Fruit and JOY!
Meditation and Study from David Niednagel, Pastor/Teacher, Evansville, IN. (David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning study and prayer time. Study, Observe, Apply, Pray).
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ESV
I want to underline almost every word in this paragraph! Everything is so important and so wonderful! As I said a few days ago, I think 14:20 is perhaps the most significant verse in the Bible – at least in regard to how we live the Christian life. Jesus said we were now invited and included in the same relationship He had with the Father – He in the Father, us in Him, and He in us. We all recognize His relationship with the Father was the most wonderful of anyone ever, and nothing could be as good as He had. Here in 15:5 Jesus gives an analogy, an illustration of what that relationship is like. It is like that of a vine and its branches. Where does one stop and the other one start? It is all one vine. The life flows back and forth and every bit is necessary. The natural result of the life of the vine flowing into the branches is fruit, and the more the better.
The branches of a vine don’t “decide” to stay connected to the vine. They just do. And life happens. Jesus says we are connected to Him. He in us and we in Him. But do have decisions to make. His life is in us, but it doesn’t automatically “take over” our lives. His word must abide/dwell in us. We must remember what He said, meditate on it, claim it as true and make out decisions based on it. As Paul says in Col 3:1-4, Christ is our life, but we have to choose to set our mind and our affections on Him to experience His life in us. The Bible is full of exhortations to remember what God has promised and to claim and act on those promises. Jesus did that in His relationship with the Father, and so must we.
The good news, is if we remember His commands and His promises, if we act on them, His life and power will flow through us and we will experience His supernatural life in us. And the result will be FRUIT, more and more of it. And the Father will be pleased and glorified with us just as He was with the Lord Jesus. And we will be FULL OF JOY. Everyone wants joy, but it is elusive. So we settle for happiness. Jesus said if we deny ourselves like He did, and be willing to give up our lives for Him, though that sounds super scary, our lives will demonstrate HIM, which is what fruit is. And though it would be frightening and terrible IF JESUS WAS NOT RAISED FROM THE DEAD, it results in JOY when His life and love flow through us just like it did in Him as He loved and obeyed His Father.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You went first, and showed us how to fill Your mind with the words of the Father – His love for You and His purpose for Your life. You did take up Your cross and died. For the joy set before You, You endured the cross and disregarded and despised the shame. (Heb 12:2) Lord, with all of my weaknesses and foolish sins, I have followed You enough to have experienced JOY every time I made the same kinds of choices You did. So please help me again, today, and every day, to obey Your command to abide in You – for Your words to control all I do and say, so that my life demonstrates who You are. You are the source (roots) of my life and the fruit of it. May I bring You joy and experience Your joy in me. Amen