Week Six: John 15-16

Anyone up for a great summer giveaway?  More on that in a minute, but first how would you answer this question:  What has God been stirring up inside of you this summer?  As you’ve studied the words of Jesus for the past few weeks, how have they resonated within you?

We want to hear from you!  Our study for Week 6 comes to us from our Lead Pastor’s wife, Becky Harling.  She has written several books, and this week Becky has announced a Summer Giveaway Contest for our Red Letter Summer girls.  All the details are listed below, so read on.

Let the words of Jesus continue to move you.  Thank you so much for walking along with us this summer…

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Welcome to Week Five!

Changes.  Just the word can stir up anxiety in our hearts. Walking together to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to prepare His disciples for the changes they would be facing in the days to come. He wanted them to have a clear understanding of their position in Christ and the power available to them through the Holy Spirit. The lessons He taught them as they walked are relevant for us today, as well. I know I need to be reminded of my position in Christ and the continual power available to me – don’t you? As we look at what Jesus said, why don’t you imagine you are walking with Him towards the Garden of Gethsemane?

This Week’s Reading:  John, Chapters 13-14

WHAT DID JESUS SAY?

1.     “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.”  John 15:5

Jesus chose an object lesson to show the disciples their position in Christ.  It’s much more effective to “show” than “tell,” isn’t it?  The disciples were familiar with grapevines; vineyards were common all over Israel.  I imagine Jesus pointing to a vineyard as they walked and saying, “Look guys, I’m the vine; you’re the branches.”  The disciples were probably thinking, “Cool.  So what?”  Then Jesus explains, “If you remain in me and allow me to work through, you’ll bear a lot of fruit. But without Me – you can’t do anything!”  

What did Jesus mean when He said, “remain”?  Remaining in this passage means to live dependent on Christ.  Jesus is reassuring the disciples here.  It’s as if He says, “Guys don’t sweat it!  Just abide and let me do the work through you.”  Can’t you hear the sigh of relief?  It takes so much pressure off, doesn’t it?  When we lean deeply into Jesus, the fruit of good works and Christ-like characteristics grow naturally in our lives.  We don’t have to “work harder” to muster up some fruit! 

2.     “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  John 15:2

Let’s pause for a moment and return to verse two. Did you catch those words? He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit? Ouch! I can feel you getting tense.  Many women read these words and anxiety sets in.  You may be thinking, “Oh no.  I’m doomed.  He’s going to cut me off and I’m going to lose my salvation!”  That’s not what Jesus meant.  Bruce Wilkinson explains it this way, “Many experts in the Greek feel a more accurate translation of ‘cut off’ would be ‘take up’ or ‘lift up.’”[1]  When a branch trailed on the ground and was covered with mud, it grew sickly and useless.  So the gardener would lift the branch up and clean it off so that it could become fruitful again.  The same principle holds true in our lives.  If we fall into sin or just become complacent and unfruitful, the Gardener will lift us up and clean us off so that He can use us once again.

Even the branches that bear fruit must be pruned.  Why?  Because pruning cuts the branch back to the place where it connects to the vine and enlarges the connection to the vine.  The enlarged connection allows more life giving sap to flow through the vine and as a result, the branch becomes more fruitful.  Good deal, huh?  Pruning never feels great because it cuts away the attitudes or habits that prevent fruitfulness.  But, in the end the greater connection to Jesus makes the pruning worth the pain.

3.     “But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7

Can you imagine what’s going through the disciples minds at this point? There’s tension and confusion in the air.  I imagine some of them are thinking, “What’s He talking about?  How could anything be better than having His physical presence with us?”  Maybe similar thoughts have run through your mind and you have wondered what it would have been like to have Jesus physically present in your world.  Here’s the thing, we have it better now.  Think about it.  When Jesus walked on earth, He was fully God but also fully man, which meant He chose to live within the boundaries of time and space.  His physical presence was with one group at a time.  When He sent the Holy Spirit, He sent Him as our 24/7 journey mate!  When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, He sends His Spirit to live in us (John 14:17).  Imagine, God living in you, available to you at any moment on any day.  Girlfriends, it just doesn’t get any better than that!

4.  “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  John 16:24

Jesus invites His disciples and us to ask Him for what we need in His name and gives us a promise as well. Such a wonderful invitation, ask!  Such a wonderful promise, joy!    

WHAT IS JESUS SAYING TO US?

1.  Be assured of your position in Christ.  Once you’ve trusted Jesus as your Savioryou are positioned firmly in Christ – the most secure place on earth.  Take a few quiet moments to yourself.  Close your eyes and imagine you are held securely in the arms of God.  What do His arms feels like around you?  Can you hear the rhythm of His heart beat?

2.  Let go of selfdoubt and engage the power of the Holy Spirit.  So many of us struggle with self-doubt.  Questions like, “Am I a good wife?”, “Am I a good mother?”, or “Can God use me?” fill our minds.  Girlfriends, God has no doubts about you!  He chose you in Him before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4-6).  He has given you everything you need to be who He designed you to be through the person of the Holy Spirit.  Change your self-talk from “I can’t” to “I can” through the power of the Holy Spirit.  When self-doubt starts and Satan, the enemy of your soul, starts with His “blah, blah, blah” creating doubts in your mind – clobber him with praise to God.

3.  Live fully present to Jesus.  Make it your goal to talk with Jesus throughout the day.  He invites us to ask Him anything in His name – so go ahead, give it a try.  Ask Him about the concerns on your heart.  Take a walk with Him, talk with Him, and share with Him the concerns on your heart.  Try wearing a bracelet today.  Every time you look at that bracelet or feel it on your wrist, remind yourself the indwelling Christ is present with you.  At the end of the day journal your thoughts about living present to Jesus.  What did you experience?

CHALLENGE

Try this, spend 10 minutes today praising Jesus that He left you His Holy Spirit.  Here are just a few reasons to praise God for the indwelling Spirit:

  • He comforts us (Acts 9:31)
  • He counsels us when we don’t know what to do (John 14:16)
  • He leads us into all truth (John 16:8)
  • He empowers us (Romans 15:13)
  • He helps us become more like Jesus (Romans 15:16)
  • He helps us pray when we don’t’ know how (Romans 8:26)
  • He strengthens us when we feel weak (Ephesians 3:16)
  • He gives us wisdom ( Ephesians 1:17)
  • He brings reassurance (Romans 8:16)

It is helpful for me to listen to music when I spend time praising God.  Try listening to For Your Splendor by Christy Nockles and allow it to prompt your praise. You can download it on your iPod or just listen on YouTube. You might pray something like this:

Lord Jesus, thank you for leaving your Holy Spirit.  I praise you that your Spirit comforts me when life is hard and that He counsels me when I don’t know what to do. Thank you that your Spirit brings me reassurance and that He continually empowers me to do the things that you call me to do. I praise you that when I feel inadequate He is more than able. Thank you that I don’t have to fear any change you might bring in my life because your Spirit is my 24/7 journey mate.


[1] Bruce Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine (Sisters, OR,: Multnomah, 2001),33

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Summer Giveaway Contest, with Becky Harling

We want to hear how God has used this study in your life this summer!  Our Red Letter Summer has women participating from not only Denver, Colorado, but from around the nation and the world.  Doesn’t it encourage your heart to know you are studying with hundreds of women from across the globe this summer?  Isn’t it great to know that you’re not alone in your questions, your joys, your sorrows?

Take a few minutes this week and write a comment about how God’s word is impacting you through this study.  All comments entered between now and July 24 will automatically be entered into our Summer Giveaway Contest.  We will then randomly select three women, and those three will be sent a free copy of Becky’s book, Finding Calm in Life’s Chaos, a wonderful book that takes an in-depth look at Jesus’ “I am” statements, and applies them to real life.  It’s a perfect book to go along with our summer in the Gospel of John.

So sit down, take a moment and tell us your thoughts!  We’d love to hear from you!

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Written by Becky Harling, Foothills Community Church

I am Becky, the beloved daughter of God. I am married to Steve Harling, who is the Lead Pastor at Foothills Community Church. Steve and I have four adult kids and four grandkids. The grandbabies are amazing! I speak at conferences and women’s retreats and have authored three books: Finding Calm In Life’s Chaos, Rewriting Your Emotional Script and Freedom From Performing.  My fourth book, The 30 Day Praise Challenge will be released in 2013.  I passionate about sharing Jesus and awakening hope in women.  I love hiking and going out to dinner with my hubby, hanging out with my kids, shopping for and playing with my grandkids, travelling around the world, and drinking Starbucks!

www.beckyharling.com

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11 Comments

  1. Brynn Wennen on July 16, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Our study of John has reminded me how intimately and tenderly Jesus knows and loves us.
    Through His example, He has been speaking to me this summer about caring for his people through prayer and serving them with love.

    • Becky Harling on July 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      I agree, Brynn! I love how intimately and tenderly Jesus cares for us as well! Great thought!

  2. Wendy hunter on July 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

    This is the first time I have ever read the book of John and I have found that although I struggle with my faith God still cares. this week particularly it amazes me that God sends his holy spirit to us. that my sin isn’t ever too much for him to handle and that he never leaves.

  3. Brenda on July 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    This study in John has been great digging into who John really is. Jesus knows me just as intimately and personally as He did John. Jesus is able to meet my every need. I can stop striving.

    • Sherry Becker on July 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

      I love how I can take this study with my smartphone. I sit at Water World and am reminded of abiding in Christ. He is my vine. I want to bear fruit for His glory.

      I would love to see an e-study continue in the Fall. I am an elementary teacher, and a busy mom that keeps me from attending a bible study. I could use an e-study to keep me leaning into Jesus.

  4. Deb Kastner on July 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Studying the Gospel of John this summer has been immensely refreshing for me, bringing me closer to Jesus as I read and reflect on the Word of God. The lessons presented here have been wonderful. A big thank you to all of you ladies for your time and dedication.

    Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through these weeks was when we were reflecting on the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. I’m very familiar with the passage, with many a Maundy Thursday behind me. Yet this was the first time I’d ever really *thought* about the fact that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. I’ve always focused on the “go and do likewise” part of it, but never on the fact that our Lord performed the action before telling His disciples to continue the practice.

    As a busy author, wife, grandmother and mom, I often plunge right into the “go and do likewise” without first allowing God to minister to me. This summer I’m learning to seek God in a new way–letting Him get to me first, before I go off half-cocked to the world. I can already see the difference it has made in my life and the life of those I touch.

    Thanks again for the great study series!

  5. Bette on July 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I’ve been meditating on a specific verse from this study in John: “….Don’t let anything be wasted.” Jesus said this in John 6:12 about the leftovers from feeding the five thousand. I realize how easy it is for me to waste time, money, and even relationships. My early morning walks are a great time to thank God for the beauty in creation. I don’t want to waste the time thinking about trivial things when I have the chance to praise God. While on the interstate this week, I saw trucks labeled with the same name as a young couple I know who are suffering with a severe medical issue. I was reminded to not waste the chance to pray for them and send them a note of encouragement. Every day, I’m seeing small opportunities to “not waste the leftovers” all around me.

  6. Angie on July 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Abiding in Christ…sounds so simple but can be so difficult as life throws curve balls your way. If we can only learn that the outcome will be blessing if we abide in Him. We each face daily challenges on different levels and are in need of different strengths. Jesus can fulfill them all if we only abide in Him…Lord, cause me to see the outcome is in your hands and I need only trust and obey.

  7. Christie on July 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    This study has been AMAZING! God has been pulling at my heart for 2 groups of youth. For almost 4 years I have wanted to witness to and help teen moms. Having been one myself at 16 years of age. I want to share my story with these girls and show them the Love of our awesome Abba Father. The other group I am wanting to minister to is the homeless youth here in Arvada. I have yet to find a way to help them, I can fell God nudging me towards some things that I am trying not to resist,but that fear keeps coming along.I have been able to find some organizations to lead me to our young mothers. So praise be to God for that! Please pray that I can put my complete trust in Him and let Him move me where He wants me. That all being said I feel closer to Jesus after studying John in this study. I thank all the pastors wives who have contributed your time and knowledge.
    d
    feel God nudging towards a few things that I am trying not to be

  8. Christie on July 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    This weekend I have used every single one of the reasons to praise and thank Jesus for his spirit. I have been able look at these scriptures and be able to get my answers from Him on how to cope with and help others cope with the terrible tragedy last Thursday. I knew how to pray and how to shine His Glorious light during this dark time. Thank you so much ladies for this wonderful summer study.

    • womenwhobelieve on July 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Christie, what an incredible way to walk through the events of this past week. Really, the only way. What an encouragement to read.

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