Intentional Progress in 2022: Life Lessons From Jesus (Part 16)

by Rick

This morning we continue our journey into this year, focusing on making “Intentional Progress.”  I shared six steps to intentional progress with you, and I will continue to walk through them over the next few weeks.  As a reminder, here are the six steps.

Here are the steps again:

1.  Pray/Discern

2.  Plan/Prepare

3.  Wait/Discern God’s Timing

4.  Execute/Measure Progress

5.  Wait/Faith & Patience

6.  Receive When Harvest Time Comes

After studying our way through the Gospel according to St. John chapters 5, 6, 8, and 12, we took our time getting through chapter 14.  This morning we cross over into chapter 15 as we continue to flow in this vein.

(John 15:1-8 Message Bible)

Jesus said, “I am the Real Vine, and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. 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. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things.

1.  God wants to produce fruit through you, on this planet, for His glory!

— You have to remember why God put humans on this planet.  He placed us “down here” so we can represent “up there.”  Never forget this.  If you keep this thought in the back of your mind, it will keep you focused on bringing glory to God with your life and living.

— God placed humans on this planet to extend heaven to the earth.  Heaven on earth has always been God’s desire.

— Adam was supposed to manifest heaven on the earth.  Adam failed.  We were born after Adam.  We were born with his inheritance.  Adam introduced satan’s dynamic-duo, sin, and death, into the world, and we are born with those things hanging over our heads.  However, Jesus, the last Adam, came to redeem us from the mess Adam got us into.  He was the repairer of the breach.  Jesus paid for sin, and He took the sting out of death.  So while we are born after Adam, because of Jesus, we can be Born-Again.  Once we are, then like Jesus did, we can extend heaven to the earth.  Once sin and death are no longer a problem for you, then you are free to allow your life to become a conduit of God’s glory!  Say this if you are Born-Again: “Jesus is my Lord.  I am in Him, and He is in me.  Therefore, sin has no power over me.  I am not free TO sin, but I am free FROM the power of sin.  I am going to heaven, and I am at peace about it.  This means death has no power over me.  I am dead to self, and I have done all the dying I am going to do.  So for me now, when I die, it’s just moving day.  I move from earth to glory, from time to eternity, and I will forever be with the Lord.”  When you live with this mindset, you are free to allow God to use you daily for His glory, and stress will have no power over you!

— You were not born just to spend a few years on the earth and have a little fun.  You are here to make a divine impact while you are in the land of the living.  The only way to do it is to do it the way God intended for you to do it.  How is that, you may ask?  The answer is simple: by allowing God to live through you.  That is how Adam did it before the fall, it is how Jesus did it while He was on the earth, and it is how you can do it.  When you know God is the vine, and you are simply a branch connected to the vine, you don’t have to make anything happen.  Your job is to simply remain connected to the vine and then allow the LIFE OF GOD to flow through you.  This is #TheGraceLife.

2.  Jesus likened us to a branch connected to a vine.  

— We are the branch, Jesus is the vine, and the Father is the one who tends to the vine.  When we discern the divine impulses of the Holy Spirit, and we flow in harmony with Him, we remain connected to Jesus, and the LIFE OF GOD flows through us by way of the Holy Spirit.

— The branch cannot produce fruit unless connected to the vine.  But it does not have to.  All it has to do is remain connected.  There is already LIFE IN THE VINE.  The branch does not have to manufacture the life.  All it has to do is remain connected to the vine.  We are not manufacturers.  We are simply the distribution centers of whatever God wants to flow through us.

How does this apply to us today?  Well, some people live life on their own terms.  They make their own decisions, and they do things without God.  They are like a branch that is disconnected from the vine.  Since they are disconnected from God, they have to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN with their own human ability, power, and strength.  We were not designed to live this way, but unfortunately, many people do; even Christians.  Some Christians are Born-Again, but they are not dead to self.  They are filled with the Holy Spirit, but they are selfish.  They pursue things they want, they make their own decisions, and they only involve God when things are going haywire.  Sadly, many of these folks think they are living a Christian life.  They attend church services, they sing songs of praise, and they say all the right things, but deep down in their hearts, their lives are all about themselves and not about God.  Life is hard for these people because we were never designed to live life disconnected from the vine.

Conversely, there are also many Christians who are connected to the vine.  They know they don’t have to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN because God already made things happen for us before the world began.  As a result, they seek the face of God first, they seek to only do whatever the Holy Spirit leads them to do, and they experience the grace of God continually because they are simply connected to the VINE.  They know LIFE IS IN THE VINE and all they have to do is remain connected to God.  This is how Jesus lived, and it is how we are supposed to live.

3.  Pruning is painful, but it is part of the process.  

— No vine can reach its max potential without pruning.  Pruning may not feel good, but it is part of the process.  God loves us enough to prune us, so our lives can produce max fruit.

— It seems counterintuitive, but the Father only prunes the branches that are producing fruit.  He does not snip away at the ones that are not producing.  Those actually get CUT OFF.  But the ones that are producing get CUT ON!  Why?  So they can produce even more fruit and for their fruit to remain.

I will talk more about the pruning process later.  But just know that God will work on you to develop Godly character.  Because without character, you cannot carry the weight of the anointing associated with your assignment.  

4.  A productive and fruitful branch is really just an extension of the vine.

— When you know Jesus is the vine, God is the farmer, and you are simply a branch connected to the vine, your life becomes the conduit through which the life-producing power of the vine is manifested.  You are not trying to make things happen.  You are living in such a way that the LIFE OF GOD is free to flow through you for His glory.

— The Father is in heaven, and you are on the earth.  He wants to impact and influence the earth, and He wants to do it through you.  He lives in you, you are connected to Him through the Holy Spirit, and His power is realized and manifested on earth when you allow yourself to become His conduit.  When you get up every morning knowing that you are connected to Him and He is connected to you, that He made plans for you before the world began, that He already has plans for this day and this week, and that He has already given you the grace to walk out those plans, you have nothing to worry or stress out about.  Your life is in HIS hands.  You are connected to the vine.  He is your source.  Everything you will need to accomplish what you were born to do is already stored up for you.  You are not trying to muster up the faith to get God to move on your behalf.  God already moved.  You just have to release your faith to tap into God’s grace, receiving what He has already provided.  This takes the pressure off you, and you are free to enter into God’s rest.

— You are the branch and God is the vine.  The branch has nothing to worry about.  All the life is in the vine.  All the branch has to do is remain connected.  Remember that as you enter this day.  You are God’s extension, His representative, on this planet.  

Declaration of Faith

Father, You are the vine, and I am a branch.  As a branch, I cannot do anything without You.  The only power in a branch is the life-giving power that flows to it from the vine.  Apart from You, I am lifeless and useless.  However, connected to You, I can do all things.  You are the vine that provides me divine life, and I am the branch that produces fruit in the earth because of it.  I am not the source of the divine life or power, but I am surely a conduit of it.  I surrender myself to You, and You flow through me.  I provide You the mouth to talk, legs to walk, and hands to touch on the earth, and You provide me the words, wisdom, direction, and power.  It is Your will that I produce much fruit.  To do so, I know I will need to be pruned from time to time.  The pruning process may be painful, but it is valuable and necessary.  So, Father, I say to You, prune me as much as You see fit.  I want the things in my life that are not pleasing to You to be cut away so that I can be the thriving, healthy, and life-producing branch that You want me to be.  You want to impact the people of the world and the systems of the world, and You want to do it through me.  By faith, I declare that You do.  As You do, I know GREATER IS COMING FOR ME!  I declare this by faith.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper.

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