Sermon 11/01/20: Pray While Abiding In The Vine (Kingdomtide VIII)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/01/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN “I’d Rather Have Jesus/Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO3rCAbdxRI

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

HYMN Guy Penrod – ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6gRAT3sNtQ

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Abide With Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu7MffwBwfY

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Pray While Abiding In The Vine
Text: John 15:1-11
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. 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. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I 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 be in you, and that your joy may be full.

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HYMN The Oak Ridge Boys, Gaither Vocal Band – Loving God, Loving Each Other [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxEegcg1DC0

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

We begin our worship each Sunday with this prayer. You may not have thought about it, but what you are asking for in this prayer is for the Lord Jesus Christ to abide with you.

Lord Jesus, today I am not the person I want to be. That’s true, isn’t it? Or the person I can be with your help. That’s also true. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. To abide with me. And because you abide with me, Lord guide me to all that’s good; cleanse me from all that not. That prayer that leads to Christ abiding with you. It’s a powerful prayer.

But this whole concept of abiding – I wanted to look at it with you today. Because there is a promise of answered prayer that comes as a result of abiding. So let’s consider what abiding means.

Inside your body, every living cell of your body is surrounded by blood that flows through your circulatory system. Every single cell. Because everything the cell needs is delivered to it. Everything that it requires to be alive is delivered to it through the bloodstream.
Consequently, Leviticus says that, “Life is in the blood.” And because every living cell is connected to the bloodstream, it has what it needs to be alive. When there is a blood clot in the heart muscle everything downstream from that clot starts to die. It’s being deprived of what it needs to be alive. Not only that if the heart stops, the blood stops flowing throughout the entire body. The blood delivers everything you need to live, to each cell in the body. And so I want to say to you, “To abide in Jesus Christ is like being surrounded by this life-giving blood.” It all comes to you from him.

John 15:1. The first thing about abiding is pruning. “I am the true vine,” Jesus says, “And my father is the vine dresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, He takes away.” And here is the clear point, “Every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

What does it mean to be pruned? A baby is born with arteries that are completely clear. But as life goes on those arteries can sometimes be clogged up just like a garage can get cluttered. One of the jobs of the gardener is to keep the vines from being cluttered with growth that has no purpose. One of the jobs of the Gardener is to declutter our spiritual life. And so he prunes.

But keep in mind if you know anything about pruning – some of you probably know a whole lot more than I do! – you don’t prune the good stuff. You prune what’s not needed.

One of my pet peeves, as you know, you’ve heard me say this before, is the preachers that will tell you that pruning hurts; friends, I don’t know if it does or not, but I want to tell you this: if there’s anything that needs to be pruned in my life that would help my diabetes to go away … if I woke up tomorrow morning 75 pounds lighter because God pruned it right off my body, I’d consider myself a very fortunate person. If it hurts, it would hurt only for a minute.

But God is able to cleanse us from what is not good for us, and in this verse he calls it pruning. Now, if you love equipment somebody is going to say what does God use to do that pruning? What sort of tool or pruning shears is it that God uses? The very next verse says it very plainly: you are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. When you read the words of the Bible, especially the words of Jesus in the Bible, if you are willing to take this verse literally, the words of Jesus in the Bible … “the words I have spoken to you” … have an action of cleaning from your life anything that should not be there.

How does God prune our lives? We can have many theories. A lot of times consequences teach us not to do things. But what the word of God says is the presence of the words of Jesus in your life will clean up your life. So what’s the first thing about abiding? It’s not that you clean up your life. You’ve probably found it’s hard to clean the things up that are hard to stop doing, but if you allow the words of Jesus Christ to flow into your life as a part of your daily prayer, they will do their work in your heart and mind and soul.

So what’s the first part of a powerful prayer? To let Jesus speak first by us listening to his words, and then his words will do their work in our lives. So a powerful prayer has a time in it for you to listen to the words of Jesus. A time for pruning for things to be cleaned up that should not be there.

“Abide in me,” Jesus goes on to say, “And I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches …” You see, there’s the roots, there’s the vine, there’s the branches, and hanging on the branches, fruit is growing. But you have to abide in Me, Jesus says, you have to be connected to me.

Why? Because just as everything required for your life comes through the bloodstream to you, everything that’s required for the life of a branch on the vine comes up from the roots, through the vine (Jesus), to you. That’s your source for all that you need. You are the branches. “He who abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit for apart from Me, you can do nothing.” The fruit that is growing on the branches is the result of what flows to you, through the vine, through Jesus Christ Himself and your relationship with Him. It flows up through his presence in your life, day by day.

And when that connection is there, we are able to ask prayers that Jesus says will be answered. “If a person does not abide in Me,” Jesus says, “He is cast forth as a branch and withers.” If that connection is not present, sometimes it cannot be restored. There’s nothing left to do with the branch that is disconnected and withering except gather it, throw it into the fire, and let it burn.

But Jesus says– take a look at verse seven. This is the promise of answered prayer. Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,” that’s the pruning part we just talked about, If those two things are happening, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.”
It’s a pretty strong promise that Jesus gives there. Now – it’s conditional. You need to let the Word of God abide in you. And you need to let the connection between you and Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit to be there and to be active. But to the degree that those are strong and active, your prayers will be answered.

Now, somebody might say, “Well, Lord, what if I want a Lamborghini?” The $180,000 sports car, Which by the way, I’ve never wanted because if you’re my size, you can’t fit in one! “What if I pray prayers, Lord Jesus, that are bad prayers, that are bad for me, that are bad for other people?”

Well see, here’s the point, friends: if Jesus abides in you, and if you are cleansed from what shouldn’t be there by the words of Jesus abiding in you, more and more, you will be praying for God’s will to be done, not asking for foolish things that either don’t matter or that harm you or harm other people. If you take time to abide in Jesus Christ and let His words abide in you, it will change what you’re praying for. And more and more you’ll be praying for God’s will to be done.

First, we prune then we abide, then we ask. And if we get the first two right, the asking goes so much better.

We talked about this last week about the relationship between a husband and wife. They become partners. And the idea of abiding is for us to be partners with Jesus Christ. And so in the same way that abiding will become healthier and stronger if you turn towards each other. And that’s our time of prayer each day. We turn toward Jesus Christ and not away. And at different times during the day, we turn toward Jesus Christ. “Lord, what should I do? Lord, I don’t quite understand that. Lord, this hurts my feelings. Lord, this upsets me.” If you turn towards Jesus and understand he’s always turned towards you, it will deepen your relationship into a state of abiding.

And not only that, you let your partner influence you. How much better our lives would be if we allowed ourselves to be more influenced by Jesus Christ? How much better our lives would be if other forces from the news people, the Facebook people, the fake news people, you name it, if they had less influence and Jesus had more influence! You and I would be in a better place and we would live in a better world. Let your Savior influence you and you will abide more deeply in Jesus Christ.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about how Jesus always began his day with prayer. The purpose of that first thing in the morning prayer is to strengthen His abiding in His heavenly father. And when we begin our day with pruning and prayer, it strengthens how we abide in our Savior. Here’s the rest of the promise. “By this, My father is glorified that you bear much fruit.” In other words, that’s God’s will be done. “And so prove to be my disciples as a father has loved me so have I loved you, abide in my love.” Be surrounded by Christ’s love, absorb Christ’s love just as the cells in your body absorb everything they need through the bloodstream.

Abide in his love. Verse 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.” So we begin by pruning and then we strengthen the connection that is abiding and then Jesus takes it around full circle to say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The main one of which is to love one another. But that brings us right back around to the pruning, where God’s word helps us keep God’s commandments, and so abide in his love.

The purpose of all this abiding: these things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. Aren’t those grapes in the picture wonderful? Aren’t they beautiful? Next time I’m in the store, I’m buying some grapes. They just look wonderful, don’t they? But the reason they look wonderful is because they were attached to the branches, and the branches are attached to the vine. And everything that they need comes up through the root. Friends, you need to take care of your roots. You need to take care of your roots and let them grow down deep into God. All around us, we’re seeing the leaves turn, and they’re beautiful too, aren’t they? They’re there to be a lesson to us every fall to teach us about the beauty of letting go.
Letting go is something that is a part of our life in these Coronavirus days. There’s a lot of things we have to let go of in this time. But they’ll be back. There will be leaves in a few more months. There are things that we need to let go, even if it’s for a while, to make room for what Jesus has for us. And then the next beautiful crop will grow on the new leaves. Please remember you can spray water on living plants, but that water only does its work when it gets into the plant.

Sadly, so many people have their faith only on the surface. And if you spray water on the plants and it doesn’t get into the roots, and the roots don’t deliver it to the vine, and the vine doesn’t deliver it to the branches, it can’t do its work unless it gets inside. So life rises from the roots and goes into the fruits. And for your life, it will come up not from the outside world but up through your connection to Jesus Christ on the inside because he is the root of all good things that grow in our hearts.
Take care of your roots. And to take care of that relationship of abiding in Christ will want to take some time, whether it’s in the morning or throughout the day or in the evening, to bring God’s word into that time and let it work on us. That’s pruning. To take time to listen to Jesus Christ, that’s abiding.

I don’t know how it is for you, but the average amount of television watching that Americans do will astonish you. But if you even gave the equivalent of a half-hour situation comedy to Jesus each day in prayer, if you spent a half hour’s time on prayer, you would be astonished at how that time you spend with your savior will deepen and strengthen the living faith within your hearts. I won’t tell you how to do it, but we all can make time to receive up from the inside, from Christ, what we need to live spiritually. And then, then we can ask, and then God can show us how to receive and keep his commandments.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we all know that we should pray. We all know that every relationship is improved by daily communication. We all know that to turn our back on a child or spouse or friend means that that relationship disconnects and begins to wither. And so, Lord, help us not to be so busy that we turn our backs on you. Help us, Lord, not to be so distracted … whether it’s by Facebook or computer games or television or Netflix or whatever it might be that keeps us busy. Lord, help us not to be too busy to spend time with you each day. And allow what helps us to be alive to flow up into our hearts through who you are, through our roots, deep into God. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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