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Have you guys ever felt burnt out?
Like there’s someone in your life you’re called to love. But this person is incredibly hard. Annoys you. Just rubs you in the wrong way. And you try and you try to love this person but you just don’t have it in you and so you feel like you get all used up.
Have you guys ever felt burned out?
Or you have this role where you give and you serve and you. And you just feel like the demands are so great and they totally outweigh your capacity. And you feel like you don’t have it in yourself to give into serve into love and you feel all used up.
Do you guys ever felt that way?
What if I told you that you could be like a match that is burning and you could just keep on burning and burning and burning like forever?
This right here is an old-school flashlight. It is an oil lamp. And as long as I keep on filling this flask with oil, this work this rope here can burn and burn and burn and burn for ages. And the secret of how this can keep on burning get this is that it doesn’t use its own fuel. It doesn’t use it’s own resources. This rope able to burn for so long because it uses the fuel of the oil that it’s it is soaking in.
Let me explain this- this rope extends into the small tank and it’s been saturated with this oil and the oil creeps up through the rope all the way to the top so when I light the top it’s drawing from the oil that it’s saturated in on the bottom. So it can keep on going because it is not drawing fuel from itself but from the oil that it is saturated in.
Does anyone know where I’m going with this?
The love you got in your life for other people is it coming from you or is it trying from the fuel that you can only get from God?
The power that you have for life, the peace that you have for life, the holiness that you’re going for. Is that coming from you or is that coming from a higher source? In other words are you the match is getting burned up or are you the oil lamp you the rope in the oil lamp that keeps on going on and on?
The main idea for today is that one word that keeps this whole series abide. Do you know how to abide in Christ? We’re going to go through these verses and I guarantee you we’re going to come back to this idea of abiding.
Jesus says, my father is the vinedresser. So this is what he does-every branch in me that does not bear fruit, you know, deadwood, he takes away. And every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so he can bear even more fruit. So here is God the father, and he is a gardener, and he is doing a lot of cutting. A lot of cutting. He’s cutting off deadwood, and the wood that is alive he is cutting that trimming that.
It’s very easy for a branch just to misinterpret the intentions of the gardener. Because all you see is this whack whack whack. He’s cutting deadwood he’s cutting live wood he just cutting and cutting.
I mean imagine one rosebush talking to the other rosebush and seeing what is the Gardener doing? I don’t know all I see him do is cut he just cuts everything!
no no the Gardener has a purpose for the rosebush OK? God has a purpose for you and for me. The purpose is he will do everything he has to do so that you can bear fruit. He will even cut live wood, that is already bearing fruit so that it will bear more fruit. Like in a vineyard fruitfulness is not something that would be nice, it is the whole reason why you plant the Vineyard. It’s the whole point. It’s what the Vineyard is for. You remove the deadwood and you trim the live wood so that there is more potential for more fruit, because it’s all about the fruit.
so trimming and cutting is not the purpose. Bearing fruit is the purpose, but trimming is the method, or one of the methods. Not the only method but one of the methods.
A vine that is not trimmed is going to develop a long rambling branches long rambling branches growing this way and that way and doing this thing and that thing and so a lot of energy is spent on producing wood more wood and that is not what the vinedresser wants- the vinedresser is not looking for more wood but more fruit, you get it. It’s all about the fruit, which makes you and I go OK trimming and cutting is like suffering it’s all about the fruit, so what is the fruit- What is the fruit that could be possibly worth all the suffering and the trimming and the cutting that we are enduring in this life? Fair question right?
Verse three-already you are clean because the word that I have spoken to you. Now this is in the same theme as pruning trimming. You could say that pruning is a kind of cleaning. Or you can say that cleaning is a kind of pruning it’s same thing right?
So another method that God uses to bear more fruit is he cleans a person through the word of God. Our next series is going to be about spiritual disciplines in the word of God and the power of the word of God. The word of God condemns sin, it convicts people, it inspires holiness, it teaches the way of Jesus, it promotes growth.
OK, let’s go back to verse 2. Chances are if like right now you are going through some kind of pain OK. A relationship is breaking down. A loved one is sick. Someone you know is getting a divorce. You’re going through depression or anxiety or something. It’s something painful OK, and you hear a teaching like this and you you relate to the branch that is getting trimmed, and then you hear that the whole purpose of pruning is all so that you can bear fruit. OK… What is your question?
Isn’t the question like why should we? Why should we stay in this vine? Isn’t the question like like-like really what is it all for?
It makes you go what kind of fruit could be possibly worth this kind of emotional pain?
you see there is there’s a lot that rides on what is fruit. So I think we really need to understand the whole point of Abiding the whole point of being trimmed the whole point of pruning is so that you can bear fruit. OK so what is the fruit? Now what I’d like to do is turn to Someone next to you and share with them your Best definition of what is fruit...ok? go
OK, now I got to tell you what happened. So I’m reading this text OK and I’m thinking, the gardener plants a vineyard and cuts and cuts and what he’s looking for his fruit. And then it is so important to abide in the vine because only by abiding in the vine person can we bear fruit. So I’m like really curious OK, like what is worth all this abiding and cutting… And so I go to my study Bible for answers. OK and one of my favorite resource is the ESV study Bible because it will just give you like a boom answer short, concise, you know it’s going to be orthodox, so I didn’t want to like go there too early I wanted to wrestle with it, really kind of think it through, and then after wrestling and thinking, I’m like OK I’m ready to find out what the ESV study Bible has to say… “fruit is an image for good results...(coming from the life of a believer)… I’m like, are you kidding me, good results? All that suffering, all that cleaning, The whole point of the Vineyard, is for… Good results? Are you kidding me?
But then I thought about it some more, and I actually started to think, you know, good result is not a bad definition. Like of course what do you think fruit represents? Like if you stay with the vineyard illustration fruit represents a good result.
OK what’s a good result? Christian character, making disciples of other people which happens to be our mission statement, loving people and serving their needs.
OK some of you are like, OK I’m hearing that that still doesn’t motivate me. Then I would say one more big picture reason. Not just what fruit is, but why fruit is so worth it. Here it is verse eight: by this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Ok you guys here is the big Y. Here is the big what it’s all for OK? By bearing fruit you glorify God. By bearing fruit you give him glory.
No honestly maybe some of you are like that still doesn’t motivate me. And so let me just say a few words and speak into that a little bit. When I first became a Christian, glorifying God didn’t mean that much to me. I would say now like 30 years later, it means everything to me. Maybe you don’t care about it that much now, glorifying God, but as you know God more as he fills you with his Holy Spirit your values begin to change everything begins to change and I think one day by the power of God spirit it’s going to mean a lot more to you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch in a bear fruit by itself and I said abide in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart for me you can do nothing.
OK let’s talk about abide. What does abide mean? How does a person abide? How does this work?
OK again I go to my study Bible and I’m liking the definition. Get this call into the study Bible this is what abide means: abide means a daily personal relationship with Jesus characterized by trust, prayer, obedience, and joy.
OK if we just go literal OK and we look at this rosebush that I cut for my backyard. Here is the vine, this is the branch, and the rose is the fruit. OK fruit branch and vine. What does it mean for the branch to abide in the vine? It means to be connected. OK give me more like let’s zoom in on this connection point right here, what is happening at this connection point right here? OK well at this point of connection on the inside this branch is drawing life-giving nutrients from the vine. The life giving nutrients are flowing through the branch and then naturally producing this blossom, this fruit but it’s doing that by staying connected. And more than that, it’s through that connection it is drawing life-giving nutrients.
Let me stop right there and ask you are you connected to Jesus Christ, in a way where are you are drawing life-giving Spiritual nutrients into your life?
like I would say your number one priority in life, my number one priority in life- is to learn how has a branch to stay connected to the vine and to draw this amazing delicious joy filled life giving sap from the vine.
Like this is priority number one in my life!
Like how can I read the Bible and hear God speaking to me?
How do I pray, and not just do it as my duty but to do it with delight, and to do it with joy?
How do I go through my day and just feel sensitive and connected and empowered by the Holy Spirit as I’m going through my day? Like how does that all work?
Because that seems to be priority number one because to the degree that this connection is strong, To the degree that I know how to receive life-giving nutrients from the vine Will be to the degree that the fruit will grow. And you know the fruit bearing is going to be so natural, I know the fruit bearing is just going to flow it’s just going to naturally go there!
can you guys imagine a branch trying to bear fruit by itself? I mean, there is just no way. I mean, it doesn’t have enough resources in itself right it’s trying to like find resources in itself, but it doesn’t have it, so it’s squeezing with everything inside it it’s like constipation? You guys I am so grateful that the application of the scripture is not go and bear fruit. Go and be this radical self giving love person by yourself. Because there’s just no way. The application is not Go you bear fruit, the application the big to do is abide. And to the degree that you can abide in Jesus will be to the degree that you can produce results that you can love the person that is incredibly hard to love.
By God's grace I have a great relationship with my wife. But that doesn't mean that we don't fight! Not long ago we had a bad one. I took my boys to watch like a Sunday night football game at a friends house. I took my boys with me and they had school the next day. I told Rana I'd leave before the game was over, and then after waiting for three quarters our team finally got hot. And they started making a comeback. And there was five minutes left in the game and I was still there. It became a shoot out! And then then my friend brought out more chips! And then there was one minute left in the game and I was still there. And then the game was over and I was still there, talking about the game. But we lost. It was awful. Our team lost, the kids were tired, and I didn't keep my word.
I came home and Rana wasn't happy. And I wasn't happy that she wasn't happy. And so we kept on arguing trying to convince the other person to see our perspective, back and forth, back and forth. I realize now as I look back at this fight…that she was wrong. I’m kidding. I look back now and I realize, I was wrong. If I said to her I will leave the game early, and I didn’t do that, I’m in the wrong. But I just wouldn’t admit it. She needed me to let go of my right to be justified and I just couldn’t do it! And I needed her to just listen to where I was coming from with compassion, and she wouldn’t do it either. And so we didn't know what to do. I mean, to reconcile was going to take a love and a gentleness that we just didn’t have!! I'm like, "I'm so stupid. Why didn't we do this earlier? Let's pray." We start to pray, asking God for compassion. Man, I'm telling you, that was the turning point. That was the turning point. I didn't have it in me to reconcile with Rana, but God had plenty of love and compassion for Rana and for me. Rana had none of it for me, but He had plenty of it for her and for me. Everything before that was spiraling downward. After praying and asking for help the whole tone of the conversation changed. It was such a notable difference that I said to Rana, "What in the world do people who don't have God do?"
You guys when it comes to bearing fruit, when it comes to living a radical life of self giving love, when it comes to advancing God’s ministry being a person of Love Joy peace patients kindness gentleness and self-control, when it comes to being a blessing to other people,
Notice Jesus does not say the worst so just go and do it. Just try really really hard. Just grind it out.
No he says abide in me develop a love relationship with me where you continue in that relationship on a daily basis in my word in my love in my joy and from that life-giving connection with me you will bear fruit in your life. I cannot tell you a scripture that has shaped me more than this one. I would actually call this passage my life scripture.
And so this is my prayer for you. This is my prayer for the men who are getting baptized. This is my prayer for the college students who have just returned. That you will learn to draw life-giving nutrients for your soul from your relationship with Jesus Christ and that will flow through you to bear fruit to be a person of self-giving love, to advance God‘s kingdom. To make many disciples around you. All for the glory of God. and where does that power come from? your abiding relationship with Jesus let’s pray