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Food for Thought - Musings

Retreat on John 15:1-8 Part Two

These exercises focus on 15:4-8


John 15:4-8 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”. 

1. Spend time reflecting on the image of Jesus being the vine and you being the branches.  What comes to mind as you ponder Jesus being the vine?  What are the promises regarding health, vitality and life that are contained in Jesus being the vine?  What are the truths contained in your identity as a branch?  As you reflect on the connectivity inherent in the imagery of Jesus as the vine and you as the branches, what are the feelings and thoughts that are stirred within you?

2.  Create a collage that communicates the various truths connected in the imagery of the vine in the branches.

3.  Spend some time reflecting on these words of Jesus: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” and “Apart from me you can do nothing”.  What is the challenge/invitation for you contained in Jesus’ words? 

4. "Live, abide, remain and make your home in me” are the various ways in which “remain in me” is translated. Yet regardless of the translation, the idea seems to be that there needs to be an ongoing connectedness between the individual and Jesus.  In light of that and the words of Jesus, “remain in me”, what are the practices you put into your life that help you to maintain your connectedness to Jesus?  Spend some additional time exploring with God what other things you could add or subtract from your life that would foster greater connectivity with Jesus. 

5.  Take a few minutes to reflect upon the words of Jesus, “Apart from me you can do nothing”. Do you believe this?  Why/why not?  What feelings stir within you as you ponder this truth? If you do believe that ‘apart from Jesus you can do nothing’, what can you point to in how you live your life that would validate your answer?  If you don’t believe this explore why not and share this with God. If you don’t believe this (intellectually, emotionally, practically) explore why and then share you thoughts and feelings about this with God.

Now take time to reflect upon these corollary truths from Scripture: Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God” and Philippians 4:13, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”.  Do you believe this?  Why/why not?  What feelings stir within you as you ponder this truth? If you answered yes, what can you point to regarding how you live your life that would validate your answer? If you don’t believe this explore why not and share this with God. If you don’t believe this (intellectually, emotionally, practically) explore why and then share you thoughts and feelings about this with God.

Spend some time sharing your thoughts and feelings about all this with God. 

6. Reflect upon the words of Jesus, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you”, focusing your attention on the phrase “my words remain and you”. Make a list of the words, truths and promises of Jesus that live, abide, remain and make their home in you. Then spend some time looking over your list, asking yourself: why are these words, truths and promises important to me?  What do they tell me about my image of God and my view of myself?  What internal feelings are stirred within me as I reflect upon the various components of my list?

7.  Unlike real-life vines and branches that cannot volitionally choose to separate from one another, you can choose to disconnect from Jesus and to connect to something or someone else.  Spend some time prayerfully before God asking God to show you what areas, practices, persons, causes and/or desires (if any) that you may have attached yourself to in a way that hinders your ability to live, remain, abide or make your home in Jesus. If God reveals something to you, spend additional time seeking guidance and wisdom regarding how to allow these things to be pruned by God.  Spend time journaling about your discoveries and insights, concluding the time by writing a prayer to God.

8. Jesus states; “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you”. Spend some time pondering what it is that you most deeply desire. When you have settled on something, ask yourself: why is it that I want this? As you ask this question, ask God to help you discover the seeds that are birthing this desire within you. After you have discovered what has birthed the desire/want/need that you first stated, ask yourself if this is still what you desire. If it is, share this with God.  If it is not, come up with something else and repeat the above process. Often times as we unpack the whys beneath our stated desires we can learn much about ourselves. Share your feelings and insights with God. 

9. Create a collage that communicates the essential life-giving truths you are drawn to in this passage.

 


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