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Remaining in Christ

by CARISSA JOY BURNS GENERAL Dependence Abide Reliance
Remaining in Christ
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"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.'"
John 15:4-12

When everything feels far away, our hearts grasp for something to hold onto. When I missed my family at college, I reached for friends to meet those relational needs, helping me to feel loved and accepted. When I found out my boyfriend was moving thousands of miles away for grad school, I shut down and tried to grasp onto myself, because life suddenly seemed shaky and unstable.

In the wobbly moments, the steady ones, and everything in between, God calls us to abide in Him. Only when we abide in Christ are we fulfilling God’s direction for our lives and producing the fruit He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). Abiding in Christ is manifested differently for different people in specific seasons, but at the heart of this abiding is a reliance on God’s Spirit and a dependence on His love. We abide not through our own grit or ability, but through God’s sending of the Son, the Son’s choice to abide in us, and the Holy Spirit’s enabling and indwelling of our souls.

Remaining in God’s love through His Spirit transcends all earthly barriers of miles and might and manpower. We can always abide in God by remaining in His love (1 John 4:16). This abiding is accomplished by obeying Christ’s command to “love one another as [He has] loved [us]” (John 15:12). I love how our Savior simplifies these intricate texts into the simple command to love each other and provides us with an example to follow in Himself. While simple, this call is far from easy. It can only be accomplished through the power of the Spirit, who is also at work in us to enable us to abide in God (1 John 4:13). What a beautiful and powerful truth: the God of the universe is at work, accomplishing His purposes and choosing to mold us into a dwelling place for Himself. When we abide in Him, He allows us to tap into that power, rest in His love, and watch His Spirit work through us. As His Spirit works through us, He also works out of His glorious abundance to fulfill and sustain us in Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

When we are tempted to grasp temporary things in our loneliness or uncertainty, let’s instead run to the open arms of our Heavenly Father. As we abide in Him through His strength, we will love the people He has placed around us with the love that He has placed in us. He will use this to bring glory to His Kingdom and Name.

Closing Prayer
Father, we thank You that Your love will never fail us and that Your presence will always be with us. Please remind us to turn to You and abide in You each day. Please open our eyes to new understandings of the love You have for us, and enable us to better love those whom You have placed around us. We look forward to knowing You deeper as we abide in You more fully. We seek Your power and thank You for Your Spirit! In Jesus's Precious and Holy Name, Amen.
Activity: Start a Devotional or Prayer Journal Devotional and prayer journals can make time with Jesus even more exciting and rich! You can make your own, but I've also linked to some that I enjoy.
Question for Reflection

What's one thing you turn to first when you feel stressed or alone? How can we reshape our mindset to first run to Christ in all of life's shaky and stable moments? (see Colossians 3:1-2)

Carissa Joy Burns
September 07, 2020

I often turn to people or the nearest distraction (which usually ends up being my phone). It's easy to turn to tangible and convenient things to try to take my mind off of my anxiety, but too much focus on those things ultimately removes my focus from Christ and His Kingdom. Instead of this habit, I want to cultivate a mind that is centered around Christ. One practice I'm going to start is to memorize short Bible verses, so that I can choose to think about the verse I'm memorizing instead of dwelling on my stressful situations!

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