Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

05/06/12 Sermon

John 15: 1-8

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 
 

There was a native from a remote mountain village who had the opportunity to visit a large modern city for the first time.

After his visit, he couldn’t bring much home with him, because he had very little money. But since he was amazed at the electric lights which he saw everywhere, he decided to buy a sack full of electric lights bulbs and sockets with switches so he could turn them off and on.
 

Arriving home he hung the light bulbs in front of his home and on his and his neighbor's trees.

Everyone watched him with curiosity and asked him what he was doing, but he just smiled and said, "Just wait until dark--you'll see."
 

When night came he turned on the switches you can guess what happened………….Nothing

No one had told him about electricity. He did not know the light bulbs had to have a power source in order to light up.

Now our scripture today is talking about the significance of being connected to a source of power.

Jesus is using the metaphor of a vine and branches to teach his disciples that by remaining connected to him, the true vine, we receive power to light up our life with vitality and fruitfulness.
 

Now this metaphor of vines and vineyards was very relevant to those listening in Jesus’ day.

Vineyards were very important to people not only in producing grapes to consume but even more importantly they had an economic value to the whole economy; grapes were a cash crop much in the way that tobacco was in the early United States.
 
So as Jesus uses this metaphor of speaking of the vineyard and how he is the true vine where one receives life, he is speaking to them physically, emotionally, spiritually and economically.
 
He is making the point that he is the true source of power in our everyday, daily lives.
 
And it’s a power that he invites us to tap into, to draw life from as a branch draws from the trunk of the tree.
 
Have any of you started cleaning up your yards yet? If so you probably have been picking up dried up, dead branches off the ground; branches that have been separated from the life of the tree itself.
 
You know there are many people who find themselves like those dead branches----people who lack passion, energy and vitality in their life. For them, life is just a tedious, boring, energy sapping routine.
 
Life consists of going to work or going to school everyday, driving in your car, shopping, preparing and eating dinner, watching TV, go to bed and then waking up to do the same thing over again.
 
Perhaps that’s how you feel right now…

Of course, none of us want to live that kind of life. All of us here today seek to be filled with power and passion and vitality.

So we come to church each week, go to Sunday school or a Bible Study, serve on a committee, sing in the choir…..and yet this too can just seem to be one more thing that saps our energy; one more thing to check off on our busy “to do” list.
 
SO what’s gone wrong? What are we missing?
 

We’re trying to tap into the true vine of Jesus and we want this vitality and passion and power in our daily lives but it’s not happening.

So where are we going wrong?
 
Well the biggest problem for many of us, is that we’ve gotten the wrong instructions about where we’re to tap into Jesus’ power
 
Having the wrong instructions can be a problem….
 

A man ordered a tree house over the internet for his child. When the box arrived, it had printed on the top the words that have become every parent's nightmare: "Some assembly required."

The man began to assemble the tree house….then realized (to his dismay) that the instructions weren’t for a tree house. Instead they were the parts for a sail boat!!
 
The next day, he sent an angry e-mail message to the company complaining about the mix-up. Back came the reply:
 

"We are truly sorry for the error and the mix-up and the inconvenience. However, it might make you feel better to know that somewhere today there is a man out on a lake trying to sail in your tree house."

So many Christians today can find themselves tired and lifeless because they are not following the right instructions to tap into the power of Jesus.
 
Instead of being connected to him, they’ve gotten connected into religion or organizational church rules.

We’ve defined our faith as being a member of an organization where we serve the organization by teaching a class, serving on a committee, singing in the choir, coming to church and making my donations.

But being a part of a “church organization” does not give us power and vitality and life.
 
If you are looking for these things in themselves to give you excitement and energy and passion you probably already know that’s not working out for you.
 

But what Jesus tells us in this scripture is that to find true life, true power means we are to abide or remain in him.

We’re to keep a connected life with him in an intimate personal way because he is the source. He is the power that gives us joy and happiness and passion in our everyday lives.
 
So how do we go about abiding or remaining connected to the Power of Jesus?
 
Well briefly this morning I want to offer 3 ways we can get connected and stay connected to the Power Source of Jesus.
 
And if we seek to live these ways out daily, we will find ourselves living the kind of faithful life that will be fulfilling and joyful.  
 
Now to make it easy to remember these ways, I’m going to call them the 3 P’s of Power.
 
The first P is the Power of Prayer.
 

Now when I talk about prayer, I’m not talking about simply the act itself of prayer where we might just list off all our wants and needs.

When I’m speaking of prayer I’m talking more about experiencing the presence of Jesus where we are in a conversation, of both speaking and listening, along with surrendering and offering ourselves to God.
 
This kind of prayer is taking a scripture verse and not just trying to understand it cerebrally; but rather read it and begin to talk with Jesus about how it relates to us personally.

Emil Brunner the great Swiss Protestant theologian wrote that:

 “Knowing the entire Bible by heart, and understanding it so well that you can explain every single verse, is of little use to you, unless the… Word penetrates your inmost being, as the rain penetrates the tiniest roots of a tree in order to… bring forth leaves and fruit.”
 
It’s that kind of intimacy that we are called to tap into each day. For us to experience a life of fruitfulness and joyful meaning we are called to a prayerful life where we are allowing Jesus to penetrate and infuse into us his power.

So ask yourself today, Am I living a life of personal conversation with Jesus? Am I seeking to hear where he is speaking to me and calling me?

Jesus wants us to experience a life that is filled with life--- and that can only happen when we are intimately connected to his power thru personal prayer.
 
Now the 2nd P, the 2nd way we receive the Power of Jesus is thru the Power of Pruning.
 

Now I’m not much of a gardener but I have grown a few tomato plants in my time and one of the things I’ve learned about growing fruitful tomato plants is that you have to do some pruning.

As some of you know there are these little side shoots that grow between the vine and the branch----they’re called suckers.
 
They’re called suckers because they grow into new stems that then suck the life away from the branch. Suckers compete for nutrients from the main vine.

Now from a metaphorical perspective we too can have many things that are competing and taking away from our receiving the power from the true vine of Jesus.

It may be our desire for materialistic things, it may be putting our jobs first, it may be other kinds of temptations where we are pledging our allegiance too over Jesus.
 

It may be some lifestyle choices or a relationship or friendships with non-believers.

Ask yourself today what are the things that are competing with me in growing in my relationship with Christ?
 

-What keeps me from praying? What keeps me from serving?  What is sucking away the life of vitality that a committed life with Jesus would bring?

Whatever it is, Jesus calls us to prune it, by naming it and removing it, so that we may be filled with his power that leads us to grow in our relationship with him and experience a fruitful life that produces fruit………………………………  
 
Now along with the Prayer and Pruning there is a 3rd P that keeps us connected to the true power source of Jesus.
 
And this is the Power of Purpose.
 
As Christians, our life has purpose. And that purpose is to produce fruit.
 

And we do this by connecting with other Christians in a community of people called a church.

But just coming or belonging to a church is not what it means to be fruitful.
 

There are many churches where people come together but they have little or no power or life in them.

They are simply light bulbs hanging from a tree.
 

But Jesus calls his church to produce fruit and we do this by having a purpose.

 

Now what is our purpose as a church?

 

Well first of all we are committed to coming together to learn and grow in our relationship with Jesus. Now we do that in worship and we do it in Bible study and small groups.

As a group we hold each other accountable to come together and learn and grow because as we do we begin to produce fruit within ourselves as we are changed to be kind, patient, gentle, loving, good, humble. The power of Jesus’ identity is infused within us and changes us.
 
The second purpose we have as a church is to go about producing fruit outside the church walls by serving those in need.
 
When we are committed as a group to growing in a personal relationship with Christ and we are committed to work together to serve those in need outside our doors we become an energized, unified body that has true joy and meaning in life.
 
We find our true joy when we come together as a church to become conduits for Christ’s power to flow thru us. We were created for this purpose.

Our manufacturer’s instructions are to grow in our relationship with God and in our relationship with those in need.

When a church gets these 2 pieces of its purpose--- there is an unbelievable power that is unleashed within the church and in the community it resides. We become Christ in the world to others…..
 
So the questions to us today is whether we are united in that purpose?

Are we serious as individuals and as a church to grow in our relationship with Christ instead of just going thru the religious motions?

Are we willing to let go of the suckers that are draining away our commitment to grow and to work together to serve our community?
 
As individuals who are part of the community of Damariscotta Baptist Church, we have a purpose and that purpose is to produce fruit.
 
Jesus is the power source for that purpose----are we tapping into it----or are we just hanging light bulbs from the trees?.............................
 
In closing today we are celebrating Communion:
 

And as we receive the elements of the bread and the cup, let it be a moment for you to be connected to the power of Christ.

 

Let it be a moment for you to make a commitment to abide in him daily thru personal prayer.

Let it be a moment for you to name those suckers that are drawing you away from an intimate life with Christ.

And let it be a moment for you where you commit to the purpose of this church to come together to grow in your relationship with Christ while being his instruments to serve this community.
 
Today you may find yourself lacking passion and joy and energy. You may be stuck in a bunch of lifeless routines; even religious ones.
 

But today Jesus is reminding us that there is a life available to us that is filled with joy, and passion and purpose.

All we need to do is “get connected”. Connected to the True Power Source, the true Vine, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…….
 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.