John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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.
What an amazing chapter John 15 is. I’ve decided it’s on my “all time best” list so I’m revisiting it. I have this beautiful hanging basket of yellow petunias outside my window and its become my connection to John 15:1 and my personal Petunia object lesson for the inquiring spirit.
Petunias are eager to grow, but they require regular tending. I have to water them daily, fertilize occasionally and most of all there’s the continual “pruning,” aka: deadheading or pinching back, so they can continue to flourish and bloom. I guess I never paid much attention to the vine-like nature of petunias before. Their stems are meant to grow longer and droop over the basket edge adding their flashy blossoms to the overall beauty of the plant but even those stems need selective pruning.
That plant is a beautiful example of how regular pruning keeps all that growth energy working to produce the best, and most beautiful, result for the plant over its life. It’s a plant that does have a season but with that regular tending it can look it’s best right up to the end.
Got it Petunia?
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. ESV
“God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Daily is pretty long and pretty regular. There are times I’d just like to do what I’m told…read the Word…and not have to think about why and how it works in my life. Those are my “servant” relationship days of obedience. They’re good but Jesus has something even better in mind. The best thing: his friendship.
I wonder if that change in our relationship with Jesus is one of the main issues we deal with as believers? Most of us enter into that relationship more or less like applying for an entry-level job. It seems much simpler to accept the role of servant. The servant has the easy out of saying “I didn’t know” that transfers a lot of responsibility to the Master in case we happen to screw up.
Reread John 15:15 and think about that change. Have you accepted that promotion from servant to friend? You need to know this amazing truth: at the very moment you committed yourself to serving Jesus he committed himself to helping you understand you are so much more than a servant to him. You’re his trusted friend. That’s worth thinking about!
John 16:31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Quote from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
“Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life.”
The idea of real faith being slightly unfocused isn’t really a surprise but Chambers comment made me look at the words of this Scripture more carefully. I can put myself there with those disciple’s hearing Jesus, the one I’ve pledged to faithfully follow, speaking these words to me; ‘You will leave me all alone.” Ever done that?
Of course you have! It hurts to remember failing him doesn’t it?
Remembering that reality is one way Jesus leads you to confession and repentance. Jesus knows…”In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus says remember and repent… “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “I have told you these things, so that…IN ME…you may have peace.” That’s faith that works in the important realities of life. That’s the secret of the peace of repentance.
Repent: view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse.
Sequel: John 17:9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
I wrote about John 17:9 on July 27, 2015. “We can appreciate all the things our heart leads us to do for Christ but this is the most important thing we’ll ever have to offer back to him…to simply Be The Gift!” The fact that we are a gift God has given to Jesus is especially important to remember when your heart has recognized the need for the protection of repentance.
Have you ever received a handmade gift from a child? They’re not usually made with the highest quality materials and the craftsmanship is pretty simple. Those little pieces of torn paper, glue and maybe a smudged handprint with their name written on it get preserved and cherished because they’re the gift of themselves from that moment in time. I suspect that’s how God sees our repentance too.
Repentance is often a reflection of our own childishness; a little less than perfect but it’s all we have to give right then. It probably looks just like what it is, the amateurish efforts of a child still growing and learning. If you want to give the Father who has raised you something special during this Lenten season…give him a handmade gift from your own repentant heart. It will be protected and cherished for all time…and you’ll grow a little bit too.
“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
The phrase that got my attention this morning is “your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” It’s that word “hidden” that made me wonder – is it the old life, the new life, or both that’s hidden…And why?
Most of us would like at least part of our old life to be hidden. That’s where those “earthly things” before “Christ, who is your life” are. Why would that old life with those scars be worth hiding “with Christ in God?” Why not just throw it away?
How about that “new life?” We get to live with new realities and new options where responses can be based on transformation not old information. Why would we want anything about this life hidden?
Maybe it’s God’s Safety Deposit Box! It’s odd, but those scars may be part of the treasure that has been hidden there “for” your future, not just “from” your past. God has kept you safe and finds valuable purpose in your new life even with scars. They’re your proof that he has kept you safe, and they’re your witness.
√ John 20:27 Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
God’s Safety Deposit Box is where every proof of your inheritance, your treasure, is hidden and protected from loss. It continues to grow and you continue to receive its dividends; the new realities, new options and responses in your daily life.
√ I Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope…4 …an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
The Book of John – Chapter 1 NCV
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I was talking about when I said, ‘A man will come after me, but he is greater than I am, because he was living before me.’ 31 Even I did not know who he was, although I came baptizing with water so that the people of Israel would know who he is.”
32-33 Then John said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven in the form of a dove and rest on him. Until then I did not know who the Christ was. But the God who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and rest on a man; he is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen this happen, and I tell you the truth: This man is the Son of God.”
Really a Dove
Why didn’t John know the reality of who Jesus was? I would have though family history would have cleared all that up. John’s relationship with Jesus was probably just like any other family. Relationships are all about perceived and shared experiences that have occurred over time. They can become the comfortable, and sometimes restrictive, place we expect others to fit in called the pigeon hole.
I don’t know if that was the case with John and Jesus but have we created a pigeon hole for Jesus? Did you know a pigeon is Really a Dove? …Then John said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven in the form of a dove and rest on him. Until then I did not know who the Christ was. Something to ponder.