From the team at C3 we pray each of you had a Merry Christmas and are preparing to enter 2018 with a heart ready to receive all our Heavenly Father has prepared for us. The journey of celebrating Christ throughout the year starts with a heart actively pursuing Him. The often-quoted verse of Jeremiah 29:11 is a great verse, and we should also include verses 12 and 13 to get the whole picture of the blessing He has planned for us:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
The Celebration Begins with Relationship
The celebration of embracing the plans He has for us begins with a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ and seeking Him with all our hearts. This season God has been teaching me the simplicity and importance of John 15:1-8:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “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. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Abiding in the vine, or an intimate relationship with Jesus is necessary for us to embrace the fullness of the life our Heavenly Father has prepared for us. This relationship is critical, but can easily be substituted with activities that lead us to believe we have a relationship with Jesus. In my opinion, one of the most sobering verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:21-23, which shows the difference between activity and relationship:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to
me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
These were people doing magnificent work in the name of Jesus, but had no relationship with Him and were called evil. My 12-year-old son asked me how you can know someone, but not have a relationship with them as reflected in this verse. I used the example of Bill Gates, a famous person who greatly influenced society and has much written about him. We can read about him, gain valuable information about him and know so much about him that we feel like we know him, but if he walks into the room he would not know who you are because you have not spent time with him to build a relationship.
As we enter the New Year, let us spend time to cultivate the relationship with Jesus that we were created to enjoy. As we abide in the vine the Holy Spirit can flow through us to produce the fruit that will benefit us and those in our circle of influence.
The Abundant Harvest
The picture painted in John 15 is one of our Heavenly Father attending to the branches to ensure they produce much fruit. We must be firmly attached to the vine to allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us to produce the fruit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23,
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
However, even as we abide in the vine there will also be times when the branches must be pruned to produce even more fruit. This can be a painful process, but the results are of great benefit as the fruit of the Spirit is manifest for all to enjoy.
2018 can be a wonderful year as we walk out the principles of John 15 in our everyday lives and unite with others that share these values to positively impact our communities. We pray God’s richest blessings on you and your family in the coming year.
Jamie Jordan is the State Director for the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (SC-C3). His passion is to see unity and excellence exhibited within the Christian community. Jamie can be reached at jjordan@Stravicom.com.