Abiding In ChristWhat Does it mean to abide in Christ? This puzzles many Christians and is partly due to not understanding the word abide. It means to rest or dwell in a permanent place. Our home is our abode and we abide in our home. The night before the crucifixion Jesus taught the disciples to abide in Him because He would abide in us. When He comes into our heart He comes to stay. He doesn't move out for He promised never to leave us. I have lived in my home for 40 years and don't plan to move. Jesus has lived in my heart for 57 years and He will not move out either. Jesus illustrated our relationship to Himself as being like a grape vine and its branches. He said, "I am the true vine, you are the branches." (read John 15) Yet we have something a grape vine does not have. We have a will that must be used because our abiding in the Lord is not automatic. We stray from our true home, the Lord Jesus. We can't be passive. Our abiding in the Lord Jesus doesn't just happen. We are not like the water oak tree that keeps its leaves all winter. When the last old leaves fall spring has arrived. We can't wait for spring or something dramatic to happen to realize Jesus' abiding presence. We may grow in knowledge of the Lord, but knowledge has a small affect on our companionship with the Lord. Therefore, we must pray every day asking the Father to bless us with the realization of the presence of the Lord Jesus. He never leaves us, but when we are concentrating on work or play, we often forget about Him. So we have to ask the Father to help us to remember.
Companionship Molds CharacterChrist's life in us will not stop sinful habits unless we do the part God requires of us. We must intentionally commit ourselves to abiding in the presence of the Lord. He is within the lives of true believers but we must submit our self to His command to live our life in Him. Our character changes when we invite Jesus to be our Companion and Best Friend. Don't just assume He is with you. He is a Person and we don't ignore people or God. The Lord never instructs us to just hope something will happen that will take care of our character problems. Abiding in Christ in not giving up, or surrendering our life and waiting for changes, like stopping a bad temper or over eating.
Putting Off and Putting OnThe Lord must do it all, but He commands us to put off the old life we lived before we became a Christian. God put the sinful person we use to be on the cross with Jesus. Now our part is to do our 100%. That is to abide in Him, or continue in the realization that He permanently lives in us and we in Him. Depend on Him to create His character in your life. And by turning to Him when tempted to loose your temper or eat more than your body needs, ask for His help. Then do the right thing knowing He lives within you and will give you the power to take steps in the right direction.
Three Key WordsWe must yield to the Father and submit to the Lord Jesus. Then maintain an attitude of yielding to Him. A common mistake is that I do all I can for God because "He helps those who help themselves". It doesn't work that way! Christians who think this way become disheartened and think God doesn't answer their prayers. We must do 100% of our part and trust the Lord to do 100% of His part! We have something to do that He will not do, and He has something to do that we can not do. Our part is to abide, submit and yield, and we must do all the submitting and yielding. If this is our life long attitude, we start and end with Him in control, every day.
The TestThis doesn't mean we become perfect! There is no such thing as a perfect Christian, just as there is no such thing as a perfect husband or wife. But for either not to have a heart attitude utterly perfect towards each other as far as every other person on earth is concerned means he/she is unworthy as a husband or wife. This is the meaning of being perfectly yielded to the Lord. The test of our yieldness to Jesus is, I will never again tolerate anything in my life that is contrary to His will.
The Best PartThe other side of abiding is that we have Jesus for everything in this life and the next. The Vine belongs to those who abide in Him. Fruit will appear because of our double relationship. The true Vine gives Himself without measure to the branch. Remember we are not passive. It is a lifelong trust in Him. We believe that in this moment He is meeting my needs. Don't make a technique out of abiding and depend on a formula. Jesus is a Person, don't ignore Him.
Christ Is Our ExampleHe illustrated this life for us by complete yieldness to the Father. He said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." And "I do always those things that are pleasing to my Father." And "Not my will, but Thine be done." His whole humanity was bound up in total yieldness to the Father. Also He had confident dependence upon the Father. He never wondered if the Father loved Him. Or if the Father was doing what He promised to do. His manhood flowed from a constant yieldness and dependence upon His Father. He did it perfectly. We do it so imperfectly, but we can have the same kind of submission. Not the same degree, but the same kind of submission and the same kind of dependence that we see in Him. This is the meaning of abiding.
Don't Depend On FeelingsYou can believe and know that in this moment He is mine and I am His apart from feeling His nearness. The only evidence needed is faith. Depend on nothing but God. He is faithful. If the Lord ever fails you, you will be the first person He ever failed. If you don't think He is failing you, you will be the first person who never thought He was failing you.
Prayer Is The Way To Apply These Truths
Prayer: Blessed Lord, abide in me until I am gloriously conscious that I have you every moment. Now, Lord, I will not always be thinking of You this way and have the consciousness of Your presence, but it will always be true. Teach me to live by this, "the just shall live by faith."
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