“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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 15:4–5 (ESV).

Does the idea of abiding in Christ seem abstract or elusive to you?

John 15:4-5 helps us understand what Jesus meant by abiding in Him. The main point of the analogy is that the power to bear fruit requires us to be vitally connected to Him. Similarly, this is true with the phrase, “Abide in my word” found in John 8:31.

Simply put, abiding in Christ means having faith in Him alone. The primary message Jesus is communicating is that salvation is found in Him alone. To abide in Him is to repent and believe that God the Father lovingly sent His Son to die on the cross and rise from the dead to forgive sin so that we could be declared righteous in God’s sight and receive the gift of eternal life. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15).

In John 15, Jesus plainly tells us that He is the power we need to live fruitful lives. He says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Abiding in Jesus means staying vitally connected to the life-giving, power-giving, fruit-producing branch, Jesus.

Abiding in the vine means receiving, believing, and trusting in the words of Jesus. Abiding in Jesus, like faith, is a matter of degrees. It’s not that some Christians abide and some don’t. If you believe in Jesus, you are in Him and united to Him. You are connected to the life-giving branch. But no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, you can experience the reality of this connection to Jesus more and more.

We may experience peaks and valleys in abiding in Jesus. But in the end, the battle is assured because it does not depend on us. Jesus wins. He and His Father are greater than all.

When we abide in Christ, He bears fruit in our lives. This glorifies Him and blesses us and those around us.  We can trust Jesus and the Father to prune and bring forth fruit in our lives.

“Abide in Me says Jesus. Cling to Me. Stick fast to Me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me. Get nearer to Me. Roll every burden on Me. Cast your whole weight on Me. Never let go your hold on Me for a moment. Be, as it were, rooted and planted in Me. Do this, and I will never fail you. I will ever abide in you.” – JC Ryle.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the importance of abiding in the Lord?
  2. What does abiding in the Lord look like practically? Why is it sometimes hard to abide in Jesus?


Outside of Christ, I am only a sinner, but in Christ, I am saved. Outside of Christ, I am empty; in Christ, I am full. Outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong. Outside of Christ, I cannot; in Christ, I am more than able. Outside of Christ, I have been defeated; in Christ, I am already victorious. How meaningful are the words, “in Christ.” – Watchman Nee.

Have you ever asked yourself, “is it really worth it to follow Christ?” Have you ever compared what you get with following Jesus with what those in the world get? You look around and see people devoting their lives to the things of this world. They seem to be living the dream. They have plenty of money. They take nice vacations. They drive new cars. It is human nature to look at them and ponder whether your life would be similar if you were not a follower of Jesus. You wouldn’t have to give a portion of your income to the Lord’s work. You would have your weekends free to pursue whatever you wanted to do. Is it worth it to follow Christ?  “Am I making a mistake to give up all this to follow Christ?”

The motivation for following Christ should not be to get the benefits. We follow Him because He is who He claimed to be: the Savior and Messiah. But He graciously reassures us by telling us of the promised benefits. The pleasures of this world pale in comparison with the pleasure of knowing the Savior. The sacrifices of time, money, and hardship you encounter in serving Christ are nothing compared to the joy of knowing Him. The beauty of the Gospel is that in trusting Jesus, He pours into us more than we could have expected or hoped for.

Psalm 103:2, for example, says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 116:12 says, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?” The Apostle Paul described a major part of his ministry this way: “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 NIV).

Jesus does not invite us to follow Him for what we can get, but He invites us to follow Him for what we can give. We can be a part of serving, loving, and reaching the people around us. We need to trust Jesus when He says, “ If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:39).

Christians don’t follow Jesus for the perks. They follow Jesus because He is the risen Son of God. The truth of His resurrection compels us to trust in Him as God and is worthy of our love, worship, and obedience. In Jesus alone, we find counting the cost results in us receiving far more than we could ever repay or earn. That is the beauty of the Gospel. That is the reason Jesus is always worth following.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the payoff in your mind for following Jesus?


“Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored. At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.” – Mark 3:1-6.

When Jesus extended the invitation to “follow me,” He was calling believers to a transformative way of living that goes beyond following a set of religious rules. Following Jesus is more than following a set of prescribed regulations. It’s about entering into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him. Francis Chan said, “Following Jesus is not about diligently keeping a set of rules or conjuring up the moral fortitude to lead good lives. It’s about loving God and enjoying Him.”

In Mark 3, we read about a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees were more concerned about their rules than they were about Jesus performing a miracle.  Just think about that for a moment.  Knowing that this man had a deformed hand, you would think that the Pharisees would be in amazement after witnessing the miracle. Instead, they went away and plotted because their rules blinded them from accepting the miracle that they had just witnessed.  Instead of cheering with excitement for what they had just seen, they fell back on their rules.

Following Jesus is much easier than following man-made rules. The only rules that we need to follow are God’s rules. You do not have to perform meaningless ceremonial tasks dictated by man.  The only functions that we should follow were demonstrated to us by Jesus.

Today, the call to “follow me” is a call to look beyond the confines of rules and to understand the deeper values they aim to represent. It’s a journey towards living a life that is deeply rooted in the principles of love and compassion, the core of Jesus’ teachings. This is where we find the true essence of what it means to follow Jesus – not in the adherence to rules, but in the embodiment of love and grace in our everyday lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the benefits of following Jesus?
  2. What needs to be different short term to better follow Jesus?


   “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,”   Philippians 2:5 (NASB).

How would you answer questions like: What does it mean to be a Christian? How does a Christian act? Or what are the characteristics of a Christian? We can answer those questions by looking at Peter’s life. Peter is an example of the transformation a follower of Jesus goes through and how the characteristics of Jesus are to be exhibited in the lives of believers.

I think most of us can identify with Peter. Peter was a person with many facets to his character. His tenacious spontaneity attracts the wild at heart. He was quick to speak and slow to listen, just like so many of us. He often found himself in situations that could have been avoided if he kept his eyes on Christ. All of these things make Peter such a relatable person. But we must also remember that although it took a while, Peter eventually learned to find His victory in Christ. God transformed him to a powerful witness. As we trace the trajectory of Peter’s life, we see a man powerfully renewed in his walk with Jesus Christ.

One of the most important aspects of our Christianity is recognizing that we are continually involved in transformation as we grow and mature as followers of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Peter was the one who was full of strange contradictions in his early walk with the Lord. At times, he was presumptuous, timid, and even cowardly, but we see him transformed into a man of God who led the early church in its early days. Ultimately, we find him as a rock standing firm in the faith.  Acts 5:15 tells us “As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by.”

Peter’s story is recorded to show us how a man can be used by God. We can hope for God to do the same in our lives. Peter’s life is a testimony to the fact that we can change. We can move from frustration and failure to fulfillment and fruitfulness. This is our inheritance and God’s intention for our lives.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can we learn from Peter’s life?
  2. How does Peter’s life give us hope?


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control”-  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV).

If you were buying a new car, you would probably look for something well-built, dependable, and in your price range. If you were reading a novel, you likely want a good plot, a compelling crisis, and solid character development. If you were considering a new house, you would focus on location, size, quality, and price. In almost everything in life, typical characteristics make something “good.”  Similarly, characteristics, or traits, distinguish those who follow Jesus from others.

Genuine Christian character is not just about our personality or disposition. It describes who we are as Christians. It is exhibited in what we do and how we do it as followers of Jesus. In essence, our character is the display case of Christ.

Building and developing character is something we must desire and work at. Fortunately, Christ gave us a model to evaluate. Studying the character of Jesus is a lifelong effort. These qualities of Jesus Christ’s character are apparent throughout His ministry.

First was compassion: Jesus never looked away from people; He always looked upon them and had compassion (Matthew 9:36). Whenever people were around Him, Jesus understood their real needs and sought to address them. Jesus took the time to notice that people were hurting—and His compassion drove Him to help them. Jesus was the ultimate servant. He taught them to be servants by actually doing it Himself.  Despite having the authority to get anything He wanted and have people praise and pamper Him, He did the exact opposite by lowering Himself and serving others.

No list of Jesus‘ character is complete without love. If anyone doubts His love, all they have to do is look upon the cross and see the agony that He bore for our sake. He experienced that horrible death so that all could be saved. That, very clearly, is true love at its finest.

 Additional characteristics include forgiving, patience, commitment, gentleness, self-control, and humility. Jesus had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades for His miracles and teachings, but He never did. He did not want to become a sideshow,  He wanted to seek and save the lost and offer forgiveness for sinful people.

The world doesn’t need more role models; it needs more of Jesus, the ultimate role model. People will not find a better person to emulate positive character traits than Jesus Christ.

Imitating Jesus in even a small way is a tall order. But following Him starts with asking God to help me discover more of what that means, with a hunger to know more of the purpose for which I have been made and asking how I can grow more fully into God’s image. When I love Him, I will be like Him. When I am like Him, I will love like He loves and be a reflection of Him by wearing the following wear.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Which of the characteristics of Jesus is the easiest to do? Which is the most difficult?
  2. What can we do this week to follow Jesus a little bit better?


He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.” – Luke 5:2-3.

When Jesus approached the lake of Gennesaret, He saw two boats by the lake with no fishermen. The fishermen were out of their boats washing their nets. One of the fishermen, Simon, was most likely frustrated because a night of fishing had yielded nothing. It was this unsuccessful boat that Jesus chose to sit in.  Jesus knew what would happen but wanted to see if Simon would trust Him.

Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they did so, they caught so many fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

What was different between the period when they couldn’t catch anything and the moment when they had too many fish to handle? It was the same lake, the same boat, the same nets, the same fishermen, and the same fish. The difference between empty nets and abundance was Jesus’ presence in the boat. It was a game-changer. They were no longer fishing by themselves. God was in their boat. Nothing has changed over the last 2,000 years. Jesus is still willing to meet us when things are not going well, and life is not as planned.

Think of your boat as whatever you do in your life. If you want God to bless you, invite Him into your boat. This isn’t about salvation or just saying a one-time prayer but asking Jesus to live in you and through you daily. When Simon Peter and Andrew did this, God gave them more fish than they could handle.

Life can be complicated, so let Jesus simplify things. Life can seem possible, but with God, all things are possible. Burdens are part of life and are complicated. Jesus says he will lighten your burdens. But He must be in the boat with you to do those things.

What is in your boat right now? Is it an unhealthy body, emotional upheaval, financial needs, unemployment, spiritual struggles, anxiety, etc.? Whatever it may be, invite the Lord into your boat and watch what He can do.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would life be different if you were convinced that God was in the boat with you?
  2. What area of your life would change if you were confident that God was with you?


“As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. – Matthew 14: 13-14

Peter and Andrew were small businessmen. They ran their family business and most likely worked long hours to make ends meet. There were no health benefits, no vacation or personal time off. In those days, you were what you did for a living. But everything changed one day when Jesus came along and said: Follow Me.

The Bible doesn’t tell us, but you assume this presented a mental dilemma for these fisherman  You have to wonder if their first thought was, “now?” It would hardly seem the best time to drop everything and go. It didn’t seem like a convenient time.  But they decided to follow Jesus despite the uncertainty and the inconvenient time. To follow Jesus is to live a life of inconvenience.

It may be inconvenient to follow Jesus, but we must remember that no one has ever been inconvenienced more than Jesus. He laid aside His divine privileges and inconveniently became a human. Philippians 2:6-8 says, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Jesus was on a mission to redeem all mankind by His sacrificial death on the cross; in His three years on earth, He was repeatedly interrupted with inconvenient requests. “Heal my daughter,” “Raise my son back to life,“ “Open my eyes,” and “Let me just touch You.“ People did not make appointments or make their requests during business hours. They inconveniently intersected Christ as He continually strove toward the cross. In addition, Christ’s days were often so full that He could only find to commune with His Father when His own weary body would have screamed for sleep. But despite how inconvenient it was, He chose to spend the night talking with His Father.

Once they decided to follow Jesus, the disciples lived inconvenient lives. They had to leave the familiarity of their families, jobs, and communities and go where it would have been most inconvenient for them to go. Peter eventually went to Rome, where he was crucified upside down for preaching the Gospel. The Apostle Paul was inconvenienced throughout his preaching ministry when he was repeatedly imprisoned as he traveled across Europe.

The early followers of Christ gladly embraced the inconvenience of serving and following Christ, and two thousand years later, we have to ask ourselves a question: are we willing to be inconvenienced to follow Jesus?

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do we deal with feelings of inconvenience and inadequacy when God uses us? What is your reaction?
  2. God plans unexpected needs to arise at inconvenient times in our lives to invite us to trust and depend on Him. Agree or disagree or why?
  3. When personal inconvenience is the backdrop to your willingness and love, the character of Christ shines that much brighter through you.


“I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people” – Psalm 85.8.

Sometimes, people will believe we are not listening to them, and they will blurt out, “Listen.” When that happens, we shift gears to thinking, “I need to hear this.” It could be listening to a teacher’s instructions, listening to your parents, or maybe a friend sharing something they want to make sure we hear. But what if it is God saying, “listen.” Sometimes, we are so busy talking to God through prayer that we forget that God wants us to listen because He wants to speak to us. When it comes to hearing from God, the main question we need to answer is often the most basic one: Do we want to hear from Him?

The foundation of any relationship is communication. God wants you to hear His voice and follow Him. Most people’s honest reaction is: “Does God speak today because I have a hard time hearing Him?” The reality is that God has always spoken to His people. God spoke to Noah about how to build a boat. God spoke to Joshua and told him to march around Jericho. God spoke to Daniel with prophecies of the future. God spoke to Elijah and brought fire down from heaven. God spoke to Moses face to face, as one friend to another. Psalm 50:3 (NIV) says, “Our God comes and will not be silent….” The question is not, “Does God still speak?” The question is, “Are we listening?”

We probably will never hear His voice with our ears. God speaks to us through His word. It may be a passage of scripture you’ve read many times, but if you reread it, you will find something very applicable to your current situation. “Love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him…” (Deuteronomy 30.20 NIV). Psalm 85:8 (NLT) says, “ “I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people….” 1 Samuel 3.10 (NIV) says, “…Speak, for your servant is listening,” Matthew 11:15 (NLT) says, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” And finally, Hebrews 3:15 (NIV) says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

The problem with many of us today is that we read through God’s word, but we are intent on mastering the text; we are trying to dissect it for its meaning so we can talk more intelligently about God. There is nothing wrong with deep Biblical study as long as we remember that reading the Bible is not to accumulate data about Him, in John 5:39, Jesus tells the best -read Bible students of His day: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!”

If we want to hear from God, we must read more than words. We need to encounter Him as the living God we want to follow.

While there are many methods to try to hear from God, it’s likely He’s been speaking to you this whole time. The key is to tune your ear to Him.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What assurance do you have from God’s Word that God intends for us to hear His voice in very personal ways in our lives?
  2. How do we distinguish God’s voice from the many others?


“One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.” – Luke 5:1-3.

When he first encountered Jesus, Peter was a simple fisherman from a small village. Peter is always interesting. He was not one to take a back seat but was always front and center, speaking his mind, for better or worse. He was considered an ordinary man, but despite his humble origin, Christ called him one of the most influential leaders among the disciples and the early church. Of course, he did not know that when he first met Jesus.

Jesus saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake. The fishermen were out of the boats washing their nets. Jesus He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put it out a little way from the land. He sat in the boat and began teaching. When He finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish” (Luke 5:4).

The fishermen were washing their nets. They had finished. They were tired. They were frustrated. Loaning the boat as a pulpit was one thing, but going back out fishing was something else. Simon answered and said, “Master,” Simon replied, “We worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again” (vs 5).

But then Peter took a step of faith that contradicted his professional experience as a fisherman. He decided to fish and caught so many fish that the two boats were in jeopardy of sinking. When Petter realized what happened, “he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” (vs. 8).

Jesus responds by telling Peter not to fear. He says, in effect, “I know you. I know what you are like. And I still want you to follow me. Don’t be afraid—just follow Me and see what you become.”  Verse 10-11 says, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

In this story, Peter shows us the content of an act of faith. An act of faith consists of doing something, in this case, leaving his nets behind.

Following Jesus is not set up for a simple life. But it’s an invitation to live differently and to see differently.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are you following Jesus? As you thought about that question, where did it lead you? 
  2. What risks do you associate with following Jesus? What do you need to leave behind?


“How do you react when God doesn’t meet your expectations? If you truly accepted the invitation to follow Jesus, you’ll keep going on through hurricanes, hail, and hazardous conditions. If you have simply invited Him to follow you, you’ll bail out at the first sign of bad weather.” ― Mark Batterson, All In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life.

Following Jesus is undoubtedly a radical pursuit. Jesus asks us to be willing to give up everything to follow Him and not to be ashamed about it. That information probably prompted some questions about what you are getting yourself into.

When Jesus chose His disciples, what questions popped up in their minds when they heard the “follow me” challenge? What issues concerned them? Practical questions? Personal questions? Priority questions? Questions about inadequacy? Anxiety? What must we know before we leave our beach and boats and follow Jesus? Their questions were probably much like ours today.

For example, why do you want me with all my baggage? Peter was on target when he said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8)  Another question is “what made you invite me?”The disciples were not the respected pillars of society. Jesus was not a talent scout but a student of the inner person. He sees potential as to what people may become, and He extends the invitation to join Him.  Another question is, “Where is following you going to take me?” Some people think that following Jesus is adhering to old-fashioned teachings in outdated, irrelevant, relic documents. It is so much more.  It is a relationship with Christ as the way to become what the Lord intended us to be.

An obvious question is, “What happens when I fall flat on my face?” Will God reject me? The first followers fell quite a bit, so we have the assurance that Jesus will also hold on to us. People can grow stronger through hard times, discouragement, and even failure. The disciples experienced all of these but never rejection.  “What are the risks of following You?” There are risks in following Jesus. There is a price for following Jesus.  Are we willing to pay the price?

Following Jesus means thinking His thoughts, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, and having the same desires and goals that He expressed. Those seeking to follow Jesus will eagerly try to follow in His footsteps. To follow Jesus means that we will seek to follow His example in our daily living and let Him be our guide in all that we do.

We aren’t simply floating around aimlessly. We follow Jesus because there is a point to all of this. This entire history of the world is headed somewhere. We can do so with joy because our hope is in a future in the presence of Jesus Christ forever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does following Jesus mean to you? 
  2. Why is it helpful to know more about Jesus to follow Him effectively?  What can we do this week to increase our knowledge of Him?