“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” ~John 15:5
I used to write my prayers in journals, where I poured out my heart to God. I still have those journals. From time to time, I’ll read them to reflect on how far God has brought me. After reading through my journals a few times, I was pleased to see that I prayed a lot. But just a few journal entries after the prayer, it was evident that my heart didn’t stay there. The seed of God’s word had landed in a rocky place. It didn’t take much for the thorns of life to overwhelm my fragile faith. I really wasn’t allowing God to lead me. I was leading myself, following my own plans and asking then Lord to bless them. And, although I was successful in the world’s eyes, something was always missing. I was praying, but I wasn’t abiding.
When you consider Jesus’ illustration, a branch that is apart from the vine is lifeless. It cannot bear fruit. The fruit Jesus is talking about here is not fruit as the world would define it. From the world’s point of view, fruit is success, money, things. But, have you ever met someone with a lot of nice things, but they didn’t have any joy? What about the celebrities who have everything money can buy? They’ll admit they felt numb or hollow inside so they turned to drugs or other things to fill a hole only God could fill. Similiar to these celebrities, at times we tend to feel lost or hopeless and become misguided because we are living our lives apart from the vine. God understands we need Him to have a truly abundant life so God draws us to Him! In John 6:44 Jesus says this, ““No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” God knows what we need better than we do. He knew us before we were born. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” ~ Psalm 139:13 So, it makes sense that we are drawn to God, and we find all we need when we are connected to Him.
Jesus says we are to remain in Him. Remain means to stay, to dwell, to abide, but how do we remain in God? The message version of Colossians 3:16-17 says it best. “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
What happens when we remain in Christ? David gave us some of the most beautiful passages in scripture to answer that question. In Psalm 23:6, David says “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” David also reminds us that we find rest when we dwell or abide in God. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” ~Psalm 91:1 When we remain in Jesus, we find love, goodness, mercy and rest among many, many other things. However, if we return to John 15, Jesus reminds us that fruits such as goodness, mercy and rest are only produced in our lives when we remain connected to the vine. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” ~John 15:4
Prayer: Father, you are glorious. Your grace and mercy is ever before me. Your goodness and love follows me wherever I go. Help me to remember that I can do nothing apart from you. This is why you gave me the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me into all truth. May I listen and obey. May my heart remain in you so that my life bears fruit that gives you glory. I ask these things in the name of your beloved son, Jesus. Amen.