Friday, October 5, 2012

Abiding in Christ Part Four

cross image, picture by your_so_lastsummer - Photobucket

This Christian walk is a faith walk. And it's an amazing journey! Listen to what God did through people who had faith in Him. People who believed God could accomplish what He had promised. In Hebrews 11:4-35 it says by faith: Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did; Enoch was taken to heaven without dying; Noah built an Ark to save his family from the flood and received the righteousness that comes by faith; Sarah was able to have a child when she was too old; Moses' parents hid him for three months so he wouldn’t be killed; the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea but when the Egyptians tried they drowned; Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down; others overthrew kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, were strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Pretty amazing!!!! And that’s not even all of what God has done through those who believed and walked by faith!

So will you hour by hour, minute by minute walk in faith? Will you believe God’s promises and that He is able to make you into His image? Will you act on what you believe instead of your doubts? Will you trust Him to make you what He wants you to be instead of by your own self-effort? Will you stop trying to imitate Jesus and instead let Him live His life through you? He wants to do so much more than just save you from Hell. He wants to transform you into a new person by His power alone! So will you ask yourself, Are my actions because of my faith in Christ Jesus and what He is doing in my life or because of my own self-effort and lack of trust in the promises of God?”

After talking about the great men of faith and what they accomplished the writer of Hebrews has some instructions for us. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

How do you think we strip off every weight that slows us down and sin that trips us up? How do we run with endurance?

The very next verse gives the answer. Heb. 12:2 says, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” So to throw off every weight and sin that trips us up and to run with endurance we must fix our eyes on Jesus.

It’s not about self-effort, or our works, or a magic formula of reading your Bible 30 min. every day. But instead we need to fix our eyes on Jesus who is the only one who ever conquered sin. He is the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. We need to be in constant communion with Him all day long. He is to be our very life. This reminds me of a story in the New Testament. Remember the story of Peter found in Matt. 14:25-32? Peter believes God can make him walk on water so he steps out of the boat. It went okay for a little while but then he took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink.

So often we are like Peter. We start with faith. We cry out to God. We trust God’s work on the cross for our sins. We hear the promises of God. We step out of the boat. But then life throws things at us and we start to doubt that God will do what He says. We start to doubt that He will work things out and that He is able. That He will make us more like Him. Peter started to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus. We also take our eyes off Jesus and get distracted by things we think are proof that God is not able and we start to sink.  When things do not go well we frantically try to fix it ourselves. But did Peter stop drowning because he made shoes that could float? No, Peter stopped drowning when he cried out to Jesus and it is the same with us. When we keep our eyes on Jesus He is able to do amazing things through us like walking on water!

But so often we don’t truly believe and walk by faith. A lot of times it is Jesus plus something. It is Jesus plus my Bible reading and going to church every Sunday, or Jesus plus everyone liking me, or Jesus plus my efforts and my convictions. Don’t get distracted by anything outside of Christ. Heb. 13: 8,9 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s Grace, not from rules about food which don’t help those who follow them.” Our strength doesn’t come from anything else but Christ. Just like Jesus did great miracles for the people in the Bible, He can do that for you because He is still the same great God. Jesus wants to be your everything. It is Jesus plus nothing.

So to abide in Christ we must continue to have faith that He is able to do what He has promised. We must let go, stop trying to control, and let God be God. Abiding in Jesus is to continue to live by faith in Jesus, fixing my eyes on Him.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus means we are to be looking to Him for everything. You are always to seek God. First as your God and Savior, then as your friend, sanctifier, teacher, helper, etc., etc. etc. EVERYTHING!!!!! When you want to be mean to that person who rubs you the wrong way, do you try your best to keep your mouth shut and think that is good enough? Or do you ask Jesus to fill you with Himself because He is full of unfailing Love? Seek Jesus in every area of your life instead of seeking everything but Jesus.

1 Chron. 16:11 says, “Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him.” Jesus wants us to continually seek Him. He never wants us to stop! When we seek Him, He promises in Jeremiah 29:13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Monday I would like to end this series with a video that I think really sums up the Gospel as it pertains to salvation and also our christian walk here on earth.

Until Monday...

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