Bible reading for March 25 -- Exodus 36; John 15.
"The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do." (Exodus 36:5)
Building God's house (Ex 36-40). At least 25 times in the remaining chapters of Exodus it speaks of obeying what God had commanded through Moses in building the tabernacle. And at this point in the story the people do so freely and generously. The tabernacle -- and later the temple in Jerusalem -- was to be a meeting place between man and God, a place of worship and offerings, a "dwelling" for God, not in the sense that he needed a place to stay (2 Chron 6:18; Acts 7:48), but a place where he would manifest his presence to his people. As I read through these "construction" chapters I observed a few things...
-- Design and details matter.
-- It is built with precious and beautiful materials.
-- Some of the materials and design foreshadow the city of Rev 21-22.
-- Everyone was involved, either in giving, designing, or building.
-- The Lord had given them willing and generous hearts.
-- It was completed.
The involvement of so many people reminded me of the NT passages teaching that everyone has a place to serve and gifts or talents to be used in building up the body of Christ, which is a spiritual temple (1 Cor 12:4-12; Eph 4:16; 1 Pet 2:5). So we must ask ourselves -- in this work of building up the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit -- am I eager to obey the Lord? Am I paying attention to the design and details of God's will? Am I involved and using my gifts, time, and talents? Is my heart free, willing, and generous toward the Lord's work? Will I stay with it until it is finished?
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
Overview. In this chapter Jesus tells about abiding in him and bearing fruit (15:1-8), the joy of Christ's love and loving one another (15:9-17), and the world's hatred of Christ (yet the Holy Spirit will come and testify of him)(15:18-27).
The problem with gardens. Every spring, many people I know begin to think about seeds and planting. Whether it is vegetable gardens or ornamental plants, we love to work the soil and dream of the flowers or fresh produce soon to come. For many of us, however, when the summer heat arrives and we take our vacations, we may return later to find plants dried up or weed-ridden.
Our God, who is Creator of all things, himself planted the first garden (Gen 2:8). Adam and Eve were to cultivate and protect it, but failed in their job. As the Bible progresses, Israel is called God's vine, or God's vineyard, but the vines themselves had a mind of their own and rarely produced good grapes. "Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?" (Jer 2:21). The wild grapes consisted of injustice, violence, and all manner of unrighteousness (Isa 5:7). Asaph the Psalmist prayed, "Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself" (Ps 80:14-15).
Jesus is the true vine (Jn 15:1-10). He is the trustworthy, true-to-stock planting of God, who alone bears good fruit. Those connected to him by faith will begin to bear the fruit of growing trust, repentance, worship, witness, the love of God, love of neighbor, and the love of truth and righteousness. As branches we are called to "abide" in Christ, which means to dwell (be attached to), but also to continue and remain in life-giving fellowship with Christ. Believing the gospel makes us "clean" (15:3) -- the word here for clean is the same word for prune in this passage. As we remain in him there is further pruning, that is, continued cleansing from the old life to make room for the new. On the other hand, those who merely profess Christ but have no change of life -- like branches without sap -- will be removed.
"Abide in my love" (Jn 15:9-10). Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." We need to know and trust his love for us. And we need to realize that obedience to his commandments is a way we love him in return. Jesus, God's Son, was and is loved eternally by the Father, and yet Jesus knew to dwell in his Father's love meant that obedience to his Father was important. And so it is for us as his adopted children.
Our lives will produce something! "Fruit" is how our heart and character is manifested in our daily lives. If we walk according to the flesh, bad fruit will develop (Gal 5:19-21; Rom 8:5-8). We may even find ourselves to have been unbelievers or hypocrites who will be cast away. But when we realize that we cannot live the Christian life on our own, we will cling to Christ and trust that his Holy Spirit will produce good things in us and through us, fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal 5:22-23; see also 2 Pet 1:3-8).
Are you staying connected to Christ? Will you trust him and keep trusting him? Do you enjoy his love and do you have a heart to love him in return by obeying him?
Image credit: photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.