John 15:5 (NIV) “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.”
The internet connection in our house is possessed by something ungodly of that I am convinced. This morning for thirty minutes I had to struggle to get a connection. Our kids are all at friend’s houses. The husband was asleep. There was no one attempting to gain a signal but me. Just needed some time before the start of busy Sunday, filled with church, fellowship and house showings, to get connected with the Lord. It is important to come to the House of God ready to produce. Produce what you may say? Church is not a power up station but a power-full time. Like an athlete ready for the big game, we should come to God’s House ready to deliver because many will come to the same place hurting and suffering in need of healing and deliverance. So this morning as I tried everything to connect my computer to the internet in our house, my heart began to inspect my connection to Christ.
I have a lot of “things” that I “do” to serve in my church now. Many years ago, I had similar duties and responsibilities. But somehow over time, my heart became shackled and my hands bound by many things including hurt, offense, tragedy and even triumph did not seem to loosen the heavy shackles of depression and despair. When I found the little church in the woods, I was simply the vehicle taking our children to attend youth services there. Little did I know that the Lord was fighting for me, He was fighting in me to get me out of the place I was hiding. Then came the night, I attended a youth worship service and every chain fell off in that place. In an instant my heart began to beat again, the Breath of God filled my lungs after praise unbound my chest. It was an encounter with God that changed everything. However, I have been exactly where I am today. Serving the Lord with other believers, yet somehow I found myself enslaved to my feelings rather than free in my Savior. See I lost my connection back then, I am desperate to never do that again.
When John 15 immediately flooded my thinking, I thought come on Lord it’s kind of cliché. It is the go to verse of abiding in you. But you see if men and women of God, do not stay connected to Christ then we have nothing of worth to offer those people who have not met Him or do not know Him much less trust them. As sons and daughters of the Kingdom, we must maintain our familial connection or relationship with Jesus in order to have the inheritance that enriches lives, changes hearts, and draws others to our Lord. So maybe even though it has been read and studied many times, a visit back to John 15 is in order…at least for me.
John 15:1-4 (NIV) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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.”
Why not start with the rough part? Oh why not cut straight to the heart? To be connected to Christ and remain in the Lord, we must learn to live a life of constant repentance. I cannot stay attached to Jesus and hold on to my sin. I don’t care what that fancy talker told you in the other church. It is a lie. God hates sin, it cost Him everything. Jesus hates sin, He gave His Life so you could escape it. The Holy Spirit cannot live and breathe in those people who do not fight the urge to sin or those who entertain it. The pruning process is the removal of everything and anything that keeps us from growing deeper roots and moving closer to the Lord in His Righteousness because of His Grace. If you know it is wrong, the Spirit has convicted you of such and you still do it. Sorry is not repentance to you because it does not produce a change. Grace is an excuse for you rather than a means to escape the hell you live in. Strong words but not harsh. Critical but not condemning. See you will not grow and mature in the Lord, prosper, or produce fruit until the Lord is allow to prune you. Jesus does not leave us like He found us, praise God. He promises those who are willing to repent and turn to Him that He will remain in them. This is when everything changes. This is when revival will come to our churches. When men and women of God and His Sons and Daughters choose to live connected to Christ, apart from sin, and remain in the Lord.
This morning I checked the connection on my computer. It registered no service. It turned off every other device that might be drawing the Wi-Fi signal. Attempted to reconnect. No signal. I rebooted the router not once but twice. No signal. Reset the router which meant another trip across the house. Still nada. I restarted the computer…again. Finally, I was connected. We must learn to invest the time and energy into maintaining our relationship with Jesus every single day. When the internet hiccups in our house, panic erupts. Why would we be any less concerned when our connection to Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord becomes compromised? It demands our immediate attention. We must find what interrupted the signal. Turn off distractions. Come boldly into His Presence. Seek Him. Find Him. Remove anything that is needed to see Him Face-to-face again.
John 15:5-6 (NIV) “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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
This is short and sweet. I can do NOTHING apart from Jesus Christ of worth. Ever. It is my relationship to the Lord that allows anything in my life to produce fruit and prosper into something of worth. It is always a matter of life or death. I must crucify my flesh daily so His Spirit can live in me. Every single day. I cannot go a day without evaluating my life through the Eyes of Jesus. A life that is not fruitful is not Kingdom bound. Everything in the Kingdom of God produces life. This life prepares us, molds us and shapes us into fruitful participants in a Kingdom so much greater than the earth. We have a purpose. God has a plan. I must be in His Will and do it His Way…always. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the fruit inspector who determines if I am fit for the Kingdom.
John 15:7-8 (NIV) “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
God’s Word is a daily requirement for growing and developing Christians who desire a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Bread of Life that nourishes our soul and strengthens our Spirit to overcome our flesh. I don’t have time. Make time. You take a shower and check your appearance each day. You go to work to produce income. You make time to eat. Text. Check social media. Wait in line at Starbucks. Go shopping. Follow your favorite team or participate in a hobby. If you do not make time to ingest and digest God’s Word – you will die on the vine.
John 15:9-11 (NIV) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
I gave my husband a high-five yesterday for us. We have stuck it out and overcome the statistics. Not only have we been married almost two decades…with kids but as a blended family which makes the struggle all the more real. I love him so much. Anyone who talks to me about getting married or the desire to marry is forewarned. Yes, it is wonderful but any relationship worth having is hard work. It is to overcome our flesh daily and selfishness to completely surround our heart to another. There are days that I am not lovable and I could say the same about him. We committed our lives to one another and made a promise that we intended to keep from the first day until our last one on earth. I must strive to remain in fellowship and agreement with my husband. Our common ground from the start has been Jesus. People listen to me closely. Jesus Christ must be the foundation of our life and full of all our expectation to love others. Why? His Love is perfect and complete. If we place our expectation in the Lord, then our expectations of others go from unreasonable to acceptable. No one can save you… but Jesus. No one can complete you… but Jesus. No one else will die for you… Jesus did. When we try to love others from our self, we fail but when we allow God’s Love and Grace to flow through us – we can love others effectively.
John 15:12-14 (NIV) “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”
This morning as I consider my connection to Christ, it is helpful to examine the fruit in my life. The Lord does not require us to bear fruit of ourselves, but gives us His Spirit to produce His Fruit in us. We can do nothing apart from Jesus so the things we “do” are just good things. But when we learn to love like Jesus – it is His Spirit that tells us to lay down our life, comfort, time, and resources to help others. Galatians 5:22-23 gives a list of the Fruits that should be evident in our life according to spiritual productivity. Along with the first priority of love, we find other things like “joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are the things that Jesus is looking for in our life. Those fruits not produced by our flesh but those cultivated by His Spirit to offer the world. Without a valid connection to Jesus, we have nothing to offer but that which will pass away.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
What if it really is so simple? What if the reason our light is not on is simply because we are unplugged? What if the reason the city on the hill is experiencing a blackout is only because we are not connect to the Source of Life? Could it be possible that even the church is barely holding on? What if the Body is disjointed? I have wonderful news. It’s an easy fix.
Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
My passion and pursuit of Jesus today requires my full attention. I must start with my connection to the Lord and make sure it is intact. His Grace is always sufficient for me so when I am weak then He makes me strong. It is not a fault or failure to find a weakness but the opportunity to allow Jesus to gives us strength for that area of our life that is lacking. How is your prayer life? All relationships need full communication. How is your quiet time? There is always time for those you love. His is your praise and worship? It connects us to the Kingdom as that is there one purpose day and night, night and day for all eternity. Have you repented today? I know it sounds so old school but without repentance on a daily or, for me a moment to moment basis, we will cannot remain in Christ. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing. He is the One who completes me. I need that connect. Have you lost your connection? It’s time to evaluate the problem, troubleshoot and restore it as fast as you can.
Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.