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Lent 2018 Devotional—March 16th

Lent 2018 Devotional—March 16th

PRAY

Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).

READ

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you
wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you
bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments,
you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy
may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:7-13

What would you do with the wood from a grape vine? What would you make from it? The wood of a cedar tree would be great for adding a deck to your house. Maple would be good for making bookshelves. Mesquite would make for some tasty barbeque. But the wood of a grape vine? It’s too soft, gnarled, and good for nothing. The prophet Ezekiel had a lot to say about grape vines and concluded that the wood is useless: “Is vine wood ever used to make anything? Is it used to make pegs to hang things from? I don’t think so” (Ezekiel 15:3-4, The Message). Vine-growers do all the work of planting and caring for grape vines for just one reason: fruit.

So the divine vine-grower, our heavenly Father, wants our lives to be fruitful. He cares for us, nurtures us, lifts us up and prunes us because He wants us to produce good and lasting fruit. Jesus wants us to know that God is glorified by our living fruitful lives: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Thus, Jesus wants us to know the secret of being fruitful: “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me” (John 15:4b). We will produce fruit only as we abide in Christ; and the fruit He will produce in us? Love! That love all begins with the Father loving Jesus who then loves us: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” Abiding in Jesus’ love then spills out to others. It is a ‘Jesus-kind’ of love that gives itself for others: “...to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Now fast-forward several decades to an elderly apostle John writing about the fruit of love: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us —and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:16-18).

This ‘Jesus-kind’ of love might not happen in one glorious, heroic act, but in a thousand small deaths to self in our daily interactions with others. A ‘Jesus-kind’ of love will mean caring for the homeless, forgiving the unforgiveable, and washing dirty feet. This is the fruit God seeks in our lives. It is the reason God created and redeemed us. Jesus says the Father will be glorified by our living fruitful lives. This happens as we settle in and abide in Jesus’ love.

REFLECT

  • What would it mean for me to settle in and abide in Jesus’ love?
  • What are some ways that a ‘Jesus-kind’ of love might spill out from me to someone today?

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)

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