Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Purpose of Abiding in Christ

As Americans, we live in a fast-paced culture. We want what we want and we want it now. We don’t like to wait for anything. We have fast-food, instant rice, and microwavable meals. We can swipe a credit card even if we don’t have money to pay for something. We get upset when we have to wait in line too long or if our internet speed is too slow. We want the best results with the least amount of work possible.
Many Christians today are not living victoriously because they are failing in the most important aspect of their Christian lives, and that is abiding in Christ. We want convenient Christianity – we don’t want something that is going to cost us time and effort.
Abiding is more than just going to church and hearing a sermon preached once or even several times a week. True abiding means seeking an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just like any relationship, it takes work. The more intimate the relationship, the more work it requires.
Jesus Christ gave His very life for us. All He asks of most of us is to be fully surrendered to His will and to walk in fellowship with Him.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus often used object lessons to convey certain truths to His disciples. In John 15, we see the image of a grapevine. This illustration was given to His disciples just after leaving the upper room, shortly before He was betrayed and arrested.
The vine here represents Christ, and the branch depicts the believer. It is a picture of the intimate relationship Christ desires with His followers.
Wayne Jacobsen said, “There is no fixed line that says the vine ends here and the branch begins there. That is why Jesus couldn’t have chosen a better illustration of the intimate bond he seeks with his followers. He wants us to identify so closely with him that others cannot tell where he leaves off and where we begin.”[1]
 The word abide means to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy). The same Greek word is also translated continue and remain in this passage.
Abiding is a constant state. A branch doesn’t attach itself to the vine for a few minutes in the morning and then go off on its merry way the rest of the day. If a branch is going to bear fruit, it must stay continually connected to the vine. If we are going to produce spiritual fruit in our lives, we must be in constant fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot do what God has called us to do apart from Him.
If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to grab your Bible and read through John 15:1-17.
Today, we are going to look at the first of four lessons from John 15 that will encourage you as you seek to live a life closely connected to the Vine…
The first lesson we see from John 15 is The Purpose of Abiding.
Abiding is crucial to experiencing a fruitful and abundant Christian life. We cannot experience the fullness of God’s blessings if we do not walk with Him.
The first purpose of abiding in Christ is to bear fruit.
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.
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.
If we are going to bear fruit, we must remain connected to the vine. Just as a branch is useless if it is not connected to the vine, so is a Christian who is not connected to Christ.
John Phillips writes, “The place of the branch is in the vine. It has no life and no fruit of its own. All life and fruit are derived from its organic connection with the vine. The fibers of the vine run from the root to the farthest branch. It is this connection that gives vitality to each branch. Sever a branch from the parent stem and it will die. A vine branch is lifeless, useless, and fruitless unless it abides in the vine remaining vitally attached to the vine. The life-giving sap rises up from the roots and enables the branches to bear green foliage and produce clusters of grapes. Thus the branch is an organic part of the vine, and the vine expresses its life through the branches.”[2]
We can do nothing apart from Christ. The Christian who tries to live in their own strength will not produce fruit and will eventually whither up and die spiritually.
The second purpose of abiding Christ is so that our prayers will be answered.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
When we are abiding in close communication with Christ, we can call upon His help in time of need. We do not want to be living a life filled with sin when we have an urgent need. If we are already walking with Him and living in the Spirit, it will be easy to call upon Him. Sin breaks our fellowship with the Lord. It is important to have an open connection with Him at all times.
When Nehemiah was in the presence of Artaxerxes, the king, he needed help from the Lord immediately (Neh. 2). He did not have time to confess his sins and get his heart right before God. He was able to call upon the Lord because of the relationship he had already established.
Every Christian should desire to experience the blessings of living a fruitful life; but we cannot expect to experience the fullness of God’s blessings when we are living a life that is disconnected from the Life-Giving Vine. May we seek to live each day fully connected to the VINE.

[1] John Phillips, The Gospel of John, p. 286
[2] Wayne Jacobsen.  In My Father’s Vineyard, p. 16

Monday, February 17, 2014

Reading Challenge 2014

Every year I like to participate in Goodreads reading challenge. I found this to be an excellent way to keep track of the books I have read and the books I hope to read in the future. Last year I failed miserably at my goal, but I am well on my way to completing mine for this year so I think I may increase it. This is also a great way to connect with your friends to see what they are reading.

So far I have read:

The Early and Later Delaware Baptists

Biblical Principles for Parenting by Pastor Larry Youngblood

The Burden Bearer by Paul Chappell

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

It's not too late to jump on the bandwagon! What are your reading goals for this year?

"One characteristic common to every effective person is that they are avid readers." 

Michael LeBoeuf

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

"Contentment should be the hallmark of the man or woman who has put his or her affairs in the hands of God."

~Phillip Keller

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

"Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile."

~~Wilfred T. Grenfell~~

Monday, February 3, 2014

Highlights of 2013: Part 1

This last year has flown by and brought with it many adventures and changes in my life. I thought I would just share the highlights of 2013 and a few pictures with you...

In March, I began courting James Kyte (which is part of my excuse for my long absence here on my blog :).

In April, I flew home for a week to be with my sister while my parents flew down to Mexico for cancer treatment for my dad. Thankfully, he is now cancer free and we pray that it stays that way. 
On May 18th, I graduated from Baptist Bible Translators Institute. Mom, my sister, Joanna and James all came down to celebrate this event. Dad was still recovering from surgery so was not able to make it. 


During the month of June, James and I took a missions trip to the Bahamas with his church for a week. And yes, it was a missions trip. :) During the week we helped missionaries Jason and Heather Lowe with a Vacation Bible School. I worked with the preschoolers which was a fun and challenging group. 

To be continued...


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