Scripture:

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. (John 15:4 ESV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)

Observation:

This can be a very familiar section of Scripture. Jesus is rapid fire with instructions and consequences of either obedience or disobedience. He speaks of the world at large and the church small. He identifies and defines the Father’s reaction to us. Jesus also defines His relationship with us as well as defining our relationship to Him. Question: Can I really abide in Him?

Application:

Goodness, I like to cherry pick this chapter of John. But I have come to realize I can cherry pick so much in John 15 as to miss what Jesus is saying in order to get a scripture that gives me warm fuzzies. Over the past number of years I am trying to get out of that habit and really read what the scriptures are saying and not skim over the unpleasant or the implication parts. I see one particular phrase repeated over and over in John 15: Abide in Me. Jesus goes on to describe different issues that can happen to tempt me to NOT abide in Him: I can get into a place in my life where I am not bearing fruit (read: results of being a Christian); I can get into a place where I am trying to bear fruit all by myself (independently) and apart from Jesus; I do not study and embrace the Word in my life (I read Ps 119 frequently through the year—that guy knows about the supremacy of the Word of God); I don’t elect to serve, look for opportunities to serve, implying I am not a friend; I have issues with worldliness in my life; and, I look at my life and the things that I think are horrible are nothing compared to what Jesus encountered (am I greater than my Master?). So, what is the magic bullet of Godliness? Could part of it be “Abide in Me?” That is easier said than done sometimes. 2nd Cor 13:5a says “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” I realize this isn’t some reference to make myself doubt whether I am a disciple or not (being Justified in Him) but to do diagnostics on my heart to determine whether I am abiding in Him. Just like I have to run my Disc Clean up and Defrag on the computer, I have to frequently run the same in my heart asking the Holy Spirit to bring up the issues of my soul that needs addressing in a sanctification sort of way—and being OK to go seek out help to identify issues that I am ear-blind to the Holy Spirit. A good friend is a good way to get a good read on my life—even if it hurts or takes some time to get there. Finally today, I must remember what God says about me: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…” I may think that I volunteered for this Christian life, but I couldn’t have unless He chose me first. Therefore, that has meaning for “He who began a good work in (me) will complete it to His Glory…”

Prayer:

Lord God, Humbly I thank You that You have done all the hard work concerning my salvation. I did not and do not deserve your love and mercy towards me but am grateful that You looked upon me and wanted me despite my sin. Help me to abide in You—not superficially, not without depth, but to grow evermore to abide in You. Let me see what that entails and help me not to shrink back from the effort it will take. For Your Glory I remain humbly a servant, AMEN.

-Rick Sutton.