Abiding In Jesus John 15:1-10
This summer I was able to grow some corn. Not in our garden area, but in a new place that came by divine provision. In 2008 we moved into our little house with a partial lot, and that being steep in parts. Out by the street corner it is beyond our property line. It belongs to the city or the state, but we get to maintain it. In my heart I had really wanted to level that piece of ground and hoped that one day I could request some company or the city dump some kind of free fill there. In May my hearts desire was fulfilled when a contractor friend called wanting to know where he could dump a few load of top soil.
We had been parking our motor home and my pickup in this area, but now it seemed appropriate to make use of this ideal soil and sunny area, to grow some corn. The year before a friend of our had given us a bunch of corn seed and we grew a little in the garden patch below, but now it was time to get serious.
Two 40 ft rows planted by hand started growing as June and July went by. I was learning some important lessons about farming, but also about how Jesus is the Vine and how I need to abide in Him. What does this mean? It means we draw our life from him. When we bear fruit he prunes us back to bear even more fruit. It means that what I do or who I am is because of Him, my life source.
With the Corn, I learned to side dress it with some 16-16-16. Whew! That made it sprout up fast and be bright and shiny green. How much fertilizer is applied and how and when is very important. With Tomatoes one can have a huge plant with lots of growth, but little or no fruit. We as disciples of Christ can be tempted to be "religious" and as Ecclesiastes 7:16 says, "overly righteous." 1 The Lord spoke this word many times to me in Mexico, to balance out missions and ministry with family time and values. He has also been impressing me lately that just like the corn or most anything else we grow in our garden, to much water is not good.
Can we get to much of Gods word? If we are only taking it in and our heads are gettting bigger and bigger with knowledge and we are not practicing what we preach, we need to take heed.
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: - Matthew 7:22-24 NKJV
What happens when crops or veggie gardens get to much water? Fungus, bugs, and all kinds of things can hinder good fruit. So I learned that watering in cycles helps good root growth. What may seem to be a dry time spiritually, is intended by the husbandman, or the vine dresser to be a strengthening or what is called in sports, "physical conditioning."
There is also another important aspect to consider:
When we live as branches abiding in the Vine, we will suffer.2
We get pruned or disciplined so that we can bear even more fruit. I experienced a little of this 9.13.2008 when I fell 25 ft out of a tree. No broken bones but months of pain and lots of sleep less nights. In 2010 on the exact same date, I fell playing basket ball and injured a different part of my back even worse. 3 days immobilized and 2 weeks of recovery gave me time to re-think, "what is it that I am not learning here?"
First, I tend to cram to many things into my life and try to accomplish more than is feasible. If I would have planted all the corn 2-3" apart and left it all in that way, there would have been little or no fruit come September. As it grew, I kept thinning it out to recommended spacing of 15" to 24". Each day I set out to check of lists of things to do. Trying to keep the most important at the top. Usually half gets done, but a lot of little distractions pop up every day. Climbing trees and trimming them is still something I do, but with a lot more caution. Basketball at 6 a.m. is history now. Just jogging and swimming will meet my need for exercise. Even though they are boring, they increase my need for self discipline to get up and get out.
Spiritually speaking in 2008 the opportunity came to make marriage and family a larger priority in my life. This included not returning to live and serve in Mexico another season. We were still able to be involved in sending a couple shipping containers of wheat to NK and both Marianne and I have been able to take long trips back to our village and the Christian School in Mexico. Personally, dealing with pain management has been a point of trust in the Lord like never before in my life. New temptations have come, but nothing that is not ordinary3 or that cannot be overcome.
Has there been a relationship or a circumstance that you have taken as evil but it was really for the good that God allowed it in your life? I found what I thought was a serious blight on the corn. I rushed off to wikipedia to find that it is a common fungus or a mushroom. It is edible and Huitlacoche is a delicacy in Mexico. I fried some up with onions and other garden veggies, and it was just like mushrooms. I would not have been full of joy if this would have taken over the whole patch, but I am for the few that appeared this year. Through this I learned that the difficult relationships in my life are allowed by God so that I can bear more patience, understanding, or choose to separate from evil, even if I loose a friend. What ever it take to serve the Lord, I want to be willing to be rid of it. Watching football this season was one a few things that I sensed needed to go. By faith, we can encounter the good that the husbandman wants to replace the pruned back area with. Receiving an encouraging call from a life time friend yesterday was my answer to a specific prayer. I asked for any kind of a blessing that I trusted Jesus for in place of self- pity and indulging in unneeded food. I needed something unseen, a fulfillment of hope that Jesus would bless me if I obeyed. That is faith.
What is it that you are wanting to do or be for the Lord? None of us, who have come to believe in Christ should refrain from being disciplined or pruned. It helps us to abide even more. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "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. - John 15:3-4 NKJV
I am tired of the Chritian -ease and I am hungry for the deep waters of the Spirit. I long for good accountablity, but also hearts knit together in real love and care.
Amos 6:1 gives a warning to those that are "at ease in Zion." To me, the "Fear of the Lord " needs to be impacting me enough so that I won't be like a goat4 on the last day. Or as Luke 12:45 delares, living for my own pleasure and feasting when my brothers and sisters are not cared for.
" I just want a rescue shop, next to the gates of hell." John Marr
Jesus, " I want to be your disciple and make disciples. Not just chalk up "decisions for Christ."
May we grow in our faith or trust by obeying in areas that have not been bearing much fruit. May we be bold in asking for the desire of our heart to our loving and caring Father. "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 you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. - John 15:5, 7 NKJV
"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. - John 15:8-10 NKJV
Obedience leads us under the covering of Gods love. May we all find more grace for it.
1 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Ecclesiastes 7:16 NKJV
2 "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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. - John 15:1-2 NKJV For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, - Philippians 1:29 NKJV
3 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
4 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." - Matthew 25:31-46 NKJV