Steve Ngai (危 志 荣) KuaLa Lumpur, Malaysia

Inspiration by E-Mail by David Guzik – Theme For A New Year

Two days ago, I digged back some very old emails and read them again (It wasn’t too hard to search it. Thanks to gmail). I got this email because I have subscribed “Inspiration by E-mail” at enduringword.com. Once you have added your email to their mailing list, you will receive a weekly devotional written by David Guzik. Here, I would like to post two inspiring weekly devotional emails by David Guzik. I feel that they are so well-written, easy to understand and yet convicting. I always feel inspired by David’s heart and his deep conviction. The width of the text is not too long for easier to read. Alright, here you go:

Inspiration by E-Mail for the Week of January 1, 2006

THEME FOR A NEW YEAR

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

There is a sense in which the coming of a New Year means absolutely nothing – we can say that nothing changes on New Year’s Day. But there is also a sense in which we are more willing than ever to change our outlook and approach to life at the beginning of a new year than at any other time. Even if people have little intention of keeping their New Year’s resolutions, they make them for a reason – they are willing to take a good look at their lives at that moment. At any fitness center, the absolute busiest time of the year is the first few weeks of the New Year – because everyone has decided to do things better in the New Year.

If this is so, then why not use the beginning of a new year to re- establish a proper focus in our Christian lives? I can’t think of two more important principles to keep in mind for a new year than John 15:5 and Philippians 4:13. This week we’ll look at the John passage, and next week at the Philippians verse.

John 15:5 communicates a simple principle to us: Jesus is like a vine and we are like the branches connected to that vine. Therefore, He is our source of all life and nourishment. It is foolish and unhelpful to connect to anything else for strength. That being so, the secret to the Christian life is abiding: a close, intimate walk with Jesus; living with Him. Such a walk is forever built upon the basics of the Christian life: prayer, Bible reading and study, fellowship with believers and service to God’s church and a needy world.

The branches of a grape vine are meant to bear fruit, and God wants us to bear much fruit for Him. This instinct is in the heart of a Christian; they want to bear fruit for God, but many of us are ashamed because we sense that we have borne little fruit for Him. Bearing fruit comes naturally as we abide. This can be a year when you bear much fruit for God – leading others to Jesus Christ; serving God’s people in new capacities; seeing the work of God’s kingdom growing.

But without Jesus, we can do nothing. We think we can do so much for Jesus without Him, and often we try in the very best intentions of our heart – but anything we think we accomplish for Jesus apart from Him really counts for nothing in the final analysis. Perhaps as you look over this last year, you see that you have accomplished nothing – right here, Jesus tells you why!

It isn’t that we can’t accomplish anything – at least in the eyes of man – without Jesus. We just cannot accomplish anything of eternal weight. We may climb the ladder of success, only to find that it was leaning up against the wrong building. If we attempt anything without Jesus, we will fail miserably – or succeed even more miserably.

He is like a vine, you are like a branch – start the year closely connected to Him.

By David Guzik

 


Inspiration by E-Mail for the Week of January 8, 2006

THEME FOR A NEW YEAR (continued)

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

I remember as a child being so excited about staying up past midnight on New Year’s Eve. I expected that as the clock hit 12, there would be something like a brilliant flash in the sky, or something else to make it obvious we were passing from one year to another. Nothing happened. I just stayed up late and was grumpy from lack of sleep the next day. So, in one sense, the New Year changes nothing. But in another sense, it is a rare time when people are actually willing to examine their lives and set priorities. If there is any fitting theme or priority in the Christian life, it is well expressed by John 15:5 and Philippians 4:13.

Last week we saw the importance of John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We really can’t do anything of eternal value unless we are abiding – that is, living daily life – in Jesus.

But the truth of Philippians 4:13 is just as important to remember for the New Year: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This is the other side of the coin of John 15:5 – without Jesus, we can do nothing; with Him, we can do all things. That sounds pretty good! With all the resolutions we make at the beginning of the year (perhaps you have already broken some of yours) we would love to have the ability to do all things. But the promise of Philippians 4:13 is even more powerful than we might first think.

We can understand the power of Philippians 4:13 if we examine the context. What were some of the “all things” Paul was able to accomplish through the strength of Jesus? From the context, we see that it was the strength to persist through abuse. It was the strength to no give up while he was hungry and suffering need. It was the ability to keep going even though he was in distress. Paul was able to do these things in Jesus’ strength. The context also tells us Paul, in Jesus, had the strength to abound, to be full, and to accomplish big things in Jesus. Good times or bad, the strength of Jesus was there to make the difference.

So, what was it like this last year? Which will it be this next year? Was 2005 a year of doing nothing – because you were not abiding in Jesus? Will 2006 be a year of doing all things, because you abide in the strength of Jesus? God opens these doors for us because of the victory Jesus has won on the cross.

This year, remember the two principles: without Him, you can do nothing; through Him, you can do all things. With this in mind, it will be a great year.

By David Guzik

 


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