Abide in Me
Shared by Patricia Backora, author of the book
Tough Love in Christ's Millennium
Which you can order online from: http://www.publishamerica.com
Proverbs 15:23; Matt. 5:13-16; John 15:1-17; Gal. 3:3; 5:22-23
In churches which are not securely rooted in My grace, there is much misunderstanding about what a person must do in order to be secure in My Love. This causes deep anxiety in new converts, who desperately want to please Me and show themselves deserving of My salvation, although it is an unmerited gift which cannot be earned through good works.
Pastors of churches which downplay My grace often exert extreme pressure on its members to witness to the lost. Even baby Christians are put under such duress. These have not yet attained to sufficient maturity and wisdom to know how to present the Gospel to total strangers in the streets. Many new converts have, in times past, been badly burned by people, and are hardly in a condition to endure this kind of browbeating. These need to be ministered to themselves. My Church is to be a place of healing and teaching, not just an evangelistic center. Beware of heaping condemnation upon such wounded people. You just might drive them back out into the world, to seek healing in “alternative therapies” which I have not endorsed. I want My broken and bruised ones to stay under the care of the Great Physician.
Without sensitivity and discretion, people tend to do things haphazardly.Too aggressive evangelization can cause offense, and many saints have been hurt and disillusioned when nothing good comes of it. Saints go forth without having prayed for the anointing, and without having been taught the proper way to approach strangers. Such people may resent having their private space invaded at all, while others might throw up defenses. In many cases a few carefully chosen words of wisdom are more effective in reaching people than a long, loud sermon. Those who go forth in fear, like a slave, will tend to scare away more fish than they catch, because even lost sinners are sensitive to their uneasiness.
Luke 13:6-9 is often misapplied by preachers who teach their flock that the price of staying united to Me is to struggle to win as many souls as possible. A tragic misunderstanding of this passage has caused so much anxiety in Christians, both old and young. In this parable, the master of the vineyard comes to his servant and asks him why, after three years, there is still no fruit on a certain fig tree. It ought to be cut down, for it is taking up valuable space.
The servant pleads for an extra year of reprieve for the unfruitful tree. He promises to apply extra fertilizer to the roots, and see if that will help. Nevertheless, the tree is in danger of destruction.
Consider the context. When Jesus spoke this parable, He was addressing a group of fellow Jews. The fig tree is symbolic of My nation of Israel. My Son was rejected by His own nation. I remember how He wept tears over the City of Jerusalem, where He would shortly be betrayed into the hands of Gentiles who would crucify Him. He so longed to shield His own people like a hen gathers her brood under her wing for protection. At that time in history, God the Son walked among His own people, but they did not acknowledge Him as the Promised One. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Why? Because rather than coming to destroy their Roman oppressors Christ had come to save any and all who would repent.
Christ’s enemies manipulated Pilate, saying that they were even willing for His Blood to be laid upon them and their children, if only he would acquiesce to their demands for Christ’s death. What a terrible curse to invoke upon themselves and their posterity! Not long after Jesus’ crucifixion, their city was levelled by the Roman general Titus. I was heartbroken by their suffering, for I still loved these descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Through their rejection of the Prince of Peace, they had cut themselves off from My Peace. It was their choice, not Mine.
In Matthew 3:7-12, as he was preparing the Jews for the appearance of Christ, John the Baptist told them that the tree must bear good fruit, or be cast into the fire. He was not only warning individuals to repent, but was warning the entire nation to be ready for Christ’s appearance among them. They were, on the whole, not ready. John was not saying: “Look, you get out there on the streets and convert everyone you see, or you go to hell.” Rather, John told them to humble their hearts before Me, repent of every known sin, and begin to prove the sincerity of their repentance by being kind to one another. A new way of life is the fruit of true repentance, and its taste is pleasant indeed.
It is true that I also look for good fruit in the lives of individual Christians. The lovely traits of My Son which are to be cultivated in the believer are the fruits of My Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, Self-control, and Faithfulness, as listed in Galatians 5:22. A tree never bears fruit by worrying that it won’t. It is natural for a healthy fruit tree to bear fruit. If years have passed and the believer has not allowed Me to bring forth good fruits in his life, he will be of little use to Me, and will not desire a closer walk with Me. It saddens Me when one does not abide in Me. What more can I do for someone hardened in such an attitude? Free choice remains, even after conversion. You began with Me by faith, and by faith your process of sanctification continues until the glad day of your glorification, when you shall be totally liberated from the very presence of the Adamic sin nature.
I am grieved when a believer grows indifferent towards his own sanctification, and he allows evil fruits of sin to crop up like weeds in his life. This happens as a result of neglect or carelessness, much as in cultivating an earthly garden. My children should diligently examine their own hearts, and come to Me for forgiveness and cleansing. If you walk in the Light, you are rightly related to Me and to one another, and My Blood cleanses you from all sin. The fruits of the fallen Adamic nature are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. All these ugly things are diametrically opposed to My Spirit’s Law of Love, and are only overcome by daily sanctification through the Power of the Blood of Christ.
You cannot draw others unto Me unless they behold My light shining in your life, producing the fruitful works of godliness. And unless you reach out to others in love, rather than conveying to them the impression that you feel forced to do it, it will profit neither you nor them. Warm the hearts of others with the care and concern I have toward them. Be that well of living water which refreshes the thirsty. Don't hide your light of love under a bushel basket, but be available to speak a word in good season to that one who is weary or discouraged. Tell others about the joy and peace which Christ has brought into your own life. Help to lift the burdens of the discouraged and the weary. These are the fruits of godliness which will avail to draw others unto Myself, and which will forever remain in My sight as a precious legacy and eternal testimony of your life in this earth.