Day 27 – The Secret to Jesus’s Life (And Yours)

Let’s begin today with a question—what is the key to living like Jesus?

If that question sounds impossibly high-minded, it isn’t intended that way. Living like Jesus is in fact how we are called to live as Christians (1 Peter 2:21, 1 John 4:17). Of course, we all fall short of this ideal in many ways—but Scripture is clear that as we grow in our faith, we will resemble Jesus more and more. The Christian life is meant to have a trajectory to it. 

There’s a problem though. Anyone who takes seriously the teachings of the New Testament apostles and tries to live them out quickly realizes it. Living like Jesus is very difficult. We might clean up our behavior for a little bit—but eventually, we realize just how entrenched our behaviors are in ways that look very little like Jesus—even ways that are diametrically opposed to Him. 

Often, it feels that the harder you try, the more difficult it gets. 

Eventually, there comes a point for any serious disciple of Jesus where they realize the futility of their efforts to produce the fruit of Jesus’s life in their own. Exhausted, burnt out, and utterly spent, they cry out, “There has to be a better way!” And of course, there is. 

Living in obedience to God and reproducing the fruit of Jesus’s life in our own is not something that can be achieved in human effort. At least Jesus certainly didn’t seem to think so. 

The secret to Jesus’s life was that it flowed from unity with His Father. The gospel of John drives this point home over and over again. Just take a look at the following passages: 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19, NKJV)

I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30, NKJV)

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:9–11, NKJV). 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:16–20, NKJV)

Unity with the Father is what made Jesus’s life possible. And you know what? Unity with God is what makes the Christian life possible. It’s the secret sauce, if you will. After all of the passages we just read about Jesus’s union with His Father, we see Jesus making this famous statement in John 15,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NKJV)

This verse is often taught to us in isolation, but it is in the larger context of all the verses and chapters before it, many of which are listed above. Jesus shows us that His life is made possible by His connection to the Father, and then similarly, that our life is only possible through our connection to Him. Life flows through connection—and fruit comes from life.

If we make behaving the right way our primary focus, we are concentrating on the wrong end of the equation. The branch of a vine does not bear fruit by redoubling its efforts. As a branch, it does not have in and of itself the ability to produce anything unless the life of the vine—powered by the water and nutrients it pulls from the ground—is flowing through it. It bears fruit simply as a result of staying connected to the vine. It’s the same with us. If we want to live like Jesus, we need to learn to draw our life from our unity with Him, as He did with His Father. 

Tomorrow, we will dive into specific ways we can live with a greater awareness of and connection to our unity with Christ, but for now, just let this truth sink in. Your struggles to change your behavior have very little to do with your actual behavior. We struggle to live as we should when we attempt to live while disconnected from our unity and connection to Christ. When we learn how to stay connected—which is the primary area we should focus our effort on—the fruit will take care of itself. 


Day 27 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read John 14-15 and note how important unity with Christ is to the Christian life. 

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to spend at least 5–7 minutes per question.

  • Does the idea of living in unity with Christ seem foreign to you? How much of your Christian life feels like it’s just about doing the right things and learning to obey God?
  • When you look at the life of Jesus, do you see Him trying to do things in His own strength, or do you see Him relying on His union with the Father? In what ways? Give some examples here. 
  • What are some practical ways you can live with a greater awareness of your unity with God on a daily basis? How might your life change if you made those your focus rather than simply trying harder to behave better?

Prayer — Father, I am tired of trying to do this thing in my own strength. I cannot do this on my own. I’ve tried and failed so many times. I’ve been down that road and I know how it ends. I want to learn how to live like Jesus, depending on you for my very life. Reveal to me just how close you are. Holy Spirit, show me that my life is now hidden with Christ in God—that you have taken up residence inside of me. Help me to live with an awareness of your indwelling presence and to do life in partnership with you. Teach me how to stay connected to the vine so your life can flow through me to the world around me. Amen.

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Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”