Live Brilliantly - A Study In The Book Of 1 John

Day 8 of 10 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Belonging


Introduction

The Great Vine at Hampton Court Palace Gardens in England is the oldest and largest known grapevine in the world—about 250 years old, and 120 feet long. It was planted in 1768 from a small cutting, and its first grape was grown in a glass house. 


The Great Vine has grown so much that the royal gardeners have had to rebuild ever-expanding glass houses to accommodate its now thirteen-foot base. It takes the vine keeper three weeks to harvest its crop. One vine, three weeks. The typical crop averages 500 to 700 clusters of grapes weighing a total of up to 700 pounds. One vine, 700 pounds of grapes. That is one fruitful vine. That kind of fruitfulness is available to you if you abide in the Lord. 


Where You Belong

You've probably noticed by now that John circled back to several core concepts—love, light, abiding—repeatedly through his epistle. With each pass, he tried to deepen our understanding of these concepts. He said in 1 John 3:23-24, "Love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him." Jesus abides in those who obey His commandments, and again John pointed us to one of two primary commandments: love one another. 


When you become a Christian, you belong to God's family. Now you have lots of relatives! As part of belonging to this huge family, the body of Christ, you're supposed to love other believers. The command to love one another occurs eleven times in the Bible, all in the New Testament, with the phrase one another being used 100 times. Clearly the manner of love among believers is a massive priority in Scripture. 


Not only are we to love one another, but we are also to be devoted to one another, consider one another, exhort one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, and serve one another.


To Whom You Belong

Loving one another shows that we abide in the Lord, and He in us. Remember, abide was an important word in John's theology. He used the word twenty-seven times in his three epistles and forty times in his gospel. Again, to abide means to remain stable, to continue, or to stay, and it implies permanence. To abide is to dwell with, as in abode. Abode and abide come from the same root word.  In John 14:23, Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." If you abide with Him, He'll make His abode in you. If you love Him, you will obey Him and He will love you. What a beautiful description of belonging. 


Belonging Bears Fruit

It's appropriate to consider grapevines again since the word abide ties into gardening. For a grapevine to be successful—productive—the roots must remain in the ground and the fruit must remain on the vine. And root determines fruit. If you're rooted and living in God, and God is living in you, then you will bear fruit—abundant fruit that will satisfy others. Interestingly, the fruit of a vine is self-sacrificing. A fruit tree doesn't grow fruit for itself; it grows fruit for others to enjoy.


I was raised in Michigan, and in kindergarten my classmates and I all learned about Johnny Appleseed. He traveled through the Midwest with a burlap pouch full of apple seeds that he planted along the way as he traveled.


Well, Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman. He was from Massachusetts, and he had heard that in the Midwest they had no apples. So, Chapman departed with his bag full of apple seeds. As he traveled west he cleared plots, built fences, planted seeds, and then quietly departed. What a beautiful picture of Christianity. You have this treasured seed—God's Word, His light, His love—and you have the privilege of being fruitful in the world. 


Belonging Brings Answered Prayer

In addition to fruitfulness, John offered further evidence of our abiding in the Lord: answered prayer. "Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22). I truly believe that as you abide in Him and His Word abides in you, you will experience answered prayer. As Jesus said in John's gospel, " If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). The more you demonstrate His love, the more you see answers to prayer. 


Closing

If you find that your life is not fruitful or your prayers are not effective, perhaps you haven't been abiding in the Lord, obeying His Word, or demonstrating His love. It's never too late to ask for forgiveness and abide with Him again.


Prayer

Lord, thank You that I belong to You and Your family. I want my life to be fruitful, overflowing with good works that are grounded in the truth of who You are and how You love. Lord, as I abide in You, help me not to rest until I demonstrate Your agape love to everyone in my life. In Jesus' name, amen.