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Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus contains some of the most incredible promises of God and declarations regarding our relationship with Him. It is filled with passages that stretch our imagination, challenge our faith, and call us to a transcendent life.

His power is toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:19).

God made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (2:6).

We are His workmanship (2:10).

As amazing as these claims are, they serve as mere warm-ups for what may be the most audacious promise in all of Scripture.

…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19b).

Read it again; notice the absolutes:

Not partially filled!

Not some of God’s fullness!

We may be filled with ALL of the fullness of God!!

This is one of those truths, so over the top incredible, that we are tempted to move on to the next verse. In this case, that’s not bad.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… (3:20)

God alone is able to do this incredible thing!! It is His work and intention. This brings to mind another passage (from another letter).

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Quickly (so we can get back to being filled), notice that the work of our salvation is cooperative; we work, because God is working. Furthermore, the work is a process.

So, how do we work with God to be filled with all His fullness? We find the answer – the prescription – in the process described in the preceding verses. Working backwards, our being filled with all the fullness of God is dependent on and proportional to several incremental steps. Read the rest of this entry »

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will  ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:5-8

Most of my life, I have understood the fruit of the vine to be the good works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). Recently, someone suggested that it is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I am sure that both are true, as well as the interpretation I most recently heard.

Before I go there, I would like to recognize that an “either/or” perspective on Scripture limits our understanding. It also has a way of dividing the Body of Christ. I cannot tell you how many times a “both/and” approach has precipitated the Holy Spirit’s revelation and encouragement.

Now, let me direct your attention to the passage above. Read it carefully – particularly verses five and seven. Branches that bear fruit are those that abide in Christ. Those branches that thus abide, ask what they desire, and it is done for them. The fruit of the vine are the answers to our prayers.

Furthermore, we now understand that the measure of our abiding in Christ is answered prayer; and the fruit we bear are the answers to prayer that glorify the Father (v. 8). This leads us to two very important revelations. Read the rest of this entry »

Vine and Branch“I thought abiding meant to abide by the rules.”

“Our abiding in Jesus Christ is best measured by the frequency with which God gives us the desires of our heart. The fruit produced in our abiding are those answers.”

God has used these two comments – both heard in the last couple of weeks – to encourage me. First, I believe He would have me introduce you to “The Power of Abiding” (Map 22 of The Map Maker).  That comes later.

Secondly (but first), there is the reason my mind has been so captivated by the comments.

The first comment was offered, in all sincerity, by a brother that has been in church for quite some time. As you can see from the definition below (sorry, you will have to click the “read more” link), his understanding is nowhere close to the truth.

However you look at it, this follower of Christ had no idea that abiding meant “to be held, kept”; or “to continue to be”.

How many more have missed the basic meaning of such an important Biblical word and context; not to mention the mystery that lies beyond it? How far has this skewed the understanding, faith – even the very life – of Christians?

Praise God; He is gracious! If you had been there, you would have literally seen, on the face of this brother, the impact “abide” was beginning to have on his understanding as a branch. The Holy Spirit was using the simple definition of a word to transform him by the renewing of his mind!

It was exciting to see! This is the power of searching out the matter and sharing what you find with others!

The second comment (above) had much the same effect on me. The Holy Spirit has been using it to completely redefined my understanding of “bearing much fruit”; and to renew my passion to abide in Jesus Christ more and more each day.

While I knew what “abiding” meant, I did not understand what it meant to abide.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1John 14-15

As I see it, abiding is being so “in Christ” that I know the Father’s will before I ask for anything; AND only asking for the things He wills. Easier said than done? Absolutely! Possible? With God, all things are possible!

So, why is this worth our pursuit? By this our Father is glorified, that we bear much fruit; so we will become disciples of Jesus Christ. What could be more important?

As you are considering that question, here is “The Power of Abiding” – in its entirety: Read the rest of this entry »

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