Friday, January 28, 2011

Good Works

“Good works are simply fruit falling off a tree. If you sink your roots deep in Christ, who is your life, you not be able to stop the fruit from coming forth.” Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola The Jesus Manifesto

Trees never eat their own fruit. The fruit is simply the visible proof that the tree has internally found its natural source of food and satisfaction. The tree will not eat its fruit because it is already well fed. Farmers focus on the well-being of the tree and they confidently wait for the fruit to appear. Visible fruit means the internal system is work is working.

Near the end of His ministry Jesus cursed a tree because it had no fruit. That tree represented the people of God in Israel who had not cooperated with God’s perfect care and provision. They were cursed because they existed to bear the fruit of God’s care and provision and they were useless as a plant without bearing fruit. Their failure was without excuse.

Christ in us, who is our life, provides for every believer the exact care and provision for the fruit of the Spirit to emerge naturally from our lives. Instead of cooperating with the perfect, inner presence of Jesus, we insist on trying to bear our own fruit. We try. That is our problem. Trying is not our job. Our job is to believe. Believing that this fruit will come from God through Christ in us is our work.

“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6: 28-29

Human wisdom puts great faith in trying. God’s wisdom says we should rest and receive from Jesus in us by His Spirit.

If you are in the habit of really trying hard to be a good Christian, stop immediately. Instead, rest in Jesus, receive from Jesus and rejoice in Jesus. When you do, the fruit will come.

Receiving directly from Jesus in us is the source of all fruit God will claim as His.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Jesus Test

“Did something similar happen to Jesus that is now happening to me?”

Jesus sets the pattern for how life will be for all of His followers as they deliver God’s love. If something was true for Jesus as He delivered love, it can and should be true for us as we deliver His love. If it happened to Him it will happen to us.

Oswald Chambers said: “We have no right to expect to be in any other relation than our Lord Himself was in.” (Reading for Jan. 11 “My Utmost for His Highest”)

When we find ourselves in any situation we should look it and see if it passes “The Jesus Test.” Did anything similar happen to Jesus as He was obeying His Father and delivering love? If it did, then when the same thing is happening to us it should be seen as a normal Christian life.

Here are some examples of things that happen to us that should be taken through “The Jesus Test.”
1. Having only enough materially to love those we need to love.
2. Seeing doors of opportunity to love continuously open before us as we knock on them.
3. Seeing others suffer because we obeyed God.
4. Being accused of what we have not done.
5. Asking for wisdom and receiving it immediately.
6. Being accused of being what we are not.
7. Having someone betray us that we have loved.
8. Overcoming our fears.
9. Being hated even though we have only loved.
10. Seeing “mountains” move out of our way.
11. Looking like a failure in the eyes of men.

The life of Jesus is the test of how God can and must treat those He loves as they deliver love to those who need it most. If you use any other formula than Jesus' life to try and make sense of your discipleship on earth, you will be unable to make it all add up. Things that happen to us only add up when Jesus is our starting point and the goal.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.” Matthew 10:24-25

When we all stand before God it will the “The Jesus Test” that will be used to evaluate our lives. We should get used to taking this test day by day because “Christ is all, and is in all.” Col. 3:11

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Potential

“Live up to your potential.” This is the mantra of all self-help seminars and courses. It is a powerful and attractive statement for self-improvement. It makes millions of dollars for those who use it effectively. This statement is, however, a useless statement for discipleship and spiritual formation.

Discipleship and spiritual formation are about living up to Jesus’ potential not living up to our potential. As wonderful as focusing on our potential sounds, it is deadly to learning to live from Jesus as our only source. Disciples must abandon the idea of developing their personal potential.

Jesus says to the development of my potential: “Without Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5 I need to say the same thing to my personal potential every day.

The first use of the concept of “Live up to your potential” was in the garden of Eden. A very persuasive voice led humanity to think they could do better than living from the fruit of God’s potential. The impact of that self-help attempt is well documented in the Scriptures.

A dear friend of mine who survived the Holocaust once told me that the name Jehovah means “Source of Source.” I love that! God is the potential of all potential.

Poverty of Spirit is to abandon once and for all my potential apart from God. Faith is receiving God’s potential as my only potential. Abiding is to live from the perfect potential of the true Vine.

Jesus is the believer’s potential. We can be what He allows us to be and that is far more than we could ever be apart from Him. Forget developing your own potential. Live Jesus’ potential. Abide!

Bud McCord
Abide International