This morning I was led to the following passage: “I am the vine; 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:5-8) Many people try to be good, honest people who do what’s right. But Jesus says that the only way to live a truly good life is to stay close to Him, like a branch attached to the vine. Apart from Christ, our efforts are unfruitful.
Below I am sharing a portion of a chapter in The Kingdom Woman by Dr. Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst.
Several years ago, when I first preached a message on abiding to my congregation in Dallas, I wanted to illustrate how vital it is to “abide” in Christ, as the King James Version puts it in John 15. So on Saturday morning, I pulled a branch off the tree in front of my house and laid it on the porch. Then, just before I left for church on Sunday morning, I pulled a similar branch off the same tree and brought both branches with me to the pulpit. As I held them up for the congregation to see, the difference was clear. The leaves on the Sunday morning branch were still fresh and green, while the leaves on the Saturday branch were already dry and brown around the edges.
That’s what happens when a branch stops “abiding” or “remaining” in the tree. It is cut off from its life source. Without being connected to the source of sap in the trunk of the tree (or vine), death begins— even though it may take several hours before it becomes apparent.
Jesus said that the key to being a fruitful, productive disciple is to abide in Him, just as a branch “abides” in a vine. As long as we do, the sap of His Spirit will continue to flow through us, and His character will burst into flowers on our branches that will ripen into luscious fruit. The trouble with many of us is that we are not good at abiding. We fool ourselves into thinking we can survive apart from the vine. But we can’t. Without abiding, it is only a matter of time before our leaves begin to wither, dry up, and turn brown, and we become unable to bear any fruit at all.
An informal study, “Obstacles to Growth Survey,” reported that Christians are too busy to abide. The study gathered information from about twenty thousand Christians in nearly 140 countries. More than four in ten Christians worldwide say they “often” or “always” run from task to task. Six in ten say it is “often” or “always” true that a hectic life keeps them from going deeper in their walk with God. The main problem here is in prioritizing their time to be able to abide in Christ. Abiding doesn’t mean you simply pop in or pop out. To abide can be defined as “loitering” or “hanging out” with. It implies a continual and ongoing connection while in the presence of another.
Keep in mind that abiding has benefits: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7 KJV). This verse is often quoted by certain unscrupulous and unscriptural preachers you see on late-night TV. All you need to do is write in for this special prayer cloth or a vial of water from the Jordan River, and presto! your prayers (no matter how selfish and self-defeating) will be answered. But these men tend to overlook the key to this passage. It doesn’t simply say to ask. It tells us to abide, and then ask: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you . . .” The world is full of people who ask but don’t abide.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Do you see the structure of this verse? It has the same if/ then construction we just looked at: If you delight yourself in the LORD, then He will give you the desires of your heart. If you abide in Him, then ask whatever you wish. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, His agenda becomes our own. His priorities outrank ours. We make our decisions according to His standard. His desires become our desires.
A kingdom woman who delights in the Lord may very well desire a house, a car, or some other amenity. But she will pray, “Lord, give me this house, car, or whatever so it can become Yours. Meet my need so I can build Your kingdom.” It is as though God is saying, “If you want My blessings so you can build a kingdom of your own, don’t expect much. I’m only interested in answering the prayers of women who are serious about being fruitful for Me.”