“I am the vine and you are the branches.” (John 15:5)
Made for Relationship
In the beginning, before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve had an idyllic life in the Garden of Eden. They were blessed beyond imagination—living amidst the splendor of God’s glorious creation, able to walk and talk with their Creator!
That type of close fellowship and blessed living is what God desires for all his children. And yet, many Christians fail to live in the realm of what their heavenly Father wants for them.
Why is that? Why do some of God’s children live “a life of quiet desperation”—far below what God has planned for them? Let’s explore three of the reasons.
1. Failure to recognize the truth that God is already near us
One of the simple, yet profound, truths revealed in Acts 17:27 is that “…[God], is not far from each one of us.”
No, our God is not afar off—even though the enemy of our soul, Satan, will try to convince God’s children otherwise.
He also promised that the Holy Spirit would abide in those who have entered into God’s kingdom. It is that same presence to which Jesus was referring when he told his disciples, “…the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
If you are a child of God, his presence isn’t “somewhere out there”—the Spirit of the True and Living God abides within you!
2. Failure to appreciate the incomparable worth of God’s presence
The apostle Paul pointed out to a crowd of pagan sceptics in Athens that being a Christian means that, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). In other words, God is our “all in all.”
As Jesus leads, those who follow after him are to be led by God’s Spirit—”For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14, NIV) Any person can claim to be a Christian, but it’s clear from this verse that a person who isn’t led by God’s Spirit isn’t included among those who He calls his children. Pause for a moment and let the significance of that truth to sink in.
We can see in the Scriptures that Moses highly valued God’s presence. As the children of Israel were poised to enter the Promised Land of Canaan after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses said to the Lord, “If Your presence does not go with me, don’t let us go up from here!… [for isn’t it your presence] that distinguishes us from all the people on the face of the earth?”
Jesus Christ proclaimed that, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). He also called himself the True Vine and likened his followers to branches that are connected to him: “The one who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and is dried up. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:5,6)
How important is a believer’s “Christ connection?” According to our Master, abiding in his presence is worth everything!
3. Placing too much emphasis on the “doing” aspect of Christianity
Some Christians fall into the trap of becoming so busy working for the Lord that they neglect their relationship with him. For many, this deviation from God’s best is a result of wanting to “prove” themselves—that they are worthy to serve on God’s “team.”
It’s commendable for a person to want to do their best in service to God’s kingdom, but that motivation should never work to the detriment of what is most essential—abiding in him!
This truth is graphically illustrated in the Bible story about Jesus’ two friends who were sisters—Martha and Mary. One day when Jesus, and an entourage that was with him, visited their house, Martha scurried about, trying to accommodate all the guests. After a while, she became annoyed with her sister, Mary, who wasn’t pitching in to help her out. Rather, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, intently listening to his teaching. Eventually Martha reached the breaking point with her frustration:
So she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)
There you have it: sitting at the Master’s feet—abiding in God’s presence—is what’s most important. Our busyness in serving him should never cause us to neglect God’s top priority for his children.
Upgrading your Life as a Christian
God has made each one of us in a unique way. His highest desire is that both He and we might enjoy our time of fellowship together. Beyond doubt, that is a worthy end in and of itself.
Yes, we are to glorify his name. We are to worship him.
By abiding in him we will also experience the fullness of life that God promises. Though the benefits of God are countless, here are just a few:
- His presence is like a revitalizing tonic to our “spirit-man.” In our times of discouragement, we will find that “…in [his] presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).
- We will avoid many of the pitfalls that ensnare so many others. How does God do this? As we abide in his presence, He will share his wisdom with us. As the Scripture says, “…that which the world deems foolish in God is wiser than men’s wisdom, and that which it deems feeble in God is mightier than men’s might.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
- When we come to the Lord in faith, we’ll find that his blessing and protection is on us, in whatever way that it’s needed—even though we may be oblivious as to that need. Indeed, “He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him”.
- When we have a close relationship with our Maker, we find that our burdens become his. As Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
- The Holy Spirit supernaturally provides clear direction when needed and gives us a “heads-up” about the future. This is what Jesus told his disciples about the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit): “He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) What a huge difference it makes when we have God’s perspective on any matter—with his view guiding us we’re able to maneuver through life with a much higher level of understanding and have far fewer regrets.
The “Greater One” in Us
The Holy Scriptures reveal that there is a “greater one” who lives on the inside of every born-again believer (1 John 4:4). The apostle John is referring in this verse to the Holy Spirit as being mightier than “he who is in the world.” This truth isn’t nullified by a Christian’s ignorance of it or by a lack of appreciation of the grace-power that God has freely made available to him.
However, if a person fails to nourish the presence of the Holy Spirit within, he or she will be hobbled in their Christian walk—living far beneath their God-ordained potential. And the result will be that even though God intends for every believer to be an overcomer in this life, one who’s fully empowered by the Holy Spirit, those who fail to abide in his presence and don’t avail themselves of God’s power will oftentimes find themselves being stymied by the enemy and his minions as well as by the many challenges that circumstances bring everyone’s way.
Move Toward Your Destiny!
God’s abiding presence is the place where we all should begin our daily Christian walk. With God’s Word, the Holy Bible, as our guide, it is certain that no weapon formed aginst us that shall prosper. Indeed, no difficulty the enemy or this world can throw our way will be able to withstand the greater one when he “lives big” in us. These truths must be imbedded in the very core of our “inner man” and acted upon whenever hardship or challenges come our way.
Purpose to get your priorities into godly alignment. Once you fully appreciate the spiritual reality that abiding in God’s presence is essential to your wellbeing and effectiveness as a Christian believer, your everyday prorities and activities should reflect that vital truth.
Be willing to take the necessary steps that will bring you closer to the destiny that God has waiting for you. Your day should start by focusing on your relationship with the One on whom you depend. “Feed” your spirit man with the Word of God. Seek the Master’s face and envelop yourself in his presence. Having done these things at the start of your day, you will be able to operate from an “overflow,” of his Spirit, helping you stay connected to the Vine throughout your day.
Prayer and praise become powerful weapons when engaged in regularly by a Spirit-filled believer. Empowered by the Spirit of the living God, you’ll then be a ready vessel to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth!
Lord, let it be so — for all of us!
Until the next time, walk in the Spirit… and be a blessing!