““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
John 15:1-4 NKJV
We in the American church have been pressed into a trial by comfort. I say trial, because we have not had the blessing of prolonged and ongoing persecution, where those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus are pursued, tortured and killed.
Because we have had comfort, we have lost focus, for we no longer cling to the faith, but we use our salvation as a cultural distinction, where we seek to force those who know not the Lord, to live by our rules, even though we ourselves fail to do so.
Persecution brings clarity, as it focuses the follower of Jesus on what is truly important, as all the other stuff of life is stripped away.
There is a sea change coming. I heard on the news that there is a video of twenty Nigerian Christians, people for whom the faith is bathed in the blood of the martyrs, being killed by the Islamic State. Those Christians are now waiting under the altar for the rest of us.
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?””
Revelation 6:9-10 NKJV
Those who live in places where faith in Jesus is met with rejection and death, are in a place of abiding, where they must cling to Jesus in order to remain in the faith and have any hope of completing the Great Commission.
Reading John fifteen, was a much needed reminder of the necessity to cling the Lord Jesus Christ as the world around is spiraling out of control. Here in the United States, we are seeing a exceedingly high spike in violence in the streets and in homes, as the evil attacks all the bedrock structures of society. He is going after the young people, after mothers, after fathers, turning hearts cold. All the characteristics of those earth dwellers in the end times are on display.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
II Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV
Never before in the history of humanity has there been such a concentration of the signs of the end times. These are the antithesis of the what one shows when the abide in the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has not given us His commands on a conditional basis, nor has He allowed us to base our adherence to His will on what is being done to us. We have not been called to fight fire with fire, but to fight with the power of the Holy Spirit, with all our weapons being spiritual ones, built up on us, and in us, through our abiding in the Him.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”
Ephesians 6:14-18 NKJV
All of these pieces of armor come not automatically, but only through one’s active abiding in Jesus.
As people who are abiding, we inevitably face the refinement that comes was the Lord prunes us. For those of us having been lulled through comfort here in America, we will experience the that pruning as the things that we believe in will be forced to the margins, and we will be attacked for the stances that we take.
Those who now suffer refinement, whether it be through health issues, or actually persecution have an advantage for even now the Lord is working. For us, we have been commissioned to share what we have learned about God in the midst of trial. I can tell you that abiding has caused me to grow.
None of the things I do now would be possible if I did not abide in the Lord. I also know that what is coming for us, corporately, will not be survivable if we do not abide daily in Jesus. Let us abide in the Lord, praying, reading the Holy Scriptures, and relying on His power to deliver us.
It is easy to turn to things that seem to offer power, but in reality, offer nothing, but a waste of precious time. Let us be vigilant, my people, and focus on making the most of the little time we have left. Go and be bold in sharing the Good News!
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!