Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Prelude to the Last two Chapters of the little book the "Branch and the Vine" - Part 50

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in My love.  If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.  These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.  This is My commandment, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, That a man lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:9-13.

We have been studying John 15 for quite some time, and continue because it is the heart of the concentrated bits of counsel that Jesus gave His disciples just before He entered Gethsemane  and gave His life as a ransom for many.  We've been talking about the Vine and the branch, and the need to abide.

This chapter we are going to examine John 15:9-13.  Let's get started with verses 7 and 8.

"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples".  John 15: 7&8.

It is important for us to remember that a disciple is someone who is not only taught by Jesus, but who also reflects His teaching in daily life.  As we bear fruit, God classifies us as His disciples.

As the Father Loved Me

Continuing in John 15:9, Jesus said:  "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love."

These verses have a tendency to slip away into sentimental nothingness for the simple reason that our concept of Biblical love is theoretical and not practical, to say nothing of the fact that what the world feels about love and what the Bible says about love, and we find it hard to separate the two.  But Jesus helped us when He added the words, "As the Father hath love Me."  What was Jesus saying?  What meaning should we attach to His words?  It's very difficult to express the depth of what He was saying by using human terminology, let alone to fully understand it.

We will continue these thoughts tomorrow, I promised to keep these studies short and I think I have fallen short on doing it but they are so good that it is hard to quit right in the middle of a good thought.  But come back tomorrow and let's see what true Biblical love is.  Grandma Joan

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Knowing All Things / Responding to the Vine / An Attainable Life - Part 49

Knowing All Things

When Jesus was speaking of true friendship, He was referring to the highest possible form of spiritual experience, which comes through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, "Henceforth, I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you".  John 15:15.

I want that experience, don't you?  We need to be so close to Him that we hear every word He speaks to us, regarding what kind of fruit we are bearing and what kind we should be bearing?  What we need to delete from our life and what we need to add to our life so that we can be one with Him.

Have you ever thought about what Jesus was communicating when He said, "All things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you"?  He was God's perfect  mouthpiece on Earth, and was saying, "Al things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you."  I marvel when I think about this, because as Jesus was faithful to His Father, so He wants us to be faithful to Him; and faithfulness is how discipleship is revealed.  Remember the words in John 15:8, "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples."  Christ was in effect saying, My Father told Me these things; now I am sharing them with you.

Responding To TheVine

How are we going to respond to Christ's plea?  Ignore it?  Listen, but continue on without anything changing?  Listen, but only drowsily respond?  The answer comes as we consider His commission to us.  What commission did He give us?  Wasn't it bearing fruit?  That was Jesus commission. Will He do the same thing in us?  Yes! He is going to bear the fruit of His Own character in us--that's the purpose of fruit-bearing and His stated objective for us.

How am I going to respond to Christ's plea?  How are you going to respond?  We must make our decision soon before it's too late.  Will you bear the fruit of the Spirit?  I want to.

Unfortunately, too often when God speaks to us about fruit-bearing, our first thought is to go to our neighbors and say, "hey, you better get ready because Jesus is coming!"  Too often they react with a "Really?"  Do you believe it?  You certainly don't look like you do!  I don't see anything different between us."  Would you agree that people shouldn't need to be told that Jesus is coming; rather they should know He is coming by the way we live?

An Attainable Life

Is this kind of living attainable, or is more being expected of us that is possible?  It shouldn't be, and it won't be, if our fruit-bearing comes as a result of Christ dwelling within us.  Why?  Because as a result of the indwelling presence of Jesus, God's character will be seen in us, just as God's character was seen in Christ.  Do you remember how Jesus responded to Philip's request, "Show us the Father"? He answered, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not knowns Me,  Philip?" He that has seen me has seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show is the Father?

If Christ is dwelling in us, is it too much to expect that He will be able to say, "If you have seen Mrs. Smith, or Brother Jones, you have seen Me"?

Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing for Christ to say about is?  I would love to have it said about me!  My goal is to be like Jesus in all respects.  I pray that I won't disappoint Him. I also pray that these studies will help you in your struggles of life and that they will bless you too and that you won't disappoint Him either.  Grandma Joan

Monday, January 15, 2018

Serving Two Masters - Part 48

We must acknowledge that the Bible frequently uses the term "servants" in describing our relationship to the Lord, and this deserves some consideration.  Matthew 6:24 says, "No man can serve two masters."  Modifying that slightly "No man can be a servant to two masters."  Consider as well that in Bible times, a servant was almost always a slave.  And so we get the following, "No man can be a slave to two masters."

Now God wants us to be slaves from the standpoint of our not needing to understand everything in order to believe.  Why?  Because what a person does must be of faith, for as Romans 14:23 puts it, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."  This means that God enables us to constantly exercise our faith, since He doesn't tell us about everything ahead of time.  Yet He never allows our faith to be tested beyond that which we can bear.

Now the disciples were coming to a point in their experience when their faith was going to be greatly tested.  I don't think we can remotely appreciate what they were facing:  they had been with Jesus for three and a half years; He was soon going to be hanging from a tree in front of them; and their faith was going to fail them.  We know this because when it happened, they fled and completely left Him.  In fact, all the disciples were soon hiding behind locked doors in the upper room, and would have remained hidden, and remained unbelievers, had not Jesus pursued them following His resurrection, revealed Himself, reminded them of what was going on, and helped them put all the pieces together.

But fear and unbelief wasn't what Jesus preferred for His disciples.  He would have been pleased had they understood and believed from the beginning.  Had He not already spoken of His pending death?  Had He not already told the Jewish people through the prophet Isaiah the manner in which He was going to die?  But the disciples had their own ideas about what was going to happen, and therefore misunderstood statements that should have been completely clear.

Fear and unbelief is not what Jesus wants us to live in either.  Our faith and trust in Him must be beyond anything we have ever had before.  Pray for it and God will supply our need, Pray for love and He will provide that too.  We must be like Him in order to live eternally with Him.  I know that is a hard saying for many people but since Jesus takes care of all our fruits if we abide in Him each and every day, it doesn't become a hard saying any more.  Our part is a complete surrender and His part is to take care of us as long as we stay in the surrendered state.  So simple if we can wrap our minds around it, it takes faith but faith is a gift so even that comes through Him.  So hang on friends, it will be worth it all in the end.  Grandma Joan

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Highest Measure of Love / We Bear Fruit No Matter What / Friendship With the Vine - Part 47

The Highest Measure of Love

Let's consider more of Andrew Murray's words.  "Sacrifice is the highest measure of love: when a man gives his life, he holds nothing back, he gives all he has and is.  It is this our Lord Jesus wants to make clear to us concerning the mystery of His Vine....."

This constant giving is why Jesus pictures Himself as the Vine.  Why?  Because the Vine is constantly giving the sap, which is it's lifeblood.  And it keeps the sap constantly flowing, which of course means it is constantly giving. This illustrates how God gives because it is His nature to give; He can't be God and not give.  In the same way, if the branch lives, it also bears fruit.  Why?  Because it is the branch's nature to bear fruit.  The branch always bears fruit.  It's not a matter of the branch bearing fruit, or not bearing fruit; the branch always bears fruit.  How does it bear fruit?  By receiving what the Vine provides.

We Bear Fruit No Matter What

Notice, however, if it is true that the branch bears fruit no matter what, but at some point is not receiving sap from the vine, then the resulting fruit will originate from a different source, and will become the real problem --the main problem--of the branch!  The branch  is going to bear fruit, but what kind of fruit is it going to bear?  It can choose to receive sap from the True Vine and have the true fruit of the character of Jesus reproduced in its life, or it can choose to receive sap from a false, pseudo-substitute source and bear a false, substitute fruit.

Friendship With the Vine

Now Jesus said that we are His friends if we do whatever He commands us. This word "friend" is totally misunderstood.  We say we have a host of friends, but that's not really true.  Someone said we have many acquaintances in a lifetime, but few friends.  I believe that, and would therefore suggest that saying "We have a host of acquaintances" would be more accurate.

It has been suggested that the definition of a true friend is someone who knows all about us and loves us just the same.  Can this definition be applied to the people around us?  Hardly!  The only person to whom this definition applies is Jesus.  In John 15:15 Jesus said, "Henceforth, I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his Lord does: but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you."  Jesus called us friends.  A true friend knows all about you.  With this kind of friend there are no secrets; nothing is hidden. That's why we don't have many "true"friends.  We have friends,  but these are often surface friendships because we don't share the deeper things on our hearts with them. For many of us, the only time we can honestly open our hearts is when we are on our knees, praying.

But notice again Jesus' words in John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his Lord does."  Here Jesus was talking to His disciples as friends.  Why?  Because they were soon going to face a situation that would be unlike anything they had faced before; a situation they could not endure without advance warning; a situation requiring Jesus to open His heart and clearly reveal what was going to take place.

It's a good thing we have Jesus as a true friend.  I can tell Him anything about me and He doesn't think bad of me or get rid of me as a friend.  Friends in this world are different than Jesus, some we can trust with some of our heart and some we can't trust at all, in fact most of them we can't trust with all our heart except Jesus.  I'm so glad I have a friend like Him.  Aren't You?  We need Him as our true friend all the time and He sticks close by our side when we are walking with Him.

I have lots of acquaintances and I guess if the truth were known, I call them my friends.  I love them all but I don't know everything about them and they don't know everything about me.  If we did we may not be friends.  I would hope that I would be but I don't trust myself, only when abiding with Jesus every day all day.

We need the love of Jesus in our hearts all the time, a love that is willing to give up our life for someone else.  I know that is a hard thing to think about but if we truly have the love of Jesus in our hearts, we will be able to love like that, whether we are called to do it or not, I don't know.  And let's be sure that we bear the fruits of the Spirit and not some false spirit.  I'm sure we have all been guilty of the wrong spirit at times, but let us abide with Jesus every day all day so that we only produce the fruits of His Spirit.  Grandma Joan

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Branch's Giving Capacity of Love - Part 46

The giving capacity that characterizes this kind of love is only possible when God dwells within.  It goes without saying that self clamors for first place from the very first moment. From that first breath to the final one, self will not only continue to manifest itself, but will grow larger and consider itself more important every step of the way, unless the Lord Jesus is invited to dwell within.This self-centeredness cannot be changed without a new source of life.  That is why the old nature has to completely die and the new divine nature invited in, to create something that we human beings are utterly incapable of producing within ourselves.

Christ and His love are inseparable and identical.  If you have the one; you have the other; if you lack the one; you lack the other.  "Christ and His love are inseparable; they are identical.  God is love, and Christ is love.  God and Christ and the divine love can only be known by having them...."  You won't understand love by knowing about it; you can believe all you want about the love of God but still not understand it; you can write all the poetry you want about love, and you can express your feelings about love and all the other emotions of life, but you still won't understand the love of God.  "God and Christ and the divine love can only be known by having them, by Their life and power working within us"--there is no other way!  Jesus put it this way:  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent". John 17:3

We must invite Christ and His love into our being to be able to experience it and to tell the truth, I want to have as much as He can give me.  There are people out there that are not lovable and I need His love poured out in my life so I can even love my enemies if I have any and I'm sure I do, even if I don't know who they are.  I sincerely want to be like Jesus in every aspect of life and I know it's possible if only I will submit to His will for me.  I have found that there isn't much happiness in this world without Him and I have been struggling but this little book that I am sharing with you has helped me a great deal and I know it will help me more as I study it.  Grandma Joan

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Vine's Loving Friendship - Part 45

"Greater love hath no man than this.  That a man lay down his life for his friends.  Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you".  John 15:13,14

Jesus was beginning to gently talk with His disciples about giving one's life, because He would be giving His Own  life in just a few hours.  Now remember, the disciples were convinced that Jesus wasn't going to die--at least their minds were not open to such a possibility at the time.  They did not believe He was going to give His life, and were totally shocked when He did.  but in this part of His conversation Jesus went beyond taking about the physical part of giving oneself, to also talking about the great love demonstrated in this giving.  It is worth noting that this was the first time Jesus spoke to His disciples as 'friends".

Notice what Andrew Murray says about this demonstration of love in his book "The True Vine".

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Christ does indeed long to have us know that the secret root and strength of all He is and does for us as the Vine is love.  As we learn to believe this, we shall feel that here is something which we not only need to think and know about, but a living power, a divine life which we need to receive within us."

This love, this form of love--is a mysterious power and influence that saturates the Scriptures, and is present from Genesis to Revelation.  Yet it is of such a subtle nature that it is easy too be confused about it.  It doesn't help that modern society has confused our thinking on the subject of love by constantly bombarding us with a counterfeit form of love.

Why are we confused?  Because we think the power of love has something to do with emotion--strong emotion--that reveals itself and is persuasive in its power.  True love, however, doesn't demonstrate it's power in self-centered persuasiveness, but rather in giving itself, it doesn't manifest itself in receiving, but in giving.  Real love is just the opposite of what we see in the world around us, and the epitome of real love according to John 15:13 is laying down one's life for others!Total giving is total loving!  Love is never about satisfying self, nor is it about receiving for oneself.  It's never about accumulating or hoarding, either; for it is always giving of itself; which is just the opposite of what man thinks.

Quoting Andrew Murray again:  "As we learn to believe this, we shall feel that here is something which we not only need to think and know about, but a living power, a divine life which we need to receive within us."

As I read this study and typed it in, I thought about my own life,  why do I give, I love to give but what is behind my giving?  I'm not sure but I am sure that God will show me if it is a selfish giving, which I hope it isn't but I'm not sure.  I make fluffy, lacy scarves and give to ladies in the church and have made many friends that way and now I am making them for new members, why do I do it?  I think one reason is, I want them to feel welcomed into our church.  I was going to make some for myself but I always give them away when I see someone that I think would like them.  So consequently I don't have any for myself except a couple left overs which I wear occasionally.  I want to know if it is a selfish giving or not.  I really hope it isn't because I love doing it. I love people and I believe that God put that love in my heart because I didn't use to be like that.  So if you ask Him to give you His kind of love, I'm sure He will, He has done it for me, yet I know I've been a selfish person, always looking out for me so I want to be sure this is an unselfish act.  May we all love like Jesus does and our life will be full of joy and peace, three of the fruits that Jesus wants us to have.  Grandma Joan

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"As I" - Part 44

Now go back to John 15:10, where Jesus says, "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love."  Here we find the keywords that explain the meaning of the Vine and the branch.  What are they?  "As I"!  "Do this as I"! These two words will answer every question a person might have regarding the Christian experience.  "How can I bear this?"  "As I".  Jesus answers every one of our questions with "As I"!  Hebrews 4:15 says He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet with out sin," and therefore can answer all our questions with "As I."

Do you see that abiding in the Vine is all about abiding in the same way that Jesus abided in the Vine?  Jesus abided in--trusted--His Father, no matter what was going on.  He trusted regardless of whether it was a Gethsemane or a Calvary.  As He faced the unknown of the tomb, and in fact couldn't see beyond it, He kept right on trusting.  Humanly speaking, this level of trusting was impossible--Gethsemane was so bad that it brought blood to Jesus' brow, and He collapsed and would have died had an angel not been sent to strengthen  Him.

Why was Jesus able to endure?  Because He was abiding in the Vine.  And what was this revealing?  Character, His unshakable character!  Could circumstances change His character?  Yes, it could have, but it didn't. Could circumstances change His character?  Yes, it could have, but it didn't.  Could environment change His character?  It could have, but again, it didn't!  Nothing could change His character.  And so Jesus said, Abide ...."even as I."  Love "even as I." This was the great lesson!

Jesus didn't simply say, "Here is a good story," or "Here is an illustration."  No, He very specifically said, "I am the Vine, ye are the branches.  As I have been abiding in my Father and completely depended on Him, so you must do the same thing.  "As I."  When Jesus came to this world and lived as a branch, He was continually abiding in His Father.  In our day, Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches; and we are to receive from Him as He received from His Father.  How did He do it?  He looked to His Father.

Just think of the difference going to our Vine would make with our frustrations?  It would completely eliminate them!  What do we normally do?  We go to some friend and say, "What in the world am I going to do?  Jesus says, "Do what I did!"--that is His answer,  and His answer is always so simple.  You find the same thing when Jesus said, "Ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you."

Yes, it is simple, but we are a stiff-necked people just like Israel of old.  Hard to catch on or if we catch on we are too stubborn to accept the simple remedy.  I am speaking of myself.  Right now, I am having difficulty with this because I have been taught all my life that I can do something to help save me.  But that is a lie, we can do nothing to save ourselves, we must trust in the Vine, Jesus, and let Him put His character in me, or His fruit in me.  We can't even do anything to save others except share our fruit with them.  Wow! What a challenge, but as I said I like challenges so I better get with it and surrender all my problems to the Problem Solver and live in peace and joy and love.  If you have forgotten what the fruit is, check it our again and it would do us all well, if we would memorize these fruits, so we know what to expect when He starts purging us and making room in our lives for the fruits of the Spirit.  Grandma Joan.

PS.  Check out Galatians 5:22,23..