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"Don't Be the Branch That Falls Away From the Vine." Remain in Jesus

James 1:12

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."

We live in an impatient culture. We are always in motion, moving to the next thing, leaving instead of cleaving, and if the situation is too big, bad, or scary, or if too much suffering is involved, then we are looking for an escape. I am not implying we should not evolve; change and movement are inevitable. But, our character is built and refined when we remain steadfast under trials and tests. There are blessings in endurance.

Are there times when we need to release relationships, jobs, and situations? Absolutely! Staying too long can be dangerous if any of those things become toxic. However, the other crucial part of discerning when to remain is to know who we have to remain in, and that is Jesus. John 15:4 says, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." When we remain in Jesus, we activate a spiritual discernment that can not be done on our own accord.

When we make decisions independent of Jesus, we are not making the best choice. It may work out, but when we choose to rely on the wisdom and will of Christ, we have a guarantee that the Lord is in the outcome, and we do not have that assurance when we act outside of him. The Lord wants us to bear fruit; He wants us to endure and stay the course, and He gives us a path to succeed.

If you read John 15, Jesus talks about being the vine, how we are the branches, and how no branch can bear fruit without the vine; if it falls away, we wither. What a visual Jesus gives us! Think back to a time when you knew you were not in Jesus, or you fell away, and what that looked like in your life. Just pause and remember. Maybe it was a time when you gave up on your faith because the suffering was unbearable, and you didn't see Jesus in the midst of it all. Now, think of a time when, regardless of the circumstances, you remained in Jesus and what that looked like. I have a feeling it was a stark difference. It isn't that the circumstances miraculously got better or the loss was felt less; it is that you remained in Jesus, and there, my friend, is where the difference lies.

I can recall two significant and difficult times in my life when my heart, spirit, and life were aligned with Jesus, and then when it wasn't, the difference was enormous. When I remained in Jesus, there was a peace that passed, understanding that came over me that gave me joy even in the trial. My faith was refined, and I fully put my trust in the Lord, surrendering the outcome to Him, and He was faithful. When I was falling away, the Lord was still faithful because He never changes, but an internal earthquake took place, robbing me of the rest that Jesus so generously gave. There are consequences when we fall away.

Jesus uses the word withers, and that perfectly describes what happens if we don't remain in Him. Wither means "to lose liveliness, force, or freshness, to lose bodily strength or vigor or fade, to shrivel, or to make speechless or incapable of action."

When we fall away or don't remain in Jesus, this is a perfect picture of what happens to us physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. When we are not in Jesus, our light begins to fade; we feel spiritually and physically weak because He is what gives us our strength.

What happens when we remain in Jesus? Let's look at Jesus' own words:

  • John 15:5: "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

  • John 15:7: " If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you."

  • John 15:10: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.

  • John 15:11: " I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."

We remain in Jesus when we choose to obey His commands, know and apply His word, and love Him. But, make no mistake, it is a choice. Love is freedom, and God has given us the freedom through His love to have free will and exercise choice, so we have to choose every day to remain in Him. God wants us to bear good fruit to glorify Him, and we can only do this through Him.

Don't be tempted to stray or give up when you don't see the Lord working at the pace you think He should be working; stay steadfast and remain on the course. Don't give in to the enemy who wants you to fall away, whose goal is for you to spiritually shrivel and take away the fruit the Lord wants you to bear.

The Lord knows your burdens and struggles; He knows our human tendency for impatience, so go to Him. Pray for the strength to remain in Him! Remember, through our weakness, we see His strength the most. We have a cloud of witnesses in the Bible who are examples of remaining in Jesus, for example, Paul. Paul was persecuted, put in jail, flogged, shipwrecked, and the list goes on, but he remained steadfast in the will of Christ. Think of how Paul glorified God through His obedience!

Don't lose faith. When you remain in the Lord, the crown of life awaits you, and it will surpass anything we can ever imagine! It will all be worth it in the end!

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