Commanded to Abide not Bear Fruit

Remember Jesus’ words in John 15. “I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit.” Don’t miss the most important truth of this text. We are not commanded to bear fruit; we are commanded to ­abide in Jesus. If we fail to abide in Jesus, we will fail to bear fruit. If we succeed in abiding in Jesus, we will bear fruit.

That seems to be our trouble. We are forever trying to bear fruit. We focus on bearing fruit. We strive to bear fruit. Instead of the oftentimes “fruitless” effort, we should instead focus on abiding. How do we do that? We remain in His Word. I don’t know any other way. Ravi Zacharias says “If you fail here, you will fail everywhere.” I agree.

Where do you start? You start with a plan.

Maybe this is a plan that will get you started.

Discipline yourself for daily reading and reflection on God’s Word.

Develop some kind of plan for daily reading. I usually read through the Bible every other year. Today I read Leviticus 11-15. Tomorrow, my plan calls for me to read Leviticus 16-17. I like following this kind of plan. In alternating years, I usually read just the New Testament so that I can read at a little slower pace. This is a plan that has served me well for better than a decade. You might follow a different plan. The important thing is to find something and stay with that plan.

Depend on the Lord for understanding.

There will be parts (like Leviticus) that you do not always understand or relate to in your life. That is why I begin my reading with praying a simple prayer, “Lord, speak to me through your Word—today.”

Decide now that you will obey any instruction from the Lord.

We must decide before we read that we will obey. Otherwise, we will be like the man that James spoke of who read as one looks into the mirror. Seeing what kind of man he was, he turned away before changing his appearance. That kind of approach to Bible reading renders us hearers (or readers) of the Word, but not doers.

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Have you spent time in God’s Word today?

If you were to visit with me privately about a sin area in your life, let me tell you how that visit would go. First, I would let you talk. I would let you tell me as little or as much as you wanted to tell me. At the appropriate place in the conversation, I would then ask you about two things. First, I would want to know about your salvation experience. I would want you to know for certain that you have been born again. Without that new birth experience, there is nothing else I have to offer about overcoming sin. Then, having you establish your salvation, I would then ask you how much time you have been spending in God’s Word.

I would help you to draw an imaginary picture in your mind. I would ask you to think about your sin patterns as a graph. Unfortunately, that line would probably have some ebbs and flows, some peaks and valleys. Then, I would suggest for you that you chart out the same kind of graph indicating your habits/disciplines of being in the Word of God. I would then suggest that those two graphs mirror each other. Here is why that is true.

Spending time with God in His word has a way of keeping you from sin. Conversely, and adding to our predicament, engaging in sin has a way of keeping us from His Word.

One of the most simple, but important habits of our discipleship is to abide in Christ. How do we abide in Christ? One way is to abide in His Word.

Psalm 119 is rather important place of the Bible to illustrate this truth.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping Your word.(8)
I have treasured Your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against You. (11)
Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path. (105)
Have you spent time in God’s Word today?

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ECON 2016

I am certainly aware that the Bible says that “Pride comes before the fall.” However, I think a difference exists between being a person of pride and being proud. I am one proud pastor. I am proud of our church. We are in the midst of hosting the Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference. Our ministers, support staff, administrative assistants, maintenance staff, and childcare staff all working very hard and very long hours. We have dozens of volunteers that are serving in a variety of ways. All of the parking lot attendants, greeters, and ushers are awesome! Choir, you were outstanding as well. I can’t tell you how many stopped me yesterday to thank our church and to specifically tell me how friendly and accommodating everyone is.

And the Conference—Wow! I have been attending the Louisiana Baptist Convention Evangelism Conference since 1993. I have missed only a handful since then. I do not like throwing superlatives out there too often because it makes the others seem less important. However, I can remember only one other time when I left so full of joy and excitement and believing that God could spark in us great revival. If you are in the Lafayette area today, join us. The conference is happening all day Tuesday.

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