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This morning's hymn was chosen to go along with our Sunday School lesson.
When we meet on Sunday mornings, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to consider these for yourself in the past week. As we head towards Thanksgiving, also take some time to think about what you have been thankful for in the past week. This week has been rough, and divisive. When you are ready, take some time on the prayer below (from the Bible app).
Thank You for overcoming the world. Because of that, we can experience unity with You. And because we can be unified with You, we can experience unity with each other.
It’s by You all things are held together. As we seek to center our lives around You, help us to see all the ways You are at work in the world.
Draw us closer to Your heart so that we begin to see each other the way You see us. Would that encourage us to look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.
We want Your kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, so unite us in purpose so that nothing keeps people searching for You from believing in You. May we experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent us and that You love them unconditionally.
Come, Lord Jesus, and do in our lives what only You can do.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This week's lesson is on John 15:4-17.
Vine and the Branches
We remain in Jesus when we follow his word, his teachings, as a result of our relationship with him.
The vine is is the main , above ground stalk of the plant. Each grape plant will have one vine, but many branches splitting off it. The vine is the source of water and nutrients that come from the roots to nourish the branches and fruit. The branches need to stay connected to the vine if they are to live.
In the same way, disciples will be intimately connected to Jesus for life giving spiritual nourishment and leadership. If this relationship is strong, the natural results will be the production of fruit.
Not all branches coming out of the vine are productive or survives
To live in Christ is to live with his commands and teachings as our chief influences.
Understanding this helps us know what Jesus meant when he promised that we can ask whatever we wish and expect it will be done, a reference to prayer. This is not some magical formula though. Praying to find a chest of pirate treasures so we can be rich would not be within the scope of Jesus promise. Even asking for good things may go against God’s will and thus not be given. In all cases, such asking and promised answering is only for those who are deep in the mindset of Jesus. If we are abiding as he asks, we will not ask something that is contrary to the will of our Lord.
Jesus moves past the vine analogy to speak more directly about the relationship between his disciples and himself. He began with the most fundamental dynamic in the universe: God’s love. Jesus testified to the Father’s love for him throughout the book of John. This love is demonstrated by the authority the Father gave the Son and the Father revealing his plans to the Son The Father also loves the Son for his willingness to give his life for sinners. All that describes the Fathers incredible love for Jesus describe ,in turn, Jesus’ incredible love for his disciples. Yet experiencing that love fully requires believers to remain in Jesus love.
Loving God and being obedient to him is not drudgery. It brings joy, a full lifetime of joy.
My command is this : Love each other as I have loved you This is one of the core elements of being a Christian.
Remaining, obeying and loving- these are the the central elements of discipleship. The love of Jesus exemplifies all of these. He remains with the Father in a relationship that is so intimate, it is beyond our understanding. He always obeys the Father. And his great love for the Father overflows to his chosen disciples.
In this we understand what biblical love is all about. It is conditioned by a lasting, faithful relationship and expressed by obedience. It is unselfish, given without condition or expectation of return.
In the Gospel of John, the last supper finds Jesus teaching about these things. The arrest, trial and crucifixion find him acting out these things. The resurrection shows the Father approving of these things for Jesus: his teachings and his actions. Thereby the disciples of Jesus have been motivated ever since to follow him unselfishly with the purposes of being obedient disciples themselves and of producing new disciples in every generation.
Father, may we show our love for you by obeying your commands. Nurture us so we bear the fruit you want to see in our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
This week's benediction comes from the World Messianic Bible.
Next week's lesson is on 1 John 3:11-24.
I received a lot of hymn suggestions for Thanksgiving, so I thought we might end today with a hymn as well.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.