The older I get the more I seem to be aware of the reality of living my life for Kingdom Impact. As we journey through life it can become very easy to be distracted and veer off in the wrong direction. In John 15:7-11, the Lord Jesus gives six keys to living our lives for maximum Kingdom Impact.
Jesus tells us that the first key is to abide in Him. The word abide really encourages us to live a life that is Christ-centered. The first time I travelled to Russia to teach pastors, I noticed that they loved a good cup of tea. Each cup was made individually – the individual would put lots of sugar in and then decide to either leave their tea bag in the cup, or dip it in and out and ultimately remove the bag from the cup. The dippers had tea that never grew past the strength of the last dip. The others (abiders) continued to get stronger and stronger. When we abide in the presence of Christ, we grow stronger.
The second key is the Word of God. We need a fresh commitment to God’s Word. We have not been called to share ideas on philosophy or tell great stories. We have been called to a life of submission and obedience. To do this, we must know what God thinks. To know what He thinks, we need to be students of His Word. It is the anchor we need in life’s storms.
The third key that Jesus gives is “ask.” In fact, He says, “Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Jesus calls us to a life of prayer, seeking Him, and understanding His will and mind. If we are abiding in Him, and are anchored by His Word, we will only ask for His perfect will to be accomplished. If we are living selfish, carnal lives, then this statement seems to be a blank check. God must do what I want. That is not what Jesus is teaching. He is inviting us to live a life that is centered on Him and living abundantly for Him. If we are living a surrendered life, we can ask God for anything we wish. Why? Because all we want is Jesus.
FRUIT BEARING (v.8)
“A popular misconception equates fruit with outward success. By that common standard, external religion, superficial righteousness, having a large church, a popular ministry, or a successful program are considered fruitful. But the Bible nowhere equates fruit with superficial, external behavior or results which deceivers and hypocrites, as well as non-Christian cults and religions, can duplicate. Instead, Scripture defines fruit in terms of spiritual qualities. ‘The fruit of the spirit,’ Paul reminded the Galatians, ‘is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’ (Gal. 5:22-23). Those Christ-like traits mark those through whom His life flows.” ~ John MacArthur
The fruit can also be applied to evangelism and winning souls for the Kingdom; the proof of discipleship in a fruit-bearing life. Jesus brought glory to the Father through His life and so must we. Notice we are not just to produce fruit, rather much fruit. To bear much fruit we must go through the pruning process, accomplished by the Word. Then the life of answered prayer moves into a life which is productive for the glory of God.
“A believer is motivated by the wonder of Jesus’ love, which is patterned after the Father’s love in its quality and extent. ‘Remain in My love’ might seem mystical but Jesus makes it very concrete. Obedience to the Father’s commands is the same for a disciple as it was for the Son. Active dependence and loving obedience are the proper paths for all of God’s children.” ~ John Walvoord
When we love God and are abiding in Him we will have a deep love for people; both those inside the body of Christ and those outside. Ask yourself this question: “Why do I do the things I do?” Is it motivated by love or selfishness?
Jesus tells us in this verse that He has spoken these things to us so that, “My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” With that statement in mind, why are there so many Christ-followers with a clear absence of joy?
May I suggest that it is because we have confused the definition of joy and happiness? C.S. Lewis would remind us that there is a significant difference. Happiness is temporary. Happiness is within my control. Happiness is dependent upon circumstances. A lot of things can make me happy. A nice T-bone steak done just right (medium) on the grill with a baked potato (loaded, of course) and mushrooms…that makes me happy. As happy as I can get, that will not help when the storms of life come howling; when everything seems to be falling apart and life delivers that blow that seems fatal.
Happiness is of no value when you stand by the bedside and watch your mother or father pass into eternity. Happiness does not work when the doctor says, “I’m sorry, I have bad news.” But joy, the joy that comes from Jesus, makes all the difference. I had great joy as my father passed from this life into the next. Why? Because he knew Jesus Christ in a personal, dynamic way. I knew that he was in the presence of the Most High God. My heart was broken by his loss, but joy filled the room and the church at the celebration of his home going.
Joy is not dependent on circumstances; it is not temporary. Joy is not controlled by the events in my life. Joy comes from Jesus.
Let’s live lives that are designed by the Master to make maximum impact for the Kingdom. Let us abide in Christ.
About Lindsay Taylor: Lindsay Taylor has been in pastoral ministry for over 25 years and has served churches throughout Canada. He served for several years as Chairman of the Board of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists in Canada. Lindsay speaks in churches on the priority and practices of worship-based prayer and is a founding resource leader for The 6:4 Fellowship.