Winter Vac - Resource Pack


Why a Resource Pack?

Students are spreading out across the country for the next month as exams end and everyone gets a chance to breathe. In this time, we would love everyone to go on holiday refreshing themselves in God and strengthening their faith in him.

Motivations for Rest:

1.     God commands rest as an expression of His love.  He knows our frame and has designed our days. It is an expression of His fatherly concern that He would, in His God-ness, command us to “be still, and know that I am God.”[1]

2.     God desires a healthy relationship with you. A relationship alive, full of energy and leaping forward to new heights. That you would desire a relationship with God is logical, because he is God, but that He should desire one with you is unfathomable! It is a relationship worth treasuring in your vac!

3.     God has a mission that he wants to strengthen you for. In the current age of busyness, pressures and distractions, it is easy to lose sight of the plan and mission God has you in Cape Town for. We all need time outside of usual lifestyles, to regain perspective and renew our commitment to these plans and missions.  

 

Help for Rest: Abiding in the Vine:

I’m not a gardener, nor do I think I ever will be. When I think of gardening I think of my dad in his vegetable patch and me as a kid kicking the football into all his veggies. So sometimes I do not appreciate the various agricultural metaphors and imagery in the Bible. Teaching with visuals of seeds and soil and vines will float over my head! However John 15 is different. John 15 is one of the most important and powerful lessons for the believer. Take the journey with me:

In the Vine.

John 15 is a section of the bible targeted directly at your relationship with God. Concerned with your spiritual health, the state of your relationship comes under the watchful eye of the great physician. There is a protective nature and a powerful intentionality within the text.

Jesus begins his teaching with the statement “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener”.[2] So right at the beginning we see that Jesus is placing himself at the center of your relationship with God. No mistakes or miscommunications. Jesus holds the most important part here. Access to the Father through the Son.

How do we receive this access? How can we become a branch and connect to the vine? In verse three Jesus says “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” Already you are clean. Jesus is mirroring his words in John 13 to Peter as he washes his feet, and uses the same word, katharoi, to make our spiritual positions clear.[3] Those who have received the message of Jesus Christ into our hearts have experienced an inner renewal. An inner cleansing. One that means we are now connected to the Vine of Christ.

Hearing and receiving the transformative word of God connects us to the True Vine, Jesus Christ. In verse 4 and 5 Jesus talks about abiding in Him, and He in us. There becomes a mutuality in this relationship; a companionship. As we become branches we connect to Jesus, and Jesus connects to us too – this is amazing!

Jesus seems to stress our initial connection to the Vine as a form of preparation for what is to come. There is a burst of assurance that covers the passage ahead. This salvation assurance is an important component in the midst of phrases such as “He cuts away” and “thrown into fires and burnt.”[4] Jesus saves us from becoming scared regarding our own salvation with the great statement; already you are clean.

 

Stay Connected.

So what then is to come? After Jesus’ important qualifier, we get to the heart of his teaching in verse four. “Abide in me, and I in you.” He will use this word ten times in the next six verses. This word is best translated remain although it has various connotations of obedience and continuance. Jesus is saying; after your connected to me, stay connected. Branches that have been broken off are, by definition, broken. There is something fundamentally ‘broken’ and unhealthy about isolated branches. Branches are designed to be connected to the vine, and Jesus is saying, “So stay in me”.

For Jesus the definition of abiding is to be bearing fruit, as found in verses 2, 4, 5 and 8, and living in his love, as found in verses 9 to 11.[5] The best example of fruit bearing in scripture is Galatians 5:32-33, and the greatest expression of living in the love of God is 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. It seems that when Jesus refers to abiding, he is looking for a posture in our hearts. You do not abide by doing something; you abide by surrendering yourself and growing your character to imitate Jesus himself.

Pre-empting that we would ask what abiding means, Jesus seems to have given us an answer before He’s even started! In John 14 the final verse ends with an assertion of the Father's control and a model of Jesus’ obedience, which we will call his ‘abiding’. “…but I do as my Father has commanded me…”[6] So throughout his life Jesus models what it means to abide for us. He models Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13. He models a continual abiding connection to God.

 

Watch the Growth.

This isn’t meant to be a theological idea, this is meant to be a practical reality. Abiding is living knowing your loved by God and are progressively being transformed by God. It is being all consumed by God. It’s not an action to prescribe, but a relationship to value, and in the passage Jesus gives us three key motivations to abide in Him.

1. Verse 7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Wow, what a promise! Abiding in Christ unlocks powerful and audacious prayers! If you abide in Christ, then you have something of his nature and will pray the kind of prayers that the Father loves to answer!

2. Verse 8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Your abiding is therefore much bigger than you, its for the glory of the almighty. Yet the almighty chooses to link His glory to your fruit! What partnership! What assurance!

3. Verse 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” May no one discount Christian Hedonism again![6] God wants you to abide, because He wants you to be eternally joyful in your union with Him.

These three motivations, or outcomes, of abiding in the True Vine demonstrate something. John 15 is about practical realities, not theological theories. Its about experiencing the connectedness you have been given to Christ. It is about choosing to remind yourself that you live in eternal love. It is seeing growth, in whatever form it takes, in whatever season it grows. So in your vacation abide in Christ. Live in the love. Bear fruit in your growth. Bring glory to your Father.

 

Resources for Rest:

Bible Plans/Devotional Content

 

Articles to Read

  •  Chido has written an article titled “Resting Well” and it will serve you massively as you consider your patterns of rest on vac. It is vintage Chido! http://www.jubileestudents.co.za/blog/view/8
  • The “Theology of Work Project” has written a short article on “Created to Rest”. Here is a short quote to wet your appetite. “Rest is much more than recuperating from a hectic, tiring week. It is the affirmation of a special relationship people have with God. Rest is a privilege graciously extended by a God who desires his creation to delight in the refreshment he enjoys.: https://www.theologyofwork.org/key-topics/rest-and-work-overview/created-to-rest-entering-into-joyful-communion-with-god
  • David Mathis has written a book and a series of article on our habits and how they affect your soul. His book on habits is one of the best I (Tom) have read in several years.  “But our habits not only show our hearts, but shape them as well. We’re always reinforcing habits or forming new ones. If Jesus truly is our Lord, Savior, and the greatest treasure of our lives, we’ll desperately want to have him reflected in the habits of our lives.: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-your-habits-show-and-shape-your-heart

 

Spoken Word

 

Good Reads

  • Let my people go - Albert Luthuli
  • The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness– Tim Keller
  • A Praying Life: Connecting with God is a Distracting World – Paul E Miller
  • Screwtape Letters – C.S Lewis
  • The Hole in My Holiness – Kevin deYoung

 

To Watch/Listen

 

[1] Psalm 46:10.

[2] The ESV translates gardener as “vinedresser”, which gives you a better picture of the kind of hands-on work that the Father is about. However this is isn’t a word regularly used in today’s society.

[3] http://biblehub.com/text/john/13-10.htm.

[4] John 15:7.

[5] John Piper. 1981. “I chose you to Bear Fruit”. http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/i-chose-you-to-bear-fruit.

[6] Christian Hedonism is the belief that all believers are pursuers of joy that can only be found in God. John Piper and others have brought this view into mainstream evangelicism in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 


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