TODAY IN HIS WORD COMES FROM
John 15:1-11 (ESV)
I Am the True Vine
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away,
and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
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.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers;
and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish,
and it will be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be full.
THOUGHT TO PONDER:
It is in Christ and through Christ that we can come to the most Holy of places. It is where He has gone before us, and where He stands with us, and we can declare that the Almighty God, IS our God. Torn is the veil that kept us from entering. And sealed in grace; God no longer looks upon us as sinful, but as clean, holy, and sanctified by the love of Christ.
INSIGHT INTO GOD'S WORD:
Notice in our key passage today, it speaks of "abide IN me." Christ didn't say, abide with me, or along side me... He said, "IN ME." When we abide outside of Christ, we have nothing. When storms rage we need to be anchored to something stronger than ourselves. When times of testing come, and the enemy comes to devour anything not stable, it is easy to be shaken and lose footing, if we are not firmly rooted in our belief. But in order to abide IN Christ, we have to be sealed in Him first.
Recently I wrote about a short note I wrote and buried. (If you haven't read the devotional "The Holy one of Israel" I encourage you to spend some time reading it-- so you will understand why this is so significant.) When I wrote my note, and just simply put ME in it, I truly thought all I was doing was just giving God all of me. I had no idea that He would take my submission literally and begin to break down everything of resistance in me. Now I was already baptized several months before my trip to Tennessee-- but what I realized was that my baptism was only the beginning. God wanted everything inside and outside of me.
Now just to tell you, nine months before I wrote on that note "ME", I had set on a bench desperately trying to breath. And I prayed for the first time in years. As I did, I simply asked God, "Please help me, because I can't do this anymore." But it took nine months after that, to get me to a point (where I was at in Tennessee) that I truly just wanted God in every part of me. I am here to tell you, that when you surrender completely to God, HE STEPS IN, and everything else moves back.
I absolutely love the verse in Isaiah 45: For this is what the Lord says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right (Isa. 45:18-19 NIV).
Did you hear that? God has not said that we would seek Him in vain. When we truly have a heart that wants GOD, and we seek Him, and call out to Him-- He will not disappoint us. God's Word does not lie. It says: And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls (Joel 2:32 NIV).
My friend, when we come to a point in our lives when we truly accept Christ, and are baptized. We become Spiritually buried and raised again with Christ. It says in Colossians 2; When you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and you were raised up with him through your faith in God's power that was shown when he raised Christ from the dead (2:12 NCV). We are forgiven and set free. But again, that is just the beginning. When you are baptized you belong to God, and He doesn't want a superficial relationship with you. He wants you in heart, mind, and soul... and when we surrender to Him, He goes to work to prepare our hearts to know (and to love) Him. It isn't enough for Him to have us partially, He doesn't want us to just know ABOUT Him, He wants us to know Him personally-- and that takes time. And God is more than willing to take the "prep time" that is needed.
In the same way Jesus invited the two men in John 1, to "Come and see," He invites us too. The gift of God's Holy Spirit belongs to us as well. How can I be so sure in saying that? Because God's Word says it! In Acts 2:38-39 Peter said; "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (NKJV).
And when we do, we begin to have a life in Christ-- we begin to abide IN HIM, and we begin to grow in Him, as God breaks downs the soil in our hearts and prepares to plant His Word in us, so that it can grow. In the same way we are to be rooted IN HIM-- we need Him and HIS WORD to be rooted in us. It's how we grow. It's how we are nurtured, and it is how we begin a true and heartfelt relationship with Him. And it is how we begin to have discernment in order to listen to Him, so that we can follow Him as He shows us which way to go.
In our key passage today Jesus says He is the true vine, and we are the branches-- when we quit growing in Him, it is not because He has left us, but instead somewhere (and in some way), we have left Him. We have to stay rooted in Him if we are to bear fruit for Him in our lives. The thing I have found is that a plant can die way before you actually realize it. You can have a tree stand up for quite awhile, before it finally falls over and you realize the roots have been dead for a long time. In the same way a plant (or tree) needs water and sunshine-- we need to be Spiritually fed in order to remain healthy. As important as it is for us to be rooted (and abide) in Him, HE needs to be able to abide in us, but He can't do that in bad soil.
So my hard question for you is; how is the soil of your heart? Has it become hardened? Is it well cultivated and ready to have God's Word seeded in you? Or do you need to take a trip back to the cross and get reoriented with Christ so you can a softened heart again? My friend-- in complete honesty, is there any crust that needs to be broken down? The awesome thing is, God is waiting. And Jesus has gone before you into the very throne of grace to stand by you. His Holy Spirit waits to take His place in you. And Jesus is ready and willing to abide in you, will you abide in Him?
PRAYING IN FAITH:
Father God, thank You for Your loving mercies. Thank You for keeping us, and thank You for Your grace. Thank You for being our God, and thank You for Your Son, who died on a cross for us.
In Jesus' Name