“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.” John 15:5 (NIV)
God wants us to be effective and productive. In John 15, Jesus said,
“This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit….” (Vs. 8)
So, how do we get there? Where do we get the power to be productive? Jesus gives us the answer in a simple but profound teaching found in John 15. He uses a common illustration all those listening could understand. He may have even pointed to the vineyards around Him when He spoke these words,
“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. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” John 15:5-8 (NIV)
Jesus gives us three steps to a productive and fruitful life. We’ll look at the first one today.
First, stay connected to Christ so He can do the producing.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit unless it is connected to the vine, neither can we live a truly productive life if we are disconnected from Him. Branches are useful for only two things: bearing fruit or burning. The vine produces the fruit that the branch bears. The branch can never produce the fruit. Jesus said that we were the branches, that’s our role, and that He was the vine, that’s His role. Stress comes when we reverse those roles and we begin trying to produce the results. We try to make things happen. The truth is that we can’t produce anything! Only God can produce the fruit He wants us to bear. Our role is to “remain” in Him, to simply stay connected and let Him do the producing. His life flows through the vine and we experience that life as we remain connected. What a relief! It’s not up to you to produce the results in your life! Your job is to stay connected to Christ. How do you do that? Here are three ways I’ve found helpful in staying connected to Christ in my life:
- Spiritual Breathing – Each breath I take is a reminder to me of how to stay connected and rightly related to Christ, so His power and life can produce what He wants to accomplish in me. When you exhale, you are releasing the fear, or hurt or pain or sin in your life that holds you back. If you’ve sinned, you exhale a confession to God and inhale His forgiveness. But, even more than that, His power for victory over that sin so that you can live a fruitful and productive life! Practice spiritual breathing today. 1 John 1:9 is a great verse to use as you exhale a confession and inhale Christ’s cleansing power.
- A Daily Encounter with Christ – Nothing has changed my life more than a daily encounter with Christ. It keeps me connected to Him. Just as Jesus set aside time alone with the Father, He calls us into fellowship with Him on a daily basis. Your daily quiet time reading a portion of Scripture and praying connects you intimately with Christ and enables you to walk in victory. We are going to examine more of how to have a daily encounter with Christ in our LIFE Class this Sunday and next. If you are already a member of Woodlands Church, you can register now and join us for one of the LIFE classes.
- A Commitment to a Church Family – None of us can be productive when we are detached from the vine. God wired us to grow and be productive in community. We need one another. Loving God and loving others are the two biggest commandments Jesus gave because He wants us to be productive and experience His love. If you’re not a part of a church family, you can register now for this Sunday, January 21st or on Sunday, January 28th for our Membership class at Woodlands Church and experience the benefit of connecting with others.
As you begin a new year, you need a new vision and a new connection to experience the power for real change that will make you effective and productive. You’re not alone. We will walk together. That’s the blessing of connecting with a church family!