Being still before God allows the Lord to speak to us through His Word, which is alive and active and exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Guest post by author Cynthia Heald. Excerpt taken from her book, The Faithful Way, Remaining Steadfast in an Uncertain World.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 NLT
How does the branch bear fruit? Not by incessant effort for sunshine and air, not by vain struggles. . . . It simply abides in the vine, in silent and undisturbed union, and blossoms, and fruit appear as of spontaneous growth. How then shall a Christian bear fruit? By efforts and struggles to obtain that which is freely given? . . . No: there must be a full concentration of the thoughts and affections on Christ, a complete surrender of the whole being to Him, a constant looking to Him for grace.
– Harriet Beecher Stowe
Often when I speak at a conference, I share about Jesus visiting the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Martha was busy in the kitchen, preparing the meal, but Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to what he taught. Martha, distracted by her serving, went to Jesus and complained about Mary not helping her. “But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42).
What amazes me about Jesus’ reply is His declaration that “there is only one thing worth being concerned about.” I like it when I’m told there is only “one” thing to do; I like the bottom line. Here we have the Lord giving us an essential element of walking with him: sitting at His feet and listening to His Word. In His response to Martha, the Lord is declaring the need for right priorities. Our highest desire should be to seek first the Kingdom of God, so that we bear Christlike character and serve at his prompting and direction. That’s what we see as well in Jesus’ description of a branch staying connected to the vine. Maintaining a secure attachment to the Lord is of utmost spiritual importance.
Abiding with Jesus (staying close to Him and following His lead) equips us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, the foundation of the faithful life. That’s why our devotional life is indispensable; it is the one choice we need to make each day. If walking with Him is not our main concern, then Jesus warns us that anything we do apart from Him will result in nothing—nothing of eternal value that will bring glory to God.
Exploring the Word
Regarding the value of God’s Word, Peter wrote, “No prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). What added insights about the importance of the Word can we learn from the following verses?
Learning to Live Faithfully
A branch bears fruit by simply abiding. Christians, though, must be wholeheartedly committed to abiding—to concentrate our thoughts and affections on Christ. Just as Martha was distracted by her preparations, we, too, can be easily drawn away from our time with the Lord. Jesus highlighted this truth in the parable of the farmer scattering seed: “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” (Matthew 13:22). How very true. Countless days I have allowed the cares of the world to choke out the Word.
One day John 15:5 penetrated my heart. I thought, I don’t want to go through life doing nothing for the Lord, so if there is only one thing to be concerned about and that is abiding in Christ, then I want to make this the priority in my life. My definition of abiding is consistently sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Word with a heart to obey.
Twentieth-century pastor R. A Torrey challenged, “If we are to obtain from God all that we ask from Him, Christ’s words must abide or continue in us. We must study His words, fairly devour His words, let them sink into our thought and into our heart, keep them in our memory, obey them constantly in our life, let them shape and mold our daily life and our every act. This is really the method of abiding in Christ.”[i] Having a Bible reading plan has really encouraged me to be consistent in my devotional life. If I miss a day or two, I do not try to catch up, but just begin reading the Scriptures for the present day. I take encouragement from what Samuel Gordon wrote: “[Spend] time alone with the book daily. It should be unhurried time. Time enough not to think about time.”[ii]
I cannot imagine attempting to live faithfully without the blessing of abiding. Being still before God allows the Lord to speak to us through His Word, which is alive and active and exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. It is in this quiet time that we are less engaged with the world and more receptive to hear from God and seek His guidance for the faithful way. It is the one thing worth being concerned about if we desire to be faithful.
I cannot think of a more perfect plan for bearing fruit: just sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Word and becoming more and more intimate with Him. How can we neglect so great an honor?
How would you describe the importance of abiding in your relationship with the Lord?
In what ways can you strengthen your abiding and love for God’s Word?
Father, may I treasure your Word and daily take time to sit at your feet so that any fruit I bear will honor you and bless others. May my abiding be the joy of my life. Amen.
We are spiritually united to the Saviour. We become one with Him. . . . It is a union of feeling and affection; a union of principle and of congeniality; a union of dependence as well as love; a union where nothing is to be imparted by us, but everything gained. – Albert Barnes
Post excerpted from The Faithful Way, Remaining Steadfast in an Uncertain World.
The Faithful Way is a 31-day devotional study that both cautions and comforts as treasured Bible-study teacher Cynthia Heald leads readers through the lessons God has taught her through His character, His Word, and His saints. The Faithful Way will equip readers to face temptations, encourage them in an intentionally faithful life that brings honor to Christ, and enable them to say “I have remained faithful.”
[i] R. A. Torrey, How to Pray (Chicago: Moody, n.d.), 59.
[ii] Gordon, Quiet Talks on Power, 168.33