2016-11-20 – John 15.1-11 – Vine and the Branches

John 15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes[a] to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed[b]by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become[c] my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[d] any longer, because the servant[e] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

2016-11-20 – John 15.1-11 – Vine and the Branches
Good morning my dear brothers and sisters – Thank you all for joining us.
Today the Lord’s Word will be proclaimed. Jesus Christ will be worshiped, and God will be Glorified. Are ya with me?
Before we get started, I have the privilege to introduce you to some new friends. Holly McDorman and her family. Holly is the caretaker for a new effort called Kewanee Stocking Drive. I have met with her this last Wednesday as they came to our mid-week service. [Holly Talks].
Will you please be in prayer for Holly and her family as they endeavor to make a positive impact on our Kewanee community.
This coming Thursday is Turkey Day! But you might know it as Thanksgiving. What a wonderful name for a holiday, “Thanksgiving”. Most all folks enjoy this holiday, as it is a time of family fellowship and food and fun. But do you know any of the history behind this wonderful holiday. Well let me tell ya.
Thanksgiving History
After leaving Plymouth in 1620, (not our Plymouth room in the back of this church.. Plymouth the city in England) The Pilgrims traveled over two months to reach what they called Plymouth Rock, then settling in New England, the grateful Pilgrims declared a three-day feast, to thank God and to celebrate with their new Indian friends. It was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.
Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They, four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”
They had a 3 day feast.. Doesn’t that sound like fun!
In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first official Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution.
Then President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, shortly after he committed his life to Christ and while America was still in the midst of the Civil War, wrote and recited a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, for which I will read the last paragraph:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [America’s Prosperity] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
I LOVE THANKSGIVING…. My Favorite Holiday Indeed
It provides for us an opportunity to pause and reflect a little..
And I am Thankful for you all this morning.
So in the spirit of thanksgiving and praise, would you join with me now in prayer.
Now we will move into God’s Word and see what message He has for us this morning. So please turn with me to John 15:1-11, Page 109 in the Pew Bible.
Which is the Inspired, Infallible, and Living Word of God
As a transition, I will suggest to you that just as the Pilgrims and our Nation’s Presidents felt it was important to give thanks and honor our Father God in heaven for this bountiful nation, we should continue to do so likewise. Our founding fathers chose to trust in God; even our currency says “In God we Trust”. Today we are going to see in the verses that follow, what Jesus says about trusting in Him. He uses the word Abide several times. Abide, is a root word in Greek, it is pronounced “meno”. Many words are derived from this word meno, including the words Abode, Continue, Dwell, Endure, Remain and Stand. So in these verses, when Jesus says Abide, you might know what is meant.
In verse one of Chapter 15, Jesus says:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
I will remind you that at this time, Jesus and the Disciples are in what is referred to as the Upper-Room. He had washed His Disciples feet, taught them about the Lord’s Supper, and Judas had just left to betray Jesus to the police. Jesus was now preparing the remaining eleven for His death which was going to occur in mere hours from now. So Jesus is attempting to impart some of the most important teachings to His Disciples so they might remember after He is gone.
Here Jesus tells them and us in these verses, that He is the vine. And even though they would no longer enjoy His physical presence, His living energy and spirit would continue to nourish and sustain them just as the roots and branches of a grape vine produce the energy that nourishes and sustains while the fruit is being developed. Jesus wanted us to know that, even though we cannot see Him, we are still closely connected to Him. He will sustain us while we serve Him.
Now, Father God is the caretaker of the vine and its fruit. And as Christians, we should be serving Him and His mission or purpose. The fruit of this effort is the making of other Christians. It could also be serving one another and sharing God’s love. Pruning is a horticultural techniques to control growth and often means cutting branches back, sometimes removing smaller limbs entirely, remove dead or diseased wood, and by doing so it stimulates the formation of flowers and fruit buds.
Our verse here infers that 1) As the Vinegrower, God is in control. 2) God expects fruit from the vine. The Bible tells us that even others, even non-Christians should know we are Christians by our fruit. If it is bad fruit, or if there is no fruit, then we might not be part of the vine, that is Jesus. You see we can say we are Christian all day long, but if there is no evidence of that, then Woe to that person as God will not be mocked. In Matthew 7:21 it says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. You see, producing fruit is evidence of our belonging.
In the next verses here, Jesus restates this in another way: Verse 3 says:
3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
So here is that word Abide.. which in this context means reside or stay or endure. Jesus saves us and He helps us live as and prosper in God’s will and purpose. And He wants us to “bear much fruit”.
It states in Galatians 5:22 That “The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Our source of life and spiritual fruit is not in ourselves; it is God and it should be evident in what we produce outside of us. In Christ Jesus. We can live, live rightly, and serve Him effectively only if we are rightly connected to Him in a faith/love relationship. As we are a part of the Vine Jesus, we can do great things.
And when one accepts the gift Jesus offers of being saved by His blood on the cross and repents, then the Holy Spirit joins your spirit and guides us to do the work of God. Not work for your own “goodness”, but work for His goodness. I hope you understand that principle. We now do good works for His glory alone, not ours, not that we have to, but because we want to, and it makes all the difference.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
There is that word Abide again, remember Continue, Dwell, Endure, Remain and Stand; That is also how you know you are a true Christian, in that you Abide in Him forever. People ask frequently, what about people who change their mind. They once were Christian and maybe now they are Muslim or Hindu or Atheist. Such a sad situation, and it happens more than I like to admit. These verses here are the words of Jesus on the subject. If they do not “Abide” then they never were really Christ-followers in the first place. They may have went through the motions and said all the right words, but their Heart was not right. Pray for these people, they are lost, and many times they take with them many casualties.

These verses here also reflect what was said in the last chapter, last week if you recall, where Jesus said “Ask in My Name” see how it is addressed in these words, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish and it will be done for you”. To restate what was said last week, just saying the words “In Jesus Name” does not guarantee satisfaction. You need to ask “In His Will” as well. And we learn what is His will by digging into His Word and listening to His Holy Spirit. Okay? So If you Got it, say Amen! PTL
What follows in the next verses is a summary of everything before it, put a different way so maybe we could better understand. Maybe a little more direct, a little more
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[d] any longer, because the servant[e] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
I love these verses. one of my favorites is: 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Then he followed up with 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. That would be you and I, my dear friends. And the astonishing thing is, shortly thereafter, Jesus did just that. He laid down His life for us. He died for us while we were still sinners the Bible says. If that doesn’t humbly warm your heart, then perhaps nothing will.

The message today is called “Vine and the Branches” God uses a Vineyard metaphor on several different occasions in scripture. Here is another but from the Old Testament I felt fitting to share with you today:
Isaiah 5 (page 634) – The Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard
Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes.
3 And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?
5 And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry!
Just as God in this song chose the people of Judah, and had high expectations of them, God has now chosen people to be Christ followers, and He expects to see good fruit. Being a Christian only requires faith and a humble repentant heart. However, as we saw in our verses today, God desires that we also bear fruit. The Jews failed God in many ways and they are paying a price for it. As Christians, the Bible tells us that we cannot lose our salvation for not bearing fruit, but you may not be of much value to the kingdom without it, and you might miss out on what true joy has to offer by doing so. Fruit isn’t required but it is desired.
In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Including the vinedresser, because the vinedresser and I are one. That is what we refer to as Eternal Security.
But for us it starts with a decision, your decision to accept His gift, His payment for your sin on the cross. Romans 10:9 says: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Do you want to become part of the vine?
_EXTRA______
When I was a young man, I thought as many a young man did, that the world was my stage. I could do what every I wanted, with no care as to the repercussions of my actions. So sad indeed. Too many people have the same sentiment today it seems. You would think as a people we would learn and become better, but it just isn’t so. It doesn’t help that when we turn on the TV or computer we find marketers taking advantage of that youthful carefree sentiment and even fueling it to get people to buy carelessly their products. Don’t be a pawn to that agenda. God wants us to be wise and not fall prey to the whims of the world. Tell me if you heard this commercial before:
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
All seems beautiful to me.
That is a Volvo commercial taken from an old Walt Whitman Poem called ‘Song of the Open Road’. Sounds kind of exciting and cool. but speaking from experience, I can say that sentiment is dangerous and destructive. This world isn’t mine. It is God’s and the quicker we learn this the better off we are. Carefree as the world defines it leads to Hell, and God wants to spare you from that eternal torment.
Matthew 7:13 reads: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
God wants you not to have to learn through hard knocks like I did. Learn from Him and His Word and His Holy Spirit. God is Love, and He Loves you so much.
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So will you consider making a decision to trust in Jesus today?
Luke 12:8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
God gives us all free will, and He wants real heartfelt followers. People who want to Abide in Him. He already knows who will make that decision, and He already knows who will not make that decision and be cut from the vine. Which on are you? God Loves You so much, and He wants you to choose to Love Him and His Son today.

As Thanksgiving is upon us. Will you show your thanks to the father by trusting in son Jesus?
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Since this is Thanksgiving week.
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