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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

With


Feet touching the ground, lungs breathing the air, mouth eating the food--
dwelling with the people He knit together in mamas' wombs,
speaking words to ears he hand-crafted, Holy God in the flesh,
abiding in the world He created. 

It is Immanuel’s voice, the voice of the God who is with us, that we hear in John 15.  Preparing His disciples for His death, Jesus shares these words of life to teach the with-ness that will be the trademark of His kingdom. 

Vines, branches, gardeners…these are not just examples, these things were created for the purpose of illustrating unseen spiritual realities.  When He created vines and determined that branches must stay connected, He knew this would be a clear picture of infinite truth to finite minds.  Physical realities mimic spiritual truth, not the other way around.

If God had only sacrificed His Son to be the scapegoat for the punishment of humanity’s sin, that would have been more than enough.  Salvation alone displays His goodness and abundant love.  But since God is an “exceedingly more” kind of God, He went further, much further. 
We hear God’s call to enjoy Him in abundance throughout Scripture. 
 
for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…and you have been given fullness in Christ…open wide your mouth and I will fill it…for God gives the Spirit without limit…call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Colossians 2:9-10; Psalm 81:10; John 3:34; Jeremiah 3:33  

 
A friend recently taught me about "dayenu."  A song sung at the Jewish Passover, it's a word that means it would have been enough for us.  There are fifteen stanzas in the song and each is followed by Dayenu!--it would have been enough for us: "...If He brought us out of Egypt--Dayenu!...If He had fed us manna--Dayenu!..." 
 
This is our extravagant God.  
 
If He had only saved us from our sin it would have been enough for us--dayenu;
if He only rescued us from our willful destruction it would have been enough for us--dayenu.   
 
He not only redeemed us, through no merit or effort of our own, but He also deposited His Spirit within our hearts—the Spirit that would enable all who believe to live their days in Him—Yes, in the very presence of God.  He has graciously poured Himself out and graciously poured Himself into us.  We are in Him and He is in us. 
 
This is a revolutionary intimacy. 
 
When Jesus is speaking of the vine and how the branch must remain in the vine, how it bears much fruit because of the source, He is giving them, and us, the foundational secret to life with God.   This is the secret to wisdom, knowledge, joy, impact…this is everything.  You either bear much fruit or you can do nothing, with abiding as the determining factor. 

When we abide in Christ, we make our home in Him, we live in Him.  Everything is now in Christ—our daily tasks, our relationships, our dreams—in Him we live, and move, and have our being.  This is more than a mindfulness that we belong to Him—lifting our thoughts to Him is where it begins but if we are willing, it is much more. 
 
In the Old Testament, you’ll remember, the priests carried out their duties in the Holy Place. It is important to note that the presence of God was not there, but on the other side of the curtain, in the Holy of Holies.  The priest could enter this Holy of Holies once a year, with many stipulations, to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people.

But now (two of my favorite words in Scripture) our Savior has opened wide the Holy of Holies.  Beginning with the ripped curtain at His death, Jesus has now made living in Him possible and we are allowed, urged even, to enter into the very presence of God. 
 
You can almost hear the shout, “COME IN, DWELL WITH ME; ENTER IN AND STAY—ABIDE HERE.” 
 
He is ever-drawing, ever-wooing us to Himself.  We simply enter by faith. But we forsake the magnitude of this gift when we function outside of the veil.  We still belong to Him, our anchor is still within the veil, but we are forfeiting what He has freely given us when we do not abide therein.  We may still think of Him a little or read His word, but the constancy of remaining is lacking.  As C.S. Lewis taught, He offers the sea but we settle for a mud pies.  He has cleared the path, telling us that He is the way into the very throne room of God and we are often content to remain outside the rent veil, going about our daily routine, settling for shadows and substitutes while the life-giving power is found within, in Him--in the vine.

What a truth!—I am made clean, declared righteous, and invited to live in His presence.  The power over sin—to say no to those things that I can’t seem to shake—is found there, the companionship that I’ve looked for all my life is there, the approval, the love—oh the love!, the healing, the glory—everything is within. 
 
But most of all, God is there.  The God who hand-knit me, the God who knows the intricate places of my heart better than I do, the God who has wooed me since childhood—Yes, He is there.  Won’t you come?

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