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By Pastor Nathan Richardson   Heartland Community Church
2016 was a great year in so many ways. I have exercised which has been a part of my journey for a while. What made 2016 different is that I started making better choices with what food I ate. Sure, I still go and enjoy a Zombie Burger, or a pizza from Pizza Palace, but I have started to enjoy eating healthy. We have enjoyed vacations and were able to buy a new-to-us car. It has been a good year. However, not everything has been easy. Our family has lost loved ones. We have seen marriages dissolve. But what I have learned is to Remain in Christ. Please read John 15:1-17
In the passage above there are three main analogies. Jesus is the true vine, God the Father is the gardener and we are the branches. We as the branches are connected to the vine and because of this connection bear fruit. If we are not connected to the vine we will not bear fruit. Of course the gardener reacts in one of two ways to the branches; if the branch bears fruit the gardener prunes the branch so it will bear more fruit. If the branch does not bear fruit the gardener cuts off the branch.
Remaining in Christ is not easy. It takes continual effort on our part just like any other relationship. Christ promises us in verse 4, “Remain in me and I will remain in you” Christ will not leave us. How many of us take this for granted? He will not stop loving us. When things are good we forget about him and his mercy but when things are bad we come running back to blame him or asking for grace. He will not ditch us, but we must remain in him. What Jesus is telling his disciples in this passage is to remain faithful and not give up.
If you remain in Christ you will bear fruit. This is important to know. If you do not bear fruit it leads to death but if you remain in Christ it means life. If you continue to do this you will also remain a disciple. This happens through obeying Christ. Obedience to Christ shows that we trust him.
If you remain in Christ his joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. See how God’s joy completes our joy. This could also be said for his love, peace, hope and more. Being complete in Christ does not happen overnight and will not be finished in a few years. Being complete only happens through death. This side of heaven we will not be complete. We will not finish the journey here. But this does not keep us from growing. Becoming a disciple is a slow and steady consistency, a growth that happens overtime. My problem is that I need to learn to trust God and his process. We need to be grateful for what we have instead of focusing on what we do not. We need to learn to remain in Him.
Three choices you can make that will change your life and help you remain in Christ are:
1. Read the Bible. Dive into God’s Word. There is no better way to find out what is important to God than than to read his Word. Try not to get stuck. The last three months I read reading plans from 1 week to a month on YouVersion Bible App. I would encourage you to do this also. It is great for beginners.
2. Pray. Find a consistent undistracted daily time to connect with God. As a parent this can be difficult. You might have to wake up a little earlier. Pray while you exercise, shower, or on your drive to work.
3. Go to church. Connect with God’s people, for the majority of them they are down to earth and friendly. Church can be a little different for one that is not used to going but you might actually enjoy it and want to come back.
I pray and hope 2017 is as awesome and wonderful as you hope it to be. It will not always be easy and you will face challenges you never wanted. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.