The Key to Fruitfulness

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read John 15:1-8; Hebrews 12:1-11

How can you be fruitful – in your daily living, in your relationships, in your service, and in prayer life?

Remain in the vine. All your fruitfulness flows from Jesus Christ. Just as His relationship with the Father was the key to His fruitfulness, so it is with you. Your relationship with the Father through Jesus is the key to your fruitfulness. Do everything you can to nurture your relationship with Him. Make that the #1 priority in your life, just as Jesus’ relationship with the Father was His constant focus and deepest desire.

Our Father will do all He can to increase our fruitfulness. How?

Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2, NASB).

The Father prunes us. Such pruning is essential if vines are to produce the very best fruit possible. The vine’s precious sap cannot be wasted supporting branches that are unfruitful. Only the fruit-bearing branches may remain.

So it is with us. The Father prunes or cleans us of any unfruitful elements in our lives. As we allow Him, He cuts away anything in us that drains our time, attention, energy, and resources without bearing fruit.

How does God prune us? By His word (v.3). His revealed wisdom teaches us how to live fruitfully.

  • By His Spirit. His Spirit applies His word to our individual lives.
  • By other means of grace, such as the Church and our fellow believers.

Pruning is not a one-time process. As with branches in a vine, things grow up in our lives that drain away our attention without bearing fruit. If our lives are to bear the best fruit possible, these unfruitful elements must be regularly pruned away.

Study and prayerfully apply God’s word. Be diligent about the means of grace. Stay tuned to the Spirit’s voice. The writer of Hebrews likened this pruning to parental discipline when he wrote: 

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11, NASB)

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Remain in Me
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

God Is Drawing Us to Himself

Do you hear God’s Word continually prodding you?
It is urging you to
give thanks to Him!
Sing to Him!
Rejoice in Him!
Praise Him!
Trust Him!
Hope in Him!
Delight in Him!

Do you hear God calling?
God is calling us to Himself.

He is the source of
all life,
all love,
all blessing,
all that is good for
heart and soul,
mind and body.
So out of a deep longing for our very best, He is
pursuing us,
inviting us,
eagerly drawing us to Himself.

If you want all the riches that life offers,
seek the God who is seeking you.
Talk to Him.
Walk with Him.
Confide in Him.
Love Him.
Follow Him.
Turn yourself toward
your Source,
your Father,
your God.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Psalm 33
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

Seeing a Greater God 

Even after many years of following You, Father,
much of my life makes no sense in light of
who You are.
You are perfect power,
perfect wisdom, and
perfect love.
Yet the faith I live is so weak.
My thoughts and actions proclaim a God who is
only a vague shadow of You,
a God who is
limited and
unreliable.
So much of me is still unmolded by the truth of
all You are.
My daily walk is clouded by
ignorance,
fear, and
self-centeredness.

Almighty Father, I long to know You in a way that is
all-transforming.
I want to respond to You
always,
constantly,
for all You are.
I hunger to think and speak and walk
each moment
in the light of Your full greatness.

Continue to draw me to Yourself.
Through
prayer,
Your Word, and
Your loving discipline, Father,
help me to
see You more clearly and
trust You more simply.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: High and Holy Sovereign God
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Living in a Saturday World

A Reflection for the Easter Season 

I am an Easter Sunday person
living in a Saturday world.
The resurrection is still a hope for tomorrow.
Today the tombs are still full.
Today the world is still dark,
aching for the dawn.

With Jesus,
my death is still a brutal reality.
With the disciples,
I still grapple with weakness and uncertainty.
With Mary,
I deeply grieve the seeming loss of one
inexpressibly precious to me.
With Peter,
I still mourn my shameful failures.
I mourn my inconsistency.
I mourn the dimness of
my vision,
my faith,
my love.
The truth is so vast and glorious,
yet I am so small and cold.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ
yet so very unlike Him.

But today,
right now,
in the grip of all this Saturday darkness,
the debt for all my wickedness
is completely, forever paid.
Today Almighty God intimately shares with me His own Holy Spirit
every time I ask and trust.
Today I am His –
His child,
His treasure.
Today my life is hid with Christ in God.
Today my future is secure.
Today my eternal life in Him
has already begun and
will never end.

So today, throughout this long Saturday,
I will rejoice in the resurrection
as one who already sees the light peak above the horizon.
Thanks be to God!
Thanks be to You, my God,
for Your unspeakable Gift!

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Christ Is Alive! We Live in Him!
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

I Press Ahead toward Christ

Success and failure are just words,
spoken from our small-minded ignorance.
Money and respect are simply mediums of human exchange.
They can only give what other humans have to give,
creatures who share our own deep neediness.
Glory and gold are too shallow to provide
what we truly need and crave.
Physical comfort is an imposter,
pretending to be lasting peace.
In the end, death shows them all for what they are:
empty delusions.

Jesus Christ is the eternal, holy, glorious God
made fully human.
In Him, my Father, I can
know You and
love You and
become like You.
In Him all my goals,
all my expectations,
all life’s possibilities are raised and reset.
In Him I am becoming more than I ever dreamed I could be.
Jesus Christ is my desire.
I trust HIM.
I press ahead toward HIM.

For in Him, Father,
I become one with You
completely and forever,
in all Your holiness and love.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Upward Call
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

Prepare for Easter

Father, as I celebrate this Easter season,
teach me what it means to live as
an Easter person
in this present world.

Everyone here is facing
inescapable death.
Help me live Your resurrection life among them,
glowing with
hope,
purpose, and
joyful anticipation.

Here sin seems inescapable.
Failure is considered inevitable.
Help me live as one set free from sin,
fully forgiven and
fully empowered for triumphant living.

Here, as we face the future,
we are gripped with
helplessness and
despair.
May I walk in the bright confidence of Easter.
Help me live as one whose eternal, glorious life in You
has already begun, and
will never end.

Father, may lost and hopeless people
sense the beautiful reality of Easter
in me.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Alive in You
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Completion

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 4:34; 5:36; 13:1; 17:4, 23; 19:28

Throughout His earthly ministry, from first to last, Jesus repeatedly spoke of completing the work His Father had sent Him to do. It seemed always on His mind. To express His desire, He used a Greek word meaning to complete, finish, or accomplish.

For example, when He was weary from travel, His disciples urged Him to eat. Jesus was more concerned with drawing a Samaritan woman to His Father:

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34, NASB)

Jesus’ critics scoffed at His claim that God was His Father. They considered it blasphemy! Jesus said His works proved that God was His Father:

“The works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36, NASB)

On His final night with His disciples before His arrest, Jesus prayed to His Father and gave Him this report on the task for which He had been sent:

“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NASB)

Jesus finished this same prayer by praying for all who would believe on Him in the years to come. Looking ahead, the work He desired to see completed was their perfect union with each other in the Father and Son:

“I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23, NASB)

What was the task that had characterized Jesus’ ministry from first to last? It was showing the Father’s love, in all its length and depth and height:

Jesus knowing that His hour had come that he would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end [margin: to the uttermost, or eternally]. (John 13:1, NASB)

Considering this focus of His life, how else would Jesus spend His final breath as He died in agony on the cross?

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:28, 30, NASB)

The completion of His Father’s work was Jesus’ daily food, His unshakable foundation, His love’s driving force, His dying wish, and His vision of the future for every believer.

Father, my desires,
my time,
my energy,
my future are in Your hands.
Plant me like a seed,
as You did Jesus.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Christ Is Our Horizon
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Jesus Christ, Our Completeness

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26, NIV)

Loving Father,
You let us feel and experience
our profound neediness for Jesus Christ.

Our gnawing inadequacies,
our disappointments and pain,
our restless, unfulfilled longings
bind us to this truth:
Jesus Christ alone is
our holiness,
our peace, and
our completeness.

He alone is the life and love we crave.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Father, You See Our Need
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship

Prepare for Holy Week

Father, prepare my heart and mind for Holy Week.

Help me to
cheer,
rejoice, and
sing praise
as Jesus comes to us triumphantly in the face of death,
proclaiming Himself our Messiah!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Help me share His burning zeal for His Father’s house.
And may He cleanse my heart as well whenever I allow
life’s busy-ness to crowd out prayer.

Open my ears and my heart, Lord,
as Jesus urges us to
pray boldly and
patiently endure the persecution that will surely come.

Infuse my life with the fragrance of love
as a woman models how to
lavishly worship Jesus,
with no thought of self,
holding nothing back.

Humble me and
challenge my concept of ministry
as our Master takes on Himself
the lowest,
most menial,
most irksome service to His disciples.

Then, Father, help me watch with new eyes
as Your only Son
sweats blood in the garden,
silently endures brutal injustice, and
dies willingly under indescribable torture.
Impress Your love in a fresh way on
my mind and
my heart.
Make me ready once again to
receive it and to
pour it out on others.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: As You Love
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Today in Your Care

Sovereign God,
You dwell in eternity,
unmoved by time.
Your promises,
Your purposes,
Your burning love are
always now,
always sure,
always undiminished.

Today
I am in Your tender care.
Here in You,
nothing is forgotten,
nothing ignored,
nothing overlooked,
nothing left to chance.
Your purpose is never threatened.
You suffer no surprises and
no setbacks.
You are not bound
by the present or the past,
by norms or impossibilities.

Within me is
pain,
sorrow,
weakness, and
uncertainty.
But You have hidden me in Yourself.
I am completely,
eternally,
untouchably safe in You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Be Still, My Child
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics