Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Jesus came so that we may have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). In order to sustain life, their needs to be a substance we sustain on.
Substance by definition means the real matter of which a person or things consists and which has a tangible, solid presence. Food is tangible and brings nourishment to our bodies. I think that is why Jesus revealed His last “I AM” statement as Him being the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
We live in a culture that craves comfort. Thanksgiving is this week and I don’t know about you, but my family is preparing a bunch of comfort foods. They really are not that healthy for us to eat, but they taste so very good! Just like those that are in the United States of America this week will be celebrating Thanksgiving, because that is what we have always done, we have a culture of “I have been a Christian all of my life.”
If we look at that statement in this perspective of reading Mark 10:17-23 (AMP) As He was leaving on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially good and morally perfect], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially] good [by nature] except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he replied to Him, “Teacher, I have [carefully] kept all these [commandments] since my youth.”
I am going to take a break right here to state that just because you have lived in a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, does not make you a Christian. This young man had heard these words all of his life. He knew them inside and out. His concern was to make sure he “made it” into the Kingdom. If we are doing things or not doing things based on wanting to go to heaven, our mindset has become all wrong. There would have been no need for Christ.
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love (high regard, compassion) for him, and He said to him, “You lack one thing: go and sell all your property and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].” But the man was saddened at Jesus’ words, and he left grieving, because he owned much property and had many possessions [which he treasured more than his relationship with God]. Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who are wealthy [and cling to possessions and status as security] to enter the kingdom of God!”
This is a story we use to say the rich are hard to win to Christ. They have no needs and do not see the great need for Christ. What if I told you it was the comfort of our flesh that keeps us from Kingdom business. This was hard for the man because he had become dependent on the comfort. It is the discomfort that real growth happens.
Which brings me to my favorite “I AM” statement. Jesus said,“I am the Vine.”
I love this analogy. I know many of you have heard a sermon on this, have even read this verse. I am going to use a statement that Jesus used “Are you listening? Really listening?” I have come to realize that people will claim they read those chapters in their youth and therefore no longer need to go back and read them. The Word of God is a living Word, the words on the pages do not change, you do. With that life perspective it can speak to you, and reach, in a different way.
As we go through this I want you to get a hold of Jesus as the Vine and what brings nourishment to us (the branches). Remember without nourishment we cannot sustain life. We are going to go back into a slumber.
John 15:1-15 (Living Bible) I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He lops off every branch that doesn’t produce. And he prunes those branches that bear fruit for even larger crops. He has already tended you by pruning you back for greater strength and usefulness by means of the commands I gave you. Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. For a branch can’t produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me.
God is still in control. He is the creator and the finisher. There are season we are going to have to go through. The pruning part is when He is the closest to us. It is also the hardest seasons of our lives. Pruning is done in the winter months. It is making room for the Son to shine on our branches. Pruning has to be done carefully for the most fruit to grow.
The vine is where our nourishment comes from. The vine’s roots are reaching deep into the earth. Searching for the water source. Some have to reach as far as 20 feet down for this nourishment. This is why it is vital to hold tight to the vine.
Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing. If anyone separates from me, he is thrown away like a useless branch, withers, and is gathered into a pile with all the others and burned. But if you stay in me and obey my commands, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce bountiful harvests. This brings great glory to my Father.
This is the dark truth. We can separate ourselves from Jesus.
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love. When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your cup of joy will overflow! I demand that you love each other as much as I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends; and you are my friends if you obey me. I no longer call you slaves, for a master doesn’t confide in his slaves; now you are my friends, proved by the fact that I have told you everything the Father told me.
There are many “I AM” statements in the New Testament. This one talks about the source of our nourishment, which is our everything. When we stop looking at Jesus as the one who saved us from hell, but the one who is my everything we will start to become focused. Jesus did so very much in His little time of ministry here on earth. He wants us to continue to do His work to establish the Kingdom. We cannot do it if we are malnourished. It was faith that he said the disciples were lacking when the manifestations and demonstrations did not happen for them. Yes, we have the Holy Spirit within us. The power has been given to us. Feed your faith, by abiding in the Vine.
I was not led to this Jesus life because I wanted to be saved from hell. I was led because of someone who had life within them. They had encountered someone who filled them with everything, not gave them everything as in tangible things that would perish, but was their everything. My true nourishment is Jesus.