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May 2010

How to Live a Meaningful and Fruitful Life

Question: I have a friend who has just joined what I call a Prosperity Gospel church, and we often have good Bible discussions.  However at the moment our friendship has become somewhat strained as we are discussing two texts from John 15.    Verses 7 and 16 say that whatever we ask, the Father will give it to us.  My friend says that covers everything; possessions, health, wealth etc. Even though the texts seem to say that, I have found that it doesn’t always happen to me. God often says no.  I am a little perplexed.  Can you give me some help?   Please pray that my friend and I will agree to disagree without losing our friendship over things we don’t see eye to eye on.  Thank you.   Peter  S.

Dear Peter,

Let me share a few things that I have learned from John 15.

Firstly, lets read these verses.  Verse 7;  “If you remain in me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”    Verse 16;  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my Name.”

At first glance it does seem that God here promises to give us anything we ask for, but as we study it, we soon see that these promises are to help us to do God’s work on the earth.  In reality, it is all about Him, and not about us.   The good news is, God wants to give us the privilege of working in His vineyard.   Lets take a closer look.

To understand these promises, we have to read the context, which is to read all of chapter 15.

In John 15:1-6,  Jesus declares He is the true vine and His disciples are the branches.  This image shows how our lives depend on our union with Christ.  Verse 2 of John 15 talks about pruning.  It says, “God trims and prunes every branch that bears good fruit so that it will become even more fruitful”.

This pruning process is often painful, and tells us that life is not without trials.  God does not allow us to live in ‘cocoons’, and in John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”.

This is the first clue to the answer.     The promises in verses 7 and16 do not shield us from the trials of life, but are primarily for our spiritual lives.

The Father’s pruning is for the sake of growth which suggests the Christian life is not stagnant but vibrant with activity.  (If we are not growing and bearing fruit, then we are not fulfilling our Christian potential, nor are we fulfilling God’s will for our lives.))

Jesus says in verse 5, “Remain in Me and I in you.”   How does this work?

To remain in Him I have to constantly walk with Him.  By keeping our hand in His, through Bible study, prayer, and obedience, we will have constant growth, and will bear good fruit.

Although this does not mean a ‘painless’ or ‘trouble-less’ life, keeping in step with Him will bring great joy. Verse 11 says;  “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”.

If our Christian experience does not give us true joy, then we need to get back on our knees and into God’s word.

When we come in union with Jesus and seek to do His will, He will then answer our prayers, BECAUSE, we will now be praying for His purposes rather than our own selfish desires. (the work of Jesus was to do His father’s will) And that is the 2nd clue: God will answer any prayer, with a ‘yes’,  that asks for help to live a life that glorifies Him.   In  Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us, “In the same way, let your light (your life) so shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven”.       Just as we look for beautiful fruit from the grape vine, God wants to see us bearing beautiful fruit.

Yes, it is right and good to ask God for our daily needs (the Lord’s prayer says so) it is right and good to ask God to help in time of trouble, to guide us, to comfort us in our heartbreaks.  There are many promises that tell us this,   but in John 15: 7 and 16, we are told to ask for much, much more.

Verses 7 and16 tell us to ask for grace and strength to live a victorious, vibrant life so that our lives will bear much beautiful fruit!

Dear Father,   May our lives be emptied of selfishness and instead be filled with your promise of grace and strength to bear good fruit.   Help us to be a blessing to all whom we come in contact with.   For your glory we pray this prayer, and we pray it in Jesus Name.  Amen.

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