Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Abide In Christ - Day 20 - That You May Bear Much Fruit

Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray
Day 20
That You May Bear Much Fruit
He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit...By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit..” (John 15:5.8)
We all know that fruit is the produce of the branch. By it, men are refreshed and nourished. The fruit is not for the branch, but for those who come to pick it. As soon as the fruit is ripe, the branch lets it go, to begin its work of love afresh, and to prepare itself for a new season. A fruit-bearing tree lives not for itself, but wholly for those to whom its fruit brings refreshment and life. And so the branch exists only and entirely for the sake of the fruit. To make glad the heart of the gardener is its object, its safety, and its glory.
This is a beautiful image of the believer abiding in Christ! He not only grows in strength, as his union with the Vine becomes even surer and firmer, but he also bears fruit...yes, much fruit. He has the power to offer that fruit to others so that they can eat and live. He becomes like a tree of life among all those who surround him. They can be refreshed as they eat his fruit. He is in his circle a center of life and blessing, simply because he abides in Christ, and receives from Him the Spirit and the life which he can impart to others. Learn this, if you want to bless others, you must abide in Christ. If you do abide in Him, you will surely bless others. As surely as the branch abiding in a fruitful vine bears fruit, so surely...yes much more surely, will a soul abiding in Christ with His fullness of blessing be made a blessing.
It is easy to understand the reason for this. If Christ, the heavenly Vine, has taken the believer as a branch, then He has pledged Himself, in the very nature of things, to supply the sap and spirit and nourishment to make it bring forth fruit. "Your fruit is found in me" (Hosea 14:8). These words gain new meaning from the parable of the vine. The soul needs to have only one care — to abide closely, fully, wholly. Jesus Himself will give the fruit. He works all that is needed in the believer to make him a blessing.
Abiding in Him, you receive His Spirit of love and compassion towards sinners, making you desire to seek their good. By nature our hearts are full of selfishness. Even as believers, our own salvation and happiness are often too much our only object. But abiding in Jesus you come into contact with His infinite love. Its fire begins to burn within your heart. You see the beauty of love and you learn to look upon loving and serving and saving your fellow men as the highest privilege a disciple of Jesus can have. Abiding in Christ, your heart learns to feel the wretchedness of the sinner who is still in darkness, and the fearfulness of the dishonor which he has done to your God. With Christ you begin to bear the burden of souls...the burden of sins not your own. As you are more closely united to Him, something of that passion for souls which urged Him to Calvary begins to breathe within you, and you are ready to follow His footsteps, to forsake the heaven of your own happiness, and to devote your life to win the souls Christ has taught you to love. The very spirit of the Vine is love. The spirit of love streams into the branch that abides in Him.
The desire to be a blessing is only the beginning. As you undertake to work, you speedily become conscious of your own weakness and the difficulties in your way. Souls are not saved at your bidding. You are ready to become discouraged, and to relax your effort. But as you abide in Christ, you receive new courage and strength for the work. Believing what Christ teaches, that it is through Him that you will give His blessing to the world, you understand that you are only the feeble instrument through which the hidden power of Christ does its work. You understand that His strength may be perfected and made glorious in your weakness. It is a great step when the believer fully accepts his own weakness, abiding in the awareness of it, and yet works faithfully on, fully assured that his Lord is working through him. He rejoices that the excellence of the power is of God, and not of us. Realizing his oneness with his Lord he considers no longer his own weakness, but counts on the power of Him whose hidden working within him is assured. It is this secret assurance that gives a brightness to his look, and a gentle firmness to his tone, and a perseverance to all his efforts, which in themselves are great means of influencing those he is seeking to win.
He goes forth as one to whom victory is assured, “..for this is the victory that overcomes...even our faith” (1 John 5:4). He no longer counts it humility to say that God cannot bless his unworthy efforts. He claims and expects a blessing, because it is not he, but Christ in him, who works. The secret of abiding in Christ is the deep conviction that we are nothing and He is everything. As we learn this, it no longer seems strange to believe that our weakness does not need to be a hindrance to His saving power. The believer who yields himself up wholly to Christ for service in the spirit with a simple childlike trust, will surely bring forth much fruit. He will not fear even to claim his share in the wonderful promise: "He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). He no longer thinks that He cannot have a blessing and must be kept unfruitful so that he may be kept humble. He sees that the most heavily laden branches are the ones that bow down the lowest. Abiding in Christ, he has consented to the blessed agreement between the Vine and the branches, that all the glory of fruit-bearing will be to the Gardener, the blessed Father.
Let us learn two lessons. If we are abiding in Jesus, then let us begin to work. Let us first seek to influence those around us in daily life. Let us accept distinctly and joyfully our holy calling, that we are even now to live as the servants of the love of Jesus to our fellow men and women. Our daily life must have for its object the making of a favorable impression to Jesus. When you look at the branch, you see at once the likeness to the Vine. We must live so that something of the holiness and the gentleness of Jesus might shine out in us. We must live to represent Him. As was with Him when He was on earth, the living must prepare the way for the teaching. What the Church and the world both need is men and women full of the Holy Ghost and love. These, as the living embodiments of the grace and power of Christ, witness for Him and His power on behalf of those who believe in Him. Living in this way, with our hearts longing to have Jesus glorified in the souls whom He is seeking, let us offer ourselves to Him for direct work. There is work in our own home. There is work among the sick, the poor, and the outcast. There is work in a hundred different paths which the Spirit of Christ opens up through those who allow themselves to be led by Him. There is work perhaps for us in ways that have not yet been opened up by others. Abiding in Christ, let us work. Let us work, not like those who are content because they are following the current fashion, and can take some share in religious work. No! let us work as those who are growing more like Christ, because they are abiding in Him, and who, like Him, count the work of winning souls to the Father the very joy and glory of heaven begun on earth.
And the second lesson is this...if you work, abide in Christ. This is one of the blessings of work if done in the right spirit. The work itself will deepen your union with your blessed Lord. It will discover your weakness and throw you back on His strength. It will stir you to much prayer, and in prayer for others is the time when the soul, forgetful of itself, unconsciously grows deeper into Christ. It will make clearer to you the true nature of life in the Branch...It’s absolute dependence, and at the same time its glorious sufficiency — independent of all else, because it is dependent on Jesus. If you work, abide in Christ. There are temptations and dangers. Work for Christ has sometimes drawn away from Christ and taken the place of fellowship with Him. Work can sometimes give a form of godliness without the power. As you work, abide in Christ. Let a living faith in Christ working in you be the secret spring to all your work; this will inspire at the same time both humility and courage. Let the Holy Spirit of Jesus dwell in you as the Spirit of His tender compassion and His Divine power. Abide in Christ, and offer every faculty of your nature freely and unreservedly to Him, to sanctify it for Himself. If Jesus Christ is really to work through us, it requires an entire consecration of ourselves to Him, renewed daily. But we understand now that this is abiding in Him; this is what constitutes our highest privilege and happiness. To be a branch bearing much fruit—nothing less, nothing more. This should be our only joy.

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