Yesterday's sermon was amazing! The sermons are always good, often they seem to go along pretty well with what the Lord has been teaching me, but very rarely are they exactly what the Lord has been teaching me. Mr. DeVowe's sermon was just that, and the Lord also used it to show me the answer to something I've been very confused about lately.
The title of the sermon was "The True Vine". John 15:1-17 talks all about Jesus being the True Vine and that we as Christians need to abide in Him. If Jesus is the True Vine, then He can not allow false branches to remain. They must be cut off, just as Judas Iscariot was, so that the dead branch does not take sap from the healthy branches. When pruning is done, not only are the dead or unfruitful branches cut off, but the good branches themselves are also pruned. Pruning is a painful process, but in the end, it will make the branch more healthy and cause it to bear even more fruit! One of the evidences that we are saved is that God is constantly pruning us and making us more Holy and more like Him. God's plan for His people isn't prosperity and success in this world, it's not "you're best life now"; His plan for His people is to make them more Holy and more like Himself.
Look at Jacob and Esau. Esau was not a follower of God, and look at His life. Every promise God made to Esau was fulfilled, Esau was prosperous and had very few trials that we know of. God had cut him off. He never pruned Esau. Now look at Jacob. He was a follower of God. What is the evidence of that? From an earthly perspective, Jacob's life was difficult and full of trials. But from a Godly perspective, we see those trials as the very evidence that he was a child of God. "Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" ~Heb. 12:6 God was constantly pruning him, making him more holy, more like Himself. Jacob went from being a supplanter and deceiver, to being the man of God we see at the end of the story. If you are never being pruned, never drawing closer to the Lord, and never becoming more Holy, it should be a cause for concern. Yes, Christians will sin, we will make mistakes, but when you look back on the whole course of your life from the time you were saved, though it may be two steps forward one step back, you will see that you have grown, and are continuing to grow more like Christ.
We must abide in Christ! Abide means "to rest or dwell, to continue permanently, or in the same state, to be firm and immovable, to remain, to continue, to endure." ~Webster's 1828 Dictionary
We must dwell in Christ every moment of every day! Just as a vine brings forth fruit, one who has been truly saved will also bring forth fruit. When one is truly saved their lives will be completely changed, God will take out their hearts of stone, (stone is a dead thing that does not respond to stimuli) and put in a heart of flesh that is sensitive to the promptings and convictions of the Lord.
"A new heart also will I give you. and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." ~Ezekiel 36:26
"And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give them an heart of flesh." ~Ezekiel 11:19
"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." ~Jeremiah 24:7
Their lives will be centered on Christ and their desires will be changed. They will no longer love sin, they will hate it. Yes, we as Christians still sin, but we instantly know it is wrong, we hate it, and we repent.
"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" ~Phil. 2:13
Christ loves His children with the same love that the Father has toward the Son. We are to love Christ with that same love, and we are also to love others as Christ loves us. Some evidences of a true believer are; true joy and peace that surpasses understanding, and love for God and for others. True joy comes only from Christ, and it is not dependent on circumstances. We must continue to abide in Christ no matter how hard it is! Jesus is the True Vine. We can do nothing in ourselves. We don't abide by trying harder; we abide by resting in Christ and depending on Him for everything. When we abide in Christ as He has told us to do, He will give us true peace and joy.
I had been confused this week. I did not have the peace and joy of the Lord and I didn't know why. I was constantly frustrated with myself because I felt like I should be putting more effort into my prayer and bible times. The Lord used this sermon to show me that "We don't abide in Christ by trying harder; we abide by resting in Christ and depending on Him for everything." Without even realizing it, I was trying to earn my peace and joy by praying long and hard enough and meditating on scripture more. Indeed I should be praying long and hard and meditating on scripture, but I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I can NEVER earn peace and joy! NEVER! Only through Christ can I be truly saved, forgiven, and filled with peace and joy! Christ never fails, so as long as I am abiding in Him, resting in Him, trusting Him for everything, then I will always have the peace and joy of the Lord! I am still going to persevere in prayer and scripture meditation, but now I have the right motive. I can pursue Christ with peace and joy knowing that it is He who has saved me! Thank you Lord for your incredible mercy and grace in showing me these truths and continuing to draw me closer to yourself!