abide

Are your requests defined by his love?

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
— John 15:7

Did you stop after that last statement like I did, and go, “Wait a minute John, so you’re saying I can ask God for anything and it will be done?” The answer is of course yes, but there is something that has to come before we receive what we ask for. That is, to abide in Jesus and to let His words abide in us.

1 John 4 tells us “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

There’s that word abide again. To know God means to know his love, and to live and love like Jesus. It is when we love one another that God’s love truly abides in us. We can say we love people all day long, but if we never actually do anything about it, is it really love? So you see, abiding in God and His words means that we have to actually bear fruit. It’s not enough to just hear the word. In fact, when we know and understand God’s love for us we are compelled to action. For John tells us, “anyone who does not love does not know God.” 1 John 4:8

Once we receive God’s love and believe that he sent his son as a sacrifice for our sin so that we might live, we become saved. But once we are saved we must move from knowing about God, to knowing God. This journey of knowing God grows increasingly deeper as we walk through our faith journey on earth.

I grew up in a Christian home and Christian school, and I asked Jesus into my heart one Sunday school morning, when I was only 5 years old. I did all the right things. I did what the Bible said because that’s what I learned Christians were supposed to do. But then as I grew older I began to know God more intimately, and my actions changed from the mindset of obeying God because He said so, to obeying God because He loves me and desires the best for me.

As we spend more and more time with God, His love begins to rub off on us and sink deep down inside causing us to live a life defined by the love of our Creator.

I believe every Christian goes through something like that. Where we start out as a slave mindset, and we only do what we’re told because the master said so, but then we move into friendship with God and do what He says because we know him and his love. We begin to spend more time with Him and let His words sink deep into our hearts. As we spend more and more time with God, His love begins to rub off on us, sink deep down inside causing us to live a life defined by the love of our Creator. God and His words begin to abide more and more in us each day, as we know him more intimately. It is then that we come to a place where we are free to ask whatever we wish because His love has invaded our lives. As we abide in him we begin to grow up out of the dirt and producing fruit proving that we are His disciples, and so, when God answers our prayers He is the one who receives the glory. You see when we abide in Jesus and He in us, our requests become ones that are not out of selfish ambition or fear or anger or jealousy, they become requests based in love for the Father and for each other.

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Dress for the Occasion

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“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 MSG

If you were invited to a wedding you would dress for the occasion, right? If you're a girl you'd find a beautiful dress and probably wear heels and some jewelry, and if you're a guy you'd probably put on a button up shirt and grab a tie or bow-tie, and maybe even wear a suit if you're feeling extra dressy. If you were going for a run you wouldn't wear heels and dressy clothes though. You would need shorts and a t-shirt or tank top and definitely running shoes. What we wear is often based on what we are doing, and in this passage it says God has called us to live a life of love, so we need to dress for such a lifestyle. When we put on an outfit we are presenting something to others, a lot of times it's one of the first things people notice about us. So think of it that way. Are the first things people are noticing about your character things like quiet strength, discipline, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and contentment? Or do they see someone who is easily upset, impatient, always having to be right, holds grudges, rude, and arrogant? As I examine myself I see a mix of both. There are times when I nail it and handle a situation with kindness or humility and then other times when I become impatient or I find myself being lazy and not practicing discipline. I think we can all relate to that, unless you're Jesus and perfect. So how do we clothe ourselves in these qualities daily?

1. Prayer

It is so vital to be in constant communion and communication with God. Jesus said, "Abide in me, I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you ABIDE in Me." (John 15:4) I love this illustration of our relationship with Jesus. If a branch becomes disconnected from the vine it no longer receives the nutrients it needs to produce fruit. Just like a vine, we cannot produce fruit such as love, patience, compassion, and so forth, unless we are connected to Jesus. God, who is the true vine, IS love, which is at the root of all these things, so if you want to be able to love and show kindness and humility, it's going to take continually abiding in Him because like Jesus said, we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in Him and stay in constant communication with Him.

2. Surround yourself with those who will call you into abundant life

This is so important. Just today I was reminded of that. It was just a little comment they made that made me realize the way I was thinking about something was not based in love or in the way Jesus would have. I was convicted and realized I needed to be Jesus to these people because Jesus loved those that everyone else passed by. Our close friends, the ones we talk to about life, should be those who are themselves striving to walk daily in the love of Christ. You will be able to tell who is and isn't by their fruit, just like I mentioned earlier. Do they have peace and joy in their life or do envy and bitterness follow them wherever they go? Are they willing to confront you in love and call you to walk in the same or do they listen and agree when you're wallowing in self pity over something? So what kind of life to do you want? I know I want a life filled with love. So make sure you have compassion, kindness, humility, a quiet strength, discipline, contentment with being second place, an even-temper, forgiveness, and most importantly love in your wardrobe. Realize these are essentials that God picked out for you to wear everyday. I hope as you get ready for your day tomorrow you will look to the wardrobe God assigned you and be sure to dress yourself for a life of love!

until next time
until next time