“I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:5
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12
Our weekly Christian devotional
Grabbing my big mug of Chai tea, I shuffle determinately towards my little writing nook. I’ve finally found a quiet moment to hunker down and face my procrastination pile.
This summer seems like an endless string of invitations—graduations, birthdays and a million amazing excuses to get off the treadmill of life and just relax a bit.
Unfortunately, my fading abdominal muscles are proof that there is definitely such a thing as ‘too much’ of a good thing.
Amid all these lovely and ‘harmless’ distractions, I can’t help but notice another obvious lethargy that has slowly debunked my priorities. My Bible reading and prayer time has been lacking in passion and interest.
Knowing that these are crucial for my intimacy with God, I’ve still been making time for them. Like a good ‘big girl’, I determined to faithfully trudge through this rough patch. But, in all honesty, this feels like my personal ‘Mission Impossible’. Lately my prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling and reading my Bible is about as appealing as chewing on chalk. Which gets my mind thinking…I must chalk some sidewalk soon…distractions…I tell you!
I hate to admit this, but just yesterday, after dealing with the third most inconsiderate person before noon, I absolutely just lost it.
As soon as I entered our little condo, I slammed the door and ranted–a string of swear words flew off the tip of my tongue as if they were just waiting for me to give them the ‘go’. My husband peeked his head around the computer, raising his eyebrow in mild shock. I think he was expecting to see Margret Cho.
In my feeble defense–just because I follow Christ doesn’t mean I always hit my goal. A person who becomes a Christian doesn’t automatically forget her ‘go to’ adjectives in that moment when she’s decided to go completely bonkers!
Granted, it has been a while since I’ve used that kind of vocabulary. I was even more frustrated that this sudden onslaught of recall never seems to happen when I need to work a simple math equation.
But, after the initial flood of endorphins those swear words seemed to release, the silent echo afterwards made me feel like a complete Christian failure—again!
As I read John 15:5, the words of Jesus comfort me. Jesus never mentioned that we were to be perfect. Christians were simply called to abide in His presence.
This means basking in His presence; depending on Him for the very life-force we need to survive in this world.
The word ‘abide’ in the context in which it is written in John 15:5, gives me the impression of a plump and hungry grape sucking up the sap of it’s vine. That little vine is the sole provider for all of the grape’s vital nutrients. There is no work involved for the grape to partake of it’s richness. The grape simply needs to stay attached to the vine.
This season, I’ve been preoccupied. Even though I have been ‘doing’ all the right things, my heart has been distracted. And as I was ‘going through’ those motions, I wasn’t taking the time to stop and hear what God wanted to speak to my heart. I was too busy thinking about a million other things. How could I possibly soak in any wisdom, revelations or intimate moments that God might be trying to pass onto me?
God is pursuing our hearts. The more we connect with His heart, the more our lives will reflect the benefits of His awesome presence. After abiding in His presence, we will begin to notice that our actions start to flow in a way that’s pleasing to Him. This will happen in such an organic way, that when you break away from His vine, you will notice the lack of His presence. And, unfortunately, others will, too!
After reading 1 Kings 19:11-12, I’ve dug my big girl heels in again. But, this time, I altered my approach. Instead of forcing a fit to ‘do more’ for God, I determined to whittle down my to-do list, my get-together list and some un-necessary busy-ness. This will leave me the time and silence I need to open up my heart. Only then can I really receive whatever it is God wants to give me.
I personally believe that many of us over-pack our schedules as a way of avoiding the silence.
This is sad. Our impatience is preventing us from developing the qualities that will provide the kind of mind-sets that will keep our spiritual perspectives straight. Doing this will only enrich our life experience; it certainly won’t rob us of anything…except stress, maybe…
Silence is good for the soul. In 1 Kings 19:11-12 the Bible tells us that God speaks in a still, small voice. But, if we hardly take the time to actually stop and listen, how will we ever hear Him?
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you for blessing my life. You have given me so many friends and opportunities to do so many great things. I can’t realistically expect to do them all, nor should I try.
Lord, I have been greedy with my time. I have been trying to fit in all the fun and exciting things while pushing my quality time with you onto the back burner.
But, in pushing you away, I have lost my spark, my zeal, and the ability to enjoy life fully. I feel the absence of my best friend. I’ve noticed that things aren’t as sweet when you’re not in them.
Forgive me Lord. I have been such a bad friend. I have taken your presence for granted. Please help me to refocus my priorities on hearing your still small voice.
Open up my schedule, help me to say no to the things that I need to say no to. And in the name of Jesus I bind the spirits of guilt that will try and entrap me into doing more than I am supposed to.
I give you control of my schedule. Help me commit to a designated time to really hook up with some quality prayer time with you.
Today, I am turning my heart back to you. Thank you for forgiving me, Lord. I embrace your goodness and receive it. I will not turn away from you in shame, but come boldly to the throne of grace in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: John 15:51 and Kings 19:11-12
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan