September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”—John 15:11 (CSB)
There is something quite mesmerizing about watching a bucket of water spill over. Once the water reaches the rim, there is this constant pouring and nearly instant rupture through the edges and outward—like a waterfall spilling over the edge of a cliff. The same image can be used to describe Jesus’ desire for His followers—a life so full of joy it floods over and outward from our hearts.
Earlier in this passage, Jesus speaks to His disciples about fruit, branches, a gardener, and keeping commandments. His words are so filled with loving care for His disciples on their last night together, and His message to them is astounding, yet simple: remain.
The word remain can mean several things. One variation can be to dwell or lodge. Another can mean to remain constantly present; to be rooted. Jesus is announcing to His followers that if they wish to do anything in this life, it must be done from a place of dwelling and remaining present to His presence; to be rooted in Him. We can suppose that if one of His final instructions to His students was to work and obey from a place of abiding, then there is also a place from which we can work and obey that is not rooted, present, or united with God.
And don’t we know that all too well? The hustle and hurry of our culture leads us into a life of multitasking, distraction and busyness that leave us exhausted, no time to connect with others because we’re restlessly striving to accomplish and do more, and most of all, not having real time with God. Jesus is reminding His disciples then and today that there is a way to follow Him that leads to joy, and that path is to remain connected to the vine—the source of our life, joy, and peace—moment by moment.
Being rooted in Christ and working from a place of union with the Trinity does for us what our own striving can never do. The disciples didn’t know then what we have full access to now—that when we work from a place of abiding (knowing who we are in Christ, what His grace has purchased for us, and what we’ve inherited because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection), we are freed from the pressure to perform in order to obtain approval from others and God. And this leads to our utmost joy—a gladness and excitement we can’t help but spill over into every relationship and area of our lives.
Imagine what our everyday tasks, our pursuit of godliness, our relationship with God and others, our days, and ultimately every sphere of our lives would look like if we abided, obeyed, and rejoiced in such a way that no person or thing would remain untouched by the happiness that overflowed from our soul! What a world that would be! May the joy we have in Christ be a stream of joy as this hymn reminds us:
Come, thou Fount of every blessing;
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Pause: Are you living from a place of striving or abiding? Where do you see that most evident in your life?
Practice: Take a few minutes to engage in a type of prayer called Breath Prayer. As you inhale, repeat the phrase, “Jesus in you,” and as you exhale say, “I abide.” Do this several times until you notice a quiet contentment begin to well up in your heart.
Pray: Oh Lord, thank You for a love so deep it could reach a sinner like me. I can now love and serve You from a place of rest in who I am in You because of what Jesus Christ has done for me! Holy Spirit, help this truth seep so deeply into my heart that the joy of my salvation would touch everyone around me. Amen.
Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.