The theme verse for BCS this year is ''Walking the Spirit'. Here are some thoughts on living a more 'fruitful' life:
“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 fruithe 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.“
Have you ever hit that point where your sense of God’s presence seems stale or distant? Does the weariness of the world and the contrary winds of culture make you want to chunk it all away?
Are you finding that you aren’t praying or sharing Jesus with others?
We always want to be very careful…. I have always found 2 Timothy 3:1-7 to be scary
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
And if we are honest… any anecdotal survey of CHURCH culture has numerous examples of this.
What Jesus describes in John 15 is an analogy of WHERE the source of power flows from and what our daily purpose should be.
“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.
The source of power is the Triune God- the Creator of the Universe- the Almighty. And there is a purpose for His kingdom…’bear more fruit”.
What fruit are we talking about? There is both internal and external fruit that should, over time, flow out of the life of a Christian.
We mentioned yesterday the internal fruit of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)
I believe an excellent argument could be shown that Scripture expects fruitful produce in life among His people based on God given talent and opportunity. These follow in the form of children, good works, multiplying disciples, adding to the church, service, and a productive life of excellence which glorifies God.
FRUIT IS NOT A REQUIREMENT FOR JUSTIFICATION BUT IS A RESULT OF JUSTIFICATION
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
THE DAILY WALK WITH JESUS
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.
What does it mean to abide in Jesus? Abiding is found in time, place, frequency, intensity, and duration.
TIME: This is a relationship that grows roots and shoots over a long period of time. ‘Hours for the world and mere minutes for Christ” is not a way to develop this abiding principle.
PLACE: God is everywhere and dwells within every believer- but I also believe ‘abiding’ incorporates a place where you get away and spend focused time with God. The gospels frequently mention about Jesus withdrawing to a desolate place, usually on a mountain and spending time in prayer. The best times of abiding in my life have been times where I had a designated time and place to get away from all distractions and contemplating deep thoughts and prayers to God.
FREQUENCY: “Abiding” also grows as we have these experiences with regular repetition.
INTENSITY: Abiding with Christ is not a 5 minute ‘Jesus Calling’ quick scan. It is not a checklist duty of the day. We need to bring our ‘A’ game to the meeting.
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)
DURATION: Is there a set time? Absolutely not! And if I am honest, I will have periods of ‘routine’.. it is better to do it that no do it… but I encourage you to consider every now and then spending bigger segments of time abiding in the Lord, meditating on His Word, on your knees, praising Him with zeal!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE LOSE CONTACT?
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.
YIKES…These images! But have you ever noticed what happens when you remove a stick from a fire? It burns out. So do we, when we cease to abide, we burn out in a sad pile of human inability.
And we all experience this….
Look at the earlier statement:
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.
When you get to those dark times or dry times- you are experiencing one of 2 things:
Either you are a true believer and you are being pruned for more effective gospel impact
You were never a part of Jesus in the first place.
Part of the answer is- are you miserable apart from Jesus or is it no big deal? Do you miss Him?
THE BEAUTIFUL PROMISE ATTACHED TO ABIDING:
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.
When you spend time with Jesus and learn to rest in Him, be with Him, abide in Him- you find your heart being tuned to His desires and will. And you begin to pray according to His heart and will, and He responds with beautiful expressions of love and grace.
And is there ANYTHING more attractive than a man or women so in love with the Lord that their lives spread sweetness and encouragement, peace and strength, service and contentment to many around them?
I am convinced if we took the time and effort to abide in the true vine… we would see global expansion of the gospel like no other time in history.