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Old 12-03-2008, 11:28 AM
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Forrest Forrest is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Texas, USA
Posts: 597
Default New Christian?

These thoughts and words of encouragement are for the “new” convert and convey a personal, life-changing truth that I wanted to edify you with. God uses different circumstances, events, and people in our life to fashion our life and direct our paths. And there is no "cookie-cutter" method of growing as a Christian. For me, God continues to use a severe, disabling, physical trial to teach me the importance of simply abiding in Christ. He may use something different for you, but the goal is the same for all of us. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

By way of some background, I served as a pastor for over 10 years, have taught God’s word for over 25 years, and I labored and toiled in ministry and duty for most of my Christian life. Then I developed secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

Through my personal trial, God has taught me that the Christian life is not determined by the things I “do,” but rather, it is simply determined by "who I am in Christ.” Being a follower of Christ results in doing, even from a wheelchair! I am truly blessed, thankful, and yes, privileged, to be in a literal position of not being able to do very much, because it has stripped me of self-willed drive and has taught me to trust in the sufficiency and the preeminence of Jesus Christ. The passage of scripture God used to speak to my heart and mind at my lowest point in life was in the Book of John.
John 15:1-5 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
The teaching of abiding in Christ is not limited to only our initial salvation (receiving Christ), but to our entire Christian life. Abiding in Christ includes both our “positional” relationship and our “operational” relationship. In other words, our being (which is positional) results in our doing (which is operational). “For without Him we can do nothing, but through Him, we can do all things.”

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I say the obvious. Trying to live the genuine and fruitful Christian life is IMPOSSIBLE without actively abiding in Jesus Christ. There is no power, no grace, and no desire apart from Christ. Nothing means nothing in verse five.

Think about His teaching in John 15. A branch does absolutely nothing except abide in the vine, receive the care of the vinedresser, soak up the Sun, and bear fruit. In like manner, we should abide in the True Vine, receive care from the Vinedresser, soak up the Son, and bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. I realize in our self-centered and purpose driven world that the idea of complete surrender and full submission to Christ is not well received, but it’s absolutely essential if you desire to live a fruitful Christian life.

Here’s what many of us do in the Christian life. We develop a mindset that it’s our responsibility, with God’s help of course, to “produce” the fruit by doing instead of simply being. We plan, work, strive, labor, and commit to doing our part, instead of simply abiding in Christ and yielding the fruit He desires to produce in our lives. As a result, we fail to live a life that is simply directed by Christ. And we are under the stress that comes with it. I am not suggesting we “will” do nothing if we simply abide, I am saying we “can” do nothing. When we truly comprehend “without Him I can do nothing” we “will” begin doing something genuine and begin yielding the fruit He desires to bring forth in our life.

If we abide in Christ—husband, will you love your wife as Christ loved the Church? Wife, will you submit to your own husband as unto the Lord? Children will you obey your parents in the Lord? And parents will you train your children in the way they should go? Will you tell others about Jesus Christ? Will you love others? Will you have an effective prayer life? Will you possess inner joy? Will you think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report? Will you rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, give thanks in everything, abstain from the appearance of evil, and hold fast to that which is good? Will you keep His commandments?

Would you rather compile a list of duties and through drive and discipline attempt to keep that list? Or would you rather abide in Christ and bear much fruit?

So what are we left with doing?
Colossians 2:6-10 admonishes that, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”
I pray that this truth encourages you to simply obey the Lord Jesus when He invites us to, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
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