If you are like most of the world today in 2020; you have probably not had the best year. It has been a struggle for everyone. Whether or not the corona-virus, the riots, the travel restrictions, the forest fires, the hurricanes, unemployment…SHOULD I KEEP GOING…has directly affected you; I’m guessing something has not been easy this year. I want to you start by saying…God was not caught off guard and He is always with you.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 “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.John 15:1-5
Jesus said that if we remain or abide in Him; He will remain or abide in us. This can give us so much hope that no matter what the world looks like we can be like the apostle Paul in our perspective.
…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.Philippians 4:11b
When Christ is remaining in us we are able to be content in whatever the circumstances. 2020 can’t steal our joy, our peace, our hope, our love; because our joy, peace, hope, love are not found in this world. They are found in Christ! We abide in Him and His contentment abides in us.
At New Beginnings Christian Church we have had a year focus that God gave me in September 2019. The year theme is from Ezra 10:4
“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”Ezra 10:4
Our desire is to rise up over and out of the sin and fear that steals our contentment and power in Christ. Then we looked at taking courage to step out and not fear. This is the last part of our year theme.
The amazing thing is God knew that 2020 would be a very difficult year for many. I only knew God wanted us to stand on Christ, because we need a solid foundation. To have courage over the darkness in side ourselves and the world. Now we come to the hardest part of this verse. Do it.
The background of Ezra 10:4 is a coming back to God and reestablishing True worship. The people had sinned and took wives who were pulling them away from God. This verse is the heart of repentance asking Ezra to help them repent and return to the true God. They came to realize that those wives had caused them to stop abiding in God. They separated themselves from the true vine.
In a year when there are so many things that are attempting to sever the connection to the true vine. We can allow those things to unify with out minds and hearts just like these men unified with feign women.
If we allow those things to unite with us they will corrupt our thinking and steal our hope, peace, love, and freedom we have in Christ.
I believe that is why the only way to Do what needs to be done is through remaining or abiding in Christ.
5 “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.John 15:5
In order to do what God has for us we must put away the things that we have allowed to remain with us that are not Christ. How do we do this?
Looking at the four Gospels we find that Jesus gave specific instruction at the close of each book. It is clear that these three instructions fit together to help us become Christians who “bear much fruit.”
1. Follow Christ
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”John 21:15-19
At the very end of the Gospel of John we find this conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus is posing the question…”Do you love me?” This is a very important question for all of us. Do we really love Jesus fully and truly? If we do there are two main things Jesus tells Peter
- Feed my sheep
- Follow Me
The first thing we need to do is to care for each other. Bearing fruit is about producing something in yourself and in the people around you. We need to help others and feed the sheep. This means to help each other be accountable to put away those things that are not healthy. We must feed each other with the love and goodness of God. This is not just for pastors, but for all believers who want to follow Christ. They all must be willing to care for one another. Earlier in John Jesus gives this instruction in a clearer manner.
I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:34-35
Following Christ is focused around the idea of loving one another and taking up our cross daily to do what He did. Just like the Israelites needed help to get rid of the problems that were holding them back from true worship we need to daily choose to lay aside ourselves in order to love someone else “Just as I have loved you.”
The beginning of doing it starts with laying down our selfishness and taking up love and accountability caring more for others than ourselves.
2. Be Clothed in the Holy Spirit
46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”Luke 24:46-29
Luke ends with Jesus telling the Disciples to stay until they are clothed with Power. Because Luke is the writer of the Gospel of Luke and Acts it ends with this cliff hanger. The instruction Jesus leaves is not to do anything. But this is an important instruction in how we bear fruit. After we have rid ourselves of selfishness and began loving others as Christ has loved us we have the ability to become clothed with power through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us greater ability to bear fruit in all that we do. The Holy Spirit will renew our minds. It is not just for us but the Holy Spirit clothing us in Power is so we are empowered to “feed my sheep” as Jesus instructed Peter.
He gives us direction and purpose in life and power to speak the truth in love.
In order to truly follow Christ and bear fruit we must remain in Christ through the unification of the Holy Spirit. In order to remain in Christ we must be unified and clothed with the Holy Spirit.
3. Go, Preach and Make Disciples
Then Matthew and Mark end with Jesus instructing in this area of GO and DO!
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.Mark 16:15
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20
In these two Gospels end with the instruction to GO and DO. In Ezra, the people wanted to begin worshiping God in Spirit and Truth. This meant they needed to Rise up out of the problems they were living in; take courage in love out of fear; and begin doing something different.
Remaining in Christ as our source of life to bear fruit we must come to the DO IT. Jesus instructed us to follow Him, live in the Holy Spirit’s power, but we can’t stop there. We then need to begin DOING IT!
Go and do something through the power of the Holy Spirit.
4 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. 5 “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.John 15:4-5
Remain in Christ through these three teachings of Christ so that we can bear fruit. If we are not bearing fruit we need to reconnect to Christ. Bearing fruit is not about having an essay life, but it is around doing what Christ has called us to do.
Feed my sheep
Rely on the Holy Spirit Power
GO and Make
Each of these are fruit that we bear when we are true worshipers, because we remain in Christ not relying on those other things that we have become comfortable with them uniting to us. In order to be true worshipers we must do it.
Get rid of the things that pull us away from the True Vine and be united to Christ through the Holy Spirit and we will bear much fruit.
Where is your fruit?