Close to the Vine

There has been a lot of enthusiasm about confirming 22 young new professing members yesterday.  It is a joy to see all that life and commitment and promise and those gifts gathered.  Knowing the class as I do, if they will hang together and hang with our church, we will remain a good and strong church for the foreseeable future.  That will certainly be the case if we continue to show them how to remain close to the vine (John 15:1-8).

So, as we committed to remaining close to the vine, I'll be bold to ask: Have you prayed today? 

A prayer I suggested in the sermon is, "What, Lord, would you have me know or change or do more of in order for me to bear more fruit for you?"  It's part of remaining close to pray and part of being pruned to ask Jesus this question (and then to listen for the answer and then to try and follow what the answer suggests).

You might have to ask it several times.  You might need to break it down.  Jesus, what would you have me know?  There might be something that's revealed to you when reading the Bible or it might come to you driving down the road.  I suggested to the Prayer Service last Thursday that our prayers could be as simple (and important) as Jesus saying, "Hey, check that out" and revealing something that pleases or saddens or impresses him to you.  In return, you might point things out to him, "Hey, how about this...," a prayer that reveals what is on your heart.

After asking what Jesus would have you know, you might ask what needs to be changed in your life in order to bear more fruit.  Repentance doesn't have to be a 180-degree change.  Maybe the change needed is more subtle.  I watched a man patiently maneuver a bus around two obstacles yesterday.  When I encountered an obstacle later, having witnessed his patience helped me to be more patient.

Now it might be time to ask Jesus what he'd have you do more of (and, as needed, less of).  No telling what he'll say.  Remember, it won't always be "fun," but it will, if it's a calling from him, be worth it.

What I hope for the confirmands is the same that I hope for all of us: that we'll stay close to Jesus and go and do and be as he commands and nudges and modeled.  If we do that, we will remain a good and strong church forever.