TEXT:  John 15:1-8
THEME: As Christ's people, it is implicit that we are to be about the business of
"fruit-bearing".  Jesus gives Fountain of Life Luth. Ch. us the power to bear fruit which glorifies Him.
TITLE: "How Does Your Garden Grow?"           

Series B
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
May 4, 1994

             

INTRODUCTION

I. IN MISUNDERSTANDING, WE HAVE BELIEVED THAT OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH
WAS ONLY FOR OUR BENEFIT.

A. Our selfishness even infects our relationship with God.

    1. We worship for what we can get out of it.
        a. "Don't ask me to do anything."
        b. "Don't ask me to give anything."
        c. "Don't ask me to commit my time."

    2. Many send their children to Sunday School so that they don't need to be
involved in their own children's Christian up-bringing.
        a. "Sure, I'll drop the kids at Sunday School. They need some religion."
        b. "I had to go through it when I was a kid, so they should too."
        c. "Don't ask me to come to a Bible study...that's for children."
        d. The example at home often cancels the actions that are taken.

B. We've developed a way of life that says that God is obligated to be here for us, but we are not at all obligated to be here for God.

    1. God, (or His designated representative), is obligated to be present during
times of life's special events.
        a. God and the Church should be available for baptisms, confirmations
weddings, and funerals, but should remain discretely out of life at
all other times.
        b. God and the Church should be available for us when a crisis strikes,
but should not really be a part of day-to-day living.

    2. God, (or His designated representative), is obligated to notice us when we
do good things, but He should be conspicuously absent when we are not
so good.
        a. ILLUS: Preacher in a town downstream from a logging mill...
        b. It seems we want a God who uses only selective thinking when
considering our lives.
            1.) We'd prefer it if God stayed out of our business lives.
            2.) We'd be pleased if God would refrain from meddling in our
sex lives...in our "living together"...in our sexual preferences..

C. Our God is totally unwilling to be summoned only when it's convenient for us.

    1. He has claimed all of our lives, not just the parts we are willing to spare Him.

    2. We, who have concluded that God is our lackey, should know what happens
those who bear no fruit. (v. 6)

II. GOD, IN HIS MERCY, HAS CLAIMED US THROUGH THE SHED BLOOD OF HIS SON AND
INSISTS THAT WE ARE HERE TO SERVE HIM.

A. God did not save us because we deserved it.

    1. He did not look at our record of service and make an evaluation when He
chose to die for us.
        a. Purely out of divine mercy and grace, did God lay down His life for
selfish sinners like us.
        b. All we could do was push His offer of eternal life away and turn away from God...He would not arm-twist us into His Kingdom.

    2. He has united us to Him through the gift of faith He gives to us in Christ.
        a. God literally makes us a part of His family through adoption as
sons and heirs of the Father.
        b. He seeks to make us like Him through the power of His sanctifying Holy Spirit....That requires fruit-bearing.

B. Please do not misunderstand...We do not serve God because we "have to", but out love for Him.

    1. Love unexpressed is not love at all.
        a. ILLUS: Husbands and wives demonstrate their love for one another in a hundred different ways...but if not seen, will kill love.
        b. Love is always a sign of a relationship...lack of love is a sign of no relationship.

III. IN SERVING JESUS, WE GIVE GLORY TO GOD.

A. We glorify God because our service is His grace working through us.

    1. Ephesians 2:8-10

    2. The more service we give, the more we experience the grace of God in our
lives and the more we receive the gift of a good conscience.
        a. Failure to serve brings a knowledge of guilt and shame.
        b. Service brings joy and a greater blessing from the grace of God.

B. Serving Christ gives meaning to our service.

    1. Consider the emptiness of service apart from Christ:
        a. The atheist must attempt to be satisfied with attempting to make the world a better place...an obvious illusion.
        b. The unbeliever must know that when he dies, all that he has done will most certainly die with him.

    2. Service Christ means that we know why we serve and whom we serve.
        a. The fact that our service bring glory to God is sufficient reason for engaging in that service.
        b. The fact that our service will, indeed, reach beyond the grave for that which God accomplishes will never pass away.

C. Ours is the joy of knowing our fruit-bearing is pleasing in the eyes of our Heavenly Father and a joy to our lives as well.

    1. The highest good I seek is His good pleasure.

    2. By being the person He wants me to be, I too experience greater joy in life and blessings in the life to come because of His graciousness.



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