BEARING FRUIT THAT LASTS

SERIES: Understanding Scriptures – Part 3

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last.”

JOHN 15 : 16

Have you tried to change that habit or that sin over and over again and failed? Or you’ve tried to do better in life but continue to struggle? Jesus says in John 15 : 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Jesus is reminding us here that we can do nothing without him. Therefore, the only way that we can be fruitful is when we ‘abide’ in Him. 

What does abiding mean? It means to stay connected with and in the person, or thing. As Jesus describes it, the branches need to be connected to the vine in order for it to bear much fruit. It needs to abide in the vine so that it can be strengthened and nourished. The branches once broken or disconnected from the vine will automatically dry up and bear no fruit.

What you abide in, is what you become. And so, if we want to bear fruit, fruit that will last for eternity – we must abide in Christ, who is eternal. 

You see, we could abide in anything. Abide in our family, in relationships, in our career, in our leaders or mentors and everything in this world. Yet, sadly but truthfully, none of that can sustain us and none of that will help us bear fruit the way we are meant to. At some point, we will dry up and fall away. 

That is why Jesus said, ‘I am the TRUE vine’, and ‘apart from me you can do nothing’. Why would Jesus make such a statement? It is because he is not talking about bearing fruit for this earthly life alone, he is talking about bearing fruit for eternity. You see, if we abide in any other vine like our career, we can earn loads of money and soar high, but that will cost us our family, our relationship with God and so much more. The same goes when we abide in anything of this world, the result will be bearing fruit only in that aspect. Whereas, when we abide in Christ, we will bear fruit in every way, beginning with an inward change that shines through on the outward. 

We are ‘jars of clay’ – weak, feeble and breakable. But, when we allow God’s word and truth to dwell inside us, we immediately become valuable because the power of Christ in us transforms us.

Also, these branches of a vine are not strong and sturdy, instead they’re really flimsy and weak. Yet, it is this weakness that gives them reason to stay with the true vine that builds them up. It is the same with us. As Paul puts it, we are ‘jars of clay’ – weak, feeble and breakable. But, when we allow God’s word and truth to dwell inside us, we immediately become valuable because the power of Christ in us transforms us. This is why we need to abide in Christ. In Matthew 7:17, Jesus says, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”

What you invest in is what you will harvest. If you invest your time, energy and efforts in filling yourself with earthly things, you will bear fruit accordingly. And, if you invest in filling yourself with godly things, you will see yourself becoming godly. What you abide in, is what you become. And so, if we want to bear fruit, fruit that will last for eternity – we must abide in Christ, who is eternal. 

So, how do we really abide in Christ? Jesus answers that too, in John 15 : 3-4, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Abiding in Christ really means understanding His word and obeying it. We can stay connected to Christ through His word. When we soak ourselves in God’s word, we begin to abide in Him, stay in Him, rest in Him, remain in Him and eventually bear fruit. It is not about merely reading God’s word, but more about understanding it and obeying it. 

In John 17 : 17, Jesus prays that we would be ‘sanctified’ through the word. This is why understanding scriptures is very crucial to us staying connected to Christ and bearing fruit. 

Abiding in Christ really means understanding His word and obeying it.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4 : 17 -24, that we need to stop living the way we lived, before we knew Christ. And, he points out that those who don’t believe in Christ are ‘darkened in their understanding’ and so separated from God. But we who believe in Jesus, have been taught (through the word of God) to put off our old self and be made new in the attitude of our minds. He shows us how understanding God’s word truly transforms us and helps us bear much fruit. He repeats the same in Romans 12:2, where he says, ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. 

Even when we look at the life of Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob, who was betrayed by his own brothers and sold off as a slave. We see how because he abides in God, he bears the fruit of forgiveness and love. In Genesis 50:20, he was able to love his brothers who betrayed him only because He understood God’s heart, His word.

Understanding scriptures is very crucial to us staying connected to Christ and bearing fruit. 

Beloved, if you are struggling to see fruit in your life, go back to God and stay connected to Him by understanding His word and you will see how you bear so much fruit that lasts forever.

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CULTIVATING A STEADFAST MIND

SERIES: Understanding Scriptures – Part 1

How often do we find ourselves fluctuating between good and bad moods, joy and sorrow, fearlessness and being fearful, like a wave tossed back and forth, high and low? For some of us, this is a reality that we are getting used to and beginning to live with.

Yet, the word of God tells us that this is not God’s will for us. In fact, the Bible teaches us to rejoice ‘always’, to give thanks to God in ‘all’ circumstances. God wants us to be steadfast in our lives, relationships, purposes and more than anything, in our minds. A steadfast mind is one that is unwavering and at peace at all times because it is a mind that trusts the Lord, His heart and His word. Isaiah puts it clearly – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you (Isaiah 26 : 3)

God wants us to be steadfast in our lives, relationships, purposes and more than anything, in our minds.

This constant fluctuation in our mind and emotions results in hurtful, broken and wrong attitudes and responses.

In the Gospels, we notice that there is something different in the responses of Jesus’ disciples (particularly Peter) about Jesus’ death and resurrection at two different occasions.

In Matthew 16 : 21-22, we see Peter, the one who knew that Jesus was ‘the Messiah’, rebuke (reprove) Jesus when He tells them about how He is going to suffer at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. Peter told Jesus, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” He didn’t understand that what Jesus was saying was to fulfil scriptures. Then, Jesus rebukes him back, even calling him ‘satan’. He points out to Peter, ‘you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’. Jesus knew that the reason Peter was overcome with sadness and fear was because his mind was being ruled by the flesh and not the Spirit of God, the word of God. He knew that Peter’s mind was closed and he could not understand what Jesus said.

Later, in an instance after Jesus’ resurrection where he met the disciples and then ascended to heaven, Luke records that they (the disciples) worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and they stayed continually at the temple, praising God (Luke 24 : 51-53).

The same disciple, Peter, who was at one point sad and fearful about Jesus’ death and resurrection, was filled with ‘great joy’ and ‘praised God continually’ after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.

Wonder what changed it all for him? How did he transform from being sad to having great joy about the same situation?

Well, we see that just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He opened their (disciples) minds to understand scriptures (Luke 24 : 45). That opening of their mind to understand scriptures not only changed Peter’s perspective of Jesus’ death and resurrection but also changed his heart. His heart was now filled with great joy.

Beloved, it is going to be very easy for some of us to waver, be fearful and shaken by what is happening in our lives and around us. Sometimes the fear of the past troubles us, sometimes the worries of the present or, sometimes insecurities of the future. Peter, too, was shaken, upset, fearful, and worried by the thought that his Master and Teacher was going to die. Note that though Jesus did share about rising again on the third day, Peter’s focus was on his Master’s death.

That opening of their mind to understand scriptures not only changed Peter’s perspective of Jesus’ death and resurrection but also changed his heart. His heart was now filled with great joy.

You may know scriptures, even read them regularly, but unless you allow God to help you understand them, God’s word will not quite transform you. True transformation that changes us inside out is a result of understanding (which includes believing) the word of God. So ask God to open your mind to understand His word just as He opened Peter’s mind – who now understood that the resurrection of Jesus succeeded his death. That the resurrection of Jesus is the hope of all mankind to overcome sin and death by believing in Jesus. When Peter’s mind was opened to understand God’s word, we see that he was filled with great joy – a transformed response. Pray and persist in prayer to have open minds to understand the word of God.

Your situation might seem miserable, but run back to the word of God. What does God tell you in His word? Is your mind open to understand it? If you allow God to minister to you through His word in your toughest battles, and your mind is open to understand it, your mind will be steadfast. You will begin to be at peace even when the harshest storm rages around you.  

Peter’s mind was once concerned about not having Jesus beside him in the world, but now His mind was concerned about taking the resurrected Jesus to the ends of the world. Once wavering, but now steadfast. This shift in his response and attitude was only because his mind was now opened to understand God’s word.

Open your mind to understand His word, trust Him and you will see your mind being steadfast. A steadfast mind that will keep you in perfect peace and fill you with great joy!


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