Leaving Laodicea
447 - The Two Invitations

447 - The Two Invitations

January 23, 2020

One of the vital truths regarding our desire to follow Christ is to fully understand our union with Him.  After all, we are invited to become one with Him and are described in Scripture as being "in Christ."  In Romans 8 we are called “children of God” that are "adopted" into His family and are now "joint heirs with Christ."  Romans 6 tells us our old man has died and Christ now lives in us in the Presence of the Holy Spirit.  But do we really understand the implication of what this means?

Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, states "Union with Christ is a phrase that summarizes several different relationships between believers and Christ, through which Christians receive every benefit of salvation. These relationships include the fact that (1) we are in Christ, (2) Christ is in us, (3) we are like Christ, and (4) we are with Christ."   Ok, I've got that.  But is there more to this union with Christ than dry theology?  Can I really experience union with Him?  And, if so, how is that done?  What do I have to do to experience the fullness of my union, my relationship, with Christ?

Great questions.   And the simple answer is, "Yes, you can know the wonder of our union with Him."  And the wonder of it comes with the invitation of Christ to be joined with Him.

Consider the following invitation found in Matthew 11:28.  It is a familiar passage:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Now, let's see what it means by defining a few terms.

"Come to Me, all you who labor (to be worn out, fatigued, faint, weary) and are heavy laden (to overload, heavily burdened, like with the freight of a ship), and I will give you rest (to cease from labor, to refresh, relax, loosen, to be at peace or rest)."

Do you see the trust relationship implied in this invitation?  Do you see Christ's invitation to let Him carry your troubles and you rest in Him?  To be united in Him?

Many of us struggle with this and ask how is that accomplished?  How can I truly experience rest in Him?  Is it just a mental thing?  Or is it some sort of resolution I make and then fail at when things get uncertain or tough?  Is it a mantra I go over and over again in my mind, like "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"?  Or is it something else?

Oh, it is definitely something else.  Let's look at the second invitation.


To Abide in Him

The second invitation reveals to us the "how" of our union and complete trust in Him.  This invitation is found in John 15:4, and elsewhere in that chapter.

"Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."

Note the two-fold relationship.  One, I abide in Christ.  And two, He abides in me.  This is vital.  And "abide" means, "to remain, dwell, live, to make one's home, to be united with one heart, mind, and will."  So I "remain" and "make my home" in Christ, "to be united with one heart, mind, and will" with Him.  And He will "remain" and "make His home" in me, "to be united with one heart, mind, and will" with Me.  This is what it means to abide.

As you listen to this podcast in order to understand more of this marvelous relationship we have with the Lord, remember the following:

The branch (you and I) does not produce the fruit.  That comes from the Vine (Christ). The branch does not secure the nutrients necessary to produce the fruit.  That again comes from the Vine (Christ). The branch does not position the buds to get the most sunlight.  The Vinedresser (Father) does that. The branch does not prune dead wood.  Again, that is the Father's job. The branch does not provide water nor sunlight. The branch does not participate in harvesting. The branch (you and I) only bears the work of the Vine (Jesus) for the glory of the Vinedresser (the Father).

The key to all Christ has provided for us is found in a dependent, branch to vine, relationship with Him.  He would not require from us what He has not equipped us to give.  This kind of life is possible and provided for you and is the default position as a believer in Christ.  But to experience the fullness of this relationship, we must surrender our petty desires to Him.

So, once again, the choice is ours.  We can continue to live in lukewarm Laodicea satisfied with less than the abundant life Christ promised.  Or we can jump into the deep end of the pool and surrender all to Him.  It's not complicated.  It's just hard.  What do you want to do?  The ball is in your court.

The following is a study on being Fully Surrendered to God from John 15.

432 - The Importance of Trust in Dark Times

432 - The Importance of Trust in Dark Times

September 24, 2019

The expectation for our future, as a Nation and as the church, are grim indeed.  We are going to face some very tough times, and have to navigate some very rough waters, especially for those of us who live in the United States.

During the Tribulation, the Bible teaches that Israel will stand alone.  No longer will we be her protector.  God will fill that role.  In fact, the US is not even a minor player in the end times scenario.  Look at Ezekiel 38 and 39 if you need convincing.  The prophetic future of the US is almost non-existent.  Something must happen to us to bring us down to the point we can no longer protect Israel.  Can you see it coming?

Just look around.


The Expectation

We are facing unprecedented times in America:

Our trade war with China, and soon the rest of the world.
The coming 2020 elections and all the chaos that will surely follow, regardless of who wins.
The overt attack on Christianity in the media.
The almost insane push of the homosexual agenda. Judicial tyranny at every level.
The widespread corruption in our honored institutions and the government.
Natural disasters run amok, earthquakes, drought, hurricanes, flooding, etc.
Societal breakdown.
Hatred among citizens.
The public talk of a Second Civil War.
Mass shootings and other acts of terror on almost a daily basis.
And it only gets worse.

Because of these, we will need to learn to lean more on the Lord than ever before.  Sunday School faith will no longer cut it.  Church, as we have known it in the West, will become more and more obsolete and irrelevant.  Your personal faith and trust in the Lord will rapidly become the most important thing in your life.  And it all hinges on one word:

Trust.


Trust During the Coming Darkness

The classic Old Testament teaching on trust is found in Proverbs 3:5-6.  There our Lord gives us a profound if/then promise, the very if/then promise we so desperately need as we see the darkness approaching.  Consider His words:

(if) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, (if) and lean not on your own understanding; (if) in all your ways acknowledge Him, (then) and He shall direct your paths.

As we look at this promise, we are compelled to ask ourselves a few questions about the joy of having the Lord directing our paths.

What would you give, especially when we see the coming darkness in our world growing stronger, to have the Lord of All direct your life?
What would it be worth to you to have the confidence to run to Him for shelter and refuge and to know you are welcome under His wings?
What confidence in dark days would that give you?

There is so much more here than just what we read on the surface.  To discover the meaning and implication of each word of this glorious if/then promise, and then to rest in His promise, you will need to keep listening.

The following is a study on the importance of trust as found in Proverbs 3:5-6.