Thursday, July 9, 2015

Continue



I’m in my third week of a Bible study on 1, 2, 3 John called What Love Is. It’s been incredible and so timely. God knows what we need and when we need it. The way John wrote these letters was raw. In your face. No beating around the bush. Nothing flowery. And though the letter can seem a little harsh on a day you’re looking for something soft and encouraging, when you know the time in which the letter was written, you can understand the urgency of John’s words. People once in their very circle had been deceived and gone astray and John, in sincere love, exposes the lies and reminds them of the truth. We’re living in a similar day so the urgency still applies...

This week’s theme is TO REMAIN. The main scriptures are in 1 John, however, on this particular day, the writer of the study (Kelly Minter) brought us back to John 15:1-8. Abiding (or remaining) in the vine. This has been the thread in a lot of areas of my life over the course of the past few months. God has been reiterating the utmost importance of remaining in Him. I’ve learned that whenever He hits repeat on a topic in my life, there’s something deeper He wants to do in me. So I really need listen closely and respond accordingly because 'remaining' has been on repeat for a minute…

The word remain comes from the Greek word meno, which means “not to depart; to continue, to be present; to be held, kept, continually; to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure.” One of the personal reflection questions in my study asked what part of the definition of meno means the most to me and why? After reading through the definitions a few times, the word CONTINUE stuck out and I immediately thought of these verses...

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)

This scripture popped out at me this week as a picture of a tree. Receiving Christ Jesus is the seed. As we remain, the seed is planted and we grow because we are rooted and built up in HIM. As we remain even more, we are strengthened in the faith. Think of the trunk of a redwood. It’s strong and can’t be knocked over by the storms of life. And as the abiding continues, even in the tough times, the branches of our lives grow to bear fruit, overflowing with thankfulness. But to get to that point, it’s not enough to receive... we have to remain.

When I made the conscious decision to receive Christ as Lord and Savior (17 years ago!) and truly surrender my life to him, there was an indescribable joy and excitement that bubbled over. I was filled with peace and ready for anything. Not because I could do anything good because I knew who I belonged to. Sure, there were challenges and insecurities but I embarked on my new faith journey with great delight. But faith isn’t about feelings and after time feelings fade. There are seasons where the thrill is gone and my spirit grows weary. The valley seasons in life often far outweigh the mountaintop experiences. Faith is a decision no matter where we find ourselves and we must make the conscious decision to remain in the One we've received as Lord.

But let’s keep it real. There are times in life we don’t feel like continuing. We know the truth but it doesn't always feel good. The journey is long and it just seems like way too much. We love to start new things but it’s not easy to keep at it when the opposition kicks in. We may not ‘technically' quit but, if we’re honest, the thought certainly passes through our minds at times. I know I have those thoughts. The danger isn’t in the passing thought though. The danger is when we camp out there in our minds because when we go there, we’ve kind of already tapped out. It’s impossible to continue with such a mindset.

To continue our lives in our own strength will only lead to discouragement and failure. The answer is to abide. Abide in the Vine. The True Vine. When we remain, we can continue to live our lives in Christ Jesus. In HIM, the result is to be rooted and built up, strengthened in the faith, and overflowing with thankfulness. Without HIM, our lives wither away and become fruitless. In order to be fruitful, we have to remain in Christ. And in order to continue on the journey, we must continue in HIM.

Sometimes, in our hardships, God gives us encouraging words that uplift and inspire. Those messages taste good and are enjoyable. We all want that. Other times, he gives us our spiritual veggies and horse-pill sized vitamins because it’s what’s best for us and will sustain us for the journey. He gives us what we need. It's been a difficult couple of months for me and I would’ve loved a dessert-like message this week. But the truth of the matter is, I need the word that will strengthen me for the long haul, not give a momentary boost. Don’t get me wrong, encouragement is awesome and godly, but in the battle, we don’t need a little pat on the back and an ice cream sundae. God gives us the nutrients that He knows we require so we can be energized to continue in Him and then He leads us back into battle with a victorious mindset. Whether we want to admit it or not, we wake up to a war every morning and must obtain every ounce of sustenance from His word to face the day. In hindsight, I'm grateful that God doesn't give us what we want, He gives us what we need. 

But check it out, it’s not just about continuing to do something. God is telling us through His word to continue to live our lives in Him. Remaining isn't doing, it's being. Not just for a season, forever. Don’t focus on continuing the task, continue to focus on Jesus and He will enable you to do what He has called you to do. Continue to abide in the Vine. Continue to be who He has called you to be. Don't look at your circumstances or allow them to dictate your actions. Continue to walk in the Spirit. Continue to look to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. Continue remain in the Love of the Father. Then, and only then, can you continue to do what He’s called you to do.

What does that look like for you today? The individual circumstances of our lives may vary but the truth of remaining is the same. Don't give up. The struggle is real but the troubles are momentary. What we live for, WHO we live in, is the eternal glory that far outweighs the temporal we face here on earth. When we live with that Kingdom perspective, we won't lose heart and can continue



Continue to pray for that unsaved loved one.

Continue to pick up your Bible when the temptation is overwhelming.

Continue to fight for your marriage that is failing.

Continue to keep your word even if it hurts.

Continue at the job where the atmosphere is oppressive.

Continue to smile at the ornery neighbor who hates you.

Continue to encourage your child who wants to give up.

Continue to receive His grace and mercy.

Continue to believe.

Continue to give.

Continue to love.

Continue to be loved.

Continue to live your lives in Christ.


Continue.


The result will always be fruitful and our reward will always be great because HE is our reward.


So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)



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