John 15:1-5 says, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. He also trims every branch that produces fruit to prepare it to produce even more. You have already been prepared to produce more fruit by the teaching I have given you. Stay joined to me and I will stay joined to you. No branch can produce fruit alone. It must stay connected to the vine. It is the same with you. You cannot produce fruit alone. You must stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I to you, you will produce plenty of fruit. But separated from me you won’t be able to do anything."
Jesus is like the vine and we are like the branches. The vine gives life to the branches and brings nutrients and water from the soil so that the branches can survive and produce fruit. Jesus gives us eternal spiritual life which we can not enjoy if we are separated from him. He also sustains us so that we can produce fruit (good character and deeds).
The park where I walk my dog has some big eucalyptus trees. Due to the extreme heat this summer, many of them have dropped some big branches. These branches soon die off once they are disconnected from the tree. It's the same with us - we have to stay connected to God to stay alive spiritually. We do this by praying, reading and studying the Bible, fasting, worshipping, serving, and other spiritual disciplines.
I love watching the Olympic Games - both the Summer and Winter ones. Those athletes have devoted their lives to their sport. They train for hours, eat healthy food, and get plenty of sleep. They started as beginners but got better. They fell down a lot, but they got back up and tried again. A lot of Christians wonder why they’re not living a victorious Christian life - I’m not talking about worldly health, wealth and prosperity, but a fruitful Christian life. You can’t expect to win the race if you’re not doing the training. It would be a bit like me joining the Olympic snowboarding team (which is highly unlikely given that I have never snowboarded in my life and live 2000km away from the closest snow). It would be unrealistic to expect to win a gold medal if I didn’t do the training. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says, You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! The Bible uses the example of running because it was an illustration that everyone would understand and snowboarding didn't exist in Bible times, but the principle is the same. If you want to get good at something you have to train. Training for a Christian involves reading your Bible, prayer, service, worship, and other spiritual disciplines. How can you improve you spiritual fitness this week?
In Matthew 6:26-27 Jesus said, Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns. But your heavenly Father feeds the birds. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds. You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.
We spend a lot of our time and energy worrying about things - food, clothing, money, school, friends, family, etc. Jesus told us that worrying doesn't add anything to your life. In fact, worrying takes away things like our peace and joy. Jesus said that God looks after the birds and we are way more important than them. He will definitely look after us. So, be like a bird.
Matthew 5:14-16 says, You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.
Jesus was referring to spiritual light here, which is the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel message is that God is love. Christians are like the moon, we reflect the light of the sun (Jesus).
Ephesians 5:8-10 says, In the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. Light brings every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord.
We shine the light by doing good, loving God, loving others and obeying the Bible. We shine the light by not being ashamed of being a Christian, but by sharing the Gospel. That doesn't mean that you start Bible bashing people. Light is seen, not heard. Your actions speak louder than your words.
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing. It must be thrown out for people to walk on. I believe that your saltiness is your Christian character. If you lost that you are just like sand which is only good for walking on. Salt makes food taste good and prevents it from spoiling. Jesus can have the same effect on your life.
Verses 3-11 are known as the beatitudes and describe people who have a godly character:
Verse 3 - Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.
Verse 4 - Happy are those who mourn.
Verse 5 - Happy are those who are humble.
Verse 6 - Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.
Verse 7 - Happy are those who are merciful to others.
Verse 8 - Happy are the pure in heart.
Verse 9 - Happy are those who work for peace.
Verse 10 - Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.
Verse 11 - Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers.
These are the characteristics that make you salty. How salty do you think you are? Do you know that you're spiritually poor? Do you mourn for the world's brokenness? Are you humble? Do you desire to do what God wants? Are you merciful and kind? Is your heart pure? Do you work for peace? Are you persecuted and insulted for being a Christian? If so, congratulations, you are salty.
Verse 12 says, Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. God will reward salty people—what a great promise!
In Mark 4:3-8 Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who was planting some seeds. In Mark 4:14-20 he explained what it meant. He described four scenarios where the seed symbolises the good news about Jesus and the ground represents different types of people.
What kind of ground are you? Do you get dragged to church each week and sit there doing your best grumpy cat impersonation? Did you accept Jesus but got discouraged when life got difficult? Do you go to church on Sunday but live like the world for the rest of the week? Or are you good dirt? Do you read your Bible, love going to church and worshipping God, do you pray, are generous and serve others and tell them the Good News?
In Mark 4:8 Jesus said, But other seeds were planted on good ground, sprouted, and produced thirty, sixty, or one hundred times as much as was planted. Be good dirt and live a fruitful life serving Jesus!
John 6:35 says, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. A bit of context to this verse—Jesus had just fed 5000 people. Even though he had just fed them the night before, they were hungry again. I don't know if you have ever had to fast before a medical procedure or blood test, it doesn't take very long for your tummy to start growling and the hunger pains to set in. Jesus told the people, Don’t work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life (John 6:27). In New Testament times there was no canned food or refrigeration. Food had to be eaten fresh or be salted and dried to preserve it. Unlike literal food, Jesus lasts forever.
The bread of life that Jesus was talking about wasn't literal bread. He was referring to Spiritual food. He left his Holy Spirit and his Word, the Bible, for us - this is our spiritual food. Just like you have to eat literal food regularly, you have to eat spiritual food regularly too. This includes, but is not limited to, reading, studying and memorising the Bible, talking to God in prayer, fasting, worshipping, serving etc. How is your spiritual diet going? Are you malnourished? Jesus promises that you will be satisfied if you come to him.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.