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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Anne

The Vine and the Branches

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Hello, everyone! My name is Michala Woodruff. Before we dive into this blog post, let me share a little bit about myself. I was born in Pennsylvania, moved to the Midwest, and am now living with my family in West Virgina. My father is a pastor and so for about a year, my family and I traveled around the United States looking for a church. I used to imagine make-believe characters as I gazed out my van window. Then, I picked up a pencil and began to write. I didn’t finish the little stories, but it was a start to what God had in mind for me. Now, I’m in the process of editing and writing a Christian historical fiction series for young adults! And I love it!

When Suzie asked me to write a blog for her, I was so honored. Still am. 😉 But I wasn’t sure what to write. After some prayer and thought, the Lord led me to John 15:1-17 in my devotions.

Everyone questions what/who sets the truth? Can truth be anything? What/who sets the standards and rules in life? Who are we? What/who defines us? To answer these questions, let’s dive into John 15:1-17, taking it bit by bit.

“V. 1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. V.2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. V.3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Here, Jesus Christ is talking to His disciples while making their way to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus would be captured by Israel’s religious leaders. Jesus uses an illustration of Himself as the vine, God as the farmer, and us as the branches. God “taketh away” the branches or people who fail to produce fruit. Bearing fruit in this passage means doing God-pleasing work such as forgiving others (Eph. 4:32), sharing the Good News of Salvation (Matthew 28: 18-20), and thinking good thoughts (Philippians 4:9). Those who do God-pleasing work, God purges. He cleans and helps these people so they can do even more for Him. Now, let’s pause here for a second. Who is God? God, right? But sometimes He can seem demanding or way too far from us. Here’s the thing, God is the Creator. He sets the standards. What an honor for us to serve the God of Gods! But what about His fairness? Hold that question, will you?

Verse three states that we’re clean through Christ’s word. This means exactly what it says. Our sins—just one action of going against God’s Word sends us to the Lake of Fire—are cleaned by what Christ says. We don’t save ourselves from the Lake of Fire. It’s not about us. It’s all about God, therefore, we can bear fruit and give Him glory. This is fair.

V.4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. V.5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. V.6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

How can a branch bear fruit without a vine/trunk? It’s impossible. So, it’s also impossible for us to please God without Christ. You might’ve heard people say, “Don’t do it all on our own strength.” My question was “How am I not to do it all on my own?” Proverbs 3:5-7 declares, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. V.6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. V.7Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” God promises He’ll help us (Isaiah 41:10). This is where relying on and trusting in God comes in. Not to mention, asking God (Matthew 7:7-9). Do you know that as Christians we have access to the power that parted the Red Sea, to the power that tumbled six-foot-thick walls, to the power that raised the dead (Eph. 2)? God’s power. God is bigger and more powerful than our circumstances. So, give your worries, your concerns, your cares to God. He cares (1 Peter 3:7).

Before we continue to the next section, we must cover verse six, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Everyone who is saved by God’s grace [not our works (Ephesians 2:8-9)] will most likely want to abide in Christ their Savior, right? But we’re all humans; we fail. Can we lose our Salvation? No. Never. If we could lose our Salvation—God’s gift that He paid the price for, then Salvation would either be dependent on us sinful humans or on a God Who isn’t big enough to have paid the price of a once-and-done deal. John 10:28 declares, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my [God’s]hand.” But what is Jesus talking about in John 15:6? Well, He’s talking about the unsaved—everyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ (God in human form) died for our sins and rose again of the third day, and who does not ask God to forgive of them of their sins—are destined for the Lake of Fire when they die. Everyone is destined for the Lake of Fire because everyone sins. Our sin cuts off a relationship with GOD. This is what verse six is talking about, and this is why God made a way for us to go to heaven and be with Him.

V.7 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. V.8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

So, we’ve seen quite a bit of the word “abide”. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, abide means “to continue in a place”. But how do we “continue in” Jesus Christ? One way we abide in Christ is by obeying Him. 1 John 3:24 declares, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him…” Another way we abide in Christ is by holding fast to the faith. 1 John 2:24 proclaims, “…If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” Lastly, we abide in Christ by loving others. Which leads us to the next verses.

V.9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. V.10 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. V.11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Interesting, how Jesus suddenly mentions joy. You might’ve heard—or maybe you’ve even experienced—Christians being persecuted. (Jesus does talk about this later in the chapter, but we won’t cover that in this post). Being a child of God is hard, because of the world we live in. Sometimes or more it’s hard to be happy. But there’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is a temporary feeling of gladness, but joy does not depend on the circumstances. Joy is a choice we make within our hearts and an affect from a relationship with Christ. Christ’s joy is a perfect, enduring joy we have when we abide in Him.

V.12 “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. V.13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. V.14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

To love like Christ, we need to know how Christ loved us. John 3:16-18 declares, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jesus Christ loved us so much He took our place and paid the price of our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him and have eternal life in Heaven with Him forever. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 10:9 proclaims, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” This greatest love, this greatest gift is for everyone—no matter the sins, no matter the background, no matter the . . . you fill the blank. Nothing is too hard for God. He wants you. He’s calling you. But the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior is up to you.

V.15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. V.16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. V.17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.”

God’s friend. Chosen. Ordained. His. People try to tell us who we are, or they drill it into us so that we can decide who we are. Circumstances change us. Past sins whisper, “You’re not worthy of God.” People define you on their character list. You look in the mirror and see . . . you fill in the blank. But is that how God sees you? Every single person was made in God’s image, meaning we have intellect, will, and emotion (Genesis 1:26-27). You are God’s masterpiece, top of His creation (Genesis 1:28). Your value is beyond measure, not because of your appearance, not because of your skills, but because God made you without mistake. Every single person has a God-given purpose, was placed here and now for a reason.

A.W. Tozer puts it well, “We can never know who or what we are till we know at least something of what God is.” We try to make up answers for questions we either don’t like the answers too or don’t know the answers too. Our Creator doesn’t leave us hanging. He gives us His Word.

I don’t who you are or what you’re going through in this time of your life, but perhaps you’re questioning, “How do I know for fact that God is even real?” Well, that’s a big question I could write several more papers on. But for the sake of time, I’m going to wrap it up in the fact that everything takes faith. Sitting in a chair, putting cookies in the oven, or even believing what a person says all take faith. So, faith is real and everywhere. The question is, “What/who holds your faith?”

I hope this has been a help and a comfort to you. If you have any questions, please and please feel free to reach out to Suzie or me. I know we’d both love to hear from you. Whether that’s questions or just a “Hey there.” Thank you for reading my blurb! Also, thank you Suzie. You’re such a blessing to me! Hope y’all have a blessed day!


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