Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser…Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. Live in Me, and I will live in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding and being vitally united to, the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.”
John 15 : 1, 4
“Live in Me. Make your home in Me just as I do in you.”
Words of Jesus
John 15: 4
The Message Bible
“I will hold God and rest fast in Him; it is good to abide fast in Him, it is a blessed thing to hold Him; (we) who receive Him are safe and sound.”
Hugh of Lincoln
Thoughts for Consideration:
How can I “abide” in Christ each day?
What do I believe the results will be when I choose to “abide” in Christ?
“The work of God is held back not by bad men and women, but by good ones who have stopped growing.”
M. P. Horban
“We get no deeper into Christ than we allow Him to get into us.”
John Henry Jowett
When Jesus arrived in Bethany to visit His friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Dr. Luke paints the unique scene by telling us about Mary first. As we have found out, Mary dropped whatever it was she was doing and immediately sat at the feet of Jesus. Then she made certain that for the short time Jesus was in her family home, nothing would distract her and allow her focus to be diverted. She would permit nothing to draw her attention away from the “One” who had her heart – her purpose – her will and all her love.
We must recognize that Jesus’ ministry of preaching, healing, teaching, and reaching the lost lasted only 3 ½ years on earth. Most likely it was at some point during a span of only 42 short months that the family in Bethany became an intimate part of Jesus’ world. With so little time to really get to know Jesus, every minute spent with Him had to be considered precious indeed. And so Mary devoured the feast laid out in front of her by the Bread of Life. If there was anything Mary wanted to make certain about, it was this: Jesus came first in her world. She wasn’t going to let Him in only so far. She wanted as much of Him as possible. As the great writer Rainer Maria Rilke describes, “I am learning to see, I do not know why it is, but everything penetrates more deeply within me, and no longer stops at the place, where until now, it always used to finish.” I believe that by the evidence exhibited in Mary’s life, she could have penned Rilke’s words for the effect Jesus had on Mary’s life went only so far. But at some point she made a decision to be “all in” for Jesus. What an amazing transformation began to occur. How glad I am this wasn’t just a “happening” reserved for Mary.
Each of us, when we choose to abide within the presence of Jesus, may find ourselves treated to untold blessings when we choose to sit at His feet and listen to His words. Author John Henry Jowett, writing in his treasure of an old book entitled, The Friend on the Road, gives us wonderful counsel about abiding in Jesus: “The Lord Jesus Christ calls us to a settled life in His fellowship. But the difficulty is, our nature is so truant. The majority of us cannot settle down anywhere in anything. We are possessed with a spirit of restlessness, and we are the willing victims of constant change. We rush from one thing to another, and we do not tarry long enough at anything to make it disburse its treasure. It is a case of touch and go, not of quiet entry and deep possession.” Can you relate to Jowett’s words? I certainly can so I want to take a moment to draw our attention back to the Bethany home. Mary didn’t just sit for one minute and then let her focus be drawn away as she flitted from one thing to another. She made a choice to take possession of all the time she had under her Lord’s care. She didn’t act like a stranger stopping by when it was convenient for her to do so. She settled down so she could abide within the heavenly covering of Jesus’ presence.
As John Henry Jowett explains: “Our Lord invites us to live in Him, and to make Him our eternal home.” Then he goes on to describe the reality that sometimes haunts our real-life experiences: “We regard Jesus as a kind of spiritual health-resort where we go now and again to take the medicinal waters. We do not make Him our home. We visit Him, we do not live with Him. We look in, but we do not abide.”
I happen to find that Pastor Jowett’s description perfectly fits many of my half-hearted attempts in times past when I didn’t make time with Jesus my first priority. As Pastor Jowett further underscores, “Our religious life (can be) a series of spasms…like the eruptions of an irregular geyser, and not the ceaseless flowings of a noble river.”
Thankfully, Jowett encouragingly prods us to “settle down into a deep and ever-deepening fellowship with our Lord.” This type of relationship is what we see happens as we look in on Jesus with Mary at His feet, drinking in every word He speaks. As Jowett states emphatically, “All our flirtations with other loves must cease if we would know the joy and peace and power of the Lord.”
I was reading about the well-known British surgeon, James Hinton whose friends noted that his “character gradually mellowed and softened into a marvelous realization of the presence of God.” After time spent “abiding” – James Hinton said, “We are near home; may we be home-like!”
It would certainly be sad for each of us if we had the opportunity to be part of the family in Jesus’ home and yet we missed out on the closeness with our heavenly companion whom we have treated more like an occasional guest. As John Henry Jowett concludes: “We are called right into the house of light, into the Lord’s immediate presence, to be guests – NO! We are members of the family, at His bountiful table, to enjoy unfettered intercourse with Him. We are invited to abide in Him.” May we like Mary, stop what we are doing and sit at Jesus’ feet to listen and hear His message of love for us today. May we daily, come into the presence of our Lord.
“When I am with God
My fear is gone
In the great quiet of God.
My troubles are as pebbles on the road,
My joys are like the everlasting hills.”
“O Thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart!”
“O Lord, this is our desire, to walk along the path of life that You have appointed us, in steadfastness of faith, in lowliness of heart, in gentleness of love. Let not the cares and duties of this life press on us too heavily; but lighten our burdens, that we may follow Your way in quietness, filled with thankfulness for Your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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