Three Simple Rules
STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD
Three simple rules:
Given by John Wesley to the early Methodists
Still incredibly relevant to us today
Two weeks ago, I talked about Do No Harm, and I chose to focus on the harm we do with our words
But really, there are a lot of ways we do harm, and I could have spent a whole series on this one topic:
- I could have talked about doing no harm to YOURSELF, to your body, by what you eat and drink
- I could have talked about doing no harm to the ENVIRONMENT — recycle, conserve water, drive less, use CFL light bulbs
- I could have talked about doing no harm with what you buy:
- Halloween is coming up and a lot of us are about to hand out chocolate that may have been harvested by 12 year old slaves!
- What would happen if we all agreed to buy Fair Trade products and nothing else?
- I could have talked about how we do harm to our children by not making family a priority
There are lots of ways we do harm, so THINK BEFORE YOU ACT.
Last week I talked about Do Good – also a very broad topic:
- I could have talked about visiting the sick
- Helping the poor
- Caring for your neighbor
- Giving money to worthy causes
I could have talked about doing good to your co-workers
- Or spending time with your family
- Or getting involved in the community
There are a lot of ways to do good – again, I chose to focus on one we don’t often think about, and that’s the good we can do when we encourage, and affirm, and speak life into other people.
Now today we come to STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD
- Which means to maintain a close personal relationship with God
And you know what? This is really the most important one!
- ‘cause if you don’t do this one, you won’t have the power to do the other two!
So if you have your Bible, turn it to John 15, and let’s read vv. 1-11:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
–John 15:1-11, New Revised Standard Version
[Show power strip] How many of you have one of these somewhere in your house?
- It’s a power strip. You plug this into the wall, and then you plug a lot of things into it
I have one of these in my living room, and it’s got a lot of things plugged into it
- My TV
- My cable box
- My DVD player
- A big tall floor lamp
–The power strip takes power from the source, and it gives power to all those devices
A lot of things depend on that power strip
And like that power strip, a lot of things depend on me:
-My elderly parents
-The classes I teach
-The committees I work with
-The people I counsel with and minister to all through the week
They depend on me for leadership, guidance, companionship, etc.
Like this power strip, a lot of things depend on me–
But UNLIKE the power strip, far too often, I do THIS:
[Plug the power strip into itself]
Instead of plugging into a source that gives me the power to help people,
- I just plug into myself
- I try to do it all in my own power
I get up in the morning, and I say, “Oh man, I got so much to do – there’s no time to pray”
- I rush from one commitment to the next thinking, “I gotta do this,
- I gotta fix this,
- I gotta make this happen.”
- I gotta fix this,
I go through the day like this [hold up power strip]
On some days, I am what Craig Groeschel calls a Christian Atheist:
- I believe in God
- But I live as if God doesn’t exist
SO WHAT ABOUT YOU?
- Are you a Christian Atheist?
- Are you willing in this worship service to confess that, and allow God to change that?
I used the image of a power strip to illustrate how we’ve got to connect to a power source beyond ourselves
Jesus used a different image
An image that everybody in his day would have understood right off
Many of you are familiar this image because you plant, and you garden, and you work with the soil
- Some of us have to stop and think about this image
- ‘cause it’s been years since we got our hands dirty!
But try right now to think about a grapevine
- The roots of the vine go down and draw in water and nutrients from the soil
- And then the vine grows up and spreads along the trellis
- And then branches sprout from the vine
- And if the branches will just stay connected, the nutrients from the vine will flow through the branches and produce grapes
Think about that—and then look at what Jesus says in John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches.
That’s a picture of total dependence. The branch is completely dependent on the vine
- That’s the kind of relationship Jesus wants to have with you.
If I were to walk up to a grapevine and break off one of the branches, what would happen to that branch? (It would die)
- The same thing happens to you and me spiritually when we don’t stay connected to Jesus.
Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
–John 15:5 New Revised Standard Version
In other words, if I don’t stay connected to Jesus, I’m like this power strip
- I go through the day trying to show love to other people
- But in reality I’m trying to give away something I don’t have
Jesus says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing”
- You’re like a vine that has to stay connected
- You’re like a power strip that has to stay plugged in
If you don’t stay connected to Jesus, and you go out into the world trying to do no harm and do good,
Then you’re trying to give away something you don’t have
And in the end, that does more harm than good!
Everybody say this after me:
Apart from Christ … I can do nothing
Jesus says, “Abide in me”
- What does it mean to ABIDE?
Well, think about this:
Geographically speaking, where do you live?
- Most of you would say, Kernersville
- Some of you might say, Oak Ridge, Winston-Salem, Walkertown
Now think about this: Spiritually speaking, where do you live?
-If you’re honest, some of you would say, “I live in…
- Constant stress
- Perpetual busyness
- A state of rebellion against God
When Jesus says “Abide in me,” he’s saying, “Quit living in those places, and come live in me.”
-To Abide means to live somewhere.
-Physically, I abide at 5933 Kenton Drive
- That’s my home base
- That’s where I go to rest
- That’s where I get nourishment
- That’s where I go to find peace
- That’s where I spend time with the people I love
-Spiritually, it ought to be the same with Jesus:
- Jesus should be my home base
- Where I go for strength
- Where I go for peace
- Where I go to find rest for my soul
As I go through life,
I’m gonna feel Fear,
I’m gonna feel Stress
I’m gonna feel hassled and harried
–But I don’t have to LIVE there:
-I can make a choice to ABIDE in Jesus.
So, How do you ABIDE in Christ?
Well, look at v. 7:
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
–John 15:7, NRSV
There are two things right there:
- “If my words abide in you” – Where do you find Jesus’ words?
A big part of abiding in Christ is SCRIPTURE — Bible:
- Hearing it read
- Hearing it preached
- Studying it with a group
- Reflecting on it on my own
- Applying it to my daily life
- “Ask for whatever you wish” – What’s he talking about?
A big part of abiding in Christ is PRAYER:
- Not just here at church, but on my own throughout the week
Now look at v. 9:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
–John 15:9-10, NRSV
What are his commandments?
-Love God, Love People
“A new command I give you: Love one another. By this shall all people know that you are my disciples: that you love one another.” (John 13:35)
A big part of abiding in Christ is spending time in CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP:
- In a Sunday School class
- Or a Bible Study
- In a women’s circle
- Or at Men’s Breakfast on Thursday morning
So, prayer, Bible study,building relationships with other Christians.
BUT THERE’S MORE:
Go back to the image of the vine and the branches:
That’s a picture of total dependence.
-Not just some prayer, and some Bible reading, and some time with other Christians:
- This is day-by-day, moment-by-moment CLINGING to the Vine
- This is holding on for dear life
- This is basing everything you do, and everything you are on your relationship to the Vine
This is going through the day constantly saying:
“Help me, Jesus”
“Thank you, Jesus”
“Tell me what to do, Jesus”
“Hold me, Jesus”
“Carry me, Jesus”
“I love you, Jesus”
SO: Is your relationship with Jesus the relationship of a branch intimately connected to a vine?
- Are you living in the vine?
- Are you clinging to the vine as the only source of nourishment and life?
Spiritually speaking, where do you live?
Jesus says, “Abide in me?” Are you living in him right now?
John 15: 1-11
The Vine and the Branches
15 “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[a] 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. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.