Fri, May 1 2020

Intentionality towards Christlikeness

Good morning Anthem! 

In our last devotional, we spent some time putting the finish line in view. As believers we want to move with intentionality towards Christlikeness. Now, how do we get there? Last night in our community group, the ice breaker question was “If you could add one skillset to your life, what would it be?” We all spent time dreaming about being pizza chefs or musicians, having a voice like Shannon Burch, speaking a myriad of languages or possessing the medical skill necessary to save lives. Repeated in the conversation was the statement, “If I had all the time in the world I would…” knowing that to add whatever skill we dreamed about would require significant discipline and practice. The same is true in our spiritual lives. We need practices or disciplines that allow growth.

Once again, Dallas Willard’s definition of a discipline…”A discipline is some activity in my power that enables me to accomplish what I cannot do by direct effort…or, in other words...something I can do that enables me to do what I cannot do my direct effort.”

We know that we do not have the power to become like Jesus on our own. We need the grace of God for that. Spiritual disciplines are those things that bring us to the stream of God’s grace that we might be changed by him. Most of the “disciplines” of the Christian life will fall into one of these three categories: Be with Jesus, become like Jesus, do what Jesus did. Today we are going to talk about being with Jesus and what it means to abide. 

Let's spend some time this morning in John 15…

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. 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. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11

Take a minute and think through the purposes and results of the abiding life as well as the warnings of failing to abide in the vine according to this passage.

One that sticks out to me is “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Well I want to be fruitful. I don’t want to have a life of “doing nothing”. In order to bear fruit, I must abide. We don’t often use the word abide, look at these synonyms/definitions of the word to build your understanding of what Jesus is saying…

- Continue
- Lodge
- Dwell
- Endure
- Remain
- Stay
- Reside

Those give us a pretty full picture of what Jesus is asking us to do. We are to be connected to Him at all times so we can grow and be fruitful. In being with him, we get to experience His grace in our lives. 

There are a number of spiritual disciplines that help us grow in abiding and we will explore those in the weeks to come. Here’s one to start with this week...

Exercise: “When I wake give me Jesus.” Each morning this week when you wake up (before anything else… including checking your phone) read through a Psalm and sit with the words of that Psalm in the silence for 5 minutes, letting God speak through those words. 

It was said to me once that the moments of waking up are the most spiritually sensitive, almost like there is a fresh battle for what wins for the day. Will it be the flesh or will it be the Spirit? In disciplining ourselves to go straight to Jesus, we are setting a course four our day, declaring that we want to abide with Him and going to the well of His grace. I wonder how this will change the course of our days and our ability to abide in Jesus...

With love,
Kristen and Matt, too :)