ABIDE IN ME

        

               "I am the true vine, and my Father is the

               vine dresser. Every branch of mine that

               bears no fruit, he takes away and every

               branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that

               it may bear more fruit . You are already

               made clean by the word which I have spoken

               to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the

               branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless

               it abides in the vine, neither can you, un-

               less you abide in me. I am the vine, you

               are the branches . He who abides in me, and

               I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,

               for apart from me you can do nothing. If a

               man does not abide in me, he is cast forth

               as a branch and withers; and the branches

               are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

               If you abide in me, and my words abide in you,

               ask whatever you will, and it shall be done

               for you. By this my Father is glorified, that

               you bear much fruit and so prove to be my

               disciples."

                                            John 15:1-8

 

          These words were spoken by Jesus to eleven men as he was

          about to leave them and return to the Father. Less than

          twenty-four hours after Jesus speaks these words he's

          dead. On the third day they see him alive in his resurrection

          body. For forty days Jesus keeps appearing to them and

          speaking to them. Then he leaves this earth and they see

          him no more.

        

          They saw Jesus no more, and yet the command, "Abide in

          Me." was branded on their hearts.

        

               "As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,

               unless it abides in the vine, neither can

               you unless you abide in me."

        

          It was because they did abide in him and his words did

          abide in them, that these eleven men made such an impact

          on the history of this planet.

        

          They were not driven by a memory of Jesus...they were

          driven by a living relationship with Jesus which

           heightened,

           deepened,

           clarified, after their eyes could see him no more.

        

         This thing spread...other men and women who had been with

         Jesus in flesh and blood were now with him as branches in

         the vine...drawing life,

                       bearing fruit.

        

         Saul of Tarsus who had watched Jesus from a distance and

         despised what he saw, who had directed the killing of

         Stephen the first martyr, came to know Jesus when these

         eyes could see him no more, became a branch in the vine,

         drawing life, bearing fruit.

 

               “I have been crucified with Christ. It is

               no longer I who live, but Christ who lives

               in me. And the life I now live in the

               flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who

               loved me and gave himself for me...For me

               to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

        

         “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

         Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away,

         and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that

         it may bear more fruit....”

        

         These words are spoken to every disciple of Jesus who has

         ever been, or will ever be, born into the Kingdom of God.

         They are spoken to people like you and me,

        

            -  whose eyes have never seen Jesus,

            -  our hands have never touched him,

            -  our ears have never heard one word out of his mouth,

 

          yet he says we can abide in him...indeed, if we are to

          live the kingdom life on this earth we must abide in him.

              

               “Apart from me you can do nothing.”                

               “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch

               cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it

               abides in the vine, neither can you, unless

               you abide in me. I am the vine, you are

               the branches. He who abides in me, and I

               in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for

               apart from me you can do nothing. If a man

               does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a

               branch and withers; and the branches are

               gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

               If you abide in me, and my words abide in

               you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be

               done for you. By this my Father is glorified,

               that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be

               my disciples.”

        

              Notice that word abide...abide...abide. Jesus keeps re-

              peating it because it’s the essential thing if we are to

              have his life in us, his fire burning in us.

        

                            Abide in me.”

        

              On the grape vine, the branches have no choice. They grow

              out from the vine and there they are. And as they draw

              life from the vine they bear fruit. But we have a choice.

              We can abide in the vine or we can drift.  We can draw

              life from Jesus or we can draw synthetic “life” from a

              thousand other things.

        

              On his side, Jesus promises

                     -  to sustain us through every storm,

                     -  to supply us with the life of the Spirit.

            

 

              But he can only do that if we choose, daily,

                                                                     hourly, -

                                                                     on through the years

              to abide in him. If we abide in him we live. If we

              don’t abide in him we wither and die and are cast forth

              as a branch and thrown into the fire. 

              

              But exactly what is Jesus commanding us to do when he

              says to us, “Abide in me?” Abide in me means four

              things:

        

              1. Abide in me means, Stay in me.”

        

                   “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself

                   unless it stays in the vine, neither can

                   you unless you stay in me.”

        

            If the branch visited the vine every week or two and

            flying off by itself the rest of the time what would

            happen to it?  If the branch decided to share its time

            between the vine and a cherry tree what kind of fruit

            would it bear? Jesus is saying,       

                 “You have to learn to stay in me...dwell in me...

                  remain rooted and grounded in me all the time.”

                

                 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the

                  Most High shall abide under the shadow of the

                  Almighty. 

     

            The secret place of the Most High is Jesus. But we have

            to dwell in him,

                live in him,

                stay in him...day and night...if we’re going to live

            under the shadow of the Almighty... the protection of God.

        

                 - “Stay in me with a consistent prayer life.”

        

                 - “Stay in me with thoughts that keep returning

                    to me...centering on me.

        

                 - “Stay in me by laboring at my side and learning

                    all I have to teach.”

        

                 - “Stay in me by continuously listening to my word

                    which I have put in your heart, which will

                    never be silent unless you silence it.”

        

                 - “Stay in me by doing what I tell you to do.”

        

                 -  “Stay in me! Live in me!”

 

           2.  Abide in me means, Draw life from me.”

         

                 “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself

                  unless it draws life from the vine, neither

                  can you unless you draw life from me.”

 

             “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of

              no avail. The words that I speak to you they are

              spirit and they are life...The words that I speak

              to you, draw life from them!”

 

        The branch will either draw life from the Spirit coming up

         through the vine...his words...or it will draw life from

         the spirit of Babylon. The seductive images of Babylon,

         (especially religious Babylon) filling it with anxiety,    

         greed, anger,

         lust, vanity,

         suspicion, delusion, hypocrisy. And then the branch

         will bear not the fruit of God but the fruit of Babylon and it

         will be severed from the vine by the knife of the vinedresser.

 

         What is the source of your life right now?

         

              “Draw life from me...it’s the only life there

              is.”

        

         3. Abide in me means, Trust me."

        

              “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself

              unless it trusts in the vine, neither can

              you unless you trust me.”

        

         The branch that bears fruit rests in the vine and the

         vine holds it. The wind blows, the branch doesn't go

         flying off in the wind. It rests in the vine and the

         vine holds it. The rain falls, the branch doesn’t panic

         and wonder if the rain will wash it down to the sea. It

         rests in the vine and the vine holds it.

        

         The only anchor I have in this world.., the only anchor I

         can really trust is the vine who holds me....Jesus.

        

              “The life I now live in the flesh I live

              by trust in the Son of God who loved me

              and gave himself for me....Jesus.” -

 

              “He that dwelleth in the secret place of

              the Most High (Jesus) shall abide under

              the shadow of the Almighty.”

        

              “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge

              and my God...in him will I trust.”’

        

              “I will trust him above all things... I

              will trust him.”

        

         4. Abide in me means, Work with me.”

        

              “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself

              unless it works with the vine, neither

              can you unless you work with me.”

        

             “Work with me.  Get under the yoke with me

              and work with me.”

        

             “We must work the works of him who sent me

              while it is day; night comes when no one

              can work.”

        

        “Working together with him,” says Paul, “we entreat you

         not to accept the grace of God in vain.”

        

             “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

             “Lord, you know that I love you.”

        

             “Feed my sheep!... Get to work!”

        

         The vine works his life into us in the Holy Spirit. But

         we have to work it out. We work out the salvation he

         works in with deeds, action,

                  clear thoughts, bold words.

        

           - So now we seek the lost...just as he sought us.

           - We bring back the strayed... just as he brought

             us back.

           - We bind up the crippled... just as he healed us.

           - We strengthen the weak... just as he strengthens us.

        

         Working with him we abide in him.

        

        “Abide in me,” means stay in me, draw life from me,

                                        trust me, work with me. When we abide

         in Jesus his life is formed in us and soon fruit appears

         on the branch...real fruit...kingdom fruit. It may not look

         like much to the world out there or to churchianity.

         God knows that it will abide when the fires of trial

         destroy everything else. Sons and daughters of God will

         be brought to birth by the power of God working in us.

        

         One more thought:

        

         We're all concerned about the need for unity. We know that

         the work God has given this congregation to do in this

         place at this hour, will get done only if we are one. But

         unity is not something we manufacture. It’s some thing the

         Lord gives us, and he gives it in only one way.

         If I abide in the vine and you abide in the vine we are

         in the vine. Jesus holds us together....he directs       

         our path, he insists that we work together in peace, and he

         wonderfully helps us.

 

         If unity with each other is based on anything else it

         will shake apart every time there is a sifting,

                                 every time there is a storm.

         And so the call of the Lord Jesus to each of us as individuals

         to all of us as a congregation which he has drawn together

         which he alone can hold together is so simple, so clear

            “Abide in me.....Abide in me.”

        

        “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

         Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes

         away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,

         that it may bear more fruit.  You are already made

         clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide

         in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit

         by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can

         you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are

         the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he

         it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you

         can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is

         cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches

         are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If

         you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what-

         ever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this

         my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and

         so prove to be my disciples.”

                

        

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