Abide & Loyalty

I love John chapter 15.  When I read it I ask myself, "Is it really that simple?"  I've included John 15:1-8 below.  If you can, take a look and see if you can see what I read that causes me to think "Is it really that simple."

15 “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples."  John 15:1-8

Okay, so I helped.  But I didn't want you to spend your entire time trying to figure out how I think.  

Notice Jesus words, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you..."  It's almost like it he's saying that following him consist of two things: Abiding (remain in me) and Loyalty (my words remain in you).  That's it.  Jesus says, spend time with me and do what I say.  That is all a "branch" is called to do.  Here's the amazing part.  When us "branches" do these two things the "vine" (Jesus) produces fruit through us.  Let me say it again, when you and I abide and remain loyal to Jesus he works through you.  

Before I move on...I want to first slow down.  As a follower of Jesus you must not skip these two aspects of the relationship.  Jesus did not offer suggestions.  Abiding and Loyalty are expectations of this relationship.  Actually, when you think about, Abiding and Loyalty are expectations of any healthy relationship.  Now, if you're reading this blog I'm guessing this next part might not be for you.  However, I feel it is important to remember. 

I like to often add a little jab to get you to think more...Let me try this one.  If you simple don't have time to talk to God and read his word...just be honest and say.  "I like ________ more than God."  I'm not letting you get away with saying, "I don't have time."  No, you have time you just choose to use it doing something else.  Your Loyalty is towards another.  The "other" might be a person, a tv show, a game, or even an event.  Just be honest with yourself and with God.  You like God...just not as much as you like ______.

Now...if this is you, please hear me.  Only you can realign your priorities.  It's up to you.  However, God gave you some relational help...Church.  At New City Church we are going to encourage you towards two simple things.  What is God saying to you (Abiding)?  And, what are you doing about it (Loyalty)?  I think it is wise to walk with those who are striving to follow Jesus.  Okay...let's move on. 

The Bible teaches that the followers of God have a great enemy.  The last thing this enemy wants you and I to do is abide with and be loyal to Jesus.  Here are 3 example of how the enemy might come at you:

- I'm not doing enough.  The accusation that you haven't read enough, prayed enough, served enough, helped enough, etc...  This is not from God.  I believe the enemy uses this to discourage us by wanting us to think God somehow isn't satisfied.  

- I'm doing too much.  This is where opportunities weigh us down.  In this example, we forget our position ("branch") and take the position of the "vine" (Jesus).  Here we work really hard to make fruit.  If this is you, (and by the way, this is me), we need to trust the "vine" to do what He said He would do.  It is not our job to make things happen.  Our job is to abide and remain loyal.  

- What I'm doing isn't spiritual enough.  Here, when we abide we are accused of not abiding correctly.  This too is not from God.  How our enemy loves to discourage us followers of Jesus. And, how often we let him!  In short...Satan's a liar, stop dwelling on his accusations. 

Those are just some of my thoughts for the day.  I hope you are pushed, if not encouraged, to follow Jesus.  
Pastor Matt