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Abiding in Jesus: The Key to Fruitful Living John 15:1-11

Greg Laurie tells a story about a woman, who had finished shopping and returned to her car. She found four men inside the car. She dropped her shopping bags, drew a handgun, and screamed, “I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car.” Those men did not wait for a second invitation; they got out and ran like crazy. The woman, somewhat shaken, loaded her shopping bags and then got into the car. But no matter how she tried, she could not get her key into the ignition. Then it dawned on her: her car was parked four or five spaces away! She loaded her grocery bags into her own car and then drove to the police station to turn herself in.  The desk sergeant to whom she told the story nearly fell off his chair laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four men were reporting a carjacking by an old woman with thick glasses and curly white hair, less than five feet tall, and carrying a large handgun. No charges were filed.

It was a case of mistaken identity. The woman mistook another man’s car for her own. No doubt the two cars looked the same, but they belonged to different people. In the same way, sometimes it is hard to determine who belongs to Christ and Who Does Not.

I have Learned that a lot of people look the same on the outside, especially religious people. But Adversity Often Brings Out a Person’s Real Identity.

Have You Noticed that? I mean What Do You Think a True Follower of Jesus Christ Looks like?  What is the Difference Between Being Religious and Being a True Child of God?   Our Text Today…John 15…Gives us a Clear Understanding of what it takes to be God’s Child and a True Follower of Jesus Christ.

John 15: 1-11 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 

From this Scripture Jesus gives us the Marks of a True Disciple of Christ.  He Tells Us How to spot a Genuine Follower of Christ…Simply…Jesus is Saying…You Prove you’re a Genuine Follower of Christ when You Bear Fruit…But You Cannot Do That On Your Own. You Can’t Manufacture the kind of Character Required to Bear the Fruit God Wants in Your Own Strength…To Bear Spiritual Fruit You Must…ABIDE IN CHRIST.

To Abide in Christ Means that You Remain in Him…And the Way You Stay Connected to Jesus is Through Loving Obedience to His Word. Genuine Followers of Christ Stay Close to Jesus…They Remain in Him by Obedience and Meditating on His Word!

Psalm One Makes this Point…“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, But whose Delight is in the Law of the Lord, and who Meditates on His Law Day and Night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—Whatever They Do Prospers”.

Jesus uses the Metaphor of a Grapevine and its Branches. God, the Father, is the Gardener. Jesus, the Son, is the Vine, and His Followers [US] are the Branches.

Now, God (The Gardener) Expects to see “Grapes” when He walks through His Vineyard, and Verse 2 says, if He Sees Grapes, He Prunes those Branches. He Prunes the Fruitful Branches, so they can Bear Even More Fruit! Did you notice the progression? In verse 2, Jesus talks about “Fruit” and “More Fruit.” Then in verse 5, Jesus talks about “Much Fruit.”

Illustration…A schoolteacher described a peach tree that stood in her back yard. Unpruned, the Tree grew big and leafy, and it was loaded with peaches, although the fruit was disappointingly small and tasteless…When her husband, Larry, was laid off for a year. He had nothing else to do, so he went to work on the tree. When the schoolteacher came home from school one day and saw how far back he had pruned it, she stared in shock. “You’ve killed it,” she cried. “Now we won’t have any peaches at all…However She was wrong. That spring, the pruned branches burst forth with a beautiful blanketing of pink blossoms. Soon little green peaches replaced the blossoms. “Leave them alone,” she begged. Larry ignored her and thinned the fruit…By the end of the summer, the branches were so heavily laden, they had to be propped up. And the peaches – oh, how large and sweet and juicy they were. There was no denying it: the tree was far better off for the painful cutting it endured under Larry’s pruning shears.

Now, in our lives, the pruning process can be painful, but it is well worth it…You See the Fruit-Bearing Followers of Jesus Are Not Exempt from Suffering and Pain (Even the Likes of COVID-19) Because, God uses the painful pruning to make Us even more Fruitful! As We Trust God, Our Heavenly Gardener…During this Time We WILL Come Out More Productive on the Other Side! YOU SEE…If God Sees Grapes…Fruits of the Spirit In Our Lives…He Prunes those branches [US] so We can Bear Even More Fruit… If God Doesn’t See Grapes on a Branch…He Does One of Two Things…He Either Props it Up to Get it into the Sunlight…Or He Cuts it Off and Puts it in the Burn Pile.

Verse 2 says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”…If You are Connected to the Vine, the original language says He Literally, lifts you up from the Thick Undergrowth… He props you up. He raises you up out of the dark undergrowth into the light of His Word, so You Will Bear Fruit.   

Now…Let Me Say This…Today, You May be in a Dark Place Because of some Sin…Or in the Middle of A Situation That Has You Feeling Defeated…I Want You to Understand that Satan wants to Keep you in a Dark Place…he wants to Take Away Your Joy and your Peace…Satan Wants to Keep You in a Place Where You Will Not Be Fruitful… he just Wants You to Stay in that Dark Place…LISTEN…If You Know Jesus Christ as Your Personal Savior…You are Connected to Jesus…And…If You’re Connected to the Vine…Even When You Can’t See the Light…I Want to Assure You God’s Light is Always Shining…You Have a  Choice…To Stay in that Dark Place or You Can Take Your Eyes Off the Problems that Cloud Your Heart and Mind and Turn Your Eyes Back to Jesus…Turn to God’s Word…Then God Will Lift You Up so You Can Absorb His Light…Practically Speaking—As You Make God Your Priority and Stay in His Word… You Will Bask in the Fathers Love and Become Spiritually Productive Again…

However…if You’re NOT Connected to the Vine…if You have No Relationship with Jesus, Then as Verse 6 says, He throws you away. He considers you useless for His purposes, good only for the burn pile.  If that is You today…If You Have Never Asked Christ to be Your Savior…I want You to Know That God Loves You…He Wants You to be His Child…He Wants You to be Connected to the Vine… And All You Have to Do Is To Turn to Him.

John 15:9-10 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Abiding in Christ is Not so Much about Doing Something as it is About Receiving His Love and Responding with Loving Obedience.  I Taught My Kids this Truth… Obedience is the Root…Emotions are the Fruit!   If We Think We Can Live Our Christian Lives on How We Feel We Will Be Disconnected from Gods Love…His Peace and Joy!   However, When We Root Our Relationship in Christ with Obedience…We Grow in His Grace and We Will Bear Much Fruit!

Steve Winger talks about a ski trip where he saw a blind person skiing. At first it surprised him, but he noticed that the blind skier, wearing a bright pink vest, stayed directly behind an instructor, listening for directions on how and when to turn. Over the next several days, he saw many blind skiers always following somebody who gave them the information they needed to make it safely down the mountain. 

Let’s Consider What Happened Here…They Listened Intently to their Instructor… They Followed His Every Direction Without Fail…And Headed Down the Course Safe…So What Would Have Happened If They Chose to Not Listen to the Instructor and Go Down the Mountain Their Own Way?   That’s Right…The Results Would Have Been Horrific!

Likewise…So often in life, We’re Blind, Not knowing which way to turn, especially in difficult times…But Know this…You Have a Teacher “JESUS” who Loves You. All you have to do is Stick with Him and Listen to His Instructions as He Guides You Through each day of Your Life…As You Stay in His Word…The Bible…He Will Bring You Safely Through.

The Result…You’ll Be Blessed Instead of Stressed. Verse 7 says that God will Answer Your Prayers…Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you and you’ll find real joy even in the face of adversity”.

Remember what Jesus said on the Eve of His Crucifixion…John 15:11 “I have told You this so that My Joy may be in You and that Your Joy May Be Complete.” 

Now…to Simplify What It Really Means for Us to Abide in Christ let us look at Psalm 46:10 This Verse Makes it Clear what God Wants from You and Me as We Abide with Him. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be Still, And Know That I Am God”

I Love this Verse…Be Still and Know That I Am God!  He Says…BE…STILL!!!

The Christian Life…To Follow Christ’s Example, is Not so Much a Life of Doing and Acting…But of BEING…Think about it…We are Called to Abide in Christ in Exactly the Same Way Christ Abides in the Father. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in You”. As the Branch Cannot Bear Fruit of itself, Unless it Abides in the Vine…So Neither Can You, Unless You Abide in Me…I Am the Vine, You are the Branches; he who Abides in Me and I in him, he Bears Much Fruit; for Apart from Me You Can Do Nothing”John 15:4-5

Remember his prayer in John 17:20-21… “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in US so that the World may Believe that You have Sent Me.”  The Key Point Here is…The Command of Obedience Jesus has given to US is to Abide in Him as He is Abiding in the Father.

You Know…So many of Us try Our Best to Follow Christ’s Example in All We Do. And All Too Often the Result is that We just End Up Tired and Frustrated. It’s been said so many times, but it’s true: The Christian Life Isn’t Difficult…It’s IMPOSSIBLE!  It’s been lived Successfully by Only One Person, Jesus Christ. We Need to Understand If it’s Lived by You and Me…it Will Only Be Because…Jesus Christ…Lives it Through Us.

Think About this Truth…For an Apple to Be an Apple…Requires that the Essence of Apple Tree Flow through its Branches and into the Fruit to become an AppleYou Will Never get a Juicy Peach off an Apple Tree…The Same is True for You and Me… We Will Never Become Like Christ Unless We Allow His Essence to Flow Through Us

We All tend to Go to Great Lengths to Get Away From this Principle…The Christian Life means Abiding in Christ in the same way Christ Abides in the Father. We Try Harder…Try to do More. We go to Conferences…We read the Bible and Pray a little more. We go to Church every time the door is open. And then we think everything will be fine. However…A Life of Busyness on its Own…Won’t—Because that’s Not the Way God Ordained for Us to Walk with Him…He sent His Son to Reconcile Us to Himself and to Give Us an Example of How to Turn Salvation into Sanctification…We are Not to be Just Religious…Rather…Christ Wants to Walk with Us and Help Us Become More Like Him.

Simply…Obedience to God…is 100 Percent About Abiding in Christ…Taking a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land is Nice But that Does Not Suggest You are Abiding in Christ… Wearing a Religious Emblem or Cross or Reading another Religious Book does NOT Replace Abiding in Christ…Obedience to God Demands That We Get Close to Jesus…THAT’S IT!

John 6:29 says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in [Cleave To, Trust, Rely On, have Faith In, Lean On] Him Whom He Has Sent”.

Now if you’re like Many…You want a System to Abide in Christ. But Systems are for computers and robots, Not People. To Abide in Christ…Is All About a Relationship. The Greek word for Abide is Meno which means physically to just stay where you are…It can also mean to not change, to stay strong in one’s resolve, remain in common purpose with others. It means to stay present, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. It means to survive unchanged.

And so to Abide in Christ is Simply to Stay Close to Him through His Word and His Presence. It means you have to give time to the effort. It means you have to exclude other things. It means you simply have to stay close to him.

Abiding In Christ Is An Act Of Faith…Paul said, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Colossians 2:6). How did you receive Christ? You did it by faith. You knew you were a sinner, someone told you about Jesus, and you rejoiced in the good news of his acceptance based on his vicarious death on the cross. We walk in Him the same way We Received Him…by Faith.

Abiding In Christ Is An Act Of Time…We want everything yesterday. We want everything instantly…and hardly anything worth anything comes instantly. It took time for you to develop really close friendships. A good marriage doesn’t just happen after you say, “I do.” A good marriage takes years to develop. The same is true for a relationship with Christ.

Abiding In Christ Is An Act Of Utilizing The Means Of Grace He Gave Us…You can’t abide with someone without talking to him, listening to him, or being a friend to his friends. The same is true for Christ. Prayer, the Scriptures, and Fellowship are Essential tools for Abiding with Christ.

Abiding In Christ Is An Act Of Just Being With Someone…I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to think that reality is found in what I do…I’m A Doer…So—If I am Not Careful…My Prayer life can Become More Doing than anything else…I pray for a list of people and when I finish praying for them and begin to talk to Christ…Sometimes I feel He’s saying to me, “Doug Just be Quiet. Stop Talking. Just be Still for a Change and Let’s Be Together.”  I’m learning to do that, and the more I just silently Meditate on His Person, Love, and Grace, the More Thankful I Become…Overwhelmed with Gratitude…And My Heart Desires to Become More like Him.

Someone has said that Hurry isn’t from the devil…Hurry is the devil. That’s very true in my life. I need to stop doing things and Start Just Being With the One Who—Much to My Amazement—Just Wants To Be With Me.

I Know that Christ Wants to Speak to Us in the Silence…But So Often We’re so Busy Talking and Doing that We Can Never Hear Him…And with that said…I Want to Close With These Final Thoughts…

Growth comes from Abiding in Christ in the same way He Abides in the Father. We Don’t Abide in Him by Growing through Our Own Efforts…That’s why so many of us are frustrated in our walk with Christ. A dog doesn’t bark to become a dog; a dog barks because he is a dog. Just so, a Christian doesn’t do good things in order to be a Christian. A Christian does good things because he or she is a Christian. Stay close to Christ and then You’ll be Surprised at the Growth.

His Gift to You for Just Being with Him is that He Makes You More and More like Him. Galatians 5:22 Outlines What It Means to Be More Like Christ…The Fruits of God the Holy Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control…These are a Gift from Abiding with Christ…They are Not the Things You Do in Order to Abide in Christ…They are the Fruit that Come from Abiding in Christ’s Spirit.

That’s it…That’s the Secret…Please Don’t let its Simplicity Fool You…Choose to Spend Time With Christ…Abide in Him…Make Him the Priority of Your Time…Let His Holy Spirit Change You to Become More Like Christ.

To Abide in Christ Will Require That You Be Intentional!!!  And if Abiding in Christ is Your Desire… I Suggest a Simple Prayer…Similar to the one You Prayed when You Became a Christian.   It’s on The Notes of this Sermon…It Says…

“Father, you have told me that I am to Abide in Christ. You made it a Commandment and therefore I Know it is Your Will that I Abide in Him. Grant me the Grace to Follow Your Will, I Choose to Make Christ a Priority with My Time and My Life…By Faith I Choose to Daily to Abide in Christ.”