Summary: This sermon talks about the steps to beginning the process of abiding in Christ.
Nov. 23, 2003 John 15
“Getting connected” (pt. 3)
NOTE: All quotes unless otherwise indicated are from Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson
Crystal Finley gave birth last week. For almost 9 months, that child has been abiding in her mother’s womb. They have been connected by a wonderful invention of God called an umbilical cord. Though the baby and mother are two totally distinct individuals, for 9 months, they have almost been one life. Whatever Crystal took into her body, the baby ingested the same thing. When Crystal ate ice cream, the baby cried out for more, and since that’s what Crystal wanted anyway, she gladly listened to the baby’s wishes. They have shared a circulatory system. The same blood flowed in Crystal and her baby’s veins. When the baby had waste products to get rid of, the waste came out Crystal’s body. Little Mikayla Lynn was totally dependent on Crystal, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Crystal will probably go through at least a little post-partem depression. The depth of the oneness that mother and child experienced is broken, and there is great pain in the separation. Now, as the child grows, they will build a new kind of bond – a relationship, a friendship that goes beyond sharing blood all the way to sharing souls.
Babies know how to abide. They have an advantage over us. We adults have forgotten how to abide. We have to re-learn it. That is what we have come here today to do – not to re-learn how to abide in our parents – but to learn what we have to do in order to abide in the One who gave us a new birth. Our heavenly Father.
What are the steps?
ABIDING: Consciously choosing to stay in the presence of God.
The Bible teaches us that God is everywhere. We call that God’s omnipresence. So what are we talking about with getting into the presence of God? We’re not talking about the fact of God’s presence, but the awareness, the recognition, the enjoyment, the blessing and the benefits of His presence. All of us are in God’s presence, but not many of us are enjoying His presence.
Over the holidays, many of you will have relatives who are present in your home. It will be an undeniable fact. But there is no guarantee that you will enjoy their presence or reap any benefit from their presence. And if you are in the middle of a spat with them, you might not even recognize their presence. You’ll avoid them and do everything possible to act as if they aren’t even there. You don’t want them to ruin your fun.
So how do you get from the fact of presence to the fun of abiding? It comes with becoming the friend of God – deepening your relationship with Him.
“Principle 1: To break through to abiding, I must deepen the quality of my devoted time with God.” – p. 106
Since abiding with Jesus is all about developing and deepening my relationship with Him, all the things that apply to other relationships apply here too.
Attraction / Desire – You will not choose to enter into a friendship with someone unless you are attracted to them. Most of you here are married or are in a relationship. What originally attracted you to that other person? The way they looked, the way they treated you, something that you had in common, a kindness that they did for someone else and that caught your attention. What was it? Now think about Jesus. Think about all the things that are true of Him that are extremely attractive. Especially as we approach the Christmas season, we hear this verse over and over again: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV) [spend a little bit of time showing how each of those characteristics makes Jesus attractive (i.e. “Mighty God” – He’s strong enough to support me, “Everlasting Father” – He’s in the relationship for the long haul, etc.)]
Some of you have heard the story of how Tammy and I got together. I was a little backward and a lot shy when it came to girls. Tammy figured that out, I guess, and worked out a plan to get me to ask her out because she was attracted to me. She told one of the ladies that we worked with that she liked me knowing that this lady would tell me about it. I was emboldened with this piece of information, I asked her out, and we entered into a relationship that will never end. One of the things that attracted me to Tammy was that she was attracted to me. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” Perhaps the greatest reason for us to be attracted into a relationship with Jesus is because He was first attracted to us and gave Himself for us before we even knew He existed.