One of my favorite Scriptures that I go back to constantly is “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:3) I find comfort and security in the arms of Jesus, He only is my life, without Him, I am lost. Put another way, which is a constant prayer and praise for me, “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:14) I know that in myself I have no strength to fight the evil one. It is the Lord’s strength in me that I trust and allow to lead me and keep me on the right path. No matter what may come my way (and there can be devastating circumstances that come our way) I know that He is there and I will praise Him! He will never abandon me, He alone is faithful and will walk with me through every situation. Let’s review a few other Scriptures that will help begin to lay the foundation for our study today. “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” (Psalm 28:7) “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him.” (Exodus 15:2) “The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places…” (Habakkuk 3:19) “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2) “Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16) “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (Psalm 84:2) “O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)
The Lord wants to talk with us about “abiding in Him”. Abiding is the secret to an intimate, loving relationship with the Lord. Without our abiding in Him, we will not truly understand the depth of the words of the Scriptures we just read through. The Lord’s joy only becomes ours through abiding in Him. The Lord’s strength can only become ours when we are abiding in Him. We cannot trust and will not trust Him if we aren’t abiding in Him. We won’t have that HEARTFELT desire to praise Him and just love on Him unless we are abiding in Him. Can you say, along with Jeremiah, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16)?
Understanding Scripture is a heart issue and without an intimate relationship with the Lord we will not be in a place where we are reliant on the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of God’s Word. Are we allowing the Word to convict and judge us because we truly desire to be imitators of the Living God (“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;”) (Ephesians 5:1) and have Him glorified? Or will we turn to denominational doctrines which can confuse and even rob us of what God is trying to teach us? I am sure that most, if not all of you, reading this right now, desire to know God’s truth and have it as the guiding light in your life. To do so we must let go of earthly things, earthly beliefs and traditions of man. Think of the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, they were so tied up in the tradition of the elders that they were not open to hear the living words of the Messiah! He was right there with them in living flesh and they denied Him and His truth. Holy Spirit speak to us today that we would have ears to hear and a heart to receive Your words of life and living water! So let’s begin. I will give you the entire passage first then we will break it down and hear what the Spirit is saying. “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 bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also 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 so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:1-11)
The key to understanding this passage is found in one word and that word is “abiding”. The Greek language (which is what the New Testament scriptures were written in, is very specific on the use of words, just as the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament). Since it is not a word that is used much today a simple understanding of the word would be obeying, not because we have to but because we want to. An example would be that when we obey the speed limit we are “abiding in the law”. For children it might be that when they obey their parents they are “obeying” the rules and guidelines their parents have set down for them to be safe and to grow up and be respectful to others and to make good decisions to be productive citizens and moral parents some day. But “abiding” goes much further than this. The Apostle Paul stated, “for in Him we live and move and have our being,...” (Acts 17:28 NKJV) Abide means to endure, to remain united, to dwell. A disciple abides. HE IS ROOTED IN GOD’S TRUTH AND FILTERS EVERYTHING THROUGH GOD’S WORD. He has an ear to learn (to be immersed so that it becomes his way of thinking) and to walk CONTINUALLY out that truth BECAUSE HE/SHE IS SO IN LOVE WITH HIM AND EAGER TO PLEASE HIM .
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” Jesus is speaking with His disciples. He has told them He is returning to the Father and that once He has left them He will send the Spirit to live in them and goes into great detail as to this important event. As He moves into this particular teaching He again speaks in such a manner that He is revealing His divinity (DEITY). He begins with “I am”. Don’t pass by these important words. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt he asked Him what he should say. Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.’ (Exodus 3:13-15) Jesus was clearly stating His divinity but it wasn’t without a witness, and that witness was in the book of Exodus! Notice the end of verse 15, ‘This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.’
This fact had to be established at the beginning of the parable. Jesus is giving them clear revelation that He is the Messiah (He repeats again that He is the “true” ONE which means the genuine/real Messiah) and His Father is God who is the source of all power and dominion and glory! Everything that we need comes from the Father. And His Father is the One who has sent Him with a plan to be carried out, just as the Father has a plan for each and every one of us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jesus was talking with His disciples in parables in which they could easily relate and understand. They were very familiar with grape vineyards so that is what He used. The vine is deeply rooted in the soil and all the nutrients the branches use come through the vine. The vinedresser is our Father who provides all of the “nutrients” needed in order to produce good fruit. (To receive salvation it must come through Jesus Christ and to grow in that salvation we must stay connected to Him, the vine.) The people understood this analogy because they knew that if the soil wasn’t prepared correctly or the nutrients that the soil needed weren’t supplied that they would not have a successful harvest. Let’s think about this a minute. Two things could happen if the owner of the vineyard was negligent in taking care of the crop. The first possibility is that there could still be fruit on the vines and it looks good to the natural eye. But when they pick the fruit and begin to ferment it to turn it into wine it is of a very poor quality. The second possibility is it is so lacking in flavor that it can’t even be used, it has to be thrown away. The entire plant will need to be removed and new plants purchased to replace them. In the first scenario the wine will not be highly regarded and will diminish the name of the maker as a good vinedresser and people will no longer look to him for their needs. The second scenario will cost the vinedresser an even greater defeat as there will be no wine and his whole business could be ruined because no one will turn to him for his product.
God is the vinedresser. Can you see how the scenarios above do not bring glory to Him? Those scenarios are a very accurate description of the witness of our faith. Do we allow the vinedresser, the Almighty God of heaven and earth, to feed and nurture us? He gives life and everything that is needed to produce good fruit. He will withhold whatever is not needed in order to produce a full bountiful harvest. In other words, what God doesn’t provide is not only non-essential it simply is not needed. Anything additional that we provide can actually diminish the bounty in our lives that God had prepared for us. The “additional” that we add can greatly “choke out” the things supplied by God to our success.
God’s spiritual fertilizer is His Word. If we “add” things into our lives, such as unforgiveness or hatred as an example, and not have God deal with it, we are adding an element to our lives that will spoil the fruit of the Spirit of which we are to have daily in our walk and in all circumstances. When we are consistent in taking in daily God’s spiritual fertilizer, the fruit of the Spirit will be seen in us and that fruit is the new wine that all should see and be touched by in our walk.
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) In order to correctly interpret this passage we need to look at another of Jesus’ teaching for understanding. (Remember, Scripture builds upon Scripture, we cannot accurately interpret without putting the whole together.) "The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.  Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant.  And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.  Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.  Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.  Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.  The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:5-15)
How can we tell if we are thriving in good soil? The Apostle Paul was a great example and teacher of what the love of God in us looks like. He sums it up in these passages, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19) Jesus lays it out clearly when He addresses the issue of one who would not be in good soil, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:24) So the question of abiding comes down to love. Do you love Him so much that you MUST spend time with Him each day, not because you have to but because you WANT to?
There will be many who appear to be saved but they will have no root system. These knew there was a God but they didn’t fall in love with Him or follow Him, there was no true “rebirth”. Another way to look at it would be that in the first three scenarios above there seemed to be a “rebirth” but they were so deeply rooted in worldly desires that those desires choked out any guidance of the Holy Spirit and they just continued in their sin and fleshly desires and the darkness overcame the light in their lives.. Notice that Jesus said they “are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life”. This is a very clear warning for us today to stop and take inventory of our own lives. Oh how easy it is to get so focused on the things of this earth and the things of the Lord begin to slip away! “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Jesus stated this same truth in a very clear statement in the following passage, “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) The last group that Jesus talks about stayed on the narrow way that God set out before them and their lives produced an abundance of fruit. They continually “abided” in God’s Word and were led by the Holy Spirit. Please note that even these were pruned throughout their walk with the Lord. Pruning is necessary for many reasons, but I believe that the pruning that is done in a disciple’s life is necessary to keep us alert and not to fall into a false security of thinking we know what God is doing or what God wants. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Thank You, Lord Jesus, for this powerful reminder for each of us today!
“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3) This verse may seem totally out of context unless we, again, understand the specific usage of the word “clean” in the Greek. In this context it means “like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit”. Now this statement by our Lord makes much more sense to us. Pruning is stripping the branch almost to the root at times. I would highly encourage you to spend some time with the Holy Spirit in this verse. It is essential that we understand it if we are going to grow spiritually strong and have a good root of trust in the Lord. Many churches today are so focused on teaching prosperity and “naming and claiming what we want in life” that they are cheating their church members of trusting God in EVERYTHING and accepting His pruning of the things in our lives that He wants removed so that we can walk in the blessing that He has ahead for us. If we don’t allow the “pruning” (IT IS NOT A PUNISHMENT) we will miss an even greater harvest!
Were the disciples of Jesus perfect? NO! Did they understand what Jesus had really been doing those 3 ½ years? NO! But the Word was in them and they believed (took action by becoming His disciples and giving up everything apart from Him) He was the Messiah and was sent from the Father. All would become clear to them shortly but for now they were learning to trust Him.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4) Remember our definitions for abide? The Amplified Bible states it this way, “Dwell in Me, and I will 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.” (John 15:4)
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Why? Jesus answered that question in this passage, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) If Jesus is not our treasure we are lost. We are the seed that became choked out by the ways of the world. Our striving for riches or status or jobs or recognition, or even an education, etc. will take over every other thing in our lives and choke out any light that we may have received. Even spending time with our spouse or our children will become secondary in our lives. This also is a very real threat for those in ministry. The ministry itself can take over one’s life and families and even God’s desired path will become obsolete. King Solomon suffered this same plight and summed it up in quite well in this passage, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11) He had deviated from God’s plan. He had wealth, he had many wives, from the world’s standards he was a great success but he had failed in trusting God’s plan. His wealth wasn’t the problem, God would have given him even more, the problem was his heart. He had begun to worship idols. Things become idols. We don’t intend them to be. That is why Jesus spoke so often about us needing to abide in Him.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:6) Verse 6 brings us right back to the Parable of the Sower, if one doesn’t remain/endure in united fellowship he has no salvation. Jesus is clearly warning of the danger of operating in our own flesh apart from Him.
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:7-8) Now we should be able to truly understand this passage without taking it out of context. Verse 7 is conditional. Jesus has been warning us all the way through this parable that we have a choice of whether or not we will abide. Blessings are based upon our obedience. God would not be a good Father if he rewarded us in our disobedience. “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; 6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.’ 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)
We must remain and endure in our united relationship with Him. This understanding also helps us in understanding Jesus’ teaching in other passages. “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Mark 13:13; Matthew 10:22) “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.“ (Matthew 24:13) ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:7) ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ (Revelation 2:11) ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17) ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;”’ (Revelation 2:26) ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’ (Revelation 3:5) ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.’ (Revelation 3:12) ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’ (Revelation 3:21) “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14) “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Revelation 21:7)
Please do not rush through the above passages. I am overwhelmed as I now so clearly hear the Holy Spirit warning us of the importance of abiding!
I am truly deeply touched by the phrase, “and My words abide in you”. His words will only remain and endure in us if we are intimately in relationship with Him. Why do I say that? Otherwise they will become a burden, just rules that we are following (much like the Pharisees who followed traditions of the elder instead of being led by the Almighty One daily)! When we lose our joy, we lose our desire to praise Him, to worship Him, to glorify Him. And it becomes all about our appearance and desire to be seen as good by other men, rather than to desire only the glorification of the Lord.
Our Father truly wants to bless us and have us bear much fruit for His glory (“…he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit…” John 15:5) But He will not bless the work of our own hands. It may bring us glory among men on the earth but it will not be recognized by the Father. "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  "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.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:9-11)
“just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love” is a key truth that Jesus wants to make sure we do not miss. We are to be imitators of His life on earth and His life was a demonstration of loving our Father and seeking His will in all things, regardless of the cost. That should not be a cause for sorrow. It will cost us something to be an heir of THE KINGDOM OF GOD! And that cost isn’t necessarily financial even though that part of it. The true cost is our heart.
There is another aspect here that is so very important that we can’t close without spending some time dwelling in His amazing love. What kind of love did the Father have for Jesus? The word used means to be fond of, to love dearly and to be well pleased with Him. I don’t know about you, but that is my heart’s desire for the Lord to love me in that same manner. Jesus tells His disciples that He also loves them in that same way. That makes me pause a minute because the apostles at this point really didn’t get anything that Jesus had taught in His time with them, other than they did believe He was the Messiah. They took action with their belief. They not only endured many things with Him but they remained spiritually and physically committed to Him. They didn’t understand everything yet but their heart’s desire was to be with Him and to be like Him, even though they didn’t understand what that would mean either. Jesus further reminded them that their obedience to all that He had taught would keep them in His love. And then He compared His love for them as the same love His Father had for Him! Can you get any more intimate than that? No! They were One! All that the Father had, the Son had! And this is true for all His disciples. We are heirs and our inheritance is the Kingdom of God! There is nothing greater. It is for all of eternity. And it doesn’t resemble an earthly inheritance. If we inherit an earthly inheritance we can squander it away and be left with nothing because of our greediness and need to fulfill fleshly desires. But the inheritance of the Kingdom belongs to those who have desired to be like Jesus. (1 Peter 1:4,5) How? In our love, our words, our actions, we desire to be in His Words and desire for a transformation of our thinking and our ways. We desire to live now in Kingdom principles because we are in love with the One who created us. We are in love with Jesus who became our sin and voluntarily allowed Himself to be crucified on a wooden cross in our place.
Have you experienced the joy in which Jesus speaks about? Have you seen the joy in the life of Jesus while He was here on earth? Did you see His joy as He spent time with the Father in prayer? “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” (Mark 1:35) Did you feel His joy when He healed someone? (Luke 8:26-39; 40-56; 14:1-6; John 4:46-54; 5:1-17; 9:1-7) Did you feel His joy when He met with the woman at the well in Samaria? (John 4:5-42) Did you feel His joy when Mary anointed His feet with oil because she had understood that He was going to die? (Matthew 26:6-13) Did you feel His joy and love when He looked down from the cross and told John to take care of His mother? (John 19:26-27) Can you imagine His joy as He cooked fish on the beach early in the morning when Peter and John and Andrew with their crew were coming to shore after a long night of fishing and catching nothing? Can you imagine His love when He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat? He knew they didn’t want to, but what joy He experienced when they obeyed and their nets were so full they couldn’t reel them in! John 21:1-14)
How can we truly be abiding in Him and not be like the bride in the Song of Solomon? "May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.  "Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens love you.  "Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers." "We will rejoice in you and be glad; We will extol your love more than wine. Rightly do they love you." (Song of Solomon 1:2-4) Can we truthfully declare, "He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4) May I leave you with this thought. If we truly desire the Lord to be the center and the foundation of our life, we must surrender all to Him and that includes our thoughts, which I believe is probably the hardest thing for us to let go of. We need the Holy Spirit to be guiding our thoughts, our words and our actions. This verse, will hopefully, give you a visual picture of how the Lord desires to do so. It is not with power and control, no, it is in lovingkindness. “Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me.” Safe and secure in the arms of Jesus!
May you, dear reader, experience the same gift that the Apostle Peter experienced and gave his life preaching and teaching this word so that we too would join in, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,” (1 Peter 1:8)
Abba Father, I come humbly to You thanking You for this great gift of Your Son Jesus Christ. Your love is so great that You took nothing to chance in our having a relationship with You. Your Word clearly gives us every instruction that leads us to life. You also give us warnings that will keep us from destruction. Thank You for Your great love! Your ways are so much higher than our ways and I thank You that You will not allow us to stay in this body of death, a body held captive to the sin that so easily engulfs us! Thank You for setting us free through the blood of Jesus Christ! Thank You as You continue to draw us into Your sanctuary. I pray that our hearts, minds and wills today will be drawn into Your embrace and we will begin to truly abide in Your dwelling place and You will be glorified! This I pray in the blessed name of Your Son Jesus Christ! Amen!