Scripture Reference: John 15:1-11
This is my second attempt at writing this message. The first one must’ve been awesome because the devil made sure it didn’t get posted. However, as much as I allowed it to aggravate me…it’s not going to keep me from trying again. Just like I did in the first attempt, I’m going to rely upon the Holy Ghost to help me write a message that’s going to be even better than the first one.
This is also only the second message in this series, and in the first one we talked a lot about reading the Bible. Today, we’re going to talk about Abiding in Him, but one of the main ways that we do this is by reading the Word of God. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the introduction, but before I get into this message I am going to ask the Holy Ghost for help in writing it, and ask you to believe with me that God’s going to speak some amazing things to us through this message. In fact, why not just type out a live prayer so that you know what I pray when I’m in the process of beginning to write a message.
Lord, I thank You for the opportunity to write another message. I yield myself to You and ask that You would make my fingers that as a pen of a ready writer…writing only of the oracles of You. That You would supply me with that supernatural ability to write with clarity, boldness, and power. I ask, Holy Spirit, for the unction and anointing to flow, and that You would sink this message deep within my heart and the hearts of the readers. I ask, Lord God, for ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts that are receptive and responsive to that which You are about to speak to us through this message. I thank You, Holy Ghost for Your help, and ask these things in the mighty name of Jesus…Amen and Amen.
Okay, now I’m ready to get into this message…
Today’s Message “Abide In Him”
Whenever I combine talking about reading the Bible and Abiding in Christ I can’t help but to think about how one of the main ways we abide in Christ is by abiding in the Word of God. We know from John that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God, right!?! If we read on in John Chapter 1 we find out that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, right? We know that Jesus Christ came and was God in the flesh, right!?! Therefore, the conclusion that I always come to is that when I am reading the Bible, not only am I reading God’s Word, not only am I hearing God’s voice, but that I am holding Jesus in my hands. I like to some times refer to the Bible as being Jesus Christ in book form…because that’s what it is. Everything written in the Bible is God breathed, God inspired, and while the Bible was written by many writers…we know that it really had one Author, and that it really is all about Jesus.
Jesus refers to himself as “the true vine” and to his followers as “the branches.” In the midst of the descriptive narrative on the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus suddenly draws upon the vine and the branches to describe the spiritual intimacy, union or connection he came to bring into the lives of his followers. Jesus makes it clear that he is out to make them spiritually alive so that they will become spiritually productive. Jesus reveals his goal, his method and means of doing this. These shine a light on the way Jesus works in our lives.
How many of you know that it’s impossible to abide in Christ, and not abide in His Word? Friends, the Word of God is the way that we nourish ourselves spiritually. The Bible is constantly referred to as manna from Heaven. Jesus referred to Himself and the Bible as food and water. When Jesus was being tempted by satan the first thing satan did was tempt Jesus with food…and Jesus’ response was that man shouldn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Paul writes about the milk of the Word of God, and meat. About how the Word of God is substance to us.
We must feed upon the Word of God or we will all be malnourished Christians. Come on, look around today, and you’ll find so many Christians who have no real understanding of the Word of God. In fact, many of us think it’s enough to go to church on Sundays, and maybe make the mid-week service so that pastor so and so can tell us what the Word of God says.
Friend, I can tell you from my own personal experiences I’ve been in church services where the preacher will be talking about what he thinks God said, and while he’s talking God has spoken up on the inside of me that not only is what this person is preaching not biblical…but that God’s insulted by what this person was preaching. The Bible talks about people who are carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and I can honestly admit that I was one of those people. I was until I began to study the Word of God for myself, and have the Holy Ghost teach me His Word and how to rightly divide it…and as I got to know the voice of the Good Shepherd I found myself knowing who was preaching good, sound biblical truth or something that was complete garbage.
Not everyone who opens a Bible to preach is working for the Lord, and the ONLY way we’re going to know that is if we are reading the Bible for ourselves, and therefore making a serious effort to abide in Him. We abide in Christ when we are abiding in His Word. Apart from the Word of God we cannot abide in Him. Jesus’ blood flows through us, but it’s the Word of God that nourishes our spirits…and there are a lot of Christians who are malnourished because they refuse to read the Word of God for themselves.
And preachers…I don’t know how in the world you can have anything to say if you’re not using the Bible. I love Christian books, but I don’t want you to preach me a sermon on Rick Warren’s “Purpose Filled Life” because there’s no Holy Ghost anointing on anyone else’s book. The anointing, the yoke breaking anointing is only found in one place…the Word of God…and if you’re not preaching from it…you will be judged by it….and that’s not my warning…that warning is found in the Word of God. I may use devotional articles to assist me with illustrating what I’m writing…but I can assure you that the real anointing isn’t in what I’m writing or in what I’m using…the anointing is in the Word of God, and when I rely upon the Holy Ghost to help me write these messages I’m not writing what thus saith Pastor Bryan…I am writing what I sense is from the Holy Ghost. My fingers are that as a pen of a ready writer writing only of the oracles of God. That means everything I write is Holy Ghost inspired, and the reason that happens in these messages isn’t because I’m some kind of journalism major…I have no professional writing experience at all. Everything I write here is because I rely upon the authority found in God’s Word, and the Holy Ghost.
Otherwise…I have nothing to say or write. When I started doing this I’ll freely admit my messages were very hard reads, but as I allowed the Holy Ghost to develop me as a writer…I’ve grown and become much better at it. I didn’t have anyone teach me how to format anything….except the Holy Ghost…and therefore how dare I stray from the Word of God. The ability isn’t within me…it’s within the anointing…and the anointing only comes from abiding in the Word of God.
Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches not only calls the followers of Christ to be connected to (i.e., “stay joined to”) him, but makes sure we let God’s words get connected to us. He calls us to something beyond simply reading. He doesn’t want us to just meditate on his Word; you might say he wants us to marinate in it! Scripture engagement means getting immersed in God’s Word and allowing it to change us. After all, when we open ourselves up to someone, isn’t that exactly what happens? We share more of our thoughts and our ideas, and we more carefully consider the other person’s words and opinions. That is intimacy. That is engagement with the Word of God.
We have to make it a point to search the scriptures daily. Just like we have to pray daily we must be in the Word of God daily. The Bible is just as vital to us as breakfast and coffee. Yes, I admit a lot of times coffee is my breakfast, but the point I’m trying to make is really a very simple one…daily intake of the Word of God is necessary for our spiritual growth and nourishment. Just as food and water nourish our physical bodies…the Word of God nourishes our spirit…and we’re always told that we need to starve our flesh and feed our spirits. Most of us are starving our spirits because the only thing it feeds upon is what we take in with our eyes and ears.
Friend, if the only thing you read is the Breaking Dawn series your spirit is feeding on that. If you read nothing but Sports Illustrated your spirit is feeding on that. If you read romance novels that have stuff written in them that’s basically soft pornography and some of those are pretty graphic…you’re feeding your spirit that kind of stuff…and what you feed upon is what’s going to show.
I love the use of the word marinate here. For Mother’s Day, I grilled some steaks for my wife, and I used a marinade for the meat. The instructions for it that for at least a half and hour or so to put the meat into this marinade before cooking it. The longer the meat is in the marinade…the more of the flavor from the marinade soaks into the meat. So, if one person marinated the meat for a couple of hours, and one marinate it for a half an hour…the one who marinated it longer is going to have more flavorful steaks…is that right!?!
So, if the only time you are marinated in the Word of God is on Sunday’s, and you’re pastor is marinating on the Word of God every day…guess why I can walk around quoting scripture? Guess why there’s more flavoring on his life? It’s because he is constantly marinating in and upon the Word of God. Friends, the life changing, life altering Word of God can only be and do that if we’re constantly feeding upon it.
Here’s a great illustration, okay. I listen to a lot of sports radio. So, when I get into a conversation with someone about certain sports topics I have allowed myself to be marinated by what I hear from those who are talking about those topics on the radio. I also listen to a lot of good, solid bible teaching preachers on the radio as well. I have a mixed marinade of sports and bible based teaching to draw from when I have the opportunity to get into discussions. I have very little marinade within me when it comes to politics. There are a lot of people who have a much better ability to explain political things than I do because I don’t marinade my mind with political stuff.
There are words like immerse, marinate, and saturate. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing with the Word of God. Marinating in it, being immersed in it, and saturated with it. The more we are reading, the more we study, and the more we feed upon the Word of God the more it will impact who we are and how our lives are shaped by what we read. It’s also going to help us to know who is preaching a bunch of mumbo jumbo, and rightly divided scripture. Friends, the only way we can really, truly know God’s voice is by abiding in His Word. That’s how we know what His voice sounds like…and that’s why it’s so important to understand by reading the Bible we are abiding in Him because His Word is His Voice.
Can I ask you a simple question before moving on to the next point…what do you allow your mind to marinate on?
Jesus doesn’t just tell these leaders that in order to experience intimacy with him they need to let his words dwell richly within them. Jesus says that if they allow his words to become part of their lives, thoughts and actions, then they “will become fruitful disciples” (v. 8).
I don’t know about anyone else, but when Jesus talks about something that will help me to become a fruitful disciple…I want to listen. I want to try to do what He says will make me fruitful. Here’s another word that comes out of a message like this, and that word is intimacy. If you want to have, develop, and maintain a real, serious, intimate relationship with God…you cannot do it if you do not read His Word. I can’t say it anymore clearer then that. If you don’t read the Bible…don’t expect to know God as intimately as someone who reads it all the time. If you want the kind of relationship with God that your pastor has…I bet you if you asked him why he has such an intimate relationship with God…he’s going to tell you it’s because he spends time with God.
If you want to have an intimate relationship with God you must allow these four things to become the most important parts of your day…and before you start doing these things try to find yourself a private, quiet intimate place where you can get alone with God…and DO them.
Number one…take time to worship Him. Thank Him and praise Him. Give Him glory, honor, and praise for what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He’s yet to do in your life. Thank Him for giving His Son so that you can be in relationship with Him. Praise Him for His faithfulness, goodness, love, and holiness. Personal praise and worship is a necessary part of this intimate relationship because it allows His presence to fall and once it does then you’re ready to do the rest.
Number two…pray. Friends, the most important part in any relationship is communication. When we pray we are talking to God, but remember that communication goes both ways and this is why it’s important to get away in to a quiet, private place known by many as a prayer closet. Because it’s just as important for you to talk to God about what’s in your heart and on your mind as it is to listen to Him, and one of the ways we listen is by doing the next thing.
Number three…read the Bible. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve prayed about and gotten the answer by reading it in the Bible. The Word of God is the Voice of God. If you want to know what He thinks about certain subjects then find them in the Word of God, and do a word study. If you want to know what God has to say about sex before marriage for example…you can find out all about it if you do a word study on fornication. If you want to find out about how God feels about drinking alcohol then you can do a word study on drunkards. If you want to find out about how the Bible can encourage you to know your saved…then you can do a word study on salvation. The answer for every issue of life is found in the Bible. If you want to know what He thinks about divine healing…it’s in the Bible. If you want to know what His will is concerning your life, pray about it, and then get into the Word of God…I promise you that if you pray before you open the Bible you will inevitably find the answer you were looking for within His Word.
Number four…regular church attendance. Listen to me very carefully. If you’re going to church to chat with the Johnson’s then you’re wasting your time. That’s why there’s coffee shops and places to go for lunch or brunch or whatever else. If you go to church for the sole purpose of having an encounter with God’s presence…I promise you that’s exactly what you’re going to have. In fact, for me I’ve come to realize that the only real purpose for going to church is to be instructed something by the Word of God that’s going to be profitable for me (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but the other reason is because I am going is for the sole purpose of encountering God’s presence.
I promise you that if you get serious about being serious with God, and you incorporate those four things into your relationship with Him before long you’ll start to notice how different your relationship with God becomes. You’ll notice you can hear His voice clearer, and feel His presence more often.
The main difference between Christianity and any other religion in the world is the fact that our God desires to have intimate fellowship with each and every one of us. We truly can abide in Him and with Him. We can have as intimate a relationship with Him as Adam and Eve did in the garden before sin entered into the world. We can have that kind of relationship with Him. He wants to be our Father…He wants us to refer to Him as “Abba, Father” which is the Bible’s description of an intimate term…He wants us to know Him as Daddy.
If you want that kind of relationship with God then we must abide in Him, and the main way we do that is by maintaining a healthy relationship with the Word of God. Again, it’s as important to our relationship with God as food and water are to our nourishment within our bodies. The more of the Word of God we feed upon the more nourished we will be…Amen!?!
It’s tempting for leaders to live out of insufficient sources of motivation — from sheer adrenaline or over caffeinated to tracking it out on the ministry treadmill or running on auto-pilot. As leaders, we often face the question, “What am I living out of?” In other words, “What is my prime source of motivation and strength as a leader?” Christ wants us to obey him and live for him out of the motivation of relationship, intimacy and love (cf., Luke 10:27). And that intimacy stems from the place we give to God’s Word in our lives.
I can understand why it’s tempting to use someone else’s book for a sermon. Preaching the Word of God isn’t very entertaining. You know, when I’m in church I’m not there to be entertained…I’m there to be enriched and enlightened and instructed. Sure, my pastor’s usually have some kind of joke or funny or something they do…but it’s not about being entertained it’s about being educated in the things of God.
Listen, we went through hours upon hours of classroom instruction to receive our diplomas or college degrees or whatever, right? It’s the same thing with the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the Word of God, right? So does knowledge, understanding, and the ability to rightly divide scripture. Much of the foundational beliefs I have today are because of the teaching of my pastors, and of course the Holy Ghost teaching me His Word while I was studying it.
I have nothing against reading good Christian books. I read them. However, what’s important to understand here is the reason we grow from glory to glory and faith to faith is because of what we learn and have revealed to us by and thru the Word of God. The Bible is of vital importance to us as believers. It’s so important that if we don’t take time to read it, study it, and have it preached to us…then we will be spiritually malnourished…and don’t even get me started on why there’s so many powerless Christians walking around…I will just say it’s because they’ve neglected to read the Word of God…and really feed upon it.
Scripture engagement brings us closer to God…and I don’t know about anyone else…but my desire is to always do things that will bring me closer. The more of His presence I experience in my life the better, and one of the best ways to abide in Him is to make sure we’re abiding in His Word. Amen!?!
Well, praise God! Did you receive this message today? Can we all agree that we can do a better job of taking time to abide in God’s Word? I know I can. I know that I don’t spend nearly enough time reading the Word of God that I should. I’m a pastor that writes Bible based messages, and I admit I can still spend more time reading the Bible.
It’s important for us to really spend time with God in our quiet place with Him as well. I gave four things that will help to improve our intimacy with God, and I would like to encourage you to take the next month or so to do those things. Test them out. Most importantly, find yourself a quiet, private place where you can go to be alone and be with God. Turn on some worship music, turn off your phones, televisions, and just focus all of your attention upon Him…and see if doing this doesn’t change the relationship you have with God.
Thank you all for your continued support of Christlike Ministries NWA. All of you who follow this ministry are a blessing to me and confirmation that I’m doing exactly what God destined and called me to do.
Blessings and Grace to you.
Pastor Bryan Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 16:24)