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February 21, 2017

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Encourage0gram February 21, 2017
Encourage0gram  February 21, 2017
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
How I give thanks to God for each of you!  You are faithful and I am grateful to my Lord for giving me the privilege of serving as you Pastor. FCC is not a perfect church but we are a healthy church. One of the principles that will keep us healthy, individually and corporately, is remaining in Christ.  Jesus introduces this truth in John 15:5:
 
NIV John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   
 
I have recently been reviewing a book by the Scottish Reformed Pastor Andrew Murray. It is a devotional book entitled: “Abide in Christ: the Joy of being in God’s Presence.”  Here is what I have learned so far from Murray.
 
Abiding in Christ calls us to
 
1.     Absolute Dependence.  A branch on a vine would surely confess this to be true. The branch is dependent for everything from the vine. Another writer says it this way: “absolute, unalterable dependence upon God alone is the essence of the religion of angels and should be that of men also.”  The vine puts down the roots and roots feed the branches. Therefore, let us learn to be nothing; learn to be helpless.
 
2.     Deep Restfulness.  Murray calls us to imagine an interview with a branch.  The branch would immediately give all honor to the branch for life, health and growth.  The branch does nothing but receive from the vine.  So it is with us.  Would this make us slothful? Murray asks.  Then adds: “No one who learns to rest upon the living Christ can become slothful, for the closer your contact with Christ the more of the Spirit of His zeal and love will be borne in upon you.”  He concludes with these inspiring words: “Workers, take your place every day at the fee of Jesus, in the blessed peace and rest that come from the knowledge – I have no care, my cares are His!  I have no fear; He cares for all my fears.”
 
3.     Much Fruitfulness.  This world needs more workers. Workers with new power.  Workers who live a different life and give blessings away to others.  Our fruit he says comes out of the inner life in fellowship with Christ.  In other words, it is the fruit of vine displayed in the life of the branch. Murray sees a distinction between work and fruit. “There may be a good deal of work for Christ that is not the fruit of the heavenly Vine.  Do not seek for work only!”  Fruit is seen in our character and in the impact Christ is having in others through us. 
 
4.     Close Communion.  Abiding work is work of the heart. He suggests that seasons of prayer are essential to close fellowship with Christ. We must believe and practice such communion. Christ will gladly give us this blessing if we ask for it.
 
5.     Absolute Surrender.  Again the little branch would confess that he is fit for nothing yet he bears fruit.  All fruit is due to the power of the Vine. The challenge is simply this: “As Christ was given up entirely to God, I am given up entirely to Christ.”  It is not by our works that we keep from sin.  He warns that “we find the Christian life so difficult because we seek for God’s blessing while we live in our own will.  . .  . Our relation to Jesus ought to be such that we are entirely at His disposal and every day come to Him humbly and straightforwardly and say: ‘Lord is there anything in me that is not according to Thy will, that has not been ordered by Thee, or that is not entirely given up to Thee?’”  Do not keep one sin back from Christ.  Let your surrender be absolute. Surely this is a battle! It is in my mind the “good fight” of the faith that Paul spoke about in 2 Timothy 4:7. 
 
As you review these thoughts from Andrew Murray, plead with the Holy Spirit to speak to you.  Ask Him to direct your hearts into His presence with deeper intimacy.  Abiding in Christ is a life-long blessing.  It requires times of evaluation which lead us into deeper seasons of trust and dependence on Christ. Remember to rest in the Lord! 
 
This Sunday at FCC we will continue our journey with Peter from Mark 6. I look forward to worshipping with you my brothers and sisters!
 
Your servant for Jesus’ sake,
Pastor Rick
 

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