GARDENING 101
John 15:1-17

Jesus is the source and sustenance of real life. If we’re not actively and truly connected to him – if we’re just trying to hang around and look like we belong, taking up space without producing anything of real value – we’ll be cut off. Even when we’re producing fruit, we’ll need to be cut back from time to time so we don’t overextend our reach, trying to do it on our own and getting too far removed from the source of our strength. We need to be reminded who’s in charge here, and it’s not us.

In fact, we can’t do anything of real and lasting value unless it flows from Jesus. If we cut ourselves off from Him by forgetting to ask Him what He wants us to produce, we might as well expect that a branch lying on the ground will start yielding a crop. What we try to do on our own might survive in a fashion for a short time, but it will soon wither and die. And then the dead branch will be thrown into the fire.

But if we stay connected to Jesus by being in His Word, absorbing its life and acting on it and living it out, we’ll know His will and pray for it. These kind of prayers always get a positive answer, even if it’s not what we expect. When we discipline ourselves to follow Jesus, then we’re really helping to build God’s kingdom, and that helps demonstrate how wonderful God really is.

God’s love runs through Jesus like the sap through a vine, and then into us as the branches. But we cut ourselves off from that love if we disobey his command to love each other. If His love is in us, we can’t refuse to love others. If we treat each other in unloving ways, that proves that we’re not really connected to Jesus. We’ll never find real joy that way.

The branches serve the vine, but they’re much more than mere appendages. They’re part of the vine – a living, growing part of the whole, just as children are part of the family. If we run away, God can have more children, but his heart will still be broken. He chose to be related to us so that we – not just anybody, but you personally and me personally – could have real life and so much more: eternal life.

John 17:3-9, 11

Jesus said eternal life is knowing – not of or about – God and His Son Jesus. It’s about relationship, not information; devotion, not duty. It starts with accepting and obeying God’s Word, out of certainty that Jesus is God’s own Son.

We need to pray for God’s protection to preserve our unity. Only when we are in complete harmony will the world know Jesus and His love. Being in harmony doesn’t mean we all sing exactly the same notes, but that the whole is a blend that is pleasing to God’s ear and brings glory to Him.