Sunday, March 2, 2014

John 15:1-11 (abide, apart, and ask)

*Please read John 15:1-11 before continuing.*

   Last night in Bible Study, God taught us through John 15:1-11. First we talked about abiding in Jesus. John 15:1 and 15:5 are the "casting" verses. They explain that in this analogy Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, and God is the vinedresser (gardener). For a branch to live it must be securely attached to the vine. It gets its water/nutrients from the vine and stays anchored due to the vines roots. When something abides somewhere it is permanently living there. When we abide in Jesus we are trusting Him to be the one to meet all our needs and all of our time is occupied in His word and will. Abiding in Jesus results in glorifying God, being fruitful, and being full of joy (15:5; 8;11). Some ways to abide in Jesus include fellowship, sprayer, study, memorization, reading the Bible, serving others, and continuously checking our priorities. 
   When we abide in Jesus we produce fruit (fulfill our purpose) but to do this we must allow the gardener (God) to prune us. There are three different ways to prune. The first, also called dead heading, is simply cutting of the parts that are dead and useless (think of this as our sin; Ephesians 2:5). The second is used when a plant gets really long, the gardener will often cut off a chunk from one end even though that chunk is healthy. He does this so that the plants energy is more compact as can be used for producing more fruit rather than keeping an over abundance of cells alive. In our lives, God often tells us to let go of things that are good so that our energy can be focused in a more specific area and cause us to bear more fruit.
   These first two methods involve part of ourself being cut off and thrown away and will be undoubtably painful. God cuts away the thoughts and intentions that aren't serving Him. Hebrews 4:12 confirms that as well as informing us that God can cut through even the joints and marrow. Clearly God's word and discernment is insanely precise. While He does all of this tough "surgery" (or pruning), it becomes our job to hold still for Him (Psalm 46:10). This makes the process quicker and cleaner and allows more of it to get done. In order to hold still we must know that God is Lord and praise and trust Him through our pain.
   The third way of pruning also involves trusting God but doesn't involve cutting. Prune comes from the word catharse which means clean. In Bible times, when a vine got so heavy that it began to drag on the ground, the gardener would wash it off and then tie it to a trellis so it could continue to grow bigger and produce more fruit while staying clean. This makes me think of how I often get complacent when I have been following God. This complacency and pride results in me dragging on the ground and getting dirty. Only God can lift me back up from there, clean me up, and point in a new direction. This type of pruning requires a trust that God knows where you belong and where to put you (on the trellis). So in conclusion, to abide in Him, He must be number one and we must trust in Him. 
   The opposite of abiding is to be apart from Him. Just as a branch is dead, useless, and ends up in the fire when it is not attached to the vine, we are dead in sin, without purpose, and end up in the fire without Jesus. If we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5), then the only meaningful things in life, the only things worth doing are the ones we do with and for Him. 
    To close I will point out that many people use John 15:16 as an reason to pray for material items or personal success and expect it when in fact the verse says IF. It is only when we abide in Jesus that we will get what we want because when we abide in Him our will aligns with His. 

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