Discouragement,  Faith,  Heart,  Hope,  Non-Fiction Story,  Soul

Are You Connected to the Vine?

Photo by Chad Stembridge on Unsplash

Last weekend I was blessed to attend a conference for women’s ministry leaders hosted by the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. The theme for the event was “Connect,” and the focal passage was John 15:5.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.” (NKJV)

When I committed my life to Christ in my late 20s, I didn’t understand this verse. I thought, “I can do lots of things without God, and other people who don’t even know God accomplish many things.” I’ve since learned that anything we attempt without God has no spiritual or eternal value, like chasing the wind. Matthew Henry’s Commentary explains better than I can, so take a look.

“We have as necessary and constant a dependence upon the grace of the Mediator for all the actions of the spiritual and divine life as we have upon the providence of the Creator for all the actions of the natural life; for, as to both, it is in the divine power that we live, move, and have our being. Abstracted from the merit of Christ, we can do nothing towards our justification; and from the Spirit of Christ nothing towards our sanctification. Without Christ we can do nothing aright, nothing that will be fruit pleasing to God or profitable to ourselves, 2 Cor. 3:5. We depend upon Christ, not only as the vine upon the wall, for support; but, as the branch on the root, for sap.”

Bottom line—without dependence upon Christ for everything in life, we are powerless to produce fruit, which is the goal of the Christian life, right? Our days on earth are not about us, but about leading others to know the Savior. That’s the main goal even in my journey to publish Christian fiction. I don’t desire to just entertain people with good stories, but for lives to be changed because of it. That takes complete dependence on the Lord, because as the verse reminds me … I can do nothing without Him.

So, how do we abide in Christ and produce fruit for the kingdom? 

First, we need to understand what it means to abide. The definition of the word is: remain, continue, stay, reside, dwell, to have one’s abode. This requires continuous action. Your home is not just your residence once, or occasionally, but constantly, and we need to take up residence with Christ continually. 

When you picture a vine and a branch, they are not separated from one another; they’re joined. The sap of the vine abides in the branch, while the knot of the branch stays connected to the vine, illustrating constant contact.

How much contact do you have with the true Vine each day? Are you connected in such a way, the sap fills and strengthens you resulting in ripe fruit? (See Galatians 5:22-23)

Connecting with Christ won’t happen automatically. We have to make an intentional choice to seek Him.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8

James tells us it’s our responsibility to submit to God, draw near Him, and turn from our sin. We are in control of how close we are to God. If He feels far from you, it’s not His fault.

As you continue to read John 15, we find in verse 11 the reason Jesus tells His followers to abide in Him. It’s not because He wants to mess up our fun or hurt us. Just the opposite. God’s commands are for our good.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

Who can’t handle more joy?

In today’s technology saturated culture, we have no excuse for not staying connected with God. We have direct access to his Word at the tip of our fingers and enjoy the freedom to read it without fear of death or imprisonment.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

One resource our church recommends is the SOAP journaling method for reading through the Bible. As you read a passage, write one Scripture that stood out to you. Then note your Observation of the passage. What is the Application to your life? And end with a Prayer

If you have bad eyesight, you can listen to His Word. There are podcasts galore to choose from, worship music to encourage and lift you, YouTube videos of Bible scholars teaching God’s Word, and more.

Bible-believing churches are available in every city in America. As Christians, we have direct access to God through prayer. He listens. He answers. 

How about you? Are you connected to the Vine? Could you be connected more securely? Make a conscious decision today to take whatever steps necessary to strengthen your attachment as a branch to the Vine.

Next week, we’ll look at our connection to others.

Join the conversation. Can you recommend any great devotional books, studies, worship bands, or other resources to help us all connect with God more deeply? What worship song best ushers you into God’s presence?

Here’s one of my favorites.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.