“Earlier this morning,” Stan began, “as I am again making my way through the Bible, I got to the fiftieth chapter of John’s Gospel. Since that chapter has a special part of my faith walk, I thought it might be useful to talk about that again.”
“Good,” I replied. “Since I’m prone to forget lots of things, especially about my faith walk, reminders are always important. What do you have for me?”
“When I first became a Christian,” Stan said, “I knew without a doubt that my eternal destination had been changed.”
“To be in God’s eternal presence when your time here is completed,” I commented.
“Exactly,” Stan replied. “However, I had a hard time getting started with the part about knowing God for purposes of this side of eternity.”
“The part about being set apart, or sanctified, for what God has for you in being a disciple on this side of eternity?”
“That’s it,” Stan said. “As hard as I tried to develop a regular time with God to learn from Him, it just didn’t happen. I would spend some time with God for a few days, but it didn’t last. Someone suggested I try journaling prayers, devotions, and the like. I tried that but found that after a couple of days, the next entry came weeks or months later.”
“I know what you mean. That can be frustrating. But, as I remember, you told me that something happened to change that.”
“Yes,” Stan replied. “The fifteenth chapter of John.”
“In what way?”
“I read a book that suggested a way to get started with a deeper relationship with God was to read the fifteenth chapter of John every day for a month, praying about what God had to show me in that particular chapter.”
“Why that one?” I asked.
“That’s the chapter about abiding in the vine. Jesus is the vine. I am to abide in Him. Focusing on that chapter helped me get started on a deepening faith walk that has only gotten deeper over the years since then.”
“With me, it was journaling. After reading the fifteen chapter of John every day for about two weeks, I began to write about what God was showing me. That journaling has continued to this day as I have gone through the Bible several times, verse by verse.”
“So,” I replied, “this is something you recommend for other people as a way to draw closer to God?”
“I do,” he said. “I recognize that journaling may not be for everyone, but for me it has been the way to see and to hear what God has for me. It began with the fifteen chapter of John in my faith walk, and I suggest it’s a good place for others to start.”
“Well,” I replied, “I hope at least some of them will give it a try.”
“Me, too,” Stan said. “It made a difference for me. I pray it will make a difference for them!”
Bible verses to consider:
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. John 15:16.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want me to draw ever closer to you in a deepening personal relationship built on abiding in Jesus. I confess that there are too many times when I choose not to abide in Him and in you because I choose to abide in something else, something apart from you. Please forgive that foolish approach to living the life you have given me to live. And please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead so I truly abide in you and Jesus just as you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious provision of life eternally with Him so you can abide in Him and Jesus? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with abiding in Jesus and with having Jesus abide in you? If you sense changes may be needed in that abiding, how are those changes going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?
S. Tory Teller’s book (Foreword by Josh McDowell), Waiting for the Train: Biblical Food for Growing before Going, is available from amazon.com and from the publisher directly at www.s-toryteller.com