In Part 1 I asked you two questions. Do you remember what they were?
Wait for it…
What do you think it means to abide in Christ? And how does that affect how we ask for anything we want?
I would love to know what your responses were.
Today I want to focus on this word ‘abide’ and Jesus’s command to “Abide/remain in me.”
This portion of God’s Word is so dear to me because it’s the first piece that became Vibrantly Relevant in my life—forever changing the way I approach The Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I had long been a student of Scripture. I loved it, devoured it, studied it, and taught it. But while I sat in my Propagation class on a warm September day, these verses became alive!
Allow me to explain. In 2010 I went back to school to earn a BS in Horticulture. My original purpose was to feed my inner plant nerd, but God had so much more in mind when He led me back into the classroom as a non-traditional student. My Prop class was one of my first classes in the program, and it was the gateway to a deeper understanding of God’s Word I never knew possible. Portions I had read, loved, and appreciated now were alive, vibrant, tangible…and my faith exploded.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:1-11 NLT (Emphasis mine)
Jesus was the master of word pictures. He skillfully used the known to explain the unknown. In this case, He used pruning and grafting to illustrate what abiding in Him looks like. I can’t wait to dig into those themes with you in Part 3.
A little background: This analogy was shared with all those following Him shortly before His death. He knew He had two kinds of followers:
- Those who believed He was the Son of God and where willing to follow Him to their death
- Those who didn’t believe and followed Him only to get what they could from Him.
Not much has changed has it?
Jesus is aware this second group follows Him for the entertainment value. They pursue Him for His miracles, free lunches, and to fulfill their other selfish ambitions. And yet He loves them deeply. This is why He tells us this analogy; to give us another opportunity to repent of our unbelief and choose to put out fullest and deepest faith in Him.
But He also uses this analogy to encourage those of us who have put our faith in Him—to remain there in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. He encourages us to endure even when things get difficult, when circumstances are less than desirable, and when we are persecuted like He was (Mt. 5:10-12; 2 Tim 3:12).
Jesus calls Himself the vine, talks about bearing fruit, pruning, and staying connected to Him. And nestled in these profound statements, we have today’s focus verse:
“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (Vs 7, emphasis mine).
Beloved remaining/abiding in Jesus means we choose to be connected to Him. Yes, it’s our choice. He extends the invitation to connect, but we have to choose to link up. And when we do, His life force flows into us, sustaining us, and giving us what we need to thrive. His ways become our ways and His thoughts our thoughts.
So when we abide in Jesus and ask for something there are several assumptions made:
1. We are asking for something in His Name (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24),
- And that something is consistent with who He is, His character, and His will.
- That something would bring Him glory and honor; would serve His purposes here on earth; and would further the gospel.
- That something is congruent with His BEST for us and the purpose/task He has given us.
- I know there are times we don’t know what His best for us is; that’s ok, ask.
- A practice I now use when asking for something is: “If this is not Your best for me and congruent with Your will for me, please remove this desire and replace it with what is Your best for me.”
- This has had a profound change in my attitude when asking for something. If he gives me what I desire, I know I’m going in the right direction. If that desires fades, I know He has something better in store. In either case, He is glorified.
2. Our faith is genuine and true
- We are not perfect (Romans 3:23)
- We still sin, but we seek His righteousness and forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
- We follow Jesus, first, wherever He leads (Matthew 16:24-25; John 10:27)
3. Jesus’s Words abide in us
- When God’s Word abides in us, it lives in and through us (Hebrews 4:12)
- When we abide in God’s Word, we don’t just read it, we do what it says; and it changes our life by changing us from the inside out (Romans 12:2; 2 Tim 3:16-17)
- When we abide in God’s Word we are controlled by it not by our selfish desires! How awesome is that? (James 4:3, Psalm 66:18)
Beloved, every verse I looked up that mentions God giving us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4) in both the Old Testament and New, each promise start with our devotion to God first: following Him, delighting in Him, obeying Him, etc.
When we abide in Christ, our wants, needs, and desires align with His. Yes, there are going to be times we want something that doesn’t directly affect our purpose, but HOW we ask for it changes when we’re permanently united with our Savior. Because our focus is not on our selfish desire, but on Him. And when that happens, God is no longer seen as the vending machine in the sky, there to serve our purposes. We are here to serve Him BECAUSE of the sacrifice of His Son and because He loved us first. So abide in Him, Precious One, and then tell Him what you desire.