Abide

Abide

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (ESV)

In the text above, a transition happened. The people Jesus is speaking to are coming out of a religious system that is rejecting Jesus. They are coming out of that system into this kingdom system. They have believed, and Jesus states to those who have believed Him, here’s how you stay with Me, here’s how you stay believing, here’s how you stay free: continue in My Word.

Now listen, this is the most complex thing I will ever say: Do you know how to stay free? Stay, or continue, in the Word!

The Scripture says abide in My Word. The word abide is an interesting little word. The definition is below:

Accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation).
“I said I would abide by their decision”

So, Jesus is saying: To stay with Me, you must act in accordance with My Word, accept the Word, and accept the rule of the Word in your life. Act in accordance with what the Word says you are, what the Word says you can do and what you should not do. If you read His Word, then act in accordance with it, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

When you read God’s Word, it is all about freedom. Being set free from the bondages comes about by accepting God’s truth in your life.

The way to stay free is to be tethered to God’s Word. When you read, hear, or speak God’s Word, the byproduct of that will be freedom. On the other hand, if you entertain, listen to, or read the lies of the enemy, the byproduct of that is bondage. I can think of a lot of bondages. The one I believe is the most dangerous though is this one: The belief that it is the will of God for you to live in the condition you are in.

I think many believers in Christ believe they deserve the trial they are in. You cannot read God’s Word or sit in a Bible-believing church and come to that conclusion. That thought process, of living in misery, is a contradiction to the Will of God for your life.

One of my favorite filter verses is found in John 10:10. Look at this verse. I mean, really look at it. Don’t overlook a single word.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:9-10 (NLT)

The thief’s purpose is to do what? Steal, kill, and destroy.

What is Jesus’ purpose? Give you a rich and satisfying life!

Take a moment and compare the situation you are in against the purpose for which Jesus came and the purpose that the enemy comes. Which purpose is trying to be fulfilled in your life? Which purpose are you more focused on? Which purpose do you have more faith in? Call me what you may; a Prosperity Preacher, a Word-of-Faith Preacher, or whatever you want to call it. I choose to believe that God doesn’t send things into my life that will steal, kill or destroy me. That isn’t His purpose. Why do I choose to believe that? I choose to take God at His Word. If I believe the Word for Salvation, why wouldn’t I believe it for all parts of my life?

Because I believe that, I act in accordance with that decision. I believe that serving Jesus, and having Jesus in my life, is the best decision you or I can make! The way I stay with Him is to take Him at His Word. How I know what His Words are – I read them. As I read them, I accept them and then I act in accordance to them.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25 (NLT)

Fresh Vision

A woman went to her eye doctor complaining about the brand-new glasses her husband had just purchased the week prior. When the doctor asked what the issue was with the new glasses, she replied, “These glasses just don’t work.” When the doctor asked why, the woman said, “They don’t work because my husband still doesn’t see things my way!” 

From time to time, we probably all feel the same way as that woman. I would think that God may often feel that way about us, too. We aren’t seeing things in the measure, or the manner, in which He sees them. That is biblical. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are greater than ours.  

When it comes to spiritual matters, much works in the opposite direction of the natural. For instance, in the natural we will say, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” Though, the Bible teaches us that in order for us to see it, we must first believe it. If you are waiting to see it before you will believe it, then you will never believe it. You must believe first that what you believe will be seen. You must learn to see with the eyes of faith. Paul wrote to the Corinth church and told them, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

The New Living Translation says it like this: “ For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT) 

We live by believing. 

Earlier, Paul would write to the same church, out of chapter four: 

 “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

We have looked through our natural eyes for so long, it becomes difficult for us to see clearly in the spiritual. We only believe what we see naturally. May you receive fresh vision, so you can see what God is wanting to do. Fix your eyes on things that cannot be seen! Begin to believe that, then you will see it in your life.  

Vision is fulfilled in Stages

 “No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:” – Acts 2:16 (New Living Translation)

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.” – Joel 2:28-29 (New Living Translation)

The book of Acts was the beginning of the fulfillment of what Joel said. Joel prophesied, meaning he foretold what was going to happen. You could say that he laid out a vision. Vision is spoken before it happens. This is what it will look like, sound like, and feel like. 

Joel laid out the vision that God would pour out His Spirit upon all people. Regardless of background, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, denomination, or any other classification that we place on an individual, it will be poured out. 

When the vision begins to take place, people will ask as they did in the book of Acts, “What is this? What’s happening? Help me understand?” The impact of vision becoming reality causes questions.  However, because there are questions, this brings great value to the initial declaration of the vision. 

When there were questions, Peter said no, your assumptions are wrong, what you see happening is what was laid out by Joel, a long time agoThis is a fulfillment of the vision. The Vision brought credibility when it was being experienced.  Because Joel had the vision, and described the vision, then Peter could illustrate what was happening scripturally. They were comforted that the vision was given by God and now was being fulfilled by God. Peter quoted the Scripture. Then, beginning in Acts 2:22, he explained it. In three verses, Peter lays out the vision, by declaring what happened! This had to happen so that could  happen. He covered the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 

Vision comes in stages!  

Expectancy

Romans 5:5 from the Message Bible says this, “In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (emphasis is mine)

I love that! “In alert expectancy…we’re never left feeling shortchanged.” 

In Acts 3:5, the man who was laid by the gate called Beautiful, looked at the disciples with expectation of receiving something from them. His initial expectation was to receive either silver or gold. Once Peter and John said they didn’t have any silver or gold, the expectancy changed in a moment. The expectancy went from financial to miraculous. Do you think the healed man felt short-changed? Not at all!

In leading up to Romans 5:5 we know it is from experience that we gain this expectancy. It is through experience that we are in alert expectancy. Earlier, the Scripture states that tribulation worketh patience. Though, how does tribulation work patience and how does that lead to standing here in alert expectancy? 

In our trouble and trials, we finally say, “I have tried everything that I know to do. I have tried to make this or that happen on my own. Now, I will just wait on you, God.” In waiting on God we learn patience, and patience turns into experience. While we are waiting, we begin to experience the love and faithfulness of God. 

Experience then turns into hope or expectancy. Why? The next time a trial comes my way, I can look back to the previous experience and rejoice, knowing God came through for me before. Since He came through before, and He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, He will come through again. This gives me Hope! 

Hope is the absolute expectation that the goodness of God is coming. Therefore, I stand in absolute alert expectancy, that God’s timing is always right, His provision is always perfect, and His grace is always sufficient. I know that I will not be shortchanged by God. I know I have the expectation that His plans for me will come about in my life. 

I believe that the Psalmist, when He wrote about how we were to come into the presence of God, was speaking of expectancy. 

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalms 100:4 (New Living Translation)

You haven’t even arrived into His presence, but you already have thanksgiving and praise happening in your life, because you have learned by experience that when you get into His presence amazing things happen. Thus, the next time you are on your way, the expectancy creates the thanksgiving and the praise. Because you know, you are in alert expectation that God is getting ready to pour something out on you. When He pours it on you, you will not be able to have enough containers to put all that He’s poured out into!

A Year for Vision and Purpose

If there was ever a year that spoke about vision it’s the year we are in right now. For years people would use the words, “hindsight is twenty-twenty.” By saying that, people mean if they’d had a clearer picture of a situation, or understood all the ramifications of the issue, they would have done something different. The term 20/20 refers to the basic, normal vision of an individual. It gives us an idea of the clarity or the sharpness of their eyesight. This is tested by having an individual stand twenty feet from an eye chart. Then, if that individual can see all the rows on the eye chart clearly, they have 20/20 vision. What often happens is, we are either too close to a situation, or we find ourselves too far away and we aren’t seeing clearly. We then make a choice based on what we are seeing, even though it could be a distorted view. After we have made a poor decision or choice we state, “Well, hindsight being twenty-twenty, I would have done this differently.” 

Maybe hindsight is 20/20, but couldn’t we work on a way to have 20/20 in foresight? Instead of consistently having to deal with the repercussions of one bad decision after another. Maybe we could work on our vision of the future instead of focusing on what’s behind. 

What happens on a normal year in my house is, we have to go have our vision tested. There, in an environment where a mistake isn’t to going to harm me, an educated, trained, and skilled doctor is testing my vision. He runs a battery of tests, scans, dilates, and then reviews my vision. Once we have gone through the seemingly endless, better at one, or better at two drill, the doctor then gives me a prescription so I can see clearly on a day-to-day basis. One would think me foolish to sit in that seat with a trained, skilled, and educated doctor and lie to him, or memorize the chart so I can pass his tests. I would then leave the place which was offering me a way to see clearly, without any help. If I did that, I could be endangering myself and others. Without the ability to see clearly, I cannot read the signs that are notifying me of changes, dangers, and directions, all because I refused the help that was right in front of me. 

Early on, when I first went to the eye doctor, I didn’t want glasses. Something to do with pride if I remember correctly. Then I tried the contacts, so I wouldn’t have to wear glasses. However, there was a problem: I couldn’t get a contact in my eye to save my life. I’d twitch, flutter, jerk, or close my eyes every time my own finger would get close to my eye. Over the years, I finally got comfortable putting the corrective lenses in my own eye. I have found that, one of the hardest things to do in life is to put correction into my own life. I’ll twitch, flutter, jerk, or ignore the issue in myself, but have no problem identifying it in someone else. Jesus spoke about this very issue in his teaching on the plank and the splinter (Matthew 7:1-6). On this first day of the year, could you take some time and do an eye check? Forget about the splinter in everyone else’s eye and look at the beam in our own eye. Every day the person I need to deal with first and foremost is the person I view in the mirror. That guy is my biggest asset and he is also my biggest adversary. How I view myself can dictate everything. I often look more at him through hindsight and less with foresight. I see what I have done, could have done, should have done, instead of what I can, should or could be doing! May we take this day and look at what we can do. Take a step back and look clearly at yourself. Examine yourself. The scripture states, “But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world” 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 (New Living Translation). Examination is a review of the past in order to create a better tomorrow. What do I need to change now, to be what I want to be later? Then begin to make those corrective changes. When you do, you will see the signs along the way, warning you, directing you, and guiding you to the destiny God has for you. Believe it, then you will see it.