Grow Deep: I AM Edition, Week 4

Week 4 – March 7-13

I AM the Vine ...

“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.” -  John 15:5

In the grasp of winter, my thoughts sometimes wander to the warmer weather of spring and summer … the time when the snow, ice and cold temperatures are a thing of the past. I think about days with more hours of sunlight and thermometer readings that go up to more tolerable temperatures.

Thoughts of planting flowers, vegetables or both also sometimes come to my mind. I can picture myself doing the prep work. This might include tilling the soil, fertilizing and removing any weeds to get ready to plant! I make a hole and place either a seed or a plant into the hole. If it is a plant, I will probably put some water into the hole before placing the plant. Finally, I put soil back into the hole and around the plant and pack it down. It is now time to watch the garden grow. As the plants grow, I am confident they will bloom and that fruit will begin to form. But what happens if that fruit falls off the plant? It will shrivel up and be no good!

This week we will focus on Jesus’ statement, “I AM the Vine” found in today’s reading. At our baptism, we became members of God’s family, and we are connected to Him. During our lives it is important for us to stay connected to the Vine (Jesus). How do we do that? Attending worship regularly, reading our Bibles, prayer and meeting with fellow believers for Bible Study are just some of the ways to stay connected.

Just as my beans or tomatoes grow when they are connected to the vine, so we, too, as “connected” followers of Christ, will continue to grow in our faith. Our faith then helps us produce “fruit.” Evidence of that “fruit” is called good works in Ephesians 2:10: “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

It is our privilege and responsibility to share Christ with our neighbors through word and deed. How are you producing fruit in the name of Jesus?

 

Wednesday, March 7

Read: John 15:1-11

Today’s reading is rich with spiritual truths that describe the critical relationship between the vine and the branches. Jesus calls Himself the true Vine; His Father, the Gardener or Vinedresser; and us, the branches. Abiding in the Vine is absolutely critical in order for us to live and bear fruit. Apart from the vine, branches wither and cannot produce anything.

Reflect: When did we become connected to Jesus? How can we stay connected to Jesus throughout the course of our day? Why is that so important? How would you explain “abiding” in Christ to a non-Christian?

For the Family: What happens to a branch that falls from a tree during a storm? Why does the branch die? Jesus tells us that we need to stay “connected” to Him just like a branch must be connected to a tree (or vine). Talk together about what that means.

 

Thursday, March 8

Read: Psalm 92

This Psalm was sung during the morning sacrifice on the Sabbath. We see the joy in David’s heart when he makes music (a joyful sound) to praise God. David also shows us we are never too old to bear fruit as long as God is our Rock.

Memorize: “They will bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.’” (vv.14-15)

Reflect: What are some of the ways that you praise God? How does David compare and contrast the way God’s works are received by the senseless man and the righteous?

NOTE FOR FAMILIES:

During the last four weeks of this edition, we will focus on the last days of Jesus’ life. You may wonder how best to share the specific details of Jesus’ suffering and death with your children, especially if they are very young. Following are a few suggestions that you may want to incorporate into your family devotion time:

Be honest; present the facts as they happened and are recorded, focusing on only one, single event or fact each day.

Read the passage from a Children’s Bible. Children are the target audience, and there are pictures which may help them to more easily visualize what happened.

Read the Scriptures yourself before you gather together as a family. Tell the story (instead of reading the story from your Bible) to your children in an age-appropriate way.

You know your children best. If you have very young children, you may want to choose the “Alternate Family Focus” for your discussion and devotion time together.

For the Family: What parts of your life give God praise? What do you consider a good work?

Alternate Family Focus on Psalm 92: Psalm 92 was written as a song to be sung. Read sections of it again on each of the remaining days of this week (vv. 1-3, vv. 4-6, vv. 7-9, vv. 10-11, and vv. 12-15). Write in one sentence what the Psalmist is saying in the set of verses you read each day. Try to think of a song you know that says some of the same things that are in each set. Sing that song together with your family (i.e., Praise Him in the Morning; God Is So Good; He’s Got the Whole World; God Is So Big; Praise Him, Praise Him or others.)

 

Friday, March 9

Read: John 13:1-20

Jesus sets the example of servanthood. He fills a basin with water, grabs a towel and begins to wash the disciples’ feet. Christ also predicts the betrayal by Judas, although He does not say his name.

Reflect: What does being a servant mean to you? Did Jesus wash Judas’ feet? What is the significance of Jesus’ washing His disciples’ feet? How can you apply what He did to your own life?

For the Family: Have you ever washed someone else’s feet? How have you served other people?

 

Saturday, March 10

Read: Matthew 26:17-29

In the reading for today, Jesus has His disciples prepare for the Passover meal. During the meal, Jesus announces He will be betrayed by one of the disciples, who then ask, “Is it I?” Christ gives His body and blood in the Last Supper.

Reflect: What made the act of Judas’ dipping his hand into the bowl that Jesus was using so despicable? What is similar about the blood put on the door frames that first Passover (in Egypt) and the Lord’s Supper?

For the Family: What happened on the first Passover? Why did the Jews celebrate it every year? What do those who come to the altar receive in Holy Communion?

 

Sunday, March 11

Read: Mark 14:32-42

In this section of Scripture we have Jesus and the disciples going to the Garden of Gethsemane. The time for Judas’ betrayal of Christ is near. It is clear that Jesus is in anguish over what is ahead for Him. His prayer to His heavenly Father sets an example for our prayers: “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Reflect: When you ask God for something, do you conclude your prayer with Jesus’ words? Why was Jesus so disappointed in His disciples’ falling asleep? When have you given less than your best to Jesus?

For the Family: How many times did the disciples fall asleep? What did Jesus mean when He prayed, “Take this cup from Me.”? When you ask God for something, can you also tell Him that you don’t want it if it is not something He wants for you? Why do you think that is so hard?

 

Monday, March 12

Read: John 18:1-11

Here we find Jesus and His disciples crossing over the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. Judas brings the squad of soldiers to arrest Jesus. Jesus asks them,” Who is it you want?” They reply, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus responds to them with an “I AM” statement about Himself: “I AM He.”

Reflect: Why do you think the soldiers drew back and fell down after Jesus responded with “I AM He.”? Why did Peter cut off Malchus’ ear? Who did Jesus show Himself to be when He healed Malchus’ ear?

For the Family: How did Judas know where Jesus would be? Where was Jesus arrested? What do you think the soldiers thought when Jesus healed Malchus’ ear?

 

Tuesday, March 13

Read: Luke 22:54-62

In this our final reading for the week, we witness Peter’s denial … not once or twice, but three times before the rooster crows fulfilling Jesus’ words. The crow of the rooster sent Peter out, and he wept bitterly.

Reflect: How many times each day do you deny Jesus? List some ways you deny Jesus. What do you do to show sorrow and repentance for your sins?

For the Family: Do you sometimes fail to follow Jesus? Share with your family some ways you have sinned today. How did Peter show he was sorry for his sin? How do you show you are sorry for your sins?