Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Our Gospel talks about an important commandment to love one another as God loves us. It also tells us of being filled with joy. But in order for us to truly understand God’s love and to experience His joy then I want to bring your focus to the word ‘Abide.’
In our Gospel, the word ‘abide’ is used 4 times. And it was also used two verses earlier.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7 (it even rhymes)
Abide means to stop, stop what you’re doing. Sit and rest. Remain, dwell, habitat, learn to live with and become comfortable with.
Now, why am I abiding and dwelling on this? Jesus, God Himself, is telling us that abiding in Him will lead to perfect love, miracles, the ability to keep His commandments and…
IF that’s not enough, we will be filled with joy. Who here desperately needs that in their life? I sure do!
The problem is that I don’t think enough of us are truly abiding in God. Many people I speak to feel lonely, anxious, stressed out, fearful, depressed or angry. Also many people say to me that they wish they had a powerful God experience or a miraculous occurrence in their life.
We need to sacrifice our love, time, focus and devotion to Him. This will help us reconnect with His loving grace abiding in all of us.
His abiding Grace gives us that amazing privilege! Access to the creator! At any time! That’s nuts! Imagine if I told you I was speaking to Taylor Swift and Beyonce just the other night. You’d be like, “What? How did you pull that off?”
But we are all are granted this amazing access! It’s in us! And we have this with the greatest celebrity of all time! The greatest celebrity of all eternity! We get to prayer to the God of All creation! Jesus gives us the ultimate, greatest open-door policy ever!
I’m still amazed that I get to pray to Him! When I prayed specifically on this sermon. It was early morning. I was in my basement. I often do go to my knees. I embrace the quiet. That morning I put my head and hands to the ground as well. I focused on the black only. I was still. I said the Lord’s prayer at least twice before actually calling upon the name of Jesus Christ. I prayed to Jesus over and over, using His name. After calling upon Him, I then begin speaking to Him. I was seeking direction for this sermon.
In this peaceful moment I was able to see my answer clearly. Understanding flooded through me. His abiding Grace was taking a hold of my mind and body. Everything now made sense.
I’m called to preach NOT because I’m anything special, or a good speaker or more Godly but because I’m willing. I’m willing to do His work. Willing to speak His word. And willing to abide with Him. I abide with Him off and on all day trying my best to keep up with Him abiding in me.
I wept after this prayer. My tears created two tiny puddles. It seemed like one was in the shape of a heart and the other in the shape of a star above the heart. I saw this as my heart still seeking after His star.
I work remotely now. When I start working, I often play music. The first song that came on was ‘Miracles’ by Jefferson Starship. Just a coincidence, right? This song was released in 1975 and sung by a member of the band who had quit the band years earlier. So it was a miracle the song was ever made. Turns out it was the highest charting single by this band. Needless to say, I knew what this sermon was going to be about.
Abiding in God activates His Grace abiding inside you. His grace that has been waiting for you to give you perfect love, joy and miracles in your life.
Some of us relate to the crown of thorns. The devil like the Roman soldier, went above and beyond in his work. He separated us from the true vine. He tangles us up with other sinners. Woven together in our hurtful ways. Our only fruit is thorns to hurt others which hurts God. We may even pretend to be Christians attending His church. Our thorns piercing His holy temples. But something in the church reaches us one day and we are now bound to God. Once lost branches wrapped around the head of the True Vine. The crown of thorns was also wrapped in His burial shroud. The power of His resurrection washed over the bloody branches. They bear witness to His glory. We are saved.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
There is a process to our relationship with God. Our abiding with Him to acknowledge His abiding in us.
In our Gospels we read about different people with different process levels of their faith. Just like us.
The people of Nazareth knew Jesus existed. They had faith in that fact but they did not have faith that Jesus was the long awaited Jewish Messiah, let alone God. Only a few believed He could perform miracles, but they did not see Him as God. The Gospel of Mark states that “…Jesus could do no mighty work there…” and I can tell you that it wasn’t because Jesus couldn’t perform miracles on His own. Remember, He allowed Himself to be born of a woman, He walked on water, He calmed the storm, He raised the dead, He resurrected Himself, He ascended – these are just a few miracle examples showing He doesn’t need anyone’s help. GOD IS NEVER LIMITED even when He restricts His own power.
If He worked mighty miracles in Nazareth, it would’ve contradicted His message His message of faith. He did no mighty works on principle due to their lack of faith.
Do some of us believe in God and Jesus but limit our own faith in a relationship with Him? To me, this is like having faith in a Lion. I know it exists but I’m only comfortable with it in my own little caged box and just visiting it on my terms, like at the zoo or the circus once in a while. You know, maybe Christmas or Easter. Worse yet, imagine a person with this kind of weak faith attempting prayer. Remember, without faith it’s impossible to please Him. It would probably sound like a broken car horn to God. HOOOOONNNNNKKKKK!!! Or even a car alarm. WEEE-OWWW-WEEE-OWWW-WEEE-OWWW!!! The most annoying sounds in the world!
How about Peter? A disciple! Now I say “D” sciple because they’re barely getting it. “A” postles pass the miracle class with flying colors but the “D” sciples are still works in progress.
Peter lived with Jesus and saw Him perform miracles. Peter asked Jesus to command Him to walk on water to walk to Jesus. Jesus did it. Peter gets out of the boat during a windstorm and starts walking on the water. Faith in Jesus, a prayer and a miracle! Just like that. But does Peter abide? My guess is He abided for about 5 seconds which carried him for probably about 4 solid steps after setting foot on the choppy water. My guess is a wave slapped against his leg. Water sprayed all over him and he took his eyes off Jesus. He was distracted. His abiding in Jesus immediately ceased. But Jesus was immediately there to rescue him. This was momentary faith. To which, you will receive momentary miracles. Mustard seed miracle moments.
Now let me introduce the woman with the issue of blood. She has been hemorrhaging blood for over a decade and she spent all her money on doctors only to be told there is no hope for her. Everything in our natural world has let her down. She was considered unclean by her family, her friends and her church. She is not allowed to touch anyone or anything in her home or her church. She’s isolated, alone and dying. She had nothing left. Nothing except her faith in the supernatural. She believed in God and she understood scripture.
She must’ve at least known the Messianic prophecy of Malachi 4:3, “But for you who fear My Name, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” This verse states that those with faith in God can find healing in the border of his garments (wings is the same word). She said, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” She knew God and knew His word.
She then heard word of a man named Jesus claiming to be the Jewish Messiah and that He was in town over on Salvation street. She made sure to be there and she broke through the crowd. She broke through a crowd trying to get to Him. She even broke through the disciples keeping the crowd away from Him. A broken, dying woman broke through two defensive lines just to grab the hem of His garment. She risked her life, the only thing she had left to get to Him. She is breaking God’s law! She could be stoned for this!
How about you? What would you risk just to touch the hem of His garment? You’re risking your life every day you don’t reach for it.
Want to abide in the Love of God? Want to feel His Grace abiding inside of you? Want to know His Perfect Joy? Want to see miracles? Look to the cross, call upon His Name and realize your desperate need for Him. Surrender, abide in Him as He abides in you.
The words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Be still. Call upon His name. The only Name you’ll ever need! JESUS CHRIST IS THE WAY! HE IS THE ONLY WAY!
You want the truth! Can you handle the truth? HE IS THE TRUTH! JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUEST THING YOU WILL EVER FIND!
I challenge you to be alone with God and pray in His Holy Name, the Name Above All Names, JESUS! In the Name of JESUS I pray that you can rearrange your life and find 10-30 minutes a day to ABIDE WITH GOD. Do this every single day. Don’t try to squeeze God into your life. Understand that He is your Life. DIVE FOR THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT! HE IS THE LIFE! HE IS YOUR LIFE! HE GAVE YOU LIFE! HE SAVES YOUR LIFE! HE IS YOUR ETERNAL LIFE!
GRAB THAT HEM AND DON’T LET GO! LET YOUR LIFE BE YOU BEING DRAGGED AROUND BY JESUS! Imagine that? Know the expression “Look what the cat dragged in?” Imagine Jesus going back to His throne and the Heavenly Host seeing us hanging on. “Look what The LORD dragged in.” I leave you with that visual.
If you enjoyed this sermon, thank God! Do it in person, we have that privilege!