[PC-USA] 2000-06-30 - Remaining in Christ

John 15:4 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 apart from me. 5 "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. 6 Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! 8 My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father. (NLT)

Do you find yourself riddled with anxiety, feeling overwhelmed with the stresses of your life? Are you discouraged because no matter how hard you work, your ministry work seems to be accomplishing nothing visible? Do you feel emotionally drained, spiritually listless? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably are not remaining in Christ.

When we look at the sky at night, and notice that the moon is a three-quarter moon, whereas a few weeks ago it was full, to our perspective the moon has changed. In reality, we have moved because of the Earth's rotation. When we feel like failures or like we feel we just can't take it any more, we perceive it to be because of our circumstances but in actuality, it is because we are not where we need to be - remaining in Christ. It's easy to say, but not so easy to do. It's discouraging when we put our hearts into a ministry and lives do not seem to be changed. But though we often feel we are responsible for the outcome, the fruit of the ministry do not depend on us -- on our efforts or our ability; rather, they depend on God. He uses us, but the ultimate results are in His hands. Life can be incredibly painful. Emotional pain can be so deep, that we literally feel it physically, we don't feel like doing anything, and we just want to curl up into a little ball and wail. But there is nothing that God cannot handle. It sounds like an oversimplification, but if we remain in Christ, we truly can have peace even in the most difficult circumstances. And He wants that for us. He doesn't want us to feel like a failure, or to be "eaten up" inside.

How can we, as the King James Version puts it, "abide" in God?

  1. First and foremost, spend time in His presence, just "being" with him. Henri Nouwen tells of how his profoundly retarded friend, Adam, taught him the importance of "being" over "doing" or "accomplishing." We need to make time in our busy daily schedule, to talk to God - pour out our feelings to Him, asking Him to help us remain in Him. And we need to listen. If you are like me, too often prayer is a one-way conversation. Don't monopolize; take time to simply wait and listen for His leading.
  2. Read the God's word day. Sometimes other important activities crowd out our Bible-reading, but studying God's word needs to be a priority for us.
  3. Read uplifting books, magazines etc.
  4. Spend time with other Christians who are abiding in Christ.

No matter what you are going through, God can handle it and in fact, He is eager to help you. He wants to take your burdens; they are His by right, not yours:

Matt11:28 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. (NLT)

Dear Father, help us to relinquish our heavy spiritual and emotional burdens to you. Give us your peace that only You can give, that surpasses our understanding. It's hard to believe Lord, that You can do this or that You want to, so as the centurion said, "help our unbelief.". In Jesus' name, amen.