We are continuing in our message series on the I Am’s of Jesus Christ. I Am, Jesus said, I Am. There’s no excuse for not knowing who Jesus is because He said this is who I Am. It didn’t say in the bible I was. It doesn’t say I will be. It says I Am. I Am the same yesterday, today and forever. I Am. I Am.
And today we are on I Am the vine. I Am the true vine, Jesus said. “I Am the true vine and My Father is the vine dresser.” I’m in John 15, verse 1 starting right there in the beginning, if you have your bibles. “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 bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.”
So let’s just say you’re a gardener and you go out and you’re pruning your trees. In fact I have a lemon tree that I planted because dad told the world I make great lemon meringue pies so I went out and bought a lemon tree. I figured I’m going to need a lot of lemon pies, right? So I planted this lemon tree in the backyard and it hasn’t born that much fruit, probably because I haven’t been pruning it and I probably should prune it. And let’s see what God says. The actual word prune in Greek is catharoe, which means to clean, to cleanse, to purge. That’s what that means. And so those branches, you and I, if we are branches, Jesus is the true vine and we are the branches. Jesus wants us.. if we’re bearing fruit, He wants us to bear even more fruit. And so if you feel like He’s pruning you, if you feel like He’s cleansing you, that’s a compliment. Take that and say okay that must mean that God is bearing fruit and He wants me to bear even more fruit. And so I will accept the pruning that God is doing in my life. I will accept the cleansing that God is doing in my life. So that’s a good thing.
Let’s continue. He says, “I will prune the ones that are bearing fruit so they will bare more fruit.” Verse four says, Jesus said, “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me.” Verse five continues, “I,” Jesus said, “I Am the vine. You are the branches. You abide in Me, I in you. You will bear much fruit. But without Me, you can do nothing.”
So this morning I went out to my poor little lemon tree. I was actually quite surprised with the amount of fruit. I was like well, you go, girl. This tree’s finally starting to produce some fruit after about three years. And so it was a little hard for me to take that pruning scissors because I needed to bring a visual aide and I’m like I don’t want to cut a branch off this poor tree that I’ve been nursing along for all these years. But here it is. I did it. I made the sacrifice. I cut this branch off from my lemon tree. And I want to ask you how much more fruit is this branch right here going to bear? Will it ever bear any more fruit? No, because I have severed it from the tree. It is no longer connected. It no longer has the sap flowing from the roots through the trunk, into this branch. This branch is worthless. This branch can sit here. I can actually take it and stick it in a pot of soil, right? And it could say to itself bear lemons, bear lemons. I’m going to push lemons out of this branch and it will never, ever, ever happen. This branch is good for nothing but to be tossed away. That’s it. I’ll take it home today, put it in the trash, it’s good for nothing.
And that may sound harsh but actually its good news because Jesus goes on to say all you have to do is abide. See we’re not the tree, we’re not the vine we’re just the branch. Jesus is the vine. Jesus is like the tree. Jesus is the vine. He determines what kind of fruit we’ll bear. He determines if we’re going to be grapes. He determines if we’re going to be lemons. He determines whatever kind of fruit it is we’re going to bear, it’s just Him. He determines if we’re going to grow this way or grow that way. All we have to do is be a branch. Isn’t that a big relief? I kind of read that and went, whew, hey great; I just have to be a branch. I don’t have to worry about all that other stuff. I just have to stay connected. I have to stay grafted. I have to make sure that I don’t become severed from Jesus. That’s all I have to do, period, to bear fruit.
And boy this whole section in John 15 on this whole passage of He is the true vine; the two words you’ll see the most, if you did a word count in there: abide and love. Abide and love. Jesus said abide in Me and I in you. Abide in My word. Let My word abide in you. Abide in My love. Let My love abide in you. Think about that word abide. Think of an abode. We’re building homes, physical abodes for people who need them in Mexico but if our heart is Christ’s abode, if He dwells there, He’s a permanent resident. We’re not saying to Him, oh Lord, just come in and visit for a few minutes and then good-bye; it’s nice having You here for a few minutes. No, we say Lord, come in and live. I’m going to abide in you. My heart will be your abode. You will dwell within Me as a permanent resident. And then we bear fruit. We bear a plentiful harvest. It’s that simple.
So how do we abide? What does that look like, Sheila? What does that look like to abide? Well I’m just going to kind of take you through a day in how I’ve learned how to abide in Jesus. And it’s not that hard, it really isn’t. It begins with a bible verse and taking God’s word and meditating on it and having a verse for the day.
And now it doesn’t have to be a new verse every day. I take my scripture and I’m going to get very, very practical with you today because you probably need this. Some of you just absolutely don’t know how to do this, and that’s okay. And that’s my role is to teach you. But just to take a bible verse and put it on a little sticky note, you all have those little sticky notes at home, you write it out; whatever that verse is and you write it down, be faithful in prayer, joyful in affliction. Whatever it is, you take that and you write that out and you stick it where are you going to look at it the most? Maybe it’s your fridge? Maybe it’s the mirror in your bathroom. Maybe it’s at your computer at work or at home. You know, but just take a verse and put it somewhere so it’s right in front of you. You take it, you see it. It becomes a part of you and you see it in the morning, you re-read it as you’re getting ready in the morning.
And then as I’m driving along, I’m driving in my car and I’m stuck in traffic and I’m thinking about that bible verse some more, and I’m praying and I’m saying ‘Lord, use me today. What are You up to today? I want to be a part of it.’ That’s a prayer dad taught me to pray. What are You up to today? I want to be a part of it, Lord.
To have a plentiful harvest is to abide in Jesus and for His love to abide in us. And so then maybe I get to work and I find out, oh my goodness, a colleague had a major stroke last night. They don’t know if she’s going to live. Well I can pick up the phone and I can call her husband. I can even go down to the hospital at lunch time and say, ‘can I have a prayer with you?’ Boy, people always when they’re hurting; I don’t care if they’re non believers, they always want somebody to say to them ‘I will pray for you.’ They always want to hear those words: ‘I will pray for you.’ And so that’s a way to do that.
And then maybe I’m driving home from work and I stop and I run into the grocery store because I don’t have enough food for dinner that night and I’ve got my cart and I’m running out to the car late, of course. And someone comes up to me and says ‘ma’am, can you spare a dime? Can you spare a dollar? Well I don’t give money to people because I don’t know what they’ll do with it, but it’s tempting to just kind of dismiss them. It’s tempting to just say well you know we serve a hot meal on Mondays. You can come back. It’s tempting to do that. It is tempting. It’s tempting to not even make eye contact because I’m in a hurry, but to stop and say wait; because Jesus is going to abide in me, right? That’s our goal to have Jesus and the love of God abiding in us. Wait a minute. I’m going to stop, look in my grocery bags. I don’t need this, this box of protein bars or whatever; I don’t need this, and hand it to them, here: God loves you. God loves you. People love to hear that, God loves you. God loves you and so do I. I don’t have to say the ‘and so do I’ if I’m not comfortable with that. I can just say God loves you, and by handing them the box, they hear the ‘and so do I’ in a really tangible way.
And so that’s just a typical day of abiding, being a branch, just resting in the Lord, just letting His love flow through me and just bearing fruit. That’s all it is. That’s all it is. That’s all it takes. We can be plentiful harvesters and produce wonderful, beautiful fruit. In fact that’s what Jesus says. He encourages you to do that. It says in John 8:31, “If you abide in my word. If you abide in my word, if you bear this fruit of love then you truly are My disciples.” You truly are my friends.
So what is fruit? What is fruit? How do we know that we’ve born fruit? It’s simply this: we spread the following message through our words and our works: God loves you and so do I! It’s that simple. That this message that dad has proclaimed, God loves you and so do I, this message of the gospel of Jesus Christ through a positive frame that that not die, but that continue for generation to generation to generation. That’s number one.
And as dad has taught us to do, to live, to preach and to practice that message God loves you and so do I. But how does that look, Sheila, you say. I want to see what that actually looks like. Well that looks like by continuing and expanding the Hour of Power because that’s where the message gets to the most people the quickest.
It’s also by continuing and expanding our wonderful ministry of New Hope where people are desperate. A crisis conference call. They can call in and have a live counselor, a live beating heat at the end and a listening ear saying ‘God loves you and so do I.’
It’s continuing and expanding our humanitarian efforts here on our campus. Our Monday meals. Our Monday meals and we all know that Hilda, she prepares the meals with so much love and she has a wonderful team around her that help her through feeding people, giving them bread, bread of life.
It’s by continuing and expanding our Hope Center Orange County. That’s what God has said He wants to see happen right here on our campus, Hope Center. We’ve already begun it on a small scale and that is through our Monday Meals but not just giving them a meal, giving them a hair cut, giving them a clean suit to put on, giving them a place where they can take a shower, giving people the skills to get a job. People need not just a meal, they need a job, they need work and we can help them do that. We can practice interviewing for a job. We can show them how to fill out a resume. We can help them go online and find a job. And there are people who need jobs and I’m not talking about just homeless today, you all know that. One of the main prayer requests I get is Sheila, I need a job. And so we can do that at Hope Center Orange County right here at Crystal Cathedral.
Expand and continue our humanitarian efforts around the globe through our international ministry platform. What a wonderful platform. We have offices around the world. This week I’m going to our office in Canada and it’s a wonderful way for us to use that platform, use that platform that dad built with blood, sweat and tears, that international platform. All things are possible through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. That’s what we will teach them.
So we need you to pray for us, we need you to pray for us. We need you to help us like Hilda does, like many of you are doing, we need you to help us. The harvest is plentiful; the amount of people out there who are hurting is plentiful. The laborers are few. So who will go? Who will go? Who will sow those seeds of faith that Jim Penner had you take last week? Who will go, who will sow? Who will go, who will sow? Who is willing to stand up and say, here am I Lord! Send me! Here am I Lord! Send me! Here am I Lord! Send me!
Lord Jesus Christ, the harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few. Thank You, thank You for what You have done through my father and this beautiful Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Thank You for the call that You put on his heart. Thank You for entrusting me to move it forward to the future generations, oh Lord. We are here, Lord, we are here. Send us. Send us. Amen.