So, let’s quickly go back and review some of the things we have learned thus far: We have spent the first four parts of this series essentially talking about the kingdom principle. No, not a kingdom principle; the kingdom principle. That’s right—we have learned that just as Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, there is one way, truth, and life of the kingdom—and that is seedtime & harvest. And we have learned that everything in God’s kingdom operates according to this principle.
So, we have spent time studying other parables that Jesus taught where He illustrated what the kingdom of God is like and how it works. We’ve looked at His Parable of the Growing Seed from Mark chapter four, and we saw from this the process of the kingdom. Then we looked over at His Parable of the Sower and saw the basic building blocks of the kingdom by studying both what the seed and the soil are. So, from all of this, we saw that the seed is the Word of God and the soil is the ground of our hearts. Therefore, we learned that if we will just take the seed of God’s Word—the specific seed for the fruit we desire to see—and plant it in the good ground of our hearts, we will eventually see the fruit we desire. Yes, we indeed can count on this because it is a law in God’s kingdom. This is how we get a harvest every time!
Then last week, we answered the question: How do we sow God’s Word? And we saw that we sow the seed of God’s Word by saying the seed of God’s Word. Yes, sowing is saying and saying is sowing. So, we looked at another parable that Jesus taught in Mark chapter four—the Parable of the Mustard Seed—and we saw how from other Scriptures that Jesus taught us that if we have faith as a mustard seed, we will say something. In other words, speaking the Word of God is how our faith works. Therefore, it is imperative that not only do we become a Word person in terms of getting into God’s Word and believing it, but we also need to become a word person in regards to understanding the power that is in our tongue.
Church, these are all kingdom laws. And this is why we can count on verses like John 15:7—because the Lord has taught us how to receive our desires that are in accordance with His will.
But herein lies the mistake of most believers: They never learn the process, they don’t know what the seed is, and they don’t discover where the soil is, much less how to cultivate that ground. My point is—if we want to receive from God, then we best find out how He has set things up because it is not good enough to hope and pray that God comes through for us because, after all, He has the power and ability to do it. No, just like we must learn how to function on this earth—respecting its laws like gravity, seedtime & harvest, etc.—we must also respect the laws (i.e. the principles) of the kingdom of heaven. That is the only way we are going to live in the fullness of His blessing and bear much fruit. Amen?
So, now that we have become established in the kingdom principle of seedtime & harvest—understanding the importance of the seed, the value of the soil, and how to sow that seed in the soil—there are a couple of other things that we need to understand that are also important in regards to fruit-bearing. And those things are the plant getting sunlight, being watered, etc.
So today, I want us to move into those two very important truths that Jesus gave us in John 15:7 that position us to receiving the desires of our heart and the fruit that glorifies God. In fact, I see these two qualifications as being both the hydration and the sunlight that a plant requires for growth. So, let’s look at this verse again and see how to remain in the light and be watered continuously:
Again, Jesus said in John 15:7— “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Now what are the key verbs that Jesus uses here to describe how one of His branches will bear much fruit? It is the word “abide.” Yes, the two key components to seeing the fruit of the things we desire is abiding in Him and His word abiding in us. In fact, this word “abide” is the key word in this entire parable. So, what we need to do is camp on this word “abide” and truly come to know what it means and how Jesus was using it.
Now again, we talked about how this passage in John 15:1-8 was a part of Jesus’ last words to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion. And in these last words of exhortation, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His soon departure by telling them repeatedly that He was leaving them. So here in John 15:1-8, Jesus was giving them an extremely important piece of information—to abide in Him.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ABIDE?
Now the word “abide” comes from the Greek word meno, which literally means to “stay, remain, live or dwell.” So, when we hear this phrase “abiding in Him,” we need to think of “staying, remaining, living, or dwelling in Him.”
Let’s look at a few other New Testament Scriptures that use this same word meno in order to illustrate what it means to “abide”:
So, when Jesus told His disciples to “abide in Him” several times in John chapter 15, what did He mean? What did He have in mind when He essentially told them to “Stay in Him, to not depart from Him, to remain, stay, live and dwell in Him, and don’t leave Him.”
You see, in order to correctly understand Scripture, you must meditate the Word correctly. And one of the ways that you and I do this is by asking questions—like, for instance, who was Jesus talking to here and why would He be telling His disciples this? These are important questions to ask, and if you ask them, it will bring more clarity.
You see, I used to assume that “abiding in Christ” was the same as those “in Him” and “in Christ” truths that the apostle Paul made popular in his epistles. But just by asking those questions I just mentioned caused me to find out that this couldn’t be true. Why? It is because it wouldn’t have made any sense for Jesus to tell His disciples to be “in Him” like Paul was referring to because He hadn’t gone to the Cross yet and all of those “in Him” truths are spiritual realities that took place after Jesus’ resurrection. Plus, by considering the meaning of the word “abide” we can see something specific Jesus was saying: He was telling His disciples who had been with Him over the past three years, to remain with Him. In other words, it was as if Jesus were saying, “Don’t leave the house that you have been staying in for the past three years. Do not depart from it. Continue to stay in this place.”
Now what have we learned here at HPC about the house of the Lord? For example, when David said in Psalm 27:4 that his one desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, what did he mean? He didn’t mean he wanted to go to church every day; no, he was saying that he wanted to dwell (i.e. abide) in God’s presence all the days of his life. This is essentially what Jesus was encouraging His disciples to do—to continue living in His house even though the house itself will be moving.
You see, it needs to also be understood that the terminology Jesus used of abiding “in Him” can also mean to be “in the midst of someone” and not necessarily “inside” of them. Now it can mean both, but the obvious meaning here in John chapter 15 is to be “in the midst” or “in the presence” of the Lord Jesus seeing that this is what His disciples had been experiencing for the past three years.
HOW COULD JESUS’ DISCIPLES STAY IN HIS PRESENCE?
So, the following question begs to be answered then: How could they stay or remain in His presence when He was about to no longer be present with them? That’s a good question, isn’t it?
What Jesus was obviously instructing His disciples to do was to stay close and connected to Him. Now what is interesting about this is that He was telling them this in the same breath as telling them He would soon be leaving them—obviously referring to His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God. So, Jesus was letting His disciples know, in His last and (you could say) most vital words to them, that they must make sure that they stay in His presence—even though He would soon not be present with them.
As we’ve seen, abiding in Him is what Jesus exhorted His disciples to do because He was about to leave them. In other words, because they had been abiding in Him through His physical presence in their lives for the past three years, now He is telling them to remain in Him—especially in the wake of Him leaving. So, in other words, He was telling them He would soon be leaving them, but for them not to leave Him. Likewise, we too can see how we can obviously stay in His presence even if He is not physically present. Amen! This was what Jesus was teaching His disciples.
But we must come into this truth with this foundational understanding—that Jesus is always present with us. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). Other Scriptures teach us that He will never leave us or forsake us and even describe Jesus walking in the midst of the church (Deuteronomy 31:6 & Revelation 2:1).
So, we need to understand that God is always present, but that does not mean that we are abiding in His presence. There is a big difference between these two positions. Sure, God is omnipresent—meaning He is everywhere, all the time. But that does not mean that He is tangibly felt and experienced everywhere, all the time.
You see, there is a difference between the Lord being present in the spirit realm and being present in the physical realm. And, oh, how there are so many benefits to Him being in the natural all around us!
This is such an important lesson for us, because with our tendency to be carnal, we want something tangible and want to “feel” something. Jesus was exhorting His disciples in the wake of Him leaving them, to where there will be no more physical Jesus around anymore, to make sure they “remain in Him.”
So, the Lord was exhorting His disciples then (and us as His disciples today) to stay in the midst of Him like He was still in their midst. Amen.
And He uses the analogy of a vine and its branches to describe this principle of abiding. So, what would be some words or phrases you would use to describe a branch “abiding in” a vine? You might say, “a branch staying connected to the vine” or “a branch remaining attached to the vine.”
So, what if a branch did not stay connected to its trunk? What if one day it was attached and then others, it was off doing its own thing? What would become of that branch? It might not completely lose its life, but it will never be able to produce its fruit. Why? Because as is with everything in life—being consistent is the key. We cannot plant seeds one day and dig them up the next. We cannot be connected to the Lord one day and then disconnected the next. This is what Jesus was teaching them and us in this parable—being consistent, connected and attached to Him.
This is why Jesus went on to say in verse four— “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me.” In other words, unless we abide (remain, stay or dwell) in the vine, we cannot bear fruit. Why? Because we cannot bear fruit of ourselves. We must stay connected to the vine so that the entire process of fruit production can transpire.
This is important in every area of life: For example, when it comes to the healing of our bodies, we cannot bear the fruit of healing ourselves. Healing, as any other fruit of our covenant relationship with the Lord, comes through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every manifestation of God’s promises—barring special manifestations of the Spirit—is going to come through this process.
WALKING WITH GOD BY FAITH
Now this describes the part faith has to play in this whole thing. Did you know that you can have just as good of a relationship with the Lord by faith as you do by feelings, by sight, etc. Faith has substance! (Hebrews 11:1)! So, when we make a decision that we are going to walk with Him by faith, we can have all the natural effects of walking with Him physically. Amen!
Do you remember how God came down and was walking in the Garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8)? This Scripture implies that this was not an uncommon occurrence. Apparently, the Lord came to walk with Adam & Eve on a regular basis because we see how they were familiar with His sound walking in the Garden. But then, when sin entered and they were banished from the Garden, a man named Enoch—being Adam’s great (x4) grandson—who was born outside of this Garden experience said, “I’m going to walk with God by faith!
I like to imagine that what happened here was that Enoch heard about how his great, great, great, great Grandad, Adam, used to walk with God in the Garden. Perhaps he went to see his great (x4) granddad and listen to him tell stories of what it was like to walk with God (Adam was still alive during Enoch’s lifetime, living for 930 years). So, this stirred Enoch up! Therefore, he determined that he was going to walk with God just like his great (x4) granddaddy did. But the difference was that he was going to have to do it by faith—which he obviously did successfully.
Now while we do not know if this is exactly what happened, what we do know is that Enoch indeed walked with his God by faith. We know this because Hebrews 11:5 says that Enoch was translated because He had this testimony—that He pleased God, which was because He did this “By faith.” Then verse 6 goes on to echo this truth by saying that faith is how one pleases God. And that Scripture in Genesis says that He walked with God (see Genesis 5:24). That’s all it told us. So, we can see that what Enoch did that pleased God so much was He walked with Him by faith. Not because God physically walked with him in the cool of the day, but simply because he chose to walk with Him by faith. So, this excited God so much, that He just had to take Him a little early.
And this is exactly what we, as Christ’s disciples, are called to do—to walk with Him by faith and abide in His presence all the days of our lives. This is how we can please our Lord and Savior the most—by abiding in His house every day. Along this line, let me encourage you to not waste your trials - they are opportunities to please God by “seeing by faith” the resolution of that trial while you are still in it.
HOW DO WE ABIDE IN HIM?
Now that leads me to the practical part of this message. Since we are called to walk with Him by faith, the obvious question we should be asking is—How do we abide in Him? In other words, how do we practically stay, remain, live and dwell in His manifest presence like He has told us to?
Well, let me recount to you something that the Lord told me before along these lines: The Lord opened my eyes to this truth that we have been studying several years back concerning the importance of abiding in the Lord. You see, I saw vividly how “apart from Him we can do nothing.” Therefore, I saw how important it was that we indeed do learn how to abide in Him because He is our source for any and all fruit we desire to produce.
Now I had obviously experienced this connection with the Lord to a degree at various times during my life as we all probably have. But what I had failed to experience was a consistent and continual abiding in Him that Jesus was talking about here in John chapter 15.
Well, this prompted me to hunger and thirst for this abiding relationship with the Lord. So, one day, I was asking the Lord to teach me to continually abide in Him. I was saying, “Lord show me how to consistently abide! Teach me to continually abide in You!” and as I had intended on these words to come out of my mouth, I uttered a different prayer that by passed my understanding. Instead, the words of my prayer turned into— “Lord, let your praise be continually in my mouth!”
Now this was obviously a Holy Spirit inspired prayer because I was not thinking this in any way, shape or form. Then the Lord revealed to me that this was how we continually abide in Him—by His praise being continually in our mouth. Amen! In other words, the way we continually abide in His manifest presence is by His praise being continually in our mouth. Amen!
The obvious Scripture that the Lord was leading me to pray was from Psalm 34:1 that says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And you have to know that the Lord, would not give us directions like this unless it benefited us in some way. Why? Because He is a God of love, and love is always seeking the welfare and benefit of someone else.
You see, God does not seek praise and worship because He is some glory hunter that just can’t get enough of everyone telling Him how great and wonderful He is. No, the Lord gives us repeated instructions to praise & worship Him because He is trying to get something to us, not just something through us. In other words, He knows how much our continually praising and worshiping Him ministers to us.
And so, what He was teaching me is that one of the greatest benefits of us learning to bless the Lord at all times is that we will abide in Him. Now this should be rather obvious to us because of all the Scriptures that teach us how God inhabits the praises of His people and how worship draws us into the holy of holies.
You see, our feelings and experiences are directly tied to our thoughts and focus. So, when we fix our eyes on Him—His greatness, glory and power—we begin to sense, become aware of, and feel His tangible presence. In other words, it begins to affect our surroundings. Amen!
We see this clearly illustrated in Philippians chapter four: In verses 4-8, we see the apostle Paul giving us some clear instructions that range from rejoicing always to thinking only on things that are praiseworthy. But then he goes on to give us one of the primary benefits to applying these things to our lives.
Notice how in Philippians 4:9 the Apostle Paul says, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Now, first of all, what does Paul mean when he said that the God of peace will be with us? Didn’t the Lord promise to never leave us nor forsake us? Didn’t He promise that He would be with us, even to the end of the world? He sure did! So, what does Paul mean when he said that God will be with us if we do the things that He taught and walked out in his life? That seems contrary to these other Scriptures that teach us that we don’t have to do anything to keep God with us.
But we must understand that there is a big difference between God being with us spiritually (i.e. as pertaining to the spirit realm) and Him being with us physically (i.e. tangibly in the natural realm around us). God most certainly is with us all the time positionally, but we also have the ability to have Him be manifested in our lives in an experiential and tangible way.
But we need to understand that this physical experience of Him is not automatic. That is easy to see. Few believers consistently carry the presence of the Lord around with them. But this is a blessed place to live—where His presence is experienced, felt, and tasted. Amen!
But the Apostle of faith had a specific fruit of God’s tangible presence in mind here. Mind you, the context here of all that he was teaching revolved around peace. So, it can be surmised that he is concluding his instructions on walking in the peace of God by saying “the God of peace will be with you!”
So, again, why did he call God, “the God of peace” here? It was because the subject up to this point in Philippians chapter four is the peace of God. Now here is a powerful truth: The fruit of having the God of peace manifested in our lives is having the peace of God manifested in our lives! In other words, when we have the God of peace in our lives, we have the peace of God in our lives. When we have peace, we’ve experienced a piece of God. Hallelujah! That is what the Holy Spirit had in mind as He inspired this truth to be recorded!
In other words, the example that Paul gave through his words and deeds is how we can experience more of the God of peace in our lives which in turn causes us to experience more of the peace of God in our lives. Peace is the manifest presence of the God of peace.
You see, peace is the manifest presence of God. This is why time spent in the presence of God is so important! Strife is the manifest presence of the devil. But when you have the peace of God all around you, it is proof that you have God all around you. Fear and strife is the devil personified. Love, joy and peace is the Lord personified!
So, herein lies a great way to know when you are walking in the experiential, tangible presence of the Prince of Peace—you will walk in His peace.
So, if Paul said that all we need to do to experience the peace of God in our lives is follow his example and his teachings, what is it that we need to follow? Well, what did he say in verse 9 again? “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and…”
So, the key to experiencing the manifest presence of the God of peace in our lives—which results in us walking in the peace of God—is “doing” these four things in Philippians 4:4-8. And, church, that is what all of this boils down to—being doers of these truths. Deliberately, rejoicing in the Lord always. Purposefully, not being anxious about anything and taking everything to Him in prayer. Intentionally, thinking on these things. If we keep our attention on Him through these things, we can expect the manifest presence of Jesus to go with us everywhere we go. Amen.
You know, the Scriptures teach us very clearly that walking in peace is directly related to our minds. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”
Now when you see the words “perfect peace” it is actually, in the Hebrew, “shalom, shalom.” So instead of translating this verse as “peace, peace,” they just needed to add the emphasis that was being made—thus the translation of the words as “perfect peace.” So, we are talking about some major league peace here—not just peace, but peace upon peace.
You could say that we are talking about what the Apostle Paul described in Philippians 4:7, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus! This is perfect peace—the peace that surpasses all understanding! Amen!
But another good point to make here is that, as Paul said in Philippians 4:7, this peace which surpasses all understanding, will guard (or, keep) our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. And doesn’t Isaiah 26:3 say that He will “keep” us in perfect peace when our mind is stayed on Him? It sure does! So, what we see here is that when we keep our minds stayed on Him, He will keep us in absolute peace! Glory to God!
Romans 8:6 teaches us this same principle: In it, Paul says, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
The Apostle Paul had just gotten done in verse 5 saying that those live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. In other words, where the mind goes the man will follow. Our outward lives are a reflection of the way we think. This is why I like to say (like the world says that we are what we eat) spiritually speaking, we are what we think! Amen!
But what Paul is referring to here is the “setting of one’s mind” on fleshly things or spiritual things. The phrase “set their minds on” comes from the Greek word “phroneo” and means “to regard or be mindful.” It describes where our interests lie—what we entertain and how we are directing our mind.
ABIDING IN THE LIGHT
So, in conclusion, this walking with the presence of the Prince of Peace is simply another way of describing “walking in the light.” Now I made reference earlier that just as we must have seed, good soil, and the knowledge of how to sow the seed into the soil, we also need to have sunlight and water to continue the growth process of the plant. Well, I see abiding in Him as the keeping ourselves in the SON-LIGHT. Let me explain:
Doesn’t the Bible teach us that God’s very presence is the LIGHT? 1 John 1:5 says, “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” James 1:17 also describes Him as “…the Father of light with whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning.” So, we can clearly see because of the light 😊 of these two passages of Scripture that God’s very presence is light.
So here is my point: Just as the “Sun” is the source of energy of the plants, the “Son” is the author of life itself and He is the only One who enables us to grow to maturity. In fact, just as plants grow closer to the light that is shining on them, so also, when we spend time in His presence, we will grow towards His image and likeness.
You see, all of this goes back to the saying- “You become like who you are around.” In other words, who you fellowship with will determine the fruit you have. We need to “hang out” with Jesus in order to be like Him because we will adapt to the environment that we are placed in.
Therefore, we must spend time in God’s presence if the seed inside of us is ever going to grow. This is why I stress the importance of having a relationship with God. We can go to church, be around other believers, and even hear good sermons and never grow. It is not until we start spending alone time with God—worshipping and fellowshipping—that we are capable of growing towards Him.
Church, this is how we position ourselves to walk with God—by putting our attention on Him. If we can train ourselves to continuously praise Him and to set our mind on Him, we can pull into this physical realm what is always a reality in the spiritual realm. This is abiding in Him. Even when we cannot see Him, we can be with Him. Let’s stay in His house—that is, in His presence. This should be our one desire as it was with King David—that we would dwell in His house (i.e. His presence) all the days of our life (see Psalm 27:4)—never leaving Him or forsaking Him. And when we abide in His secret place, there are a myriad of benefits including peace, protection and provision. And according to John 15:7, we will begin to see the fruit of the things we have desired of the Lord. Amen.