John 3:16! We Believe! We Belong! We A.B.I.D.E.! Now, We Must Bear Fruit! Our Bearing Fruit as a 2021 Christian.

Henri Nouwen gives us these profound words of wisdom from his experiences.

We belong to a generation that wants to see the results of our work. We want to be productive and see with our own eyes what we have made. But that is not the way of God’s Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on a cross. There was no success there to be proud of. Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus’ life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus, we have to trust that our lives too will be fruitful, even though we cannot see their fruit. The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.

What is important is how well we love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not.”

I give you these words to ponder and pray over, give them your due diligence as we turn now to the transcending Word of God for this, today’s devotional effort.

John 15:1-17 NASB

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches

15 “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 [a]prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already [b]clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, [c]and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit [d]of itself [e]but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him [f]bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so [g]prove to be My disciples.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Disciples’ Relation to Each Other

12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

John 15 is one of the best-loved of all the gospel readings, and with good reason. We all want to flourish! And here, in His final words to His disciples, Jesus tells his disciples that if they stay “in him” – rooted in him through the Word and Sacraments – they will lead the kind of fruitful lives that marks his disciples. If they’ll live as Jesus has taught them to live: BELIEVING on God, God, the Son, (John 14:6) they will experience BELONGING to God’s family (Romans 1:6-7), They will A.B.I.D.E. in God’s love through Jesus Christ (John 15:4-6 AKJV).

Building up and Growing Inwardly and Outwardly, Maturing upon each of these, they will inevitably, undeniably, BEAR FRUIT for the Kingdom of God. The ministry and mission and work of God the Holy Spirit will see to all this!

John 16:12-16 Authorized (King James) Version

12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

There are three truths I am compelled by John 3:16 to bring to your attention.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God so LOVED the world that He gave us His Son … The Logos (John 1:1-5)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

In these days of great tribulation, socially distant, socially isolated, masks on, mask off, mask and vaccine mandated, are we vaccinated or not, boosted or not, quarantined, virus tested, virus retested, sanitized, government regulated days, there is One who has, against the most catastrophic odds, has OVERCOME it all!

John 16:32-33Authorized (King James) Version

32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Living Father, Son and Holy Spirit, being a believing, belonging, abiding and fruit bearing Christian, under the shadow of these indescribably, undeniably enormous wings, living with absolute maximum confidence in God’s truth, we can all still live impossible Acts 2, Acts 3 and Acts 4 kingdom growth ministry.

1. Remain in the Vine

One of the things which always strikes me about a fruit tree is its innate ability to stand so quiet, without strain or mayhem, while still getting things done. I mean, how does a branch produce fruit without the swirl? Do you know what I mean by the swirl? It’s the striving and chaos and energy I often leave in my wake when I am still trying to make things happen, sometimes even for God. In this passage from John 15, Jesus presents us with an entirely different way.

The word “remains” (abide or dwell) in the Greek means: “not to depart; to continue, to be present; to be held, kept, continually; to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure” (Vines Bible Dictionary)

The idea is that this is a very restful place to be. If we as the branches remain in Him as the Vine, we draw energy and marrow to produce the fruits of change and transformation He longs to bring about in each of our lives. It’s all about our attachment and connectedness to Him. This doesn’t mean our lives will be void of activity or the high expending of energy, simply that we’re able to draw everything we need to bring forth meaningful fruit that will last. As restfully as a tree beside still waters, because have you ever seen an apple tree freaking out?

2. Embrace The Pruning

Earlier in the chapter Jesus points out that God the Father is the One who prunes our lives so we will be even more fruitful (vs 2). The problem for me, historically, has been quite simple: I don’t always enjoy how God’s pruning process, turns out.

Maybe you and I are in one of those places where God is refining our character by cutting out a massive tumor of greed or vanity or malignant pride. The harsh disease of bitterness is being scraped back. Perhaps that particular false god you were really quite attached to just got lopped off, plummeting to the ground in a most unpleasant way.

As I have learned a bit about gardening over the years, pruning spares the nourishment of the vine for the branches that are most viable. If God is paring back an area that is presently painful, it is only for the bearing of more fruit—A life of greater impact for His glory (vs 8). So let God do His transformational work and have His way in our lives. Don’t resist the “tough love” He is doing.

3. Expect A Harvest

When Jesus says that if we remain in Him, we will bear fruit, this is a promise.

Part of the greatest beauty of a fruit tree is that its prolific bounty is an annual and rather predictable offering. No one looking on any orchard of any fruit tree seems to be all that taken with the fact that these trees will have fruit hanging from its branches – even in the most tribulating of times and nature’s seasons.

In October, for example the Michigan apple is to be expected. In Georgia it is the Peach and In Florida it is the Orange Tree. You can count on them. They have locked within them essential pieces of our existence—like apple cider, apple pie and cider donuts, all kinds of Jams, Jellies, Pies, Desserts uncountable and so on—We have come to depend on the inevitability of these tasty, reliable realities.

How much more can we rely on the spiritual premise that remaining in Jesus means bearing fruit that will last?  In other words, as we abide in our Savior Jesus Christ, we can confidently, equally, expect the fruit He will bring about.

In these most troubling of times of this 21st century, yay we abide in Him so our fruit bearing activity is loving, peaceful, not full of strife. When the Gardener sharpens his shears, may we let Him have His loving way with us. And as we all dwell in the Vine, let us expect the certainty of bearing fruit. Fruit that will last.

We Hold God’s John 3:16 Promises and God’s Truths to be Wholly Self Evident …

In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, let us pray.

Here’s a contemporary Welsh prayer I discovered in my Face Book Feed.

Lord, we would grow with you
New shoots reaching out
Hands stretched upward
Like leaves newly formed
Soaking up your light and warmth
Lord, we would grow with you

Lord, we would grow with you
In sunshine and rain
In darkness and light
In cold days and summer days
From Springtime to Winter
Lord, we would grow with you

Lord, we would grow with you
And bring forth fruit
That is pleasing to you
Fed by your living water
Giving sustenance to others
Lord, we would grow with you.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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