John 15:18-16:4

John 15:18-16:4

John 16:1Vintage message from February 17, 2002.

But Jesus is saying, “No, there’s something different here. You’re now in Me. You are now My branches. The Father loved Me, I’ve loved you, and now this is My command: that you love one another.” But He doesn’t stop with that. It says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” It’s not left up to us to figure out how to love. It’s not left up to us to decide whether or not we are going to love. We are part of a body of believers in particular, and it branches out from here into the greater body, that when we encounter one another, even if we see things that are wrong, even if we don’t like what’s going on, it does not give us the excuse to not love, because guess what? When the Father looked down at this world before He sent His Son, He loved. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. While we were lost in our sin, God loved us. He didn’t wait for us to become good. He didn’t wait for us to straighten out our lives. He love us enough to do something about it, and once He did that something by giving His Son, incorporating His Son into what this world was. Rather than make the world to become what God is, because He knew that was impossible, He gave us a way to overcome the impossible through His Son. And now we are branches in this vine, being filled with the love that comes from the Father through the vine into the branches, and we’re commanded — not suggested, commanded — that we love one another…

You know what? That’s the hard part: following Jesus and seeing what He has, He has nothing here on this earth for us, but He has a glorious, wonderful, exciting adventurous eternity planned for us. And He gives us the things that we have on this world, not so we can hold them up and say, “Look at what I’ve got… I’ve got something that you don’t have,” but it’s to be used: to be used for His glory, to be used to strengthen, to be used to bless. Because we are branches, if we see a branch on the vine faltering, He’s given us the ability — and think of what a grapevine is. You know, I’ve seen a lot of grapevines. They’ve got these little curly things that grow out of them, and sometimes those little curly things will grow around stuff and grab on and it’s just like a hand holding on. And guess what? We can extend those little curly things called blessings to reach out and grab another branch when we see it drooping and ready to break off and hold it up. We need to be involved in one another’s lives, and remember the things that Jesus taught us. We’re not greater than our master. He didn’t have things. He had the love relationship with the Father and then anything He had at His disposal, He used for that ministry that God placed Him in…

The only way to stay strong is to stay current in His Word; to continually go back to His Word and hear what He’s saying, over and over and over again; know that direction, understand that command, feel that friendship, allow the power of God’s Spirit to indwell and work through you, and it only comes when you’re spending time in His Word getting to know Him…

We’re only caught off guard when we have not been living within the instruction and the guidelines that He’s laid down for us, and He tells us the time is coming. We shouldn’t be surprised when the bad things in this world touch us and the wickedness of men’s lives affect us, but it should never drive us into the world, but drive us closer to the Father and open our mouths in testimony to Who Jesus is. That’s His desire for us, but He has taught us these things so that we will know when the time comes. We can remember and know that we’ve been warned…

He is the salvation that God wanted us to have. He is the friendship that God desired to have with us. He is the love relationship that God sent to be with us to draw us in. The vine was planted. We grow from that vine. Love was given to the vine through the Father. The vine, then, shares love with us. So what’s the next step? How are people going to know? Jesus says, “They will know you are My disciples” by what? By how we love; how we care for one another within the body of Christ. When you find yourself, next time, irritated someone, especially within the body of Christ, think about why you’re irritated. What part of your selfishness did they touch? What part of your arrogance did they insult? And I know, in my life, when I find myself angry at someone, it is because somehow the “me” in my life has been affected, and then I have to pull the “me” out and put the Jesus in. Remember what Jesus taught. Jesus was inconvenienced in His life in ministry every moment of His day unless, unless, He went away to be alone in the mountains so He could be with His Father. He knew the value of quiet time with His Father. He knew the value of being in God’s Word and understanding God’s Word. He wants us to be prepared, and He’s gone to great lengths today within His Word to teach us how to be prepared…

There are going to be hard times, but guess what? I should never be the hard time that another brother or sister has on the face of this world. I should be the branch that is holding them up because the vine is holding me up. Until they’re strong enough in the vine, once again, to stand, then they reach down and hold up someone else. This is how Jesus intended for us to learn and to know Him. Through this progressive love relationship that came from the Father, and to be ready. We’re all going to sin, we’re all going to make mistakes, we’re all going to struggle, but that’s the amazing thing about being part of the body of Christ. When you sin, I can still love you and approach you in love, and that’s been part of the problem in this world. We don’t want to approach each other with love because somehow I take it personal when you sin. My arrogance and my pride gets in the way. Sometimes I feel like I’m god, and I have the right to zap you with lightning if He’s not, you know? And that’s the wrong approach.

Pastor Dave Elkins

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John 15:1-17