A Vine Called Love

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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 15:1-12

Jesus’ teaching on the True Vine is at the heart of the Upper Room Discourse, his final words to his disciples before going to the cross. This Sunday, Ps Josh Kelsey explored 7 keys to abiding in God’s love and being connected to the true source of life. 

What is abiding?

  1. Abiding is receiving all that Jesus is
    • In Greek, the word abiding is meno, which means to remain, dwell, continue, endure or await.
    • Abiding is not about us first giving to God but surrendering.
    • The branch isn’t giving back to the vine but receiving life flow from the vine.
    • In church, we can be around the activity or life of God without actually being connected to it as our source.
    • We need to surrender and humble ourselves to admit that we have been connected to other vines, other sources. If there’s a lack of fruit, we need to trace it back to see what vine we’re really connected to.
  2. Internal and external - Pruning through the Father
    • We internally submit and surrender to God’s love, the vine.
    • When you are connected to Christ, there is an internal assuredness. Whatever happens around you, you have resolved to abide.
    • The Word of God cleanses us internally, but externally, God can utilize situations to prune away false idols.
    • Ultimately, the gardener wants to bring fruitfulness by pruning. It’s not God’s punishment but his love that corrects.

How do we abide?

  1. Adore and value His words
    • God’s word, empowered by the Holy Spirit, becomes a vine in your heart that connects you to the source.
    • Without God’s word, we live off the opinion of man.
    • “I cherish your commandments - oh, how I love them! - relishing every fragment of your counsel. Remember what you said to me, your servant - I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me.The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don't budge from your revelation.” Psalm 119:47-51
    • Just like the Psalmist hangs onto God’s words, so we can hang on to the branch—even in bad times we remember what God says.
  2. Be where you are
    • To abide is to give your energy and regain your focus.
    • It’s so easy to be distracted—to not be present even when you’re with other people.
    • “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:1-2
    • Do we long for God’s presence? To be in his dwelling place?
  3. To not change even when things are changing around us
    • So many things in your life and in the culture will change, but God does not change.
    • The human heart experiences anxiety when there’s nothing reliable or rock solid to lean on. 
    • Branches don’t bail when winter comes. Even when there’s no leaves or fruit, the branch remains.
    • In the Christian life, when seasons change, we often are looking for quick fixes and will keep moving until we see results, rather than staying connected to what is unmoving.
    • “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Psalm 119:89
    • “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8
    • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35
    • This is a picture of a shipwrecked sailor, buffeted by constant storms, head down, huddled on a small spit of rock, physically endangered but with an internal peace. This is abiding.
  4. To keep on keeping on
    • We do this by God’s joy! Jesus endured the cross by the joy set before him.
    • “The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.” Psalm 19:8
    • Jesus wants His joy in you. Imagine having access to the joy of God—he’s all knowing, all powerful!
    • We don’t need degrees or accolades or hidden knowledge, but following God’s commands, even as simply as a child, brings joy.
    • Joy is not attained by success and achievement but through humility and surrender.
  5. To bear fruit
    • How do I know that I’m connected to the true vine? We find the fruit of love.
    • When we are not connected to the true vine, we wither and dry out, leading to destruction.
    • If we stay connected, we can see the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5).
    • To abide means we are in step with the Spirit, walking with the Spirit to love one another, forgive and live in peace—with the fruits of the Spirit.

Dinner Party Questions

  1. Abiding is first about surrendering and receiving. Is it challenging for you to receive? How does receiving God’s love shift your approach to tough situations?
  2. What does it look like to be present with God? How can you cultivate habits of being present with Him?
  3. What fruits of the Spirit do you wish to see more of in your life? If you were to trace back the vine, what are you currently connected to instead of Jesus in those areas?

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