Jesus said, “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 prunes, that it may bear more fruit … If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:1-2, 6).
True disciples of Jesus Christ cannot ignore this great responsibility of bearing fruit. God watches over his vine and all the branches engrafted to it with great concern. He also stands alongside with a pruning knife in hand, lovingly watching for the slightest evidence of corruption, blight or disease which could hinder its growth. God expects every branch to bear fruit; in fact, it is impossible to honor and glorify God — or be a true disciple — without fruit. Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (15:8).
Bearing fruit has everything to do with pleasing God — becoming more like him. Bearing fruit brings glory to the Father through what we are becoming rather than simply what we are doing. The Bible makes it very clear that many will have great results — casting out devils, healing the sick, doing great works in his name — but God knows if there is barrenness of spirit.
An abiding believer is one who loves and fears God, who dreads his righteous judgments, and who hungers for the Word. He delights in having the Word prune away all hindrances, allowing the very life and likeness of Christ to be ever-increasing in him. It is impossible to bear the fruit of righteousness without his Word abiding in you!
The more you allow Christ’s fullness to be revealed to you, the more of his life will touch everyone you are connected to. The Word says, “That you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (15:16). May you remain in the flow of Christ’s life and continue to bear much fruit that will glorify him.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). God’s children should make it a matter of conscience to rejoice in him at all times and in every circumstance. Rejoicing is not our choice; it is God’s command! If we treat these words as an option, we undermine God’s imperative to us.
Until God has our delight, he really does not have our heart. There are three steps that will help us maintain a stance of rejoicing in our Savior:
This definitely will not be easy and you sometimes will think it doesn’t make sense. Whether the world crumbles or stands, whether we lose or keep everything and everyone precious to us, the Lord himself remains the source of our satisfaction. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
God created a place in his children for joy. This place will be filled with something, either with the toys and trivia of worldly achievement and accumulation or with heavenly things of the Creator. There will always be carnal cravings that lure us away from God. “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14).
Those who have had a new, divine nature put into them by God are not satisfied with things of the world anymore. A change of heart implies a change of desire — a pure heart after God wants what he wants. “Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful” (Psalm 33:1).
A practical side of rejoicing is that it cannot be sustained if it is not continually exercised. Do not neglect this great portion of God’s salvation lest it become shriveled and crippled and too sluggish to sing out love songs to Jesus. But constant use will make it a strong fiber of your soul; willing and able to control every other emotion. Make the choice today to seek after the serene life of godliness and gratitude.
David said of his Lord, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Jesus said, “I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30).
The one thing our Lord seeks above all else from his servants, ministers and shepherds is communion at his table. Oneness around his heavenly table — a place and time of intimacy and continual coming to him for food, strength, wisdom and fellowship.
Yet many have a stilted, stunted vision of Christ and despite all the preaching, praising and endless talk of him, few have a true appreciation of the Lord’s table. They do not know the grandeur and majesty of such a high calling in Christ Jesus.
Commitment to him will cause us to seek an ever-increasing revelation of his vastness. Instead of praying for things and blessings, we should ask for a fuller revelation of his glory because a basic knowledge of Christ will not be enough in these final days. We must go to his table and let the Holy Spirit reveal him to us.
Is your vision of Christ too small? Paul was committed to an ever-increasing revelation of Jesus. All he had of Christ came by revelation, taught to him at the Lord’s table and made true to him by the Holy Spirit. He prayed constantly for the gift of grace to understand and preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). May God help us to take advantage of our “access with confidence through faith in him (3:12).
God has a royal table set for you, and your Host awaits your presence. Accept the great honor of sitting with him and partaking of the bread of life.
“A lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Luke 10:25). The scribes and Pharisees had confronted Jesus and challenged his authority on many occasions but now a lawyer approached him, perhaps someone sent by them. Lawyers are well trained in the art of debate and undoubtedly this one was also well-schooled in the laws of the Old Covenant. He probably expected Jesus to begin to recite some of the rules regarding Sabbath, washing of hands, clean and unclean food. So many rules! And which one leads to eternal life?
Jesus answered the lawyer’s question with a question: “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (10:26). And the lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (10:27). Jesus answered him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live” (10:28).
With those simple words, Jesus did away with the burden of all the rules and regulations and presented the most refreshing, world-changing, life-transforming message you could ever hear.
Jesus mentioned the most important thing first: love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And after you come into relationship with him, he will give you a new heart, a heart that can be moved with compassion toward others. “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). A heart of kindness and concern for others.
You can never love your neighbor the way Jesus loves us, but love for others is a natural byproduct of a changed heart. When he transforms you, you can say with the psalmist, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
The very foundation of the Christian home is being shaken, a direct result of the moral and spiritual decay in our society. In the book of Acts we read of the glorious miracle in the household of Cornelius — a transformation that came about all because one man set out determinedly to see his family saved.
“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius … a devout man who feared God with all his household … and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:1-2). Cornelius was so determined to see his house come into God’s fullness that he fasted and prayed without ceasing.
Praying people always get God’s attention! When Cornelius cried out to heaven, he “saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’” (Acts 10:3) The Lord then instructed him, “Send for Simon whose surname is Peter … He will tell you what you must do” (10:5-6).
At the same time Cornelius was praying, another praying man, Simon Peter, was having his own encounter with the Lord. God was giving him a vision to prepare him to go to the house of Cornelius to bring salvation (see Acts 10:10-16). God works on all sides when his people get to praying in earnest. He has countless ministering angels; he has chariots and hosts of heaven; he has the power and majesty in heaven and earth; he speaks the word and it is done; and nothing can withstand his perfect will.
You can see your own home saved by setting your heart to obey the Lord at all cost. This is a matter of great concern to our heavenly Father. Cornelius spent time in the presence of the Lord and the Lord gave him specific direction. Likewise, God will show you what is needed on your part and when you obey, you will see revival in your home.