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Keith-Carlisle-small-168x300Several years ago I read a pocket-size copy of Abide in Christ and enjoyed the book but I was at an entirely different place in my life at that time. I have been a believer since I was 10 years old but had no real understanding of what abiding in Christ really meant. I could quote the Scriptures about this truth but I would have to say that it was not an experience that I was living. In the last few years there has been an intense longing and desire in my life to go deeper with Christ and I now know that Christ was calling me to abide in Him. I had no doubt about my salvation but inside I knew there was more that God had for me that I was not experiencing.

When I enrolled in CLU and took the Communion with God course I began to see and experience things that I had not experienced before. Hearing God’s voice has changed my life. The Lamad method of learning has been something that I wished I had experienced in my years at Bible college but it was a much more academic approach to learning there. I am glad that God has led me to this point in my life and that I am now able to experience an entirely different method of learning more from the heart or spirit than just the head.

After finishing the Communion with God course I knew in my heart that I wanted to learn to abide in Jesus. I took an Anointed Preaching course and then after consulting with Mark Virkler I knew that the Naturally Supernatural course was the next step for me. Having been out of school for so many years it has taken me a while to get back into the swing of things but the Holy Spirit has been faithful to guide me step by step. I am learning to work from a place of rest as I am beginning to experience abiding in Christ. So much of my life has been based on performance and trying harder and harder to live the Christian life not realizing that Christ wants to live His life through me. I needed to learn to give up my own fleshly efforts and let Christ flow from within me. John chapter 15 has taken on such depth and meaning to me as I have begun to experience its truth rather than just learning or reading about it. I felt led by the Spirit to memorize the first eleven verses of the chapter before I ever even enrolled in the Naturally Supernatural course and had begun meditating on it. God was already preparing me for the next step.  I don’t know if there is a more beautiful picture of what abiding is in the Scripture than the vine and the branch. When I read in the book that the union between the vine and branch is so close that each is nothing without the other I must admit that I was somewhat taken back. Then the truth of that began to sink in and I was awestruck. The branch really can’t do anything without the vine and the vine can also do nothing without the branch. It reminded me of the connection between the Father and the Son and how Jesus said that He could do nothing without the Father. Wow! All that the vine possesses belongs to the branches and flows into the branch for the purpose of bearing fruit for the vinedresser. I think it will take me years to plumb the depths of what it means to abide in Christ but I am so thankful that I have begun this journey.

Even the purpose of the fruit that is born is not for us but for others. I am beginning to see a little clearer that this is totally a walk of faith and so each morning as I wake up now I tell Jesus that it is my heart’s desire to abide in Him today and that by faith I know that it is possible. Jesus is the one who keeps me and without Him I can do nothing. I am realizing that for so much of my life I still thought that I could live for God again not understanding that God didn’t want me to live for Him but to allow Him to live His life through my body. I find that I still need to be reminded that if I will just relax and rest in the sustaining power of the vine that Jesus will flow through every fiber of my being. The fact that I am in Christ because of God and that He made Jesus wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1Cor 1:30) for me blesses me beyond measure. There is nothing that I need or will ever need in my life that is not found in Christ the vine. It is no wonder that satan continually tries to do everything that he can to prevent us from living in this revelation truth for he knows that once we begin to truly abide in Christ all his lies lose their power.

When I read the chapter that was entitled Day by Day I was really encouraged and blessed by the author’s insight. Exodus 16:4 says “And the people shall go out and gather the portion of a day in its day.” I am still learning that I need to take one day at a time. There is a reason that God divided the day into 24 hours, He knew that we couldn’t handle anymore than that and that we had a new beginning each day as the sun came up. I must learn to abide in Jesus day by day. Just as God gave Israel what they needed early at the beginning of each day, so God can provide for me all that I need at the start of the day to abide in His Son. My tendency is to look too far ahead and miss what God has put right in front of me just for this day. He has promised to supply all that I need according to His riches in glory and not my own resources which I have nothing that He hasn’t supplied.

The author made the following statement on page 120 about abiding “It is not a matter of feeling—it is not a question of growth or strength in the Christian life—it is the simple question whether the will at the present moment desires and consents to recognize the place you have in your Lord, and to accept it. If you are a believer, you are in Christ. If you are in Christ, and wish to stay there, it is your duty to say, though it is but for a moment, “Blessed Savior, I abide in You now; You keep me now.” That statement blessed me because I can see the value of living in the present moment and abiding in Christ now. I don’t have to wait till some day in the future, I can choose to abide in Christ this moment because God has placed me in Christ. Each moment leads to the next and abiding in Christ can become a living reality for me. There was a time in my life when I thought that continually abiding in Christ was not possible because I had not experienced it nor did I really know anyone who I felt was. I was depending too much on my intellect and what I could figure out and understand on my own. Little did I realize that most of the time I need to live and experience truth in order to know it. I don’t have to know the how behind everything before I walk in it by faith. Early in my journaling the Lord told me that He would teach me and to trust the Holy Spirit who lives within me. What a glorious privilege to abide in Christ moment by moment.

One of the things that I have learned in my journey beginning with Communion with God and now in Abiding in Him is how important cultivating stillness of soul and spirit is. Being quiet and resting in the Lord’s presence is such a valuable tool in hearing the voice of God. The enemy whispers in our ears that it is a waste of time and that we should be busy doing other things but that is a lie. How are we going to know what we should be doing anyway if we are not taking the time to quiet ourselves before the Lord and listen with the ears of our heart. Rarely does God shout at us but waits till we are quiet before Him and then speaks out of that silence. I find that I see and understand more as I read His word if I begin by quieting myself down and resting in His presence. I know now why Jesus felt the need to get away by Himself to a quiet place to listen to what the Father was saying.

I realize that if I desire to bear much fruit that I will need to be pruned and that usually hurts. However, God is not purposefully inflicting pain on me but He knows that the pruning process will result in more and better fruit so ultimately it is for my good just like everything else that he does. I  have always struggled with the verse that began chapter 21 “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) I want to believe that verse but I struggle with it because it seems to me to say that if I am really abiding in Christ and His word that I will receive whatever I ask. So if I don’t receive what I ask does that mean I am not abiding in Christ. I have struggled with this especially when I pray for someone’s healing and it doesn’t happen. I know that God is the great healer and that I can’t heal anyone but when Jesus prayed for people they were healed and He lives in me. I guess I need more patience in this area and need to learn to wait upon God in faith. However, I do believe that as I grow as a branch connected to the living vine that I will see more and more answers that glorify the Father.  I asked Jesus this morning what He would like to say to me about abiding in Him and this is what I received;

Journaling: My dear child, you are connected to Me Spirit to spirit. The invitation to abide in Me goes much deeper than My call to come to Me. I desire for you to daily live in intimacy with Me and in order for you to experience this revelation truth you must spend significant time with Me. I am proud of you My son and your desire to be in My presence and to soak in My love. It takes time to learn anything new but this is more than a learning experience. Abiding is a way of life. As a branch all that is in Me, the vine, flows unrestricted into you. The purpose of this flow is that you may bear fruit. There is no fruit bearing without Me, I am your life. I want you to learn what it means to rest in Me and stop trying so hard. It is not about how hard you try because that is self-effort. Remember, you no longer live but I live in you. The branch does not try really hard to bear fruit it just stays connected to the vine and the result is fruit. I know that you understand a lot about gardening and that it takes several years to prune and train a grape vine properly in order to produce maximum fruit. My Father’s job is to do that pruning and even though it hurts at times it is always for the good of the branch. Each day by faith I want you to continue to tell Me that your desire is to abide in Me.  I am working in ways that you cannot see. I will produce good fruit in you as you abide in Me. Be patient My son and rest in the flow of My Spirit that is within you. I will teach you all you need to know. I love you! 

As I close this paper one of the things that I am in process still of learning is the fact that God wants me to remember my weakness and to feel it deeply. I always thought in many ways that I needed to be strong but I know now that this was depending on self rather than on Christ. Corinthians tells me that “My strength is made perfect in weakness”. As I recognize my weakness and total dependency on Christ then God’s power is able to rest upon me. As a branch I need to rest in the vine with great assurance and confidence that what flows from the vine into me is all that I need. In simple child-like faith I choose this moment to abide in Jesus. Praise His Holy Name!