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!