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Substance Behind Our Sayings

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Jesus said, “Remain in me…” John 15:4a, NLT

Life is amazing. We have big dreams, deep desires, exhilarating feelings and incredible experiences. We love. We laugh. We learn. Yet, in all of life’s beauty, let’s be honest. Life is hard. Pain visits. Betrayal cuts. Dreams go unrealized. Relationships crumble. Crisis happens. Addictions grip. And, even far more frequent, we face daily challenges common to the human existence. Tires go flat. Milk turns sour. Traffic makes us late. Kids have meltdowns in the grocery store. The job is stressful. The spouse is grumpy. Or, maybe I’m grumpy!

So often in the Christian life, we seek to find the quick fix for the problems and pains we experience. We long to find and master the ever-illusive “5 Steps to (you fill-in-the-blank)” that will make things right again. We fall into the trap of speaking powerful phrases but missing their meaning. Often we say things in an attempt to make our selves or others feel better. The reality is that we do not really know what we are saying. Our intentions are good, but the results are empty platitudes. If we are really honest we just don’t know what else to say. So we search our thought-bank and reach for something that sounds good:

Everything happens for a reason.

All things will work together for good.

Jesus loves you.

Things are going to work out.

Trust God.

Without an intimate relationship with Christ, these phrases fall flat to the person in pain. If we do not grasp the meaning of these words, we miss their power in our lives. Jesus kept it simple. You want to live a life that is fruitful? Jesus said, “Remain in me.” Remain? Remain. Don’t move. Don’t leave. Don’t wander. Don’t follow distractions. REMAIN. Where do we remain? Remain in Christ. Remain in His love.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10, NLT)

How do we remain in Christ? Obey His commandments. Often when we hear that we are to obey God, all we can think about are His rules. We miss the heart behind God’s Law. We miss the heart of God. God’s rules are all about relationship.

“…‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38, NLT)

God’s first rule is relational. He wants us to love Him! When we love Him as God and as Savior, we will then trust Him and follow all that He says. We will seek Him and His design for how to live this life. Our love for Him will be reflected in our choice to obey Him. We begin to view the Bible as a love letter delivered from our Creator to help us know Him more and experience an abundant life! 

Because we know Jesus intimately and follow Him daily, our phrases take on whole new meanings!

Everything happens for a reason. We’re not going to always understand every hard thing that happens. Sometimes sin nature is a cause for struggle and sometimes struggles are simply a result of living in a fallen world. Regardless, we can rest assured that God truly is in control and He is for us!

All things will work together for good. This is true for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Our gracious God has a wonderful way of making beauty from our ashes.

Jesus loves you. He loves us so much that He gave His life for us! His innocent death paid the price for our guilty debt. He gave His life in exchange for ours! And, because He is alive again, His love promises the power to continue the good work He began in our lives. He won’t stop till we are who He designed us to be.

Things are going to work out. Because we know Jesus, we are confident that He holds the universe in His hands and that includes His children. God promises to be our refuge and strength. He is our help in time of need. And, because of all these truths, we can…

Trust God. We know Him because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. We know Him because we talk to Him daily. We know Him because we spend time reading His Word, serving and worshipping in His church and living in community with His people. We know our Savior’s voice and we trust His heart. And, true trust is revealed when we follow where He leads and obey what He says.

“Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b, NLT)

Bottom line: apart from Jesus, we cannot do this life! As we remain in Christ and in His love, our lives will thrive. This means every day we wake up and our hearts cry out to Jesus. We talk with Him about everything. We read His Word and share it with others. Every day is a new day of surrender to God. Each decision we make is laced with the CHOICE that when it comes to my desires and God’s design, God’s way wins. We live out the substance of God and His Word. Now that is no platitude!

Posted on February 12, 2013