John 15:4

Verse of the Day: John 15:4

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” – John 15:4 

If we have a branch on an apple tree, healthy and vibrant, during the right time we will see fruit on it.  However, if we cut the branch off the tree and take it home because we want to grow fresh apples, we will be disappointed.  You see, the branch does not, on its own, have what it takes to produce fruit.

It is the same with us.  We must abide in Christ and let Him work through us, and then we bear fruit.  It is not what we do, but what we allow God to do through us.  Paul said basically the same thing to the Philippians.  “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.

God will never leave us alone.  He has a work for each one of us to do.  However, what we need is to submit to Him and He will do it through us.  He will take us where He wants us, give us the words to say and the strength to fulfill it.  We must be in a constant attitude of prayer, always ready to hear what He has to say and follow His lead.  Then we will bear much fruit and glorify God in the process.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

John 15:7

Verse of the Day Devotion John 15:7 

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” – John 15:7  

This verse is best understood when it is looked at in relation to Jesus’ words in the first six verses of this chapter.  He starts by discussing the relationship between a vine and a branch of that vine.  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5.  In this mashal, which is Hebrew for a short parable with a moral lesson of religious allegory, Jesus pictures himself as a vine within the vineyard with His Father as the vinedresser.  The role of the vinedresser is one who is the keeper of a vineyard.  And Jesus’ disciples are the branches on the vine.  

He then tells them that as a branch they must be attached to Him, the vine, in order to be bear fruit, for apart from the vine the branches cannot bear any fruit.  He then doubles down on this idea in the next verse. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6. Failure to produce fruit brings a severe warning concerning the certain end of unfruitfulness.  John separates any unfruitful person from the faithful, persevering, fruitful disciples/branches and indicates that such a person is thrown away and withers. 

So, now to our focus verse.  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7.  The idea regarding the focus verse continues the theme of abiding or remaining in Jesus, the Vine, but that theme is here linked to the subject of prayer.  Jesus warned His disciples that failing to abide means that life fails. A branch only has life as it is connected to the stock of the vine; a disciple only spiritually lives as they are connected to the Master. 

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in us, His disciples. We should not overlook the importance of the reference to ‘my words’. The teaching of Christ is important and is not lightly to be passed over in the interests of promoting religious feeling.  The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in us means a conscious acceptance of the authority of the word of God and constant contact with him by prayer. And being faithful, we should expect answered prayer as part of our relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in our disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through us.  Charles Spurgeon puts it this way. “It shall be done for you: It becomes safe for God to say to the sanctified soul, ‘Ask what thou wilt, and it shall be done unto thee.’ The heavenly instincts of that man lead him right; the grace that is within his soul thrusts down all covetous lusting’s and foul desires, and his will is the actual shadow of God’s will. The spiritual life is master in him, and so his aspirations are holy, heavenly, Godlike.”

It is important that in our relationship with Christ that we abide with Him.  It pictures an intimate, close relationship, and not just a superficial acquaintance. In our focus verse, Jesus tells His disciples that drawing life from Him is essential.  In fact, one of the proofs of salvation is perseverance, or sustained abiding in Christ. The proofs of abiding in Christ, proof that one is truly saved and not just pretending, include these four things.

1: Obedience to Christ – “And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” 1 John 3:24.

2: Following Jesus’ examples – “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6.

3: Living free from habitual sin – “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” 1 John 3:6,

4: The awareness of a divine presence in His life – “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:13.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Corinthians 13:13 

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13   

In first Corinthians 12, Paul is writing about spiritual gifts which are given by the Holy Spirit to the Church, distributed to each as He chooses.  Therefore, one Christian may receive one type of gift while another receives a different gift.  However, in chapter 13, he discusses the three gifts that are not only common to all, but those three which will remain forever, for they are eternal gifts.  These being faith, hope and love.  The word translated “abide” in our focus verse is the Greek word menō meaning not just to be here now, but also to remain, stay and not to depart.  This same word is used in the Book of Acts where Paul tells the centurion, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” Acts 27:31. The soldiers needed to stay and remain in the boat to save everyone in the ship.  And then in Hebrews we read, “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10:34.  Again, the word translated abiding is the same Greek word menō.  Here the idea is that their property may be seized here, but in the next life in heaven, it will remain eternally.

So, based on the Greek word menō, the three gifts faith, hope and love will remain forever, not like the gifts which are distributed to some. “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8.  In this verse, we see a contrast of three gifts which will go away and the three gifts in our focus verse. 

The Corinthian church members were priding themselves on the fact that they could speak in tongues and demonstrate other attention-getting gifts. However, Paul reminds them of the gifts that the Corinthians so desired were but temporary; faith, hope, and love, the foundational gifts, are permanent and therefore more to be desired.  Paul then corrects them by reminding them of that which is better.  “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31.  

The three gifts, faith, hope, and love are gifts that are present today and will be with us forever.  Faith in the Son of God will not cease in the eternal state; we will not stop trusting Jesus just because our faith has become sight.  “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-7. Today, we have faith aside from sight. In eternal life, we will continue to have faith but it will be in conjunction with sight. If anything, our faith will grow for our trust in Him will be greater.  As for hope, Jesus is our Blessed Hope.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14. Our hope will not end simply because Jesus, our blesses hope, has come. For the entire time we are there, our expectations will always be for good because we are eternally with the foundation of our hope.  And finally, love.  We must remember that the basic and essential part of God’s nature is love. “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  1 John 4:16. God is love; therefore, love is eternal, both eternity past and eternity future.

There is a vast difference between the gifts given to selected Christians, i.e.: tongues, prophecy, the gift of knowledge, etc. However, the three mentioned in our focus verse are eternally with us who are Christians and enter our everlasting home with Jesus for He is our blessed hope,  love embodied, and our faith will be secure with Him.  What a beautiful life to look forward to.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

1 John 3:17

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 John 3:17  

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” – 1 John 3:17

This verse brings out in a clear way just what true love is.  The verse just prior to our focus verse shows us that love, as described here, is not an emotion but an action.  I am not saying emotion is not a part, for that is very true.  However, if it is only an emotion with no actions associated with it, then is it truly love?  James had this to say about it, focusing on faith.  “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” James 2:15-16. 

In our focus verse, we see a similar idea, however, it is a stronger position taken here.  “But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17.  In James, he is saying that our faith is worthless, in fact it is dead.  However, in our focus verse, John’s statement is much stronger.  “But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17.  He is not just saying their faith is worthless, but that the love of God does not reside in them.  This is a very strong message. 

Let us look at the verse just prior to this.  “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16.  John is essentially saying that Jesus showed His love to us by meeting the major need we had in our lives.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.   This salvation was not a possibility without the work Christ did for us.  Jesus sacrificed His life for our good.  He gave everything for us.  He did not close His eyes, heart or mind against us.  He saw our need and met it completely.  This is a picture of what real love is. 

So, do we have this kind of love within us?  This is the idea found in this verse.  He did not have to come here, but He did because of His great love for us.  His death was horrible and without any legitimate reason but to meet our great need.  But because of His love He endured it all.  If we would not divide our bread with the hungry, then do we really have the love of Christ in us?  If we would not be willing to share our water with the thirsty, then does the love of Christ truly reside in us?  This is the heart of the matter.  He sacrificed everything for us.  Are we willing to make sacrifices for others? 

In closing, John writes in verse eighteen, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18.   If we only declare our love through words, and neglect showing people through our actions, then according to our focus verse, God’s love does not abide in us.  We are only doing what James says, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” James 2:16b.  They do not have the means to eat or stay warm,  but we tell them to anyway.  Does this really provide for their needs? 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.