However, as I read this recently I had a different perspective on it.
In this passage in John 15 two verses, in particular, stood out to me. The first is in verse 5, which says, "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.” As I read this I thought about how we all are in the “rush mode” getting ready for Christmas. The Lord spoke to my heart through this and reminded me that we must keep our focus on God, His Word, and his son, Jesus -the reason for the season. Maintaining this focus will help us be less stressed with more opportunity to bear fruit for the Lord.
Understanding that in this passage Jesus is the Vine we’re to abide in, let’s see what we can learn about abiding in the Vine. I have made an acrostic of the word “abide” from which we can glean five principles of abiding. Apply Build Involve Deny Examine.
Apply – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15KJV - If we’re going to walk in tune with the Lord, we’re going to have to know his word. I don’t mean that you have to be a scholar or read twenty-five chapters a day. Just be consistent to read something from the bible every day.
Build – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 Ask the Lord to help you build these qualities in your life. They will certainly be helpful in the crowded stores! (smile)
Involve – 46And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47NAS The believers in the early church stayed in close contact encouraging each other and they were committed to involvement in their local church.
Deny – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24 Again, if we keep Jesus first in our life, and think of others more than ourselves, we’ll be less apt to growl back at another tired shopper.
Examine –“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 We must regularly take inventory of our lives to make sure that we’re living in righteousness.
Earlier I mentioned two verses that stood out in John 15. We looked at verse 5. Now let’s look at verse 11. John 15:11 - "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” “These things” refer to the scriptures Jesus just share in verses 1- 10. So, what Jesus is saying to us is that if we abide in him we will have JOY. What a promise to hold on to for the rest of this month and next! The stress of shopping, the pain of being alone, missing a loved one, financial strain, etc. As we abide in Jesus in the midst of it all we can still have joy in our heart.
Be encouraged, my friend. Even in the stresses of life, even in the rush of the holiday, we can call on the grace of God to strengthen us as we abide in him. If you are struggling, pray the following: “Lord, I am hurting, I am tired, I feel so alone. Please send your Spirit, the comforter to come alongside me. Help me to focus on You so that I may have joy in this season of celebrating the birth of your Son. In Jesus name, amen.”
Until next time, I pray that you are filled to overflowing with the joy and love of the Lord!