Withered Branches

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. John 15:6

"The lessons these words teach are very simple and very solemn. A man can come to such a connection with Christ that he counts himself to be in Him, and yet he can be cast forth.  ...There is such a thing as a withered branch, one in whom the initial union with Christ appears to have taken place, and in whom yet it is seen that his faith was but for a time....And what may be the cause of this 'not abiding'? With some it is that they never understood that the Christian calling leads to holy obedience and loving service. They were content with the thought that they had believed and were safe from hell; there was neither motive nor power to abide in Christ - they knew not of the need of it.....Let each of us turn within. Is our life fresh, and green, and vigorous, bringing forth its fruit in its season [See Psalm 1:3; 92:13-14; Jeremiah 17:7-8) Let us accept every warning with a willing mind, and let Christ's 'if a man abide not' give new urgency to His 'abide in Me.'...Withered! O my Father, watch over me, and keep me, and let nothing ever for a moment hinder the freshness that comes from a full abiding in the Vine. Let the very thought of a withered branch fill me with holy fear and watchfulness." - Murray


Ye Can Do Nothing

Without Me ye can do nothing. John 15:5

"As little as I created myself, as little as I could raise a man from the dead, can I give myself the divine life. As little as I can give it myself, can I maintain or increase it: Every motion is the work of God through Christ and His Spirit. It is as a person believes this that he will take up that position of entire and continual dependence that is the very essence of the life of faith....The sense of helplessness, and the abiding to which it compels, leads to true fruitfulness and diligence in good works....Look again at that little branch, utterly helpless and fruitless except as it receives sap from the vine, and learn that the full conviction of not being able to do anything apart from Christ is just what you need to teach you to abide in your heavenly Vine....Without me - you nothing. Lord, I gladly accept the arrangement: I nothing - You all. My nothingness is my highest blessing, because You are the Vine that gives and works all. So be it, Lord! I, nothing, ever waiting on Your fullness. Lord, reveal to me the glory of this blessed life." - Murray

How many times do I despise my weakness?  Wishing I could do more, be more to others, give more to others, know more how to help, have more time.  The answer lies in that I don't have anything.  I am nothing.  Christ will enable to do, give, be, and love.  And what a perfect life He will live through me! 

Lord, my prayer is the same as Murray's....let me be nothing.  Let myself fade away.  Let me abide and gain all of myself from You.  Give me Your strength. Give me Your love. Give me Your wisdom. Give me Your life. Amen.


Much Fruit

"Have you ever noticed the difference in the Christian life between work and fruit? A machine can do work; only life can bear fruit. A law can compel work; only love can spontaneously bring forth fruit. Work implies effort and labor; the essential idea of fruit is that it is the silent, natural, restful produce of our inner life....Begin each day with Him in the morning, to know in truth that you are abiding in Him and He in you.  Christ tells us that nothing less will do. It is not your willing and running; it is not by your might or strength, "but by my spirit, saith the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6)...You see to the abiding; He will see to the fruit, for He will give it in you and through you." - Murray

Everyone gets tired of working for Christ.  It is time to abide in Christ.  It is then that the fruit comes.  I pray that for my own life.  That I stop striving to do, do, do, do and just abide in Christ.


Ye the Branches

I am the vine, ye are the branches - John 15:5

We must be nothing less or nothing more than a branch.

"Your life and strength and fruit depend upon what your Lord Jesus is! Therefore worship and trust Him; let Him be  your one desire and the one occupation of your heart. And when you feel that you do not and cannot know Him aright, then just remember it is part of His responsibility as Vine to make Himself known to you. He does this not in the thoughts and conceptions - no - but in a hidden growth within the life that is humbly and restfully and entirely given up to wait on Him." - Murray


I the Vine

I am the Vine, ye are the branches. - John 15:5

He now repeats the words. He would have us understand - note well the lesson (as simple as it appears, it is the key of the abiding life) - that the only way to obey the command "Abide in me" is to have eye and heart fixed upon Himself....(Gaze upon Christ)....The vision of Christ is an irresistible attraction; it draws and holds us like a magnet.....How much weary labor has been in striving to understand what abiding is, how much fruitless effort in trying to attain it? Why was this? Because the attention was turned to the abiding as a work we have to do, instead of to the living Christ, in whom we were to be kept abiding, who Himself was to hold and keep us. We thought of abiding as a continual strain and effort - we forget that it means rest from effort to one who has found the place of his abode...And so it sometimes comes that souls who have never been especially occupied with the thought of abiding are abiding all the time, because they are occupied with Christ....(Christ says) 'Come out of every other place, and every other trust and occupation, come out of self with its reasonings and efforts, come and rest in what I shall do.'" - Murray

So this is abiding:
being occupied with Christ. 
Striving to know Christ, be like Christ, and rest in Christ is the key to abiding! 
My home with Christ means that I am ever pursuing a relationship with Him.  T
hat I'm constantly trying to understand Who He is. 
That I am striving to be like Him in every action. 
I need not worry whether I am abiding or not. 
If all of my attention is focused on Christ, then I am abiding.


Except Ye Abide

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. - John 15:4

"We know the meaning of the word except. It expresses some indispensable condition, some inevitable law....Let me learn the lesson. Abiding is to be an act of the will an the whole heart. Just as there are degrees in seeking and serving God, "not with a perfect heart," or "with the whole heart," so there may e degrees in abiding. In regeneration the divine life enters us, but it does not all at once master and fill our whole being. This comes as a matter of command and obedience....There is unspeakable danger of our giving ourselves to work for God and to bear fruit, with but little of the true abiding, the wholehearted losing of ourselves in Christ and His life....Our blessed Lord desires to call us away from ourselves and our own strength, to Himself and His strength." - Murray

So it is not like a light switch - I'm abiding, then suddenly not abiding.  It is a process.  It is the process that I have known and worked for my entire life - to gain a close relationship with Christ.  To be so intimate with Him, that I do not care what others say, or what others do, or what others think.  I am only thinking of Christ and bending my thoughts, actions, and will towards Him.

Lord, my prayer is that I do not let myself get into the way of abiding in You.  Give me the power to obey this command.  For abiding isn't something that is just beneficial to me and I should strive to do it. You have commanded it of me.  I must obey.



John 15:4 - Abide in Me, and I in you.

"'Abide in Me' refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else, to reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this, through the grace He gies, a character is formed and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: 'I in you.' God strengthesn us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith....It is as we follow Christ in lowly obedience, even in external things, denying ourselves, forsaking the world, and even in the body seeking to be conformable to Him, as we thus seek to abide in Him, that we shall be able to recieve and enjoy the 'I in you.'.....In - The two parts of the injunction have their unity in that central deep-meaning word in. There is no deeper word in Scripture. God is in all. God dwells in Christ. Christ lives in God. We are in Christ. Christ is in us: our life taken up into His; His life received into ours; in a divine reality that words cannot express, we are in Him and He in us....No thinking or teaching or praying can grasp it; it is a divine mystery of love. As little as we can effect the union can we understand it.....Here I am Lord, a branch, cleansed and abiding - resting in You, and awaiting the inflow of Your life and grace." - Murray

That is the cry of my heart!!


The Pruning Knife

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. - John 15:3

"What is the pruning knife of this heavenly Husbandman?...it is the Word of God that is the knife, sharper than any two-edged sword, that pierces even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and that is quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart....It is the soul gives up its own thoughts and men's thoughts of what is religious and yields itself heartily, humbly, patiently to the teaching of the Word by the Spirit, that the Father will do His blessed work of pruning and cleansing away all of nature and self that mixes with our work and hinders His Spirit....Father, I pray, cleanse me through Your Word. Let is search out and bring to light all that is of self and the flesh in my religion.  Let it cut away every root of self-confidence, that the Vine may find me wholly free to receive His life and Spirit.  O my Husbandman, I trust You to care for the branch as much as for the Vine. You only are my hope." - Murray The True Vine


The Cleansing

"It is not the removal of weeds or thorns or anything from outside that may hinder the growth.  No; it is the cutting off of the long shoots of the previous year, the removal of something that comes from within, that has been produced by the life of the vine itself...What a solemn, precious lesson! It is not to sin only that the cleansing of the Husbandman here refers.  It is to our own religious activity, as it is developed in the very act of bearing fruit.  It is this that must be cut down and cleansed away.  We must, in working for God, use our natural gifts of wisdom, or eloquence, or influence, or zeal. And yet they are ever in danger of being unduly developed, and then trusted in.  And so, after each season of God, God has to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the consciousness of the helplessness and the danger of all that is of man, to feel that we are nothing.  All that is to be left of us is just enough to receive the power of the life giving sap of the Holy Spirit....O our holy Husbandman, cleanse and cut away all that there is in us that would make a fair show, or could become a source of self-confidence and glorifying. Lord, keep us very low, that no flesh may glory in Your presence. We trust You to do Your work." - Murray

It is amazing that God, our Husbandman would be so wise and loving.  He does not call us to do works for Him and then leave us to ourselves.  He cuts away all that is "us" and fills it with Himself.  To be able to be filled, we must be emptied.  To bear fruit, we must be pruned.  My prayer is that I don't see the pruning as a weakness, but as an opportunity for Christ to be glorified in me.  There are many times I feel that I can do something with my own talents and abilities.  It is then that God needs to prune away my self-confidence.  I pray that He will prune me, so that I may bear fruit.


More Fruit

"The word is a most encouraging one.  Let us listen to it.  It is just to the branch that is bearing fruit that this message comes: more fruit. God does not demand this as Pharaoh the taskmaster, or as Moses the lawgiver, without providing the means He comes as a Father, who gives what He asks and works what He commands.  He comes to us as the living branches of the living Vine and offers to work the more fruit in us, if we but yield oursevles into His hands.  Shall we not admit the claim, accept the offer, and look to Him to work it in us?" - Murray

That we don't work in vain is an encouragement.  That we don't labor alone is even more of a comfort.  We are a part of the Vine.  We are His.  He is our life and the strength and wisdom to make it through (sometimes day-by-day). 

Thank You, O my Father.  For giving us your life.  For connecting us to Your eternal Vine. Amen.


The Fruit

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away. - John 15:2
"The fruit is the one thing the branch is for, and that if it bear not fruit, the husbandman takes it away.  ...The one reason for the existence of the branch, the one mark of being a true branch of the heavenly Vine, the one condition of being allowed by the divine Husbandman to share the life of the Vine is bearing fruit...Christians think their own salvation is the first thing, then temporal life and prosperity, with the care of their family, the second; and what time and interest is left may be devoted to fruit bearing, to the saving of men....Your first aim in life, your first aim everyday, should be to know how Christ desires to carry out His purpose in you." - Murray

I used to think like this!  I used to think that my family and my own spiritual life was the chief aim of my life, and winning souls for Christ would come "naturally" or that God would somehow save people by just me living a good life.  What an error that is!  Sure, people can look at my life and see God working in my life and maybe be pointed to Him.  Yet, as Murray said, that is not fruit.  Winning souls is fruit. 

That is easy to say, but hard to do!  Who in my life, as a stay-at-home-mom, do I have to witness to.  Sure, my children.  Yet, right now I have a baby and a toddler.  They are not ready to hear the Gospel message.  Do I then just wait until their ready and not worry about witnessing?  Surely not!  I will pray and seek out those in my life that need to hear the Gospel message. 

I think I have been focusing on encouraging others, which isn't a bad thing.  Yet, I think that I need to maybe be bolder and seek out those who need to hear God's truth and be saved!

Lord, work in my heart.  Give me the strength and willingness to share the Gospel with those I know.  Let me not wait until someone "crosses my path."  May I seek out those who need to hear your truth, especially in my own family. Amen.

The Branch

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away. - John 15:2
"I have been redeemed and I love for one thing. As exclusively as the natural branch exists only to bring forth fruit, I too; as exclusively as the heavenly Vine exists to bring forth fruit, I too.  As I have been planted by God into Christ, I have wholly given myself to bear the fruit the Vine desires to bring forth." - Murray

As the branch, I have no life of my own.  I have no strength on my own.  I have no purpose on my own.  Only when I am connected to the Vine do I have life, strength, and purpose.  Only in Christ do I find that life has meaning.  Only in Christ do I find the strength to wade through the day-to-day of life.  Only in Christ do I see what my purpose in life truly is.


The Husbandman

My father is the husbandman - With such a Husbandman as His Father, He could enter death and the grave. Before He ever uses the word, or speaks at all of abiding in Him or bearing fruit, He turns their eyes heavenward to the Father watching over them and working all in them. At the very root of all Christian life lies the thought that God is to do all,that our one work is to leave ourselves in His hands....Christ the Vine points to God the Husbandman....As surely as the Husbandman made the Vine what it was to be, will He make each branch what it is to be. Our Father is our Husbandman, the surety for our growth and fruit.

The Vine

The True Vine
by Andrew Murray

Chapter One: The Vine
"All earthly things are the shadows of heavenly realities - the expression, in created, visible forms, of the invisible glory of God. The life and the truth are in heaven; on earth we have figures and shadows of the heavenly truths. When Jesus says: "I am the true vine," He tells us that all the vines of earth are pictures and emblems of Himself. He is the divine reality, of which they are the created expression.  They all point to Him, and preach Him, and reveal Him. If you would known Jesus, study the vine....And what are you to do, if you want the mystery, in all its heavenly beauty and blessing, opened up to you? With what you already know of the parable, bow down and be still, worship and wait, until the divine Word enters your heart and you feel His holy presence with you and in you.....Holy Lord Jesus, the heavenly Vine of God's own planting, I beseech You, reveal Yourself to my soul.  Let the Holy Spirit, not only in thought, but in experience, give me to know all that You, the Son of God, are to me as the true Vine."


Oct. 31, 2010

Sunday morning, on October 31, 2010 my grandmother, Delma Anna Whitt Pruden went home to be with the Lord.  She was 77 years old.  She was my last living grandparent.  She was my Mama.  I have experienced loss now in my adult life.  I hadn't before now.  I haven't been able to write, or even think for that matter, all week.  The first thing I wrote was this:

Tears, quiet tears, gentle sobs, silent wet tears down my face.
Stand still
The world doesn't move on, my life is at a stand still.
Loss of life
A hole has appeared in my heart, who will fill it up?
God will take my grief and give me His wonderful joy.

Isaiah 61:3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Through my suffering, God will be glorified. 
What a thought!
What a comfort.