For the past couple of months, I have been working on the bible study lesson that I am speaking on tomorrow. John 15:1-5 has occupied most of my thoughts, as I have sought the Lord to show me what He wants me to see. I feel as if I have eaten it, breathed it and soaked very cell of my body in these verses. They have become a part of me; although I am still nervous about speaking tomorrow.
I can now see that God has also been showing me what I needed to know during this time of trial. Out of my deeply hurting heart, I am now more and more deeply confident of the love of Jesus and His strength in us, when we trust in Him. Jesus says in John 15:5 "I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. He is the source of all life, strength, vigor and beauty. We, the branches, are all different, with different gnarls and different bends, but we all need Him.
Jesus calls for us to abide in Him, as He abides in us. To abide is to remain; to stay connected. We can do this by being in His Word and in prayer. Abiding in Jesus is having an active relationship with Him and living with a continual awareness of his strength in us. It is living with a constant connection to Jesus, in our thoughts, choices, plans and behaviors.
The good news is that when we abide in Him, we bear fruit. The problem is that we tend, in our sinfulness, to abide in things that do not bear fruit in our lives. We attach ourselves to "idols" that we think bring us strength and fruit in our lives, but really are just a lie. We connect ourselves to money, popularity, things, accomplishments and self-reliance to name a few. I know that I need to constantly be aware of these pulls on my life. Jesus is the only one that can give us the strength and life we need to produce fruit.
The fruit produced in our lives, as a result of our abiding in Jesus and He in us, is real fruit. It is not "fake fruit." Real fruit is not success, or numbers, achievements, or an impressive outward appearance. Fake fruit can look good on the outside, but it is hollow on the inside. It does not sustain. It will do nothing for those who eat it, other than maybe make them sick, and turn them away from the love of Jesus.
Real fruit is Christ like character in us. It is not for our own benefit, but for the glory of the Gardener (God) and for the benefit of those who eat it. It is the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5: 22; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is the fruit of good works and service (Colossians 1:10), fruit of giving (Romans 15:26,28), fruit of growing in holiness and obedience (Romans 6:22), the fruit of praising God (Hebrews 13:15), and the fruit of sharing the truth of Jesus with others (John 4:32-36).
We can not bear the fruit that God has for us to bear without staying connected to Jesus, actively and continually in thought, word and deed. It is loving the Lord Jesus with our heart, soul and mind, regardless of where we are, what we are doing or what we are walking through.
We can not bear fruit by trying, only by abiding. This is a great encouragement, dear reader. Do you want to be gentle with a difficult person? Abide in Jesus. Do you want to be patient with your children? Abide in Jesus and He will give of His patience. Are you weary and in need of strength? Abide in Jesus and He will make you strong. Are you feeling useless? Abide in Jesus and you will bear real fruit. Are you fearful? Abide in Jesus and He will give you peace. Are you need of help? Abide in Jesus and you will know Him as your only true help. Are you tired and feel as if you can not do one more thing? Abide in Jesus, and He will give you rest and strength.
Times will be difficult. Perhaps they are right now. I can relate, but time and time again, the Lord has held me with His gentle arms, leaned over and whispered in to my ear, "Abide in me. I love you very much and I will give you my strength. Trust me. I have fruit for you to bear that you can not bear separate from me, and it is fruit that will bring glory to God and be a blessing to others." My prayer is that you will hear His call, as well, and abide in Him.