Permanent Resident

John 15:4,5 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

“Without me ye can do nothing.” I don’t do well with doing nothing. I’m busy from the time I get up until I go to bed. And I guess in a way that’s good, but it can be very tiring. 

But when I stop and consider my spiritual life (which should seep over into my physical life), do I try to do things without Jesus? Do I try and read my Bible without inviting Him to come along side me? Do I try to serve at church without asking Him if it is where I’m supposed to be? Yep. 

So what does this have to do with these verses and this blog title? I need to take up permanent residence in Jesus. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Duh, Melissa. We are followers of Christ. Isn’t that where we should be?” Yep. But are you? Are you truly abiding in the Vine? Are you letting Him supply your every need? Are you producing His fruit or your own? Have you truly established yourself in Him? Could you be the person you are today without Him?

Jesus should be so much a part of who you are that to attempt to disconnect yourself from Him would bring complete and utter destruction. You need to be a permanent resident in Jesus. He has to be your source of life for all parts of you. He needs to be what gets you out of bed in the morning. He needs to be what motivates you to care for those around you. He needs to be the One that you rely upon when the job gets too heavy. He needs to be your Friend when no one else is around. You and Jesus need to be stuck together with eternal glue – no coming apart, ever. 

So let me encourage you today to dig a little deeper. Grow that bond a little stronger. Make Jesus a bigger part of your life. This is what He wants. This is what He desires – a relationship with His child – you. Happy Wednesday. 


Root rot

Proverbs 4:20-27 – “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

My job, now, is in home health. That means that I get to go out into the community and meet all kinds of interesting people. 

One of my patients was a citrus farmer. He was telling me about a disease that sometimes hits orange groves. It starts at the roots. By the time you take note of the disease, the tree is a goner. The first indication of a problem is that the top of the tree begins to die. And that happens 2 years after the tree is infected! Two years!

Problems are everywhere and in everyone’s life. It is how we identify and address the problems that is important. You can’t let something sit and fester for a while before you tend to it. No, when a problem arises, you have to hit it head on. Putting it off will only cause things to get worse and worse. 

Some people frown at disciplining a small child. “They are little. They don’t know any better.” Exactly. That’s why we need to teach them when they are young!

Some people will notice something odd in a relationship and just sweep it under the rug. They don’t address the abnormality until it becomes normal and a problem. That’s when relationships fall apart – friends and marriages. 

Someone will detect a slight change in their body and brush it off because they are too busy. And before you know it, you have a full blown medical incident on your hands that could have been avoided if you had just paid attention. 

Big problems rarely begin as an explosion. Usually, there are little rumbles here and there that get overlooked or pushed aside. We are too busy to address them. 

Solomon warned his son in these verses against this very thing. He instructed him that he had to keep the Word of God with him always. He needed to keep it in the front of his thoughts always to guard his heart against problems that will surely come. 

Things are going to be happening all around us. Temptations will be at every turn. Problems will arise. Evil will try to pull us away from what we know is right. But we need to keep our eyes fixed. We can’t let root rot happen.

Satan wants to get in at the root and destroy us from the bottom up. If he can get us away from God, he can win. It starts with neglecting your Bible. And then church becomes an option. And then activities at church just happen on the wrong days. And before you know it, root rot. The top of your tree gets brown and things begin to taste bitter. 

Guard your heart, my friend.  Allow the Holy  Spirit to reside in your heart to hold you close to the One who can carry you through it all. Don’t let root rot take ahold of you. 

Be a pineapple 

Ephesians 6:13 – “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

I found this on the biggest time waster in the world, Pinterest. Love that but man, does it waste time!

However, I thought this was great! I have never really considered the personal applications of a pineapple. 

Pineapple is one of my most favorite fruits. I have very fond memories of pineapples. I also LOVE the taste of them. Their sweetness is unparalleled. But they are a booger to get open, sometimes. Their “skin” is so very tough and really attaches itself to the sweetness found inside. 

So, do you know how to pick the very best pineapple? You tug on a leaf of the crown. If it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe and ready. If not, leave it for another day. 

Did you know that you can grow your own pineapple from the one you buy at the store? Yep! When you remove the crown, plant it. It will take several years, but eventually you will have your very own pineapple. Knowing that they take so long to grow really makes you appreciate them all the more. 

So, what does this have to do with my spiritual life, you might ask. First of all, a good pineapple will always stand tall. God doesn’t ask us to initiate a fight. He asks us to be prepared and stand tall – be ready to defend. Pineapples have a tough outer skin. We need to be tough as well – not allowing everything that is said or done to us affect who we are or what we do. Secondly, we need to wear our crown. We are children of the King if we have received Jesus Christ as our Savior. A pineapple is known by its crown. We should be known by our crown as well. And lastly, we need to be sweet. Being sweet can take many forms –  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Do you recognize those? Look up Ephesians 5:22,23 – the fruit of the Spirit. 

There are so many lessons to be learned from pineapples. This only touches the crown, so to speak. Pineapples also are a sign of hospitality (1 Peter 4:9). And we already touched on this one, but one could dive deeper into the armor of a pineapple. They have a core that extends from the base (foundation) that makes the fruit. I could go on and on, but you see what I mean? I never really put much thought into it but wow! God can truly use anything to express Biblical truths!

So, even if you don’t like pineapples, be a pineapple. Take a few moments this week and study the pineapple. Learn its traits. Apply the principles you can learn from this majestic fruit. Every thing around us is here for a reason, multiple reasons usually. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking it’s just a yummy fruit. The pineapple is truly a gift from God.  

John 15 – Part 2

John 15:4-8 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

Here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. 

Abiding. Here’s how good old Webster’s 1828 defines abiding – “Dwelling; remaining; continuing; enduring; awaiting.” 

It’s kinda like the wheels on a car. They have to be in line to work properly. If one is out of whack, the car drives crazy. You can’t have one wheel in front of the other. They have to work together to make the car go straight. 

We have to allow Jesus to dwell in us. We have to abide or stay in Him. If we get out of line, everything goes crazy. We can’t stay on the narrow way when we are out of line with Him. 

And then there’s the whole fruit aspect of these verses. We kind of touched on this in the last blog post, but in case you have forgotten – you can’t bear fruit without Jesus. You have to be attached to Him. 
Now you can grow yucky fruit. Fruit that is not sweet or pure or beneficial. But this kind of fruit has no benefit. It does not make life better by knowing it is there. 

If you want to grow and produce some type of fruit, the plant has to have a source for nutrients. The branches where the fruit is produced must be attached to a base or a vine that can sustain the plant and give it what it needs to grow good fruit. There is a reason Jesus used this analogy – those He was speaking to knew farming and gardening. They understood and realized the necessity behind what He was saying. This wasn’t rocket science. This was real life. 

They understood that if a branch in their vineyard wasn’t producing, the logical thing to do was cut it off and burn it, get rid of it. They knew that in order for the grapes to grow, the branches where the flowers bloomed must stay attached to the vine. This was their life; this is what they knew. 

Jesus wasn’t speaking to them in some weird language. He was speaking to them in a way that they can understand and that people throughout the ages could understand. I may not tend a vineyard, but I know enough to know how things like that sort of work. I can get the gist of it. 

God still speaks like that to us today. He is telling us here in these verses – “You MUST be attached to Jesus if you want any thing productive to go on in your life. And if you aren’t doing something, well then, drastic measures are going to have to go on to get your attention and to get you back to where you need to be. I do this because I love you and I want you to be the best you can be.” (Melissa interpretation here.)

I know when I have had a garden in the past, I go out there and hope that there will be nothing that I need to do to make the vegetables grow. I hope that the plants are growing up with no issues, that the weeds are not there and that all of the branches are producing fruit or vegetables. But deep down, I know that will not be the case. I know I will need to pluck and prune and rake the soil around a bit. I know that if I want a bountiful harvest, I’m going to have to work at it. 

God is the same way. He would like for things just to go along smoothly and everyone accept Jesus for who He is and what He has done. But He knows that it takes work. The human race has been work since day 1 and we will continue to be work until the very last day. But God is full of grace and mercy and He wants to make our life here the fullest and most profitable that it can be. We just have to let Him do the pruning, the raking, the weed pulling and the fertilizing. And above all else, we MUST stay attached to the Vine. Otherwise, we will perish without His nurturing love. 

John 15 – Part 1

John 15:1-3  – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

John 15 came to my attention 3 different times yesterday. So, I took that as God trying to get my attention regarding what He had to say in these verses. I’m going to try to do a mini-series on these verses. So, let’s do this!

First of all, let’s look at the relationships here. There is a relationship between Jesus and the Father – the branch and the gardener. The responsibility of the Gardener is to care for the plants – to feed and fertilize them, prune and protect them and to monitor and enjoy the fruit that the plants produce. The plants responsibility is to be submissive to the will of the gardener and to bear fruit. 

Here is the deal – Jesus is the vine and we, his followers, are the branches. (We will get to that verse at a later date. It’s actually verse 5.)   Without the vine, the branches cannot produce the fruit. When the branches are not producing, they are removed. (We will get to that at another date too! So much to look forward to!) The branches that are producing are pruned so that they will bring forth even more fruit. 

What does all this mean for us as followers of Christ? It means that we need to be about the Father’s business of producing fruit. We need to be submissive to His pruning and accepting of His “nutrients” He provides for our growth. Every day, we have the opportunity to grow. It is our choice if we do or not. We go through periods of pruning. Sometimes it seems constant and other times it seems a bit spread out. But the point is that God loves and cares for us enough to pay particular attention to what we need to be the best for Him. 

As for the whole fruit thing, what does that look like? What does “fruit” look like in my life? I think it can take several forms. One is explained in Galations 5:22,23 as “the fruit of the Spirit”. These are characteristics found in our life when we seek after the Lord. Another example is the people we affect in our life. We show them the love of God by our words and our actions. I believe that being obedient is also a fruit. Choosing to read, study and pray develop the relationship we are to have with the Vine AND the Gardener. And then there is the ultimate fruit – leading someone to Christ. Could it possibly get any better or any sweeter? 

I am so grateful that God tends to the garden of my heart in a more diligent and loving way than I care for my own yard. All I do is whack away at what I don’t want, the things that are unseemly. He doesn’t stroll into my life on a hit or miss basis and start whacking. He is there every minute of every day tending and nurturing and pruning and fertilizing. He provides everything I need to grow in His light. 

The question is – Am I going to choose to grow and produce fruit today? Well…that is the prayer and desire of my heart. Now, let’s see if I will follow Him through this thing.