Merriam-Webster defines abide as "to remain stable or fixed in a state, to continue in a place, sojourn," which explains why the Greek word used in John 15:1-17 can also be translated as "stay" or "remain." But I'll never stop using abide.
It's an inviting word. And within the context of John 15:1-17, it's a life-giving word that signifies Jesus' desire to have a relationship with his people. It's a word that anchors us in what is most important. For Jesus said, unless we abide in him, we can do no other good thing.
Does that remind you of another passage of Scripture?
Recall Joshua 1:8: "This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do." For then, you will be fruitful.
Take a look at another:
"How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord's instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams
that bears fruit in its season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers."
While studying Joshua recently, I decided to look up the definition of prosper. I knew what it meant, but I wanted to take a closer look at why translators might have chosen this word. As a writer, words hold a lot of weight. And since this passage is so familiar, finding new words to better capture its meaning is super helpful.
Most of us are familiar with the definition "to succeed in an enterprise or activity." As a product of our society, we cleave to any promise of material prosperity. And while God did promise to take care of his people, this word means so much more than that. It also means to thrive or flourish.
God wanted his people to know that if they tucked his word away in their hearts, they would flourish in Him. They would not merely survive the conquest of Canaan; they would thrive in the land.
Today, we cannot flourish in Christ without abiding in Him. He has given us everything we need for life in godliness, but we cannot attain these things without a deep knowing of the One upon whom we must center are whole lives (2 Peter 1:3).
The above verses clue us in on how to abide in Him. Do you see it?
They both use the same word: meditate. And that word means to contemplate or reflect. It means more than merely reading Scripture. It means beholding God in Scripture.
I like to think of my mom when I consider this word. She taught us to eat slowly (not that we listened) so that we got all of the nutrients out of our food. As children, we liked to eat our favorite meals quickly. We didn't understand the value of slowing down, chewing our food, savoring the dish.
We are still children, aren't we? Children of God. And we like to rush through our time in the word. We swallow entire chunks of the Bible and keep it moving instead of slowing down over the text and pondering its message.
And, to be honest, many of us do this because we were not taught to do anything different. Pastors often instruct us to read our Bibles and to pray, assuming that we know what that means.
I didn't understand this until a woman sat down and got into the word with me. She passed on a tool to me that I could use and then pass on to others. She discipled me, and the one thing she made sure I didn't forget was how to nourish my soul with the holy Word of God.
She taught me to read the Bible prayerfully and to prayerfully respond in obedience. She taught me to be intentional in my pursuit of God, to swim upstream like salmon and multiply.
How did you learn how to get more out of your time with God? Do you know how to teach someone else?
Psalm 1 teaches us that true happiness comes from flourishing in God. This is what He wants for us, to flourish in him by meditating on his word and applying what read to our lives. To abide in Christ through prayerful contemplation and obedience.
So what are we waiting for? Let's do this! Let's chew on his word and digest all the rich nutrients of his Person. Let's slow down and have a conversation with Him about the passages that stick out to us, treasuring them in our hearts. Let's regularly take intentional measures to remember the One who loved us and gave his life for us. Let's take this blessed gift of relationship seriously.
If you want to learn how develop your walk with Christ by meditating on his word, I would love to connect with you. While I would prefer to sit across from you at a cozy coffee shop and do it alongside you, that's probably not possible. (If it is, let me know!)
That's why I created "Ponder: A Simple Guide to Time Alone With God." I wanted to create a tool that would help us all take an intentional step forward in deepening our fellowship with God and one another.
Maybe you're more seasoned but just need a refresh. This little tool is for you too. You can get it for free by subscribing to my monthly newsletter or purchase it for next to nothing. All funds help me create more resources to both encourage you in your faith walk and equip you to make disciples of other women.
Use "Ponder: A Simple Guide to Time Alone with God" (or other devotional guides like it) to meditate on the following passages:
Remember to read these passages in context. And, since getting a good grasp on such a long book like Isaiah would require a lot more time and study, I also recommend having a reliable study Bible nearby.
Girl, you're headed into a goldmine!