Intro: An older sister was sitting next to her younger brother in Church one Sunday morning unsuccessfully trying to keep him still and quiet. Finally she said, “I wish you would calm down.” “I can’t”, he said, “it’s just so boring.” With that his sister turned and said, “It’s supposed to be boring.”
When you go to the grocery store or to Wal-Mart and you’re making your way to the check out line, which line do you look to get into? Do you look for the longest line or the shortest? We all look for the quickest way through the checkout line. No one wants to stand long in the checkout line because it’s time consuming and boring. How do you feel when people cut in front of you? Do you think to yourself, Lord bless them for cutting I now get to stand in line a few minutes longer? Or, do you glare at them with that deadly glare that lets people know that the joy of the Lord in your heart?
It’s a shame that so many people feel that church is JUST SO BORING. That setting in the pew is like standing in a check out line. A process that has to be endured so we can get what we want. And that’s the question I want to ask you this morning. What do you expect to get form going to church? At one time I thought that by going to church and sitting in a building with other believers it would automatically make the rest of my week go better. I would just sit there and the sermon would go over my head and spiritually I would get absolutely nothing out of the whole ordeal.
We come to church to get our hearts focused on Jesus Christ. Our goal is God Himself, neither joy nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, our God. We must take time this morning and realize what is the central point of power in our lives. Is it work, service, sacrifice for others, or trying to work for God? The thing that ought to exert the most power in our lives is the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Transition: To abide means to remain in place, to stay. If we have a relationship with God then that relationship will produce something that Jesus refers to as fruit.
(v.2) HE PRUNES – Cut off every part of my life that draws out my spiritual energy preventing growth. Physical exercise will eventually exhaust a person, but spiritual exercise will instantly make us stronger. The pruning process is a painful ordeal for God will remove things from my life that draw away my energy and focus form spiritual matters. When a grape vine begins to produce fruit it will have several small shuts pop out of the branch that will only serve to suck the nutrients from the vine serving only to hinder the production of fruit.
Illustration: Donald Grey Barnhouse cites an amazing example of lasting fruitfulness. In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick. Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, the vine produces several tons of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them. He is the vine, and we are the branches. And when we need pruning, the goal is always more fruit.
(v.4) STAY WITH ME AND I WILL STAY WITH YOU –
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." ( Heb 13:5)
- And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."( Matt 28:20)
(v.5) “APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.” Nothing of eternal, spiritual, or true value. Does God ever do anything in our lives without us recognizing it?
(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (1 Tim 4:10)
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Tim 2:13)
The only way any of us could possibly be here in this church is because God has given us the power and ability. And the same is true in everything we do. Apart from God we can’t live, breath, work, play, we simply don’t exist apart from God.
Illustration: Have you ever turned on your water faucet outside and grabbed the end of the water hose only to find that the hose you’re holding is not connected to the faucet? So you find yourself holding the end of a hose that’s empty and nonproductive. The water is flowing at the source, but you’re just looking for results in the wrong place. The same is true for our spiritual lives, when we do works apart from the Holy Spirit. As far as eternity is concerned when we do things in our own power regardless of how good or helpful it may be to other people it’s empty and nonproductive.
(v6) WITHERS – To wither is to dry up or shrivel from loss of moister. In the Bible the Holy Spirit is symbolized by water, without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are certain to dry up spiritually. To lose freshness is another definition of something withering. Is your spiritual life fading? Some people are withering because they are too comfortable. When we get complacent in our spiritual lives we don’t see any need for God, we think we’re self-sufficient there by cutting off the flow of the Holy Spirit. We’re too comfortable when we can’t find anything to thank God for.
Illustration: Benjamin Franklin learned that plaster sown in the fields would make things grow. He told his neighbors, but they did not believe him and they argued with him trying to prove that plaster could be of no use at all to grass or grain.
After a little while he allowed the matter to drop and said no more about it. But he went into the field early the next spring and sowed some grain. Close by the path, where men would walk, he traced some letters with his finger and put plaster into them and then sowed his seed in the field.
After a week or two the seed sprang up. His neighbors, as they passed that way, were very much surprised to see, in brighter green than all the rest of the field, the writing in large letters, "This has been plastered." Benjamin Franklin did not need to argue with his neighbors any more about the benefit of plaster for the fields. For as the season went on and the grain grew, these bright green letters just rose up above all the rest until they were a kind of relief-plate in the field -- "This has been plastered."
(v.11) Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus to introduce His joy to me? His joy is not in bodily health or external happenings, not in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God. This is why we go to church to understand God and how He is involved in our REAL life.
Conclusion: A lot of green branches does not necessarily mean a lot of fruit. I have fruit trees in my backyard that are green and sappy covered with leaves but no fruit. Just because we are active in the church doing things for God doesn’t necessarily mean we are producing fruit. In some churches when activity slows down they just grind out another activity in hopes of rejuvenating participation. Don’t get me wrong participation in the church is important, but not as important as our relationship with the Lord. God has created you to be a fruit-bearing branch. Are you allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through your life and produce fruit? If you look back over this past year is your spiritual life withering or flourishing? Our number one goal must be our relationship with Christ, staying with Him, obeying His commands and living in His love. If we do this then we will know true joy, we will understand and live in the purpose God has created us for.