"...As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
After twenty years of calling myself a Christian, I finally felt like one. For the first time I became certain my name was written in the book of life, and I was heaven bound. The several months I spent in what I had dubbed, "The Holy Trailer", was a time of really getting to know my Savior. I called it that because of His presence with me, which was so powerfully evident, and because of the grapefruit sized holes in the floor of that cracker box of a home.
Before then, I had envied those few Christians whose lives revealed the power of God at work in them. I could never seem to obey God, no matter how hard I tried, while others lived in victory over sin. They weren't perfect, but the transforming process of becoming holy--of sanctification, was well displayed in their lives. They were wonderful people, who were actually becoming like the Son of God. What did they have that I was missing?
After separating from my wife thirty years ago, I travelled to North Carolina from Florida, leaving my entire life, including a successful business behind. It was there, trudging through the deepest valley of despair and heartache I had ever experienced, that I came to know Christ. I surrendered my life to Him. God revealed Himself to me through my faith. We were all alone, just me and Jesus; the most wonderful person that has ever walked the earth. He is all powerful, and He loves me with the purest, most beautiful love anywhere. I was instantly in love, and realized that--no, I had never really been in love before, not like that, not even with my wife. God is love!
It doesn't seem possible for anyone to spend quality time with Jesus and not fall head over heals in love with Him. He makes us feel like we are a great treasure. To Him that's what we are. Suddenly it was a lot easier to obey God's word and to follow Jesus. The rules hadn't changed, I had. I no longer believed out of the fear of punishment. I was a faithful and cherished child of God, who wanted very much to please the one who loves me so much that He died for me. How could I not love Him back?
Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15 NIV)
Those words, spoken by Jesus some 2000 years ago held the key to the abundant, joyful and fruit filled life I was missing out on. The Holy Spirit spoke them to me again in that holy trailer. Prior to getting to know God I took that verse to mean; we need to prove our love for God by doing what He says. While that is true, God gave me another way of taking those words. Spending lots of time with the Lord, in prayer and bible study, I grew to know Him more intimately and as a result began to love Him back. The Spirit spoke to my heart saying, "Love is the power that enables you to be obedient." Just learning to love Him changed the things I wanted. My desires changed. I began to want the same things God wants; loving what he loves and hating what He hates. Most of those stubborn sins just fell out of significance. It's easy to not do what you don't want to do, and to do the things you do want.
God is love and His Spirit is love, and once I allowed the Spirit of Love to take control of me, it was a whole lot easier to be obedient. I get that tingly excitement as I see the promised fruit growing--in me! It was those same things I had seen in other Christians that was always out of my reach before. There it was blossoming in my brand new heart; the love, great peace, and jubilant joy. I'm learning patience, and to be kind and gentle. Humility is one I must work on often, but I'm making progress through His power. Being faithful is a reward in itself. And finally learning some self control allows me to be more successful in many areas of life. God has given me a great and eternal purpose. And who can place a value on being contented?
Sure I still make mistakes and sin from time to time, yet I have forgiveness. And when I do sin, I hate it instead of loving it as before. What an awesome God we have, who offers us the power to do what we could never do for ourselves.
One day Jesus will return and finish this work He has begun in all of us who have given our lives to Christ. We will be perfected and holy as He is. If serving Him is this fantastic now, just think of how it shall be when He comes to reign in perfect righteousness, bringing peace to the whole world. What a glorious day that shall be!
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