Life-Lessons From Grape-Growers - Part 2
|John 15 (NKJV™)|
|8||"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.|
|9||"As the Father loved Me, I also 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||"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
As we grow older, we mature. In our spiritual lives we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. But there are others, as we'll see today. Last week we examined how the relationship with Christ is described (Connected to Christ, Cared for by the Father, and Consistent Over Time). Today let's consider how this relationship is demonstrated. When we're rightly connected to God we'll be:
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Some Fruitful Considerations:
Greek Terms: Χάρισμα; charisma-a gift
Figures Referenced: C.H. Spurgeon; John Stott; George Barna; Oliver Wendell Holmes; Robert Lewis Stevenson; Helmut Thielicke
Cross References: Genesis 49:22; Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 13:23; John 7:37-38; John 14:27; Romans 1:13; Romans 6:22; Romans 15:28; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 3:1; Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 13:15; 2 Peter 1:3-8; 2 Peter 3:18
Topic: Spiritual Fruit
Keywords: fruit, growth, prayer, joy
Would you turn in your Bibles this morning to John's Gospel Chapter 15. Ready? Let's get busy. Let's pray.
Father, we deliberately set aside every distraction, every thought that would compete for your attention that you want from us to give to you. We deliberately make contact with you and you've been good to us. We've announced our worship of you in the songs that we have sung. Now, we continue our worship by demonstrating our willingness to sit and listen. So often Lord, life gets so busy and rarely do we get to input truth into our lives in a meaningful way. I pray this would be a meaningful connection that we have with you today as we consider, engage our minds, our bodies in your service. And so we thank you Lord for so many gathered this morning and last night and those by radio and internet, what a humbling privilege that is. But this is your time and this is your word and we are your people. And we make that known that we depend upon you, for without you we can do nothing. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Growth is a normal part of life. We all know that and we all expect growth to happen, so that if it doesn't happen, we know something is wrong and we want to know why. And so, we love little babies. We love all that comes with that package. Their eyes are so wide. Their skin is soft. They make such endearing little noises for the most part. But, we do love all of that simply because we don't expect them to stay that way. We expect them to grow up. So we'll put up with their demanding cries. And we'll put up with their selfish impulses. And we'll put up with their messes because we know they're going to grow. Somebody once said, "A baby is a digestive apparatus with a loud noise at one end and no responsibility at the other."
But, that's okay, because once again, we don't expect them to stay that way. And if you can just think back moms and dads, some of you don't have to think back very far, some of us have to think back far, to those first sounds that your child made and how stoked you were when you heard, "Dada", "Mama" or even "Uhh". It's like "Wow!" But I guarantee you, if your 25-year-old came home and said, "Dada", you'd go, "Oh, my goodness!" You'd be appalled, because you don't expect them to stay babies, you expect them to grow up.
In John Chapter 15, a passage we have studied last week and now again this week is all about growth. Jesus uses this metaphor, this extended metaphor and the better part of the first half of Chapter 15, about a farmer growing grapes. Jesus says, He's the vine, we're the branches and fruit comes out of that. So He speaks about it, He describes the relationship of growth that we have as Christians. And if you remember, by way of review last week, there were three descriptors or three things that describe that relationship.
Number one, we're connected to Christ. Number two, we're cared for by the Father. And number three, we're consistent over time. Those things describe Christian growth in the normal Christian life. This morning, I want to give you three demonstrations of growth. They're outlined in your bulletin. A person who exhibits those first three marks will then demonstrate it by three other things. In last week's study and this week's study go hand in hand. We will be fruitful in life. We will be powerful in prayer. We will be joyful in spirit. Those are the things we'll look at as conclude the study on the vine and the branches. But, since the whole thing is about spiritual growth, let me just give you some ground work, some general observations about spiritual growth.
First of all, spiritual growth should happen. It should happen. Just as we can expect babies to grow up into adults, we should be able to expect Christians to grow up into be mature believers. 2 Peter Chapter 3 Verse 18, Peter writes, "But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ."
There was a group of tourists visiting little villages in Europe and they came to one picturesque little town. And there was an old man sitting by a fence and it was just a beautiful setting. And one person in the tourist group yelled out at the old man leaning on the fence post. He said, "Excuse me. Were any great men born here?" And the old man said, "Nope, just babies." It's actually a profound truth. There are no instant heroes, right? We all begin as babies and we grow into men and women, and some are great.
And so, growth should happen. Spiritual growth should happen. And the Christian life is far more than obstetrics. It's far more than an ultra call. People coming forward, it's pediatrics and emergency room services and geriatrics. There's a progression that goes all through life. So growth should happen.
A second general observation, spiritual growth has nothing to do with physical age. There are some people who are older people, but immature believers. And there are some people that I have met, not always, but sometimes where they're very, very young, but they exhibit a depth of maturity and wisdom and spiritual growth that's staggering. Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes, "In the church of God, there are children who are 70 years old." Yes, little children displaying all of the infirmities of declining years. I would not like to say it, but a man of 80 that he scarcely cut his wisdom teeth and yet, there are such.
On the other hand, there are fathers in the Church of God wise and stable, instructed who are comparatively young men. The Lord can cause his people to grow rapidly and far outstrip their years.
And here's the third general observation about spiritual growth, you can grow as much as you want to. All of the resources for that are given to us and you can take them or leave them. You can employ them or let them lie dormant. The control lies with us. Again, Peter writes in 2 Peter Chapter 1 that "God has given us all things that pertain to life, that is spiritual life, and godliness to the knowledge of Him who called us," all things. Then it goes, "Therefore, add to your faith virtue and the virtue knowledge, and to knowledge self-control." A list of additives were given. And then he sums it up by saying, "If these things are in you and abound, you will never be unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ."
So, those three things sort of formed the general observations about spiritual growth. Now, we'll get into the demonstration of that in this test. Last week, we looked at how the relationship was described, this week, how the relationship is demonstrated. And here's the first demonstration.
You'll have fruitfulness in life. You'll have fruitfulness in life. Now, let's go back over our verses and read a little bit further. And you'll notice a word that keeps coming over and over again, it's the word "fruit". Verse 1: "I am the true vine and my father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away and every branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit. You are already cleaned because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, and 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 bears much fruit, for without me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered. And they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you. By this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be my disciples."
"As the father loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may remain in you, that your joy may be full."
So you notice, over and over again, this whole mentioned of the idea of fruit. And if you look carefully, you'll notice there's a progression beginning in Verse 2. First of all, there is no fruit. And a branch that has no fruit is cut off. But those that bear fruit, bear fruit and then more fruit in Verse 2 and then in Verse 5, much fruit. Also in Verse 8, much fruit. Fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.
So here is Jesus using the analogy of fruit growing on a branch, a great vine. As an analogy of Christian growth in the demonstration of Christian growth. Now, there are a few obvious things we can say about fruit. First of all, fruit is noticeable. If you were to walk by a great vine and not know it was a great vine, you could tell if it's a great vine if it had a bunch of what? Grapes. Grapes don't come with little signs on them that say, "Aye, I'm by this riparia." So you could be a very common person like myself, have no advanced degree in botany or in -- you're not a viticulturist, a great grower, a professional, but you can walk by because there's something noticeable, visible that says, "I'm a great vine." And that is the grapes, the fruit.
And so it is, spiritually. You don't have to guess if a person is a believer or not. And none of this, "Well, I think they are way deep down inside." That's the whole point of the passage. You don't have to go way deep down inside of a grape bush to find out if it's a grape. Typically, you just walk by and if there are grapes on it, you go, "Grape, vine, I get it." It's something that is obvious and visible. Something is going to be produced.
Now, I'll be quick to say that not everybody's output of a fruit is the same. Jesus even said some will bear 30 fold, some 60, and some are 100 fold. And though the output of fruit from person-to-person will vary, there's got to be something at some point, at some time that gives it away that that is a believer, some kind of fruit which brings another question. What is the fruit that Jesus is speaking about that would be able to be noticed? Now, you know the answer to that. Paul writes in Galatians Chapter 5 some familiar words. He says, "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, longsuffering." That's the fruit of the spirit. And that little section of descriptive verses are a beautiful picture of the character of Jesus Christ. So you go, "Well, do I have love? Do I have peace? Do I have joy?" Yeah, a lot of these sayings mark your lives as followers of Christ. Well, that's the fruit. That's the fruit of the spirit.
But then, there are other things, did you know that the Bible speaks about as being fruit, some visible manifestation of the life of Christ in you beside that little list in Galatians. I'll give you a few. Number one, people that you win to Christ are considered fruit. If you win into Christ, you have some input in their lives to disciple them in Christ, that's fruit. Romans Chapter 1 Verse 13, Paul writes, "I often plan to come to you that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among other gentiles." He was going to go to Rome and he was going to win many of these Gentiles to Christ and help them grow.
Number two, holy living. A holy lifestyle is considered fruit. In Romans Chapter 6 Verse 22, he writes, "Having been set free from sin and having become slaves of God, you have fruit to holiness, in the end, everlasting life." So, winning people to Christ, Holy Godly living.
Here's the third, giving. Financially giving, supporting God's work. When Paul was taking a collection, this is in Romans 15 now, of all the Gentile churches and bringing that money to Jerusalem to help out with the work there. Paul wrote to them and said, "Your offering to the Christians in Jerusalem," he called it "This fruit." "This is your fruit that I'm harvesting in bringing to the saints in Jerusalem.
Here's the fourth, praise. The fruit of your own lips, worship; when you sing, when you ascribe praise to God. Romans Chapter 13 Verse 15, "Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God. That is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name." So, all of those things are visible manifestations, demonstrations that there's growth taking place.
Now, let me add something that I think is very important. A spiritual person will be known more by a spiritual fruit than by spiritual gifts. I need to say that and I need to explain it. A spiritual person is known more by spiritual fruit than by spiritual gifts. See, a lot of people think, "Well, if you exhibit certain gifts of the spirit, certain charismatic gifts and that proves you're more spiritual." No, it doesn't.
And here's how I can prove that. Paul wrote a letter to a group called the Corinthians. Remember them? And he writes in Chapter 1, "You Corinthians come behind in no charisma, no spiritual gift." They were speaking in tongues. They were doing everything. The next chapter, Paul says, "I couldn't write to you as spiritual people, but as carnal people, babies in Christ." So here's a group exhibiting spiritual gifts coming behind and no spiritual gifts, but they lacked fruit. And Paul calls them "babies, carnal, unspiritual." And the whole litany of that letter is you got this problem and that problem, and that problem and no love and no joy and no peace, et cetera.
So it is by fruit and not by gifts. John Stott put it beautifully. He said, "The Christian life should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree." For the godly decorations of a Christmas tree are only tied or whereas fruit grows on a fruit tree. So fruit is noticeable. Second, fruit is natural. A fruit tree doesn't have to work hard to produce fruit. It's just a natural unfolding of life. All you need is root system in the ground, a trunk tied to the root system, branches connected to that main stem and fruit will happen. It is the normal, natural unfolding of life. It's the product of a connection.
Have you ever seen a fruit tree sweat? Have you seen an apple tree like out there going, "Uh, poof! Apple! Whew! That was hard, man!" No. What does a branch need to do to produce fruit? Just hang in there. What do you need to do to produce fruit? Just hang in there. Abide in Christ. Abide in Christ. It's not like you say, "Okay, I got to take Galatians 5 Verse 22, the fruit is the Spirit, I'm going to work on each one." Okay, first of love. "I'm going to be all about loving people. Love, love! And then, okay, I got that one down. And now, peace, I'll work on peace. And joy, I'll be joyful. I'll smile. And I'm going to work my way down the list."
By the time you're done with that list, you're not going to have any peace. And you're not going to love anybody. It's nothing you have to work or strive for, you just need to hang in there and the natural result of being connected to Christ will be fruit. You just have to keep in close contact with them as you hang out with Him, as you seek Him. That will happen.
I found something I want to share with you this morning. I'll think you'll enjoy it. It's Associated Press, they released a study done by an agricultural school in Iowa. Listen to these results, 100 bushels of corn from one acre requires four million pounds of water, 6800 pounds of oxygen, 5200 pounds of carbon, 160 pounds of nitrogen, 125 pounds of potassium, 75 pounds of yellow sulfur and other elements. In addition to these things which no man can produce, rain and sunshine at the right time are critical. It is estimated that only 5% of the produce of a farm can be attributed to the efforts of man.
Now I would take that template and put it over spiritual growth and I would say that's exactly the same truth in spiritual growth. It's not like that brand tester really, really worked. Yeah we cooperate with Christ, yeah we abide but as we abide, we're not really doing much but hanging close to Him and the natural result is growth and fruit.
It is noticeable. It is natural. And something else about fruit that is pretty obvious, it's nourishing, right? Fruit trees don't produce fruit for themselves. You ever see an apple tree eaten an apple or a grapevine eating grapes? No, the whole point is it is produced to nourish and bless other people. There's a very profound truth there. If the life of God is flowing in you, then the life of God will flow from you, through you.
Now this is where life will get excited. In fact, there I say some of you have gotten bored in your Christian experience. And I would venture to say that's because it's all been inward up to this point. The real excitement is when you start looking outward and seeing that what you produce through your life or what Christ produces through your life can actually nourish other people.
True story, a man was driving his car from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Tampa, Florida. And the thing that he noticed more than anything else were orange trees everywhere, as far as the eye could see, thousands upon thousands, upon thousands and millions of oranges everywhere. So he stops into a restaurant, orders bacon and eggs and a glass of orange juice with his meal and the waitress says, "I'm sorry, we don't have any orange juice." And then she explains, "Our machine is broken." And he just stopped right there and he thought about that statement. He is thinking, "Here we are surrounded by millions of oranges. Thousands of gallons of orange juice are in these fields. And I know you have oranges in that kitchen because there are slices of oranges on my plate. And you're telling me you have no orange juice because the machine is broken?"
What's the problem? They'd become dependent on the machine. All I got to do is get an orange, cut it up and go -- and get orange juice. "I'm sorry we don't have any orange juice, the machine is broken." They became so dependent on the machine and here is my point, we can become so dependent on the machine. We're surrounded by Bibles. I bet you have more than one in your house. They're everywhere. We're surrounded by Bible teachers on the radio but we're so accustomed to the machine kicking out spiritual nourishment for us to consume and that's the machine.
We want to go somewhere and hear something or tune something on and we get fed and we get nourished and we consume rather than, "Okay, that's good," but with that I'm going to make my own orange juice. I am going to turn my focus on others around me and with the truth that I have learned; I'm going to give it out." See, because if we don't do that, we're just going to turn into sermon connoisseurs. We're going to go, "Yeah, I liked that sermon today. From one to 10, I'd give it a seven. It had a nice tune, easy beat. I like that." That's about all. But when we become this, we don't depend upon the machine but with the life that is in us and the production of Christ that is through us, we're nourishing other people. Life becomes exciting.
I've always loved the description that Jacob had for his son Joseph. When Jacob was on his deathbed he said of his son, "Joseph is a fruitful vine, a vine by a spring whose branches climb over the wall." Now what he was getting at is, "My son is so fruitful that he just doesn't stay confined, he blesses people outside of where he's at. He has blessed the whole world with his wisdom. His branches go over the wall."
Years ago when I lived in Huntington Beach, California, my neighbor had a lemon tree on the edge of his property. And half of the tree reached on my side. California Law is, "Anything on my side of the fence is mine." And I was exceedingly blessed with lemons constantly because his branches went over the wall. When your branches go over the wall and it's not the machine that I am dependent on but you are yourself nourishing and nurturing and discipling other people, that's when life gets exciting.
Think back just a few chapters when Jesus stood on the Feast of Tabernacles and said to the people of Jerusalem these words.
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." And a lot of you might say, "Well that's true of me. I have come to Jesus and I am satisfied." Okay, that's only step one. Then he said, "He who believes in me out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." In other words, not only will he or she be satisfied, he will be a conduit, a channel to satisfy others. That's fruit. It's noticeable. It's natural. It's nourishing.
And the demonstration of true life inside of us is that we're fruitful in life. There is the second, not only will we be fruitful in life, look at Verse 7, we'll be powerful in prayer. "If you abide in me and my words abide in you." Now, watch this promise, this is so exciting. "You will ask what you desire and it will be done for you." Wow! Then he goes on, "By this as my Father glorify that you bear much fruit, so you will be my disciples." Well, with a promise like that, it's a wonder that more Christians don't pray.
Listen to it in another version called, "The Message." "If you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon." Well, have you noticed that prayer is just one of those areas we have a hard time with? "Yeah, I know we hear it, I hate it when they talk about prayer. It's just that one little area in my life."
Well why is that? Why is it we don't pray more? Or why is that that prayer room which should be packed all the time is so sparsely populated? And why is it that we're just weak in prayer? Because truth be told, people all over the world pray, right? You know that. It's one of the most common daily activities all over the world. Jews do it, Christians do it. Muslims do it, Buddhists do it. Even Atheists do it when they're in trouble. People pray all over the world.
According to George Barna, recently he stated, "Slightly over four out of five Americans pray during a typical week." Now, I don't know exactly who they're praying to or how sincere their prayer is or why they're praying, I can't make that judgment. I mean for all I know, it could be like the little kid who said, bedtime prayers, he said, "Lord, bless mommy and daddy and my brothers and sisters and my little puppy and God please give me a bicycle. Amen." And his mommy heard him and said, "Sweetheart, you don't have to yell. God isn't deaf." He goes, "I know mommy but grandma is in the next room and she is hard at hearing."
So really was it a prayer to God? Or was it a prayer that grandma could overhear him and he could get his bicycle. I know that we all pray at church before each message we pray. And at the end of each message, we pray and I know that you probably pray before every meal. But why is it that when it comes to really getting down and praying, we don't do much of it? Here's a possible thought, let me throw this out at you. Could it be that we don't pray and many Christians don't pray because it didn't work? They just don't see results. They've tried that but there's no real power when they pray. So they just go, "Yeah, okay whatever."
I'm brining that up because this promise is incredible. You will ask whatever you desire but I want you to notice there are conditions to this. There are conditions. You meet these conditions, that promise will happen. Number one, Jesus said Verse 7, "If you abide in me," stop right there. Those who have a permanent connection and union with Christ, that's abiding in Christ. So, God never obligates himself to answer a single prayer of an unbeliever. He might. He could do it for His own purpose and His own glory, His own sovereign plan, but He's not obligated.
So, prerequisite number one, do you abide in Christ? Prerequisite number two and I'm taking you now in the whole context to the passage to Verse 4, "Abide in me and I in you." Second prerequisite is Jesus is abiding in you. Do you let him into your daily activities, your daily life? Do you let him control your life? My day, Lord, my life is about your plan, your kingdom, your purpose. It goes back to what Jesus said a couple chapters ago, "If you ask anything in my name," in other words according to the person of Jesus, something that aligns with his purposes and his person.
So if you abide in him, he abides in you and here's the third, Verse 7, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you." What are his words? Well, all the sayings that he said and I think we can broaden that up to say the word of God, the scripture. Certainly the scripture gives us direction to pray right things.
Before I was saved, this is to my shame but I'll admit it, I distinctly remember praying, asking God to help me do something that was wrong, that was evil. I knew it was. It was criminal. And I asked him to help me do it and help me not get caught when I did it. Now talk about a lame prayer, do you think God is going to answer that? Actually he said, "No" he did answer. Because what I was asking for was certainly not in line, it was totally out of line with His word. You know how Jesus taught us to pray, "Father in Heaven, Holy is your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Well, that helps me understand the purpose of prayer then isn't to get my will done in heaven but His will done on earth.
So, I abide in Christ. He abides in me. His words abide in me and look at what Jesus said, "You will ask what you desire." You know why that is? Because what you desire will be what He desires, your desire will line up with His wishes and His will. You won't be desiring things like, "Lord, help me do this evil thing and not get caught." And Jesus said, "You will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you."
So, demonstration number one, fruitful in life. Demonstration number two, powerful in prayer. And here is the third and we close with this, joyful in spirit. Look at Verse 11. Oh, let's read all the way down, Verse 9, "As the Father loved me, so I have love you abide in my love. 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. These things I have spoken to you." Now, what things? Well, he said a lot of things to him in Chapters 13, 14 and now in 15. "These things I have spoken to you, my disciples, my followers that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full to the max, turned up to ten you might say."
Think back to last chapter. If you recall in the last chapter, part of these things Jesus' promise to them was peace, remember that? He said, "Peace I'll leave with you. My peace, I give to you. My own personal peace, I'm passing unto you." So he promises them peace. Now, he promises them joy. And just think about that, those are the two very things this world craves.
Every single person I have ever met would say, "I want to find inner peace and I want to find true joy." So, put it all together. Put all together when we said last week and this week so far. You're connected to Christ, cared for by God, consistent overtime. It produces a person who is fruitful in life, powerful in prayer, joyful in spirit. In other words, the very things that people, every person craves, Jesus says, "I want you to have peace, joy." The very things everyone wants, I'm going to give to you. The question is, are you willing to go God's way to get them? Are you going to say, "Well, I don't know about this Christian stuff. I think there is a lot of other ways to be peaceful and joyful." Okay, go try it, empty well. Try something else, empty will, try something else, empty well, Jesus says, "I'll give it to you." You'll have joy and it will be my joy. Have you ever thought about that? Jesus is going to the cross. He knows He is going to die in a few hours and He speaks about having joy? What kind of joy could you have knowing your life is going to end soon? Well, it says in Hebrews, "For the joy that was set before him, He endured the cross."
I think the joy was seeing you and me and millions of others like us throughout history who would believe in Him and be heaven bound because of his act of sacrifice and it brought Him such joy. He said, "I can do this, it's worth it."
And He promises you that joy. Boy, as I read Christian history, I would say that there have been periods at least of Christian history where Christianity is not been associated with much joy. I mean there was a time when Christians were taught to sort of look very serious and clergy, all wore black. Everybody was sort of dower and sanctuary tone and don't you dare smile and especially don't laugh.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "I would have entered the ministry if the clergymen I know didn't look and act so much like undertakers." Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote in a journal as if surprised, "I went to church today and I'm not depressed."
Now who wrote those rules? Whoever wrote those rules, throw that rulebook out. Jesus says, "You can have my joy and your joy can be to the max, to the full, real authentic Christian joy." It's time we overturn that kind of nonsense that we've just mentioned and demonstrate what it is to be joyful, touched by God, full of life, believers.
A name, probably most of you have never heard is Helmut Thielicke. He is a German theologian, now dead, wrote this, "Should we not see that lines of laughter about the eyes are just as much marks of faith as lines of care and seriousness? Is it only earnestness that is to be baptized? Is laughter pagan? A church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from the sanctuary and leaves it to the cabaret, the nightclub and the toastmasters." How is your joyfulness?
So put all of that together and we've said last week and this week and I was thinking about that because I had now two weeks to go through these verses that I wish I had two more, but I want to keep the pace up.
I was thinking, "You know what, if we could really get a handle of application on this truce from last week and this week, it would revolutionize our church." I honestly believe that, connected to Christ, cared for by the Father consistent over time so that we're fruitful in life, powerful in prayer, joyful in spirit, it would revolutionize every individual who applies themselves to this, in turn revolutionizing our church and are witness in this community.
Let's pray for that. Father in Heaven, we know that these are truths given by Jesus to his followers, who probably at that point weren't really thinking along these lines. They were just thinking about, "Uh-oh, Jesus is about to leave and what am I going to do?" But the truth is, you had all of this in store for them.
Lord, I do pray and I know Lord it is according to your will that I am praying this and according to your person and according to your word. Lord, that we as your people who are connected to Jesus Christ by the new birth and by our ongoing connectedness by faith in you. We who are cared for by the Father in this vineyard being pruned in our daily lives, as we continue to abide and remain and are consistent over time then we're going to be this kind of people who are fruitful in our lives, producing that which is noticeable and natural and nourishing. We're going to be powerful in our prayers. We're going to see real results. We're not going to have our prayers bounce off the ceiling and dribble on the floor somewhere. It's going to reach heaven and the result of all of that abiding isn't some kind of fake plastic fruit or plastic joy but authentic joy which is part of the fruit of the Spirit.Thank you Lord for letting us see this and connecting the dots and now we pray Lord that this truce from the last two weeks of our study in John 15 would flow through our lives, from the vine into these branches that we would be verdant and be like even the man in Psalm 1, planted by rivers of water that brings forth fruit in its season. We ask that in Jesus name, Amen.