role our assumptions and motivations play in creating our life stories.

In the Bible, God tells us that we can call things that be not as though they are. What is He talking about here? He is saying if you have things in your life that are not in alignment with God’s will for you and you want to change, then begin to use your imagination and envision that change and speak it into being. Do not get me wrong here. This is not a magical formula, but a process involving godly meditation and speaking a godly desire aloud, that must be persevered until the desired result is being experienced in your life. The thing is, as you envision the change and speak it, you will begin to believe it. You are simply going through the process of changing your thoughts to line up with the life God has said He desires for you. As the thoughts you are now meditating on change, so does your behavior begin to change which results in bringing the new belief to pass. Scripture says that what you believe opens or closes possibilities for your life. Your beliefs and assumptions about yourself, others, life and God have a tremendous impact on your behavior, performance and how you achieve your life or business goals. Ultimately, they construct your storylines, opening or closing the possibilities which influence your performance.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is Mark 11:24: Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. God is saying whatever you believe you can be, have, or do when you ask Him for it is a possibility for you to experience in your life. Your beliefs and assumptions will manifest themselves in the decisions you make, the things you say and the things you do. On the other hand, whatever you do not believe limits the possibility for that to be a storyline of your life.  In other words, there are empowering beliefs and there are limiting beliefs. Let’s take a look at what an empowering belief might look like.

  1.  I will carry through the decisions that I make.
  2. I have the ability and the perseverance to achieve my goals.
  3. I am a positive person and those around me learn to respond positively to me.

A limiting belief would look like this.

  1. No one ever supports me in what I want to do.
  2. I am not good enough to earn that amount of money.
  3. I am unworthy of good things.

Let’s look at the first example above of a limiting belief. Immediately, we recognize these statements are in contradiction with what scripture says about us or commands us to think. Philippians 4:8 is a good example: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. When you believe no one ever supports you, your behavior will become such that it will cause people to be unsupportive towards you. On the otherhand, looking at the third example above of an empowering belief, your behavior will line up with the belief and you will have people responding to you in a positive way.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by renewing our minds. Whatever beliefs you renew your mind to will become the storylines of your new life story.  Your thoughts will transform your behavior and your behavior will transform your life. We are able to know someone’s beliefs and values by looking at their behavior because behavior is a result of what we believe.

So it is important to acknowledge that you have been constructing and are able to construct what you experience. You are the one responsible for your own choices and those choices have created your storyline. If you continue making the same choices you will continue creating the same storylines. If you begin making different choices, you will begin to write a new life story.

God says in Deuteronomy “I set before you life and death.”  Then He goes on and commands us to “Choose life”. We make the choice as to what we are going to believe, feel and do. When we choose empowering beliefs we are choosing beliefs that lead to successful behavior which will result in a successful life and career.

As a Christian Life Coach, I help my clients to assess their story lines and determine the underlying assumptions and self concepts they were created from. I also help them learn to take their thoughts captive and analyze them as to whether they are thoughts that are empowering or limiting and then discard those that are not going to further the new story they desire to create. It is also important to examine one’s emotions to determine the assumption or thought it is attached to and whether that assumption is relevant to one’s present life.  If not, the assumption can be changed and the feeling can be converted to an intention.

You can take control of your thoughts and feelings and create a new life experience. Join me next week for Part 3 of the series on “Thought Patrol.”

Examples of Scriptures which speak of our belief system – our faith:

Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Matthew 21:21-22 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

2 Corinthians 4:13-14 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.