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Bearing Fruit Requires Us to Remain

By Megan Evans

"Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me"(John 15:4 CSB).

Remain. What a passive word, right?

When I think of bearing fruit I think of going, doing, or working, words that require an action out of me. But Jesus tells us that in order to produce fruit, we must first remain in him. But what does this mean?

Webster’s definition of the word "remain" is “to stay in the same place or with the same person or group; especially: to stay behind.” Jesus himself shows us an example of what it means to stay behind in his ministry on earth, often staying behind to be in prayer with his Father (Matthew 14:13, Luke 6:12). One example that has particularly stood out to me recently is when Jesus stays behind when Lazarus was dying:

So when [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was (John 11:6 CSB).

We don’t expect this from Jesus. We don’t expect that when we are hurting, suffering, and mourning, that Jesus wants us to just remain. But he does it himself and commands us to do it “…so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 CSB). But what exactly does remaining in Christ look like? 

Remain in God

After Jesus tells us to remain in him, he tells us to remain in his love by keeping his commands (John 9:9). But in the midst of suffering or even in the midst of great joy it can be hard to keep his commands.

In suffering, we often don’t trust that God is good unless he takes our pain away, making us say, “Why should I listen to you when it hurts so much?” In a good season, we often don’t want our time of comfort to end, making us say, “What do you have for me that is better than this?” Following God’s commands looks like trusting that His promises will never fail us, even when the world is telling us that we should never suffer and that our happiness depends what we can do for ourselves.

Jerry Bridges, in Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts says:

“Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelms us.” 

Remaining in God looks like trusting that what he has in store for us is for our good, depending on him instead of the world’s quick fixes. It is remaining with a Savior that has promised to hold us in his arms when we can’t hold ourselves up on our own. It is praying and crying out to him daily that we would trust that his commands may not end our suffering or bring us comfortable lives, but that they will bring him ultimate glory and splendor.

Remain in the Church

It is hard to remain on our own. Our first instincts are to flee or to handle things in our own way. But when our brains are clouded with fear and when our thoughts are filled with anger at a God that seems silent, we need outside wisdom reminding us of his promises and what he has already done for us.

This outside wisdom of a friend is yet another way Jesus tells us to remain. John 15:12 (CSB) says, “This is my command. Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.”

We need the love of our fellow brothers and sisters in the church. We need people reminding us the God sent his Son for us to cover our guilt, shame, fear, and hurts for us on the cross, that we are a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We need people telling us truth when we want to give up, that God is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). We need to lay our lives down for our friends, meeting physical and spiritual needs: bringing a meal to a hospital, holding a friend’s hand while they cry, reminding each other of Scripture when times are good and bad.

It is then when we see Jesus incarnate, the church body being the hands and feet of Jesus. It is the love of a friend that helps us persevere through any trail or circumstance and say “I know the Lord is with me. I don’t have to run. I can remain.” 

It is then that we bear fruit, wearing the signs of a redeemed child of God. A child that has trusted in their good Father. A child that has been held up by a friend. A child that has endured, waited, and remained so that God can be glorified.

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The Importance of Scripture Memory and How to Do It

By Megan Evans

It’s 7:00am. You’re supposed to be in your car leaving for work, but so far all you have done is hit the snooze button 12 times, broken a coffee mug, and struggled to get your kids on the bus.

Meanwhile, in the same neighborhood at 7:00am, a husband is comforting a wife that just found out her mother has cancer. These are very different situations, but both represent something that we all aren’t immune to: the unpredictability of life.

In the small frustrations of a rough morning or the anger and hurt that can come with a sick family member, we can choose to respond in a way that is God-glorifying. One way we can do this is to bring to mind the living, active Word of God, what Ephesians 6:17 calls “the sword of the Spirit.” When we bring to mind Scripture, we are battling our thoughts and combating lies with the true words that the Lord has given us.

Donald S. Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life uses this analogy, “A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.” To use these weapons, it is imperative to engage in the spiritual discipline of memorizing Scripture.

Memorizing Scripture for Godliness

Psalm 119 is a picture of how important it was for David to have Scripture at the forefront of his mind.

In verses 9-11 he says:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

It’s very easy for us to rush through our time in the Word and forget what we read right when the cover closes over our Bibles. But when we do this, we are doing ourselves a great injustice.

David says that one of the ways that he might not sin against the Lord is by treasuring his word in his heart. This doesn’t sound like language that implies that David closed his scroll and forgot what he read! Having Scripture in our hearts is a way that we pursue godliness, to purify our minds and thoughts, just as David says. It’s much harder to continue in a pattern of sin when we allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind a verse or a passage that speaks truth into exactly what we need to hear, allowing room for confession and faith.

Just this week as I was struggling with a slew of health issues, 2 Corinthians 1:5 came to mind in such a timely manner. The Holy Spirit graciously reminded me of the purpose of affliction and the comfort that we have in Christ. When my initial thoughts were fear, frustration, and worry, the Lord “gave me life according to his Word” (Psalm 119:25), calming my spirit. While this helped me defeat my sinful thoughts, it also helped me to commune with the Lord.

Having God’s Word in my thoughts is like having a one-on-one conversation with him, allowing the Spirit to put to mind what he wants there and giving me a chance to respond in obedience and faith. 

Memorizing Scripture for Others

We are about Gospel Change. For Broken People. On Purpose.

One of the ways that we can do this “On Purpose” is by having Scripture ready and prepared for the broken. Imagine sitting across from someone listening to them talk about loneliness and all you can think to say is, “It’s okay, Jesus is with you!”

Yes, this is a beautiful truth, and yes Jesus is with us. But if you can look at someone in the eyes and say, “Can I share something that the Lord promises us in Isaiah 41? ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”’

We cannot comfort our brothers and sisters on our own; our words do not have the power to do so. But, God’s words hold the power to change. His Word contains the story of a Father, a brother, and a friend. A Savior that we can cling to and that will sustain us. A fully God, fully human Savior that took on all of our guilt and shame on the cross, whose blood poured out for us, so that we can one day be with him restored. I want to share this story with people, not anything I can come up with on my own. Scripture memory helps with that.

How Do We Do It?

It’s best to develop a plan for memorizing Scripture so that it can become a daily or weekly routine. If you normally spend 30 minutes in the Word in the morning, take the last five of those minutes to memorize a verse in the passage that you read, this way you already know the verse in its context in Scripture.

Donald S. Whitney suggests writing the verse out on an index card and keeping it with you throughout the day. When you have a coffee break at work or while you’re feeding your children lunch, pull out the card and review it. It’s also helpful for those that are more creative to draw a picture describing the verse or put the verse to a tune like a popular children’s song or one of those furniture jingles you just can’t seem to get out of your head (so the verse won’t leave your head either!).

If you were to memorize just one verse a week, that is 52 verses that you have armed and ready for the Holy Spirit to change your thoughts, minister to a brother or sister, and bring you that much closer to a Father who wants to have a conversation with his children.

Want to see what our church is memorizing? Here is a link to our Fighter Verses which we memorize every month.