August 18, Friday

Today’s AMI Devotional is written by Pastor Joshua Kim who serves at the Church of Southland.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

John 15: 4-6
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

In an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, Christina and I recently subscribed to Blue Apron—a meal delivery service that provides all the ingredients you need to make several meals throughout the week, all shipped in this refrigerated box. The only issue is figuring out a way to preserve your ingredients, the trickiest ingredient in my recent order being basil. You can’t just stick basil in the fridge. What I learned online is that you have to put the stem of the basil leaves in a cup of water, cover the top with a plastic bag to sustain it. But even with this type of complex storage method, we noticed that some of the leaves started to brown before we could use it.

Today’s passage is probably familiar to many of us. It is a source of encouragement to those who feel powerless; it is a call to intimacy, clinging to the true Vine of our lives, the source of everlasting spring of life. But despite our familiarity with the passage, I wonder if we miss out on the full weightiness of Jesus’ words.

I think part of the reason for that is because when Jesus says apart from Me you can do nothing, we see in this world and even in our own lives plenty of time where we are not only able but able to do a lot and succeed in life apart from Christ. It doesn’t appear to us that we really can’t do anything apart from Christ.

But what does it mean to live by faith? Hebrews 11 teaches us that faith is believing in the things that we hope for and certain of what we do not see. In other words, if we are to live by faith, we not only trust and hope for the positive things that Jesus promises us, but we also have to seriously heed the warnings as well. Often we focus on the promises of blessing but can soften the warnings of disobedience. And here, Jesus teaches us that a life lived apart from Him equates to nothing: no fruit. Just like the basil in my Blue Apron kit, it looks as if it is being sustained, but unless it is still attached to the vine, it ultimately shrivels up and becomes unusable.

Brothers and sisters, we must take Jesus’ words seriously: apart from Me you can do nothing. This means that whatever we think we have accomplished on our own means nothing in eternity. And if we do not bear fruit by being attached to the true Vine, then we will be cut off and cast into the fire. May we be a people whose primary concern of life be our intimate love relationship with the true Vine.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for giving people like us—worthless, sinful people—an opportunity to be grafted into Your Vine so that we may bear fruit. Thank You for the opportunity to find true meaning in life. Forgive us for softening Your words; may we not only believe in faith the promise of fruit but heed the warning of a life apart from You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 5


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10: For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Questions to Consider

  1. What comes to mind when you consider the difference between at tent and a house? How does this help you to understand what Paul is talking about in verse 1-5?
  2. In verses 6-10, Paul discusses what it’s like to live in the body versus what it will be like to be with the Lord. What will not change in terms of the purpose of our lives according to Paul?
  3. Upon reflection and study of this passage, what does it mean for you to live by faith and not by sight?

Notes

  1. When you consider a tent, you know that it is only a temporary shelter, and thus, the discomforts of a tent is more manageable because you know it is only temporary. Versus a house, which signifies a permanence, comfort, a place of belonging. Paul is contrasting the necessary yet temporary part of our life here on earth. But what allows us to always be of good courage (v.6) is that we know it is only temporary. God has promised us an eternal, heavenly dwelling.
  2. There is a sense of incompleteness. I don’t think Paul is saying that when we are in the body, we are cut off from God; the rest of scripture teaches us the opposite. But there is a sense where we have yet to experience while we are in the body, the fullness of God. In other words, there is more we can expect in faith. Of course the preference is that we are with the Lord, but we also trust that God has a perfect timing for this. No matter what condition we are in, Paul teaches us that our aim, our purpose in life is to please the Lord. In other words, our life is meant to be in relation with God, whether here on earth or in heaven.
  3. Personal response. Try to be specific – in what areas of your life are you relying more on what you see than what our faith testifies.

Evening Reflection

One of the greatest challenges of walking by faith and not by sight is that what we see is unavoidable—it’s right there in front of us. This is why prayer is so important. Prayer is how we see a perspective greater than our own. As you prepare for the end of your day, spend some time with the Lord and commit a specific way of how you will start the next day that will help you to walk by faith. Ask for His help to fight the temptation of relying on our own sight.

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