When our puppy was younger, I seized opportunities to star gaze, at times, when I’d let him out in the middle of the night. I frequently would get caught, looking up in the clear, night sky for specific constellations, when our puppy would surprise me by choosing a new place to sniff and yank me and my neck on to the next spot. I couldn’t help it! The sky was captivating! I felt the same when our kids would do night sky observations in school! The beauty of the stars, amidst a clear, dark backdrop, stirred such soul-filling emotions toward my Creator!
I heard a song last week that, musically, lyrically, brought me to that place, again…a place of awe and wonder. I couldn’t help but include it in my Soul Food page (if you look on the Soul Food page and don’t find it, please know that that page is updated periodically, so it may have changed since the date of this post). In continuing to listen to this song, I’ve been stirred by the Spirit to share it with you all, in case you have yet to hear it. I hope the lyrics and melody spark a beautiful conversation between you and your Creator!
Sometimes, lessons are tough. While I knew the LORD wanted me to write about abiding in Him this week, it didn’t hit me until now that He was showing me an example of what it looked like through a situation that developed in our home over the course of a couple days this week. A lack of communication and different points of view amongst members of our family had led to hurt feelings, alienation, frustration, and anger. I remember sitting on my bed, saying to the LORD, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 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 15:4-5 NASB 1977
The Greek word for “abide” is “menó.” It has a number of different meanings, but in this particular verse, it means two things.
The first meaning of menó is to be kept, to remain. I just wrote about this in the Bible study the LORD and I are writing (another confirmation that He’s been preparing me for this and giving me clear eyes to see). I SOOOO want to delve deeper on this here!! It stirs my soul, but I’ll just leave that where it is and, hopefully, you’ll look forward to digging in further when the study comes out (I post updates on how the study is coming along in the footer of each page on this site, so feel free to check in now and then to see how it’s coming along and, hopefully, to pray with me.). Today, we’ll focus on remaining or being kept. It’s talking about where you are. In fact, menó is used in John 19:31, when the Jews didn’t want the bodies of Jesus and the two criminals He was crucified next to remaining on the crosses during the Sabbath; they asked Pilate to have their legs broken to speed up their death, so their bodies could be taken off/away. Another phrase we could use here is to stay.
I love the first part of the definition–“to be kept.” There are two parts to the “keeping” to consider. First, God is keeping, preserving, and protecting us.
“The LORD is your protector, there at your right side to shade you from the sun.”Psalm 121:5 CEV
The word for “protector,” in this verse, is also defined as “keep, preserve.”
“11Holy Father, I am no longer in the world. I am coming to You, but My followers are still in the world. So keep them safe by the power of the name You have given Me. Then, they will be one with each other, just as You and I are one. 12While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me. I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled. Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world, so that they may have My joy completed in them. I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I am not praying that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one.”John 17:11 CEV, 17:12-15 HCSB
This truth continues here, as Christ made the Father’s character visible to His followers and asked Him to keep and protect them, to guard them from being lost or succumbing, with the focus on preserving His followers. “His followers” includes those of us who’ve accepted Christ as the sacrifice for our sins and have chosen to follow Him!
While the first part of “keeping” is what God does, the second part is on us…we’re to stay put. We need to remain under the Father’s active guard, accepting His guidance and commands; this is, actually, the second meaning of menó–not to leave, to continue to be present. If we step out from under the shadow (shade) of a tree, we’re exposed to the heat and harm of the sun. It’s the same with God. If we remain next to Him, we’ll experience His protection; He’ll cause us to persevere and stand firm, when things come our way, but if we decide we want to walk away from Him to explore something that opposes Him, we’ll be exposed to the enemy (“the evil one”).
“Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel…”Psalm 73:23-24a NKJV
“Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.”2 John 1:9 NLT
I’ve always heard of “abiding” as “to live/dwell.” It’s deeper…closer…than that. When we live with our families, we do life together, but we may also step out to go to the store or work. When we live in a menó relationship with God, we remain present, close beside Him, and He remains our Keeper, our Protector.
I remained beside Him, as I poured out my heart on my bed, and it wasn’t long before a peace calmed my soul. He guided me in the words to say and how to interact, mediate, and encourage. I observed with each family member that the enemy was targeting us, once again; I wasn’t going to let him win…and neither was my Keeper! Throughout the evening, I watched the enemy leave, as I chose not to; and our faithful Protector was active and victorious!
“So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.”James 4:7 GWT
God wanting me to dig into “abide” with eyes wide open was affirmed this past week, when a dear friend ordered the sign you saw in this post’s initial image from my daughter’s new little business venture, DFH (Designs for HIM). She’s making Home Goods To Encourage and Inspire, growing her product line, and customizing when asked. “Abide” was a word that was resonating with my friend, and she wanted something simple as a reminder. I think I need one for our home, too.
Today is full of many opportunities that we choose to invest in or slam the door on. If you’re a parent, you know you have different opportunities to make time for your kids, but even during that time, you have the choice of how or if you truly invest in your child. Same goes for your spouse, if you have one. What kind of choices are you making with your time? If you’re single, those choices are still there, especially with your close friends!
“You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called ‘today.’ If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn.”Hebrews 3:13 CEV
The compound Greek word translated “encourage,” here, means “to call from being close beside.” It makes sense that we’re going to have a hard time doing this, if we keep people at a distance. “Call,” in this instance, relates to speaking to another to warn or encourage them. There’s another word, kata, that shows up in the Greek, but its meaning isn’t as pronounced in the English translations of this verse. It can mean “during,” but it can also mean “by” with reference to someone testifying by something. In this context, one would be a testifier of Truth, sent by God through the Holy Spirit, urging someone or requesting, with serious, intense conviction, that they do something or stop doing something. We are to call on others to also testify, by the Spirit, of Christ…to declare His truths or give evidence of Him and/or His living in them; their testimony would include doing this something you are urging them to do, as the Spirit has prompted/directed, or not doing something that would hinder a positive representation of Christ. The meaning of this word, kata, is “bring down exactly, complete.” In this verse, we would be testifying to the Spirit’s teaching or prompting and the truths of Christ, bringing them down to the earth by fleshing it out.
It’s pretty hard to do any of this with any hope of making a positive impact, if we aren’t walking with someone in life: a) We won’t know what they’re dealing with, because we haven’t spent time connecting with them and b) We won’t have the relationship with them through which they may be willing to hear what the LORD is wanting to say through us. This can be challenging in a world marred by Covid, in which we may have turned more inwardly, but this verse commands us to do this every day…sun up to sun down. Whenever we can call it “today,” we’re responsible for this. This speaks to me.
Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal if we miss an opportunity or two…but it does when we see that the person may be deceived by their sin, if we don’t, which leads to their becoming stubborn. I’ve known the definition of sin as “missing the mark,” but another definition of this Greek word is new to me. Sin’s a compound word and means “not” + “a part, share of.” What is doing the deceiving in this verse is not a part of God, not a share of Who He is. If someone is participating in or believing something that’s not even a part of God, they may become stubborn, being super determined not to change their view or attitude toward the sin. They rely on their own power, rather than God’s, or doing what they want. That’s scary and very concerning, when I think of this. I don’t want my not doing something the Spirit of God calls me to do to allow even an opportunity for someone to become hardened in their sin! I think we may act more on what the Spirit is prompting us to do and not be concerned with a “lack of time, inability, the fact that it’s uncomfortable, or that we may lose a friend if we say something,” if we know something bigger is at stake. The verse before calls it “an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12b CSB).” I don’t want to be responsible for that or have that myself! Do you?
This section of verses (Hebrews 3:7-15) starts and ends with the Holy Spirit’s call to us. Last post, we talked about being tethered to (or walking with) God’s Spirit. Just like He is wanting us to do to others, He is wanting to walk in relationship with us, so we can hear Him call to us more clearly and be more open to the instruction, encouragement, and warnings He wants to share with us. Verses 7 and 15 say, “Today” (which is every day, right?), if you hear [(identify or recognize the noticeable words of)] His voice, you won’t harden your heart [(the extent of your voluntary, moral desires or choices) by resisting what God says is right].”
Early last school year, we saw a man and woman, running side by side together, attached with a tether. I hadn’t seen anything like it! The only thing I’d seen that was somewhat close was those little backpacks littles wear that tether them to their care givers when they’re in a crowded, public place, so the care givers don’t lose them. Apparently, some runners choose this when one of the runners is blind or partially blind; one of the runners serves as a guide to the other. Some tethers have a loop on each end of a piece of fabric or band; each runner either hangs onto their end’s loop or lets it hang around their wrists. The couple we saw had a rope tied around each runner’s waist; this type of tether is, apparently, used when the runner in need of a guide has better vision…or just a lot of practice.
“But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].”Galatians 5:16 AB
The Greek word for “walk” in this verse concerns all moral aspects of our lives. It refers to how we conduct ourselves, according to what standard; what the standard is dictates how we live. According to this verse, the directed standard we should have is God’s, which is made known to us through the instruction and guidance of His Spirit. When we walk with Him, this verse says we won’t carry out the desire of our sinful nature (or “flesh”). However, if we rely on ourselves or the world as our standard, we’ll live life, making our own decisions, based on what gratifies us. The Greek word for “flesh” (or “sinful nature”), in this verse, talks about our temperament (how our nature affects our behavior in a permanent kind of way) and includes how we perceive things, when our senses are stimulated, as well as how we justify or explain things; the focus here is “we” and makes a point that it’s done without the Spirit of God’s influence and is opposed to Him.
Months ago, before training and getting our “walking collar,” our puppy was a train wreck to walk! He was growing in size, and his then 60 lbs. would abruptly “yank my arm out of socket” any time he saw something that excited him or “needed” further investigation. I stopped trying to walk him for a time and found other ways to exercise him, because I, physically, had such a difficult time with this.
After training and introducing him to his new “walking collar,” he looked at me and our walks in a whole new way! His leash is kept short; he stays right by my side; he stops and sits when I stop; he starts walking when I start to walk; he looks around, but doesn’t stare (most of the time); he doesn’t bark at other dogs, barking at him, or chase squirrels or birds…It’s so refreshing!!! He’s happy; I’m happy! We both enjoy our walks, now, immensely!
Maybe, to us, it doesn’t seem like we’re yanking or pulling too hard away from God; we’re in “the vacinity” of His Spirit. There’s a heart check in the verses that follow the one above (vs. 19-26) that helps us see if our perceptions match reality. If any of the following (among others in these verses) are in our lives, it should be evident to us that we are pulling away from (opposing) God, choosing our own direction:
I’m praying for you. May we all see clearly the areas in our lives the Spirit is wanting to guide us in and give us further training. May we be willing to obey and reap all the benefits of a tranquil walk with Him!
She was unloved, yet she longed for the attention, the affection, the favor of one.
I’ve embarked on a new, little routine. One of my favorite authors, Kelly Minter, started a podcast. Each episode is a good half hour long and digs deep into different portions of Scripture. I love this kind of thing, but 30 minutes of quiet can be tough to achieve amidst already needing quiet time to write different posts as well as the Bible study the LORD and I are working on and carving out time for my family. However, an idea popped into my head; I started using the time when I put make-up on, do my hair, etc., to listen to an episode of her podcast. These times aren’t super often these days; my “dolled up” days are declining, but God still uses when I have them to speak while I’m getting ready, as He faithfully has.
I recently listened to Episode 4: When People Aren’t Enough. This podcast took a deep look at the familiar story in Genesis of Rachel and Leah. It uncovered their desires and where their focus was. After listening to this episode, I dug further into portions of this text. Here are some additional things the LORD revealed, that I found interesting.
“Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was unable to have children.”Genesis 29:31 NASB
Here are a couple things I loved, that Kelly brought out in her podcast about Leah, in particular.
Take some time to marinate in any of these truths that the LORD is making stand out to you, even if it’s just engaging with His Word on your heart throughout the day. If you have extra quiet time and want to take in this episode of Kelly’s podcast, click on the link below. Come back, afterward, and let me know what you think!
If you have a Leah in your life, would you encourage them by sharing this post with them?