Archive for January 21st, 2010

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 (ESV)

One reason I have struggles in my spiritual life is because I have often ceased to abide in Christ.  I think “abide” is a church-y word – you know, we hear it all the time, but what does it actually mean?  According to the Bible study teacher at the retreat I mentioned earlier, “to abide” means: to stay, rest, or remain contentedly.  We are commanded to abide in Christ – we’ve got to rest contentedly in His arms trusting that His plan is best for us (Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 8:28). 

As the branch is always connected to the vine (or trunk if you’re thinking of a tree), receiving nourishment through the sap that flows through the entire plant – in the same way, we must always be communicating with our Savior, receiving nourishment through His Spirit and His Word.  Abiding in Him is the only way we can ever bring forth fruit to His glory.  Seriously, you don’t see branches running around by themselves producing fruit, do you?  The ones that aren’t connected to the tree are dead or will be soon.  We’ve got to be connected to the vine!

Now, I will admit, the thought has more than once crossed my mind, “But that’s so boring.  What about my freedom?  Doesn’t God want me to be happy?” Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Being “connected to the vine” doesn’t mean that we’re gonna be sitting in the corner, pinned to the tree like we’re in time-out.  Abiding in Christ is one of the most fulfilling things we’ll ever experience before we get to Heaven!   It doesn’t mean we won’t be allowed to have fun anymore!  But I do believe that it means that the nature of things that we enjoy might change.  As we learn to delight in His presence, He will form our desires to be like His desires.

I think “contentedly” is the key word in the concept of abiding in Christ.  I guess it kind of goes along with the “being in charge” concept from yesterday.  If I keep trying to be in charge, it’s a sign that I am not content with the direction in which Jesus is guiding my life, or simply think I could do better.  How wrong of me to think that!  We can only see a tiny section of the beautiful masterpiece He wants to make out of our lives – and we think we know better than He does?

 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:6-9 (ESV)

Once we’ve learned to come to a point where we give Him full control, I believe the next step is staying there – abiding in Christ – resting in His arms and trusting His plan for our lives.

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