Addition and subtraction

RE Verse reading–John 15:1-17 (day six) “He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.  Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more”–v 2.  “The Lord was ADDING to their number day by day those who were being saved”–Acts 2:47.  It is a familiar face of God to us.  Giver.  Provider.  He ADDS people to our congregation, friends to our lives, money to our bank account.  Do we also recognize Him when He SUBTRACTS?  When He removes things from our lives so that we do not grow self-sufficient or proud?  (see 2 Corinthians 12.)  When He prunes away parts of our lives, creates discomfort–all in the pursuit of greater fruitfulness?  “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord”, said Job in the midst of his heartbreak.  (Job 1:21.)  May we be as quick to recognize our Father’s hand in times of change and difficulty.  He adds and subtracts.  We trust Him, either way.

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Asking

Re: Verse reading—John 15:1-17 (day five)

 Vs. 7- If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

What a strange statement.  “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you”.  Is God some sort of genie granting any and all wishes to people?  Answer- NO!!  Can these words be true?  Yes, because they are only a part of this verse and teaching of Jesus.

Jesus and scripture certainly do teach a confidence and boldness to our prayers and petitions.  (I am SO glad)  The first part of this verse frames 2 truths as the context for His promise.  (Abide in Me, My words abide in you)  Both have to do with what shapes the human heart and causes it to become supernaturally focused and aware.  First, is the promise that a close, strong, and vibrant relationship with Jesus shapes the human heart to desire the things of God.  Second, is the power of the scripture to influence and affect our thoughts, desires, and priorities.  Thank You Father for Your Promises and Power!!

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Abide in Me

Re: Verse reading—John 15:1-17 (day four)  Verse 4 – “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”  If you separate the branch from the vine, it will die.  The same is true for the believer.  Once you enter into a saving relationship with Jesus, you must remain in Him.  How do we do that?  We spend time in God’s Word regularly…we pray and communicate with God…we obey…we share fellowship with other believers.  Many try to live the Christian life based on a relationship that they had years ago.  They have allowed their relationship to God to grow stale and have attempted to access the power of God in their lives without the character, love, and wisdom of Jesus having sanctified their lives.  Native knowledge cannot sustain the relationship…the branch severed from the vine dies up…the life that has lost the relationship with Christ will shipwreck on the rocks of life.  “Abide in Me!”

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Capable

Re: Verse reading—John 15:1-17 (day three) 
“I chose you.”  Every action that a person carries out takes place in a world in which God has already acted.  Before anyone else loved the world, God loved the world, John tells us (both in his gospel and later on in his first letter), and so when we attempt to love someone, we do not do so alone and unaided, for then it would be impossible for us to love.  Rather, we do so as a person who has received love from God, and therefore we can love another person.  In the same way, before anyone else believed the human race capable of making something good out of the good universe God placed us in, Jesus believed it.  Only with his soul-saving power will that happen, but it will happen.  He was the first to declare it so.

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The Gardener

Re: Verse reading–John 15:1-17 (day two) I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

I am a failure. Don’t try to come to my rescue. It’s a fact, I cannot garden. I tend to plant things that need sun in the shadiest spot in the yard and always vice versa. I over and under-water. I can’t seem to get it right what I’m supposed to prune and what is too much cutting. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just have never taken the time to really understand how it all should work. And it is work, constant care to protect, nurture, and give the plants what they need to live. No garden ever thrived on neglect. So for Jesus to call himself the vine and the Father the gardener is a statement of involvement. If we are to grow and flourish, we need tending to. This often means pruning. Cutting away the dead parts so that more life will grow. This active, nurturing God cares deeply about all that will abide and grow in him.

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Loyalty like His

Re: Verse reading–John 15:1-17 (day one) 
“Abide in me as I abide in you”–v 4.  It is a two-sided loyalty.  He abides in us.  Never leaves.  Never abandons out of frustration from our doubts and resistance.  He stays.  He abides.  And He commands a similar loyalty from us.  We are to abide, remain, stay in Him.  In season and out.  When it is fun and when it isn’t. The result will be fruit and glory (see v 8).  When the people of God stay with step with God, in union with Him the “Vine and Branch team” proves unbeatable.  Is it possible for fickle hearts such as ours to do so?  Apparently Jesus thought so.  Everything else is just a sinful excuse or a stubborn refusal to answer love with love, loyalty with loyalty. “Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent. . .the sons of Israel would then set out”–Numbers 9:17.  If he promises to stay with you, what do you promise?

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Heaven help us

Re: Verse reading–John 14:1-14 (day seven)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me”–v 1.  Truth is practical.  Knowing it, holding it in your mind has a positive, powerful effect.  In the midst of a crisis, Jesus is encouraging his disciples.  His approach is to move their minds from anxiety to certainty.  He asks them to think about Heaven, to count on it, to depend on His power to bring it about.  What happens when we do what the Lord was asking them?  Courage comes!  Stress subsides!  Fear flees!  Are you willing to take instruction from the greatest leader that the world has ever known?  Think Heaven!  Say to yourself, “This world is not my home.  Heaven is.”  Remind yourself to not be disappointed when this world does not reward or recognize faith.  Your reward will come later.  Those who “think heaven” find that it has a powerful and positive effect on their lives now.

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I am.

Re: Verse reading–John 14:1-14 (day six)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life”–v 6.  There is no “I” in team.  It is, therefore, a heads-up to the uniqueness of Christ that He so often makes “I am” statements.  Christ is not on anyone else’s “team” (Except the Father’s).  He, without the aid of others, claims to be full and comprehensive sufficiency for those who come to Him.  He denies that they need anything/anyone else!  Consider a human analogy.  What if I said something similar to Holly?  “Sweetheart, I love you.  From this day forward, you do not need anyone else.  Not your sons. Not your family or friends. Not at any level.   You need never listen to another sermon.  I am it!  I am what you need.”  Would you think me crazy, arrogant or in danger?  Yes!  Yet, Christ makes this claim without pause or pride.  Why?  Because He truly is the all-sufficient Son of god.  Praise Him!

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New Chapters

Re: Verse reading–John 14:1-14 (day five)
I see it every year as Youth Minister- parents and students processing and adjusting to new coming chapters (graduation, middle school, high school).  I also see people entering new chapters at weddings, funerals, retirements, and hospitals. Some chapters are welcomed and needed while other are intruding and life altering.  Our reaction and struggle with change more often than not, is one of stress and angst.  Aversion to change is not just unique to Baptists; it is a common human response, regardless of age.

Jesus’ words in John 14 address His disciple’s anxiety about the news of His departure.  “Do not let your heart be troubled”.  Present faith in the living God (believe in God/believe in Me) and certainty for the future (that where I am, there you may be also) are the key components of His instruction.  Listen to His reminder for their trust and confidence, “If it were not so, I would have told you”.

We navigate new chapters and changes by faith and trust in the “Unchanging One”.

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Relationships

Re: Verse reading–John 14:1-14 (day four)  For several chapters, Jesus has been talking about relationships…relationships between man and man, between man and God, between Jesus and God.  Relationships that are characterized by love, service, and unity.  In chapter 14, He says that He is the only way to a relationship with God.  To know Christ is to know God, to know God is to know Christ.  The focus of His teaching has been these relationships.  Move forward to chapter 17…Jesus is praying His high priestly prayer.  What is He praying about?  The disciples relationship to the Father…hold them in Your name, that they may be as You and I are…One.  The understanding and living in these relationships was important to the Savior.  It is important to you and me!  Search these scriptures and evaluate your relationships…do they match up with the teaching of the Savior?  The rewards are unprecedented…look at verses 13-14.

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