victorIf you are struggling, if you are losing ground, if you are backsliding, if you’ve lost your way, if you’re confused, if you’re disillusioned, if you’re hurt—understand something.  You are not the victim here, you are the victor here through Christ.  Quit playing the victim.  Quit pretending that sin is just a slip.  Sin is a slap in the face of the One who died for us, to pay the price for that sin.

We have to die to live.  John 12:24, Jesus said, “4 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”  Literally, you don’t get the crop till the grain dies, and when the grain is buried and dies, it grows, and you get a crop.

It’s the same thing, whether it’s the crop or the fruit; whether it’s in the field or on the vine.  What is required for us to abide and be fruitful?  We have to die to self.  We have to die to all that we are without Him.  We have to make a conscious decision daily to make our home, to make our place to stay, in that relationship with Christ.

And we think, “Oh, I’d never abandon Christ.”  If Peter could do it, we do it all the time—to deny, to run, to flee.  Adam did it in the Garden.  He sinned and he hid.  He ran and he hid.  And then when he was exposed, he tried to blame others.  No, we need to be striving to abide.  And the first step to abiding is dying to self.  It’s dying so that we might live.  Because it’s when we abide that we bear fruit.  Abiding means dependence upon Him.

It really does mean also, by the way, that we read God’s Word not just to read it.  I was taught this—“You have to have a quiet time every day.  And you have to read at least five minutes.”  You know, as soon as you set a time limit on your time with God, you know what you’re going to do?  You’re going to get to that time limit, and you’re going to stop.  “God, you have five minutes to speak to me today.  Okay, we’re done.  Life’s busy.  Gotta go.”

We’ve all been taught, “Just read.  Just read a little bit.  If you read anything, it’ll help.”  John MacArthur had an excellent comment that I saw online this week.  He said too many people have been taught to read the Word of God just to read the Word of God, and they just do their duty and read what they’re supposed to read.  He said we don’t need to read to read.  We need to read to feed.  We need to be feasting on the Word of God.  We need to be devouring it.  That means you can read fourteen chapters in a day—and God will bless you; but it also means you can read three words, and you can meditate on those words, and it can transform the way that you think.  This is the power and the depths, the unsearchable riches of the truth of the Word of God.

In John 15:7 there, He says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”  Here is another proof of abiding.  Abiding, first, is dependence upon Him.  Secondly, it’s reading to feed.  And here’s how we know we’re reading to feed—if His words abide in you.  If we are abiding in Him, His words will be abiding in us.  If His words aren’t abiding in us, we are not abiding in Him.  We are not making a conscious effort to walk with Him if His Word is not abiding in us.

What does that mean?  That means, when you’re faced with a problem, the Spirit brings the Word to your mind.  It means when you’re faced with a dilemma, the Spirit brings the Word to your mind.  It means when you go to friends for counsel, they take you to the Word of God, and they say, “What does God have to say about it?”  It means when we’re confused, when we’re perplexed, when we’re hurt, when we’re in despair, when we’re not sure, when we’re uncertain, it means that we don’t go to everybody else first.  That’s part of what we’ll get to in Hosea 7.  God chastises His people because they go everywhere else but to Him when He judges them.  They want relief from the results of their sin, and instead of confessing their sin and doing exactly what He says, they go to other nations!  They go to Egypt and Assyria, and they say, “Can you help us out?  Can you lend us some money?  Can you give us some food?  We need relief from the judgment that God’s pouring out on us.”

We do that, too, don’t we?  We struggle, we hurt, we have needs, and what do we do?  We go to everybody else, and then as a last resort, we send up a flare prayer, don’t we?  “Well, I’ve tried everybody else, I might as well try God.”  “God, come to the rescue.  God, come in like the cavalry at the last moment—Charge!”

No, His Word needs to be abiding in us.  We need to surround ourselves with people who are giving us the Word of God, who have fed upon it themselves, who meditate upon it, so that they can take us to the Word of God, so that when we struggle, and when we wonder, and when we worry, and when life falls apart and we think, “Oh, woe is me.  Here we go again.  Oh, this is never going to stop.  What kind of cycle am I stuck in?”

Here’s the cycle we’re stuck in—we are saints, living in a fallen kingdom, fighting the enemy—not to kill them, but to rescue them, to transfer them from the kingdom of the power of Satan into the kingdom of God’s amazing, brilliant grace and love.  We need to be abiding in Him, and if we do that, then His Word is abiding in us.  Psalm 119, verse 9 says, How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed to the Word of God.

Are you dirty?  Do you need to get clean?  Guess how you do it.  You want to take a biblical bath?  Get in the Word of God.  Bathe yourself in the Word, immerse yourself in the Word.  Honestly, how many of us like to take a bath in two inches of water?  We like it up to our eyeballs, right?  And you like bubbles and soap and scents, and however you like it.  When you take a bath, you jump in.  Everybody’s a Baptist when it comes to bath time.  It’s Presbyterians who believe in a shower.  Come on!  Jump in!  Immerse yourself.  Get in the tub.

How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your Word.  He tells is in verse 11, there, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”  Your Word have I hidden in my heart.  That means I have stored up ammunition, and it’s hidden there so that when the darts come, the shield of faith can be raised, and I can stand against the onslaught, and I can shoot back, and I can wield the sword of the Spirit, because it’s hidden in my heart.

If you wait until you’re in trouble to search the Word for the answers, you’re too late.  Hide the Word now.  Hide the Word.  Teach your children how to hide the Word.  Your children ought to be memorizing Bible verses every week, and if they don’t do it, discipline them.  And you ought to be memorizing, and I ought to be memorizing Bible verses every week.  If we don’t, we need to be disciplined—self-disciplined—to get in, and to do, and to feed.  God has told us exactly what to do.  “Eh, it won’t work.  Tried that before.  Eh, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the energy.  Leave me alone.  It’ll be all right.  It’ll all work out for good.”

Psalm 119:36 and 37 says, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.”  Doesn’t that need to be our daily prayer—“Incline my heart to your word.  Make me thirst for your word.”  As the deer pants for the water brooks, our soul needs to thirst for God.  This is how we abide.  We die so that we might live; we depend upon Him; we read to feed.  We immerse ourselves in the Word of God.