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A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
John 15:4 (NIV1984)
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 think this subject has become one of my life messages. I have learned this the hard way and seen many sincerely committed people burn out in serving others. The Lord wants us serving but in order to do so we have to remain in Him.
Most of us are fairly detached fro the agricultural process of planting and harvesting. We mostly get our fruit and vegetables from the grocery store. When Jesus told the story of the vine and the branches most folks ad first or second hand knowledge of planting and harvest. It was just how everyone functioned in that time. You grew your own food or you worked for people who did. I suppose today Jesus might use examples from technology. Unless you are connected to the internet with a clear connection you won’t be able to use your phone or your computer to get much done. Both the story of the vine and my example of the internet are about being connected to the source. That connection starts by establishing a relationship with Jesus. How much time you spend connected to Him in your daily life has a lot to do with how much fruit you will produce in your life.
One of the benefits of abiding or connecting to Jesus is spiritual fruit. There were many years in my own life that I though my natural talents and abilities were enough to sustain ministry work. I’m not saying I never spent time connecting with the Lord in his Word or in prayer or quiet before him.. I did. I would mainly get filled up by this sermon or that book or that conference and I would give out what I had to give but then wonder why I was feeling burned out by the demands of ministry. I was getting my fruit from the market. I was not really connecting directly on a continuing basis with the source. I suppose that is how many Christian continue to live, they get filled up on Sunday and perhaps get enough in their basket to share with their family and close friends. It is a good place to start but I found that I just could not keep up with the demands of others who where spiritually hungry and thirsty. I might show them where I was getting fed and hopefully they would come and get fed too.
Still I found myself often busy serving on Sunday’s and during the week and relying on others to feed me was not enough. I had to find the source and get connected directly. I don’t come to church to get fed. I come to church to serve, to do that I have to be able to feed myself during the week. This is true of pastors and other ministry leaders. However what often happens is that the demands of ministry become so great, there is just so much to do and so much need. The time apart with the Lord little by little becomes less and less. Before you know it you are wondering why you are exhausted and burned out and being attacked by the enemy. I’ve seen a lot of good people crash and burn out before they even realized what was happening. Picking up the peaces after such crashes is pretty messy. The bigger the ministry the more people who are directly and indirectly effected. The enemy knows this and works over time to keep ministry leaders so busy serving and doing good stuff and away from spending time with the Lord. He knows it is just a matter of time till they will crash and burn.
My point is we all need to stay connected to Jesus. If we are not regularly abiding in Him we won’t be producing fruit. Vines that are cut off from the source quickly shrivel and die. This is not just true for ministry leaders, we should all be leaders in the making. We have all been created to produce fruit but we must stay connected to the vine to be fruitful.
I want to be directly connected to you. I don’t just want the left overs from someone elses time spent with you. Help me to know you more so that I have left overs to share with others who are starving. Help me lead them to become directly connected and seated at your banquet table.