Monday, June 23, 2014

The Big Bonus

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15:5, 7, 8 NASB) 

Last night, I promised you that we would talk about the great bonus we receive when we bear abundant fruit. This is very exciting, so don't miss it!

In a vineyard, the branches have no importance if they are pruned and lying on the ground. Branches only have meaning and significance if they are connected to the vine. It is through the vine that branches receive nourishment, and it is through the vine that the life of the branch is sustained.  The branch can only bear fruit if it is connected to the vine, and that is, of course, the very purpose of the branch.

In that same way, we can only bear spiritual fruit when our lives are connected to Jesus. John 15:7 gives us a very important promise.  The one who abides in Christ will bear much fruit. If you are not bearing fruit, you need to check your connection to the vine. Abiding is not optional for fruit-bearing believers.  

In fact, there is a two-fold promise in this verse.  If you abide, you will bear much fruit.  If you do not abide, but attempt to live and minister apart from Jesus, you will bear no fruit. In fact, you will do nothing.  Did you get that? Apart from Jesus, nothing you do will have significance.  Nothing you do will be fruit that lasts.  Whew.  That's a hard word.  Abiding is a full-time job, and it is not optional.

Now, here is where we find the big bonus.  Look again at Luke 15:8.  If we abide in Christ, and His words abide in us, we can pray whatever is in our hearts, and it will be done.  Do not misunderstand this.  It does not say that we will get whatever we dream up.  It says that, if Christ's words abide in us, we will have answered prayers.  If His words are abiding in us, you can be sure that His words will pour forth when we are praying to the Father. In that instance, we can pray with confidence that the Father will answer the prayers that have originated from His Son.  

This is going to sound strange, and I beg you to understand that I mean what I am about to say in all sincerity, and that I know without a doubt that it is true and accurate.  Those words that abide in us from Christ come from the very One who dreamed up the rhinoceros and the giraffe, the macaw and the clown fish.  He is the most creative, amazing God imaginable, and He can think up some very surprising words to pray, and sometimes in the most unexpected places.  Do not be surprised if, in your abiding, you find yourself praying for the most unexpected things imaginable.  Part of the fun of abiding is allowing the words of Christ to flow through you in prayer, then watching what God does in response.  

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been serving food for a large group, realized mid-way through that there was not enough of one dish or another to go around, prayed out loud in front of believers and non-believers alike for a "loaves and fishes miracle", and found, when everyone had been served, that God had given me what I asked. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. I just let His words flow through me.  

The most important part comes next. When I prayed for a miracle in front of believers and non-believers and the miracle was done, who was glorified?  It wasn't me.  Everyone who was there knew that God had done the miracle.  All I did was pray and keep serving.  

That's the whole point.  It's like a chain reaction.  We abide in Christ.  He abides in us. We bear fruit.  His words abide in us.  We pray what we hear.  God answers our prayers by doing what we've asked.  He gets the glory.  We bear more fruit.  It proves we are His disciples. People are drawn to Jesus by the lives of the disciples.  More fruit.  More glory for God.  What a wonderful plan, and what great fun!

Here's the challenge for you:  Abide in Christ, let His words abide in you, and pray whatever He tells you, then hold on and watch what God does.  It will be the most fun you've ever had, and you are going to love it! I can hardly wait to hear what happens!  

Have fun, enjoy your bonus, and happy abiding!