A couple years ago I started a new annual tradition. I asked my husband to make one of my Christmas presents a new journal for the upcoming year. I prayerfully choose a verse or verses to be my theme for the year. Before the New Year, I search and pray for a section of scripture to memorize and study to bring drastic change and growth in my life spiritually. For example one year I felt led to choose Colossians 3:12-17.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As you can see these verses are jam-packed with instruction for a Christian seeking to live a godly life. It is my take on the “New Year’s resolution”. Last year was the year my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. For that year my verses were 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I knew we had a tough year ahead of us. I knew it had the potential to be a year full of calamity and hardships, so I chose these verses to help me to rest in the grace and power of my Jesus. I chose to be weak from the get-go because then I would be strong from the get-go. And I was, to glory and praise of God alone. It was not my doing. If God had not prepared me spiritually for that year, things would have been a lot harder, a lot lonelier and so much more hopeless than I could handle.
The lesson I am learning over these years is that by following his command to abide in his word, God can produce more fruit in my life.
This picture Jesus paints for us in John 15 with the vine and the branches is a beautiful union and relationship of complete dependence. It is to be steadfast and permanent and only then can the nutrients flow to the branches to produce the fruit.
In verses 4 and 5 Jesus says,
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
We are continuing in him and he is living in us. And any fruit produced is only because of the connection we have to him.
Then in verse 7 he says,
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Jesus illustrates this even further and elaborates more on this connection. First he said twice, “Abide in me and I in you“(vs. 4,5). Then he goes deeper to say, “If my words abide in you” (v.7).
Jesus is showing us how he will live in us and speak to us. Through his word! There is no other way. He speaks to us through his word and we speak to him in our prayer. This is our fellowship. So yes I want to live in those pages. I want to memorize it and have it in my heart always. I want it to grow my faith. I need it to encourage others. I need it to recognize and fight off my own sin. Yes, even in this union of the vine and the branches, some pruning must be done. It can be painful. But take heart.
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (Proverbs 30:5)
Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
God’s word is true; it is truth. And in this truth we are sanctified. When we take root in the truth, the fruit springs forth abundantly. That means putting off the old self and putting on the new (Colossians 3:5-15). Continually renewing our minds (Ephesians 4:21-24).
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).
It is not just in trials and tribulation that we need His truth. We need it in every word we speak, in every thought we have, and in every action we take. We need it in us so we may be able to obey Jesus’ command in John 15:12;
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love (John 15:8-11).
This fruit of obedience that is produced in our union with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:22-24).
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Back in December before I even thought of starting this blog, I prayerfully chose 1 Corinthians 13 as my theme verses for this year, 2013. I wanted to learn more about God’s love (1 John 4:7-8). I wanted to learn how to show more love to my husband and children (Titus 2:4). I wanted to learn more about brotherly love (1 Peter 1:22).
It has become glorious testimony for me, seeing the work of the Holy Spirit and His ability to use the Word of God for my sanctification. As I read and memorize the verses, the sword of the spirit cuts through my sin and prunes the branch. He is growing me to bear much fruit as I read and follow his commandment to love.
And even now as I am studying John 15 for this blog and Luke 17-24 (GoodMorningGirls.org) and skimming the Psalms in the mornings, and joining a class at PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) I am feeling the flow of the life giving, sanctifying truth as it pulses through the pages and into my heart. The more I take in the more I yearn for it.
So what are you yearning for? Is it the things of God or the things of this world?
By abiding in Jesus, we should have his word abiding in us. I challenge you to prayerfully choose a scripture to memorize. It can be one verse or it can be one chapter. You can memorize it in one day or one month. One time a friend of mine challenged me to memorize Psalm 16 with her over the course of 11 weeks. It is 11 verses long so that was a verse a week. I pray through this discipline, we will not only have God’s word hidden in our hearts, but will apply it to every moment of our days. If you want to take this challenge, leave a comment about the scripture you plan to memorize and check in at Abiding Hearts at Home’s Facebook page to encourage each other and let us know how it is going. Have a blessed weekend!