The word ‘Surrender’ means: to relinquish one’s possession or control; to hand over control of ourselves to another; to let go of one’s need to control one’s own life.
Over the past few weeks we have learnt that in order to Surrender to Jesus as Lord, we need to:
· COME - (Matt 11:28-30) – Jesus invites us to come to him and hand over our burdens to him.
· FOLLOW - (Luke 5:27-31) – Jesus accepts us and calls us just as we are – He offers to walk with us and teach us his ways as we follow Him.
· BELIEVE - (John 20:24-29) – Our doubts and questions help us to engage with the truth about Jesus – doubts aren’t bad, they lead us to wrestle with things until we discover the Truth and know what we believe about Jesus.
This week, we are looking at the word ABIDE from the passage in John 15:1-12 where Jesus is sharing with his disciples. READ THE PASSAGE TOGETHER.
What do you think it means to ABIDE?
The Greek verb that we translate ‘abide’ is: meno, and it means: to wait, to remain, to continue, to surrender, to bear patiently, to stay. But this verb doesn’t stand alone - Abiding doesn’t happen alone, it’s always used in conjunction with the little Greek word ‘en’ which means ‘in’--- we are to abide “IN” something: to wait IN, to remain IN, to continue IN, to surrender IN, to bear patiently IN, to stay IN.
So what is Jesus telling us to ABIDE IN?
Verse 4, 5, 7 WE - ABIDE IN HIM
Verse 9, 10 WE - ABIDE IN HIS LOVE
Verse 5 HE - ABIDES IN US
Verse 10 HE- ABIDES IN THE FATHER’S LOVE
Verse 7 HIS WORDS - ABIDE IN US
Verse 11 HIS JOY will be in US
Imagine what a difference we could make in the world if we all lived like that – abiding in Jesus; abiding in his Words; abiding in His love; abiding in the Father’s love; and all the while, having Jesus and His joy abiding on the inside of us! When people meet us they would come face-to-face with the Father’s love, and then Jesus’ love, and then Jesus, long before they even meet us – Imagine how we would change the world if we lived like that! People would truly “know we are Christians by our love.” (John 13:35)
Imagine how those who have struggled with Christianity and God would feel when they encountered Christians who were so loving and accepting and welcoming – they would probably feel just as special as the ‘tax collectors and sinners’ felt when they met Jesus. (Matt 11:19)
The word ‘Abide’ has the sense that we are staying in a place that is so wonderfully comforting that we don’t want to leave. It’s like going ‘home’ – where we can be totally ourselves, totally accepted, no need to perform or conform – we can just relax and let go of the stress and strain of trying to hold it all together. That’s what it’s like to truly ABIDE in the way Jesus is describing. We are held and supported in a safe place where no harm can come to us and we are unconditionally loved.
When it comes to talking about “How to abide” it’s important to realize that we can’t DO ourselves into abiding. Abiding is not a DOING word it’s a BEING word. I don’t struggle and strain to abide, I just surrender and ‘fall back’ into the Spirit and let Him hold me. A vine doesn’t struggle to produce fruit – It just relaxes to the sun and the air and the rain and the nutrients from the soil and it just naturally produces fruit. As we surrender to Jesus and relax into the Spirit, we too will begin to bear the fruit of love that is flowing from Him to us.
There is nothing that I cannot face with peace and love if I am abiding in Him – Even when the circumstances around us are more than we can bear, we can abide in His love and know His comfort and peace. We can ‘hide’ in Him so that anything that comes against us must first pass by Father’s Love, and then Jesus’ Love, and then Jesus, before it even reaches us… and when it finally reaches us, it finds Jesus’ words and Jesus’ joy abiding on the inside of us. Abiding doesn’t necessarily change our circumstances, but it ALWAYS changes US and gives us ‘peace that passes understanding’, (Phil 4:7) and a love that is ‘perfect’ (1 John 4:9-18). That is what abiding is all about - It’s about recognizing that God loves us - That Jesus embraces us - That we are surrounded by the presence of the Holy Spirit every minute of the day, and that surrendering and abiding in His love will enable us to overcome any obstacle, any fear, any hardship or any heartache that might come our way.
Why do you think we find it difficult to practice ‘Abiding’?
How do you think various circumstances in your life might change if you learnt to ‘Abide’ rather than to ‘Strive’? (Try to think of specific situations you have in your life right now to discuss with one another).
What are some practical tips you can think of to make it easier to ‘Abide’?
Try working through an ‘Abiding’ exercise to help you focus on your position in Christ and ‘lean into Him’. (You can use the meditation focus attached or write one of your own)
ABIDING IN THE VINE – a meditation to help us ‘abide’
Close your eyes & still your heart
Take a few deep breaths and relax
Let your body relax
Imagine yourself surrounded and held by His love
Create a picture in your heart of a baby lying in his Father’s arms
Yield to the strength and support of his arms
As you listen to the beat of your heart
And the ebb and flow of your breathing
And the movement of your mind
Pause to thank God for his amazing gift of life
As you become aware of His presence within you
Thank him that he always arrives before you and
Is always waiting to meet with you, his most treasured friend
Remind yourself now, as you sit here,
That God is gazing on you with love and holding you close
It is the real ‘you’ that he sees and loves
The ‘you’ that you hide from the rest of the world
The ‘you’ that you’re often afraid to show
That is the ‘you’ that he loves and adores
Now, in the presence of God
Imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside you
Say whatever is on your mind
Whatever is in your heart
Speaking as one much-loved friend to another
Finally remind yourself afresh that at any time of the day or night
You can call on Jesus
That He is always waiting,
Listening for your call,
Watching for you to come
No phone is needed, no emails…just a whisper