Today’s Reading: John 15:1-8 and 16:16-33; Psalm 120 & 128
One of my favorite passages in Scripture and a great continuation of where God had us yesterday – “HOME”:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great joy to my Father” (John 15:1-8).
During the summer of 2011, we were living in Texas during a severe drought. Restrictions were placed on how much water you could use to irrigate your yard or wash your car or fill your pool. Every month or so the level of water restrictions was increased until you could only water your yard every other week and it had to be before 10am and after 6pm. Everything was brown. The ground had huge cracks in it and roads were buckling. Soil was pulling away from the foundations of buildings, causing cracks in walls and doors to not close properly as houses were suffering damage from the drought. Lakes were closed because of how low their water level was.
The next summer we were living in Illinois during yet another severe drought. The difference was there was no water restriction – no signs on every corner or city officials driving around fining people for using their water at the wrong time. Trees were drying out and lawns were brown from the hot, dry summer we were experiencing, but there were no concerns that the water was going to completely run out. The grass was dry but there were no restrictions stopping us from turning on the sprinklers to water the grass and save the lawn. The source of water was readily available, all we had to do was connect our “dry areas” to the source.
Jesus said, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Jesus – an endless source for us IF we choose to remain connected, to stay “HOME” as we called it yesterday.
We have friends in Ethiopia – Ermias and Mulu Mekuria. I have never met two people as devoted to their prayer life as this couple. They get up every morning at 3 a.m. and spend time worshipping and praying together for a couple of hours, then they go back to sleep. When someone asks them to pray for a situation, they follow through and daily lift that person up to the Lord in prayer. Time after time, they have laid their hands on someone and prayed for healing and God has answered their prayer. Listen carefully – God hears them and answers their prayer! Why? It’s not about WHO they are but about WHOM they are connected to – the True Grapevine – and where they are, HOME.
“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7) Let’s not focus so much on the last half of this sentence that we miss the context provided in the first half – IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, THEN you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted. Are we experiencing God answering our prayers? If not, perhaps we should consider what it takes to be connected to the source – what it really means to REMAIN there. Let’s consider this as we look at the words of Jesus that John recorded.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with my Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask for anything in my name, and I will do it!” – John 14:12-14
“I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy…I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.” – John 16:23b-24,26-27
I spend time daily studying God’s word and praying to Him yet I am convicted of the depth of my relationship with God. I am not sure I have done more than scratch the surface of what it means to be connected to Him and to remain in Him. If I want to produce fruit in my life, if I want to save myself from drought, all I need to do is truly devote myself to the True Grapevine. There is no limit of what He wants to give me. I simply need to stop limiting how much I am receiving of Him. I need to stay HOME.