MONDAY, March 30
John 15:4 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (NASB).
Life can be like the grape vines on a backyard fence. Twisted, going every which way but the way it should be. God is in the business of pruning our lives, getting rid of those things in life that distract us and take away from the joy of life in Jesus. Worry and stress will rob us of joy in so many ways. The more time we spend worrying, the less we get done. The less we get done, the more stressed we get and the more we worry.
Control is one of the branches on our grapevine which needed to be pruned. We like to have control of things in our lives. Unless we abide in Jesus and let Him have control, our life will be a mess. John 15:11 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (NASB).
What branch on your grapevine needs pruning? What is keeping you from experiencing the full joy Jesus has to offer you? He will gently prune those things in your life which are keeping you from experiencing His full joy. Abiding in Him means spending time with Him. Spending time with Jesus can only be good for you. What person, thing or habit are you holding onto that is stopping you from experiencing the full joy of what God has for you?
The more time we spend with Jesus the better our life is. When we open our day with Bible study, prayer and thanking God for what He has done for us, our problems get smaller and our work load gets lighter. When we let God tell us what He wants us to do today, the more “right” things we get done. Only when we allow God to prune our grapevine, will we continue to grow.
Adapted from “Abide in Me,” http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/Devotions/danni-abide-grapevine.aspx
TUESDAY, March 31
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Suppose you are totally paralyzed and can do nothing for yourself but talk. And suppose a strong and reliable friend promised to live with you and do whatever you needed done. How could you glorify your friend if a stranger came to see you?
Would you glorify his generosity and strength by trying to get out of bed and carry him? No! You would say, “Friend, please come lift me up, and would you put a pillow behind me so I can look at my guest? And would you please put my glasses on for me?”
And so your visitor would learn from your requests that you are helpless and that your friend is strong and kind. You glorify your friend by needing him and asking him for help and counting on him.
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” So we really are paralyzed. Without Christ, we are capable of no good. As Paul says in Romans 7:18, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.”
But according to John 15:5, God intends for us to do something good — namely, bear fruit. So as our strong and reliable friend — “I have called you friends” (John 15:15) — he promises to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.
How then do we glorify him? Jesus gives the answer in John 15:7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” We pray! We ask God to do for us through Christ what we can’t do for ourselves — bear fruit.
Verse 8 gives the result: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.”
So how is God glorified by prayer? Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need.
Adapted from “We Can Do Nothing,” http://solidjoys.desiringgod.org/en/devotionals/we-can-do-nothing
WEDNESDAY, April 1
Jesus makes us an almost unbelievable promise in John 15:7-8. Scripture says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Jesus promises that if we abide in him and allow his words to abide in us, then we can ask anything we desire of God and it will happen. Clearly this is a vital passage for us to understand today. I believe that the Lord has fresh revelation in store for us if we will take him at his word and allow him to transform our understanding of what it is to petition our heavenly Father. So, let’s open our hearts and minds and allow the Holy Spirit to come and do a work in us today as we place our trust in Jesus’ word.
Jesus’ model for prayer is first abiding in his presence, second abiding in his words and then asking God for our heart’s desires last. God desires that we would be so in tune with his heartbeat and so saturated with his word that our desires would be transformed into his desires. His plan is to fill us with the knowledge of his perfect will for our lives in the secret place, so that we can pray and live wholeheartedly with full expectation that our heavenly Father will bring to fruition the desires he has placed within us.
Does this model or prayer line up with your life? Is your prayer life marked by abiding in him and his word first? Have you discovered the heartbeat of your heavenly Father? Do you feel as if you know how he feels about situations going on in your life? Are you so saturated with his word that it is transforming your actions, beliefs, emotions and prayers?
Scripture says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” And Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” God longs for you to search out his heartbeat. He longs to reveal to you how he feels about you and every aspect of your life. He longs to transform your desires into his that you might desire and ask him for what is really best for you.
Asking God for something is meant to be as simple as abiding in his presence and word and praying in line with the desires he’s birthed in you. Discover today the wealth of desires he longs to share with you. Ask him to show you how he feels and thinks. Saturate yourself in his word. Allow the teachings of Jesus to transform your perspectives. And ask your heavenly Father to bring to fruition the desires he’s placed within you. May your desires be one with God’s today as you spend time abiding in the true vine of Jesus.
Adapted from “Abiding in the Heartbeat of God,” http://www.first15.org/first15/142-first15-may-22
THURSDAY, April 2
If you want to make your life count, Jesus wisely explains how. He says, “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 challenge is to be devoted to living in and for Jesus, in a way like a branch is attached to a vine and depends on it for life. This takes our whole heart.
How can we accomplish this? Only by the power of Christ himself. He makes that clear when he says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” in the way of bearing fruit. And he adds, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
In the verses of our Scripture today, the words “fruit” or “fruitful” occur seven times. God’s primary concern is not our comfort or happiness, but that we bear fruit. We need to let the gardener prune the self-centeredness and selfishness out of our lives so that we can truly remain in Jesus and bear fruit for his kingdom—“fruit that will last.” Then others will enjoy God’s goodness and be drawn to him also.
Christ is our lifeline, and he calls us to abide in him. Rather than living our own way, we grow to live his way, and he supplies all we need in order to do that. It’s the only way to truly live—forever.
Adapted from “Abiding in the Vine,” http://today.reframemedia.com/archives/abiding-in-the-vine-2013-05-18
FRIDAY, April 3
Don’t forget to join us at our Good Friday Service, tonight at 7 p.m. at CCF.
It was the darkest day. The unbearable day. Many who had followed Jesus up to now fled from the events of Friday. And those who stayed to watch wept in horror.
The rigged trial, the mob that howled for the blood of the man who had failed to meet their patriotic expectations. The brutal beating, the savagery of the soldiers, the stumbling walk through the city He had entered to cheers five days before. Finally, the nails pounded into flesh, the tortured body jerked upright, the naked man dying by inches as his enemies jeered.
To have it end like this, after all the bright promise! It was not just the cruel death of the disciples’ young leader, but the death of their faith, the end of all they believed in, on this black Friday that seemed anything but good.
Most of us have experienced this Friday for ourselves. It’s not the disillusionment of Thursday, when our own performance falls short. It’s the blow that strikes from the outside, the tragedy that destroys our loved one, our health, our livelihood.
We feel, as the disciples did on that terrible day, that Jesus Himself has failed us. If He were really God’s son, things like this could not happen. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39)
There is no way around the Fridays of our lives, only the way through—through pain and death and burial. As His sorrowing followers laid Jesus in the tomb, so we lay down the wreckage of our hope.
Ahead was Easter Sunday, but on Friday they couldn’t know that. And neither can we, in the first shock of loss. We can only know that we will know. We can only know that the whole story is not yet told.
For, of course, Jesus is the Christ. He is saving us, whatever the appearance. He is bringing about our everlasting joy, in a way only God could have chosen.
If it is Friday in your life today, Easter cannot be far away.
Adapted from “The Coming of Everlasting Joy,” http://www.guideposts.org/daily-devotionals/lenten-devotional-good-friday
SATURDAY, April 4
Tomorrow it is Easter Sunday! I hope you make it a priority to invite a friend, co-worker, or family member to come with you to church tomorrow. Who knows what God is going to do in their life because you just asked?
Everything you see around you is temporary. The building you’re in, the computer or phone you’re staring at, and even your body will one day disappear from existence. Yet it’s what you can’t see around you that’ll last forever.
And it’s those realities that truly matter.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen” (CEV).
Spiritual realities are more real than physical ones. We need to focus on the spiritual ones — what’s really real. I mentioned a few days ago the five specific spiritual realities all of us need to take to heart. Let’s get more specific about them.
- God made you to love you. (Jeremiah 31:3) God made you to love you, and he wants you to learn to love him back. This is the most important reality of life.
- You were made to last forever. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) One day your heart will stop beating, but that won’t be the end of your body — and it certainly won’t be the end of you.
- God has prepared two eternal places. Both Heaven and Hell are real, literal places. They’re not just “states of being.”
- You get to choose where you’ll spend eternity. You won’t accidentally find yourself in Hell one day. You’ll be there because you chose it or refused to choose Jesus and spend forever with him in Heaven. If you choose to make Jesus the boss of your life, you’ll spend eternity with him in Heaven. If you choose to reject him, you’ll spend forever in Hell. You have no middle option.
- You get no second chances to make your choice. Your choice has a time limit. You have your entire life to make the decision, but you never know when your time on Earth is over. You can’t change your mind after death.
Nothing matters more than eternal realities. What you do with these five truths will not only alter your eternal destiny; it will also transform how you live on this side of eternity.
Adapted from “Keep Your Mind on What is Unseen,” http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/full-post/keep-your-mind-on-what-is-unseen