Friday, March 23, 2007

John 15:1 – 11
“I am the true vine.”

(Ill.) Visiting my grandparents in the summer. They had a fair sized grapevine. I would help with the grapevine. Every time, it seemed that the grapevine had brown stems I had to pick. One year, grandma Waite took a pair of scissors to the lush vine. When she was done she had left almost nothing left. I was shocked. She explained that the grapes the last year were not good and the vine needed pruning. So I watched what was left of the grapevine produce a massive crop of some of the best grapes I had ever eaten.

I. Fruit occurs in relationship.

A. Dry and no fruit = burned.

1. The vine needs all its energy to produce fruit... Very delicate balancing.

2. Common to have parts of the vine die, had to be removed for new growth to happen.

B. Productive = pruned so it can be more productive.

1. The vine exists for the fruit.

2. We are pruned by the Word of God.

3. The key is in abiding, not trying.

C. “The law of the vine.”

1. Our connection/relationship to God is what produces the fruit.

2. Fruit is the natural outcome of that relationship, not effort.

II. Fruit occurs because of the focus.

A. The grapevine is an illustration that unfocused growth is different than fruit.

1. “Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones. Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt.” [Hosea 10:1 – 2a]

a. Hosea addresses faithless people.

b. Image of a spreading vine and prosperity is offset by the fact that “their heart is deceitful.” (Divided, false, fickle)

2. Energy can be spent on unproductive exertions.

a. Unproductive habits. Killer ones are things that involve the tongue. (Gossip, slander, back biting... etc.)

b. Unproductive thought processes. (Insisting without considering, unable to view from other perspectives, “single lense.”)

B. Some growth is actually fungus, not fruit.

1. Unhealthy growth in nature... cancer, fungus and other parasites, etc...

2. Unhealthy things drain energy and divert attention.

3. Unhealthy things lack focus.

C. The ultimate killer?

1. “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)

a. Foxes do not eat grapes or have interest in the vines. They dig at the roots.

b. Separate the vine from its roots (source of life and it will die)...

c. Foxes are unrelated, cute, and innocent looking. But they are the worst.

2. My grandparent’s grapevine finally died when their hunting dog discovered a family of rabbits living in the vines. He got lose and started digging. He didn’t dig much, but it was enough with the holes the rabbits had dug.

a. Unresolved issues that target the spiritual source of life look harmless and may even be pets... but they are the most dangerous thing to a vine.

b. A vine can be pruned to get rid of unproductive things. But once the vine is separated from its spiritual source of life... there is not hope for the vine. It loses it life.

c. For the Christian or the Church: focus on God is life.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. [2] Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Hebrews 12:1 – 3]

III. Fruit is the product of a process.

A. The process of developing character.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. [24] Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. [25] Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” [Galatians 5:22 – 25]

1. Some times we want fruit without the process that produces it.

2. Notice the steps:

a. “belong to Christ Jesus.” (Some want the benefits without the belonging... kind of like wanting to own a home but not wanting to make the house payments.)

b. “crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Some want the blessing without the work that comes from discipline... kind of like trying to win a marathon without training for the run.)

c. “keep in step with the Spirit.” (Some want the fruit without the controlling connection... sort of like wanting to be a citizen but not wanting to live by the laws or in cooperation with others.)

B. The process of witness.

1. The Greek word for witness is “martyr.”

a. Usually think of “martyr” as someone who dies.

b. Technically, it is someone who gives up their lives for their cause.

2. This becomes a matter of choice.

a. It is easy to give up you life, in the case of dying, because it means your life is yours until you get to the point of death.

b. It is much more difficult to give up your life, in case of daily service, because it means your life is not yours.

C. Think about it this way:

1. “You are witnesses of these things.” [Luke 24:48]

a. This means you, not someone else, not a hired professional.

b. This means living for the cause.

2. Jesus placed the eternal destiny of others in your hands.

3. Jesus placed the survival of the church (and this message) in your hands.

IV. Fruit occurs on purpose.

A. What are the tools?

1. [v 2] You are pruned by Word of God.

a. Is there something(s) that keeps you from living full throttle for Jesus Christ?

b. What dulls your desire and enthusiasm for the life changing good news of Jesus Christ?

2. [v 7] You are promised power in prayer.

a. Are you limited by what you see or by what you ask God for?

b. What dulls your desire and enthusiasm for the active power of prayer?

3. [v 8] You are proven as disciples.

a. When you face the test, God gets the attention (“the glory”).

b. What dulls your desire and enthusiasm for everyone’s attention to be on God?

4. [vv 9 – 10] Your love for God determines your obedience.

a. Love is a fancy and misunderstood word for “motivation.”

b. What motivates you is what you “love.”

5. [v 11] You are given unspeakable joy.

a. Joy is not an emotion. Happy is an emotion. Joy is a point of reference.

b. That point of reference comes from being in relationship with Jesus Christ.

B. Questions:

1. Where are you?

2. Where do you want to be?

3. Are you willing to pay the price to get to where you need to be?

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