• Tony Birkhead

SHIFT Week-1



Get in, hang on and enjoy the view! Everybody ends up somewhere in life. End up Somewhere on Purpose!

INTRODUCTION

When did your relationship with Jesus begin? What are some of the highlights of that relationship?

What image comes to mind when you think of the word “abide”?


How would you define the word “abide” in the context of your relationship with Jesus?


Today we will look at Jesus’ teaching about walking with Him and bearing fruit as a result. If we are to be His disciples, we must be intentional about pursuing Christ and prepared to be pruned by Christ. True disciples walk with Christ by abiding in Him.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Mark 1:35-37

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also 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. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read John 15:1-4.

What did Jesus mean by trimming or pruning the branches, and how does that relate to God’s actions to believers? In what specific ways do you think God prunes His disciples?


Describe a time in your life when God pruned you so you would grow closer to Him. Was it a good process? Why or why not? What was the result of the pruning?


What role does the Holy Spirit play in our pruning and fruit-bearing process?


Verse 2 continues the vine metaphor and describes the process of pruning, when dead branches are removed and the decaying parts are trimmed away. As Christians, we’re represented in the branch that produces fruit but still requires pruning. This process of removing the dead parts occurs as God challenges us and disciplines us so we can continue to grow in Him. Pruning is a good process, and it promotes spiritual health and strong faith.


What does it mean for Jesus to abide in us?


Why are both remaining in Jesus and Jesus abiding in us necessary to produce fruit?


Verses 4-5 state the critical importance of staying connected to the Vine (living in obedience to Jesus and allowing Him to work through you). Jesus encouraged the disciples to abide in Him and to allow Him to abide in them. When people are saved, they are in Christ and Christ is in them. We can do nothing without Christ. Only with Him living and working in us can we produce fruit and make a difference in the world.


Do you really believe you can do nothing without Christ? How do your thoughts and actions affirm this mentality? How fruitful have you been without Him?


Jesus desires to live in us. We act in obedience when we allow Him to not only live in us, but also help us break free from the bondage of sin. With those chains broken, Jesus is now able to work through us. Through our obedience we display Him and His character to the world. Only by allowing Christ to live in us can we truly have an impact for the kingdom of God.


Read John 15:5-8.

What is the meaning of Jesus’ statement in verse 6? How does that statement relate to believers?


What is the link between obedience and prayer (v. 7; see also John 14:13-14)?


Genuine believers who maintain an essential relationship with Christ can ask whatever they wish and their requests will be granted. This promise is not a blank check but rather is conditioned by Christ. The petitioners must remain in Christ and His words must remain in them. Their petitions are tied closely to bearing much fruit and glorifying God.


How can believers bring glory to God, according to this passage?


If you were abiding in Christ completely and without a doubt, what do you think you would pray for our church?


MOVING FORWARD

  • What can you do to more closely and consistently abide in Christ? How can we as a group intentionally help one another with this effort?

  • What are some specific things we can ask God to accomplish through us? What step might He want us to take to accomplish this?

PRAY TOGETHER

Close by praying over your group. Thank God for putting this specific group of people together at this moment. Ask Him to reveal to each person the fruit that He wants him or her to produce, and ask for the willingness to make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish it.

COMMENTARY

John 15:1-8

15:1. “I am the true vine” is the last of Jesus’ seven “I am” sayings in John’s Gospel. “True” contrasts Jesus with OT Israel. Joseph was called a “fruitful vine” in Gen 49:22. The reference to the Father as the vineyard keeper harks back to Isaiah’s first vineyard song, where God is depicted as tending His vineyard, only to be rewarded with sour grapes (Isa 5:1-7; cp. Ps 80:8-9).

15:2. Three types of believers are named or inferred in this first part of the chapter: those who bear no fruit, those who bear some fruit and, later in verse 5, those who bear much fruit. The fruit-bearing branches, it would appear from the text of this verse, represent true believers. But to whom does the text refer when it says, he cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit?

This passage is capable of dangerous interpretation, especially when the idea of fruit-bearing centers in evangelism. Some people teach that those who do not win others to Christ will themselves be snatched out of the vine. Such an idea is alien to the teaching of the New Testament. Perhaps Galatians 5:22-23 helps us here: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

15:3. The disciples, however, needed neither cutting off nor trimming clean because they had already been cleansed by the Lord’s word. One thing is clear at the outset of the chapter: this is not a passage on salvation, a topic John covered in earlier chapters. Here he dealt with requirements for a fruitful life on the part of believers.

15:4-6. Another key here is the word remain (abide) which appears no fewer than eleven times in the passage. It seems to suggest an effortless resting in the Lord, confident in the promised union between the vine and the true branches.

Furthermore, John used the word remain forty times in his Gospel and twenty-seven more times in his epistles. In the context of this passage, it seems to emphasize an ongoing faith and loving obedience to the Father and the Son that results in fruit. The fruit in this passage seems to focus on spirit-generated behavior of Christians, though again this is not the only interpretation. Many sermons have been preached on emphasizing fruit as other people who have been influenced by the gospel.

15:7. Jesus added a specific dimension to the mutual abiding of the Christian life (v. 7). He set forth the condition that His words abide in believers. On the basis of this condition, He made the promise of fruitful praying. An abiding life is an obedient life. My words abide in you points to a willing acceptance of Jesus’ authority as expressed through His teachings and commands. Words that remain ultimately become words that are obeyed. Whatever you wish defines the possible agenda of a believer’s praying. The agenda is unlimited. Any concern is a proper subject for prayer. We can pray for anything that Jesus desires and for which He would ask the Father.

15:8. When followers of Jesus bear much fruit, God receives glory. Since believers cannot bear fruit of themselves but only by means of Christ’s indwelling life, their fruitfulness is a manifestation of divine life. It thus glorifies God and serves as evidence of genuine, vital discipleship.


DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

Isaiah 30:15

When I look at my family life, I see busy and hectic. When we work, we work a lot. When we play, we go all out. When we are home, we have kids to take care of or school events to attend. When it comes to church, we could be at a service or small group every other day if we really wanted. It can be hard to put time aside from our eventful days to rest and be quiet before God as today’s Scripture instructs.

Being quiet before God gets even harder when a monkey wrench is thrown into our busy lives. This could be a death in the family, a rebellious child, the loss of a job, or anything at all that is unexpected. When any of these happen to us, our first response is often to set things back to “normal mode”. Who wouldn’t want to do this? We look for the plans of action necessary to set things in order and ask God to bless us along the way. We fall into the trap that action is the only solvent for the unexpected problems in life. When many times, we simply need to live as the Psalmist and “be still and know that [He is] God” Psalm 46:10. Our comfort won’t come from solving the issues alone, but knowing God and his ways during our busy life.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. 98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. 100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. 101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.

102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:97-105

When we begin new seasons in life, we envision specific outcomes. For example, newlyweds often share dreams of the quintessential home with a yard, treehouse, and a white picket fence. When we have our first child, we envision raising a young man or woman who loves God and people, is well-adjusted, and independent. Yes, at the onset of any new beginning, we envision how we would like things to turn out. We intend to make our dreams a reality, and in many cases, we succeed. But too often, life has a way of preventing these intentions from becoming a reality. Why?

One likely reason is that we were pointed in the wrong direction before we even started our journey. Or perhaps we started in the right direction, but somewhere along the way chose alternate paths in life that quietly and over time, actually lead us further away from our destination. To start in the right direction, we must look to God. If you’ve already headed down the wrong path, thanks to God’s amazing grace, it’s never too late to stop where you are and ask for His help to find a way out. And the only way to ensure we stay on a path guaranteed to take us where we should be, and where God wants us to end up, is to apply His Word to our daily lives and strive to be more like Christ every day.

So do not lean on your good intentions to get you where you want to go. Lean on God to show you the way in all areas of life. Only then can you rest assured that you’re on the straight and narrow path, headed in the right direction in life and guaranteed the promise of eternal salvation.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Two of the most difficult words to hear as a child are “be still.” Everything in us wants to stay in motion; physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. These two words can be equally challenging for us as adults—especially in the midst of the seemingly immediate and urgent details of life. These words, “be still,” literally mean to let drop, to release, to relax. You might even be thinking, “How do I do that?”

Even when we put time aside to read our Bible in the morning or evening, we rush through it and check off that activity for the day. When is the last time you released the pressing issues in your life to God? When is the last time you relaxed in the presence of God? When is the last time you were quiet enough to hear the whisper of God? What would it happen if you had one hour to “be still?” What about 30 minutes? What about 5 minutes? You may be thinking, I don’t even know how to be still for 5 minutes. That’s exactly why you need to do it.

Here’s the simple challenge for today: take the next 5 minutes…

· to let the immediate and urgent drop.

· to release and relax.

· to be still and to be quiet.

· to focus on the greatness of God.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 4

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:21-25

Most Christians are taught early on to incorporate a devotional time into their day. This typically includes Scripture reading and prayer, both of which are essential for spiritual growth. But occasionally we should evaluate what effect this practice is having in us. In other words, we should ask, Is my quiet time accomplishing God’s purpose, or has it simply become a ritual I do out of habit or duty?

James says we need the Word to be implanted in us. This first happens when we hear and believe the gospel, which leads us to salvation. Peter describes salvation as being born again “through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). But the implanted Word does even more—it sanctifies us. That’s why Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Sanctification is the process by which believers are progressively transformed into Christlikeness in conduct, conversation, and character. And the means God uses is His Word.

When Scripture is implanted in us, it roots out sins and produces righteousness. A quiet time shouldn’t be like the description in James 1:24 of someone who looks in a mirror and then forgets what he’s seen. Instead, it should involve an intent look into God’s Word, which changes us inwardly. Divine truth penetrates the heart, mind, and will and ultimately expresses itself in obedience.

Is your quiet time bearing spiritual fruit, or have you become satisfied with a routine glance at the Bible? For the Word to implant in your soul, some digging is required—and also patience as you wait for spiritual fruit to develop.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

When the Lord walked this earth, He had no place to call home (see Matthew 8:20). But there was something He liked about a home in Bethany where a man named Lazarus lived with his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Maybe Martha was a great cook. Perhaps they were wonderful hosts.

Mary and Martha were quite different from each other. Mary was the quiet, contemplative type. Martha was the grab-the-bull-by-the-horns, assertive type.

One day, Jesus came to their home. Martha thought it would be a good idea to make Him a meal. She went into the kitchen and started working. Meanwhile, Mary thought it would be a great opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear what He had to say. As Mary was sitting there, taking it all in, Martha was working frantically in the kitchen, growing more frustrated because Mary was not helping her.

Finally, she could not contain herself any longer. She came out of the kitchen, and looking down at Mary and Jesus, said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40).

Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (vv. 41–42).

Sometimes we can do the same thing. We can get so worked up. Like Martha, we sometimes offer activity instead of adoration, work instead of worship, and perspiration instead of inspiration. There is a time to sit and there is a time to move.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


Remain in me, as I also 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.

John 15:4

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