Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You that in the great difficulties of life our souls can be still. What a wonderful truth that is to sing that, Lord, Your love for us is perfect and the work of Christ ensures that we have no reason to fear, that we can be still and trust Your purposes and trust Your goodness in all things, Lord, in all things. So thank You for that promise in Christ. We pray tonight that just as we sang Your Word, Lord, we would hear Your Word and, Lord, it would be mightily applied to us. Father, we pray also You would bless our tithe and offering, Lord, that we would give joyfully, gladly, and sacrificially to Your work at Providence. Lord, trusting. You are using it all for Your glory. And we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, good evening, church.

We’re going to be at John 15. If you want to turn there with me in your Bibles, John 15. I know we have a few chapters left in Revelation, and to finish up, and we’ll do that. But sometimes I just like playing Russian roulette with the Bible and seeing what the Lord has to say. So that’s what I’m doing right now.

John 15.

Starting in verse 1, the Lord Jesus says, I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love, and if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father’s love. Abide in my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. It’s John 15, 1 through 11, and it’s family worship, so it’s okay, by the way. Mom and Dad, it’s a little noisy. It doesn’t bother me.

So my dad, I guess, was trying to invent ways to help Dawson get us to the east, and so for Dawson’s birthday this past month, he bought him this thing called a Swurfer, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a swing and a surfboard in one, and so I get out front. We have that huge oak tree, and I’m hanging this giant surfboard with ropes, and it’s got to go way up, so I get out the ladder, and I get really high up there, but to hang it, there’s too many other branches stopping it from swinging, so I get, I get up there with a chainsaw, and I’m lopping off branch. I’m lopping off this branch, lopping off that branch, but there were some

that they looked like they didn’t, they were branches, but they were completely dead.

I could just grab them, and without any effort, I could just pull them out of the tree, and they were rotten, and there was more than one more than one than one that was rotten. Now, from the ground, you couldn’t maybe have seen that. You just see branches, you know, a ton up there in this huge oak tree, but when you get up on it, you see there’s actually no vital connection, no vital connection.

Jesus is saying, and I’m sure you noticed how often he repeated himself over and over again that he is the true vine. And this text pushes us to consider, am I vitally connected to the true vine? Am I truly, vitally connected to the vine?

And I want you to see what Jesus says in verse 1. He says, I am the true vine. The true vine. So what Jesus doesn’t do here in a lot of passages, give us any sort of wiggle room to consider, there are other valid sources to have a true spirituality. There’s more than one way to really have a soul that is at peace, a soul that is made peace with eternity and all that’s coming. It doesn’t have to be just Jesus, and that doesn’t work. Jesus doesn’t give us wiggle room, and in fact, Jesus makes it impossible. He says, I am the. And this is one of seven I am statements, that Jesus has made in John. Jesus says, I am the door. I am the bread. I am the light. I am the good shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the son of man. I am the great I am that precedes Abraham. So Jesus is really clear, if you want to pay attention to what he says, that he alone gives vital, actual, spiritual life. And then, Jesus says, the Father is intimately, skillfully, without error, cultivating this vine. And he’s doing that by tending to all the branches on this vine. The word means, just like a farmer, someone who does husbandry, you know, taking care of the land, or taking care of a certain, you know, plant, whatever it may be, on a farm. The Father is tending to the welfare of the health of the plant. And as is the habit of a good farmer, a good planter, you don’t just throw out some seeds and come back a few months later and say, I wonder what I got. I’m sure it’s going to be good. You tend to it with a very watchful eye.

Surely we think the Father is meticulous in his oversight of the body of his son Jesus. Surely the Father could account for every single branch that claims to be a part of this vital, life-giving, Christ.

So, the great love and the great attention that the Father has for the Son ought to leave you and I, honestly, in fear to say, I’m joined to Christ, yet we think it a small thing and not really mean it, or neglect it. It’s no trifle thing. It’s no trifle thing.

In Isaiah, the Lord says, in that day, a pleasant vineyard, sing of it. I, the Lord, am its keeper. Every moment I water it, lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day. So, God’s talking about Israel, how much he loves Israel, but how much more does the Father care for the spiritual body of Christ? So, what does the Father cultivate then? So, if the Father is a good, good husbandman, if he’s a great farmer, if he’s a good vine dresser, what is it that the Father cultivates and wants to see in the body of Christ? So, two things. Spiritual health and spiritual fruit. It’s pretty simple, really. Spiritual health and spiritual fruit. Verse 2, he says, every branch of me that does not bear fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes that it may bear more fruit.

So, an apple tree gives you an apple. A blueberry bush gives you blueberries, right? And Jesus says elsewhere, how do you know what a tree is? You know it by its fruit. And the fruit doesn’t just tell you what kind of tree it is. The quality of the fruit tells you whether or not it’s a healthy plant, a healthy bush, a healthy plant, a healthy tree. So, if you and I are in Christ, if you and I are a part of the life-giving Son of God and our faith joined to Him, having that life, you and I need to be able to practically work out what that means. I think it’s really important that we practically work out what that means. So, last week, and this is kind of a part two to last week, last week we talked about big picture. We’re a holy nation. We’re a royal priesthood. We’re a royal priesthood, right? And the end of all that was, do you find a desire in yourself to be a part of that? Like, do you have a love for it? That’s great, but it’s really easy, but also terrible, I think, when pastors want to live in general terms. Like, God’s grace, y’all. Just abide in God’s grace. Like, what is that? You know, or live faithful. You know? Well, what does it mean? Like, how does that practically work out?

What does it mean? Well, I want to go through the New Testament here and say, what is the fruit that you should see in your own life? What’s the fruit I should see in my life? What fruit should we see as a church? And if we do, again, a simple word search of the New Testament, we can find it clearly and plainly. In Luke chapter 3, Jesus says this, bear fruits in keeping with repentance. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. So what’s the chief and most important fruit you should have in your life and I should have in my life? It’s repentance. If you don’t have that fruit, there’s no other fruit. Repentance is a formal declaration. I surrendered, Jesus. I’m giving up me. I’m turning from my life and I’m turning to you. I’m turning to your righteousness, your holiness. And note who Jesus said that to. Who did Jesus say that to? Jesus said that to the Pharisees. Ones who couldn’t bear this idea that in themselves, they were right as they were. I don’t need anybody to tell me what’s wrong with me because there ain’t nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to repent of anything.

But the Gospel says what? You and I are inadequate. The Gospel demands we see our righteousness as bad fruit.

Gladly joined to Jesus.

Because He’s the only source.

But here’s the thing about repentance and I want to stress this. Repentance, I think we always want to relegate it to the conversion experience, don’t we? I repented and put my faith in Jesus. Great. That’s really good. But true repentance is not something you do back then. It’s something you do on an ongoing basis. I’m repenting.

The longer I’m connected to Jesus, the source of true righteousness, what do you and I discover the more of? How much we need to repent. So it’s not true if you’re 30, 40, 50, 60 years old and you’ve been in the faith that you have less to repent of. You see that much more how unlike Jesus you are and you need to repent that much more as you go on until you die. You and I need to be a repenting people. And I fear so often in the church we don’t think about really the spiritual knee-jerk reaction we should constantly have of living a repentant life.

Paul says in Romans 6.22, Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end is the death. And eternal life. Let’s be honest. That sounds a lot better than it feels.

A lot better than it feels. It takes a great deal of conscious attention to self. It takes a greater amount of humility to live tender to the Spirit all the time and be open to your faults being pointed out. Who likes their sin struggles pointed out? Not all the time. Nobody. Nobody. And then what’s more, the fruit of repentance often can only come when you let the Holy Spirit rebuke you through a brother or sister in Christ as is biblical. So allowing myself to be scrutinized sometimes by a fellow sinner is even more difficult. And my pride rather wants me to say who are you? You sin too. Rather than saying thank you for pointing that out in me. I have so far to go. And let’s be very honest. It’s unheard of. Folks just don’t live like that together in the church. Or rarely.

But if I’m living in a state of constant repentance and I’m open and I’m humble, I’m listening for how I need to grow up in Jesus, the next fruit that comes out is the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit.

And Paul lists these out in Galatians 5. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such a thing, there is no law. There’s no law.

So you might have some idea of where you need to grow. If someone said, hey, where do you think you’re good on the scale? You say, well, I’m gentle. I’m not patient, but I’m this. Or I’m that. Well, you’re not nearly as self-aware as you think you are. Right? You’re not nearly as aware as you think you are of where you need to grow. And if you dare sit down with someone you trust, whether it’s your spouse or a friend, and say, hey, look at these fruits of the Spirit, and I want you to be as honest as you can be. Where am I no good here?

Watch out. They might be honest. But Paul says something in 1 Thessalonians 4

that’s caught my attention, and I love it, because in 1 Thessalonians 4, he says, excel still more.

He approves of what they’re doing and how they’re walking in Christ, but he ends that by saying, excel still more. And I think that’s something, man, to put over your Christian life and over your sanctification. I’m not a finished product. Right? I need to excel still more. Excel still more in my likeness to Christ. Keep looking at Jesus. Keep growing. Keep having humility. Keep pressing into other people. Let people press into me. Sit and just listen in my time in the Word about where I need to grow, what I need to change. That’s how you bear fruit.

Another fruit that the New Testament talks about is the fruit of good works. The fruit of good works. Paul says, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work. Paul says elsewhere, we are prepared beforehand for good works. So we’ve talked about this, before when we talked about it in Matthew’s Gospel a few years ago, do-gooding really doesn’t have anything to do so much with the kingdom. The idea and concept of just going out into the world and taking care of poor people or digging a well for some people that need water in Africa, that’s very praised and celebrated today. So it’s not that those are bad things, but what is Jesus calling us to uniquely do with our good works? It’s not just to give someone physical water. It’s in the hopes that we, we can give someone spiritual water. So did Jesus really care about someone’s problems when He fed them or when He healed them? Yes, He absolutely did. But what was Jesus’ great aim? It was to bear spiritual fruit so that they could hear and see the Gospel. So that’s two-pronged for us. The first way that God expects, He doesn’t ask, the first way that God expects you to bear fruit in every good work is by serving and loving the local church. By serving and loving the local church. Paul says in Galatians, do good, comma, especially to the household of faith. Anytime that Jesus talks about loving your brother in the Gospel of Matthew, that verse has been so misused kind of as a banner for any given liberal organization that just wants to put Jesus’ stamp on it. Like, see, this says to take care of the least of these. That always refers to, in the context of Matthew’s Gospel, brothers and sisters in Christ. So, I have to ask myself, am I bearing fruit in that I’m loving, serving, ministering to the needs of those inside the church? Somebody needs a casserole, set up that casserole chain. Somebody needs help painting something, let’s do it. Somebody needs a shoulder to cry on, let’s do it. The ways that you and I should sacrificially give ourselves fully to one another in the context of local church, there are plenty, but they’re necessary. What does it do? The fruit shows what? I’m connected to the vine.

Are you extending yourself to serve, to love your brothers and sisters in Christ? And then, yes, certainly, serve outside the walls of the church, with the church, bear fruit in reaching others for the cause of Christ. So, I think quickly, those are all the fruits that we could talk about in the New Testament addresses. It’s the fruit of repentance that comes through like a refined, sanctified person, which bleeds out into my relationships in the church, that we’re growing, we’re serving, and that shines like a light in the world.

Here’s a key word, though, for how that happens.

Verse 2. Every branch that does bear fruit, what does the Father do? He prunes. He prunes. Now, prune here can mean to cut back, but it also means to clean. Why do you prune something? Why do you prune something? I looked up a couple of botany websites because I… I didn’t know. You prune to promote greater health. You remove unhealthy, sick offshoots. You are really challenging when you cut a healthy branch a little bit. You’re challenging it to produce more and greater fruit. You prune so that a canopy doesn’t grow too thick and it can’t get adequate sunlight. You’re making it healthier and better, not just for the present, but for the future. And, here’s the thing about all plants. And the parallels between human beings and plants are so, so very, you know, they’re all over the Bible. I think God gives that to us as an easy lesson. Pruning has to happen for something to be healthy. Pruning has to happen for something to be healthy. If it’s not happening, you’re not healthy or you’re not alive. The Father works to make us spiritually vibrant, even if it causes us discomfort and pain. And it does so that we would be vibrant in Christ. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 7. The writer says, It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

If you’re left without discipline in which all have participated, then you’re illegitimate children. You’re not sons. Besides this, we’ve had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. For the moment, all discipline, seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. The Father prunes us that we would be vibrant and healthy. You say it another way. Jesus says, Hey, if you want to follow me, what do you got to do? You got to carry your instrument of death daily. You got to carry your cross. You got to carry your cross daily. You and I, if we’re truly in Christ, we have to make progress in the way. It can’t be comfortable. Because when you get comfortable, what happens when you get really comfortable and you don’t want to move? You get lethargic. You get really fat. You know? And you just sit there. And you get unhealthy.

We can’t get comfortable in the Christian life. God’s calling us to run. He’s calling us to grow. And so, sometimes it does hurt.

How do we stay in that state? So now I want to talk about how do you and I remain in this state where we’re healthy and vibrant, bearing all that fruit, and the Father’s pruning us? How do I stay there? Two keys Jesus gives here. And I want to point this out.

Jesus says in verse 3, Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Already you are clean Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Think about what Jesus says in John 17, 17. He prays to the Father, Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth. So it seems like Jesus has gone from this kind of metaphor, this agrarian metaphor, vines, branches, and then He’s leaving it in this verse to talk about being cleaned by the word. But He’s not at all. The pruning He’s talking about is its own kind of cleaning. Again, kathero, the Greek word here, it means to make clean. It means to clear.

What does Paul say the sword of the Spirit is?

It’s the Word of God, right? Okay. How is the Father pruning you and I, taking out what’s bad, cleaning us? What is the tool? What are His loppers? If you will. It’s the Word. It’s the Word. It’s exposure to the Word. The Word cuts. It reveals what’s bad. It shines light. It grows. It sanctifies. It corrects. It does all those things. It’s God’s Word that prunes you.

But now, here’s the second word that’s so important in the beginning of verse 4. How does that happen? How do I get that? How do I get that pruning in the Word? Verse 4, Jesus says, abide. Abide. We don’t use that word in normal language, right? You don’t tell someone you’re abiding with them, perhaps. Let’s just say, what’s the simplest word? What is that? It’s just stay. It just means to stay.

You see what Jesus is saying? You want to bear the right fruit for God. It requires that you’re pruned. You’re pruned. You’re pruned by the Word. So just stay. Just stay in Jesus. Don’t leave. Just stay. It’s that simple. Stay in the Word. Which is to say, stay with Jesus. Because Jesus is the Word. Jesus is spiritual health. Jesus is the only source of spiritual fruit. I don’t know if you’ve ever, I’ve done some landscaping before. And the reason, the risk of planting something or grafting something, the percentage possibility of it dying or not working out, it’s really high the first time. It’s always a tricky thing to do it. Imagine pulling a branch off, putting the branch back on. Pulling a branch off, putting the branch back on. It wouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen. It would be completely chronically sick or deformed, or it just would be dead. It wouldn’t work. So I want to submit to you then, if we’re spiritually unhealthy, okay, hear me say it, if we’re spiritually unhealthy, and we’re fruitless, the cause and the cure are made very plain here. We aren’t staying. We’re not remaining in the ministry of the Word.

Now, let me differentiate though. I want to differentiate though for us, the difference, the difference between word ministry, okay, and what may popularly be referred to as, in modern evangelicalism, as Bible study. Bible study.

The end of Bible study, friends, is not to be more knowledgeable about the Bible.

Someone who’s sharp, and a lot of people do, who just are interested in the Bible, or they’re trying to disprove it, could get really knowledgeable about what the Bible has to say, and it’s legible content. That’s not the end of the Bible for us. The end of the Bible is to know Christ. It’s to know the spiritual reality of Jesus, who is the Word of God. But Bible study culture, oftentimes it becomes a law unto us, doesn’t it? Did you read the Bible this morning? You did? Good. How many minutes? Oh, no, that doesn’t count. Right? Did I do that thing? Did you go to church? Good. Did you listen to the sermon? Good. Did you go to the group where they studied the Bible together? You did? Good.

Tell me something you learned. No good. Good.

Consider, though, how many folks, you know, you know, I know, who perhaps you’ve known them for years. They’ve been to every Bible study. You know, they single-handedly kept life away in business. I mean, they’ve been to all the Bible studies, and they’ve sat through all the sermons, and they are some of the most unspiritual, unpleasant people to be around.

Stop viewing the Bible, as mandatory religious activity. Rather, cultivate word ministry in your life. Completely different. It’s completely different. So, do study the Bible in the morning. Not to say you did it, but to be open to what the Spirit wants to show you, so that you can grow, and show yourself grace when you don’t do it. Do listen to sermons, and sing worship songs, not because you’re supposed to, and there are other people around you, but because you long for God to give you a word for how you are to continue growing, and to be fortified in the body of Christ.

Do make friends who engender word ministry in your life. You know that if y’all start out talking about outer space, or whatever, cars, somehow we’re getting back around to Jesus, and that person, that person sharpens me. They cultivate word ministry in my life, whether we’re physically doing a Bible study or not. And do get rid of friends that don’t cultivate word ministry in your life.

Side note, fellas, you and I have a special high obligation to cultivate word ministry in our own homes. So we talk about that here a lot, because it’s important. You should be sitting down with your family daily, reading a verse, doing something, praying together. All these things are wonderful, powerful, big picture, heavenly kingdom stuff that we’re called to do in our own homes every day.

So all of that to say this then, the fervency with which we abide and stay, right? That’s all it means. The fervency with which we stay, remain, determines our spiritual health and our spiritual fruit. So I want to encourage you, slow down. Slow down. You can’t be a part of cultivating word ministry, of listening and learning, being open to correction when you are living life at a breakneck speed, and you’re not making room to just be with the Lord in prayer. You’re not making room for the kind of people you should be engaging with on a regular basis to help get you there. Slow down. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask me for help. Ask someone for help and say, I just don’t know what that looks like. Ask for help.

Don’t have a I’ve been around the block attitude.

And I’ve been there, even as a pastor, I think, well, I’ve read the thing. I’ve got a degree in the thing. What else could I learn? That’s there’s a wicked from hell attitude that will shut down Christian growth. I’m just the Lord has shown me. You don’t know nothing like you don’t know anything, man. Learn, submit to Jesus, grow.

So, yes, it’s only spiritual. Only the spirit can do this work in you. But it’s hyper practical. It’s hyper practical. You need to be attentive to it. You need to be attentive to it. You need to be in position for it.

Darcy takes piano lessons from Miss Jackie. And Miss Jackie is British. And Miss Jackie lives on the island of Malta, near side of the world. And so we always say it’s the 30 classiest minutes of our week because, you know, she says all these British phrases and sounds fancy. And, you know, she’ll say something to Darcy like, did you enjoy your holiday? And I’ll like, that means vacation. Did you have a nice time on your vacation? You know, she just doesn’t all this British lingo. And so it’s great. And she’s this wonderful, wonderful lady. And so we love we love Miss Jackie piping into our house, you know. But this past Wednesday, I had to talk to Miss Jackie on the on the phone because Darcy usually is very prepared and she seems to do really well all the time. But she said she. Not doing so good today. She’s not practice. She’s not practicing. She’s not staying. Right, so she gave me permission to use this term illustration. So we had to have a long talk. Talk about Darcy. You’ve got to be in that every day. And that’s true. When you learn instrument, you got to run through your scales every day. You’ve got to read the music. You got to keep the muscle memory going with your fingers. You’ve got to stay. Got to stay.

That’s what the father called. cultivates. Now let’s flip it and say what the father removes and destroys. What does the father remove and destroy? Verse two, the first part, he says, every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away. And then in verse six, Jesus says, if anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. So take away. And what Jesus is saying here is very severe, is very severe. Jesus isn’t talking about the pruning of a branch. Jesus is talking about the complete removal of a branch. Remember verse five here, Jesus says, you can do nothing. You can do nothing without me. Now, remember this though, the fruit that we’ve been talking about, the fruit that we’ve been talking about is the fruit of the fire. talking about is not meritorious work to satisfy this angry deity. That’s not the fruit. The fruit is simply an obvious outpouring. It’s an obvious indicator. It’s an obvious consequence of having freely received nutrients from a source. In other words, obedience. That’s what it is. The obedience shows I’m vitally connected to the source. Right before chapter 15, Jesus, and of course, Jesus is towards the end of life. He’s going to the cross. But Jesus says in chapter 14, verse 15, if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments. If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments. And he goes on to say the helper will be with you forever, even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it doesn’t know him. But you know him for he dwells with you and he says he will be in you.

There’s a connection here between what’s true on the inside and then what’s visible on the outside. You and I cannot bear these fruits of righteousness, of Christ-like character, of service, unless we have the inward presence of the Holy Spirit. Because it’s the spirit that applies Christ. It’s the spirit that takes the spirit of Christ. It’s the spirit that takes the spirit of Christ. It’s the spirit that keeps us from the center. It’s the spirit that keeps us from the trunk, if you will, and keeps it flowing to us so that we will certainly bear fruits. And Christ says if, though, in this, if. And I remember when I was younger, I used to think that it felt like a childish kind of blackmail. Like, if you love me, you’ll obey my commandments. If, you know, or is it like elitism? Like, there’s just a few few people that can do that if man if you really love Jesus you’ll be able to pull it off I hope you can probably not but I hope you can that’s not that’s not what Jesus is saying he’s just speaking a plain truth and he’s saying it for your benefit and my benefit he’s saying this he’s proving this if there’s a nothingness on the inside guess what there’s going to be a nothingness on the outside what the father does not do is take what’s healthy and remove it the father simply takes what is there what’s broken what’s bad what’s lifeless and he removes that it’s not punishment for what you can’t do can you attain to the measure and stature of Christ can’t you bear all these fruits in the spirit can’t you preach the gospel all all on your own and save a whole country, can’t you? No, you cannot. This is not punishment for what you can’t do. It’s punishment for what you won’t do. Stay.

Jesus says this, not that we may despair of a coming destruction. Jesus is saying all this so we can escape it.

Nor is Jesus trying to throw you in a frantic panic. Start doing everybody. Much better. He’s just saying there’s free grace here. There’s free grace on offer. The Father has given the Son, and the Son has given Himself, and it’s free to you if you would simply receive it. Just receive Christ. It’s the promise of eternal life, and it’s the gift of God to you. God’s not asking you for anything.

God’s not asking you for anything.

He freely offers. He offers you His Son, Jesus, to be salvation and sustenance. How wonderful is His gospel. It does not ask you to attain to anything, only to surrender and be given life.

Jesus’ blood is a precious thing in the eyes of the Father. And the Father won’t let us mock it with a false love, with a false obedience, with a false love, with a false obedience. False abiding.

That’s why Paul can say this in Romans chapter 11, verse 22.

Note then the kindness and the severity of God.

Severity towards those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you too, will be cut off.

Neglect never pays. Neglect never pays. I’ve learned that the hard way. And if you’re a homeowner, unless you’re like one of those on top of it people all the time, you know what I’m talking about. You know, I remember the corners of my house for the last few years, the gutters were leaking into the corner of that fascia. I could tell it looked kind of rotten, but, you know, I just ignored it forever. But eventually, you can put your finger through it and water’s pouring through the thing itself. And I waited too long. I should have painted it. I should have fixed it. I shouldn’t have let it ruin the wood. I’ve told you about my pop-up camper that I just let sit in the rain for the last few years. And what did I have? I had to rip the subflooring out and I had to completely rebuild the thing because I let it rot. Right? But, people do the same thing with their physical health. Jesus urges us to question our own sincerity

about the kind of work we’re doing. Are we working towards the flesh and thinking that’s enough? Or have we surrendered to Christ so that we can labor in and produce fruit in the flesh? In the flesh. The spirit.

So, I just want this text to, I want this text to move you to deep contemplation. I want this text to move you to deep prayerfulness

about what is distracting you from staying. What is pulling at your soul? What is so unimportant that is just wracking your life and keeping you from this kind of abiding? Jesus says, escape the wrath to come. Paul says, test yourself to see if you’re truly in the faith. Bear fruit. Bear fruit.

And it brings us to this final verse and it’s just a wonderful kind of just resolution to everything Jesus is saying. In verse 11, Jesus says, these things I’ve spoken to you. I’ve spoken these things to you because I’m in charge and you’re going to do it. I’ve spoken these things to you because I had to. I’ve spoken these things to you. Jesus says, I’ve spoken these things to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. Jesus is telling us to deeply intertwine self, deeply intertwine soul with Him because in doing so, even though it’s difficult, we are made to be all that God is making us to be in Jesus and He is preparing us for glory and He’s giving us joy which is Heaven’s happiness. It’s nothing the world can take away. It’s nothing you can lose. Jesus is giving you just in your heart, mind, soul, and body life and goodness and pleasure in Him forevermore. Jesus says, stay in Me. And if you stay in Me, what happens? You will have joy, the same joy, He doesn’t even say joy. He says, my joy. So the joy that Jesus has in knowing the Father, Jesus is saying, I’ll put that same joy in you. And when you have that joy, Jesus says, you will be, you’ll be full. You’ll be full.

Friends, in this way, the Spirit conforms us to Christ’s image

as we, fellowship together in the Son. We stay, we abide, we’re pruned, and we have joy. Let’s pray.

Let’s pray. Father, we pray that You would, that You would lift our eyes and lift our minds to the greatness of Your Son. Lord, that all the things that pull us away, all the things that we’re so sure give us pleasure or we think are worthy of our joy, of our distraction.

Lord, Your Word prunes us. It shows us the goodness and the simplicity of just knowing Jesus.

So Lord, we just pray for that tonight. We pray for the simplicity

found in the joy of just knowing Jesus.

Thank You that there’s grace, that we have failed, a thousand times to keep it simple. We have made it about a million other things. We have valued and treasured so many other things. And You always show us grace and You always call us back to the true vine.

So Lord, just turn our hearts to You and thank You for, thank You for grace. Thank You for life in Jesus. Thank You for life in Jesus. Thank You for life in Jesus.

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: John 15:1-12