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Summary: This sermon is based on the illustration of vine and the branches in John.

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01/30/00 - What's In It for Me? …Success!

Every follower of Jesus wants to be valuable to him.

We look forward to the day that he will come back for us and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant". When the "day of the Lord" your life will be judged to be successful or meaningless depending on His standards - not the worlds.

At the end of your life you want to leave with the knowledge that you have led a successful life! - everyone does!

There are many definitions of success.

Don't confuse fame with success: Madonna is one and Mother Terasa is the other.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - American Philosopher and Writer

To laugh

often and much,

to win respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better

whether by a healthy child,

a garden patch, or a

redeemed social condition;

to know even one life

has breathed easier

because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

St. Vince Lombardi - Green Bay Packer Coach of the 60's & 70's

"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time…"

Tim O'Brien - Newswriter

"Once you've defined success, list everything you need to do and everyone you need to meet to be successful. Be specific with your definition. Get down to the smallest details. This will help you begin to see and believe that your success, on your terms can be real."

- July 21, 1997 Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service

Jesus gives us God's definition in "The Parable of the Vine"

You will find it in John 15, verses 1 through 5.

15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

15:2 He cuts off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

15:3 You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you.

15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.

15:5 "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

God defines success as "fruitfulness"

Mom and Dad's Apple tree out back of their house is full of apples. Each branch weighed down with literally dozens of apples. Dad had to go out and prop up the branches with 2x4's to keep them from breaking!

Fruitfulness is important to God. What good is a fruitless fruit tree!!! Branches without fruit get cut off.

Remember the Parable of the fig tree? In the Parable of the vine God is not talking about grapes, figs, apples, oranges, and pears! He speaks of the fruit of the your life.

You will produce fruit. Bitter fruit that comes of anger and pain. Or, the Fruit of the Spirit - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control.

These are the fruit of success!

A Fruitful Life Requires Pruning! Have you ever seen a Vineyard? Up close? And in person? I've watched them prune the vine. I've seen them pruning the vine right down to the nubs!

What is cut off is useless. They burn it or make a wreath out of it! When you follow Jesus - You will be pruned! It is the only way for God to help you to be fruitful and successful in your life!

Branches with fruit get pruned so they will produce more fruit.

When you prune you are doing two things! Remove the diseased parts of the plant. Sometimes vines are attacked by blight, insect, or a fungus. You can spray but it doesn't remove the problem. Surgery is required! Cut it off.

God wants to prune the sin out of your life. Yes, you are forgiven! Cool - you are going to heaven! God wants to free you from the sin that "dis-eases" your life! God has to cut off and rebuild the rebellion, the self oriented attitude, the pride that consumes our energy and life.

Remove the energy-consuming runners that don't have buds! Sometimes a vine grows without producing grapes!

Takes nutrients, minerals, water, and does nothing of value with it.

Gotta get rid of it so that the same resources can be used for fruit production. You have stuff in your life that is not sin that you would be better off rid of!

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