ABIDING IN JESUS
By Rodney W. Francis
In John’s Gospel Chapter 15 we have the teachings of Jesus about the vine and the branches. Jesus starts the chapter by saying He is the true vine. (That means that there are false vines that we have to guard against yielding our lives to.) God the Father is the vine-dresser, the One Who watches over both the vine and the branches so that it will produce the fruit that it was created for. We are the branches. In nature the branch is totally dependent upon the vine to feed, nurture and sustain it. It gets its life from nowhere else. Jesus desires us to be like that, where we have come to a place of total dependency upon Him for every area of our life. He makes it clear that we cannot produce fruit any other way. And an unfruitful tree becomes a liability and not a blessing in the hands of the Lord.
PRUNING AND CHASTENING TIMES
This illustration shows us that just as a natural tree needs to be pruned in order to become more fruitful, so we as followers of Jesus Christ go through times of pruning; times where the natural unfruitful parts of our life are cut-off so that we can be a more God-glorifying tree which is producing much fruit. Pruning times are not easy times. They can be hurtful times, especially when God uses someone we know and/or a fellow Christian to do it. Hebrews 12:1-15 gives us some good insight into the need for us to be chastened. The word “chasten” or chastening” means “the bringing up of a child, especially its training, teaching and education, hence discipline, correction” (Bullinger’s). It is like a pruning taking place within our lives. Consider these verses: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked (“to put to shame, convince, refute, confute, show to be wrong, prove guilty; hence to reprimand, blame” – Bullinger’s) by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges (“to scourge, flog”) every son whom He receives. If you endure (“to remain behind after others have gone; hold out”) chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons . . . now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”.
THESE TIMES ARE GOOD FOR US
Whatever God takes us through it is for a better purpose than what we have experienced up to this point. He is always looking to refine us so that we will be more fruitful than ever before. God has only the best in mind in His dealings/prunings/chastenings of us. He is working in us in time so that we shall be totally prepared to spend all eternity with Him. Hallelujah!
As we can see from these Scriptures, Christianity is not a “bless me” social club and all “easy-going experiences”.
These pruning times are teaching us to abide more and more in Jesus Christ so that we will know the joy and experience of living a life that is totally reliant on Jesus to provide for every area of our lives.
It takes pruning/chastening to get us to that place of faith in Jesus Christ.
Every great man and woman in the Bible experienced going through testing/pruning/chastening times ~ the result of which was they accomplished greater things than if they had not gone through them.
It is no different for us ~ we have to learn to come to that place of abiding in Christ. The word “abide” means to “remain, live”; a place of constancy and not an “up and down” relationship with Jesus. Think of it as our being a branch and Jesus is the vine. It is a place of all or nothing ~ continually. This is very important, for if we do not learn to abide in Christ, then we are told we will be cast out, where we will wither and then cast into the fire (John 15:6 ). On the positive side, when we truly abide in Christ we are in a place where we can ask what we desire and it shall be done for us. Why? Because our desire will be Jesus’ desire and the doing of His will ~ not our own personal desire (John 15:7-8 ).
ABIDING IN THE VINE, JESUS
When we are abiding in Christ as a branch abides in the vine, then the life of Jesus flows in and through us to bring hope, life, restoration, healing, whatever God desires of us, to others. What a tremendous privilege to have Jesus living in and through us. Take some time to meditate on all that this means for us. It is truly “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27 ). We are truly His living witnesses on the earth today as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ), representing Him in a world that desperately needs Him (whether they realize it or not).
Abiding in the vine means that wherever we are, or wherever we go, Jesus goes with us ~ and He desires that we are available to Him to use us in whatever way He so chooses.
There is no greater personal relationship than to abide as a branch (us) in the vine (Jesus). The possibilities are endless.
The life that flows from the vine into the branches is the power of the Holy Spirit nourishing us, sustaining us, speaking to us, inspiring us, leading and guiding us, so that we may be used daily for the glory of God! Hallelujah!
What a privilege that you and I have been called and chosen by God to represent Him today!
The whole purpose of God’s dealing with us, pruning us, etc., is so that we will be much more effective and fruitful than we can be any other way.
Bearing much fruit is a sign and result of being a disciple of Jesus; learning to know and follow Him whatever He asks of us.
Know that whatever Jesus asks of us we can do. It is His heart’s desire for us.
A true love commitment of the branch to the vine always desires to please Jesus the vine.
When we are abiding/living in Christ that way we are glorifying God the Father (John 15:8-9 ). It brings us to the place where we are abiding in Jesus, abiding in His Word and abiding in His Love. Hallelujah! There is no greater place of abiding that we can be in.
Out of that abiding in Christ relationship there comes forth a joy which remains in us (v.11). And we all need to have the joy of the Lord in our hearts and lives these days. The Bible declares: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 ).
There is nothing more secure for us than to abide in Christ, just as a branch abides in the vine.
It is a place of total acceptance, love, oneness, fruitfulness and total fulfilment. Amen!