“Jesus never forces Himself upon us; abiding is both receiving Him and giving ourselves to Him. Both always remain our choice.“
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today –July 14, 2023
Guest writer Tom Ashbrook
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
… the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, …which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26-27
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Last week we explored a rediscovery of the real meaning of biblical love! Love, agape, means infinitely more than an affectionate feeling or kindly behavior. God is LOVE! LOVE is God’s very essence. God loves us or expresses Himself to us by giving Himself to us as a life-giving connection! In our previous spiritual exercises, we struggled to prayerfully picture God feeling affectionate about us. However, we were later able to picture many exciting ways that God connects with us and makes us alive. John 3:16 tells us that God most profoundly loved us by sending Himself in Jesus to free us from the bondage of sin and fill us with eternal life.
Our scriptures for today tell us that Christ actually dwells within us and that nothing will be able to separate us from God’s love which is in Jesus, who lives within us– mind, body, and spirit!
Recall how the life-giving connection happened to you. Some of us were raised in a Christian home and may not remember ever living without faith; others became believers at an older age and have distinct memories of their conversion. Either way, we all recognize that something happened to us. You didn’t just “believe” some biblical truths, but something changed within you. You mysteriously experienced something that made you feel more alive. Maybe it felt like love or joy or peace or hope or…. You started a life-changing journey that still stretches out before you!
We all must admit, however, that this journey with Jesus hasn’t always been easy. Times of confusion, doubt, and discouragement have sometimes caused most of us to wonder if we’ve stumbled off the road. Some of us have become disillusioned, wondering if this is all there is. Did whatever happened to us really stick? Maybe if we “rediscover” what actually did happen to us in the first place, we’ll be better able to experience life more abundantly going forward. I’m discovering that “what happened to me” years ago is the same thing that must happen to me every day for the rest of my life on earth!
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
So, what did happen to you? God happened to you! LOVE came to you and offered to pull you out of the mire of sin and death and make you eternally alive. This offer came on the wings of the Spirit of LOVE through the witness of someone in whom Jesus lives and helped you recognize LOVE. The instant your heart’s longing responded “yes,” the Father swooped you up in His arms and connected you to Himself. Jesus described it as grafting you into a grapevine of life-giving LOVE. Jesus came to live in you, and you came to live in Him. The apostle Paul tells us that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Jesus calls it “ABIDING.” He said, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
Our journey with Jesus into the mystery of amazing abundant life is paved with our daily “yes” to abiding—to the entwining of LOVE that makes us ever increasingly alive with joy. Jesus never forces Himself upon us; abiding is both receiving Him and giving ourselves to Him always remains our choice.
Now please join me again in a spiritual exercise. Prayerfully imagine yourself immersed in LOVE, abiding in LOVE. What metaphor would be helpful for you? Maybe leaves attached to the vine, which is Jesus. Possibly a snuggle upon the lap of the Father or a dance in Jesus’ arms. Or…. Let Him show you something safe and enjoyable for you in this season of your life. Abide there a bit and then return often.
In next week’s devotion, we’ll explore the amazing kingdom impact that happens when you and I live into our identities as God’s beloveds. Meanwhile, return often.
Jesus, yes! So grateful for your abiding love that infuses my heart to be able to love others well through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name.
Consider watching this creative 4-minute video on the Vine and Branches.
Aaron Williams: Abide
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