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So Innocent Looking

We were doing a bunch of tree-falling and trimming about three years ago on the property. Several months later, as spring rolled around, I noticed one of the limbs that had been cut from the tree months earlier, was starting to put on leaves. It was amazing to see. There were buds in various stages of opening all over that limb. I wondered what I could learn from this. It would not take long for me to realize the lesson.

Although the leaves looked as normal and healthy as the leaves attached to the tree, within weeks, as the season warmed up, the leaves began to shrivel and soon died; turned to a crispy brown they did.

That limb would help keep me warm the following winter but for now, I could not help but think of John 15.

Jesus invites us to abide in Him.

The word abide is defined as continuing, living or waiting for something. And we are invited to do that with Jesus. Not only that, but He wants to abide with us!!

“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.” John 15:4-5 ESV

“Jesus had already said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12); "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35); "I am the Way" (John 14:6); and "I am the Door" (John 10:9). Now, the night before His death, He tells them, "I am the Vine." Like the other great "I am" passages recorded in the Gospel of John, it points to His deity. Each one is a metaphor that elevates Jesus to the level of Creator, Sustainer, Savior, and Lord—titles that can be claimed only by God.” (Source:

To abide in Christ means to intentionally remain in an ever-growing relationship with Him. A relationship that transforms our character to be more like His.

John Rothra is a pastor and a blogger, and I found this from him. “Abiding in Christ means not giving up, but continuing on despite our doubts or hardships. Abiding in Christ means allowing God to work through us to transform us so that he can transform others through us.”

So, how do we abide in Him?

Pray regularly. Spend time with God in prayer, both telling Him your concerns, dreams, hopes, and fears. Prayer also means staying quiet and listening to God’s voice.

Read and meditate on God’s word. When reading, though, don’t just read quickly. Rather, ask God to teach you, challenge you, and change you based on his word.

Glorify God in everything you do. Find opportunities to praise and glorify God through your actions, even the small things you do.

Participate in church. Many people attend church, fewer intentionally participate. As we worship and serve alongside other believers, we’ll be growing in Christ and thus abiding in him.” (

“…In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches…Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire…” John 15:4-9 The Message

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be fuel for any fire. I want to be that healthy branch that bears fruit.

It was around 1999-2000 that I found myself at the Murphy Nursery. I purchased a few plants for my new yard, one of them was a Virginia Creeper. The owner of the nursery sold it to me with the warning: “you will want to keep this in a container, otherwise it will take over.”

It was such an innocent looking plant. It was about a foot tall in a small disposable container. Well, I took it home and stuck it right in the ground. I also planted three different types of Lilacs, an equally innocent looking bright yellow Forsythia, tulips, and some other misc. flowers.

I don’t remember how long it took. Maybe three years. But before long that Virginia Creeper was throwing vines all over the place. I joked it should have been named the Virginia Racer, because you could practically watch it grow. Over the years it became my nemesis. We lived in that house for almost 20 years. Not only would I find vines all over the chain-link fence, but they would grow along the ground into the alley. It grew up and over my small storage shed. It grew up into the lilac trees, practically smothering everything its path. It would put out long tendrils underground and they would pop up in the most unexpected locations. I drove by that old house a few months ago and that plant has taken over everything.

Why did I not listen to the person that knew best what that plant would do? It is out of control.

As a child I used to try and imagine how long it must have taken for the ivy type plants to completely engulf the castle. The answer is, “if the plant was a Virginia Creeper, not long.”

And just like that plant, I think some people need extra pruning. But let the vinedresser do His job. It may not be those most comfortable experience but let Him prune you into the person He designed and created you to be. If extra pruning is needed, let it happen. Abide in Him. And follow the instructions. It really will make life much easier.

by Jeanette Stark – Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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