"I am the Vine; you are the branches." John 15:5
During the disastrous retreat of Napoleon’s army from Russia in the dead of winter (1812-1813), many soldiers perished. Out of the 600,000 men only 10,000 able-bodied soldiers remained. At night the men would huddle close to one another around the fire. That was their only chance for survival. On the following morning it was found that those on the outer fringes had frozen to death.
Jesus bids us to stay close to Him. He declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). If we stay in close fellowship with Him, we experience the strength and warmth of His love to sustain us.
Close fellowship with Christ is the basis for close fellowship among His followers. They become brothers and sisters in the faith to one another. Christian fellowship is like a bed of glowing coals. When one coal is separated and lies by itself, it grows cold. The disciple Thomas grew weak in his faith when he was separated from the others after Christ’s resurrection. But he rejoined the group a week later and was richly rewarded. The risen Savior singled him out and restored not only his faith but also his commitment to the other disciples. Of the first Christians it is said, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The religious teacher Hillel gave this advice to his students: “Do not separate yourselves from the community.” Saint Augustine said of the first Christians, “That they might not be frozen with fear, they burned with the fire of love.” This is our response to the warm embrace of Christ’s love: “As Thou hast died for me, Oh, may my love to Thee, Pure, warm, and changeless be, A living fire!”
PRAYER: O Lord Jesus, You died to save me. Keep me in the faith and help me to return Your love and loyalty. Amen
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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