Formations lesson for June 8: Putting First Things First
May 16 2003 by Tommy Bratton , John 15:1-17

Formations lesson for June 8: Putting First Things First | Friday, May 16, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

Formations lesson for June 8: Putting First Things First

By Tommy Bratton John 15:1-17

All of us are concerned about having purpose in our lives, to know what God has in store for us. Yet our life of prayer and discipleship is often swallowed up by our busy, hectic schedules. When we are not intentional about abiding in Christ, we are tempted to look elsewhere for strength and purpose. However, Jesus tells us that abundant life is impossible apart from Him. It is vital to make our relationship with Jesus of first importance before we face the challenges life brings us.

This text looks at the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples after they left the upper room and journeyed toward the Kidron valley (John 18:1), located in the shadow of Gethsemane's garden.

In a matter of hours, Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, mocked and crucified. But before the disciples face those tragic events, Jesus sets forth the fundamental priorities of life.

Dependence

In the last of the "I am" sayings in John, Jesus offers an image of a vine, branches and the vine grower. This metaphor expressly links the community of faith with the source of their power - Jesus.

The Christian finds strength and purpose by abiding in Jesus. Abiding involves an attitude of dependence on Christ. Jesus emphasizes that we are helpless to produce fruit apart from Him (John 15:4-5).

Producing fruit is not something that we can will to happen on our own. The only way to produce fruit is to abide in Jesus, the vine, and to let the love of God flow from the vine through us.

Furthermore, our relationship with Jesus is ultimately a product of God's grace. When we abide in Christ's love, our joy is made complete (John 15:11).

What a gift!

Productivity

Jesus tells the disciples that God is glorified when they "bear much fruit" (John 15:8). In Gal. 5:22, Paul defines the fruit of the Spirit as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Bearing fruit is a natural byproduct of abiding in God.

In order to produce this fruit, we must submit ourselves to God's pruning, which may be painful but beneficial (John 15:2).

Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that God's discipline is based on love. Times of discomfort may well be a sign that God is working to shape our lives so that we might produce an abundance of the fruit of the Spirit. We must remove those areas of life that hinder God's love from flowing through us.

Love

At the Passover Feast, Jesus enacted the extent of His love by washing the disciples' feet (John 13:1-17). His example of servanthood was a living lesson of humility and service to others.

As Jesus journeys closer to the cross, He uses the language of friendship to describe His relationship with His disciples. The great love of Christ, soon to be expressed through the ultimate act of sacrifice on the cross, transforms Jesus' relationship with His disciples to one of deeper intimacy.

What do you do with a friend? The master and servant have a relationship marked by obligation. However, friendship is always marked by the sharing of intimacy. You tell secrets and share opportunities with a friend. You are willing to take a midnight phone call from a friend. Friendship is based on love.

Jesus invites us into an intimacy that joins our hearts as one. His great example of love on the cross must cause us to stop and consider our call to love.

What is our first priority? Job? Spouse? Children? Each is important, but it is in the love of God that we must abide. If that love is our priority, we will be fruitful in all aspects of our lives.

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5/16/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , John 15:1-17 | with 0 comments
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