Monday Morning Devotional

Week of April 23, 2018

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” --- John 15:4-5

It has been inspiring to watch the media coverage regarding the death of former first lady, Barbara Bush. Her life was remarkable in many ways. She and her husband, George H.W. Bush, had the longest marriage of any presidential couple (73 years). She also held the distinction of being the wife of one president and the mother of another, a distinction shared only with Abigail Adams, wife of the second president and mother of the sixth. However, these historic facts, as noteworthy as they are, represent only a small portion of the fruit from her extraordinary life.

Initially inspired by her son Neil’s dyslexia, Mrs. Bush fostered a lifelong interest in the importance of literacy in American culture, a cause she continued to champion during her years as first lady. She appeared on television and radio shows, delivered speeches and even authored several books, the proceeds of which she donated to education-based charities. One of the most stirring memories of Mrs. Bush that I have seen in recent days occurred on March 22, 1989 when the first lady visited Grandma’s House, one of the first residences in the country created to care for AIDS-infected infants. The images of her hugging babies, and even an adult man with AIDS, shared an influential message of compassion and understanding during a time in which scientists were still trying to understand the disease and people in general were fearful about it.

In a CBS interview, Norah O’Donnell said to Mrs. Bush, “You are one of the most beloved first ladies in America, if not the most.” Mrs. Bush said, “No, that’s not true. I’m the mother of wonderful children, and the wife of the world’s greatest man.” Although she spent her life devoted to public service, she never wavered from her strong belief that being a wife and mother was her greatest contribution to society.

The fruit witnessed in the life of Barbara Bush can be traced back to her abiding faith. The words “bear fruit” appear six times the first eight verses of John 15 and the word “abide” appears eight times in just four verses (vv.4-7). As the branches have to abide because without the vine, they are fruitless, a disciple must abide in Christ, because apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Furthermore, as the one who tends the branches shapes them, God shapes our lives when we abide in Christ. And the primary focus of our fruit-bearing function is in keeping with the ultimate purpose of Jesus – to glorify the Father. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (v. 8).

Prayer: “Lord, in our own circles of influence, help us to show the world who you are by abiding in you and bearing fruit that will glorify your name and be a blessing to others.