The Secret To Living A Blessed Life

Today is an age where, it seems, everyone tries to cast off responsibility.

We want to make our own way.

We want to do our own thing.

Increasingly, people want to be in control of their own destiny. The choices they make about their life, reflect the desire to be free from any sort of constraint.

The popular attitude is…

  • If my job puts too much pressure on me, I’ll just quit.
  • If my marriage isn’t exactly as I had hoped, I’ll just end it.
  • If the situation I’m in doesn’t turn out in my favor, I’ll simply walk away.

Doing your own thing is the idealistic, popular point of view.

But…here’s the deal…

Doing your own thing rarely works.

If you want to get your life in a mess that’s going to be really hard to unravel, just go forward with the plan of doing your own thing.

This same attitude of independence has also found its way into our spiritual life. 

  • We make our own choices, independently from God, about what we’ll do in life.
  • We refuse to seek God’s counsel about anything.
  • We put ourselves in the position of control over our life.

But here’s the point I want to make…

Independence from God NEVER works.

independence-2

When it comes to religion…

Being bound up by rules, regulations, and orders is not something that we want, but believers have a tendency to forget that Jesus came to do away with the rules, regulations, and orders.

More than anything, what he desires with you is a relationship.

In a relationship, you don’t have to give orders, but out of respect you try to make each other happy.

Are there absolutes that you must follow? Certainly.

Are there particular rules you cannot set aside? Absolutely.

In any relationship, there are lines that should not be crossed because doing so will damage the relationship.

But that doesn’t mean the relationship is BUILT upon absolutes and rules. Relationships are built upon TRUST. It is the same with Jesus. Our relationship with him has to be established on trust.

Trust is the only way that it works.

Separating yourself from God, from Jesus Christ, from the things of God…it will never produce the life that you truly desire.

Independence from God NEVER works.

  • Why is it we are so determined to seek independence from God?
  • Why is it we want so badly to make our own way?
  • Why is it we separate from God to do our own thing?

Whatever the reason…the Bible has something to say about it.

In fact, it was Jesus himself who started the conversation.

John 15:1–13 NLTse

1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 

As the grapevine, Jesus is declaring that he is our source. 

Everything you desire in life, is found in Jesus Christ. God is the one who creates a good path for us. 

He is the one who leads us into our destiny.

Allowing God to be your source doesn’t mean that trouble will never come, but it does mean that you have an advocate in the midst of the trouble.

  • God wants to resource your life.
  • God wants to help you in everything.
  • God wants to show you his love.
  • God wants to be there for you when your world crumbles.
  • God wants to pick you up and console you when you’re hurt.

He IS your source.

2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 

There is a process going on in your life.

God is pruning you…

Cutting things off of and out of your life…

He is using his infinite wisdom to purge from your life, the things that would harm you and keep your life from producing a great harvest.

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever seen what happens to a bush or an empty lot that isn’t cared for?

It gets overgrown. There are weeds and burs and thorns that slowly begin to take over. A bush that’s uncared for may grow wild and sparse. It could have poison ivy growing up the side.

At the very least, a plant that’s uncared for over a long period of time begins to look scraggly. It is no longer the beautiful thing it was meant to be.

Your life and mine is the same.

God cares about us enough to prune away the things that would detract from the beauty and plan he is creating in your life. 

Independence from God NEVER works.

When you choose the independence route, there will be no one to care for your life in the way it needs.

Don’t think it strange when you run into trials, problems, or difficulties. It is always possible that God is doing a pruning work in your life.

I had much rather be pruned back, than cut off altogether.

3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 

What is the ultimate pruning tool in our life?

God’s Word.

The writer in the book of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” – Hebrews 4:12 

This is the message that will literally prune away things in your life that keep you from producing a great harvest.

God’s Word is essential.

Now…here’s where things really get even more important.

Jesus gives us a secret for living.

There is something that we MUST do, if we want to live a life filled with the good things of God and make heaven our home. Essentially, Jesus is stating the point of this post: Independence from God NEVER works. 

Here it is in Jesus’ words…

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 

There is a secret to producing fruit in your life and obtaining the harvest God so wants to bring to you.

The secret is remaining. 

Another translation calls it: abiding. 

Either way, the word is the same.

It literally means to: Stay, to wait for, to remain in the same spot while expecting something in your future. It means to keep on and continue in your activity. 

Let me ask a few questions…

  • Are you still in the same spot with Jesus Christ as you once were?
  • Are you still as “on fire” and filled with faith?
  • Are you still trusting God to bring you an awesome future?
  • Have you given up on this relationship with Jesus…even if only a little?

Here’s the reason I believe Jesus used this particular illustration to explain this truth…

There is no question about whether or not a branch is still connected to a tree.

It either is, or it isn’t. There is no in between. Remaining in Jesus is the same. You are either connected to Jesus, or you’re not.

Let that sink in…There is no in between.

We might like to think otherwise, but the truth is, you only have two choices in your relationship with Jesus…in or out. 

People like to think of relationships as complex things with many nuances and levels, but in reality, they’re pretty simple.

You and I both learned in grade school to recognize when someone is or is not a friend. It’s not that hard to figure out if you and Jesus are really still in a relationship. 

Now…some might say, “friends are friends, even if you don’t see each other much.”

I would say, “you’re right.”

But the difference is this: I’m talking about your attitude of heart about the relationship. 

Distance does not affect a relationship if that relationship refuses to change its attitude of heart.

Remaining in Jesus is not just a set of rules and regulations…it is an inner attitude of heart that says, “I love Jesus and I belong to him.”

A branch that gets cut off from a tree will eventually turn brown, wither, and, although it may remain green for a time and look alive, is actually already dead. 

If we don’t remain in a life-giving relationship with Jesus, we are already dead whether we look like it or not. 

Independence from God NEVER works.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 

If you don’t keep your life firmly rooted in Jesus, it’s only a matter of time until things fall apart.

Jesus goes to the extreme and says, “you can do nothing.”

In the end result…

  • Nothing will work for you apart from Jesus.
  • Don’t think you can separate yourself from him and still be blessed and prosperous.
  • Don’t think that your life will produce lasting fruit apart from Jesus. Because it won’t…

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 

7 But if you remain in me AND my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 

This is the great promise to those who faithfully remain in Jesus.

Those who keep God’s Word hidden deeply in their heart will prosper and produce fruit.

Difficulties may not cease, but neither will your fruit and harvest.

8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. 

This shows us that…

  • God wants to bring good things into your life because it glorifies him.
  • God weighs your discipleship by your fruit, for the simple fact that a real believer is always connected to the vine.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 

10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 

Being faithful to Jesus is NOT a burden to deal with. It is a life filled with joy and harvest. Jesus walks with those who remain faithful to him and their joy overflows…even in the most demanding of situations.

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

Ultimately, this verse can be looked at in two ways…

Number one, literally, a man or woman can lay down their life, in death, to save someone else’s life…and this is the truest measure of friendship. It’s what Jesus did for the world.

Number two, a man or woman can “lay down their life” for others by putting the needs of other people ahead of their own.

Chances are good that most people reading this won’t have to physically lay down their life to serve Jesus…but I wonder how many of us are “laying down our life” daily by taking up our cross and following Jesus completely? 

I wonder how many actually put God ahead of their own needs? Faithfulness always puts others needs ahead of what I want for myself. Faithfulness always puts what God wants for my life, ahead of my plans for  my life. 

Independence from God NEVER works.

Independence is all about me…and what I want.

If you want to live a life God can bless…

  • Be faithful.
  • Remain in Jesus.
  • Follow Jesus with all your heart.

Anything less is not enough.

The secret to living life well is simple: Remain faithful to Jesus and abide deeply in him. 

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