Monday, May 7, 2012

Remain in Christ. Bear Fruit. Glorify God.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:5, 7-8)

“Remain in Me,” said Christ. To remain in Christ is not easy. A lot of times it is inconvenient. It’s challenging. It’s difficult. It’s painful. Maybe that’s one reason why Christ exhorts us to REMAIN in Him. Do you think Christ would tell us to do that if it were easy and natural for us?

I personally experience the challenge of remaining in Christ every day. There are days when the challenge is not that great. But there are also days when the challenge to remain in Christ brings me to my knees and moves me to cry buckets of tears. There were countless times in the past when I wanted to leave His side because I thought and felt that my life would be easier and less complicated that way. Sometimes I just feel tired doing things in the way God wants me to. But thanks be to God that He never fails to enlighten me and make me see that it is better (it is best actually) for me to remain in Him. Thank God for the grace to choose to remain in His Son, Jesus, who gives me strength to do what I many times think is impossible or difficult.

Bear fruit. Bear MUCH fruit. Meditating on the Gospel today humbles me and gives me confidence at the same time. It humbles me to remember that apart from Christ, I can do nothing. I may be doing MUCH now but ALL these I am able to do only because Christ is my strength and He enables me. it gives me confidence too because I know that as long as I remain in Christ, I need not be afraid to do all that God asks me to do. I may sometimes feel inadequate, inexperienced and ill-equipped. But Christ tells me today, just like in the past, that all I need is to remain in Him and what I think or feel to be beyond me and my capabilities are not beyond His power and influence. What comforting and empowering words from Jesus!

I remember one of the presentations I gave this year. I recounted all the accomplishments that God blessed me with. Some of those who listened to my sharing thought that what I did was inappropriate. Some thought that I was bragging. They failed to see that I was simply pointing out that if it were only me, I wouldn’t have accomplished all those things. I did not study for those things. Compared to many, I would be considered inexperienced. But because God was the hand behind my every endeavor, they turned out to be successful. Do I take credit for them? No! I only bore much fruit because I had the right connection. I was connected to Jesus. If not for Jesus and His strength, I would not be able to accomplish all that I had accomplished in my life.

I was moved to shed tears of joy on my birthday this year when on that day as I attended a Holy Week retreat, the speaker enumerated his accomplishments as well. It was Good Friday and my husband and I were attending day 2 of our retreat. I felt God consoling me and negating the lies of the devil as the speaker give his talk in a similar manner as I did months ago. I felt God tell me that He knows my heart and that He knows my real intention in sharing all our accomplishments. Yes, I say OUR because I believe that it was not me only who worked on those accomplishments. God helped me. God equipped me. I was struck the most when the speaker said as he enumerated his accomplishments through the years, “Sinasabi ko po ito sa inyo hindi dahil nagyayabang ako. (I’m not sharing these because I’m bragging/boasting.) Sinasabi ko po ito para malaman ninyo na kung hindi dahil kay God hindi ko mararating ang mga narrating ko o magagawa ang mga nagagawa ko ngayon. (I’m sharing these with you to tell you that if not for God, I won’t be able to go to all the places I’ve been to or do all that I am doing today.)” Wow! My heart leapt for joy! I felt embraced by God. I felt God defending me against the lies of the enemy. It was as if God was silencing the enemy as He refutes the enemy’s lies through the people who were discouraging me from sharing how God has used me and blessed my life.

Then the speaker proceeded to quote a verse from Scripture: “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

That is so true. When I share about the things that God has enabled me to do and accomplish, it is because I want to testify to God’s goodness and power in my life. I want to give back the glory to Him. I want to point out to others what was obvious to me – that if it was only me, I wouldn’t be successful in those endeavors. It was really grace from God.

The speaker then proceeded to explain the verse. As he explained it further, I felt God building my confidence once more and commissioning me to keep on sharing my story so that others would believe that nothing is impossible with God. The devil was not happy with what I was doing because those who would hear could be inspired to take courage as well to pursue the dreams that God has planted in their hearts.

I was also reminded by God that when we carry Him in our hearts, we cannot help but shine the light of Christ. We shine not for ourselves but to give light to those who need to see the light and to lead others to Jesus, the source of all light. We shine to give glory to God our Father who bestows favors upon us.

GLORIFY GOD. Has the enemy silenced me? No. My God would not let him. In fact, God has given me more opportunities to testify for Him. God has given me more opportunities to yield to His grace and His strength as I say yes to the many assignments He is giving me these days. Again, am I boasting? I only boast of what the Lord is doing in my life. On my own, I have nothing to boast because all that I have came from Him. That truth sets my feet firmly on the ground. But that truth also lets my heart and my spirit soar because it blows my mind that the God of the universe chooses to use someone as insignificant and imperfect as me.

So as a grateful response to God’s exceeding goodness to me, I choose to REMAIN in Him, bear MUCH FRUIT for Him, and give Him GLORY with my life. I continue to use whatever time, talent and treasure He has blessed me with to do the good works He puts before me so that I can shine His light and glorify Him.

Let me end by sharing this song that was sang during my birthday in the retreat I attended. The title of the song is All About Your Glory by Tommy Walker.

That is the prayer of my heart… that everything I do would bring glory to His name.  If this song has inspired you too to give glory to God with your life, you may click here to learn the chords and the lyrics.

“Dear Lord, let me bear fruit as You see fit. Grant me the grace to allow You to work through me.” (from Didache)

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