OCTOBER A key principle for Christian living is found in the words of Jesus in the last phrase of John 15:5, “…Apart from Me you can do nothing.” When I think about this, I am always amazed at the truth of it in every area of my life. So, this month I want to encourage you to ponder this truth in your own life as I share some of the areas of my life where I apply it.
First, as a husband. God called Tina and I together and then married us in 1977. Up to that point, my life priorities were God first, His mission for my life second, and then my birth family third. But those priorities changed when we were joined together as wife and husband. The proper order was still God first, but now my mate became my second priority. My responsibility as a husband is a tall order. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” While I am strongly and deeply attracted to Tina, to love her in the same way that Christ loved the church demands that I let Jesus love her through me. Thus, to fulfill my obligation to my spouse, I can do nothing apart from Jesus.
Next, as a father. God blessed us with three children. My responsibilities to them have changed over the years. As small, growing children, it was to protect and provide, to love and nurture, and to teach and train. Now that they are all grown and on their own, it is to pray for them, support their families and be a godly example to our grandchildren. I am still here for them, even though as we get older, they are more-and-more stepping up to love and support us. To be the best loving, supportive, godly examples, we can do nothing apart from Jesus!
Then, of course is my personal walk with God. He is first priority in my life, by a long shot! I want to grow in His grace and knowledge. I want to resist (flee) temptation whenever confronted. I want to pray fervently. I want to share my faith with others. I want to continue to be passionate about this ministry to which He has called me. And so much more. For all that to happen, there is no time to be apart from Jesus!
I hope you are getting the idea for you own life. Consider your priorities, the people in your life, and the lifestyle you want to live that is pleasing to the Lord. And remember Jesus’ words, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” But also remember the words of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” God has already supplied everything we need to do and be everything to which He has called us. The rest of John 15:5 states, “I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Let us be sure to remain in Jesus each and every day of our life!
In Christ our living hope,
Back when I was leading worship, an important task in determining which songs we would sing in our worship services was to evaluate the song through the lens of the Scriptures. What I was looking for was strong biblical content that was musically beautiful and lyrically poetic. Some songs were rich with content but clumsy in their wording. Other songs were a little light on content but creative and beautifully expressed a simple truth. My most important tool in the evaluation process was to see how many of the lines and phrases in the lyric I could match with verses from the Bible. So, I decided for this newsletter article I would apply this to a favorite song of mine that Eric introduced us to some time back. The song is titled “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham.
The song begins, “How great the chasm that lay between us.” A reminder that apart from Christ we are separated from God. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your wrongdoings have caused a separation from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” This is our lot apart from Jesus. The song continues, “How high the mountain I could not climb.” Our situation, apart from Christ, was insurmountable in our own efforts.
As the song’s first verse continues, “In desperation, I turned to heaven and spoke your name into the night.” When we put our faith in Jesus, He saved us from a truly impossible and desperate situation. Ephesians 2:4-5 says it this way, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” We were spiritually dead. We needed life; we needed to be born again. The next lines of the song, “Then through the darkness Your loving kindness tore through the shadows of my soul.” We needed light, the light of Jesus. John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’”
And so verse one concludes, “The work is finished, the end is written Jesus Christ, my living hope.” It speaks to the completed work of Jesus. In fact that’s just what Jesus said in John 19:30 as He hung on the cross, “…It is finished…” Everything necessary for our forgiveness, for our salvation was completed by Jesus, nothing lacking. Thus Jesus Christ is, indeed, our living hope. And that directs us to what I believe is the theme verse for this song, First Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
The phrases of the chorus and the other two verses of the song are likewise reflected in the pages of Scripture. It was really quite fun and enriching to connect the Bible to the various themes of this song that is so rich with content. When it comes to worship and worship songs, it is vitally important that we remember the words of Jesus spoken to the woman at the well, “But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
In Christ our living hope,