Reading Time: 8 Minutes
John 15.1-5 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
4 “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. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
6 “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
Abiding with Jesus
Within God’s commandments are found God’s greatest offers to us. Jesus said that the greatest commandment of all is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22.37).
This greatest commandment is also the greatest opportunity and God’s best offer to people. What can be better than loving and being loved by our Creator who is the Greatest Being of All?
Jesus also give us a command that is a tremendous blessing. He says, “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15.4). This command is both an invitation and an opportunity to live in a friendship-relationship with Jesus. What could be more exciting than being a friend with the wisest person ever, who also has the best personality of all time.
The question for us is how can we best accept this gift of living every day in a personal relationship with Jesus?
Set aside a daily time to meet with Jesus.
Each person will experience Jesus in their own way as the Holy Spirit directs them. The main thing is to make sure that we don’t miss out on this amazing gift from God.
“Masterlife,” a study by Avery Willis, was first published in the early 1980s. I joined ten other pastors to work through the material in a small group. It was truly a life-changing experience for me. One of the greatest blessings of “Masterlife” was the establishment of a daily time to experience the kind of personal friendship that Jesus wanted to have with me.
I had made prayer a feature of my relationship with God for several years, but “Masterlife” gave me insights that I didn’t previously have. I am going to share those insights with you in the hope that they are as helpful to you as they have been for me.
These are Avery Willis’ suggestions for establishing a daily time alone with Jesus.
(1) Find a regular time to spend with God. If it fits your schedule, morning is usually best time. Meeting with Jesus the first thing in the morning will set the tone for your entire day.
(2) Set your alarm the night before. When Avery Willis began meeting with God, his prayer time lasted about seven minutes. He spent that time in prayer and Bible reading. As his relationship with Jesus grew, his time with Jesus increased. If you decide to follow his example, you may want to set your alarm to awaken you 7 to 15 minutes earlier than normal.
(3) Choose a place to meet the Lord that is free from distractions, so you can focus on your relationship with Jesus.
(4) Have your Bible and other materials already in place, so you won’t have to hunt for them before your meeting with Jesus. Willis recommends having a notebook and pen to record insights gained during your time with Jesus.
(5) As you begin your meeting with Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to guide the entire experience. The Spirit’s ministry is to point people to Jesus, and you can count on the Spirit’s help in making your time with Jesus special.
(6) Listen to Jesus by reading the Bible. If you are using the real-voices.com study, you may want to prayerfully read the Bible passage for the day.
Another place where you may want to read is Ephesians. Coach Jake has started a series of messages on Ephesians. Prayerful reading of the letter to the Ephesians will make his messages more meaningful to you.
If you are reading the Bible along with my blog articles, please don’t just rely on what I am writing. Talk to Jesus about what you are reading in the Bible before you turn to my thoughts about the passage.
(7) Make some notes about what you have read. Avery Willis suggests a simple, but effective method. First write, “What God said to me.” Then, write, “What I said to God.” That method will help you to focus your prayers and will help you remember what you have prayed about.
The first six verses of John 15 are packed full of God’s wisdom and direction. Please experiment with Avery Willis’ plan. Go to a place where Jesus and you can meet. Take each verse, one at a time, and visit with Jesus about what he has said. Try out Willis’ method of “what God said to me,” and “what I said to God.” See how it works.
Another Prayer Promise
John 15.7-8 – “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
Part of abiding in a friendship relationship is the joy of being used by God in the service of prayer for other people. This kind of praying is called “intercession.”
O. Hallesby has written a simple but profound book on prayer. He teaches that God wants us to open the door for his activity in the world. In Revelation 3.20 we read, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in . . .”
According to Hallesby, intercessory prayer is simply our opening the door for God to do his work in the world. God is a gentleman and only comes when he is invited. As we spend time in our friendship-relationship with Jesus, there will be times when we invite him to work in the lives of people.
Hallesby believes that the impulses we have to pray for other people or for situations in the world are the ways that Jesus knocks on the door of our hearts.
Imagine this picture. You are in your regular time of meeting with your Friend, Jesus. As you read a particular Bible passage, the words seem to jump off the page at you. You feel a need to pray about that passage for some part of your life or for someone you know. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is the One making this happen. As you begin to pray about what has come to you, you can be sure that you have just opened the door for Jesus to enter and to work in the situation.
Abiding in love
John 15.9-11 – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Last night, I took a walk with Jesus. During my 20 minute walk, I talked with Jesus about verse 9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
The fact that Jesus loves someone like me in the same way that the Father loves him is astounding. I needed to talk to him about it. During the walk, I realized how little I understand God’s love for me and for people in general.
Paul prayed for people like us to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, because God’s love for us is so “mind blowing.” Below is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and for people like us over the ages.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being . . . [that you] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3.14-19 emphasis added).
I have only begun to discover the depth of the verses in this section of John 15. Please do some exploring yourself. If you haven’t started having a blessed time of abiding with Jesus, please try the suggestions from Avery Willis and make plans to meet with Jesus on a regular basis.
Please consider taking some extra time with Jesus and talk to him about his love for you. I’m sure you will want to respond to his love and tell him how much you love him.
Dear Jesus, thank you for the amazing gift of being able to live in a friendship-relationship with you. Please take us deeper into your life, so we can fully appreciate your love. Show us how to open the door to you to the areas of the world where you want your will done.