Focus: Building your faith by abiding
John 15:2 (NKJV) Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Being a Christian isn’t for sissies. When you say, “Yes” to God, you aren’t going to spend the rest of your life lounging in His lap. Oh, there will be times when you will find yourself there—as He is giving you some special time and attention, but when you say, “Yes,” you are really ‘joining forces’ with Him. Just as a soldier who signed up for the armed services doesn’t expect to spend His tour of duty hanging out in the guest quarters of the White House, you should understand that there are responsibilities attached to the agreement you entered into as a child of the King.
Our Father expects us to be productive in this life. Now, that might not sound very appealing to a person who is trying to recover from a period or lifetime of depression. The last thing you might want to do is somebody else’s work. Quite likely, you may be having a little trouble keeping up with your own issues…and at this moment, you might feel yourself mentally backing away from the concept of having to produce results for the kingdom of God.
Now, you can listen and/or read!
The idea of a cooperative work arrangement might not sound appealing to you at all right now. At the thought of it, you might be tempted to offer that you don’t feel led to get involved in doing any evangelism or discipling. You might be barely clean and sober—like I was—when I was summoned to the service of the Lord. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been clean and sober, John 15:3 (NKJV) says, “You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you.”
In other words, you’re ‘clean enough’ in God’s sight. His Word has ‘washed you’. As you abide in Him and He abides in you, you will continue to ‘stay clean’ and get ‘cleaner’. But, you’re ‘clean enough’ for now.
A person who isn’t truly connected to God doesn’t have a desire to serve Him or a willingness to produce fruit for Him, as a result of their labor. This is one of the ways God knows those who are truly His. John 15:4 (NKJV) goes on to say, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” If someone is not willing to serve—it says something about their level of commitment and whether they are really connected to the Vine.
The passage we’ve been looking at in John 15 (NKJV) goes on to say in verses five and six, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Well, that’s a sobering thought. It sheds a whole different light on the subject of service to the Lord, doesn’t it? It seems pretty clear that ‘service’ is not optional—it’s required. To which, you might reply, “Well, I just don’t think I’m strong enough to do anything for God yet—I’m not sure I have enough faith.” Verse seven tells you ‘how’ you can do what you may not think you are strong enough, or have the faith to do. “If you abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
What Jesus was saying, is that the way you will be able to be productive for God is not through your own strength or faith, but through the power you will receive for the asking. If you feel you are lacking anything—just ask. In fact, you can even ask for the desire if it just isn’t in your heart at this time.
The reason for all of this is not just so you would be productive and have something to do with your life, but so that God would be glorified and that you would be a true disciple of Jesus. God wants us to be very productive. In fact, when you start producing fruit, expect to be ‘pruned’. Pruning can be the act of taking discipline or becoming more disciplined. It may not sound like a fun experience, but it will help you produce even more fruit than before.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) sums it all up, “For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Declaration: I will find new strength by being filled with the fullness of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I will abide in the Word of God and if there is anything I lack in order to produce fruit, I will ask—so that my life will bring glory to God.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.