Welcome to Read the Bible Together. I invite you to join me and others as we seek to start our day with an intentional focus on the spiritual. I’ll share from a variety of resources, and how I’m using these in my own life. Adapt this to your own style and preferences. God made you unique! We have 2 online Bible studies. If you are a grad student at MSU we meet weekly on Thursday nights at 7pm. Email me for more info at email@example.com. I’m starting another online Bible study April 27th for all ages that will meet on Mondays at 7pm. Find the Zoom link at our Facebook group: The Virtual Upper Room, or email me for details. Stay connected! – Julie
The Secret of Remaining
Last week we had a great discussion. We talked about Jesus (not Israel or the church) being the True vine. And his Father- the hard working, attentive, loving gardener “takes up” not cuts off- the branch laying on the ground covered in mud and gently places it where it can thrive and grow. And the stunning invitation to “remain or abide” in Jesus just as he abides in the Father. Here’s a few more questions to reflect on:
- There are three categories of branches described in this passage- those bearing no fruit, those bearing some fruit, and those bearing much fruit. In which category would you place yourself and why?
- If you are not bearing much fruit, what is Jesus’ counsel to you in these verses?
Bonus: Here’s the audio of Darrell Johnson I shared last week. The 5 minute clip I played is around the 15 minute mark. The whole series can be purchased at https://www.regentaudio.com/. It was from a talk to seminary students; so there’s breadth and depth here if you are energized by that.
John 14:12 ” I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
What has Jesus been doing? Teaching, healing, forgiving, loving… we could make a long list if we read John 1-13. I found this question today from Abiding in Christ’s Love by Jacalyn Eyre: “Jesus says that his disciples will be able to continue to do what he started- works of power that make it possible for people to enter into a relationship with God. In what ways has God used you to help others know him?”
We can study Scripture in depth, we can read the Bible and just think about it, and we can pray responsively. These are all valid ways to interact with God’s Word.
What a soul encouraging discussion last night when we met on Zoom to look at this passage together! This morning I want to read the passage again, like I have every day, but this time pray the passage.
Jesus, thank you for the gift of peace and faith. At this moment my heart isn’t troubled. But you know I will struggle with anxiety, and when I do remind me Holy Spirit, that I am not alone. Remind my brothers and sisters in Christ that they are not alone this morning. Thank you that you want to be with us Jesus. Thank you for the confidence we have that we will never be separated from you, that we live forever with you.
God thank you that I can bring all my questions to you. Jesus you are the way, The only Source, the one who tells the truth 100% of the time, and the giver of new life. Thank you for letting me know you, for wanting me to know you even better. (Here I pause and pray for two family members that I love that don’t know Jesus like this yet)
What is this life you are inviting me into? Participation in all that you would do if you interacted with all the people that I interact with every day? Have I been doing the same things that you did, Jesus, and even “greater things”? If not, what gets in the way? Show me what to ask for, in your name. Show each of us in this virtual upper room one thing to ask for that you are inviting us to participate in...
I’ve been reading and studying these verse for several days. Today I asked, have I been listening to what you want to say to me God? Here are some of the main applications I have at this point for myself. I expect this to be expanded on as I discuss this passage with others later today.
My security, confidence and calm rest in the relationship I have with the Spirit of Jesus who lives in me, forever.
Jesus is going to keep on doing great things, in and through us, and invites us into a partnership. (vv.12 & 13) When I look at my own life, I’m not so sure. Why? Do I need to be more open? Do I need to be more connected?
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father; that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I have spoken to you I don’t speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Trust me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on account of the works themselves. 12 I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. 14 When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
I won’t leave you as orphans
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion,[a] who will be with you forever. 17 This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.
- What does Jesus say about the relationship between himself, the Father and the Spirit?
- What does Jesus say about the disciples? about you?
- Take some time to talk to God about these things. Voice your questions, your thankfulness, your requests, out loud or in writing.
“Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.”
- Thomas was confused. He needed more details. He wanted a road map. What do you think of Jesus’ answer?
- What does it mean to you to “know” Jesus? How does this relationship affect you?
- Ask Jesus your questions and spend some time listening as well.
I have the You Version app on my phone, so I read these verses in 5 or 6 different translations. Here’s the CEB:
“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.”
Jesus’ friends were upset that they were going to be physically separated from him- he had been talking about leaving in the previous chapter. They want to be where he is. Do I?
What does trust involve for these followers? (Things are about to get really bad- Jesus will be arrested and killed)
What does trusting God look like in my life today?
Is Jesus talking about a literal place where he and his Father and these followers (and future followers) get to live together? What do you think? How is this reassuring?
If you’re like me, one of the first things you do in the morning while you’re drinking that first cup of coffee is pick up your phone. I usually look at the weather. “It would be great if I could look at some inspirational verses too,” I thought. So I searched “prayer” and “devotionals” and downloaded apps to test. My favorites so far are listed below.
- First15 – my favorite one. I like listening to this as I walk.
- Pray as You Go
- Book of Common Prayer
- Daily Bible Inspirations
What are your favorite apps that help you connect with God?
What does it mean that I am a branch and Jesus is the vine? It means without him I’m dead. To stay alive I have to be connected, drawing nutrients from the vine. Read John 15:1-17 again.
- How does having Jesus’ joy within make your joy full?
- What is the greatest example of love?
- How are the privileges of slaves and friends different? How can you be Jesus’ friend?