ABIDING IN CHRIST

Listen to this precious promise, which was given through the psalmist in Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” In John 15, we also find a similar pledge, which is in the form of both a command and a promise, “Abide in Me, and I (will abide) in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the Vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” This royal mandate from the King of kings is to be obeyed unconditionally. Our Lord’s ultimate priority for our lives is that we would bear much fruit, and thus glorify Him. However, the only means by which our lives will yield an abundance of spiritual productivity is by submitting to this holy obligation to “abide in Him”. Furthermore, the fact that this command is given to us in the ‘present imperative tense’ alerts us to the reality that this divine decree is to be observed in the ‘ongoing practice of our lifestyle’! Brothers and sisters, personal obedience to the Savior’s summons to “abide in Him” is the vital key which unlocks the door for “Christ-centered and Godglorifying” living!

In one sense, the word “abide” pictures the enduring reality of ‘remaining in Christ’, which is the evidence that an individual’s conversion is authentic and not artificial. The supreme affirmation that a person is an authentic branch, in union with Jesus (and not a Judas branch which has been superficially and artificially attached to Jesus), is the spiritual proof that they remain in Christ; they stay in Christ; and they persevere in Christ! In other words, the abiding believer is the bona-fide believer! For the person who exhibits a ‘non-abiding, temporary and transient faith in Jesus’ is a Judas branch. You well recall that, ‘for three consecutive years, Judas was able to put on the external appearance that he was the real thing’. However, the Lord Jesus well knew that Judas had never been implanted into a living union with Him. This pseudo disciple was the epitome of the tragic example of one who professes an external attachment to the Vine, but they are never truly implanted into union with Him! Judas’ life was a life of wasted privilege and squandered opportunity. And what was the overwhelming evidence that exposed Judas’ hypocritical and phony faith? He did not abide; he did not remain; he did not persevere! Consequently, when you arrive at John 15, the Lord Jesus was issuing a call to the remaining 11 disciples to “remain in Me; stay with Me; continue in Me”! He was imploring them to continue to hold fast to their profession, through the mountaintops and the valleys of their lives; and through the clear days and the storms of their coming ministry! Surely that is one meaning of the word “abide”!

And yet, in another sense, the word “abide” also paints a further picture on the canvas of the life a born again believer. For it depicts the personal pursuit of ‘constant and conscious communion’ with the Lord Jesus. For the Lord Jesus is not only a Savior to be trusted in and a King to be submitted to; He is also a royal residence for every true disciple to dwell in! The Vine is a precious abode, which is richly furnished with everything that you need for life, for godliness and for an abundant harvest of fruit! Accordingly, in light of the biblical reality that you have entered into a positional union with the Vine, our Lord is commanding you to ‘steadfastly sojourn’ in a purposeful and passionate communion of sweet intimacy with Him.

The Lord Jesus is summoning each of us to maintain a heart attitude, which is personally anchored to the fire and freshness of a first-love intimacy with the Him. Oh brothers and sisters, our Lord has gone home to the Father to prepare a permanent dwelling place for each of us. However, until we exit this foreign land and make an abundant entrance into our everlasting homeland, our Master is invoking each of us to abide in a ‘living connectivity of close and conscious intimacy with Him’; and to glory in all of the majesty of His kingly rule in our hearts and lives. Are you cultivating a daily communion with your Lord? Are you seeking to abide in an affectionate and intimate communion with Him, through daily contemplation on His word and the sweetness of prayer? You must not be guilty of being diverted by the carnal distractions of this temporary world. You must not allow anything or anyone to hinder you from pursuing conscious and continual communion with the Vine!

Oh brothers and sisters, may we not be content with only a superficial acquaintance with Him. May each of us abide in a daily communion of precious intimacy with Him. So that when you pass through the fiery furnace, the Son of man will be walking in the midst of the fires of adversity along with you. Furthermore, when you face the fierceness of spiritual warfare, the Captain of the army of the Lord of hosts will be leading you into battle. Moreover, when you are proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples, His unmistakable presence will be with you always! And finally, when you must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for the Good Shepherd is with you. And why? For you have been dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. You have been abiding under the shadow of your Almighty Lord.

Seeing the Mighty Power of God in this Day

As I returned from this most recent 11th annual pastor’s conference in Kenya, my heart was overwhelmed with an exhilarating sense of inner joy. I rejoiced in the Lord over the truth that there were approximately 600 hungry and teachable pastors, church planters and spiritual leaders who were in attendance. It has been an incredible blessing to witness how our Lord has transformed the lives of hundreds of these men, with a tremendous “doctrinal reformation and spiritual revival”, over these last eleven years. As I gloried in the Holy Spirit’s powerful work in this most recent conference, I reflected upon the first invitation, which I received from a Minnesota mission organization in 2005. I was asked by the leaders of this ‘church planting and discipleship’ organization, to prayerfully consider a trip to Kenya, for the purpose of teaching

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