The Joy, Peace And Comfort Of Abiding In Christ
Study 6 THE SECRET OF ABIDING JOY – Words of Life Ministries
Key Verse: “…that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15 :11)
These words were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is most important for us to notice when He uttered them.
It was a very strange time to talk of joy and gladness, for in a little while He would be in dark Gethsemane, and shortly after that He would be facing His accusers and hearing the taunts and mockings of those who hated Him.
Yes, it was just prior to facing the agonies of Calvary that He spoke of “My joy…”, and it is very significant that, so far as the scripture records are concerned, this is the only time He did speak of His joy.
How unique the Lord’s joy must have been if it still remained with Him in the time of such great trial and testing! – and His desire and provision for us (that is, for every believer), is that His joy, which is so different from that of the world, should be our joy – “…that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
1. CHRISTIAN JOY SHOULD BE THE PREVAILING CHARACTERISTIC OF THE LIFE OF EVERY CHRISTIAN
Too often we are sad, gloomy and dejected; but as Christians we ought to be joyful in everything – look up Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
The A-to-Z of our Christian experience should be marked by joy: joy at conversion (Acts 8:39); joy when reading God’s Holy Word (Jeremiah 15:16); joy in prayer (John 16:24); joy in the midst of trials (James 1:2); joy when suffering (Acts 5:41); joy when serving (2 Corinthians 1:24); and joy at the journey’s end (Hebrews 12:22). If we love and belong to the Lord we should always be rejoicing.
2.WHAT, THEN, IS CHRISTIAN JOY, THE JOY WHICH WE AS CHRISTIANS SHOULD EXPERIENCE?
- It is Christ’s Joy: “…that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11). “My joy…in you…” The Christian life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in a man or a woman – look up Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 3:4. Christian joy is Christ’s joy in a Christian, and this means that this deep-down, abiding joy is not found anywhere else except in Him. There are other kinds of joy found in other places, but His joy is found in Him alone.
- It is Fulness of Joy: “…that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). There is a great difference between joy and fulness of joy. The vessel may be partly filled or completely filled. Our Lord’s desire for us is that we should experience fulness of joy continually – look up Psalm 16:11; John 17:13 and 1 Peter 1:8.
- It is Abiding Joy: “…that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11). Notice the word “remain” in these verses – 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10. By “remaining” in Him and His “remaining” in us means that His joy will always be in us. Our joy is not an intermittent experience, but a permanent one. It is a joy which is unaffected by circumstances – see what the Lord said to His disciples in John 16:22. These first followers of our Lord were to pass through many trials and testings, but He told them that nothing could rob them of their joy – His joy in them. Consider the following three illustrations of the abiding nature of Christian joy, and of the fact that Christ’s joy in us is unaffected by outward circumstances and conditions:
- John 15:11 – as we have seen, our Lord experienced this joy in the shadow of the cross – compare John 17:13.
- Luke 10:20 – surely our Lord meant by this: “Do not let your joy depend upon anything earthly or temporal, but let it depend upon that which abides…in Heaven.”
- Acts 16:25 – Paul and Silas, though in great trouble, were filled with Christ’s own joy which enabled them to sing praises at midnight – compare Isaiah 61:3; 2 Corinthians 8:2 and Hebrews 10:34.
It is a remarkable and a wonderful thing that true Christian joy is not only unaffected by adverse circumstances, but it is actually promoted by such trials and testings – look up James 1:2.
3. HOW MAY WE HAVE THIS JOY?
- By having Him. If this deep-down, abiding joy is Christ’s joy, we can only have it by having Him. In Acts 8:8, we read that – “There was great joy in that city.” Why was this? Verse 5 tells us! Verse 35 tells us! If we would possess His joy we must possess Him – look up John 17:13.
- By reading His Word. When we read the Bible and receive the truth, we experience great joy – look up 1 John 1:4. This is akin to having a “burning heart” as the result of fellowship with the Lord as He speaks to us – look up Luke 24:32.
- By submission to Him. Notice in Luke 10:21 that we are told two things: first, that “Jesus was full of joy…”; and second, that He was completely submissive to His Father’s will. His joy was the joy of complete and continual submission to the will of His Father in Heaven.
It was Madame Guyon who said, “Oh, the blessedness of an accepted sorrow!” When we accept suffering from His hand, sorrows as well as pleasures, then our joy will be full indeed.
- By the Holy Spirit. The literal rendering of Luke 10:21 is: “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit”, and one translation reads: “In that hour Jesus was filled by the Holy Spirit with rapturous joy” – look up and compare Romans 15:13.
At this very moment the Lord Jesus is exalted, the perfect Man in a perfect human body, in Heaven.
His desire is that His joy should be complete in us. How can this be, for He is there and we are here? He is in Heaven and we are on earth! The answer is – by the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is…joy…” – look up Galatians 5:22, and compare Acts 13:52 and Ephesians 5:18!
Inside Out and the Peace of Christ
The Pixar movie Inside Out was recently released on DVD, and it’s a subject of conversation in our household.
My eight-year-old says he didn’t understand it, my nine-year-old didn’t it, and my five-year-old was scared by it.
The eight-year-old had to leave the theater because he was so disturbed by how Riley, the main character, was compelled to do what she knew was wrong when Fear, Anger, and Disgust were left in control.
Yet, I found the movie a helpful allegory of human emotion in action, and it provided a platform for discussion with my children about the peace of Christ.
We all reeled watching as Riley was flung into despair after a desperate attempt to remain positive throughout her family’s difficult move to California. On the car ride home, I was peppered with questions from the back seats:
“How did Joy get locked out, Mom?”
“Why did Anger take control?”
“Why did Riley listen to Anger, Fear, and Disgust and do something she knew was wrong?”
“Do I have to be controlled by how I feel?”
I found it helpful to talk with them about an important presence that was missing in the control room:The peace of Christ.
Philippians 4:7 says this peace will guard our hearts, when we take our anxiety to him in prayer. Colossians 3:15 says we are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. What is the peace of Christ, and what does it mean to be guarded by it and let it rule?
The Peace of Christ
Romans 5:1 says,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace with God was purchased for us through our justification by faith. At one time, we were at war with God, but in Christ we are reconciled with the peace he made by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:20). The peace of Christ is a state of being, but it is also the experience of tranquility, rest, and security that comes from knowing and abiding in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
When faced with warring emotions, how does one let the peace of Christ rule?
In the movie Inside Out, the character Joy was clearly in charge. Under her leadership, the goal was to make sure Riley kept her happy cheerful disposition, whatever the cost. Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust were kept in minor roles in an effort to ensure Riley’s core memories were all happy ones.
But all doesn’t go as planned.
Riley is unavoidably sad about her move to California, and Joy can’t keep the other emotions from taking over. The climax of the film comes when Joy finally gives Sadness access to Riley’s memories, and she realizes that Sadness can help Riley come to a place of acceptance of her new home.
The main point of the film, which is a good one, is that is that all of the emotions have an important role to fill. What’s missing is a clear idea of who should be in charge.
If Joy wasn’t the right leader, who is?
The Peace of Christ Rules
I told my kids to imagine that the Peace of Christ is dressed in an umpire uniform and placed in our emotional control room with Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. An umpire is refereeing the action and calling the fouls. All of the emotions are now free to work within the healthy framework for which they were created, controlled by the overarching presence of the Peace of Christ.
- Disgust is given the freedom to help us hate what is evil, and cling to what is good.
- Anger is allowed to rage against injustice and the things God hates.
- Sadness is a proper response to the hurt and pain in the world.
- Fear, when it is of God, is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
- The Joy of Lord gives us strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
It’s helpful to note that in Colossians 3:15, Paul says we are to let the peace of Christ rule. An umpire can shout from the sidelines, but if the players are not listening, the game is not going to be played properly. We need to give the peace of Christ, the Holy Spirit’s voice, a platform on the stage of our minds and hearts.
We need to listen to the foul calls, and then we need to put our emotions back in their proper place.
The Peace of Christ Guards
After watching the film, my kids were afraid that some circumstance would come into their life that would make anger take over and lead them to do wrong, stealing money or disobeying their parents Riley did. It was helpful for them to imagine the Peace of Christ dressed a Roman guard, standing watch over their heart and minds, protecting them from faulty thinking.
The peace of Christ can guard our minds by reminding us that fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore are in the Lord’s presence (Psalm 16:11), not in different circumstances. It reminds us that our God hears our prayers and will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
It reminds us that our value is determined by the infinite price that was paid to win us back (1 Corinthians 6:20), not by our successes or failures in this life. It also guards us by reminding us that in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:17).
We don’t have to do what our emotions are begging from us.I don’t know if Inside Out will find its way into our home anytime soon, but I’m forever grateful that the peace of Christ is dwelling within me, guarding my heart and mind, and ruling over my volatile emotions. Christ has indeed given us everything for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. Praise be to God!
25 Important Bible Verses About Joy (7 Powerful Truths To Know)
One of the most important things in the Christian life is joy. However, it seems as if far too many believers are living without joy. It seems as if we’re just barely getting by and going through the daily motions of life. We were meant for so much more than this! Let’s find out the key to experiencing joy.
- “Joy is not a season, it’s a way of living.”
- “Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God.”
- “If you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”
- “The Lord gives his people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to him.” Dwight L. Moody
What does the Bible say about joy?
True joy is a gift from the Lord. In Scripture we see that joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Joy comes from believing God, belonging to His Kingdom, and knowing Jesus as Lord.
1. Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
2. Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
3. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
4. Philippians 1:25 “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.”
Joy coming from your performance
One easy way to feel miserable on your walk with Christ is to allow your joy to come from your performance. There have been seasons when my joy was coming from my performance as a believer and I felt awful and defeated. I was hard on myself for everything.
When your joy is coming from anything other than Christ that is idolatry. One moment you think you are saved, the next moment you question your salvation.One day you think you are deeply loved by God and the next day you feel that God loves you less because you didn’t read your Bible.
One thing that I learned about idolatry is that it leaves you dry. It leaves you broken and empty. I remember collapsing on my bed because of my failure to witness effectively.
It didn’t take long for God to remind me that my joy shouldn’t come from my performance and my identity should not come from my ability to evangelize. It should be rooted in Christ alone. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of who God says that we are in Christ.
Scripture says that we are more than conquerors, redeemed, we are loved, we are precious in His eyes, His special treasure, etc.
God is not looking at you saying, “you messed up today and now you have to work to get in My good graces!” He’s not saying that because we can’t. We mess up every day because we can’t live up to His standard, which is perfection. Sometimes we will get convicted by the Holy Spirit.
However, we have to remember that we have been set free by the blood of Christ. In Christ we have no condemnation because His blood and His grace are greater than the things that seek to condemn us.
There will be so much joy in your life when you realize that your identity does not lie in how good that you are, but how good Christ is!
5. Philippians 3:1-3 “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised.
We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.”
Where is your joy coming from?
Where do you seek to get your joy from? If you can be honest, what do you run to the most? How are you feeding your mind? From personal experience I can tell you that when my devotional life is healthy I experience more joy. When I get too consumed by TV or secular music I begin to feel empty.
We were made for Christ and while some things are not inherently bad, too much of those things can take our heart away from Christ.
We have to remove these broken cisterns in our lives to drink the water that Christ has to offer. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
However, if we quench the Spirit we can miss out on all that the Holy Spirit has to offer. Most of us are missing the beauty of Christ because our hearts are in other places.
Let us repent and have that change of heart that leads us back to Christ. Anything that may be hindering you, cut it off so that you can fully experience Christ. Become more intimate with Him.
Go to that special place to get alone with Him and get lost in His beauty. Don’t allow your love for Christ to become common or to remain common. Seek Him and set your heart upon Him.
Allow Him to remind you of who He is and what He has done for you on the cross.6. John 7:37-38 “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
7. John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
8. Psalm 16:11 “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Happiness vs joy
Happiness is momentary and can be due to current circumstances. However, joy is a lasting inward experience. Pleasure can create happiness, but the effects do not last. True joy in the Lord is eternal.
9. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 “I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2 So I said, “Laughter is silly.
What good does it do to seek pleasure?” 3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness.
In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.”10. Psalm 4:7 “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.”
11. Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Joy in trials
For some people having joy in the midst of trials seems an impossibility. However, for a believer this impossible thought can become a reality when we fix our eyes on Christ and not our circumstance.
Having joy in trials is easier when we trust in God’s sovereignty and His great love for us.
Although the situation may seem hopeless we know that the Lord is sovereign, and we trust in Him accomplishing His will in our lives.
While Paul was in prison he wrote a letter to the Philippians and he told them to “rejoice always!” How could Paul say such a thing while he was stuck in prison with the possibility of being martyred? It is because the source of his joy was the Lord.
Christ was victorious on the cross and now He is living inside believers. Our victorious Lord is living inside us and He will never leave us. Christ is the reason why we can smile in the pain. Christ is the reason why we can give the Lord praise in our trials.
Instead of dwelling on your problems, dwell on Christ who is the solution.
Having joy does not mean that we don’t voice our concerns to the Lord. However, we are reminded of His goodness and we have a God who encourages and comforts us.
When I first became a Christian, I went through years of pain and loneliness. However, during that time I was rooted in the Lord. I was constantly seeking His face in prayer and in His Word.
I had peace and joy during those times of uncertainty.As I look back, I know the reason for my joy during those hard times was the Lord. The reason I did not enter into a state of despair was because my joy was coming from Him and I knew that He was sovereign over my situation. Always remember this, there is so much strength in making Christ your focus.
12. Hebrews 12:2-3 “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
13. James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
14. Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”
15. Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
16. 2 Corinthians 7:4 “I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.”
17. Philippians 4:5-8 “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”18. Psalm 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
The joy of obedience
The deeper we get into sin the deeper we feel the effects of sin. Sin brings shame, anxiety, emptiness, and sorrow. There is so much joy when we surrender our lives to Christ. There is joy in obedience not because we are trusting in our own merit, but because we are living in God’s grace. His grace is our daily strength.
We were made to abide in Him and when we are not abiding in Him we feel and become weak. Abiding in Christ entails various different things such as depending on His grace, abiding in His love, walking by faith, trusting Him, cherishing His Word, and being obedient to His Word. There is joy in obedience because of the great price that was paid for us on the cross.
19. John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
20. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
21. Psalm 119:47-48 “For I delight in your commands because I love them. 48 I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.”
22. Psalm 119:1-3 “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”
Joy from community
We were not created to be alone. If we are not involved in a community, we are hurting ourselves. As Christians, we are told to encourage our brothers and sisters. We need to continually remind each other of where our joy comes from. We need to continually remind each other to focus on Christ. Community is essential on our walk with Christ and it is essential for joy.23. Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
24. 2 Corinthians 1:24 “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.”
25. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You because You have redeemed me.”
5 Good Chapters Of The Bible To Read During Tough Times
What are 5 good chapters that we can read during really tough times in our lives? What ones would you recommend?
The Confidence of our Calling: Romans 8
This might be one of my favorite chapters in all the Bible, whether things are going well or not. Here’s why.
This chapter has what has been called “the golden thread” or “chain” of salvation which is in Romans 8:29-30 “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
” This gives us the knowledge that salvation is fully a work of God because it is God Who foreknew us, Who predestined us, Who called us, Who justified us, Who glorified us…notice it is all He Who has done these things in us…not we ourselves, thereby God receives all the glory. Doesn’t He deserve it? He is the justifier Who justifies us.
This is what Paul means in Romans 3:26 “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” This is why “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). This chapter:
- gives us perspective on life (Rom 8:28);
- gives us reason to endure the present (Rom 8:18);
- gives us a clear conscience (Rom 8:1);
- shows us Who is responsible for our salvation (Rom 8:29-30); and
- shows us that we are conquerors but only in Christ (Rom 8:37).
The Confidence of the Shepherd: John 10
John is my favorite of all the gospels and possibly chapter 10 is my favorite chapter in this book. It is so hard to narrow down only one chapter because I love chapters 3, 6, 14 and so many others but there is something special about chapter 10.
For one thing, we see Jesus being portrayed as the Good Shepherd and how good this shepherd is that will lose none of His sheep! Jesus says “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). This shepherd is un any other shepherd there is and it is “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).
The shepherd voluntarily laid down His life for us, His sheep, who should have been headed to the slaughter; instead, the Good Shepherd that He is, He headed to the slaughter for us and was silent before the slaughters. Here are some reasons that I love John chapter 10, this chapter:
- shows our security in Christ and in the Father (John 10:28-29);
- shows that Jesus Christ is truly God (John 10:30);
- shows that the Good Shepherd knows His sheep’s voice and the sheep know His (John 10:3-5); and
- shows that the Shepherd voluntarily died so that we wouldn’t perish (John 10:15).
The Confidence of our Faith: 1 John 3
I call this chapter to the litmus test of the Christian faith. I believe that if a person professes faith in Christ and yet does not change their lifestyle, they are lying to themselves, to others and ultimately, to God.
John knew that many would come and profess Christ and many would even be part of the church but when they left the church, for whatever reason they gave, they weren’t really a part of the church in the first place (1 John 2:19) so in the next chapter (1 John 3) he provides us with rational evidence of whether a person is just professing or confessing faith in Christ or if they are really possessing saving faith in Christ. John clearly says that a person can talk all they want about whether they are a Christian or not but here is the evidence of whether that’s true: “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10b). The real proof is the fruit of that person’s life (John 15) and not the words their mouth because “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). This chapter:
– proves the fact that whoever does not sin really knows Christ (1 John 3:6);– shows the fact that whoever does sin doesn’t really know Christ (1 John 3:9); and
– establishes the fact that whoever sins is of the Devil and we know that whoever is truly abiding in Christ is abiding in Him because of their lifestyle of not living in sin (1 John 3:8-9).
The Confidence of our Calling: Ephesians 1
This chapter may contain the single greatest verses for evidence that God has called us and sealed us ahead of time…before we were born and even before the earth existed. Here’s why I can say that with assurance.
God has said in His Word that He choose us before the foundation or creation of the world (Eph 1:4), He predestined or predetermined to have us adopted into His family (Eph 1:5), He revealed this mystery to us because it pleased Him (Eph 1:9), and it was by His predetermined counsel that we have already obtained an inheritance (Eph 1:11). None of this would be possible unless it was made so by Christ (Eph 1:20), this chapter:
- shows that God planned to save us long before we or the earth even existed (Eph 1:4);
- shows that God planned all along to adopt us into His family because it pleased Him to do so (Eph 1:5); and
- shows that our inheritance as adopted children was all His idea (Eph 1:11).
The Confidence Our Father’s Love: Psalm 103
I remember giving this chapter as a Bible study to the local nursing home residents and the tenderness of this psalm made one lady cry. Why? It was because it made her think about her own father who had many years ago gone to be with the Lord and how much her earthly father loved her but as much as he loved her, her heavenly Father loves her even more.
We are reminded to contemplate all of God’s wonderful benefits (Psalm 103:2). We should remember that He is very slow to anger but rich in mercy toward us (Psalm 103:8) and that He has graciously removed our sins as far from us as infinity (Psalm 103:12).
God knows that we are very fragile and that He really didn’t deal with us according to our sins in the way that we surely deserved (Psalm 103:10, 14). This chapter:
- reminds me that God is greater than any loving earthly father (Psalm 103:13);
- tells me that God doesn’t actually give us what we deserve because of our sins (Psalm 103:10);
- reminds me that God has taken our sins away from us so far that we cannot even imagine it in our finite minds (Psalm 103:12); and
- tells me that His mercy is upon those who fear Him for all time (Psalm 103:17).
What chapter in the Bible would you include as your favorite during difficult times? I know that there are many more than 5 chapters that can help us deal with life’s most difficult issues.
That is the power that is found only in the Word of God and no place else.
There is no human source of such comfort, such joy, such peace, and such power than the Word of God for which we ought to give thanks for.
Take a look at these related Bible verses: Bible Verses for Hard Times
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Learning to Abide in Christ
I hear the words “abide in Christ” mentioned a lot by women as a way to express rest. At least I think that’s what they mean. The truth is, I’ve never had it defined for me clearly, even though I’ve heard it shared often.
In order to gain more understanding, I started digging into God’s word to see what he says about abiding in Christ.
The True Vine
Beginning in John 13, Jesus gives a series of farewell addresses that continue until chapter 17. He knows that he will soon be lifeless on a tree — the crucified King. And in the middle of it all, he graciously reminds us that to be his means to bear fruit and we bear fruit by abiding in him.
In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the true vine and his Father as the vinedresser. The true vine was a way to contrast Jesus with Old Testament Israel. The hearers would understand that he was saying that he was the Messiah and the fulfillment of the covenant because of the Old Testament references to a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1–7; 27:2–6).
Jesus explains that the branches that do not bear fruit are taken away, but the branches that bear fruit are pruned to bear more fruit.To bear fruit simply means to grow in character — to become more Christ and reflect the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). And this is where we come to his command to abide: “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” (John 15:4).
The dictionary defines abiding as to accept or act in accordance with a rule, decision, or recommendation. Synonyms include obey, observe, follow, uphold, heed, and accept.
This definition isn’t far off from what Jesus is telling us to do here in John 15. But before he gets to the meaning, he gives us a picture of what it looks not to abide in him.
“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6).
I guess I am what you would call a plant killer. I purchase plants and try to care for them, but I often fail miserably. I forget to water the plant, choking it from its needed nourishment. And then one day, I turn around and there it is, withered away. This didn’t happen overnight. It happened after a series of neglect. So one by one, the branches fall off from the vine.
This, I think, is what Jesus is explaining to us in John 15:4–6. He explains that by not abiding in him we are my pitiful plants — we will soon fall off the vine — our roots where we receive nourishment were never truly planted. The fruit of the vine is proof of our faith. Not perfection — but fruit, even if a small bud.
It really isn’t until John 15:10 that we get a picture of what it looks to abide in Jesus. “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.”
To abide in Jesus means to keep his commandments and to keep his commandments means to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39). One way that we display our love for God is through our trust, prayer, and devotion to him. We abide through relationship. We pursue in love. We pray in love. We obey in love.
And here is the good news: We love Jesus because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). We didn’t choose him; he chose us and he chose us to walk out our faith in obedience to him (John 15:16).Apart from Christ, we cannot do anything (John 15:5). This is also good news to the weary person who thinks he must muster up strength to pursue and know Christ (and to love his neighbor — a fruit Jesus emphasizes).
He provides the grace and the strength.
The fruit that Jesus speaks of is simply evidence of a relationship with him. It is a relationship that he initiates through and by his sovereign love. In this chapter, Jesus reminds us that there is no greater love than someone laying down his life for his friends. He then says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13).
Jesus tells us that we are his friends (let that soak in for a minute) if we obey his command to love, and that command is fulfilled through abiding. As we abide in him we will bear the fruit of righteousness.
This does not add to our salvation by grace alone through faith alone, yet it confirms our transformed heart.
And the offer to be Jesus’s friend — the author and perfecter of our faith, the Alpha and Omega, the Beautiful One, the one who bore our sins and transgression — the offer to be his friend is irresistible for the Christian.
Abide in him, and he will abide in you. He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6). He who called you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).