Day 22: January 22, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

John 15:1-8
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean a because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



Want to share today's reading with your friends? Pick a platform below

Abiding in Christ
by Steve Layton, Discipleship Minister, Brentwood Campus

Our passage today is an allegory, or parable, spoken to the disciples in a serious context. This passage offers a word picture of the life of Christians. It emphasizes two great truths—our personal relationship with God and our mission to bear fruit for the kingdom.

The analogy of the vine and branches would have been easily understood in the agrarian context in which it was delivered. Every Jew would have understood this imagery.

The Father owns the garden, Jesus is the vine, and his followers are the branches. In the same way, Christ is the true vine and we, Christ followers, are branches grafted into Him. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit by itself, we cannot fulfill our mission as a Christ follower without being connected to the Father.

The passage continues instructing us that if we remain in Christ, and His words and actions remain in us, we can ask (pray) whatever we want and it will be done for us. The distinctive factor here links an effective prayer life with fruit bearing.

Let us understand Jesus’ words: You are already clean; you must remain in me; your fruit glorifies God. The abiding realities of this passage include answered prayer, the Father’s glory, and Jesus’ affirmation of discipleship.

Reflecting on this passage, we’re reminded that if we are to produce fruit for the kingdom of God, then we must stay grafted into the vine. No connection equals no fruit.

Thinking back over 30 years of ministry, I’ve seen both productive and unproductive Christ-followers. Productive Christ-followers are connected to Him through prayer. Jesus tells us to remain connected to Him, to talk with and listen to Him, to allow His work to be our work and His will to be our will. 

Christians that understand these principles discover they can ask for whatever they need God will answer their requests. But simple fruit production isn’t enough.

Isn’t it interesting that God is glorified when we produce “much fruit” and that the fruit we produce “proves” us to be a Disciple of Christ? This is the kingdom principle of abiding in Christ. It’s said that “our walk talks and our talk talks, but our walk talks louder than our talk talks.”

Many talk about their walk with Christ but have little fruit to demonstrate that they are Christ followers. Believers must understand the importance of staying connected to Christ and that the best way to stay connected is to spend time with God in prayer. 

Last summer, I participated in the Brentwood Baptist Missions Garden. I tilled the ground, planted the seeds, watered and fertilized the plants, and pulled the weeds. Tomatoes, okra, peppers, and beans produced beyond my expectation. Squash and cucumbers fell below expectations.

Early in the season, I found myself giving up on the squash and cucumbers to use the space for plants that were producing. Some find their prayer lives like the tomato, okra, pepper, and bean plants—healthy and productive. Others my find their prayer lives unhealthy and unproductive—like the squash and cucumber plants.

When your prayer life is unproductive, go back and look for problems. Perhaps sin, like beetles or disease, has invaded your life. Maybe you haven’t nurtured and cared for your prayer life, and it has withered on the vine. Perhaps you haven’t been to the prayer garden in a while and just need to start anew. On the other hand, if your prayer life is productive and healthy share the blessings with others by praying for them and their needs.

Praxis

  • Think about the things you are connected too: God, family, work, church, or hobbies. Reflect on these things to determine how strong the connection is. Pray asking God to help you stay connected to the things that produce fruit for His kingdom.
  • Moving deeper, think about the fruit you are producing in your life. Give thanks to God for allowing you to join Him in His kingdom work. If your life is unproductive spend time in prayer asking God to reveal changes you need to make and to make you more productive as you journey toward Christlikeness.

About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.