John 15 is one of my absolute, hands-down favorite chapters in the Bible! Words penned in red spoken by my Savior, Jesus. I love the picture He paints for us. Check this out …
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit…
Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in Me…
I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
Ten times in the first eleven verses Jesus used the word “remain”. I hope you are stepping in the truth of the matter here. If we want joy ~ we must remain in Jesus.
I looked up that word remain since it is the obvious key to joy. This totally blessed my socks off! Are you ready for this? By definition it means to continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist. (Google Dictionary) Push pause and let that sink in.
Immediately the hymn “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” * came to my mind that says –
“Though none go with me
I still will follow
no turning back
no turning back.”
So, what does it look like to remain in Jesus Christ?
For starters, let’s get in the Bible and find out who this man is that refers to Himself as the Vine and the only One who can give us the joy that we are thirsty for. When you and I read the Bible and meditate on it, the Spirit of God will teach us not only who He is but also who we can be as His followers!
It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. A journey. That’s where the remaining comes in.
I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart March 12, 1981. My salvation and eternity were sealed that night! That part was once and done - I pray yours has been as well. With that established, let’s return to the analogy that Jesus gave us in John 15.
I became part of the vine that night. By reading the Bible, being taught and discipled by godly teachers and preachers, I have grown spiritually and the roots of my faith have gotten deeper. And guess what the fruit of that looks like? Yep, joy. Mmmmm say that word with me joy.
Joy is so different than happiness.
Happiness is dependent on my circumstances. Case in point: I purchased an adorable dress last summer. My post COVID quarantine-menopausal body has jerked the happy right out of my dance about that dress! See what I mean? Happiness is temporary and overrated!
Joy remains regardless of my circumstances because of who I am in Jesus Christ. Remember ~ it’s all about remaining in the Vine! The size of my dress doesn’t determine my identity nor the joy thereof! Can I get an amen?!
Now, take a sip of sweet tea or your favorite coffee and let’s switch gears.
Jesus gave us a heads-up in verse two of John 15. God, the Gardener, prunes every branch so that it will produce more fruit.
Sometimes God will cut things out of our life that brings us happiness. (Don’t spit that drink, sister!) He always prunes with purpose! He wants to produce something deeper in us. Something beautiful and more meaningful than temporary happiness. He wants us to have joy in His Son and our Savior!
The more I keep His commands and walk in His ways, the more He prunes non-essentials out of my life. As a result, the fuller and more complete my joy is!
I can’t produce joy in and of myself. No amount of retail therapy, pill, drink or earthly pleasure can bring me true, unadulterated joy! That, my pretty and wise sister, can only be found in Jesus Christ.
But take heed … you have an enemy that hates God and, therefore, hates you. Jesus gave us another heads-up about that schemer known as Satan. In John 10:10 Jesus warned us: “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
So, you know what we have to do? Guard our vineyard!
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch the foxes for us – the little foxes that ruin the vineyards – for our vineyards are in bloom.”
Mmmmm, girl, when you remain in Jesus by spending time in His Word and begin understanding who you are in Him, your joy-fruit will be in full bloom! That’s when you better watch out! Satan will attack!
He hits below the belt and he will use the people we love the most to try and steal our joy! He uses financial hardships, family drama, workplace chaos and the like to kill and destroy your joy!
Don’t put up with that! O Holy No!
It’s times like this that we are going to run to Jesus and tell Him to catch those foxes that are trying to steal, kill and destroy our vineyard of joy! Because, listen to me, those ‘people’ are not our enemy! Paul told us in Ephesians 6 that we don’t fight against flesh and blood! There’s a much bigger war that has been waged! Before you freak out, there’s good news!
Jesus went on to tell us in John 15 and 16 that we would face all kinds of trials and tribulations in this world. So, girlfriend, let’s not be caught off guard by them. Don’t get down and discouraged! Because in John 16:33 Jesus said, “Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
(I can’t believe John didn’t use an exclamation point right there!!)
Whew, that deserves a HALLELUJAH!
That’s the Vine that I want to remain in right there! HE is my Source of joy and the ultimate Defender of my vineyard!
Let’s put this ensemble together …
If we want joy, we must …
*I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, WORDS: St. 1,2, Garo Christians; st. 3 John Clark
Written By: Tina Craighead
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Tina Craighead is a speaker, blogger, and leads Still Waters Ministry. You can catch up with Tina on facebook, her website, or by email!
Photo by Nika Akin on Unsplash
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