Remain & Abide

No one likes to hear that they’re prideful, deceitful, and manipulative. But that’s exactly how the Enneagram, a wonderful, yet sometimes painful personality tool, describes me, a type two.  Though it is hard to admit sometimes, I do tend to lean towards self-preservation. I lean heavily on my successes and let myself be defined by my failures. I work, lead, and essentially live out of my own effort, not only in the leading of my ministry, but it steeps into every area of my life as well.

But as Christians, followers of Jesus, He asks just the opposite of us.

In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples that He is the true vine and we are only just the branches. To produce any fruit, any fruit that is even worth bearing, we must remain and abide in Jesus.  And through this interaction with the disciples, Jesus tells us exactly how and why to do this.

1. Jesus is the source. Verse 5 of chapter 15 says “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (NLT).  When we try to work, lead, or minister out of own efforts, thinking that WE can do it on our own, with our OWN strength and might, who gets the glory in that? Ourselves. Sure, we may produce some fruit, maybe even looks like the real thing, it MAY even taste like fruit, but without abiding, it means nothing. It’s worthless, a waste of time. Jesus is the source, the true vine. He is our foundation and our reason.

2. We must remain and abide. When we received Jesus, we died to ourselves. We are no longer living for our own plans, but for the Kingdom of God. We are conduits of God’s spirit, who leads and guides us to do all things. “When you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love…” (Jn 15:10 NLT). To remain and abide in God, we are called to love God and love his children (Mt 22:37-40).  When we do these things in our work, we produce fruit that not only far outweighs what we could do on our own, but fruit that MATTERS and has purpose for more than just this life.

When we do these, remain and abide, Jesus also says that our joy will be made complete. Finished. Perfect. (Jn 15: 11). And this joy is not just fleeting feelings of happiness and a life of ease, but the joy of knowing we are right with God and that He is pleased with us, before our fruit has even been produced.

So, remain in the love that God has for you. Abide, live and dwell, but also obey and observe the Father.

 

Is Your Soul Thirsty?

Did you win the football game? Did you get the promotion at your job? Did you get that raise? Or did you recently get dumped? You failed that latest math test? I know I did.

There are many things in our lives that can externally affect our very internal souls. That sporting event, how our boss handled that last meeting, or a simple forget can spring a ‘Debby Downer’ moment in our spirit. We look for success in these external things.

But what if true success wasn’t in the things we see, but in the health of our souls?

Psalm 63 says:

            “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

            my soul thirsts for you;

            my flesh faints for you,

            as in a dry and weary land where

            there is no water.

            So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

            Beholding your power and glory.

            Because your steadfast love is better than life,

            My lips will praise you.”

            (1-3 emphasis added)

This passage makes me think about where the author, David, is coming from. It would seem as though David is battling with some real life emotional drama. Something has him seeking, desiring, and being hungry for God. In a place of dryness, David is wanting God to show up.

Now get this - David realizes that God’s love/God’s relationship with David is better than life itself. It is better than David’s kingship. It is better than a romantic relationship. It is better than wealth. God’s love will keep his soul satisfied.

Soul? Satisfied?

Yes, our souls.

Our flesh, our jobs, our income, our gifts try to define who we are. But they don’t give us life. Our soul is what gives us life. So how do we watch the health of our soul?

By our perspectives, we can see the health of our souls. A healthy soul is fixed on God. It is fixed on Jesus. But an unhealthy soul rants complaints of the exterior. “I didn’t get that promotion. I don’t make enough money.” Fill in your grumble.

David is honest as to where he is, “I’m down, God! I’m in the desert! I’m needing you!” But he does not allow the exterior life to affect the reality of his soul. All life does not compare to God’s love. All life does not compare to the relationship David has with God.

So what about our lives? What about the things that are challenging the perspective of our souls?

Be honest. Where do you find satisfaction? Is it in singing worship songs? Is it in getting straight A’s? Is it in what you do?

Or is it in your relationship with God?

I will argue that our souls are most satisfied when we are searching for God. When we are in relationship with God. Yes, we can sing worship songs. David says praise will come from his lips (verse 3), BUT it is because of the realization of his relationship with God

When our souls are satisfied in God, all else will follow. Our leadership ability, our responsibilities, our influence will flow from an understanding of God and me, and through me.

So there is just one question I have:

Is your soul thirsty?