Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;
for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 ESV
Just as a branch must continue to remain a part of a tree through all four seasons, so we must remain by faith in Christ. He calls us to continue believing in, trusting and relying on Him through Winters of difficulties, Springtimes of change, and long hot summers of hard work to come to the Fall harvest full of fruit. If you are feeling unworthy or like a failure in your walk with Jesus today, know that this fruitfulness that doesn’t depend on your successes, abilities or strengths. In fact, God takes great delight in our weakness, because it brings us to depend entirely on Jesus! He promises that if we remain in Him, then He will see to it that at the harvest time which He has chosen, that we will be filled with much fruit! Have a blessed Sunday all!
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 ESV
The Hallmark channel is immensely popular because many of us love to watch stories about romantic love. Though the actors and actresses change, and the settings vary from the Canadian Rockies to the Texas Gulf coast, the plot lines all seem to end in “Happily ever after.” So, when we come to the New Testament’s concept of love, pictures flit through our mind of happy couples embracing and working out their differences over candle-lit dinners. But these kinds of scenes are as far from the mind of the Apostle Paul when he wrote today’s verse as the far side of the moon.
According to the Bible, true love is something commanded of all believers. Jesus said it like this, “This is my commandment, that you love one another” John 15:12. Notice, this is not a guideline, a suggestion or an inspirational idea. Jesus commands a love, that is humble enough to wash dirty feet and yet ferocious enough to stand the test of a cross. In today’s passage, Paul begins by describing this kind of love as being watchful. While people say that love is blind, or that it sees things through rose-colored glasses, Paul says that it stands guard and watches out for the enemy’s attacks. Though, we confidently love others, at the same time we are told to be on the lookout for trouble. No matter how much we love, there will be tests, severe enough to cripple relationships if we are not guarding against them. Then we are told that this watchfulness takes its stand on faith. Just being determined to preserve a friendship a marriage or a family isn’t enough to guarantee success. Lasting victory comes by a faith that stands firmly on the promises of God. It means keeping a solid grip on Jesus Christ, before trying to help others. We cannot save someone who is drowning, unless Jesus is holding on to us so that we won’t sink ourselves! Last of all Paul tells us to act like mature men and women. We mustn’t rely on Hallmark Channel miracles, to love others. When the background music isn’t gently playing and it feels like everything is caving in, it takes the fiercely obedient love of God in our hearts, to make it through. It takes a faith that stands firmly on the Bible, even when it means being cancelled on social media or demoted at work. That is the kind of love by which God loved the world enough to send His Son to die in our place. This love of God, is our strength for today, helps us stand in our battles and is our action plan for tomorrow. Only this is the kind of love that truly loves others and lives happily ever after!
Psalm103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him – 17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
Part of the mystery of God’s love is that His love stretches beyond our horizon. We celebrate, sing about how God loves us – no matter what we have done. But His love is also eternal -loving our children, our grandchildren our neighbors and even our enemies. God’s love is more than just passionate emotion, it is a dynamic power stirring everything and everyone it touches into action. God’s love forms planets and feeds the hungry. The love of Jesus transforms water into wine and murderers of Christians, like the Apostle Paul into messengers and martyrs for the faith. With Ash Wednesday, being this week often we consider what things we will give up for Lent. Maybe we should consider not what we will give up, but what we will give. What we will dare in order to express the amazing, unfathomable and powerful love of Jesus Christ?
I hope you will enjoy this recording of Amazing Love from the Keswick Convention 2019 as much as I did. – No special effects – just lots of pretty ordinary people singing their hearts out about the extraordinary and amazing love of Jesus! Have a wonderful week everyone and a blessed beginning of Lent!
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