Are you frustrated? Do you sometimes feel like giving up? Life can be so harsh at times and it can be rather difficult to have any kind of joy or peace in these times. If that is where you’re at right now, then pay attention to this week’s message. Meditating on the following passages and commentary may be just what you need to endure these “hard times”.
Last time we discussed that Jesus the Creator has invited us, the object of His love, to become His friends. This was in “What Does Jesus Mean To You? part 2”. Today I’d like to analyze that relationship in a bit more detail.
Although God’s love for us is unconditional…
John 3: 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
2 Peter 3: 9 He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
There are conditions to being His friend:
John 15: 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
Let’s explore this relationship a bit more so that it is clear what we should or should not do. I am convinced that if we follow Christ and become His disciples in this way, we will care less and less about our circumstances and more and more about staying in Him and being His disciple. This will yield peace and joy (and all other fruit).
Let’s look at some of the most fundamental commands that are key to pleasing Him:
John 15: 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Matthew 6: 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
John 8: 31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.
Hebrews 11: 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.
Translation “Be careful who you spend time with!”
It is clear that not all friendships are equal. Some friendships yield rich and rewarding blessings and some friendships can end in disappointment and betrayal.
What can we expect from our friendship with Jesus? Here is one great promise in two different verses, again with conditions:
Mark 11: 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
John 15: 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
Two peculiar conditions
1. “remain in me” (Spirit)
Here are two peculiar conditions, “remain in me” (Spirit) (abide in other translations) and “my words remain in you” (Truth). (John 4: 23-24)
What do you think of the words “remain in me”? To me, it means fellowship with our Lord (read 1 John 2: 27 below). These two verses come to mind:
1 Thessalonians 5: 17 “Never stop praying”
2 Corinthians 10: 5 (NASB) We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
Friends these two verses are concepts that I find very challenging to implement into my life. Some days are better than others, but the more we become conscious of our thoughts and the more effort we put into continual prayer the more natural it becomes.
2. “my words remain in you” (Truth)
This is clearly reading the Word of God. Since we read last week that Jesus is the Word, that says to me that all books of the Bible are His words. If you’ve read the book of Haggai, do you remember what it is about? Not that it needs to be memorized, but the concepts, ideas, and events should be stored in the heart so that you can share with others and have your own faith. There is value to all the books in the Old Testament, which is what the New Testament authors understood very well, that’s all they had.
If you remember just one thing… Remain in Christ
I think I’ve said enough. I’ve found and listed other verses relating to “remaining in Him” that I think you’ll enjoy. This is a message worth meditating on, if we can learn and practice at becoming His friend and remaining in Him I am convinced that there is no greater place to be. Can I get an amen?
John 15: 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
John 15: 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
1 John 2: 24 So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father.
1 John 2: 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. 28 And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.
1 John 3: 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
Jude 1: 5 So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.
Just one more passage…
Jude 1: 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. 24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
Will you remain in Him?
“Dear Holy Lord, Your words pierce my soul. Thank you for choosing me as you chose your disciples. As you say in Jude 1: 24, “Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.” That’s what I want. Please keep me from falling away, for I am weak and have many faults, but you Lord are all powerful and I can trust in you to complete what you started. In Jesus name, amen”