How to Remain on the Vine

One of the highlights of my week is our Wednesday night adult study. Not only is there is rich discussion each time we come together, but it doesn’t hurt that I get to watch my husband teach.

We are studying Radical, by David Platt and this past week we were in chapter three, in which Platt exhorts readers not to fall into the trap of self-reliance, which he warns is the fatal goal of the American Dream. He states:

As long as we achieve our desires by our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory….While the goal of the American Dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God. (p.46-47)

Much of our discussion was centered on John 15:1-11, where Jesus teaches through the metaphor of the vine and the branches.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

After much discussion about the branches that are discarded and those that are pruned to bear more fruit, we turned to the topic of “doing”. Countless well-meaning people seem to be able to do a lot of good apart from God. Yet, we know that our works will be tested by fired and only that which is built on the foundation of Christ will remain (1 Cor. 3:11-15). “So”, husband asks, “how then do we ‘abide’ in Christ? How do we do things in His power and not our own?”

I speak the answer that comes to my mind silently to myself: Gratitude! We remain in Christ by acknowledging that all we have and all we can do comes from Him; and we speak that acknowledgement in praises full of gratitude.

The word “abide” basically means “to remain.” Every Christian remains inseparably linked to Christ in all areas of life. We depend on Him for grace and power to obey. We look obediently to His Word for instruction on how to live. We offer Him our deepest adoration and praise and we submit ourselves to His authority over our lives. In short, Christians gratefully know Jesus Christ is the source and sustainer of their lives. – John MacArthur (emphasis mine)

I’ve carried these thoughts with me, as God has graciously allowed me to accomplish much this week, and I offer whispers of gratitude to Him, the Giver of all good things:

689. husband saying “yes” to making the move to WordPress

690. the ability to figure out how to actually make the move

691. the support of the moderators at StudioPress

692. the tools needed to customize to the template

693. the time to get it all done so quickly

694. that I didn’t wait any longer (it was hard enough to relink hundreds of posts and pictures; I can’t imagine if the count had gotten into the thousands!)

695. the fun I had getting it done!

696. sweet encouragement from readers

And for other graces noticed:

697. our adult study group, earnestly tackling the tough stuff of scripture

698. snow sparkling like diamonds

699. brushing daughter’s hair

700. snuggling with my son

701. sunshine pouring through the windows and flooding the house with its warmth

702. furnace that needs to be restarted several times a day, reminding me constantly of the warmth that it gives in the cold winter months (oh, I hear it conking out again – time for another reset!)

Are you holding fast to the vine? What are you thanking God for today?

In hope,

P.S. In God’s perfect timing, my online friend, Kristi Stephens is beginning a series today on Abiding. I invite you to join her in digging deeper into this rich scripture.

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.


  1. Really appreciate your perspective, Shelli – I hadn’t thought about the link between gratitude and abiding. Life looks a lot different when we stand before Him with open hands and humble hearts, grateful for what He gives and not claiming it as our right or our own doing!

    LOVE, LOVE the new design. Beautiful, friend!

  2. Oh so very pretty! Love how you have customized this theme! It is awesome! And I know how much work goes into it!

    Well done! Rejoicing with you!
    from the Gratitude Community

  3. Teena says

    That book is one of the most life changing books I have ever read.

    I would love to do a a bible study w/ it.

    Shelli, your words help me each time I come and read…. I am so thankful our paths crossed.


  4. Your blog looks great Shelli!

  5. For “Mega Memory Month” I worked on John 15, so I am well acquainted with the words “remain in Me” or “abide in Me.” And I, too, have asked the same question and wondered the same. What does it mean to remain? What does it mean to abide, at a practical level, day by day, moment by moment.

    Tying it in with gratitude is an excellent way to practice it.

    Is there anything else? Is there something to NOT do? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts!

    (Also, hooray for WordPress! I’ve used it for many years and love it; in fact, I just got some training on Genesis themes and intend to pick a new theme soon! 🙂

    • Ann, you have spurred me on to dig deeper. More to come beginning Monday. 🙂