LifeShape 2 the Semi-Circle

This information is not original with me, but from a fascinating book I found entitled, “The Passionate Church: The Art of Life-Changing Discipleship.” Since I am a visual learner, I have included my personally designed diagrams along with my own notes to help in my disciple-making and teaching efforts.

We can rediscover the rhythm of life the Creator God intended for us in the principles of the semi-circle.

I am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prune it, that it may bear more fruit. –John 15:1-2

God designed us to be productive, but we have become human “doings” rather than human “beings.”

As we read Genesis, we tend to learn that mankind is working for six days, then we rest from our work on the seventh day. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy made the top ten list. The truth from the semi-circle teaches that we must live in this rhythm of life in order to be productive.

We must start from a place of resting, resting and abiding in God. All living things grow, so in order to be productive we must live in the rhythm of the semi-circle. So, rather than resting from our work, we must learn to work from our rest! Abide in God, produce fruit, grow, then prune (in order to grow more fruit).

Work is not a part of the curse, Adam was to work in the garden even before the fall. We are designed for intentional activity. The authors make an interesting point:

  1. Unemployment causes our lives to fall below what is standard. One has thus fallen from the God-given call to lead a productive life. The focus on productivity and usefulness are lost, as though they are no longer being fully human.
  2. There is no such thing as retirement. If you leave your job is voluntary, it will not be long before you feel the onset of depression. No amount of golf or fishing can take the place of being fruitful.
  3. There must be work in heaven, not just an endless worship service. Before the fall there was work, so there must be work after the redemption. This is a foreshadow of the life to come. Work is a strategic part of the human experience.

Growing grapes in the first century allowed the vines to be unproductive for the first three years. If fruit tried to grow it was cut off, because the vines were not yet strong enough to support the load of the fruit. We must learn about God and ourselves during this pruning time.

Called to Rest

  1. We are to work from our rest, not rest from our work.
  2. Rest is not optional if we are to walk in the lifestyle of a disciple.
  3. We cannot bear fruit is we do not spend time abiding.
  4. Aren’t we supposed to be pressing forth with all our energy to do the work of the kingdom? In a word, no.
  5. We find grace in being who God made us to be.

How Jesus Rested in this Rhythm of Life

  1. Resting through extended times of retreat (Mark 1:12-13)
  2. Regular daily times of quiet resting with the Lord (Mark 1:35-39)
  3. Teaching the disciples to rest (Mark 6:30-32)

Other examples…

  1. Jesus alone at the lake before teaching – Mark 2:13
  2. Jesus withdraws with his disciples – Mark 3:7
  3. Jesus goes to the mountainside and calls his disciples – Mark 3:13
  4. Jesus leaves the crowds and gets into the boat – Mark 4:35
  5. Jesus at the lake/hillside – Mark 5:1
  6. Jesus crosses the lake to the other side – Mark 5:21
  7. Jesus sends the disciples ahead, dismisses the crowd and goes to the mountain to pray – Mark 6:45-46

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From More Fruit to Much Fruit

The Secrets of the Vine: Bruce Wilkinson has an excellent study of disciples bearing fruit and what that really means.

  1. The Secrets of the Vine Introduction
  2. Authentic Disciples Bear Fruit
  3. From No Fruit to Bearing Fruit
  4. From Bearing Fruit to More Fruit
  5. From Bearing More Fruit to Much Fruit

The Secrets of the Vine (Bruce Wilkinson), teaches about every believer going from bearing more fruit to bearing much fruit. The debate is between “Being vs. Doing.” Doing more I run into a brick wall, so I must abide. This involves being. John 15:4-5, 7, 9-11.

Passage: John 15:5

  1. “Abide” means to continue, live and remain – John 15:4, 14:2, 14:23
  2. “Abide” occurs on the vine where the branch connect:
    1. Abiding is the primary method to bear much fruit.
    2. Abiding is dependent on how the branch relates to the vine.
    3. Abiding increases the sap that flows through the branch.
  3. “Abide” occurs in believers as they connect to Christ more deeply.


The moment that you are saved, you automatically abide.

Misconception: Abiding is the same as salvation and therefore I am already abiding.

Truth: Christ abides in you, but you decide how deeply you will abide in Him.

  1. You are placed “in Christ” when you accept Christ by faith – Ephesians 2:8-9
  2. You remain “abiding in Christ” when you fulfill the requirements – John 15:4, 1 John 3:24a
  3. You can be “in Christ” but not “abide in Christ” at the same time – 1 John 2:28

Principles of Abiding:

The key is not working more but abiding more. Abide is a command, it is active. Salvation is passive, it happens to us.

  1. Abiding Principle # 1– Abiding in Christ in an ongoing relationship is the secret to bearing much fruit – John 15:5
    1. Much fruit cannot be achieved by working harder or longer.
    2. Much fruit requires less work for, and more time with, Christ – Luke 10:39-42
  2. Abiding Principle # 2– Abiding in Christ is directly related to your attitude toward Christ – Genesis 3:4-5
    1. God’s personality is full of mercy, grace and love – Exodus 34:6, Jeremiah 9:24b
    2. God wants a relationship with you so much, He sent Christ to die – Romans 5:7-8
    3. God wants you to abide so deeply, He adopted you into His family – 1 John 3:1a
    4. God wants you to abide so much, He sent His Spirit to cry out Father – Galatians 4:6
    5. God loves you with the same love as He loves Jesus – John 17:26
  3. Abiding Principle # 3– Abiding in Christ enables you to experience Christ’s greatest Promises. If you abide…
    1. You will bear much fruit bringing God glory – John 15:5b, 8a
    2. Christ will answer your prayers – John 15:7, 14: 13-14
    3. Christ will make you experience His love – John 14:20-21a
    4. Christ will reveal Himself to you – John 14:21b, Acts 23:22, Hebrews 11:14
    5. Christ will place His joy into your hearts – John 15:11, 17:13

The Process of Abiding: Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 John 1:3, 2 Corinthians 13:14

The Lord reveals that knowing Him is your life’s greatest glory
The Lord reveals that He wants us to understand Him
The Lord reveals that He wants us to know Him

  1. Abiding Process # 1– To abide, you must meet Christ’s requirements: the Three Abiding requirements
    1. Abiding won’t work if you are living in darkness – 1 John 1:5-6, 9
    2. Abiding won’t work if you hate another person – 1 John 2:9-11
    3. Abiding won’t work if you can’t keep His commandments – John 15:10, 1 John 3:24a
  2. Abiding Process # 2– Abide with God through Five Spiritual Disciplines – Jeremiah 29:13, Psalm 42:1-2a
    1. Build the lifelong habit of regular morning devotions (set the alarm, select a comfortable place, set up a schedule) Not just quiet time, but becoming a more devoted person.
    2. Read and meditate in the Bible (read for wisdom, relationship, set an annual plan, read more if you are receiving less) Not reading about the Bible or just for information; physically we eat until we are full; spiritually we eat God’s Word and we become more hungry.
    3. Experience victory through your Notebook of prayer (pray a daily calendar, number your requests, review prayers that are answered).
    4. Cultivate meaningful praise and worship (worship through music, a posture of humility, through the Daily Ten).
    5. Interact with God in your life journal (write notes to God, journal, write problem, dreams, confessions).
  3. Abiding Process # 3– Abide with God more and more throughout your life: Three Fruit-bearing Seasons.
    1. Fruit-bearing Season 1 – God’s discipline (you are not too concerned about sin, not much thought about serving God, devotions are boring and almost impossible).
    2. Fruit-bearing Season 2 – God’s pruning (cleaned up much sin, service brings fulfillment, devotions 2-3 times each week).
    3. Fruit-bearing Season 3 – Your abiding (committed follower of Jesus, serving with all your heart, Jesus is Lord and best friend).


God desires all believers to develop a vibrant, intimate relationship that glorifies God by bearing much fruit.

Conclusion: Revelation 21:2-3

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