Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prayer as Abiding and Fruit-Bearing (Prayer Summer)

Linda, in Detroit

What do we do when the big event, the big conference, is over? The answer is: Today (= Now), live your life attached to Jesus, the True Vine.

There is an old pear tree in my back yard. Every spring it buds; every fall its fruit is plentiful and delicious. Sometimes branches fall off the tree and we pick them up and burn them. We're not expecting unattached branches to produce fruit. No matter how hard an unattached branch works and strives and labors to produce fruit, it will not because it cannot. All its striving is in vain.

But if the branch is attached to the tree, striving is not needed to be fruit-bearing. Does a pear work hard to become a pear? Not at all. What must it do? Simply: stay connected. If a branch is connected to a pear tree it will produce pears, just as surely as If it rains then the ground gets wet.

When the big event is over, what do I do? The answer is what Linda and I have always been doing for the past 40 years: Dwell. Remain. Abide. Connect with Jesus. Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.... On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:18, 20)

I may be sitting in a chair alone typing these words but I am not orphaned. Do not make the mistake of equating the now-presence and activity and power of God with exhilarating conferences. God can sometimes show up at a conference. God can also show up in your living room. Actually, I think we'd experience more of God at the conferences if we daily experienced his presence in our living rooms. And, by the way, God's presence - wherever encountered - is awesome and earth-shattering.

If you are a Jesus-follower then the Father, Son, and Spirit have come and made their home in you. (John 14:23) You and I are portable sanctuaries who host the presence of God. When you left the big conference God came with you. How good is this for you now? To begin with, God is God - everlastingly. The omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent, everlasting God is here, now. Connect with him and he gives you His peace and His joy. (John 14:27; 15:11) He calls you "friend." (John 15:15) As you abide in Him you can expect to do the kind things Jesus did with the kind of heart by which He did it. Christ, the hope of glory, is in you! (Colossians 1:24-29) So be in awe.

And, you will be fruit-bearing..., now. Jesus did not say "If you attend the conference you will bear much fruit." He did say, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:5-8)

Fruit-bearing. Fruitfulness. That is what the Jesus-life is all about. Trying harder to bear fruit won't work, just as that pear in my back yard is not working hard to achieve pear-ness. Does this mean we do nothing? No. It means what we do comes out of the dwelling-relationship with Christ. We stay tight with Him, we hear His voice, He calls us to take part in The Movement, we obey, and in our obedience we work to the glory of God. Our "doing" comes from our "being" (dwelling). In this way our "doing" is authentic and relevant. All disconnected-doing is inauthentic, irrelevant, and mere striving.

God has much for you today. Right now. Make abiding your constant joy. It's all about The Relationship. Connectedness now is the key to the outpouring of the Spirit.