Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Colossians: Pray and Keep on Praying

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Colossians 1:3-14

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[a] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[b] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[c] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[d] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I did not write the lesson on this section in Colossians, but I would love to share some thoughts concerning this passage. I would encourage you to read through the passage above and record your own observations (noting key words, admonitions, tone of voice, connectives, and so on).

The first thing I noticed this time around is Paul’s very friendly and encouraging tone toward the Colossians. It reads quite differently from his letter to the Galatians for example. He also introduces us to a new name, Epaphras. New names immediately pique my interest and result in me following a rabbit trail that takes me hours to get back to my original path. In order not to take you on too many rabbit trails, I’ll simply choose a few ideas from the passage I found interesting (trust me when I say this is very hard to do for me. I’d like to pick apart every. single. verse.).

If we look at this section of the letter very broadly, we would note his common habit of giving thanks and praying for the recipients. It is a beautiful way to start a letter. I find that Paul teaches me about being thankful and how to pray for others simply by the way he writes his letters.

As I mentioned he’s very encouraging toward the Colossian believers, noting their faith and their love (v. 4, 7) which is a result of the hope (v. 5) they have in Christ {hmm…where have I seen those three qualities together before??}. He also comments on the gospel bearing fruit and increasing among them since the day they heard it and understood it (v. 5-6). I find the idea of an inanimate object being able to bear fruit very fascinating. The good news (gospel) which Epaphras spoke to the Colossians continues to produce good things among them.

I would like to look closely at the idea of faith. Webster’s 1828 defines it as “a full and affectionate confidence in the certainty of those things which God has declared and because He has declared them.” Another way to put it is an “affectionate, practical confidence in the testimony of God” or a “firm, cordial belief in the veracity of God, in all the declarations of His word.”

Perhaps it is best to point out that the power of faith depends not on the person who has the faith but on the One in whom the faith is placed. Christ is the object of our faith. Our faith has power because it is on Him, and He does not fail. C.F.D. Moule wrote this:

Regardless, the issue is not just the presence of faith, but a faith that resides in Christ. It gives the thought of reliance going forth to Christ, and reposing on Christ, so as to sink as it were into Him, and find fixture in Him; as the anchor sinks to the floor of the sea, and then into it, that it may be held in it.

To recap, Paul gave thanks for their faith and love because of hope (and this hope does not disappoint because it is also in the person of Christ who has secured glory/heaven for us). One of the ladies I teach with said this, “The validity of faith is not the fervency with which you believe, but the degree to which the object of your faith is true.”

It is in verse 9 when he switches to praying for these people he’s never even met. He asked that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. I couldn’t tell you how this happens, I only know that if he asks for it, it must be something that can happen to any believer. We can know God’s will for our lives. Isn’t that such a comforting thought? I also happen to love that he prays this for them as a father would pray for his own children to know God fully.

Hopefully you had a chance to read my post detailing the background of Colossians. You see, there was a threat of false teaching in Colossae, and those opponents were promising spiritual fullness with things that were not Christ. Paul tells the believers that true spiritual fullness can only be found in Christ alone. Just look at these verses in the letter about fullness or being filled:

1:19 For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell

1:25 …to make the word of God fully known

2:2 …all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,

2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2:9 For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

2:10 and you have been filled in Him…

4:12 …stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

Christ is sufficient. (more on this later!)

Now on to verses 10-11. Paul had spoken of the gospel which was bearing fruit in the lives of the Colossians and now in verse 10 he tells them to walk in a worthy manner, being pleasing to God, bearing fruit in every good work…. One of my favorite teachings of Jesus (and which Paul continues) is this idea of the Vine and branches. We abide in the Vine (which is Christ), and He produces fruit in us (fruit of the Spirit for example). I realize this can be a touchy subject since too many people believe they must work really hard to be “good” and accepted by God (or whoever it is they believe they need to work for). I would clarify that it’s not so much that we work for God but that God works in us. {I feel a blog post bubbling to the surface so I had better stop at that.}

In verse 11 Paul tells them their strength comes from God. The words for strengthened and power come from the same word in our English language for dynamiteDunamei means “to make strong, strengthen” and carries the idea of making something strong that is inherently weak. Paul says this power helps us to endure and have patience with joy. Again, this is his prayer for the Colossians and gives me such encouragement knowing this can happen for me as well.

Paul wraps up this section in verses 12-14: we give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in His inheritance, He has delivered us from darkness and transferred us to His Son’s kingdom, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Now those verses are truly packed with some dynamite!

What I learned from this passage is that the words used for delivered and transferred give the idea of military conquest. In Biblical times it was common to take a people who had been defeated, uproot them from their culture and environment, and re-root them somewhere else. That is exactly what God did for us! He broke the bonds of our past life (out of darkness) to assimilate us into a new life with Him (His kingdom of light – see also 1 Pet 2:9). It’s His grace to us, because we don’t deserve a single thing He did in those verses. We have been qualified, delivered, transferred, and redeemed.

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Having an Expectant Heart

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During my college days, I remember reading through the book of Isaiah, and I’m fairly certain that few lines were left unmarked. I have very fond memories of reading through this prophet of old, and so it was with great excitement and anticipation that I decided to read through it again. It has been that long (2004) since I last read through it, so it feels like I’m catching up with an old friend. Life has a way of going on even if you’re not entirely ready for it to move on, and my time in the book of Isaiah during college is one of those times I wish I could bottle up and re-open when I wanted to rekindle the joy of those moments.

Isn’t it all too easy to wish for the exhilarating times in God’s Word where it feels like your spiritual mind is opened up to behold the wondrous truths you had never thought of or known before? We get stuck thinking that these mountaintop moments are the only way we can approach the reading of God’s Word. Well, I get stuck in this thinking anyway. Can I tell you a secret? I was a little nervous about reading Isaiah again, because I didn’t want to “ruin” my favorite memories from my time in it during college. But then I got over it because God reminded me that His Word is living and active. When we get in the Word, the Word gets in us. The Living God actively reveals Himself to His beloved as they faithfully search for Him in His Word. He uses the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths of God as we need those truths. This is why I can read Isaiah thirteen years later and see it with fresh eyes.

Now what to do with that insatiable thirst for the mountaintop moment? I’m convinced that my motives aren’t entirely selfish (of course). I really really want more of God. I don’t want to settle for good when I can have great. This is why I beg and plead and stubbornly wait and feverishly search for that special word or message that’s just waiting to be found. I’m not searching for a high, I’m searching for the One who is higher than I (Ps 61:2). It’s the sentiment from Christy Nockels song “Waiting Here for You”:

If faith can move the mountains
Let the mountains move
We come with expectation
Waiting here for you, I’m waiting here for you
You’re the Lord of all creation
And still you know my heart
The Author of Salvation
You’ve loved us from the start
Waiting here for You
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
Singing Alleluia
You are everything You’ve promised
Your faithfulness is true
And we’re desperate for Your presence
All we need is You
Waiting here for You
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
Singing Alleluia
Singing Alleluia
Alleluia, singing alleluia, alleluia
Waiting here for You
It’s that child-like expectancy at Christmas. It’s that thirsty desperation that grips our parched throats. Only in this case, it’s our parched hearts that can only be quenched with the Living Water that is our God.  And I believe He really wants to fill us up.
But then what if He doesn’t? I have to remind myself that His filling may not look like I want it to look. I’m going to write a post about something I learned (or rather was convicted about) that wasn’t pleasant but oh did it fill my soul! It was a message that I sat and waited for and pondered over and read and re-read and underlined and circled and colored. I’m confident that I would not have received this message if I hadn’t been stubborn and refused to give up waiting. However, it should be noted that I am not waiting around in order to make the text say whatever I want it to say. I’m not stubbornly raising my fist to God and telling Him what I think He ought to say to me. I’m not begging for a message I want to hear or that might make me feel comfortable or happy. Far from it! It’s also not a rejection of a truth that’s hard to hear in order to wait longer for a “nicer” truth to come along.
What it really boils down to is patiently seeking to know God, even if it means I learn some ugly truths about myself. Fortunately it can also mean learning life-changing, perspective-shifting truths that enliven my heart and soul. I trust that He’s going to speak – the real question is, will I be humbly submitted in order to listen (hear)?
Perhaps I’ll never give up on this pursuit of the great. Maybe God sees me as a fool sometimes and maybe I’m wrong about this (maybe it’s not really great). I trust that as I’m getting in the Word, the Word will get to me.

Titus: Physical vs. Spiritual

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Titus 3:3-8 – For (F)we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.But when (G)the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, (H)not because of works done by us in righteousness, but (I)according to his own mercy, by (J)the washing of regeneration and (K)renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he (L)poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that (M)being justified by his grace we might become (N)heirs (O)according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is (P)trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful (Q)to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Paul offers a nice contrast again, following on the heels of the last section of Scripture. In the last lesson, we learned that he wanted the believers to be submissive to authorities and to be ready for good works, displaying their faith in the crooked Cretan world. In this passage he reminds them that they (including himself) too were once depraved and enslaved to their passions. Perhaps this was his way of encouraging them so that they could see their new identity and not despair or be discouraged about their former life or habits. 2 Cor 5:17 tells us that we are a new creation. We were slaves to sin, now we belong to Christ. In Eph 2:1-3 Paul also writes about the believer’s former life. We used to be “children of wrath,” and we were dead in our sins. We lived out the passions of our flesh and carried out the desires of our body. It’s just not a pretty sight, folks. But there’s always good news right around the corner.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared…” There’s that appeared word again (epiphaneo). God’s goodness and love broke through as the light of dawn. And when our Savior appeared, He saved us. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

To be certain that no one forgets what their role in salvation is, Paul writes that God saved us not because of works that we do, but He saved us in His mercy. This echoes his teaching in Eph 2:8-9 – it is by grace we have been saved through faith (not of ourselves). As if this weren’t great news already, God also uses the Holy Spirit to regenerate and renew us. Regeneration is basically new birth (after all, we were dead in sins and we needed to be made alive again). This Spirit has been poured out on us richly through Christ. I don’t know about you, but the image of the Spirit being poured out sounds abundant, and then he adds the word richly, which just accentuates the lavish abundance even further! The good news just got even better.

As we keep reading, it might feel like we’ve just won the lottery (actually it’s even better than that). First Paul speaks of being justified by His grace. To be justified meant to be pardoned or cleared from guilt; to absolve or acquit from guilt and merited punishment, and to accept as righteous on account of the merits of the Savior or by the application of Christ’s atonement to the offender (Webster’s 1828). What it boils down to is that we get something we didn’t deserve. We get Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our dead, sinful lives. It’s extravagant grace. And it makes no sense.

So God declares us righteous and then raises us as His heirs. Again, this makes no sense! We become children of the King. This is the hope we have, that He has promised us an inheritance of eternal life (See also 1 John 2:25, Heb 6:17-18, 1 Cor 1:22, Eph 4:30, Eph 1:11-14).

He closes with the call to good works again. He presents quite the case for why we should be devoted to good works. It only makes sense given the gravity of all Christ has done for us! They will know we belong to Him by our fruit (good works). The works are simply the evidence of our faith. It reveals our devotion to Him. And these things are excellent (because they bring glory to God) and profitable (because they bring others to God). May we be careful to devote ourselves to good works.

Sola Scriptura!

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By Scripture alone. Through the working of the Holy Spirit.

My oldest son, who is very small for his age, also seems to be wise beyond his years. It certainly has nothing to do with me. I’ve given up on trying to take credit (or even joke about taking credit) for the good things that come out of him because he’s advancing beyond what I remember teaching him! While this may seem like I’m bragging about how great he is, I have to pause and acknowledge the same thing for him that I know is true in my life. There can be no other explanation for this except that God is working in his life.

A few weeks ago, as we were driving home, my son –out of nowhere, I might add– says, Mom, do you know what I did last night? You got me, son. What’d you do? Well, I was praying to God and I asked Him to forgive all my sins and for Him to be with me forever. So I’m going to heaven now! 

Come again? You did what?!

That’s wonderful, son! So God is your Savior now?

Yes, He is.

By Scripture alone. Through the working of the Holy Spirit.

Now, I can say that my husband and I have both shared with our kids what it means to know Jesus as our Savior. We never pushed any kind of formulaic prayer or super spiritual experience. In fact we have strayed from urging them to make any kind of “decision” because we have heard of people pressuring children to “be saved!” (and they end up “getting saved” every other week which doesn’t sound to me like good doctrine or practice). But in our home, we teach the Word of God. We take them to church. They have amazing Sunday school teachers who faithfully teach them the Word. We take them to a Protestant catechism class where those teachers help them learn the doctrine and the Word. I’d say they’re growing up in a culture of Sola Scriptura.

So it should come as no surprise to me that when my son is receiving the Word on a constant basis, it starts to get in him. The seed has been planted and lots of people are watering it. But God causes the growth!

This is why I can say that he is wise beyond his years, and he knows things I never taught him. God is teaching him. God is giving him spiritual wisdom.

Just this week he told me he began reading his Bible. It’s a children’s Bible called the Big Picture Bible, so when I say “reading” don’t think of paragraphs, think of a few lines on two pages. He would tell me each morning what he’d read that night. He had questions about words and about concepts. He would read out loud as we ate our breakfast and lunch. He read in the car as we drove to the store or the dentist. He was excited when he got all the way to the New Testament. Mom, look! I’m in the New Testament already!! Wow, son, where did you get the desire to read the Word?

By Scripture alone. Through the working of the Holy Spirit.

I used the phrase “Sola Scriptura” not to discuss Church history or to argue over all the details surrounding this Reformation cry, but to say that the Scripture is sufficient for making one wise to salvation. For knowing how to be saved and how to walk in that salvation.

He would point out the times where God’s people disobeyed God and he would say I’m at a sad part, Mommy. Yep, and one day we’ll be dealing with this in your life. I hope you’re as sad about sin in your life as you are about reading it in God’s Word.

Somehow I’m not as nervous about him growing up to truly know God. The same God who is at work in my life is visibly at work in my son’s life. Thank You, God, for Your Word!

 

Junior Holy Spirit

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Hello, my name is Ashley Farmer, and I have a problem.

I’m a recovering legalist, but I sometimes revert back into the destructive habits of my old self. One of those habits: looking at where my neighbor is going wrong and trying to correct her (or just thinking about how she could be doing better). Yeah, it’s a pretty bad problem.

I’ll never forget the term a youth pastor threw at us one Wednesday night. “God doesn’t need any ‘junior Holy Spirits’ running around.” Junior Holy Spirit. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be called the TRInity if there were four members…or 4 kajillion depending on how many people have tried it out.

The point of the lesson, all kidding aside, was that we as Christians don’t need to try to “convict” others of their sins because frankly that’s what the Holy Spirit already does perfectly. Now there is a whole other discussion concerning the issue of confronting a believer caught in sin, and this is prescribed in God’s word (one reference is in Galatians 6:1). But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m referring to the person who thinks it’s her job to point out where another person is going wrong. In my case it often stems from my own tendency to be critical of myself (I need to follow the rules…be a good legalist).

There is definitely a difference in motives between the person who confronts a believer caught in sin and the person who tries to convince a believer or nonbeliever that he/she is sinning. The former does so out of love and obedience, and usually the confrontation takes place with another person to mediate or encourage repentance alongside the “confronter” (and this is not someone that the confronter gossips to about the “sinner”). The Junior Holy Spirit would try to confront alright, but it would be out of a spirit of pride or selfishness to make herself look better, more spiritual, or to belittle the other person (if it sounds ugly and looks ugly, it’s probably because it IS ugly).

I don’t believe a single person would say (or want to admit) that this is an area in which she struggles. Who is brave enough to walk up to a friend (or acquaintance) and say, “you know, you are so prideful and I can’t stand that about you”? Uhhh…chances are very few would do that. But I do believe there are times when we fall into the Junior Holy Spirit trap, only it looks a little less ugly, if you will.

I’m referring to the insidious, I’m-more-spiritual, comparison game that goes on in our minds. Here I am trucking along in my walk with Jesus, and though I know I’m far from perfect, I don’t do “really” bad things. Bad things like so-and-so does. I begin to dwell on that person’s issue. I get worked up over his behavior to the point that my focus is not so much on what I need God to work out in my life but what needs to happen in this person’s life. Why??! Why do I do this? I feel like Paul when he says, “I do the things I don’t want to do” (see Romans 7).

I think I can easily struggle with this problem because I’m recovering from legalism. If I follow all the rules, I will be rewarded, and everyone (especially God) will like me. When other people don’t follow the rules, it will bother me because that’s not the way you play the legalism game. So if someone isn’t playing by the rules, I should probably be upset about it and wonder why they’re getting away with it. I may even be brave enough to say something to them, although it will likely come across as judgmental. Red flags should go up all over the place if this is my thinking.

God throws up the time-out sign and says, “since when does your obedience depend on another person’s actions, My child?” Uh… *gulp* it. doesn’t. I’m sure God ever-so-gently speaks over me, “why are you wasting your time thinking about how so-and-so needs to change? That’s always been My department. You have no control over what other people do, and you need to let it go.”

Trying to be a Junior Holy Spirit is hard impossible work.

What’s a girl to do? My obedience does not depend on another person’s actions. If God tells me to serve someone who has trouble with pride, and I think to myself “gee, I really don’t want to serve her because she’s just expecting people to serve her…” then I have an obedience problem. The other person is not my problem. I am my problem. 

Will it be hard to obey when God calls me to serve a difficult person? You bet. Does this mean I’m off the hook? Not on your life. Should I try to make myself obey? Well, it’s not about trying harder to do better (remember this Just Try Harder?). It’s about abiding in the Vine, relying on Jesus to change your heart as you are in constant submission to His leading. The struggle of the flesh (I don’t really want to obey) will be strong against the spirit (I want to do what God calls me to do). But the good news is, the real Holy Spirit knows how to do His job (on me and on everyone else). He is at work in you, willing you to work for God’s purposes and pleasure. So let Him do His job. He doesn’t need our help.

The God of ALL Comfort

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My heart is with some dear friends in Oklahoma this week. We received tragic news (last week) of the passing of a genuine man of God – a husband, a father, a great example of Christ. It left us speechless. What do you even say when a tragedy crashes into the scene of a dear friend? What do you even do when you’re holding her hands or if you’re 400 miles away?

At first you feel a bit helpless, am I right? Then you want to do everything you can to help, whatever that looks like.

I’ve learned that sometimes there are people much closer to the situation/friend that can help better than I can. I’ve also learned that if I am one of those “inner circle” people, I can let God use me until I’m completely spent, but in the end, I’m still going to need to entrust my friend to Him.

One of my favorite things about God is that He is ever-present. I am only able to be in one place at one time. And even if I could be present with my friend, I’m not sure I’d be the comfort she needs anyway.

But my God, He knows how to comfort, in every situation, and He does it perfectly. That is actually one of the things John mentions as the Spirit’s “job” when He comes to dwell in the believer (John 14:16, 26; 15:26, 16:7 He is called “Comforter” or “Helper” depending on your translation). The Spirit of God knows the mind of God, and He also knows what is in our hearts and minds (1 Corinthians 2:11). This is such an amazing blessing for us! He intercedes for us with groans that words can’t express when we have no clue what to say or do. AND He somehow infuses into our hearts and minds the comfort and peace we need in those moments of sheer tragedy. {Note to self: try and remember this when you find yourself in the midst of tragedy.}

I’m discovering that what I can do when these terrible nightmares hit is pray for more Spirit, for more of God’s presence in the life of my friends. The grieving heart will be well handled in the hand of its Creator.

Then I watch God work. Sometimes we get to be pulled alongside as God’s instruments of comfort with a word of truth spoken at just the right moment or a hug that envelopes the grieving heart. But other times we watch and behold the God of all comfort who is well acquainted with our grief and yet also knows how to massage the wounds that grief leaves in its wake. He is so beautiful.

One final note. I’ve heard many people say that after they’ve lost a loved one, they receive lots of comfort and attention at first, but that slowly goes away and they are eventually forgotten. I really don’t want that to happen. Ever. So may I humbly suggest the importance of being sensitive to the needs of those around us in the months and years to come. My heart is definitely there now, but I don’t want to let the passing of time lessen my desire to lift someone to the God of all comfort (who, by the way, never forgets).

Just Try Harder

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I’ll never forget the message I received loud and clear one day as I was driving home from work some 5 years ago. I was listening to a Chip Ingram message from his Living on the Edge broadcast about the pressure we put on ourselves to just try harder and do better. See, I’m one of those people who is very critical of myself (and unfortunately of others…I’m working on that…), and I get into this mentality that when I mess up I should just try harder. I should beat myself up over not being perfect. I should feel really ashamed and wallow in it for a while. Ridiculous? Absolutely.

What does that even mean? To try harder? To be a “better Christian”? What does trying harder even look like? More self effort? More tears from failure and frustration? Or does it look like the Pharisee? More pride in self effort?

I’m thinking I want to stay clear of all of that. And you should too, frankly.

In his message, Chip mentioned that he was working with one of his sons on lifting weights. This event came after he and his wife were helping him through some life difficulties, including the son feeling like he was failing in some serious ways.  The son was having difficulty with lifting the weights (because he had just started and wasn’t very strong yet), and Chip kept yelling to him to “try harder!” “try harder!” The son would strain with all of his might, but the results were the same. He just couldn’t try hard enough.

Chip, being the wise father he is, had a great moment with his son at this point because he was able to lovingly direct his son that trying harder is not the answer. And trying harder in your Christian walk isn’t the answer for any of us either.

Let’s get one thing straight. There are definitely passages in Scripture that direct us to work out our faith with fear and trembling, to be good stewards of what God has given us, to run the race with perseverance. There’s nothing in my Bible that says we should just coast through this life being lazy bums because we don’t want to confront sin in our lives. Faith without works is dead, says James, the brother of Jesus. But there is a balance and a small twist to all of this.

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Let this soak in. Let it pour over you like a refreshing stream of life. Read through the lines and see the grace in this. It is Christ’s power in you that allows you to do any good thing, to overcome any stronghold of sin, to run this race of life to His glory. It has absolutely nothing to do with you trying harder to better at this whole Christian thing. It is getting to the end of yourself, realizing you can’t do it, and watching God pick up and do beyond all you could ask or imagine. It’s when you can’t explain how it happened because there would be no reason for it to happen by your own power. It’s abiding in Him.

I am the vinenowatermark

When Christ spoke to the people about who He was, at one point He makes a statement about being the Vine. And we are the branches. We can’t ever be the Vine. And these branches can’t ever produce any grapes apart from being attached to the Vine.

Think of it, a piece of a grape branch lays on the path right next to the vine. It has no fruit on it, but it has a lot of PASSION to bear fruit. It DESIRES to be fruitful. It really wants to have a beautiful cluster of grapes growing on it, but try as it may, it just can’t seem to make grapes. Oh, it tries very hard. But the fact remains that it’s not connected to the vine.

You and I must realize that we have to ABIDE in the Vine, drawing from the POWER of Christ and the Holy Spirit, in order to conquer that habitual sin, to do any good thing, and to truly run the race set before us. Stop trying harder and go before Him with completely honesty that you can’t do it, and then ask Him for His power to be made perfect in your weakness. For when you are weak, then you are strong.

Will you or I get it right immediately? Probably not. Most likely not. Abiding in the Vine is not a one time event though. Chip Ingram went on to tell of the long hours he spent with his son in weight training. Eventually, his son could lift those weights that were impossible for him in the beginning. But it took time, and it wasn’t about him trying harder so much as it was trusting in the process of strengthening those muscles little by little (and being disciplined to stick to it). So, be weak and proud of it.

Take care to give Him the glory by boasting in your weakness.

Then watch Him go to work and amaze you.

vine abide