Life on the Vine: Lessons in Abiding Part 1

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Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine,

 neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.

However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”

–John 15:4-5 Amplified

 

Have you noticed how easy it is to sign up, to get involved with all kinds of worthy activities? Work, home, family, ministry… Overloaded, we are busy, but not fruitful. Life can be like water rushing downhill, and the the current is increasingly fast.

We are learning to place boulders in the rush of life; those solid, immovable, non-negotiable bed-rocks that force the water to go around. We need to build margin and enforce boundaries, protecting that God place, that space of time, heart, and relationship that we call abiding.

3 Reasons Why Balance is Not the Goal

I often catch myself striving for balance–it is an enticing goal. However, looking at what Christ has to say about life, abiding isn’t about balance.

Abiding is about the position, the God-ward orientation of my heart that is connected to Christ.

Everything else in life–my attitude, actions, relationships, work, goals, and desires grows because of that vital relationship with Christ.

 

In relationship to ministry, here are a few thoughts to consider:

  • Who you are in Christ is the most important thing that you bring to ministry—whether you are a participant or a leader. The power of God at work in and through you is far more important than the specifics of what you do. Ministry that grows forth from women who are abiding in Christ blossoms with the richness of what the Holy Spirit is doing through each one of us.

 

  • We all have to purpose to not let ministry take the place of worship and relationship with Christ.

 

  • The bottom line is this; if we are too busy to abide in Christ, to have personal fellowship with Christ through the Word, then we are too busy. Period.

 

  • We often end up substituting one for the other, but we cannot accomplish the work of God when we are running on our own limited strength and resource.

 

  • You may be sitting there thinking, “Yeah yeah, I know I need to abide”—yet at the same time, we are running around trying to fit everything in and we are shriveling on the vine.

 

 First Fruits

The first benefits that grow from our relationship with Christ is the fruit of the spirit  blossoming forth in my character–who I am, what I do, how I think:

 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.This fruit comes from a mind that is renewed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the result of abiding in Christ and in his word.”–Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

 

 

Then there is Kingdom fruit—the fruit that grows forth from ministry, out of our relationships others.

 

Fruit of the spirit growing in my life must come before I can focus on kingdom fruit. Fruit grows from a continuous, abiding relationship with God.  Kingdom fruit grows from a character that is growing and evidencing the fruit of the Spirit.  As fruit of the Spirit, fruit of submission, and fruit of obedience is developed in our lives, an awareness, concern, and passion for kingdom fruit grows.

 

It is the mind of Christ, His Spirit within us that plants the desire for kingdom fruit.  As we seek God and seek to stay in an abiding relationship with Him, we begin to learn to keep our mind fixed on Him.  (Heb.. 12:2)

Somewhere in the midst of this process and relationship, fruit begins to grow.

 Bottom Line

Understanding where our spiritual energy, vision, and energy (all parts of fruit) comes from will help us not to find ourselves overwhelmed by the business of ministry.  Many aspects of ministry require time and effort.  How easy it is for my focus to shift from staying attached—abiding—in relationship with God to the activity, the results or success of ministry.

 

 Where’s the JOY?

These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.-The outcome of Abiding in the love of Christ and bearing the fruit of His presence within us is JOY. “–John 15:11

By the way,  if you are missing a little joy in your life…do an Abiding Check!

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Dear Ginger, Thankyou for all that you have written above. I have a continuous struggle to keep abiding and not to become far too busy to remain steadily focussing on Jesus. I feel like I am being continuously squeezed one way or another at the moment and it’s not at all comfortable. I’m reminded, though, that this is the way that God continues to shape us and mould us to make us able to bear His fruit and to be a gift to others. I have been reminded of all this this morning by yourself, Oswald Chambers and St Teresa of Lisieux whose prayer is framed on my table here:

    Jesus,
    draw me
    into the flames
    of your love;
    unite me
    so closely to you
    that you live
    and act in me.

    This is one of those incredibly dangerous prayers to pray; it can really be painful becoming united with God/grafted into the vine Himself and also, I think, staying/remaining grafted, although I can see that the joy of His presence is a part of all this somehow, too.

    With my love,

    Lesley xx

  2. Sad that I had to miss your talk at church yesterday, but so glad I got to stop by and read this new post about what you shared sister! So vital and so encouraging…as always 🙂 ~Counting it all Joy alongside you, Kris

  3. Sally Schaidhammer

    Saved this to read first thing Monday morning. Great way to start off my “busy” week. Encouraging reminder to me to make time for God first, then everything else will fall into place.
    ~Joyfully abiding,
    Sally

  4. Thank you, Ginger. I needed to be reminded that many “well meaning” cliches we hear, even in the body of Christ, are just that – well meaning cliches. It is NOT balance that we are told to live within but as you said, abiding, being filled with the Holy Spirit. When this is our daily walk, we will often be called to do something that will seem “unbalanced” but we will know it is obedience. I love you and miss you.

    • Oh Sweet Friend, I miss you and your family as well! Hope you have survived the crazy season of typhoons on Okinawa! Be blessed!

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