John – God Speaks!
This is the first day of the new year. There are insane, persistent ads running on social media that seem full of wisdom and insight about being a better person in the coming year, as if we were not so good last year. There is always room for growth! They (media) talk about fresh starts, eating healthier, being warriors who fight for significance not letting anyone get in their way. The ads tell us to exercise our bodies so we will be fit and have power to be better, look better and feel better. The world also tells us to be our own person who takes no guff from anyone. Follow our dreams and ambitions.
Okay, but here’s what Jesus says….”Remain in Me”.
John 15, New Living Translation
Jesus, the True Vine
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
REMAIN is my word for this year (and always has been). Let’s define it as the world does:
1. “…continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist.”
2. “…stay in the place that one has been occupying”.
3. “…continue to possess a particular quality or fulfill a particular role”.
Here’s how Jesus defines remain:
–Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
–Remain attached to Me, the true Vine, as a branch that comes from Me. Stay connected to Me.
–Apart from Me you can do nothing that is “fruitful”.
–Remain attached to Me and you can ask for anything in My Name and it will be given to you in ways to give God, the Father, The Gardner, glory!
–Don’t sever yourself from the Source of Life! That’s just dumb.
–“I love you as the Father loves Me”…remain in My love.
–Proof of remaining is by our behavior…obey my commandments as I have obeyed God…”When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love…”
–Think like Jesus, love like Jesus, so we behave like Jesus. Remain in Him. Ask for help in His Name. Remain in His love, realizing that His love is the model for our love for others.
–JOY is a result! “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
–Remain in His love. “Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” Self has nothing to do with this kind of love. We love others unconditionally, without judgement because Jesus loves us in the same way. This is love, so…
–Love each other. We can do this IF we remain in His love.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
I know from growing your roses that pruning brings a better yield of health and beauty. I know that you have been pruning me all of my life, taking away all that is not good for my growth or necessary in my life. I know that you will continue to do what you must to make me more like you so I can think more like you, love more like you and behave more like you. Do what you must, but be gentle.
I will remain in you always for my love for you is eternal as your love is for me. My hand clings to your Hand. Help me to see your glory at work today and rejoice! Help me to bear your fruit for your glory. I will remain in You, hanging on to You as if my life depended on it…because it does.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.