Weekly Devotionals April 8th – April 13th

MONDAY                                                         JOHN 15:1-4

What does it mean to “remain/abide” in Christ?

Vines, like a rose bush, left to their own devices become less fruitful. They may look bigger, but the fruit and flowers become smaller and weaker. It’s not uncommon to believe (“to live as if it were true…”) that our spiritual disciplines are our burden to bear in pleasing God or earning God’s love. But Jesus offers a different image. Our disciplines keep us connected to our source of life and allow us to bear good fruit. To remain/abide in Jesus is to remain in relationship with him – not to earn his love, but because he already loves us.

Are spiritual disciplines more burden or freedom for you right now? Why?

If you struggle with consistency in your spiritual disciplines, try simply saying this prayer throughout your week: Father, I belong to you. Maybe sit somewhere quiet with your eyes closed, and your hands open. Repeat this prayer in the rhythm of your breathe. Inhale: Father. Exhale: I belong to you.
TUESDAY                       JOHN 15:5-8

Why should I remain/abide in Christ?

We all want our lives to have meaning and purpose. Jesus offers us that on a scale far greater than we could imagine for ourselves. Especially for those who have chosen to follow him as his disciples, we wish to produce kingdom fruit that outlasts our own life. This is only possible with Jesus. Maintaining and growing our relationship with Jesus not only helps us to remain in him, but it also strengthens the disciplines themselves. As his disciples, if we cut ourselves off from the source of our life we can only expect to become dry and withered as a result. Notice, though, how Jesus always pairs his strongest warnings with his greatest promises. We are free to focus on our connection with him and trust that the fruit will follow.

Do you feel dried up and withered in any area of your life? Where? Is this an area that needs pruning or one that needs watering?

Can you trust that God is not only present in those dry places, but that he cares about it more than you do? God desires for you to bear good fruit in your life. Bring that area of your life to God now. What does he want you to hear?


WEDNESDAY                                 PSALM 127:1-2

What role does God play in our remaining/abiding in Jesus?

Jesus tells his followers, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Our problem isn’t that we don’t do anything; it’s that we’ve become masters at doing a lot of nothing. We’re great at looking and feeling busy while doing what amounts to “nothing.” Following Jesus means living with a growing awareness that “God is with us.” When we lose sight of this, we default to accomplishing good things FOR God at the cost of participating WITH God. We can accomplish a lot of “good” without God, but that’s not what God is after. He’s not interested in getting us to do better things, he’s interested in being with us and calling us into partnership with him.

Do you feel more like you’re working FOR God or WITH God?

Where can you find freedom and joy in knowing that the work God is calling us to do is his work and not our own? Does this challenge you in any way? Talk with God about that now. Bring him your hopes and your fears.

THURSDAY          LUKE 6:39-49


Why does God want to work IN and THROUGH me? Isn’t it enough if I do good works or if I’m a good person?

Who we are becoming matters more to God than what we are accomplishing. The transformational work of God is always done from the inside out. It starts with our character and then develops into competency on the strength of that character. Character matters more than competency in the kingdom of God. That’s because Jesus rightly understands that the fruit of our lives (what we ultimately accomplish) is always a result of the tree we are connected to (who we are).

Jesus uses many different analogies in this passage. Which one resonates with you the most?

Do you find more resistance in your heart to God working IN you or THROUGH you? Why is that?

Talk with Jesus about any resistance you feel to his work IN or THROUGH you. What is holding you back? What does he want you to know about that?

FRIDAY                                                                         1 THESSALONIANS 2:1-12

How does God work THROUGH me?

We, inevitably, reproduce who we are. In any area of our life where God has given us leadership over another (work, parenting, volunteering, etc), he has invited us to lead others to Christ for their own thriving. It will be impossible to lead others where we have not gone ourselves. Transformation doesn’t work that way. We can’t supplement extra competency for poor character. We will, eventually, reproduce who we truly are no matter how well we think we’re compensating for it. That is why believing and following Jesus is never just about information; it’s about trusting, living, and imitating him. Paul refers to himself as a spiritual parent for this very reason. He invites others to imitate his life as he imitates Christ. We may never be perfect in our example, but rest assured, there are those new to the faith who are in desperate need of others to show them what true life in Christ is like.

What is God doing IN you right now? How can you allow that work to flow THROUGH you more?

Who in your life can you lead closer to Jesus? You don’t have to be perfect, you simply have to be willing to be present. Talk with God about what, in anything, is holding you back from this work.

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