John 15:1-16:4; 2 Chronicles 23; Psalm 80
Were I to take you on a drive around South Texas today, you would see branches piled high and deep across roadways from Corpus Christi all the way up the coast. They are, of course, remnants from the havoc Hurricane Harvey created. A friend, commenting on the situation in Florida after Irma talked about the sweet sound of “Chainsaws #9” by “Crew!” The tree debris around here and Florida is tremendous, and annoying, and thus the sound of chainsaws taking care of fallen trees and tree limbs truly is a form of music right now. Those trees and branches all have one thing in common, they all lost their connection with the earth.
All those branches are now waiting their truck ride to their final destination: the dump. They will be picked up and unceremoniously dropped into a giant hole, slowly decomposing through the years. Branches like this weren’t always treated this way. In the days of Jesus, they burned them. We can’t do that now for environmental reasons, but if we could, we could have a great bonfire! Jesus used the relationship that branches have with the plant they should be attached to in order to describe our relationship to Him. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:5-6)
Our relationship with Christ is vital. Jesus made it clear that unless we’re connected to Him, we can’t do anything for Him. He compared our need for Him to branches attached to a vine. Perhaps we might liken it to a little boy, seeing a beautiful flower and picking it for his mom, only to find out that eventually this flower dies because it’s no longer attached to the plant. So many people have made some kind of initial commitment to Jesus only to get distracted or fall away to different forms of temptation. When we aren’t connected to Jesus, when we lose that connection, we can’t accomplish what we really want. Oh, there are lots of good people in the world who don’t follow Jesus, but they can’t accomplish the things of God without being connected to Him through Jesus. Jesus is the vine that sustains His people and allows them to be fruitful, to accomplish great things for Him.
The question that begs to be asked then is, “How do we stay connected to Jesus?” He answers that in verse 7 when He tells us that if we remain in Him and His words remain in you the connection will be there. (That’s the Bob James understanding of that verse – not the exact words.) We begin to remain in Jesus by reading God’s word. That’s why I post a link to all the passages I read prior to writing these. The more we read God’s word, the more His word can connect us to Jesus and help us make the changes we need to make in our lives. We begin bearing fruit as God changes us to be conformed to the image of His Son. The closer we draw to Jesus, the more others will notice the difference He makes in our lives. People won’t be drawn to the old way of “me,” they’ll be drawn by the change, the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. People will be drawn to us so that we can tell them about Jesus when we love others like God loved us. We bear “much fruit” for Jesus by being like Him. We continue by talking with Him. Daily. Hourly. Minutely. If a husband and wife don’t talk to each other, we would think there’s something wrong with the relationship, yet when people fail to pray or even seek God’s input on decisions, we don’t see anything wrong – especially since we don’t talk much with God. So today, take time to read God’s word and talk with him. Listen for His voice when you pray. It will make a difference.
Oh Lord, let me know and experience Your presence in my life. Let me stay connected to You.