The Importance of Abiding in the Vine
Psalms 14:2:"The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God."
What do we need to understand?
The Word is full of truths we need to understand, but today I want to talk about the truth of "Abiding in the vine" and why it is so important to you as an individual and to us as a Church.
John 15:1-7: (read entire section)
John 15:1-2: God is the vinedresser or the gardener. As Pastor Tony said in his sermon a few weeks ago, the term "takes away" really means "takes up". In a vineyard, when a branch is not bearing fruit the gardener picks it up, props it up, supports it . He cleans it, waters it and positions it so that it can get the full sunlight and become able to bear fruit again. He does this in our lives when we as Christians have reached a place of barrenness.
Jeremiah 31:3: "The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
Romans 2:4: "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
When you are not in the place you should be in, It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentence.
God is good and His mercy is everlasting!
We need to get this into our spirits. "God will never put you so far down, you have no where but up to look." We do this to ourselves, when we are out of fellowship with the Father, we open the door for Satan to attack us. But because He loves us so much, God lovingly positions us back into to the light of His glory and power so that we can be in the correct position to abide in the vine and bear fruit.
He also prunes us, to bear more fruit. If a grape vine is leafing out too much it wonít bloom and develop grapes. If you donít deadhead roses they will stop blooming. The same with us, we bear more fruit if the unnecessary fluff and foliage or the dead wood is cut away from our lives.
The interesting thing about this verse, is that Jesus is talking to His disciples. He is telling them that they are already pruned or cleaned by what He has already taught them by His Words. This is true, but it is an ongoing process. (more later).
Abide - means to dwell in, remain in, to settle in for the long term!
When you are reading these scriptures for yourself substitute "dwell in" for "abide in". They may make more sense to you.
A branch that is severed from the vine withers and dies. It may be lying right next to the vine, but it is not obtaining vital life from the vine, because it is not attached. If you are not born again, you are not attached to the vine of Jesus Christ and you will wither and die. It is a spiritual fact.
When we are born again Godís spirit come in and abides in us. This is what Jesus means when He says, "He abides in us."
We are recreated with the life of God.
Godís life is imparted to us. It is the Zoë life of God- all the life God has to give!
The same God who spoke "let there be light" and the universe was created and is still expanding.
The same God who said "let us make man in our own image" and created man out of the dust.
The same God who reached down into the pit of hell and raised Jesus from the dead!
That is the same God, His life, His creative force, His power that dwells in You!
Sometimes I think we donít really know what it is we have inside us.
So, how do you abide in the vine?
Joshua 1:8 ""This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Psalms 119:97 "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day."
Psalms 119:147-148: "I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word."
Romans 12:1-2: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
You abide in the vine by spending time, quality time with God.
You study His Word, meditate on it, until it sinks into your spirit and becomes real to you. It is planted on the good soil of you heart and yields a good harvest.
This is where pruning come back into the picture:
Anything you put before God becomes an idol, a false God and severs you from the vine.
It interferes with your time with God.
We are to forsake everything and take up our cross and follow Him, The cross is not a burden to bear, but a tool, to be used to crucify the dead flesh. But you have to consider the cost as the builder did and the King going to war. If you are not willing to give it your all, give God all of you, you will fail, and be mocked by the world. Your desire to abide in the vine must come before you Husband, your children, your job, your home, your family, your hobbies, everything!
Romans 9:13: "As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.''
Hate meaning the rightful aversion of wrong doing or iniquity. God hates sin and cannot look upon it. He loved Jacob because he chose God rather than the world, He made the correct sacrifice, while Esau chose the flesh. He sold his birthright for a bowl of stew, then did not make the correct sacrifice. He chose the easy worldís way, not Godís way, and so therefore was severed from the vine.
Abiding in the vine is walking in obedience.
I think this is why many Christians fail in their walk, they donít consider what needs to be done and then what it will cost. When you are serious about God , He will get serious with you.
God will show you what in your life needs changing and what you need to get rid of, so that you can spend more time with Him. You will find that as you grow nearer to God each day, your desires and interests will change. The things you found interesting arenít that interesting anymore. You will be more aware of what you feed your spirit everyday.
(My pruning : mystery novels and science fiction shows and novels.- putting my job before my relationship with God.)
When you recognize the areas you need to get rid of, and you nail them to the cross, you have to be very serious. It cannot be halfhearted! James tells us that the doubleminded man will receive nothing from God. God will lovingly show us what is important and what is not, and it is up to us to listen and obey, and to cut away the deadwood or fluffy foliage.
You abide in the vine, Jesus and He abides in you. You settle in for the long term with Jesus and He will settle in for the long term with you, you dwell in , live in Jesus and He will dwell in and live in you.
This is a vital point. Jesus stresses it twice in these verses.
If we do not abide in him, we cannot bear fruit. In fact, Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing.. We will not bear fruit, if we do not have Jesus in our heart, Godís life in us and we are abiding in the vine daily. Just as a small bud draws vital nourishment from the vine into the branch, so we draw vital nourishment from the Word of God.
One of the reasons for our existence is for fellowship with the Father and Jesus our Lord, to bear fruit and bring Glory to God. One will always lead to the other.
If you fellowship faithfully, honestly and completely with God the Father through Jesus our Lord, you will always bear fruit.
But it takes time, it will not happen overnight. Just as a new blossom does not become fruit overnight, You as a believer will not mature overnight.
Many times we hinder ourselves from successfully abiding in the vine.
By our confessions:
We are snared by the words of our mouth. (Proverbs 6:2)
Paul tells us in Romans 3:13 that our mouths are open tombs.
We speak nothing but death and unbelief out of our mouths.
Have you ever heard yourself saying:
"I donít have enough time to study."
"I have too much on my plate right now."
"By the time I get home from work, cook supper, get the kids settled it is so lateÖ."
"Iím not a morning person, I donít wake up until I have at least 2 cups of coffeeÖ"
" It is really hard for me to understand the Bible, it doesnít make sense to me."
We have all said this or something similar in the past. Now it is time for our confessions to line up with the Word of God.
If you feel you donít have time to spend with God, ask Him to show you how to arrange your schedule so you canÖ It will take sacrifice on your part, it will not be easy.
If you are having trouble understanding the Word ask God to give you wisdom.
James 1:5-7: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;"
Ask God and He will give it to you, but you really have to mean it.
You seek God with all you heart, you gain understanding and then you grow spiritually. Then you will bear fruit.
What Kind of Fruit do we bear?
We bear many fruits, but I am only going to address one today. That is the fruit of a productive powerful prayer life.
When you spend time abiding in the vine, you come to know what the Word of God says, what the Promises of God are. You realize you are a joint heir with Jesus and share in His inheritance.
You have to become hungry for God, actually I believe we have to be starving for God and the things of God! You have to be so deprived of God and His Word that nothing else will satisfy, then you will truly abide in the vine fully and completely. When you spend time in the Word learning of and about God, you come to know Him better. The better you know Him, the more you trust Him, believe His promises and rely on Him.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:12: "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
Paul was a man who definitely abided in the vine. He knew God, knew Him personally and was persuaded that He is ableÖ That is the place we need to be!
By now, you probably realize that a 10 minute devotional each day will not qualify as abiding in the vine. For you to know God, you have to spend time with Him, then and only then will you believe the Word, pray the Word , speak the Word and act on the Word.
It is when you reach this point, in your prayer life, you see your prayers answered, needs meet, your children saved, your husband walking with God. Successful, fruitful prayer lives are a direct result of abiding in the vine.
When you spend time fellowshipping with the Father, it is not just running by the throne room and saying "Oh, by the way, God, You know I need these bills paidÖor You know, Iíve got high blood pressure, wanna fix that God??"
Psalms 100:4: "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name."
We not only let God know our needs and the promises He has made to meet them, but we must spend time just thanking Him, for his Goodness and mercy, for his provisions and love, for Jesus,
for our salvation. We need to worship Him, in holiness and truth.
For your spirit to be in tune with God, you need to spend time talking to Him, but also listening.
Pray with your Bible in Hand, seek God as you worship, pray and study, and He will direct you paths. Remember God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
My question to you is how badly do you want to "abide in the vine." Are you starving for God."
I have attached the Prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Colosse. I encourage you to pray it for yourself and see the changes that will begin to occur in you life.
The Apostle Paulís Prayer in Colossians
The following prayer is from Colossians 1:9-12, it has been changed into the first person, to personalize it for your needs.
Prayer it for yourself, your loved ones and those in authority over you, either at work or even our government officials and you will see the power of God change your life.
Father God, I do not cease to pray , and to ask that I may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that I may have a walk worthy of You, Lord, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of You, Father God; that I may be strengthened with all might, according to Your glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to You, Father, who has qualified Me to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in the light. You have delivered me from the power of darkness and translated me into the kingdom of the Son of Your love, in whom I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. I thank you for my redemption and my new relationship with you.
In Jesus name I pray,