“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
John 15:7 NKJV
I have learned to abide. It is not a lesson that came easily, or without much pain. I spent most of my early life thinking I could do it all by myself. I also thought I was in a world all of my own. Not only did I not abide in God, but I did not think I had a connection to anyone else. Life in Christ is akin to a grape vine. You don’t see one cluster of grapes on a plant, but many. They all get their sustenance from the same source.
As a believer I learned that I needed to abide in Christ to be able to grow and be developed for the work that God saved me to do. I abide by reading my Scriptures, by talking to God in prayer, and bowing my heart in worship. I work out my great salvation, in the fellowship with other believers. When I say workout, I don’t not mean that I am working for it, but the salvation bought and paid for by Jesus on the cross, is made real and practical. I am sharing my juice with others. I take all the words read, all the prayers said, and hymns sang, and turn them in to delicious grape juice, that leaks out of my life into the lives of others. I then go out into my church and interact with my fellow grapes and and my juice is even more sweetened and mellowed.
The work that God does becomes fine wine, or grape juice for us Baptists, that we take out and serve to those around us. We abide in the same God, and He in us. We see each other through that vine, and see the ties that bind in Jesus Christ.
When I look at all that is going on, I can see the problem. We have a world full of tiny, less than fruitful vines, and stunted grapes, not rooted in the Source of all sustenance: God. They are wild vines, not cultivated. As the people of God we must go out and share the Gospel. Without the Lord, people are divided into enemy camps where there is no peace. Black people cannot see the perspective of white people, and whites cannot see the perspective of black people. Add all the other races and all the other conflicts and we see a huge mess. These are vines in opposition, each seeking to choke out the roots of the other, both have their growth stymied.
Years ago, Jesus drew me and attached me to the vine. I ceased to be the autonomous grape, but one requiring a daily connection to the Lord. As I connected to Him, I found that I was also connected to others. Suddenly I became one heart with people that I would have never connected with in the past. Jesus made my heart new and transformed “us verses them” into we, the body of Christ in my heart.
In my fleshly life I held those from the Southern United States as suspect, as evil, as people who were the enemy. God in His amazing grace, used the preaching of one David Nelms, a son of the south, to reach the stony heart of this black man, and bring the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, to save me from hell. He sent other white southerners to build me up. God helped me to realize that I am a grape that must abide.
In my abiding, I have discovered that my desires have migrated from what I want in my flesh, toward what I should want from the perspective of God. I want nothing more than all people to know the God that I know. I want all to come to salvation. He is leveler of the ground, the maker of high places low, and low places high. I have found that I am able to pray for people that I thought enemies, and have now become brothers and sisters.
I have also seen my view of those outside the body of Christ change. I see them not by the evil they do, nor by what one might think of them from the perspective of the flesh, but by what could be in Christ. I am blessed to remember the darkness in me, and I remember how sinful I was before Jesus.
I give grace to others from the view of what God did in me.
My fellow grapes, abide in the Lord today. Use that wonderful access that we have through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Let your juice flow, that many drink. May the salvation of our God flow through the streets. We are planting seeds of the Gospel, so more vines, produce more grapes to grow. Pray that the harvest be abundant.
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!