Paul wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4.13). He learned that everything was possible to him, as long as he was living united to Jesus Christ.
Jesus spoke about what happens when people live separately from him. He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.
“Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15.5-6).
God loves people and desires a relationship with us. He arranged life to work best when we live with him and follow his instructions. God tied the success of the Hebrew nation to their relationship with him.
God’s Tangible Presence
God arranged the living conditions of the Israelites in such a way that they would experience his blessing or disapproval.
The Egyptians could be self-reliant, because of their proximity to the Nile River. However, life in the promised land was to be one of dependence on God’s care of the land.
— Deuteronomy 11.10-12 – For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden.
But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky,
A land that the Lord your God looks after. The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
God told the people that their fortune in the promised land was intimately related to their relationship with him.
— Deuteronomy 11.13-14 – If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul—
Then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil.
The nation was able to gauge its relationship with God by the availability of rain for its crops.
Abundant rain was cause for gratitude and the lack of it was the motivation for self-examination.
Isaiah dealt with the problem of pride and self-sufficiency. When difficulties arose in his time, the words of the people revealed the true nature of their relationship with God.
They said, “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place” (Isaiah 9.10).
From the birth of America until recent years, hurricanes, forest fires, wars, and plagues were accompanied by prayer meetings. People asked God to reveal how they may repent and return to their relationship with him.
Today, the talk seems to be that of better building materials, military strategy, and medicine.
Have we left dependence upon God and chosen self-sufficiency?
The Importance of Memory
John of the Cross pictured the spiritual life as a staircase. The stairs are “tools” that allow us to ascend to our destination at the top.
The destination of the spiritual staircase is union with God.
The knowledge and memory of God’s word are one of the stairs that leads us to union with our loving God.
— Deuteronomy 11.18-21 – You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,
So that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
The Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 4), the Great Love Commandment (Deuteronomy 6.5), and the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) should be know and remembered by all.
John of the Cross reminded his readers that we hear Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels and that they should be read on a daily basis.
His method involved (1) reading the Bible, (2) meditation on it, (3) prayer about it, and (4) contemplation of the truth it reveals.
The use of our memory of God’s teaching is a very important step along the way to a meaningful relationship with God. We cheat ourselves out of the best life possible if we don’t take this step toward union with God.
Jesus’ Full Message
Earlier in the article, I quoted Jesus’ words about people who believe they can have a full life apart from him.
Here are his words about what happens when we live in an abiding relationship with him.
— John 15.4-5 – Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
Just as God promised rain for crops in the land, Jesus promises the best life possible to people who live with him. This abundant life includes answered prayer and the experience of God’s love.
— Answered Prayer – John 15.7 – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
— God’s Love – John 15.9 – As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.
At all times, obedience to God’s commands is the way we demonstrate that we love him.
— John 15.10-11 – If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You will appreciate his insights into this passage.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.