Summary: To find joy, one must continually abide in the Word, Prayer, and in His unbounding love.
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The Crisis of Dependence
Pastor Jerry Vargo
Text: John 15:1-11
A. Joy! Where is it? Why don’t we have it? How can we get it? How can we keep it?
B. How many of you would like to know the answers to those questions this morning?
C. We need Joy…yet it so often eludes us. Why? Maybe part of the answer is in our tendency to lean on the arm of the flesh. We so often try to live for Christ in our own strength. This causes us to look to ourselves for our supply of Joy rather than Jesus Christ.
D. Our old nature is a force to be reckoned with on a daily basis. It will oppose our new nature at every turn.
E. Our old nature is much like a snake that has had its head severed from its body.
F. But we need to know this…the power of our old nature was broken with the death of Christ on Calvary.
G. Listen to a dream that Richard Exley wrote about in his book, “Perils of Power” and see if you relate to the struggle. Pages 23-26.
A. Church, every single one of us is in a crisis…whether we clearly see it or not. I will explain what I mean in a minute.
B. Our old nature has often cried out for sympathy…he begs for a piece of bread…a helping hand…a few minutes of our time!
C. We are so tempted to share our lives with him. And the tragedy is that we often do.
D. May God help us this morning and this year to starve this muscle-bound manic…reckon him dead…and learn to depend upon the Lord.
Text: John 15:1-11
E. I want you to take note especially of verse 5 in John 15 this morning. This is where I get this idea of crisis. We are in a crisis of dependence. In the year 2002, we need to depend on Him every day.
F. From John 15, I see that we need to depend on God in at least three ways:
1. He calls us to depend on Him and His Word.
2. He calls us to depend on Him in Prayer.
3. He calls us to depend on Him and His Love.
1. He calls us to depend on Him and His Word!
A. Explain the concept – Jesus is the vine – the Father is the Farmer – we are the branches.
B. Those who don’t bear fruit He removes – scary word huh?
C. Those who bear fruit – he prunes so that our fruit will increase!
D. I like Phillips Translation of verse 3:
“Now, you have already been pruned by my words.”
E. Is that true for you? Have you let God’s word into your heart and mind so that the dead works of your lives have been cut off to make room for new growth?
F. Consider three things…
1. Have you let God’s word replace old thought patterns?
2. Have you allowed His word to change your attitudes?
3. Can you say with confidence that you think with the mind of Christ?
G. Romans 12:2 is the word for today:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
H. I want to warn the body today. Satan has legal access into our uncrucified thought life.
I. He will hide in your mind thoughts that you think are your own. This is the clear understanding of what a stronghold really is. Strongholds are houses in our minds that are made of thoughts.
J. The call of this passage is to depend on the Lord by abiding in Him and His Word. The warning for those who will not abide or dwell in Him and His word is in verse 6.
2. He calls on us to depend on Him in prayer!
A. Before I read verse 7 again…let me mention the week of prayer…!
B. I am calling on this body to fast on Wednesday or Thursday this week for spiritual renewal in our lives and in our nation.
C. Look at verse 7. This is a misrepresented text oftentimes. The context supports a continual reliance upon God and His word. It shows how to bear fruit. It gives warnings if we don’t bear fruit.
D. So, let me say it plainly…you can’t just ask for whatever you want unless you abide in Him…and then your request must be for the purpose of bearing fruit.