Margaret “Mugsy” Thornton “I am the Vine”

We have knock-out roses and each year around the middle of February the roses need to be pruned, cut way back, to encourage new growth and ample roses. As I walked by one bush, I noticed a branch which was broken off, completely severed from the bush. That branch will never again bear a bloom and will be thrown away. 

Jesus, ever the Master Teacher, often gave His listeners lessons from their day-to-day life experiences. They would be familiar with the work of the tender of vines. They understood the need of both lopping off and purging. The analogy likely made perfect sense to them. 

In John 15:4, he reminded them, and us, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”

In the next verse, he makes it clear: “I am the vine; you are the branches.” The reminder, “…apart from me you can do nothing…” is for every person who has acknowledged need of a Savior and desires to follow Him in obedience. A branch not connected to the vine becomes useless, fruitless and ultimately, dead. 

So how does one “remain in Christ,” wholly connected to the vine? It’s a very human tendency to focus on self, MY life, MY family, MY ambitions, MY desires, etc. So to remain in Him, a new focus is necessary. Study His life, His words, His admonitions. Offer Him your life, your praise and your thanksgiving. He states, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love…my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” (V. 9,12)

In following these instructions, one will be led by the Holy Spirit, who always points to Jesus. He will enable us to,”…see You more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow You more nearly, day by day,” as the song from Godspell so aptly puts it!

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Reverend Bob Daniel “I Am the Vine”

What did Jesus mean when he said, “I am the True Vine.”?“I am the True Vine” is the last of seven “I am” declarations of Jesus recorded only in John’s gospel. These “I am” proclamations point to His unique divine identity and purpose. Jesus said, “I am the True Vine” to closest friends gathered around Him. It was only a short time before Judas would betray Him; in fact, Judas had already left to do his infamous deed. Jesus was preparing the eleven men left for His pending crucifixion, His resurrection, and His subsequent departure for heaven. He had just told them that He would be leaving them. Knowing how disturbed they would feel, He gave them this lovely metaphor of the True Vine as one of His encouragements.

Jesus wanted His friends, not only those eleven, but those of all time, to know that He was not going to desert them, even though they would no longer enjoy His physical presence. His living energy—His spiritual reality—would continue to nourish and sustain them just as the roots and trunk of a grape vine produce the energy that nourishes and sustains its branches while they develop their fruit. Jesus wanted us to know that, even though we cannot see Him, we are as closely connected to Him as the branches of a vine are connected to its stem. Our desire to know and love Him and the energy to serve Him will keep flowing into and through us as long as we “abide” in Him.

He said that no branch can even live, let alone produce leaves and fruit, by itself. Cut off from the trunk, a branch is dead. Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to serve Him effectively. The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). Our source of life and spiritual fruit is not in ourselves; it is outside us, in Christ Jesus. We can live, live rightly, and serve Him effectively only if we are rightly connected to Him in a faith/love relationship.

Then Jesus underscored His point even more strongly by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing”. This illustration of the vine and branches is no thoughtless generality or careless simile. It is absolute, stark reality. No believer can achieve anything of spiritual value independently of Christ Jesus. He also reminds us that there are some who are “in” Him who bear no fruit. But these are not, as some would suppose, true branches that just happen to be fruitless. All true branches bear fruit. Just as we know a healthy, living tree by the good fruit it produces, so do we recognize fruitless branches as having no connection to the True Vine. This is why Jesus tells us, “By their fruit you will know them”. Those who do not produce good fruit are cut away and burned. The reference here is to apostates, those who profess to know Christ but whose relationship to Him is insincere. He neither called them nor elected them nor saved them nor sustains them. Eventually, the fruitless branches are identified as not belonging to the Vine and are removed for the sake of truth and the benefit of the other branches.

Father, we depend on You for everything, starting with our very life- it is or in You we live and move and have our being” including our reconciliation with through Christ Jesus. Help us to realize that we can only serve You effectively when we are connected with Jesus Christ by faith. Jesus is our only connection with You, the one who gave us life and who produces in us a fruitful life of righteousness and service.

(Note: This devotion was borrowed from Got Questions Ministries. I pray that you find it helpful and enlightening. Robert Daniel)

Angie Prater. “I Am the Vine”

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1

 

I have always been saddened by the slow destruction of once beautiful homes by advancing vines of kudzu or ivy.  These scenes are easily spotted in areas all throughout the south.  In my mind, I envision the excitement and hopefulness of those planning and building the home.  The original owners must have taken pride and joy in selecting details for their home. I then reflect on the lives lived in the home-the birthdays, the Christmases, the Easters…and the ‘everydays’.  As the old adage states, “if these wall could talk”….  Then, as time flies by, the once proud home no longer rings with the laughter of children or the sounds of political discussion during election season – or the sounds of prayer.  The vines growing throughout the house obliterate the memories of the house.

John 15:1 is one of the verses that is easily recalled.  While I understand its meaning, I tend to think of the vine in a different way.  The vine that is Jesus is not only the conduit for us to spread His message of hope to others, but is also the vine that obliterates our sin from God’s memory.  The very thing that can intrude in our lives, our ‘houses’, and take them over, can alter their appearance to others.  While a vine covered home may appear neglected, a ‘vine covered’ Christian not only has the peace of knowing their sin is covered, but can then share that peace with others.  We can be secure in the knowledge that this vine is strong and everlasting.
Dear Father, thank you for the security we have with you covering us with your love. Amen.

Randy Black “I Am the Vine”

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” John 15:1

I do not have a green thumb and it is safe to say that I would have a hard time keeping a cactus healthy that only has to be watered 3 times a year.  That being said, the imagery in this passage instills a natural feeling of abundance and bounty.  When I think of our Savior I can use this as one of the many visual representations of His presence among us.  While Christ was on Earth he was cultivating the soil that His salvation would be planted in.  People in early Christianity were an agrarian society so the images of lessons taught through a farming lens are very powerful.  The statement that Jesus is a vine would be directly relatable to a long, sustaining, and living organism that has many branches that can be evaluated as individual pieces that are part of something larger than themselves.  Each branch can be either a positive or negative influence on the plant as a whole.

The gardener in this passage brings to light a feeling of comforter and nurturer that will take care of His crops and plants to make sure they are bountiful.  If there is a part of the vine that is unhealthy and hindering the fruitfulness of the plant, then it will be sheared off.  I do not see this as being done out of malice but as being done out of love for the harvest.  As a metaphor, I see our health as a body of Christ being managed by a loving God that is concerned for the harvest of our salvation and will remove unhealthy parts of our lives to ensure that we our bountiful.

In our own lives, we can become stronger friends, family, and followers of Christ if we remove things that are unhealthy in our lives and keep the good parts of our lives from flourishing.  I think about the opportunities that we have to use our time and talents to show love to our friends and family and I believe that we have a need to nurture and fertilize that opportunity to be fruitful.  The interesting thing about this passage is that I imagine this vine being a fruit bearing vine like a grape vine.  The vine itself is not what I think about being consumable but the grapes that a healthy vine can produce.  Now grapes and raisins being a byproduct of this vine are perfectly normal but in the context of scripture and our lessons about the life of Christ I think about wine.

Christ is the vine which produces a bountiful grape harvest…that is converted into wine…and then that finished product symbolizes the blood of Christ shed for our salvation.  That last sentence is a step by step image of the process of our salvation which starts with a base (Christ) that has a product (Humans) that is eventually offered salvation (Christ’s blood).  I am thankful that we have such a healthy vine to grow off of and my desire is that I constantly fertilize by branch on that vine as His follower and can be a positive and healthy branch of the body of Christianity.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son who you sent down to become a vine for us all to grow off of.  I pray that you will continually remove the unhealthy things in my life that keep me from being a healthy and flourishing branch on the vine of Christianity.  I know that I have to constantly keep my faith and relationships from withering on such a fertile vine but I am thankful that you have given us the salvation to make all things possible. Amen

Maddie Crump “I Am the Vine”

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. 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.”
– John 15:4-5, ESV

I think it’s important to remember that in this verse Jesus isn’t commanding us to bear fruit, He is commanding us to abide. Without drawing near to Christ, our fruit has no power to grow. Just like a vine wraps itself around anything it touches, Christ will wrap His hands around us, as long as we make the effort to stay close to Him and abide in His Word. The measure we let Christ grow in us is the size we are allowing our fruit to grow. Simply, obey God and the fruit will come naturally.

The main lesson I took from John 15:4-5 is to be careful wanting the end result and forgetting the means of getting there. Sometimes I feel the need to skip steps or ignore the process to achieve something faster. This habit is always a temporary fix and never leaves me satisfied with what I do. Just like anything we do in life, our relationship with Jesus is a process. It’s a learn-as-you-go, sometimes confusing, and slow journey that forces you to recommit yourself to Him every single day. It’s not always smooth, but in the end, it’s completely worth it to have a Father up in Heaven who is on your side and who loves you eternally. The vine and the branches have reminded me of this because sometimes I crave a perfect relationship with Christ without wanting to put in the effort. It’s hard to pray every day, be constantly in His Word, and have full trust in the Lord. But I try to remember that it’s the small steps, small prayers, and the small acts of kindness that keep us connected in our faith. Jesus is patient and there is no rush to creating the perfect relationship with Him, in fact, it’s not expected of us to ever get there.

So, enjoy the journey of getting to know God. Be patient and give the fruit time to grow right. Learn to know God, not just know of Him. God will be patient with you when you think you can do things on your own and He will encourage you when you realize you can’t. Keep a childlike faith, always being open to discovering new things about what the Lord can do in your life and the successes and blessings will follow.

It’s also worth pointing out that Jesus never says to abide in Him without also saying that He will abide in us. Our relationship with Jesus is not one-sided and can’t thrive without equal participation from both us and Jesus. The branches without the vine can’t fulfill their purpose, just like the vine can’t bear fruit without the branches. Jesus promises to never leave our side, never abandon us, and to never let us live on our own. Because of this promise, we can faithfully and confidently lean into Him knowing that He is strong enough to hold whatever we can’t carry. Just like the vine is the foundation of the branches that bear the fruit, Christ is our foundation that allows us to thrive.

Dear God, thank you for your infinite patience with us. Help us to trust you for each step of the way. Amen.

Carol Inman “I Am the Vine”

Carol Inman
John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater faithfulness by the message I have given you.  Remain in me and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.” 


The vine on my mailbox has been pruned to the ground. The support trellis is still there but nothing is growing on it. I had been thinking it needed pruning, it had many dead branches choking out the little bit of greenery left.  Last summer it displayed less blooms than anytime since it was planted, and that was some twenty years ago. It needs fertilizing and tending by my gardener if it is too return to usefulness and beauty.

To be honest, that plant has always been a source of disappointment to me. I thought I was getting a big blooming, purple Clematis, one of the first signs of spring.  Instead, it was a tiny bloom white star plant that bloomed only in August. A landscaper made a mistake in installation, and we just went along with it..

Reading today’s scripture I could not help but think of my vine. It needed to be cut back for many reasons, one being it hid the house number on the pole in case of an emergency that could have been a problem.. Then, it was not growing, not producing just like we read in the scripture.  We are like that.  Sometimes we need a good pruning to be rid of the old dead wood, that keeps us from being all we can be in the Father’s kingdom.. That pruning is never pleasant, it hurts.  It can take many forms. God uses our circumstances sometimes to do a work in us. Loss of loved ones, health issues, loneliness, problems in relationships, nothing is wasted with our God.  I think He allows and uses the normal circumstances of our lives to shape us into His image and usefulness in the Kingdom.. Sometimes we see things about ourselves that disappoint us, just as I have been disappointed about my plant.

I know God is teaching me many things right now.  I know He will not waste any experience I have come my way, if I am faithful to His word and keep myself in His care. If I keep praising Him despite the situation, as one of my favorite song says, ” I can praise the pain away.”   He is with me. He is fertilizing me with His Holy Spirit, and His word, as I sit in His presence. He is watering me with Living Water. He has provided a support trellis of church family and friends for me, that I cling to, who will help me grow and be useful and support me though this drastic pruning time.

Yes, the pruning is severe on my mailbox plant and in my life, but the outcome is going to be more fruitfulness, more usefulness, as I share my experiences with others. I would not have chosen this growth pattern for myself, but I know God will not waste anything that happens in my life.  That’s God’s Good News and for that promise I give Him praise. How about you?

 

Buddy Looney – “I am the Good Shepherd”

When I was in high school my family lived on a farm where we kept a small herd of cattle. My folks also had a business to run which demanded a lot of their time. So, I generally got home from school well before they got home from work. I would usually look after the cows and feed the chickens before my parents arrived home.

In my senior year we had a rain that lasted for several days. The Blackwater River, which was normally about 400 yards from our west fence line, began to overflow its banks. I arrived home from school one day to find our entire lower pasture under 4 to 5 feet of water. Then I realized the cows were in that same pasture with the gate shut. They were trapped and helpless to free themselves on their own.

I dragged my canoe out of the barn and paddled out to open the gate. The cows had already crowded themselves against the gate. Their heads were barely above the water.  As soon as I opened the gate they escaped the still rising flood waters and headed for the higher pasture on a hill. On the hill they would be safe and could graze in peace.

Living in a sin stricken world, we can become flooded with uncertainty, stress and other anxieties brought on by circumstances in which we find ourselves.  Or perhaps, we see loved ones having to endure painful circumstances. We can all feel trapped and helpless to save ourselves from the rising flood.

God in His unconditional love and unfailing grace has provided an open gate through which we can pass and find peace and safety on higher ground above the flood.

Jesus said, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pasture.”   
John 10:9

Dear Heavenly Father, during this Lenten season may we truly seek and find that Gate of salvation which is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord. May we enter into His freedom and the abundant life He offers. For it is in His Holy Name, the Name above all names, the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.
                                                                                                                                                                    Amen
  

Katie Hartel – “I am the Good Shepherd”

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. —Isaiah 53:6

When reading this scripture, Isaiah makes us question, How are we like sheep? The comparison may upset some people; after all, who wants to be compared to such a smelly, vacant animal? However, the Lord calls Himself our shepherd because, though we may not always smell as unpleasant, we really are a lot like sheep.

First of all, we are followers. If you were to put a flock of sheep in the middle of a pasture and turn your back on them for two minutes, you’d find them all scattered about, poking their noses into things they shouldn’t be. Humans have a tendency towards this too. Oftentimes, we fall subject to a group mentality—we wear what everyone else is wearing, laugh at what everyone else is laughing at, and go where everyone else is going. We are also prone to be naive, trusting and following those who are not necessarily doing the right thing. Without the supervision of their shepherd, sheep may wander and end up poking their little noses in things a little too close to the edge of the cliff. Sound familiar? We as humans may wander into trouble and, like sheep, are too stubborn to put aside our way of doing things and ask for forgiveness and guidance. But however deep of a rut we feel we have wandered into, we can find peace in knowing we have a faithful Shepherd of our own: God.

 

Like a shepherd, God leads us.  A good shepherd leads the sheep out in front of him, not from behind. There isn’t a place where the lambs put their feet that the shepherd hasn’t already walked. There isn’t a valley the sheep go through that the shepherd hasn’t gone through first.
There is nothing coming into your life that isn’t terrain the Shepherd has already covered and given His full approval—including the rocky ground, the most difficult times. When you run into hard times in your life, don’t forget the Shepherd leads you through that ground. He will use it for your good and bring you through it to the place He has planned.

 

Like a shepherd, He protects us. Like sheep, we are incredibly vulnerable. While sheep are vulnerable to disease, weather, and predators and thieves that come to steal them, we are exposed to worldly and spiritual enemies who wish to terrorize us, harm us, or steal our focus. Sometimes these enemies tempt us to chart our own course—but our Shepherd protects us. It’s just as Jesus says in John 10:9-10: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Know that you’re reading this today because the Shepherd is leading and protecting you.

Like a shepherd, He feeds us. A shepherd’s job of taking care of his sheep is not limited to leading them and protecting them from danger, but also making sure they are healthy. For sheep, this means plenty of green pastures and still, clear waters. Our Shepherd keeps us healthy in mind and soul in countless ways by filling us with His word and spirit. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1–3) God acts as our Shepherd by helping us take hold of the abundant food He has provided to feed ourselves day by day.

Through all our trials and tribulations, we must remember that the Good Shepherd is walking with us and will protect us, his flock, from harm. He gave His life for us, to save us from being eternally lost because of our sin.

As Isaiah foretold centuries before that happened, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Having taken away the weight of our sins, Jesus is willing to lead us every day as only the Good Shepherd can.

Take time to thank God today for the ways that He is your faithful Shepherd.

Lord, thank You that even though I am embarrassingly like a sheep in so many ways, one way I’m not is that I can talk to You. I can come to You with my difficulties and needs, knowing You will care for me. I praise You for the many ways You are my Shepherd. Thank You that in Your leading, protecting, and feeding, You have never failed. Your faithfulness has never faltered. There hasn’t been, nor will there ever be, a circumstance or danger You can’t handle. I rest my life in Your care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Millicent Flake “I am the Gate” John 10:1-11

Our verses this week in John 10 paint a vivid picture of Jesus as the Shepherd taking care of us and protecting us from the dangers in life. Since most of us, other than Jim and Jennifer Rewis, don’t keep sheep any more, we can relate this to the way we treat our pets.

We make sure our dog and cat family members have nutritious food, warm beds and the love and attention they need. We do our best to keep them out of the road and to make sure they are safe in the house or yard. Other than a cat who might catch a mouse for a snack, our pets, like the sheep in John’s passage, are totally dependent on us to survive. And when something bad happens to one of them, we grieve.


Out in the country where I live I often hear coyotes howling at night. When my little cat prowled in the woods behind our house, I was always afraid one of them would snatch him up and kill him. We also have dangers around us that want to pull us away from God.  We read in I Peter 5:8 (The Living Bible):

Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart.

These attacks are often subtle – the immoral messages that come through the TV shows and movies we watch, the constant barrage of advertisements for us to live beyond our means, the pull of so many activities away from church. But like a gate, Christ is there as a barrier to keep us safe, because He loves us.
Wedged in between these wonderful verses about Jesus as our Good Shepherd, is one of my favorite verses in the Bible:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, RSV)

This verse sums up the Gospel to me – when I give myself over completely to Christ, my life becomes richer, fuller and more joyful. Instead of worrying about what attacks may come, I am able to rest in comfort and enjoy all the gifts He has given me, knowing Jesus is going to look after me.

Dear God, thank you for your love and protection in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Help us today to relax in that love and to experience the abundant life you desire for us to have. Amen. 

Max Parrott “I am the Gate”

I am the gate.   Those who come in through me will be saved.  They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.  I am the good shepherd .  The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.  John 10: 9-11.

Jesus was talking with the Pharisees after He had healed a blind man , not only of his physical blindness but, also, of his spiritual blindness.  As Jesus continued teaching and answering the Pharisees’ questions they began to see that He thought they had spiritual blindness (stubbornness and stupidity).  They did not see that Jesus is the True Messiah, the gate to eternal life.

 
As I read these verses I wonder, how do they speak to me?  I am a believer.  I do not think I am  like the Pharisees. Then I remembered a Sunday when as a part of the pastor’s  sermon he challenged each person in the congregation to bring one person to Christ.  I suddenly understood.  As I witness to a nonbeliever I can be the gate to Jesus and He will be the gate to God’s salvation, the access to safety, security and Eternal Life.

Dear God, thank you for opening the door to us to come in. Help us today  to allow You to work through us to bring others into Your fold. Amen.