Forever is a very long time. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 61 about a request: “Let me live forever in Your sanctuary.” This is not a simple request. This request is for a sinful man to spend forever with God, Holy God, in His presence.
Despite it not being a simple request, it is a request that can be met. There is a possibility for you and I to live forever in His sanctuary. To abide with Him, we must accept the Son. To abide with Him, we must have the desire. The Bible promises that when we abide in Him, He will abide in us (John 15:4).
Thankfully God sent His Son to pave the way for us to be able to come before God as unblemished spotless ones. Because of the blood of Christ, we are cleansed and we are righteous. We are called children of God through faith (Galatians 3:26). The wages of sin is death, but we accept the free gift of God, eternal life through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). Forever we live in Your sanctuary!
“Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings! Interlude” – Psalm 61:4 [NLT]
Suffering is not fun, hence the reason it is called suffering. Suffering is when you are undergoing pain or hardship. It’s surely not fun. But Peter tells us to “be very glad.” Throughout the Bible we read that we should rejoice in our suffering. When we are insulted because of the name of Jesus, we are considered blessed (v. 14).
When we suffer, Peter says we are “partners with Christ in His suffering.” As we press forward, we are reminded that we “should serve with the strength God supplies” (v. 11 NIV). We shouldn’t be surprised when we have fiery trials (v. 12). Jesus told us it was guaranteed (John 15:20).
Paul told Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV). Continue to live a godly life in Jesus. Rest in the confidence that comes from living in the Lord, and remember that blessed is he who is persecuted. One day, we “will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.” Eternity we will have with Him.
“Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.” – 1 Peter 4:13 [NLT]
As I was trying to prepare the flower beds for Fall, I made yet another attempt to tear out the vines that are planted in many areas of my yard. These vines drive me crazy every time I take the effort to remove them. If you are not familiar with vines, you do not understand the nuisance it is to remove them. You begin to pull some of the vine, but soon realize you are not close to the root. Instead, you are pulling different strands of new growth, connected to other growth. It’s hard to even pull anything out because everything grows connected and is bound together underground, connected with the strong root. The root system keeps me from ever getting rid of the vines.
Imagine now how Jesus speaks of our need to abide in Him. He promises if we abide in Him, He will abide in us (John 15:4). He is our strong root system, our foundation. Paul wrote that we should let our “roots grow down into Him.” If we are rooted with Him, we are like those vines with the strong root, that is difficult to move. When we are rooted in Christ, our “faith will grow strong.” When we are rooted in Christ, we “overflow with thankfulness.”
Ask the Spirit to reveal to you your root system. If you are unsure if you are abiding in Him, consider how much time you devote to prayer, Bible reading and Bible study, and walking in the will of God. If these things sound foreign, or if these things are not of most importance on your list of priorities, it is time to start reviewing your list. Look at what you are trying to grow. Look at where you are investing yourself. Do you want to live a life growing with the strong vine, or are you trying to grow yourself to build yourself up? You’ll find that the little sprouts are easy to pull from the ground, very different from the strong rooted vines. Don’t live like a little sprout.
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
I have a lot of OCD tendencies. When it comes to the lawn, I like the grass to be cut weekly. In my opinion, there is an acceptable height to the blades of grass. If the grass is not clipped at the right time, it will continue to grow unattended and then there’s overgrowth. On my walk with the dogs, I always come upon a lawn that is overgrown. The owners let the grass grow unattended for weeks. By the time the lawn is cared for, there is grass growing over the footpath.
Just as we need to clip our fingernails, get a haircut, and brush our teeth, so we need to care for our yardwork, cleaning, and laundry. But it doesn’t end there!! We cannot forget our spiritual health. Our spiritual health needs attention. God is great at pruning. As you walk with Him, He will continue to prune you and help you to grow the way He always intended. Our part in all of this is to dive deep into His Word. We cannot become dull. Continue to take in God’s Word. Write it on your heart. Allow it to reveal to you our heavenly Father. It’s all about knowing God.
As you desire to know God more, as you continue to read His Word and follow His will, He will continue to prune and grow you. Listen closely to His voice. Remember when He asks you to loosen your grip on something, it is because it is for your best. Every clip. Every snip. Every word. It’s all for your very best.
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2 [ESV]
As I was preparing for a message on embracing God and embracing others, I considered the half hug. You all know the half hug. It is when you sort of hug someone, but do not truly hug the person. It’s a half hug. You have one arm around the person, but the other arm just dangles there. It’s like you almost embrace a person, but yet you don’t complete it. Some would even call this a fake hug.
I continued to be brought back to this half hug as I was preparing the message, and focusing on embracing God. Do we half hug God sometimes? Is that possible? Of course it is possible. Sadly, it is what most Christians do many times. Some compare this to having one foot in heaven and the rest of their body in the world. It’s when you are not all in when it comes to your walk with God. You believe in Jesus. You have been saved. Yet, you don’t have the close relationship that God always wanted since the creation of the earth.
When God created Adam and Eve, He walked with them. He wanted to have that kind of relationship with man. We all know sin damaged this relationship. But we also know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for a restoration of this relationship. The veil was torn. The Spirit was poured out upon believers. We can have that relationship again. The Bible tells us this truth. It’s awesome. Part of this relationship is described with the word abide. If we abide in Him, He abides in us. That sounds confusing but it’s simple. We abide (or remain) in Him, and He abides (remains) with us. How awesome?!? Understand there is no half abiding. The abiding is not to be a pick and choose type thing. You are either abiding or you are not abiding. Today, ask the Spirit to share with you where you currently are at, and if there is anything that is blocking your abiding in Him.
“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.” – John 15:5 [NLT]