1 Peter 5:8, abide, abide in Christ, Betsy ten Boom, Civilla D. Martin, Corrie ten Boom, grafted in, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, In Christ, Jesus is the vine, John 15, peace of God, Philippians 4, Philippians 4:6-7, Satan is a roaring lion, Seeking whom he may devour, that our joy might be full, The Hiding Place, Tramp for the Lord, true peace, Under His Wings, We are the branches, What does it mean to abide, William Cushing
When you hear the word peace, of what do you think? When I hear the word peace, I think of softness, stillness and gentleness, like a warm summer breeze that tousles the branches in the trees and spreads the fragrance of freshly cut hay. When you hear the word home, what do you picture in your mind? Is it the place where you grew up? Is it a person? Is it your comfy chair, a crackling fire and a warm drink? Is is ocean surf at your feet, warm sandy beaches, and a frosty glass with something yummy in it?
In reality, both peace and home are something a bit different. To begin with, the peace of God is not all that soft, but rather, is a force to be reckoned with, that overwhelms and overcomes the wind and the waves, even the violence and intricate tactics of an enemy seeking to destroy us. God’s Word says that the enemy roams about like a lion, zealously seeking whom he may devour – which literally means to “drink down, swallow up” (1 Peter 5:8). He desires to stealthily steal us, sacrificially kill us on his altar and to violently and completely annihilate us, as if we never had existed (John 10:10). We are essentially born spiritually blind on a battlefield, and babies on battlefields don’t mix so well. We cannot see the battlefield much less the enemy waiting to pounce upon us. And how he attacks most effectively, even since our childhood, is in our minds.
This is where God’s peace comes in to play. Our Jehovah Shalom, the LORD of peace, the Prince of Peace has given us peace that is our protection against Satan’s battle plan of extermination in our minds. Satan comes against us with selfish pride, anxiety and fear based on very real circumstances, but God’s peace is greater if we “abide.” And where we abide is our safe place, our secure place, our soft place to fall….our home.
There is an often overlooked word in the passage of Philippians 4:7. Actually, it is an overlooked word throughout the New Testament. It is a word that I just read over time and time and time again. It’s a simple, two lettered word. A preposition actually. Do any of you remember what a preposition is? Well, in Greek “The original or core meaning of…prepositions often indicates DIRECTION.” (“Prepositions and Prefixes,” https://ancientgreek.pressbooks.com/chapter/13/) In other words, a preposition determines if a person is moving away from something, toward something, into something, on top of something or under something.
In Philippians 4:7, the overlooked preposition is the word “in”. In some translations the word is translated as “through.” Although, when I studied the Greek this past weekend I cannot figure out where the translators got the word “through.” For, the Greek word does not mean to go “through” something, but rather that you are “in” something. After all, the Greek word means “in”. It carries with it “…the primary idea of rest…[of] remaining in place.” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, 579). This preposition “in” is also found in the well-known passage of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things [in] Christ who strengthens me.”
This little word is vitally important, for without it, we would not have this peace. It is only when we are “in” Christ that we are empowered to do “all”. It is only when we are “in” Christ that we are powerfully protected by the peace of God that boggles the mind. For it is only when we are “in” that we are at rest, that we are at home.
“I Want To Go Home”
As an former employee of a health care facility, I had to watch certain training videos online every month called Relias training. In one of those training videos, the topic of residents being homesick was addressed. Often in nursing care facilities, residents will miss home and become depressed and sometimes even angry and desperate, especially those with dementia. But going home doesn’t necessarily mean what one might think it means. Sometimes, the resident with dementia thinks they are 17 years old again, and home to them is the large old house they grew up in on the farm. Other times, they are still 32 years old and married with small children living in a certain house in a little town. At other times, home to them is not a place but is a person like their husband or wife or their mother or children or even their pets or cows if they were a dairy farmer.
It was then that the narrator of the Relias video asked a question concerning what the phrase “I want to go home” means. When someone says “I want to go home” it can mean a variety of different things to different people as seen above.
What does home mean to you? When you think about going home, what does it look like to you? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “home”?
Some who say this may be referring to feelings like security or safety or acceptance, others may think of home as a certain place, like where they grew up or where they raised their children, others may think of it as a place where their things are, like their favorite chair or a fireplace, and still others may think of it as a person.
Regarding a place to call home, John 15:1-11 gives us a beautiful picture of a vine and branches.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
To “abide” means just that, “to abide, to dwell, to remain, or live.” When in relation to a person, it means to remain with that person, to be united with them, to be “one with him in heart, mind, and will.”
Jesus in this passage uses an agricultural word picture when He states that He is the vine, and God the Father is the husbandman/gardener. In Israel a lot of pruning, cutting and grafting was done to olive trees, but also other fruit trees. There were branches that were not producing, so they would be cut away. Others simply needed pruning to encourage production. Still others required grafting. In the book of Romans, Paul even talks about how the Gentiles were “grafted in” to the vine of Christ. Since this word picture is so important, I did a little reading on the grafting of trees.
It is amazing how one can take a small twig of one fruit tree and make it part of another tree. Basically, one whittles down the end of the twig into a point, and a cut is made in the bark of the trunk of another fruit tree. It is into this cut that the little sharpened twig is wedged and then wrapped up tight with plastic tape. Within a short period of time the little twig becomes an actual part of the fruit tree. It’s incredible how through grafting, there can even be three different types of apples growing from one tree. So long as the fruit is from the same family, grafting can be accomplished. One can even have apricots, peaches and almonds grafted together into one tree because they are all a part of the same family. And thus, the one tree becomes the “abiding” place or the abode of the different fruits. It is now their home.
Whether the original branches or the grafted branches, they are to abide in the tree, to find their strength in its life, their sustenance in its sap, their stability in its roots, their home in its soil. Even so, we are to find our home “in” Christ. So that no matter where we are, who we are with, what financial status we are in, or what location in which we reside, whether a five-star hotel, a straw hut, a mansion, a cockroach infested hovel, a war torn landscape, a prison, the Poor House, the White House, or a care center, we will be secure, we will be at home, because our home is in Christ.
We conclude today with a quote from the book Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman, who, along with her family helped many Jews to escape from Holland after the Nazis invaded during WWII. She and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp because of this, and all of her family died in concentration camps except for Corrie who went on to become a traveling evangelist and author of The Hiding Place. In the sequel to The Hiding Place called Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom drives home the point that Christ is our home no matter where we are, when she writes,
“Betsie and I walked to the square where roll call was being held in the concentration camp. It was still early, before dawn. The head of our barracks was so cruel that she had sent us out into the very cold outdoors a full hour too early.
Betsie’s hand was in mine. We went to the square by a different way from the rest of our barracks-mates. We were three as we walked with the Lord and talked with Him. Betsie spoke. Then I talked. Then the Lord spoke. How? I do not know. But both of us understood…
The brilliant early morning stars were our only light. The cold winter air was so clear. We could faintly see the outlines of the barracks, the crematorium, the gas chamber, and the towers where the guards were standing with loaded machine guns.
“Isn’t this a bit of heaven!” Betsie had said. “And, Lord, this is a small foretaste. One day we will see You face-to-face, but thank You that even now You are giving us the joy of walking and talking with You.”
Heaven in the midst of hell. Light in the midst of darkness. What security!”
(Tramp for the Lord, pg 30)
Ah, what security we have in Christ when He is our home.
This brings to mind the song, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” written by Civilla D. Martin in 1905/6. While she and her husband were ministering in New York, they developed a close friendship with a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle. Mrs. Doolittle was a bed-ridden invalid of 20 years, and Mr. Doolittle wheeled himself to and from work in his wheelchair. After observing the cheerful behavior and kindness expressed to everyone through this couple, Mr. Doolittle wondered aloud about what their secret was. To that the Doolittles responded, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Inspired by these words, Civilla Martin penned the words you are about to read. May the Lord greatly bless you with these timeless lyrics of contentment and security and absolute peace.
"Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. "Let not your heart be troubled," His tender word I hear, and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when song gives place to sighing, when hope within me dies; I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."
One more hymn of the same time period that my heart begins to sing as I think on abiding in Christ is one by the name of “Under His Wings,” written by William Cushing. William Cushing had been a pastor who permanently lost his voice when he was in his forties. In spite of this horrific set back, he continued praising the Lord and wrote over 300 hymns, which have blessed countless people, including me and now hopefully you.
Under His wings I am safely abiding; Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me; He has redeemed me, and I am His child. Chorus: Under His wings, under His wings, Who from His love can sever? Under His wings my soul shall abide, Safely abide forever. Under His wings—what a refuge in sorrow! How the heart yearningly turns to His rest! Often when earth has no balm for my healing, There I find comfort, and there I am blest. Under His wings—oh, what precious enjoyment! There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er; Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me; Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.
So, no matter what comes in this life, even in the next few months, please, in the words of Philippians 4:6-7, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds [in] Christ Jesus.”
Jesus wants us to abide in Him. Why? That His joy might remain in us, and our joy might be full. Are you lacking joy today? Are you lacking peace? It’s time to abide. And if you don’t know how, ask Him. He’ll show you! And from now on, I sincerely pray, that if you are ever asked about who or what or where home is to you, that you’ll say Jesus.
Abiding in Christ,
Holy Light Ministries
Other Excellent Links:
Word Study and Sources for the Article:
Studies of the word “In”
The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament
#1722 en “in”; means “In…by any place or thing, with the primary idea of rest…means remaining in place” (pg 579).
“Prepositions and Prefixes,” https://ancientgreek.pressbooks.com/chapter/13/
“Appendix 3: Prepositions,” https://www.motorera.com/greek/lessons/appendix3.html
Sources on the word “Abide”
The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament
#3306 meno, “Abide”; “To remain, abide, dwell or live” (pg 959).
“Of the relation in which one person or thing stands with another, chiefly in John’s writings; thus to remain in or with someone, i.e., to be and remain united with him, one with him in heart, mind, and will…” (pg 959).
John 15 “Abiding” and Philippians 4:7, 13 “In Christ”
“What It Means To Abide In Christ & How To Do It,” https://www.johnrothra.com/devotionalteaching/christian-living/what-it-means-to-abide-in-christ-how-to-do-it/
The grafting of the trees and the producing of fruit
“Grafting Fruit Trees,” https://ladyleeshome.com/grafting-fruit-trees/
“How Grafting Affects Olive Trees,” https://homeguides.sfgate.com/grafting-affects-olive-trees-56828.html
“Did You Know This About Olive Trees?” https://godinthebeginning.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/did-you-know-this-about-olive-trees/
Psalm 91 word study
The Complete Words Study Dictionary: Old Testament
#3885 liyn or lun, “abide”; “It describes the secure, peaceful rest of one living close to the Lord…” (pg 546).