Storms…we all go through them. Whether they are storms involving the weather, or personal storms in our hearts and lives. Recently, we had very bad weather and storms here (with high winds, tornados in some places, hail & hard rain). A big branch broke off of our apple tree in the high winds, and as I was cleaning up the yard, and picking up branches…the Lord was reminding me of some verses from the Bible. The verse that came to my heart and mind was John 15:5-6.
John 15:5-6: ”I Am the vine, and you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I In you, you will bear much fruit, apart from Me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”(NIV)
Some of you have maybe read or heard these verses before, and some of you maybe have not; but as I was cleaning up the big branch off the apple tree, those verses became so much more alive to me! Hebrews 4:12: ”For the Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”-NIV. God's Word was becoming so alive through the picture God was showing me in this fallen off apple tree branch.
That apple tree in our front yard…we planted it about 5 years ago, and we have loved getting “fruit” off that tree! That fruit has made many pies, and apple crisp; and getting cut up apples out of the freezer in the middle of winter to bake with was good too! The branch was still attached a little bit, so I had to use the handsaw and saw it off completely. I knew that all the apples on that broken branch would not make it. They would not have the nutrients now to keep growing and mature because the branch was now cut off from the part of the tree that gave it life, and provided what it needed everyday to grow, and produce more fruit. Even though right away, the leaves still looked green on that broken branch (and it still had tons of unripe apples hanging on it too), I knew that eventually, the leaves would all turn brown, wither, and die. The apples would not be able to finish growing and would be no good. Apart from the tree it would all die.
Just as in the Scriptures from John 15, Jesus talks about Him being the “vine” and us being the “branches”. When the branch (us) is connected to the vine (Jesus), it produces much fruit…apart from Him, we can do nothing, as the verses say.
So how do we stay connected to Jesus? The very one who gives us life and nourishment, so we can be people who produce “much fruit”? The best way to get to know some one or some thing, is to study it, and know what it says. For this reason, reading our Bibles and studying the Word of God is crucial in our lives. God gave us His Word to guide us, help us, comfort us, teach us, give us examples 1 Corinthians 10:11: ”These things happened to them as examples for us.They were written down to warn us, who live at the end of the age”, show us how we should live, who He is, and what He has done for us!
The word “abide” used in John 15:5-6 means “remain or stay”. When we are looking to Jesus and His Word and trying to obey and live out what it says, we are remaining in Him. Not just outward actions, but an obedience from our hearts, hearts that truly want to follow Jesus and point others to Him. This will also show in our lives, our decisions, our actions, our love for others, our forgiveness, etc. What we believe inwardly in our hearts will show outwardly in our lives everyday. With God's help in the storms and in the calm times...we can bear much fruit like an apple tree branch which is connected to the life giving part of the tree.
There will be times in the “storms “ of our own hearts and lives that we have to trust God, even when we don’t understand why, or what is happening. There are situations that He will call us to trust Him and have faith in Him and His Word in the midst of a storm..but He is faithful! Philippians 1:6: ”Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” As a song by Scott Krippane says “sometimes He calms the storm, sometimes He calms His child”. Jesus asks us to “abide” in Him and stay connected to Him in John 15.
Some things He assures us of in the Bible are:
- He is always with us
- We are never alone
- He loves us
- He will fight for us
- He will guide us
- He will hold us and comfort us
- He knows every tear we cry
- He knows the depth of our heart
- He knows our pain
- He knows our joy
- He knows EVERYTHING about you
- He loves you!
Psalm 36:7: ”How precious is Your unfailing love O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of Your wings”
Psalm 36:5: "Your unfailing love O Lord is as vast as the Heavens, Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds”
If we are staying connected to Jesus, He will speak to our hearts in so many different ways! Through His Word the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, through other people, through music, through circumstances, or even through a broken branch on your apple tree after a storm. He WANTS to speak to your heart and have a relationship with you! He loved YOU so much that He gave His only Son to die on a cross. John 3:16: ”For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life”.
In the days we are living in, with so much going on and so many decisions to make everyday in each of our lives, we NEED to stay connected to Jesus (the “vine”). We need to be in His Word..which is the most important!
In addition to the Bible, we have so many wonderful “tools” available to us nowdays! We have Bible on CD, Bible on DVD, Bibles in versions that are easy to understand, study tools to help us dig in deeper, classes, Bible studies, great Christian music, great books, etc. I would be happy to tell you about a few of my favorites “extras”, just ask!
Jesus is showing me more and more that He is trustworthy and He loves us…through the happiest of times and the times that my heart hurts so bad and feels so broken there are not words. He knows it all. He wants to guide me and you as it says in Isaiah 30:21: ”Whether you turn to the right or to the left your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “this is the way, walk in it”
Will all the different voices coming at us today, I want to listen to one I can trust, who knows everything about me and still loves me. The voice that will never leave me, who loves me enough to help me see when I am not going the right way, and truly knows the depths of my heart..and that voice is Jesus and His Word.
Lets give Him all we have got, and abide in Him so we can bear much fruit in our lives here on this earth! Like John 15 encourages us...stay connected and in His Word, because that is truly where the life, the nourishment and growing will come from. :)