“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” 
John 15:5
October 10th 2021

In more than two decades of ministry, I have learned this from the Lord: Without Him, we cannot. Without us, He will not. What this simply means is that we need to recognize the fact that if we do not depend on Jesus, there can be no real, long-lasting, and abiding success—without Him, we cannot. 

The Bible tells us that unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain (Ps. 127:1). Believers who want to experience His success need to recognize this truth and begin to depend on Jesus and Jesus alone.

There are some believers who may not articulate it, but in their hearts, they believe that without Jesus, they can still succeed. By believing and acting on this, they fall from the high place of God’s grace (His unmerited favor) back into the law, back into trying to merit and deserve success by their own efforts. 

God’s Word tells us, “For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace [unmerited favor]” (Gal. 5:4 NLT).

These are strong words of warning. Once you start depending on your own merits and efforts to deserve God’s favor, you are back under the system of the law. You are cut off from Christ and have fallen from the place of having His unmerited favor work in your life. 

Don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is still with you (He will never leave you nor forsake you [Heb. 13:5]), but by depending on your self-efforts, you effectively cut off His unmerited favor in your life.

So what do I mean when I say, “Without us, He will not”? Well, Jesus is a gentleman. He will not force His unmerited favor and success down your throat. 

He needs you to allow Him to work in your life. He waits patiently for you to trust Him. He waits patiently for you to depend on His unmerited favor, the way Joseph trusted and depended wholly on the Lord’s presence, until His manifested presence took over, and His glory radiated from everything that Joseph touched.

Beloved, let’s learn quickly that without Jesus, we cannot succeed, and if we choose not to respond to His unmerited favor, He will not force it on us. 

God’s unmerited favor is ever-flowing toward us and Jesus is waiting for us to come to the end of ourselves. He is waiting for you to stop struggling in your own attempts to somehow “deserve” His favor, and just depend on Him. 

So in the areas that you are still depending on your own efforts to succeed, start resting in Jesus’ unmerited favor and begin experiencing His manifested presence and glory upon everything you touch!

This devotional is taken from the book 100 Days of Favor—Daily Readings from Unmerited Favor.


Aaron Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran, having served as a shipboard electrical technician. Aaron's previous career involved a thirty-year entrepreneurial endeavor in which he founded and served as president of Computer Dynamics Consulting, a firm that provided Information Technology related services. His education includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography, and Digital Imaging earned at Texas A&M Commerce.

Driven by post-traumatic stress-related experiences (often referred to as PTSD), Aaron founded a 501C3 nonprofit, which he intimately named Photographically Touching Souls Deeply, purposefully re-coining the acronym PTSD. As Founder and President of PTSD, Aaron amalgamates expertise and enthusiastic interest in his endeavor to provide, for fellow veterans and their loved ones, supplemental relief, comfort, and innovative coping skills for post-traumatic stress through the practice of evidence-based Therapeutic Photography.

As a 2022 graduate completing his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film and Documentary Production, Aaron has broadened his skills to include the art of comprehensive storytelling through film-making. Additionally, Aaron is certified by the State of Texas as a Mental Health Peer Specialist, specializing in Therapeutic Storytelling to share the life-lived pathway of recovery with first responders and their families.

Aaron is inspired by his devoted wife of twenty-nine years, his four daughters, and five grandchildren. His family motivated him to attend college after surviving as a high school dropout. In college, Aaron discovered how the creation of digital images complements clinical therapy such that it improves and accelerates mental well-being and enhances the quality of life. His mantra is that his contribution to humanity must persistently supersede his reward.

Aaron Mahlon MFA
Documentary Producer / Photographer / Content Creator

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