“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. “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.” – John 15:4-5 NLT
As I look out my window, it seems like spring may never come, there is still snow on the ground from the record breaking snow storm this past weekend. But God is faithful, and spring will come, trees will sprout leaves, and vines will begin to grow once again and produce fruit. Hopefully by the time you receive this newsletter the snow will have melted.
Jesus uses the analogy of the fruit producing vine to describe our relationship to Him, and to help us understand what we need to do in order to have fruitful lives as followers of Jesus. Jesus says we are to “remain in” or the older versions of the Bible say we are to “abide” in Him.
How do we remain or abide in Jesus? The Greek word for “remain” means to take up residence. In other words, verse 4 than reads: “Take up residence in Me (in Jesus) and I will take up residence in you.” The Message Bible translates it this way: “Make your home in me just as I do in you.” It means intertwining our life with Jesus. It means staying closely connected to Jesus.
When we become Christians, God’s Spirit takes up residence in our lives. We need to make sure we remain in residence, in union, in fellowship with Jesus Christ through His Spirit. We need to let Jesus be at home in our lives, and we need to make our home in Him. Is Jesus at home in your heart?
We don’t have to abide in, or take up residence with Jesus: we can find ourselves abiding in other places…in anxiety, in a complaining spirit, in a sin that seems to satisfy an immediate need to feel happy or of value. But Jesus says that we are to remain, (take up residence, abide,) in Him! And then He gives us some hints on how we can make sure we are staying connected to Him. He says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” As we remain or abide in God’s Word, by reading, thinking about, meditating on what God has said to us in His Word, the Bible, and as we allow God’s Word’s to be at home in us, we will remain closely connected to Jesus, and we will be able to ask according to His will. As we fill our hearts and minds with God’s Word, as we internalize and live out of God’s Word, we abide in Jesus, and gain a better understanding of God’s will. In other words, remaining in Jesus so that we are fruit producing Christians means we need a steady diet of God’s Word. So being in God’s Word is to be intentional, consistent, constant activity in our lives. Psalm 1 tells us that someone who mediates regularly on God’s Word is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season.
Jesus also tell us we are to abide in His love. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” John 15:9-10 NLT. Again, did you catch the relationship between remaining in Jesus’ love, and keeping the commandments Jesus has given us? We find His commandments in the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus said the two most important commands are to love God and love our neighbor.
As we nurture our relationship with Jesus, as God’s Spirit is allowed to work within us, certain characteristics will flow out of our lives…these are called the fruit of the Spirit in Scripture. Galatians 5:22-23 describes them this way: “For the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Spiritual fruit can also be people whom we influence for God, good works we do in response to God’s love for us, or having an effective prayer life.
Where are you abiding these days? Produced any spiritual fruit lately? I hope you are staying connected to Jesus, staying connected to His Word, and staying connected to His love!
See you Sunday morning in Worship at 10:00.
Grace and Peace,