Monthly Archives: November 2019

Living Evidence

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [NRSV]

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If you “accept and act in accordance with” Jesus what He says will establish a relationship of life between Himself and you.  What makes that matter is this reality: Jesus IS God.  The first assurance of John 15:7 is when you “abide” with Jesus, God Himself is alive within you and He understands the reality of whatever you ask.  That makes His answer perfect for what He knows you need.  The second assurance is God’s answer comes with a greater blessing “if you abide in” Jesus and let his words “abide in you.”  Your relationship of life with Jesus makes you living evidence of the glory of God. 

WITH

John 15:6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  [NRSV]

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Jesus is the appointed, reliable judge of the presence of life or the serious results of lack of it. His intent in that judgment is to encourage life and growth even if it requires some dramatic pruning.

Abiding is the challenge Jesus is asking us to accept in the truth of verse 6.  Abiding with Jesus is the choice that does more than just preserve life as it was.  [Preserve means to keep something in its original form or keep it in good condition].  Abiding – accepting and acting with – Jesus is the choice that will protect [Protect means to keep away from harm or danger] our life in Him.  We are not alone because He is WITH us.

True Fruit

John 15:5  I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. [NRSV]

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So far John 15 has been all about repetition.  Over and over these verses have reminded us our purpose is to abide in the “true” vine. [Down through Jewish history the vine became the symbol of Israel. During the Macabees period of history, the symbol of the vine was on the coins of Israel. It was over the main doors of the synagogues. (Antiquities of the Jews by Jewish historian, Josephus (5.5.4)]  The symbol of the vine had become more about the nation than God.  Even the purchase of gold to add a branch or a single grape to those synagogue vines could be considered an act of worship.

It’s easy to be distracted from what “true” worship is and the fruit it’s meant to produce.  Jesus says “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”  Jesus’ challenge is to accept this one truth: a relationship to Him is the reality of a connection to God Himself.  He is the only “true” vine and the branches are carefully, and artfully cultivated and pruned to produce the “true” fruit of  worship: “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” [Westminster]

Abide…Then

John 15:4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

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Abide; accept or act in accordance with

It’s important when a word is used four times in the two short sentences of verse 4.  Abide is a familiar word but it’s not commonly used today.  Abide becomes the reality of “word to live by” when you plug the definition into those four places.

Accept or act in accordance with Me as I accept or act in accordance with you.  Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it accept[s] or act[s] in accordance with the vine, neither can you unless you accept or act in accordance with me.

When you accept or act in accordance with the life of Jesus and recognize His life is bearing fruit in you…then your fruit can happen.

Can You Believe?

Truth; John 15:3 You have already been cleansed [or pruned] by the word that I have spoken to you. [NRSV]

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Inspiration: Remember the Apostle Peter?  Remember how he protested when Jesus wanted to wash his feet?  Jesus’s response to Peter sounds just like John 15:3 to me – ”you’ve already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  

Reality: OK, this is a test!  Get a pencil and paper and write down the first five true things you remember Jesus has spoken personally into your heart.  Write them in the order you remember them without any concern about a timeline.  It doesn’t have to be a complete list and they don’t have to be written as verbatim scripture but they do have to be real to you.  AND THIS IS KEY: don’t go back and edit them in any way as you read them again. [you know it’s me I’m talking to]. The important thing is they ARE written in the order you remember them. 

•Test IS the root word of test meaning “to bear witness.”  Do not confuse this root test with the same word which means examination. It is true that when you take an examination you are a witness for your own knowledge and, unless you cheat, you are showing what you do or don’t know. However, here the word means a solemn telling of the truth of what you know, bearing witness for truth’s sake.
•english-for-students.com/test.html]

You may have already had the experience of writing or giving your testimony.  You know how difficult it is to distill the most important things Jesus has done for you from the many really good things that have happened in your life without turning it into an “I was and now I am” testimony.   I believe the results of your test are listed in the priority of their impact on you specifically.   Can you believe the things you just wrote down are an accurate recounting of Jesus and the Holy Spirit verifying “you have already been cleansed”?   If you can, that belief can make your list the perfect outline that moves what you wrote from that examination kind of “test” to  the root of a new “testimony.”   A testimony that bears witness for truth’s sake to the I AM.  My wish would be that you would use your results and write your own new kind of testimony.

This is my own “unedited” list.  My new testimony is only to show you an example of how effectively it can work.
1.  I have been crucified with Christ.  I have scars but they’re part of the testimony of my healing.
2.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
3.  Jesus will complete the work he’s begun in me
4.  The greatest of these is love
5.  Lord help my heart, soul, mind an strength

Nobody wants to admit their inability to deal with life or being wounded.  Even healing can leave scars.  I want my scars to be changed from something that needs to be hidden to evidence of blessing.  I want to be like Jesus.  I want Him to be the power that allows me to believe and live as if I have “already been cleansed. ”  I want to view those scars as the revelation of a changed heart not a sign of condemnation.  I want to believe my soul has caught a glimpse of promised immortality, my mind has been challenged by the Word of God and I really do have the strength to live by the words Jesus has spoken into my heart – I AM “the word that I have spoken to you.”

The Purpose of Grapes

John 15:2 He [the Father] removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes [and cleanses] to make it bear more fruit. [NRSV]

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Facts: Artful pruning of a grapevine is what produces better fruit and maintains the optimal health of the branches.  The pruner determines which branches should be allowed to grow and which should be removed. The only shoots that yield grapes are those that grow each spring from one-year-old canes – those that began growing the previous year.  Pruning is vital for the vine because old canes can still produce leaves that make a branch look good but only sap the strength and ability of the newer canes to produce fruit.  It’s all about the fruit. 

Truth: Jesus speaks in pictures I can understand.  There is no substitute for new growth and how it contributes to fruit bearing and a healthy life of faith for the believer in Jesus Christ.  I know how easy it is to look pretty good based on what has already happened in your life of faith.  I know what it’s like to resist the pruning of things that were real and good “then” but are old now.  I know the pruned branch looks really bare and exposed until new growth appears.  I know the purpose of pruning is the fruit…and I know the purpose of grapes.

Inspiration: What turns the grape into wine?  It is crushed and then in due time when the process is through, the wine will be new.  You’ll be my wine in this world.  💕Jesus