I am the vine; you are the branches. — John 15:5
People used to say my father and I favored each other.
They said I had my dad’s smile (which made me happy), as well as his nose (which made me less happy). We shared many of the same interests and skill sets, including the ability to play only mediocre tennis but get a varsity-level suntan if we parked ourselves in a beach chair for an hour. Dad loved comparing forearms at the end of the day to see who was darker — a contest that he always won.
For better or for worse, children are image bearers, a connection that reflects our relationship with our heavenly Father. Remember what God said when He was creating the world?
Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness.
And then, having created Adam and Eve, God gave them a job:
Be fruitful, He said, and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.1
I can’t help but think that Jesus had the creation story in mind as He issued a similar charge to His disciples.
I am the vine; you are the branches, He said. I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.2
Just as we bear the image of the Creator, so a branch bears the image of the vine. And just as God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful, so Jesus says we’ve been chosen — appointed — to bear fruit.
I don’t know about you, but I find these twin fruit-bearing assignments, one from Genesis and the other from John, as intimidating as they are inspiring. I love the grand vision — the idea that we are in a living relationship with the Creator who intends for us to impact the earth — but I wonder how we are supposed to go about doing the job. What role can I play? What role can you? Can we really be difference makers in the world?
Thank goodness for Andrew Murray, who explains how the vine-branch union works in the fruit-bearing process.
“Without the vine,” Murray writes, “the branch can do nothing.”
As branches, we get that. We know we need the vine to nourish us and equip us to produce fruit.
We know we need God.
But there’s a flip side, Murray says, to the fruit-bearing process: “Without the branch the vine can also do nothing.” He goes on:
A vine without branches can bear no fruit. No less indispensable than the vine to the branch, is the branch to the vine. Such is the wonderful condescension of the grace of Jesus, that just as His people are dependent on Him, He has made Himself dependent on them. Without His disciples He cannot dispense His blessing to the world.3
It’s okay. I’ll wait while you read that one again. (I had to.)
What Murray is saying, in a nutshell, is this:
Without the disciples — without us — God cannot provide good things for people.
God could have chosen to work around us (or even in spite of us), but He didn’t. He chose to work in us and through us to bless other people. God chose us — His image bearers — to reflect His love and be the channel through which His power is unleashed in our world. And the way this works — the way we open the chute for God’s power and provision — is through our prayers.
We see the link between prayer and provision played out over and over again in the Bible. God gave the barren Hannah a son, provided rain for Elijah, opened Peter’s prison doors, and added fifteen years to King Hezekiah’s life.4
God moves when His people pray.
And when Jesus tells us to “ask,” it’s not just an invitation. It’s a command:
Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.5
When we pray, we bring glory to God. He wants us to plow the field with our prayers so that He can provide an incredible harvest.
And all I can think, as I consider how a mighty God could entrust us with such a high calling, is that it is because of how much He loves us. Not because we are clever or well-behaved or (thank goodness!) athletic, but simply because He is our Father — the Father who loves us and longs, as Jesus reminds us, to “give good gifts to those who ask Him.”6
My earthly father died, way too young, from brain cancer. As I look back on his legacy — on all the ways his life left an imprint on mine — the gift I cherish the most is the introduction he gave me to Jesus. Dad came home one day when I was just eight years old and confessed that he’d had it all wrong. He had spent his life trying to earn God’s approval (teaching Sunday school, working hard at his job, playing second-rate tennis with a big grin on his face) until someone told him it wasn’t about being a “good guy.” Being a Christian was about realizing you were not good, after all, and that you needed a Savior.
All of which made complete sense to me. Even as a child, I knew I was a sinner. The idea that God’s grace could cover my failings came then, as it does now, as a major relief — and I was only too glad to (as John 1:12 puts it) receive Jesus, believe in His name, and receive the right to become a child of God.
And today, as I slip my hand into my heavenly Father’s and consider the fruit He has already produced and the harvest yet to come, I am reminded of the blessing, and the privilege, that comes with being an image bearer.
I am reminded of the blessing, and the privilege, of prayer.
➢ See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
➢“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples... You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last — and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you.” (John 15:8, John 15:16)
➢ We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
➢God created you with a longing to live a life of purpose and impact. He has put desires in your heart that He wants to satisfy in above-and-beyond ways. And as you receive Him and believe in Him, He calls you His child. You are His masterpiece.
➢ Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the work God wants you to do, the prayers He wants you to pray. Where do you long to see fruit in your life? How might your prayers in this area bring glory to God? What, if anything, is holding you back from asking “big”?
➢ Allow yourself to envision your life as a vine-branch union with Christ, one that brings glory to God, produces much fruit, and marks you as one of His own. Surrender any thoughts or fears (I’m not good enough... I don’t pray very well... I already have too much on my plate) that may keep you from flourishing in your role as a fruit bearer. Rest secure in God’s presence today, knowing you are extravagantly, lavishly loved.
➢ Thank You for creating me in Your image. I receive You and believe in You; thank You for welcoming me as Your child. (John 1:12)
➢Give me the power to understand how wide and long and high and deep Your love is, and fill me to the measure of all Your fullness. (Ephesians 3:18–19)
➢ May I gradually become brighter and more beautiful as You enter my life and make me more like Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:18 MSG)
➢ Teach me to pray. (Luke 11:1)
➢ May my prayers bring You glory, bear lasting fruit, and mark me as one of Your disciples. (John 15:7–8)
➢You created me in Christ Jesus to do good works. Show me how to pray about ______ so the good things You have planned will come to fruition. (Ephesians 2:10)
➢ When I feel weak or ill-equipped, remind me that Your grace is sufficient and Your power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
➢ Thank You for choosing me and appointing me to bear fruit. Teach me to focus my efforts, and my prayers, on fruit that will last. (John 15:16)
➢ No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Keep me attached to You. (John 15:5)
➢ I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made... All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:14–16)
➢ When I am anxious or uncertain, remind me that nothing can separate me from Your love. (Romans 8:39)
➢ You live among us, Lord. Take delight in me; calm all my fears; rejoice over me with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)
- Genesis 1:26, 28.
- John 15:5, 16.
- Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ (1888; repr., Apollo, PA: Ichthus, 2014), 25, http://ccbiblestudy.net/Topics/74Union/74Union-E/740101%E3%80%8AAbide%20in%20Christ%E3%80%8B(Andrew%20Murray).pdf.
- See 1 Samuel 1:10–20; James 5:17–18; Acts 12:1–19; 2 Kings 20:1–7.
- John 15:7–8.
- Matthew 7:11.
Excerpted with permission from Praying the Scriptures for Your Life by Jodie Berndt, copyright Jodie Berndt.
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Stay connected to God! If you don’t feel connect to Him, soak in this and receive connection with Him through prayer! ~ Devotionals Daily