Business of Abiding

What is this business of abiding in Christ? It means that you take by faith all He has for you and receive in turn by faith all of His blessed presence, power, and enablement.

Scripture: John 15:1-4, Psalm 37


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? Oh, I’ve just been praying that God would put His truth, and His love, and His blessing, and His encouragement, and the power of His Holy Spirit into these words that I speak, so that somehow they might just fit your need, your mood, your feelings as you listen. God does that in answer to prayer and I’m glad. I ask Him to do that every time I face these microphones.

We’re looking at John 15. Jesus our Lord said, “I’m the true vine and my Father is the husbandman.” God’s in charge of the growth process in your life. And what happens in your life is not happenstance but God’s provision for your growth. I’m moved just to stop here for a moment and talk to somebody who’s going through the wringer, as we say. It’s been one bad experience after another. And you’re tempted to say, “God, what are you trying to do, kill me? Why is all this happening to me?” And of course, the unspoken part of that sentence is, “When I’m such a nice person.” [chuckle] You figure somebody else might deserve it but you don’t, you know. We just hate to have everything happen the way it does sometimes, everything goes wrong. The car breaks, and the roof leaks, and the mortgage is due, and Junior gets the chickenpox, and Daddy loses his job, or is transferred, or whatever, and Sister is dating the wrong boy and you’re afraid she’s getting into bad company and Brother is out too late at night and you wonder whether he’s running with the wrong crowd and so on. And everything is just upsetting you.

Well, what are you gonna do about it? You can panic or you can get bitter and blame God or you can look up and say, “Lord, help me learn what you have for me. Make me fruitful in this. Make me fruitful in this experience.” And you know, if you’ll pray that prayer through Jesus our blessed Lord, God will answer that prayer. The indwelling Holy Spirit of God who is given to the believer will work in your life and you’ll find yourself growing. What’s more, you’ll find yourself capable of bearing fruit in a way that you would not, otherwise, had you missed those trials and heartbreaks that seemed so difficult at the time. A man said to me concerning some very trying experiences he had had, he said, “I wouldn’t wanna go through it again,” but he said, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Why? Because in all of that, he learned to pray with power and effectiveness.

My Father is the husbandman. Do you want to take hold of that truth today and look up and say, “Lord, I know you’re managing things. I know there’s a meaning to what’s happening. I know you’ve got a plan for my life. Just help me learn and help me bear fruit.”? I’ll tell you something that’ll take all the bitterness and all the sting out of the experiences that you’re having, even though they be very difficult or even heartbreaking. God has a way of making experiences pay out for blessing. Now, he says, “Now are ye clean through the word.” Now, in verse 2 he says, “He purgeth it.” That’s our word ‘prunes it.’ Every branch that beareth fruit, He prunes it that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now, what’s the pruning process? The purging process? It’s a cleansing process so far as the believer’s concerned. And so we come to verse 3, “Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Paul the Apostle talks about the washing of water by the word. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” The Word of God does cleanse your life. How do you achieve that? Well, number one, read it. That would be a good idea. I watch some people whom I am associated with closely from time to time and I notice that some of them read their Bible regularly and others don’t. All of them may be equally religious, but not all of them are feeding equally upon the Word of God and receiving the cleansing that God’s word can bring. You’re cleaned through the Word. Where shall I start? Well, start reading it. Read a book of the Bible at a time. Don’t just hop, skip and jump. The Gospel of John is a good one. I learned as a little boy to love that book because I learned 50 verses out of it before I was seven years old. And I could quote every one of them for you today, they’ve stayed in my memory. But with it all, I got a love for that wonderful portion of God’s Word, the Gospel of John.

Start reading in a book of the Bible and stick with it until you’ve finished it. Read it. So what else? Ask this question, “What is this passage saying to me?” I got that idea from Dr. Stephen Olford, whom I talked with about this subject back in 1944. I said, “Brother Olford, tell me how you managed to keep your own soul nourished and how you feed on the Word.” He says, “Well, stick with any passage of the Bible, whether it’s a verse or a chapter, but any passage that you’re working with, stick with it until it says something to you.” Then said he, “Write that down, for if you can’t write it, you haven’t got it. Write down what the Lord said to you out of that passage.” And then said he, “Pray it back to God until your heart is warm with the message.” Now, that again was a new concept to me. I’d been praying all my life it seemed to me, and as a young minister in those days I was eager to do everything I could and was spearheading prayer meetings in connection with the founding of Youth for Christ. But here he said, “Pray the content of what God said to you. Pray that back to God until your heart is warmed and made tender with the truth.”

And then said he, “Share that truth with somebody as soon as you can that very day.” Well, that’s been of great help to me. Read it, stick with it until it says something to you, write that truth down, pray it back to God, and then share it with somebody as soon as you can. “Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” God’s Word does cleanse you. As you read His Word, He’ll speak to you if you let Him. Our problem is that we’re in such a hurry that we do our Bible reading routinely and we buzz through a number of verses and then close the Bible and say, “There, I’ve done my duty for today.” But if you just take time, “Wait on the Lord,” says the Psalmist. “Wait on the Lord. Rest in the Lord.” The Psalmist says in another Psalm, the 37th Psalm, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” It means you have to stop and let God talk to you.

Tell me something, how long has it been since before you made a decision you just stopped everything and said, “Lord, talk to me about this. I’m gonna wait on you for a while.”? You would be surprised how many dead end streets God saves you from if you just pray about things. Dr. Dobson was talking about this not too long ago on one of his broadcasts. And he said every time he’s forgotten or neglected to stop and wait on the Lord, it has caused him heartache. Well, beloved, it’s good advice for you and for me, “Wait on the Lord, let Him talk to you.” “Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” How does God do His pruning? Well, through circumstances oftentimes, and through the Word of God as it is applied to your life by the blessed Holy Spirit of God.

Now, He says, “Abide in me and I in you.” Abide means to stay, like you stay in a house. Stay like you remain in one place, “Abide in me, and I in you.” What is this business of abiding in Christ? It means that you take by faith all He has for you and receive in turn by faith all of His blessed presence and power and enablement. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:30, “Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know, righteousness is the quality of being spontaneously good, sanctification is the quality of being set aside for God’s use without being too pious, and redemption is the quality of wrapping up all of the adventure of life itself and letting it be a continuing miracle by the grace of God. A redeemed life is one in which Christ has full sway. Christ is made unto us by faith. You can take, by faith, from Jesus all you need.

Wendell Loveless, who’s now with the Lord, he almost lived to be 100, I guess. And during my salad days he was my dear friend, we were good friends. And for a while he pastored the church where I belong, he was my pastor. Great man, great heart, great musician, songwriter. You know him, some of you. He used to talk about the exchanged life, the exchanged life. You by faith, you exchange your need for Christ’s supply, your weakness for His strength, your sinfulness for His righteousnesses, your failure for His success, your tawdry human nature for His divine holiness that shines with the blessing of God. By faith you can take what Jesus is for you. “Abide,” said He, “In me.” That’s what it means to abide, to stay in the place where your life is under His control. I used to tell the young people at the college, “Pray your way through the day.” Before you go on a date, before you sign a contract, before you open a letter and certainly before you answer one, before you hire a person or transfer or fire anyone if you’re in management, before you okay an innovative program, the end of which you may not be able to see but God has already seen it, pray your way through the day. Pray before you act and before you speak. Why? That gives God a chance to control you. That’s what it means to abide in Christ. It means continual dependence on Him.

Redd Harper, the Western singer who was greatly used of God in the early Billy Graham crusade days, he was giving his testimony I recall one time, and he said, “Right after I became a Christian, I was sure that everything was wonderful and I could make it.” And he said, “It wasn’t long before I fell flat on my face in failure and now,” he said, “I have learned to depend on the Lord.” He says, “I depend on him so much that I don’t even go through a revolving door without saying, ‘After you, Lord.'” [chuckle] Well, that was his way of putting it. Depend on the Lord Jesus Christ. Depend on Him. Abide in Him. And as a result, you can by faith take what He is for all of your need. Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. And so, He says, “I’ll abide then in you.” Well, we go on with this the next time we get together.

Dear Father, today, help us to abide in our Lord Jesus. I ask in His name. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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