Joyce Meyer - Abide In Christ, John 15 Bible Study
Well, thank you, thank you, thank you for joining us today. We're going to be studying the word of God today together. Doing one of our Bible studies and today I'm going to be teaching out of John chapter 15. Which is actually a chapter in the Bible that I go to very often and read. And also, a chapter that has some certain verses in it that I tend to kind of meditate on, roll over and over in my mind and think about quite often and we'll talk about them when we get to them. But first of all, starts out and Jesus says, "I am the vine, and my Father is the vinedresser". So, the Father is the one that takes care of the vine. "Any branch in me that does not bear fruit, that stops bearing he cuts away (trims off, takes away): and he cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit".
So, we have to stop and talk about this for awhile because I'll always say what seems to me like you're pruned if you do, and pruned if you don't. It's like, if you don't bear good fruit, you're pruned and if you bear little bit of fruit, you're gonna get pruned so you bear richer and more excellent fruit. But, I would rather have the second kind of pruning because at least I'm going in the right direction. Now, if you don't know what pruning is, it basically means to trim, to trim away wild branches and get something back into shape. To trim off the useless branches that are not bearing fruit or dead branches. And you know, all of us, as believers we've got a lot of good stuff going on. But we've also got some dead branches in our life. And the dead branches would be things that really aren't bearing any fruit. It might be making commitments for the wrong reasons. Maybe you're busy doing a bunch of things that really doesn't even have God's approval on 'em and it's not even that they're necessarily a bunch of sinful things but they're just things that are wasting your time. And then maybe you say you don't have time to spend with God. And so he would rather prune off those dead things to make room for living things.
And then, also, sometimes you can have a branch that is just plain going in the wrong direction. I remember a tree that we had that was really a nice little tree. But it had this one branch, so everything else was looking good and this one branch just kinda was like, "I'm going my way"! Now, are you ever like that? It's like this is God's will and we've got this one thing, or maybe two or three things that are like, "I'm going to do my thing and go my own way". So, we brought this plant here today because Jesus uses a plant as an example. And down in the middle here, when we look at this, all we see is the flowers. Well, that would maybe represent the fruit of a really committed believer's life. They're bearing fruit. That means God wants to see something from our lives. The fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness. He wants us to behave the way that he does so the world can know him. Because the only way the world can know him is if we love one another.
But, he also wants our lives to be productive. He doesn't want us to waste our time, waste our life and procrastinate about everything 'til we never get around to doing anything and just make sure that we're not just taking up space here on the planet. But that we're actually really putting our time and our life into something of value other than just trying to make ourselves happy. Because in the end that's not really all that valuable. We want to make sure that we spend the time that we have here actually really preparing for eternity. Because, you know, eternity is like that word, "Forever". And so, that's like, never ending. There's never an end to eternity. And so, we're going to be here, let's just say we all live a really long time, we live to be 100. Well, what's that in light of eternity and forever? So, if I live my whole life here unselfishly and never really maybe, maybe, this is not going to happen but say that I never, I really feel like in my life, I'm giving out, doing for others all the time and nothing ever comes back to me, like I said, I don't think God's going to let that happen but there will be testing periods in our life, and so, I die still kind of feeling like well, you know. But the minute I pass out of here, reward is coming. And that's going to be forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.
So, we want to sow now for what's going to produce a heavenly and a lasting reward, not just doing what we do now to get some kind of earthly reward that really is already decaying and passing away. You know, that everything you go home and buy at the store, it's already in decay when you bring it home? You don't notice it right away but if you don't believe me, go and drive by a junkyard and look at it. That car was bright and shiny and new and somebody went in debt to get it and they worked two jobs to have it and didn't spend time with their family and now it's just a piece of junk, in a junkyard. So, we want to make sure that our lives are productive and fruitful.
Now, what is pruning? Okay, so we look at this and we see all these nice flowers, but in here in the middle there's a vine. Everywhere where there's a flower, there's a vine. And then there's also these little branches, see like, this is a vine, but then these little things with the flowers on them are branches. So, Jesus said, "I'm the vine. You are the branches. And I want you to bear rich and excellent fruit. And if you don't bear any, you're going to be pruned". And that literally means, to be trimmed away or cut away to make the whole plant healthy. Now, pruning means to trim away or cut off or to reshape. Now, they brought me these. When I first came out here to the studio and I'm, like, "No". Those are far too cute. And God could have never fixed me with that. So, I had 'em go get another pair that is more like... Now, I'm not saying God's going to be mean to us, I'm just trying to be funny and make a point that God has to deal with us. Even in God's chastisement he only does it because he loves us.
You know, let me tell you something, when some of the things were being cut off of me, bad attitudes, pride, controlling attitude, manipulative attitude, selfishness, self-centeredness. You know, we don't give up those things easy. And God usually has to, he gives us his word, you're going to see here in a minute that Jesus said to the disciples, "You're pruned already because of my word". Well, God will always try to give you his word first. How many of you have ever said to your kids, "If you would just listen to what I tell you"! I love that. "If you would just listen to what I tell you, you wouldn't be in trouble". And so, God will give us his word first but he loves us enough to touch our circumstances if we don't listen.
Good example: pastor Jack Hayford, out in California, wonderful man of God and I'm happy to say a friend. I'm reading a book by him on prayer and reading it through actually for the second time and he shares an example in it that I thought was really good and it's about this kind of going your own way thing and trying to live independently from God. Because you're going to see here in a minute he talks about that we're to abide in this vine. And abide means to live, dwell, and remain. And, to not have all these wild branches in our lives kinda doing our own thing and going our own way. And it will do that, if we'll listen to what God says and do that. And, you know, it's not just okay God says I'm to be loving, so I'm going to go out and try to be loving. It all starts by abiding. See, if you abide in me, the promise in John 15 is you will bear much fruit.
So, it's not about trying and struggling, I was talking to somebody yesterday and they said, "Oh man, I really need to work on that". I said, "Well, you really need to do something besides just work on it, because if you leave and think you're just going to work on it, you're just going to be more and more frustrated. What you need to do is go to God first". Repent because you behaved that way to start with and now start regularly asking God to help you and listen to some good word in that area. Because you can't do it by yourself. So, anytime you're struggling with a bad habit or a bad behavior or something that you need help with, go to God. Let him love up on you. Abide in the vine. Live, dwell, remain in him, enjoy his presence, praise and worship him and the more you are full of him and the more you know his presence and how much he loves you, the more you're going to want to do what's right.
And here's what I say about a lot of the things in my life, even when I started doing some things right, I can't say that I still didn't want to do them wrong. But, I wanted to do them right more than I wanted to do them wrong. You understand what I mean? And so, it's really when our desire to please God and to do what's right is stronger than our desire to do what's wrong. Then, and only then, are we going to be successful. And so, he told this story about he'd already preached four sermons in the morning and he had to get somewhere to preach that night so, the church's bringing him in in order to get him some good rest. Bought him a first class ticket and he had his little bag of clothes to change into that night. And he said one of the good things about being in first class is because you have this small closet up in the first class section where the first class passengers get to hang their clothes. But, a lot of times people in coach will get on the plane, put their clothes in there because they know if they put 'em in the closet at the back of the plane where they're supposed to go that they have to wait for everybody else to get off the plane then go get their bags and they don't want to wait.
So, he got on the plane and sure enough, the closet in the front was full. Well, he said, let me tell you that I was not happy. And I immediately got an attitude. I looked at the three passengers in first class and knew that that could not have possibly been all of their bags. And so now I'm thinking about the stewardess and thinking about how she didn't do her job and if she would have been really doing her job then she would have told those people they couldn't put the... And he said, "I'm just sitting there fussing and fuming and fussing and fuming". So, he said, "I decided, I was going to write a letter, voice a complaint. I was gonna be nice to the stewardess because after all I was a preacher but I'm going to write a letter and I'm gonna, I'm..".. Have you ever had it like this? I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that, I'm, I'm!! And it's like one of those, you know, you know, one of those, like, uh-oh! We're going to have... Well that one won't work. We're going to have to get rid of that because it's going in the wrong direction.
So, he wanted to go check in the closet in the back just to make sure that, that closet wasn't empty. He wanted to make sure that if people used it in the front it was only because that one was full. And he said when he got up out of his seat and started to go back he heard the Holy Spirit say distinctly, "Let it go". So, now we would have had a nice little bush, with nice little fruit. Everything would have been in order. "Your will be done, Lord and not mine". We pray that, but do we mean it? It sounds good. But he said, he just couldn't stand it. He had to go look. So, he heads for the back of the plane. Just when he gets almost to the back this little boy who had this black magic Marker, swung his arm out into the aisle and made this big black ink Mark across his light gray slacks and he had no other pants with him. He said you'd think that I would have got it but I was, now, I'm really upset, so I'm pressing on to the back and something happened with one of the drink carts and he ended up running into it or something and all the sodas cans fell off and are going all over the floor and he finally said, "Okay, God I get it. I get it". So, God gave him his word, "Son, let it go".
And in doing that he was actually trying to keep him from a circumstance that was already set in motion. Come on, now. A lot of times, we don't need to blame God for our problems. It's like, he's trying to protect us from a problem or to keep us out of a circumstance and we don't listen to him. And so, many of the things that God has to prune off of our lives, it's really ultimately for us to have the very best life that we can possibly have. God is never trying to hurt us. He's never trying to take anything away from us. Everything works out for our good, if we'll just listen to him. So now, understanding that... Let's go back and start over. "Any branch in me that does not bear fruit, that stops bearing he cuts away (trims off, takes away): and he cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you the teachings that I have discussed with you". "Son, let it go," laughing. "No". "Dwell in me and I will dwell in you. Live in me, and I will live in you."
If there's anything I think we need to get as Christians is we need to learn how to do life with God, not just do church on Sunday morning. I think that's one of the best things that God's given to me to say in a long, long time and I've been saying it for awhile. That God didn't just call us to go to church on Sunday morning. We're to live, dwell, and remain with him. Yes, let's go to church on Sunday morning. Let's learn, let's fellowship with other believers, let's be accountable to somebody, let's worship corporately. But, let's take it out of the pews into the streets, where the people are that really need the help. Doing life with God is extremely exciting. And I get very concerned for people who just are what I would call religious. And I don't mean to be rude about that. I'm not talking about any religion but I think we need to talk a lot more about relationship with Christ, versus just what religion we are. "Dwell in me and I'll dwell in you. Live in me, and I will live in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me".
You can forget walking in victory if you're not going to spend time with God. I'm talking about not even just time watching my program, not just time going to church on Sunday, but you and God time. And so many people say to me, "Well, what do you do when you spend time with God"? It's not really so important what you do as it is that you give him the time. It's an honor if you just go sit in a room and go, "Well, God, I'm here. Thank you. I'm glad I could get up and walk this morning". You know, it doesn't have to be fancy. You can come to him like a little child. Matter of fact, I don't like it when every time one of my kids show up, they want something. And I'm much more inclined not to give them anything if they only come to get something. I like it when they come just to see me. And then in the process I might find out what they need and be very happy to provide it. You cannot bear fruit. You cannot bear good fruit. You cannot bear good fruit without abiding in the vine.
You know, it won't work, because you won't be here long enough, but I could come over here and break one of these branches off... We'll use the little shears on this one. Now, if I left that laying here and tomorrow we turned the program on. This would be a lot deader than it is right now. Two days, eh, it's gonna really be looking dry and crispy around the edges. I think we got a lot of believers that are dry and crispy around the edges. Amen? I mean you give this thing a week? No flower, everything dried up, dead. No life left in it. Why? Because it's off the vine. So, we have to abide in the vine. Every day I need fresh strength from God. Every day I need that touch from God. Every day I need the word going into me. Or I need to be thinking about the word. Or talking about the word. Or meditating on the word. Amen? Okay, now I love this one. Verse 5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However apart from me, cut off from vital union with me, you can do nothing".
Now, let's listen to what Jesus said in John 5:30. I often go to this scripture and read it. Especially when I was struggling so much with self will, in the earlier parts of my walk with God. I would read this and read it and read it and read it. Jesus said, "I am able to do nothing from myself independently of my own accord". Now, this is Jesus. He's talking of course in his humanity, not in his divinity. We know that he was a man full of God. He had the same, basically the same thing we get. We're people, but God indwells us, he lives in us. And so, Jesus learned to depend on that God inside, the gift that he had. "I'm not able to do anything from myself independently, of my own accord, but only as I am taught by God and as I get his orders. Even as I hear, I judge I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to me, so I give a decision, and my judgment is right (just, and righteous) because I do not seek or consult my own will. I have no desire to do what is pleasing to myself, my own aim. My own purpose but only the will and the pleasure of the Father who sent me".
And yes, you should get that out, read it for yourself, underline it, draw stars around it in your Bible and read it and read it and read it. Jesus is saying, "I don't want to do my own thing". "Son, let it go". "Yes, Father". I know if you're telling me to let it go, it's going to be much better for me if I let it go. See, I think that's the thing that we've got to begin to realize. When God says something to us either in our heart or in his word or through somebody else we need to realize that once we know that it's the Lord, then we have to know that everything he is saying for us is for our good. It's only going to work out for our good. God is never trying to hurt us or take anything away from us. "If a person does not dwell in me, he is thrown out like a broken-off branch, and withers". Remember our flower here that's going to wither and within a week, be dead, it's going to wither, "Such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned".
You know, I would keep the plant, but I would end up just, that would be useless to me. It just pretty much means that, you know, God wants us to bear good fruit, he wants us to be valuable and he loves us. But, he's serious. Oh, now this is a good one. "If you live in me abide vitally united to me and my words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you". I'll tell you what, I've thought about that a lot in my life. And I kind of started out thinking how in the world could anybody make that kind of a promise to any human being. If you abide in me, lived well remained. If we hang together, if you do life with me. If I'm number one in your life, you don't try to do anything without me.
See, we have to really understand what abide means otherwise we're going to miss the whole point. And if my word abides in you. If my word is what guides you. If you acknowledge me in all your ways. And you don't want it, and that doesn't still doesn't mean that we're going to be perfect but it does mean that we can have a perfect heart toward God and all the rest of it will come right, in due time. Do you realize that? If you have a perfect heart toward God, all the rest of it is going to come right, in due time. And whatever is left to be done when Jesus comes we will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye and become like him. So, I don't even have to be perfect when he arrives, he just wants to find me pressing on. Amen?
So, I've thought about this and thought about it and thought about it and thought about it and here's what I've come up with, doesn't mean it can't be improved on, but this is what I've come up with: first of all, if I'm hanging that close with God all the time and if his word is my guiding light, I'm going to be wise enough to not ask for anything that wouldn't be the right thing. So therefore he can easily say, "If you abide in me and my word abides in you, I'll give you whatever you want". Kind of sneaky, I think. Kind of like, talk about a psychologist, I think he's got it, you know? It's like my strength trainer, my guy that is my trainer for my workouts. He figured me out pretty fast.
And so, you know, twelve was the reps you want to try to do when you're lifting weights or doing whatever, I won't go into the weights, you might not even know 'em, but, so he'll say to me when I'm, like, maybe at seven and he can tell I'm struggling, he'll say, "Well, you know, just whatever you think. You can do eight or ten, you know, you probably can't get twelve but you can try". Well, he knows the minute that he says to me he knows the minute he says to me, "You probably can't do twelve," that twelve is what I'm going to do. And it took me a few months to catch on and I finally told him, I said, "Uh-huh, you know me and you know if you tell me that, that I'm going to do it just to prove to you that I can do it". Amen?
And so, God can be a little sneaky sometimes, in a good way. In a good way. Oh yeah, if you abide in me and my word abides in you. Well, that don't happen 'cause you go to church and do 45 minutes on Sunday morning. That doesn't happen even just because you watch your favorite tv preacher every morning while you're getting ready for work and only paying half the attention to what they're saying anyway. This only works when he is our life. In you, I live and move and have my being, I am nothing without you apart from you I can do nothing. You're it. And nothing else, really, makes any difference. And finally he says, "When you bear and (produce) much fruit, my Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of mine".