John 15:1-17

John 15:1-17

John 15:5Vintage message from January 20, 2002.

It’s about fruit that grows in the process of abiding in Him; staying in Him; attaching yourself to Him. So He lays out this analogy of a fruit tree, and if a fruit tree is not bearing fruit, the most healthy thing you can do for that fruit tree is cut off branches… When we read these verses, we are reading about a plan that Jesus has for the plant to become healthy and to grow and to produce fruit in abundance, and He knows our hearts, and He knows that there are some who will come to Him and be in Him and be attached to the tree but will be fruitless and even, at times, be the cause of fruit not growing on the tree. And you know what? The Father will cut those branches away to make His plant more healthy…

I can’t be a branch unto myself, and I can not bear fruit by myself, and as an individual, I can not bear fruit on my own. I need you, and I need the Father. I need to be in the tree and attached, growing with you. If I become detached from the tree, the sap bleeds out. I need to be attached… Do you hear the reason why we need to be in the vine, attached branches that are healthy because we have a source of life? Because it brings glory to the Father. Not to this ministry, not to the work that’s going on on the face of the earth, but it brings glory to the Father. When we, as Christ’s disciples, loving Jesus, abiding in Jesus, loving one another, it brings glory to the Father, and then we get to benefit from the love that is brought back to the Father because He then feeds us back through His Spirit. We work together, we dwell together, we are strengthened together, but we must remain in His love…

He gives us this other picture. It’s not just about working, doing good things. It’s about loving, and about being complete in joy. You know what? There’s a lot of hard things that happen in our lives, a lot of challenges that come our way, accidents that almost happen, things that go on that are out of our control, but if we are abiding in Christ, if we are walking in His love, and allowing His love to remain in us, and we’re loving those around us, then guess what? We’re never taken by surprise. When the hard things happen and we’re abiding in Him, then we’re still filled with joy, even though we may be faced with a challenge. Joy, by the way, does not mean giddy. It does not mean that you’re always laughing. It just means that there is something inside of you that keeps you from living in despair. Joy wards off despair. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to cry from time to time. I cried at my brother’s funeral. It was hard for me to deal with, but I walked away with joy in my heart since I still have family to love and that loves me. I have a [church] body to love and that loves me. I’m still abiding in Christ, and even though disaster happens and tears are shed or challenge comes, it does not mean that we lose our joy, and that joy kept me from falling into despair, just as joy will keep any of us from falling into despair. But, joy only comes when we remain in His love. It’s when we step away, when we try to do it on our own, when we try to live by our own flesh and have our own way [that we despair]… It’s not even our joy. It’s not a contrived joy. It’s not something that we make happen, but if we will remain in Him and obey His command to love, then it is His joy that floods us. It’s about how He feels about the Father that works in us, and then our joy is complete…

Even though our function and role on this planet is to serve one another, to be servants of God, Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his Master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends.” How do you interact with a friend? A whole lot different than you would with a servant/master relationship. We can call Jesus by His first name. We can joke with Him and laugh with Him, and we can enjoy His company as He enjoys our company. We don’t have to come to Him fearfully crawling on our face thinking we’re going to be beaten, and when we make mistakes, we can go to our friend, and our friend will wrap his arms around us and love us and help us through whatever hard times come because of wrong decisions we’ve made. He is our friend because He has let us know what is in the Father’s heart… Do you realize that by studying God’s Word, abiding in Jesus Christ, being filled with His Spirit, we have all of the knowledge that Jesus had when He was on the face of this earth serving His Father. We have that knowledge because He’s given it to us. He’s shared with us as His disciples, as His friends, all that the Father has told Him. Everything He learned from His Father, we now have access to so we can know the Father’s will. We can know the Father’s desire. And once again, the Father’s will and desire is not to go out and build a giant cathedral, but to love those that are lost around us, and then as we love those that are lost, everything else falls into place…

If you want the Father’s will, abide in the vine. Allow the Father to bring light to you, and guess what? He’ll prune. Pruning isn’t fun. Having your sin revealed, having the hardness of your heart revealed, your arrogance and your pride revealed, these are all things that the Father will prune away; He’ll bring to the surface, and He’ll cut away because they hinder us from bearing fruit, but we were chosen for the purpose of bearing fruit and fruit that will remain. Fruit that remains as an example and a testimony of the love that Jesus had for us, the love that the Father has for us. “And then, then the Father will give you whatever you as in My Name. This is My command. Love each other.” What part of that is ownership of a Cadillac? Not any part of it. You want the Father’s will? Seek out to love those that are unlovely. You want to be rich in fruit? You want to bear the fruit that’s going to last? Reach out to those whom the world has rejected and religion has condemned but God loves. Reach out and love them because it’s what we’re commanded, and it’s what offers us whatever the Father has for us. We can ask for it then. We can ask for it in good conscience in faith and get it. If we start asking selfishly, then we reap selfishness…

If there’s doubt about your salvation, remain, abide, walk with and in the love of Jesus Christ, and then there will be no doubt. If there’s doubt, it’s probably because there’s sin, and if there’s sin, sin can be dealt with. You don’t have to walk around feeling, every moment of the day, that God doesn’t love you because you’ve done something wrong. Just tell Him about it. He is your Friend. He is not the Judge with a gavel in His Hand ready to smack you on the head because you’ve done something wrong. He is your Friend, and friends confide in one another, and He’s told us He’s confided in us.

Pastor Dave Elkins