Yesterday as I was having my quiet time with the Lord, He impressed upon me the value of abiding in Him. I read in John 15:4-7 Jesus’ explanation of abiding in Him. But, I kept asking myself “what does it mean to abide in Him?” I went back to God’s word and reread the verses pertaining to the story Jesus told of the vine and branches.
In the story Jesus uses the story of the vine and branches to show the importance of our “remaining” or “abiding in Him”. He points out that He is the vine and we are the branches. Without Him we will die. He also gives us proof of what happens when we abide in Him.
Proofs of abiding in Christ (i.e., proofs that one is truly saved and not just pretending) include obedience to Christ’s commands (John 15:10; 1 John 3:24); following Jesus’ example (1 John 2:6); living free from habitual sin (1 John 3:6); and the awareness of a divine presence within one’s life (1 John 4:13).
One of the proofs of our salvation is perseverance, or sustained abiding in Christ. The saved will continue in their walk with Christ (see Revelation 2:26). That is, they will “abide” or remain in Him. God will complete His work in them (Philippians 1:6), and they will bring forth much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:5). Those who fall away, turn their backs on Christ, or fail to abide simply show their lack of saving faith. Abiding is not what saves us, but it is one of the signs of salvation.
If you’ve fallen away from Christ it is not too late to confess your sins, repent and ask His forgiveness. When you are received back into the fold of Jesus’ care you can start abiding in Him and God will complete His work in you.
12Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity.—Colossians 3:12-14
Resentment will suck satisfaction right out of your soul. Bitterness, which is worse, consumes it. Revenge has a monstrous appetite and makes one start planning how to get back at that person. Then before you realize it, one act of retaliation is never enough. Grudges send us on a downward spiral and the enemy is dancing with glee.
Some people see the path of forgiveness to be impossible. So let’s be realistic. When you forgive someone it does not pardon the offense, excuse the misdeed, or ignore it. Forgiveness is not even necessarily reconciliation. The phrase “forgive and forget” sets an unreachable standard. Painful memories are not like old clothing, easily shed.
Forgiveness is simply the act of changing your attitude and your heart toward the offender; it’s moving from a desire to harm them toward an openness to be at peace. A step in the direction of forgiveness is a decisive step toward your happiness.
God is pleased. You are happy. The enemy is defeated.
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”—Genesis 3:17
Christians tend to categorize sins, rating some as small and inconsequential, and others as huge and far-reaching in the damage they cause. In reality, no one sins in isolation. Each act of disobedience affects not only the sinner but also others in both the present and the future.
If we were to separate Adam and Eve’s sin from its context, few of us would convict them of great transgression. All they did was swallow some fruit from a tree with a “do not eat” sign. Today people think nothing of ignoring commands—even biblical ones.
But God has a totally different view of our sins. Each one is followed by negative consequences. Adam and Eve’s disobedience led to pain and frustration in two basic areas of fulfillment—relationships and meaningful work. The whole earth fell under sin’s curse, and all people born since then have entered the world with a sin nature that alienates them from the Lord.
That first rebellion plunged humanity into a terrible condition. Civilization is now plagued by ramifications of the sins committed by millions of human beings throughout the ages. Is it any wonder the world is in such sad shape? Sin not only causes suffering; it also robs us of God’s best. The Garden of Eden is closed and locked to sinful mankind.
The good news of Christ’s grace and forgiveness is our only real hope in this fallen world. Though unpleasant, focusing on sin’s consequences is necessary at times to remind us of the greatness of our salvation and to move us to obey God, even in the small things.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
“So, you think you’re pretty special?” the father asked the child. “Well, you know what? You are!”
God thinks of us the same way. In His eyes we are special and unique in so many ways. He made us in His own image. That’s pretty special don’t you think? We are all God’s children and because of that He loves us without end. No strings attached. He loves us so much that He also disciplines us when the need arises.
Fathers love their children without measure. No matter how big the mistake, the father loves the child anyway. God loves us the same way. He also knows when we sin and He knew that there was no way for us to receive forgiveness for our sins except through the blood of His own son Jesus.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s a very special love don’t you think? God sacrificed His own son so that we could be free from our sins. Wow!
Remember. The next time you start feeling as if you are unloved or that no one cares, Jesus is right there whispering in your ear, “I love you so much that I died for you. Take my hand and let’s walk together forever.”
What would an X-ray of your interior reveal? Remorse over a poor choice? Shame about the marriage that didn’t work or the temptation you didn’t resist? Guilt lies hidden beneath the surface, festering, and irritating. Sometimes it’s so deeply embedded you don’t know the cause of your pain. And you can be touchy, you know. Understandable, since you have a shank of shame lodged in your soul.
Would you like an extraction? Here’s what you do. Confess! Ask God to help you. Psalm 139:23-24 is a model prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Confession. Confessors find a freedom that deniers don’t. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins! He will cleanse us. Not might, could, would, or even should. He WILL!
Seven times in the book of Matthew, Jesus encountered people with sickness or infirmities and healed them with a touch. Although He had the power to simply speak a word or command illness to leave, He often chose a more hands-on approach. In the case of the leper in today’s passage, Jesus’ personal touch must have been something the man rarely experienced, since he was considered untouchable. In fact, that may be why Jesus chose this avenue of healing.
The need for a touch from a fellow human being has not disappeared in the 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth. Yet in a world dominated by social media and technology, we are now more isolated than ever before. Physical contact is being replaced with “likes” on Facebook. And when we do think of touch, it’s often associated with scandal, impropriety, or immorality. How did this wonderful word become so maligned?
As Christians, we have the opportunity to “touch” people in a variety of ways, including by our words—for example, the proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ can transform a person’s life and eternal destiny. However, ministry is also accomplished with our hands through service, compassion, and the encouragement of a hug or loving pat on the shoulder.
Our heart, mouth, and hands must be cooperating in order to fully minister in Jesus’ name. And whether alone or gathered with others, we have the privilege of touching lives through prayer. Jesus touched people both physically and spiritually, and as His followers, we must do likewise. Look for opportunities in which God might use you for His glory.
(reprinted with permission | Charles Stanley | In Touch)
One of the concerns often heard from believers is the fear that God has not forgiven them. Despite having confessed their sins, they’re still uncertain of their cleansing and wonder if they didn’t feel sorry enough. Instead of rising from their knees purified and restored, they feel as if a cloud of God’s disapproval and disappointment is covering them.
This kind of thinking is based on feelings, not truth. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus and His death as payment for our sins. The moment we believe, God declares us righteous in His eyes, and all our sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven. Romans 8:1 reassures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It’s not our confession of wrongdoing but the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Another reason some doubt God’s forgiveness is the erroneous belief that confession maintains our salvation. If we think any unconfessed sin leaves us open to the Lord’s condemnation, we’ll continually wonder if we’ve forgotten some transgression or haven’t confessed quickly enough.
Both of these misconceptions are caused by a faulty understanding of what confession is. Confession means agreeing with God that what we have done is sinful and doesn’t fit who we are in Christ. As the Holy Spirit brings conviction, we begin to feel inner discomfort and guilt. Although we are still God’s children, our disobedience disrupts our fellowship with Him. The solution is to go to our heavenly Father and confess our wrong so we can be cleansed and restored to the peace and joy of our relationship with Him.