John: Day 19

The True Vine

by

Today's Text: John 15:1-27, Zephaniah 3:14-17

Text: John 15:1-27, Zephaniah 3:14-17

I’m the queen of focusing on the wrong things.

My daughter makes an amazing piece of 9-year-old art and declares it dedicated to her mom (that’s me!)—and I silently lament the sea of paper covering the floor and the glue stick smashed into all the creases of the dining room table.

A long-lost friend says she and her family are coming to visit for a weekend—and I spend more time worrying about the condition of the guest room than rejoicing in the long conversations and late-night laughter to come.

My husband spends hours creating new storage solutions for our mudroom (slash laundry room, slash pantry, slash coat closet, slash place the dog stays during dinner so he won’t eat food off our plates)—and I involuntarily scowl that my tired, dirty, three-compartment clothes hamper will no longer fit. (Three compartments! You can understand my sadness.)

And here, in John chapter 15, Jesus says this:

Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, 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 produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me”
(vv. 4-5, emphasis mine).

This is what He says. But do you know what I hear? I hear, “Bear fruit.” Or, to be more specific, “Hey, you, why aren’t you bearing fruit?” I, the Queen of Focusing On The Wrong Things, read Jesus’ words and hear all of the goal and none of the grace. I want the end but forget the means.

Yes, bear fruit. Yes, love others. Yes, give grace to a world that will misunderstand and even hate us. But look back through John 15. Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to remain. When we remain—when we abide in the never-ending, unconditional, forever love of Christ—then the fruit will come.

We bear fruit when, and only when, we are grafted into the True Vine. His Holy Spirit in us is the fruit producer; we are simply the branches who have the privilege of displaying His fruit.

Jesus Christ comes to make us new. He comes to redeem the dead branches that we are and give us abundant life! Remaining in Him—resting, dwelling, abiding in Him—is the only source of our strength, our goodness, our fruit.

Let’s focus our eyes on the True Vine today. Let’s be about the business of remaining in Jesus, and trust His Spirit to be about the business of bearing fruit in our lives.

Lord, teach us what it means to remain when all we want to do is produce. Help us to rest in your never-stopping love. Amen.

SRT-John16-Instagram19s

  • This devotion comes at a good time for me. Lately, I have been going through a time of humbling and pruning. It has been discouraging. I have been frustrated with the lack of fruit in my life. My heart’s desire is to live a life that brings glory to God, not just for me and my family, but something beyond that. But, I can’t even seem to get through some days without yelling at my kids and husband. I will remain. Abide. And let God’s strength cover my weakness. In patience, I have faith that my life will bear much fruit.

    • Natasha

      I am right beside you in that battle. Of struggling to keep my eyes focused on the cross and not the discouraging, mundane things that are happening (or not happening!) around me. While in the midst of the refining process it is so hard to see what good things God is working on in and through us but remember he has started a good work in you and will bring it to completion. Our husbands, children, friends etc. need a wife, mother, friend etc… who loves Jesus more than one that loves getting, doing or saying the right things. Praying for us to seek Jesus to satisfy our souls so we don’t need to be in control, fear others, look elsewhere or prove ourselves.

  • I, too, tend to want to do, to labor, to reach the goal, rather than to “rest”. Today’s lesson reminded me once again the importance of Hebrew’s 4:10-11: If we must labor, let us “labor, therefore, to enter that rest.”

  • John 15. Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to remain. When we remain—when we abide in the never-ending, unconditional, forever love of Christ—then the fruit will come.

    We bear fruit when, and only when, we are grafted into the True Vine. His Holy Spirit in us is the fruit producer; we are simply the branches who have the privilege of displaying His fruit.

  • Katy Tucker

    This touched my heart today. So often I want the end goal but don’t want the process. I want to ace the test, but not study. I want to make new friends, but not talk with my classmates. It’s an honor and a privilege that we can remain in Christ and produce fruit. We don’t have to manufacture our own goodness or ‘enoughness’ because He already is that. He is enough. He is sufficient; the true Vine.

  • I loved this reading today!! I am always about getting things done; and sometimes in the getting things done, I lose my head and get all wrapped up in me and what I’m doing. But Father is speaking in this, telling me that all I do is nothing without Him. Once again, it’s all about starting with Him and then remaining in Him… giving Him the firstfruits so that all the other fruits are for Him and His Glory. It can be so easy to forget to bring Him into the day with me if I don’t start the day with Him. On those early days, it can be so easy to just skip my time with Him, but then the day can seem so long without Him. Today’s challenge for me: start EVERY day with Him, even if I have to get up extra early to make it happen. Thank You, Papa, for speaking exactly what I need to hear!!

  • Heather Fringer

    I absolutely loved this reading today. ‘Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.’ ‘This is my command:Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.’ I love being reminded of how deep His love is for us.

  • I have ❤d this scripture for some time but thank you , for today it helped clarify one of the things I wrestle with. While in Ethiopia working with Somali Christians I was asked “how many fruits I had”. Feeling a bit foolish I couldn’t answer to more than one & I’ve been on a mission of being bolder & witnessing ever since to little avail or so it seems. I believe God works in & through us constantly , sometimes without our permission in answer to others’ prayers. I just need to abide in Him & trust His spirit for the fruit.

  • YES!!! I tend to be all about the goals and the doing and the product. What I need most of all is the Grace. I will do my best to remain in the Lord!

  • Keri McCue

    I’m a little behind on reading as I have been out of town. But this reading came right on time for me. I have never thought of this passage this way before! This was a lightbulb moment: “Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to remain. When we remain—when we abide in the never-ending, unconditional, forever love of Christ—then the fruit will come.” So true and so comforting!! Thank you for this! One reason I love SRT is because I get to see scripture from a different perspective than my own and it never disappoints!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • Naomi LaBoo

    Well put! We are called to remain, and God produces the fruit!

  • So great! I read the same thing when reading that verse. I do a quick look at my life to see where am I bearing fruit. Did I fulfill that verse. Will I need pruning? Yet remain… I need to concentrate there and rest in Jesus!

  • Thank you Amanda for this beautiful reminder to keep our focus on the right things. Like you, I tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive. I also like how you called to attention what Jesus’ command really was: abiding in Him. The rest will naturally come when we are focused on Him and allow Him to work through us. :-)

  • Rachel Y.

    “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” -John 15:9

    The love of Jesus is like a waterfall: constantly flowing with power. He invites me to step under, to experience it, to live in it. It does not stop because I wander away. It constantly pours from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is faithfully, graciously inviting me to step back under the waterfall. “Abide in my love,” He says.

    I am cleansed. I am refreshed.
    I choose to abide.

  • Love verse 3. Already I am clean by the word He has spoken to me. I struggle with wanting to be good enough, to make myself ready to go to work for God. I use my prayer and study time as a tool to be better ready for that work, to make sure that there’s nothing in me that would get in the way of other’s seeing Christ. But, I am already clean. How freeing! How beautiful it is to know that I can stop trying to do all the things, and recognize that Christ Jesus already did. I get to be in His Word, and spend time with him in prayer, and just grow, and watch Him develop our relationship. And then the fruit will come naturally. I am reminded of Moses’ words to wait and see the salvation of the Lord. All I need to do is be silent. What an incredible God we serve, who created mankind for relationship with him, who knew that we wouldn’t choose him, so he chose us and made a plan for us to be with him.

  • Beautifully said. I’m so often too consumed with producing and works that I lose sight of the call to simply abide in and rest in Him. I, too, have really enjoyed this study of John. It’s brought new expectations and excitement into my quiet time reading all of what He has done. And I love your writings. Yours always stir something in me and cause me to really ponder who He is, what He’s done., and who I am in Him. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow, definitely speaking to me. As a matter of fact this whole study so far has stirred my spirit. I really enjoy the daily devotions in addition to abiding in Him thru the words of scripture.

  • Christina

    Wow! You’ve described me to a “T.” Thank you for being an instrument to bring the conviction of focusing on the wrong things, and trying to produce God’s work through me by myself. Thank you for speaking to me, Lord!

  • Ah, I needed every part of this tonight. Thank you Jesus!

  • Gema Muniz

    Amen! so appropriate to read this when I receieved bad news today. It seems that every time things seem to be going “your way” out of no where you receive the dreaded bad news and it seems that all good feelings and hope comes crumbling down. What a great reminder that specially in these moments God calls us to remain in him and his promises, not in the things of the world or the standards of this world. Our value is not set on bearing fruits for the world instead in lays on the fruits we bear for our God. God bless you all sisters.

  • Tami Thomas

    Yes! Thank you for this perspective!

  • In verse 2 He states that he prunes the branches that bear fruit so that they may produce more. When He cuts out the sin and hindrances in our life, we are able to bear more fruit❤️

  • The first thing I wrote while reading this was, Remain in Him and the fruit will follow!” I also felt that verse 18 and 19 were very appropriate for today. I have read a lot in social media of people who were offended by God and Jesus being a part of the inaugural speech. It left me feeling very sad and flabbergasted, in all honesty. I felt like God was showing me in those two verses that it is okay and that, again, we should remain in Him despite persecution.

  • Yes!!! Remain, remain, remain…..my new focus! Thanks Amanda!

  • Elisabeth Price

    I love love loved the point that “Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to remain.” Such a good reminder for me, since this is a way of thinking I easily slip into. Just curious what you all would say remaining/abiding in him means to you?

    • Ginger

      Hi! I think just staying in His Word even when those around us aren’t, or if they choose another route, and believers just staying connected to Him through His Word. Not separated from Him is what He wants. He’s our lifeline, literally!

      • Beth

        Daily trusting Him in all circumstances instead of depending on my abilities, my wisdom, my way, etc.

    • Sarah

      Keeping my thoughts and mind on Him! Taking time during and throughout each day to listen to Him and pray! Trusting in Him when things get hard and when I don’t understand. Remember that abiding is an active verb. It is good for me to set reminders each day to focus my mind on Him.

  • So thankful for this message- I also only saw the fruit & production!! This is so freeing!

  • Janis Lee Nelson

    Yes, abide, stay, rest, cuddle, breathe…listen to God’s heart beat for me..His will…His perfect will…

  • I love the analogy of bearing fruit. That truly we do need to be connected to the vine! I love how it states it so simply.
    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Jesus made the first choice, to love and die for us, to invite us to live with him forever. We make the next choice, to accept or reject his offer. Without his choice, we would have no choice to make. Thank you Lord for choosing us!

  • I love this perspective on ‘bearing fruit’. In the past this passage has provoked fear – am I doing enough? Am I loving enough? But today, there is a new clarity- rest. Abide. Seek. Remain. My relationship with Him has never depended on what I produce- and these verses say no different. We can do nothing without him, yet here I’ve been, expecting that if I will enough, if I try enough, I can produce fruit on my own and maybe get a pat on the back. It’s exhausting, because it’s impossible. There is so much freedom in these verses for me today, freedom to stop *trying* to play a role I could never fill, freedom to rest in the quiet my Savior brings, freedom to just be still and *know*.

    John 15:11- I have spoken these things to you so that My Joy maybe in you, and your joy may be complete.

  • God is my one and only provider!

  • Let us remain. Keep the main thing the main thing. Jesus is the Main Thing.

  • I am so encouraged by God’s word and my goal is to remain in Him. After reading John 15 today, I have a question. I’m a little confused when it says that God chose us and we did not choose Him. That’s great for me because I know I have Jesus in my heart and I experience the work of the Holy Spirit in my daily life, but does God choose everyone? I don’t think God would deny anyone from Himself so what does this mean for those that are not chosen? I would love some help understanding this phrase in the passage.

    • Nads

      I have struggled with that one too sometimes…that is, “I don’t think God would deny anyone from Himself so what does this mean for those that are not chosen?” but,…I think some of this passage is very contextual to the disciples themselves, the people who originally heard these words.

      The whole “predetermination” thing is something I definitely want to study further. But, I always need to remind myself that I know The Way and must follow Him, shining and sharing with all those around me knowing that HE loves and wants them more than I EVER could!! God bless.

    • JoAnn

      Hi Kaitlyn – I’ll be interested to hear others comment about this. My daughters attend a Christian university (GCU) and they are learning a ton. One professor mentioned Calvinism as a branch of Christianity. Part of Calvinism believes that there is a chosen elect to be saved. I simply could not wrap my head around this! It also troubled my daughters’ hearts. So here is what I think regarding the passage today and your question. God created us (all of us) and God chose a way to bring us ALL back into His fold after Adam and Eve sinned. He is giving US the gift of salvation. (That’s where I think the “God chose us and we did not choose Him” comes in.) And in my heart I believe that everyone has the choice but not all will take it. I also rest in knowing that His ways are higher than my ways and I think that we make it more complicated than it has to be. I’ll look forward to reading others’ comments to your question! Have a blessed day!

      • Marytony

        I think that what it means when it said that “God chose us”, is that He took the first step to bring us closer, not the other way around. He is the one that decided that we needed salvation, and put the plan into motion to make a way back through Him through Jesus Christ.

    • Colleen

      What I love about God choosing us, is that the glory for our salvation ALL belongs to God. Without having an election/free will debate, we can be assured that our faith in Jesus is due to Him calling us, Him drawing us to Himself, Him choosing us, Him giving us the faith to receive His free gifts. Then it’s even Him who sanctifies. He is so good and it is all Him from start to finish. My salvation is not my own doing, in any way. He loves us all, He wants us all….whether or not a rejection of God means someone was never chosen to begin with, I don’t know, but this we do know…to ALL who receive Him he gives the right to be called sons and daughters of God. My hands are open, my heart longs to receive, and it’s all because of Him!! ❤️❤️❤️

      • Beth

        Each are good replies, our basis is His word. We did not go seeking Him, He has sought us, Romans 3:9-10 and 1 John 4:10. Also, He is not willing that any should perish, so salvation is extended to each, see 2 Peter 3:9, just that so many do not want to accept it. But for all that do accept to be chosen of Him, He has promised John 1:12 and John 6:37.

    • cj8of8

      I love beths’ comment below.. my thought is that God chose us way before creation. Genesis. Right along with light and dark.. Gen 1 vs 3-6 .. we were made in His image and he knew before hand that dark (satan) would tempt and deceive us. Light was proclaimed good (Jesus my bright and morning day star) in the beginning and gods design was to redeem us from the very beginning. He (Jesus) still walks through creation saying “where are you” as any good shepherd would Gen 3:8-9. God.. In His awesome infinite love predestined us.. to Himself.. For His glory. His ways are so much “bigger” than our hearts and minds can comprehend.

  • C Gunckel

    Thank you for this today. I often look at how I might be “bearing fruit” and forget He’s the fruit bearer, not me! I just need to abide in Him and the rest He will take care of.

  • An eye opening way to look at a verse I’ve read and studied many times. Wow, it’s His fruit I get to display, I love the word picture. My father is a landscaper and would cut back trees and bushes ( my mother would hate how far he’d cut things back) and yet each spring each one would grow full , healthy and be beautiful. We need that dead wood cut from us, but oh so painful! If only we could look expectantly ahead at what beauty awaits.

  • This is an illustration to show that the focus must be on cultivating, praying for, longing for more intimacy with Him. That is a prayer He WILL answer with an outstanding YES because it is no doubt His desire as well. The rest will come. The producing will be a natural outpouring of greater intimacy with Him. “Lord, forgive me of my lack of love for You. Oh that You would create within me a greater desire for intimacy with You. Thank You that I can ask with complete certainty for I know that this is Your heart’s desire”.

  • I pray to have the grace for myself that God has for me!

  • Oh my goodness, how timely. I just explored and wrote about God’s call to remain and accept grace yesterday, and how often I reject that in efforts to be a little bit more perfect. I say no to Grace to try to bear a little bit more fruit, all on my own. I’m so thankful for a community of women who are also trying to find their way back to this life-giving vine! I’m so thankful God doesn’t ask for perfect fruit, only acceptance of his perfect love.

    https://unmentionablesblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/mismatched-tupperware-and-other-beautiful-things/

  • I love verse 17 in Zeph 3. How I long to be quieted by His love so that I can truly remain, rest, dwell and abide with Him through my day. I pray that the scripture we read together would soak into the every cell of my being and transform my everyday life. Not necessarily in big ways, but in the way I speak to my children, the choices I make for my body, the reactions I have when things don’t go my way. I pray that through remaining, His love will overflow. Blessings for a peaceful, love filled day, ladies!

  • As I was reading this, the song BREATH came on by Johnny Diaz. How appropriate for this reading.

  • Jackie Diamond

    Thank you for reminding me to abide in Him. Your wise words bring peace which is needed in today’s chaotic world.

  • Sadly I didn’t learn this lesson in my younger days of parenting. I had such a critical spirit within me. I still do. Thank you for showing me I am not the only one who struggles with this. I am slowly learning to see grace and receive grace. Remain in Him, abide in Him! Yes. That is how I will see a Him in all things and all people.

  • Heather (MNmomma)

    Remain……stay….abide…….all of these things I struggle with. Lord, keep me focused on You. Open my ears to hear your voice. Help me Lord to stay focused on You, Your will today and everyday. Flood me with your Spirit, Lord. Use me Lord for Your purpose. When things get crazy, when I start to stumble….catch me Lord….whisper to me…open my heart, my ears, my mind to You….not the “stuff” happening all around me. Help me Lord to remain in You in all of the moments of my day. Amen

  • “‘But do you know what I hear? I hear, “Bear fruit.” Or, to be more specific, “Hey, you, why aren’t you bearing fruit?” I, the Queen of Focusing On The Wrong Things, read Jesus’ words and hear all of the goal and none of the grace…..Jesus is not commanding His disciples to bear fruit. The command is to remain.'” The Truth sets us free! Thank you for being so transparent in this, I hear that first voice all too often. How freeing it is to have my eyes opened to what Jesus is actually commanding us to do- remain in Him! That sounds a lot more doable and a lot less burdensome! I feel like a 100 pound weight just got lifted off my shoulders. Praying we would all continue to find freedom in the One who came to set us free!

  • Melanie @ Gather for Bread

    Abide is my word for this year. And John 15:4 is my verse to guide me through. I couldn’t wait til we got to this chapter in John.

    I have so much room to grow in this area (which is why God laid this word on my heart).

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder to abide and just be with Him. The fruit will be produced as I stay connected to the true vine.

  • churchmouse

    Amanda, you hit the nail on the head! I too hear all of the goal and none of the grace. Instead of relishing being with Him, my mind condemns me for all the things I think I should be doing for Him. Thank you for the fresh air of freedom you have sent my way today.

  • “Remain” should be my new word for 2017. I try, but my humanness takes over, frequently. Thank you, Amanda, for this thought provoking devotional.

    • Angela

      Yes! I was still looking for a word also but my prayer every day has been to have more of Jesus. Thanks

  • Oh you are speaking my truth! I,too,only see what I am lacking. Thank you for reminding me that Our Father is not like that voice in my head!

  • Sarah_Joy

    Oh that I would get my eyes off of me and focus on Jesus and who He is and how He loves me! How different my thought life would look if I made room for the whispers of the Holy Spirit in the midst of my whirlwind. Remain, remain, remain.

  • Kristine L

    The Holy Spirit produces the fruit, we are just the branches that have the privilege of displaying the fruit. Amen and amen! My job is to remain in His Word, remain in His love and will for my life, and the fruit will come. Not that I expect to just be hanging out, lazy and doing my own thing while the Holy Spirit churns out some fruit to bejewel my branches. It’s an active job, to abide. To stay the course. It requires being in tune, checking in, course-correcting.

  • Charise Walter

    I too am the Queen of focusing on the wrong things, all that I’m not doing, my lack of fruit. Thank you for this encouragement.

  • Brenda DiCicco

    I love this. I have interpreted that pasdage of scripture the exact same way for years. This sheds light on the important piece, aka not the piece I was previously focused on.

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