Throughout this series, we examined nourishing our spirit and discovered how we are designed to connect with God. Our connection is called “abiding” in the Bible and John 15 teaches that we are to abide in Christ as a branch abides in a vine. The connection should be seamless, uninterrupted, and whole. If you’d like to start at the beginning of the series and read Part 1, click here.
Benefits of Nourishing Your Spirit
The benefits of nourishing your spirit are countless. By abiding in Christ, we learn to receive the love that God so freely supplies. We receive confidence, knowing that we are His. Most notably, when our spirit is nourished we bear fruit—not from our own efforts, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit that flows through us. This fruit manifests itself in real life, even when life gets messy and difficult.
It’s true that life gets harder as we age. Our problems get bigger. The good news is, when we draw closer to God day by day, we lean increasingly on Him and His strength. I often wonder how people navigate life without His support.
In my personal life, I’ll share that my mom is very sick. Four weeks ago, the doctors said she had only weeks to live. She’s 85 with a bad heart, and she’s very weak. In-home hospice started so we receive frequent visits from nurses, social workers, and even a chaplain if we wish.
The burden of 24-hour care is carried by the family. I set up a video baby monitor and I receive notifications on my cell phone if she even moves her covers in the night. We have a lot of people in our house right now and I have more help than I could ever wish for. But it’s still hard. It’s so hard.
Mom and I have not always had a great relationship. I’m her only surviving child and she has lived with us since my dad passed away 18 years ago. Watching her decline so rapidly is heartbreaking. What slays me and keeps me up at night is that she doesn’t know Jesus. She wants no part of Him.
Abiding Through Difficulties
In this season of caring for her, in the midst of the demands of ordinary life, abiding looks different for me than it ever has. There’s not much uninterrupted time to sit and wait on Him. So I pray on the go. I keep my feet moving while I worship. And I read only a few sentences of the Bible at a time.
Mom is increasingly anxious when I’m not close by so leaving the house is tricky. I’m so thankful for technology and online sermons from our church that help keep me connected with the body of Christ.
I know that God is fully aware of my situation. From before the foundation of the world, He knew we’d face this and He walks with us. Somehow, I love her as He does. In a mysterious way, it brings joy to serve her and care for her. Somehow, I’m grateful for the opportunity to honor her.
The Fruit of Abiding
The other day, I stood at the coffee pot, just simply filling a cup and I was overwhelmed by His nearness. It brought such peace and assurance to my heart. I could feel His passion, His love, His affection.
This is the fruit of abiding. And it’s not just for me. It’s for all of God’s children who are willing to let the love of Christ fill all the empty places in our hearts.
The joy of Christmas is knowing that God came to be with us. We celebrate His birth and the anticipation of remaining in His unfailing love. Because we were created to connect with God. And when we do, we are never, ever alone.
When we abide in Christ, we connect with Him, which allows us to be radically loved by Him. We grow to be more like Him, to love others more fully, and to be full of delight about who God is for us. That is what makes Christmas merry.
Merry, Merry Christmas to you, my sweet friends.
The craziness of the holidays can get to us all. Even just a few days before Christmas, when the frantic pace hits its peak, nourishing your spirit by taking time—even just a few minutes—for the Lord can be a game-changer. Instead of greeting the people you loved in a stressed-out, frazzled, hot-mess type of attitude, embrace them with warmth and patience. Shine the light of Christ by first pointing your heart toward your lifeline, the true Vine, Jesus our Lord and Savior.
In Part 4 of this series, we observed the benefits of abiding. We began an introduction detailing how to Abide in God. The first step in abiding is following Jesus. If you missed that post, you read it here.
The second step is to practice two things: Be silent and wait.
Nourishing Your Spirit Through Silence and Waiting
Silence is our friend, yet it feels so foreign to our society. We’re almost always surrounded by noise: the TV, music, podcasts, crowds, traffic, and thousands of media interruptions. To practice this second step of abiding, get into a quiet place and practice becoming comfortable in its warm embrace. Next, ask God to reveal Himself to you. These things will happen very slowly and you’ll need to work on it every day. So, the second thing you need to learn to do is to wait.
When Moses went to the Mountain to receive God’s instruction, He waited for six days. Six, Days. Before God showed Him a thing. And Moses sat quietly and waited. In our own lives, we wait two minutes and think it’s more than we can bear. If you feel like God isn’t showing up, remember that Moses waited for six days—non-stop. That will make your wait feel a lot shorter.
Keep at it. The wait is worth it.
Nourishing Your Spirit Through God’s Word and Prayer
The third step to abiding is to connect with God by reading the Bible and praying.
I’m not suggesting you read the whole Bible before bed tonight. But begin reading. If you’ve never read the Bible, start with the book of John. It’s closer to the back than the front. Read just a few verses a day and in your times of quiet and waiting, ask God to help you understand what it says and show you how it applies to your life.
To pray simply means to talk to God. Tell Him about your problems. Ask for help. Invite Him into your celebrations. Just talk with Him as you would a friend. It will feel awkward at first, but it gets easier and even enjoyable as you grow in it.
In prayer, you can also express your worship and your gratitude. This means thanking the Lord for the things that anger and frustrate us as much as for the blessings and happiness He brings. Make a point to recognize God’s activity in your life (including the character-building moments) and express my gratitude to Him. It’s easy to thank Him silently or aloud, alone or with your family. Showing thanks is a quick and simple way to invite the Lord into every aspect of my day.
The Investment of Time
Believe me, I understand that I’m encouraging you to commit time during one of the busiest seasons of the year.
Remember, the Lord knows your frantic, holiday pace. Holidays (originally termed ‘Holy Days’) were His idea—along with celebrations and festivals. Making time to be still with Him doesn’t require an hour or even 30 minutes. It requires just enough time to turn my heart and focus on the Lord.
In my own life, this may look like 5 minutes locked away in the bathroom reading Scriptures on my iPhone, trying to tune out repeated knocks on the door. It may be purposefully turning to Him during my first cup of coffee before anyone else is awake. It may happen in my car, one of the only silent environments I can find. Whenever it happens and however it looks, this intentional practice is essential to abide in Him.
Those of you who have walked with Jesus for a while now and are thinking, Cathy we already know to do all of this.
Yes. I understand. The problem is, we often stop the foundational practices of our faith. We stop reading the Bible and think, I already know all of that. We stop praying, thinking God already knows what I need.
What if we treated our earthy relationships like this? If we stopped talking to our husbands believing they (should) know everything about us by now. [[Don’t try this at home.]] That’s no way to abide. It’s trying to coast while moving uphill. We are created to connect with God.
Learning the Chords of Nourishing Your Spirit
We need to stay faithful, nourishing our spirit in the little things. The simple steps I’ve shared are like chords on a guitar. When we know the chords—when we practice them— we can put them together and play countless songs. Without knowing the chords, we’re just making noise.
Abiding is what helps us encounter the real love of Jesus, embrace our real purpose, and become bold agents of real change. Abiding in Christ results in fruit that shows up in real-life. In Part 6, the conclusion of this series, I’ll share how the practice of abiding is manifesting itself into the hard parts of life. I hope you’ll join me right back here for the final segment!
Welcome back! In part 3 of this blog series about nourishing your spirit through the holidays, we learned that abiding in Christ is an uphill climb that doesn’t leave room for coasting. We can’t coast while moving uphill. If we try, we’ll slide backward rather quickly.
That’s a problem.
We don’t want to fall back because we’re created for connection with God.
When I remain in Christ, I learn to allow myself to be touched by His love. I learn to receive the love that flows so freely and generously from Him.
By dwelling with Him, new confidence begins to rise within me. I begin to live differently because I know that I am His beloved child.
As I abide in Jesus, I never have to wonder if He loves me or if I have His favor. I know I do. God never changes and His love is fixed and secure.
When I abide in Him, He gives Himself and He is love.
What beautiful benefits to abiding!
Bearing Fruit by Nourishing Your Spirit
Another benefit is the fruit we bear as we connect with Jesus, the vine. Think of it this way: When a branch abides in a vine, it bears fruit. The branch doesn’t wish for grapes or pray for grapes. It doesn’t concentrate hard enough or muster enough inner strength to cause grapes to burst forth.
Its fruit is a natural result of its connection to the vine. The vine does all the work and manifests its beautiful fruit through the branch.
When I stay fused with Him, I bear fruit. Not the fruit of my labor, but the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). All the traits I long to possess become possible because they flow through the branch right into my life where they are expressed outwardly toward others.
And in seasons where I’m NOT abiding in Christ, it should be obvious because that’s not what flows naturally out of me! When my connection with the Lord is interrupted, my fruit may be wilted, or unhealthy, or non-existent. My spirit feels dry and dusty. I become selfish and ‘me’ focused and I lash out at people I love. My impatience shows and I become harsh and embarrassingly uncontrolled. I find myself doing the very things I don’t want to do and wonder why I’m acting so irrationally.
My tendency is to blame hormones or stress or lack of sleep. Yes, those all factor in, but the bigger reality is that I’ve lost connection with my lifeline. I become either too busy or too distracted to focus on Jesus. In my weakness, I try to draw strength from my flesh. All the while, Jesus waits for me to turn to Him to supply all my needs. He stands ready to provide generously if I’d only seek Him.
The question is how.
How do we abide in Christ?
You’re about to embark on a journey and I want you to remember that because abiding doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. It’s a process of growth. I encourage you to use a journal (find a great one here) to track your progress. Sometimes growth happens so slowly we don’t realize it’s even happening. And then we look back to our starting point and we realize how far we’ve come. A journal will help you do that.
The first step to abiding is following Him.
Jesus paid the price for all our wrong-doing. The work on the cross is finished, but we must accept the gift He provided. We must respond to His sacrifice. The words of Jesus in Mark 1:15 tell us how to respond: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (NASB).
Repent and believe. To repent involves turning with regret from sin to embrace God’s divine forgiveness. To believe means to commit ourselves to Jesus and trust that He has removed our guilt and shame. His sacrifice restores our connection with God and provides a way for eternal reconciliation with Him.
If you are not trusting in the Lord, will you stop right now and turn toward Him? Turn from your prior thinking and embrace the love of Christ. He is the only One Who can fill the emptiness inside. Remember—we are created to connect with God. He has already done the work to make it possible. Will you respond to Him? Will you accept His invitation?
Our first step in abiding is to put our trust in Jesus.
Now, we need to draw near to Him and develop a relationship with Him. In Part 5 of this blog series about nourishing your spirit, we’ll examine two additional steps to building abiding faith. I look forward to meeting you there!
We are created for connection with God. In fact, a meaningful relationship with Him is the only way to nourish the deepest parts of ourselves—our spirit. We recognize there’s a void within us—an empty hole that we can’t seem to fill with labor nor things nor distractions.
The God of the universe provided a way to solve this problem. We’re to abide, or remain, in Him. What does that mean? I’m so glad you asked!
In Part 1 of this blog series, we covered God dwelling among mankind through the Tabernacle in the wilderness. In Part 2, we examined the miracle of Christmas: God coming to earth as a man to walk among His children as Immanuel.
In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here and review Part 2 here.
Perhaps the most beautiful illustration of abiding involves a vineyard. Jesus invites us to abide in Him the way a branch abides in a vine. Consider segments of John 15 from the Amplified version, below:
Nourish Your Spirit by Connection to the Vine
Perhaps the most beautiful illustration of abiding involves a vineyard. Jesus invites us to abide in Him the way a branch abides in a vine. Consider segments of John 15 from the Amplified version, below:
- 1-2 I am the true Vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He repeatedly prunes, so that it will bear more fruit—even richer and finer fruit.
- 4-5 Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith, unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for otherwise apart from Me (that is, cut off from vital union with Me), you can do nothing.
- 7-9 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you (that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart), ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My true disciples. I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in my love and do not doubt My love for you.
- 11 I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.
It’s a lovely conceptual picture that translates into real life. Here’s an example that I hope will resonate:
I have a dear friend that I rarely get to see. She lives in Alberta, Canada and I live in Colorado. She is a school teacher and when she comes for a visit she stays a long while. Sometimes 3 or 4 weeks. My family and I cherish every minute of it.
When she arrives, the house is neat and orderly. I’ve even moved the furniture to vacuum underneath. And when she leaves, we’re tripping over clutter and shoes and books and many of the things we’ve shared together and have not taken the time to put away. Because we’d rather enjoy each other’s company than tidy up.
This is abiding. It’s remaining.
It’s having my friend by my side for nearly everything. We do some sight-seeing, yes, but our favorite moments are sharing coffee or a meal. It’s the moments that we laugh and cry together and share our hearts and open every door of transparency to a trusted companion, even in the middle of the night. Those are the ones we cherish the most.
That’s what it means to abide in Christ. To be so connected that we carry Him with us everywhere.
But just like a relationship with a dear friend, abiding doesn’t happen by accident. It takes work. Intentionality. Investment. I’ve known my friend since high school and she moved home to Calgary just after graduation. We stayed in touch through handwritten letters, pricey phone conversations and international travel. Later we connected by email and Facebook and text messages. We invested in our friendship and we made a determined effort to hold it close.
Nourishing Your Spirit Through Abiding
Abiding in Christ also requires devotion and consistency.
Abiding is NOT the practice of connecting with God for a time only to disconnect when stress and busyness invade my calendar. The Biblical picture of abiding portrays a branch that’s fused together with a vine. Its relationship is ongoing. Uninterrupted. Whole.
The sad truth is that my own habit of abiding can tend to waver. I’ve learned that when my routines are in place and I have a measure of control over my schedule, I am intentional about holding fast to Him. However, when my routine breaks for any reason, so, often, does my abiding connection with Christ.
I have to work hard to stay connected to Him, especially when life gets difficult.
We can’t abide in Jesus by accident. It’s like an uphill climb. We can’t coast. If we coast while going uphill, we begin to fall back.
I hope you’ll join me again for Part 4 of this blog series where we’ll discover some of the benefits to nourishing your spirit through abiding, and learn how, practically speaking, to abide in Christ.
We long for connection. The problem is, we’re so busy handling life, we rarely have time or energy to connect deeply with friends. And the daily chaos makes us neglect to nourish our spirits. We set aside our need to connect with God—the One with whom we’re designed to abide.
It doesn’t have to be that way. God makes a way to break through the din. He takes the action necessary to make abiding possible.
In Part 1 of this series, we caught a glimpse of the effort that our Holy God makes to stay in fellowship with us. After the original sin of Adam and Eve, God provided a blood sacrifice by covering Adam and Eve with animal skins. Much later, He ordained the construction of the Tabernacle so that He could dwell among the Israelites.
In case you missed it, click here to read Part 1 and discover the need to nourish your spirit.
By instructing the Israelites to build the Tabernacle in the wilderness, God made a way to reconnect with the people He loves. He established a system of sacrifices that would compensate for all the ways they missed the mark. It was because of His love for people that He provided a way to connect and dwell together. We are created for connection with God, which stems from His love for us. For you. For me.
Even in the days of Moses, the Lord knew that the system of animal sacrifices was not the complete answer. When the time had come, and because of God’s unwavering love for us, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come into the world as a man and be the One to provide the blood offering that would cover the sins of all people (see John 3:16). We know that sin comes with a cost—death and eternal separation from God. But God sent Jesus who sacrificed His own life to close the separation (see Rom. 3:23).
This is what Christmas is about: Jesus coming to be with us and dwell among mankind. In Bible times, there was a prophet named Isaiah. He foretold the birth of Christ this way: “The Virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel, which is translated God is with us” Matthew 1:23 (HCSB).
God sent His son, Jesus, to be God with us. To connect with us; to walk among us; to abide with us. And He named Him Immanuel which means God with us. This is why we have such great reason to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
God didn’t require that we clean ourselves up or stop sinning before He sent His son. No. The Bible teaches us that while we were drowning in sin, Jesus came to make a way to connect with our Holy God.
Nourishing Your Spirit by Filling the Void Within
Such a connection fills an empty void within us. It’s emptiness we feel—That hole inside of us that we just keep stuffing more into…
More . . .
apps for our phones
Netflix binging (or Disney+)
activities for our kids
None of those things are bad. Not one. But they’re not what fill us. That’s why we can never seem to get enough. We’re not truly hungry for these things; we’re hungry for Jesus. Only He fills the hole that God created inside of us. And only He can satisfy.
And our loving, heavenly Father sent Him to earth to dwell among us.
At the appointed time, Jesus gave His life on a cross. He laid down His life and shed His blood, and that would fully cover us when we were immersed in the death of sin. Jesus was buried in a tomb but rose again after three days. Death could not hold Him. He lives forever and invites us to join Him for all eternity, fully reconciled to our Holy God.
In Bible times, there was a follower of Jesus named John who wrote to tell the world about the Savior. He called Him the Word of Life. John said that the Word became flesh and “Tabernacled” among us.
Do you remember that word? The Tabernacle was the structure the Israelites built in the wilderness so God could dwell among them.
Since John was Jewish, the best description came from His Jewish heritage. He used a Jewish noun to describe an ongoing action. Tabernacle means to dwell, reside. To take up residence. To occupy. To stay. To Abide. Are you starting to get the picture?
In Part 3, we’ll take a practical look at abiding through the two illustrations, one that’s conceptual and one that’s practical and something we see every day.
I’ll meet you right back here when you read Part 3!
Our is a hungry society. During a time of year when treats are rarely out of reach, it seems odd to say. But we’re not hungry for food or nourishment for our bodies. We’re hungry for connection and a way of nourishing our spirit.
We’ve all seen the unexpected effects of social media. We’re “friends” with hundreds and hundreds of people online, yet we’ve never felt so alone. If we do meet face-to-face for coffee or small groups, we fly in at the last minute, barely making it on time. Then we watch the clock the entire time we’re there. We rarely settle in to be present. Instead, our minds remain distracted by the tasks that await when we leave.
It can be hard to make new friends when we move at such a rapid pace. And it can feel even more difficult to keep friends when we let our busyness control our lives. Our feet hit a treadmill the moment we get out of bed and don’t stop till well after nightfall. Who has time for connection?
And then we add holiday festivities to the craziness.
The Cost of Holiday Craziness
Like most of us, I adore Christmas and the holiday season, even with its chaos. From Thanksgiving through New Year, so much points to Jesus and we have heartwarming reasons to celebrate. Our Lord came as Immanuel, entering the world to give His life so we can spend eternity with Him. The festivities draw loved ones to gather. We take in traditions and delicacies that come only once a year. The sights, smells, and generosity of the season often move me to tears.
But the stress! The stress that stems from the busyness and overwhelming commitments gets the best of me. You know the drill… There are gifts to buy, treats to make, relatives to gather from the airport or a family to shuffle off to faraway destinations. While I adore my distant relatives, we don’t always see eye-to-eye and I find myself suppressing my ‘religious’ side so I don’t offend. I long for people to see the beauty and peace of Christ in me. Instead, in the busyness, they see a stressed-out and impatient hot mess.
It’s crazy to me how we can immerse ourselves with so much to do, so many people to see, and still carry a level of loneliness that makes us feel as if we live in Antarctica.
Nourishing Your Spirit Through Connection
We feel lonely because we were created for connection. It was God’s idea from the beginning. That’s why we crave it so desperately. It’s why we feel so empty without it.
You and I were designed to connect within our communities, yes. But we were created to connect first with God.
Since the beginning of mankind, God connected with His children. Following His creation of the world and mankind, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Now God is Holy. That means He’s perfect, without fault or blemish. It means He’s set apart—completely set apart from evil. When original sin happened, God could no longer fellowship with Adam and Eve. Because of His holiness, and because of their sin, He could no longer “hang out” with them.
What is Sin, Anyway?
You might find yourself asking, what is sin anyway? Simply stated, sin means missing the mark. In the Garden, Adam and Eve ate some fruit. It’s not like they ate processed carbs or sugar. They ate fruit, which is supposed to be good for us. The act seems so insignificant, but it was fruit God had specifically instructed them not to eat. They missed the mark and caused a devastating chasm of separation between them and God.
The Bible teaches us that sin brings death, but that there is life in blood. As strange as it sounds to us now, only by a covering of blood can God continue to fellowship with sinful people. There in the Garden of Eden, God provided the first blood offering to make amends for the sins of Adam and Eve. He made garments of animal skin to clothe them. God did that. He did all the work necessary to reconcile.
But because of Adam’s sin, all people are born with a sinful nature. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Separation from God continues to this day.
Why a Tabernacle?
In the book of Exodus, God took reconciliation another step. He commanded Moses to lead the Israelites to build what was called a Tabernacle. It was a huge, elaborate and ornate tent — essentially a building in early Bible times. God said to Moses “They are to make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them” (Ex 25:8).
Catch that — God was separated from mankind because of their sin, but still loved them so much He desired to abide with them. That depth of love carries into our own lives today. Our sin separates us from God, but He provides a way to reconcile. He provides a way to connect and allow us to abide with Him both now and throughout eternity.
In the next post in the series, see the extent of God’s effort to reconcile with His beloved children—that’s you and me!
We long to nourish our spirit through connection. We’re hungry, but we don’t have to stay that way. The God of the universe desires to dwell in our hearts. When He does, we are never alone. When we connect with God in the way that He designed from the beginning, we nourish our spirit and can embrace a level of joy that is unshakeable in any circumstance.
I can’t wait to share more with you! Read the next post in the series here.