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Abiding in Difficulties and Trials (John 15:2)

Sermon on 22 November 2020 by Ps Justin

John 15:2 - “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”


John 15:1-6 - ““I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.”


These instructions are given to the fearful disciples of Christ towards the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth. We can do nothing without abiding in Him. In good or bad times, if we still have time on earth, we must continue abiding in Him.


1 Corinthians 6:17 - “But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”


If you join in with Christ, we are all living as a born again Christian. We are all joined to the Lord and we are in one Spirit with Him. Some people still have doubts. When I am born again, does God really live in me? It is a resounding yes. The word became flesh. His spirit is in us, he camps inside us. He is with us, in us, for us and through us. Jesus told these fearful disciples to abide in Him if not they can’t do anything.


What are the consequences of not abiding?


John 15:6 - “Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.”


1. He is cast out

We are the branches. Jesus is the true vine. The gardener is God the Father. We are one Spirit with Christ and in Christ. If we choose not to abide or join the true vine, we are cast out. Its meaning is that we lost the relationship and fellowship with the true vine.

2. Withered

They lost their vitality. They lost the nutrients flowing to the branches. They will have spiritual dryness. They will lose their zeal and feel that the grace isn’t upon them. They will fall short of grace and fall flat on their faces.


3. Thrown into the fire and burned

Fire symbolises the trials and judgement they will receive. They will be thrown and burned, symbolising that they will lose their rewards. These are serious consequences.


It is not proper for the church to close in this pandemic. As I speak now, there are still many churches that cannot open up. Some have even closed down. It is not right for a true Christ church to stop meeting and open up for physical gathering. God is doing great things in this church. We are thankful that there will be tribulations as the Bible tells us so. When you face challenges in your life, why can’t we all rejoice? It is through trials that you will bear fruit. It is so amazing.


Romans 5:3-5 - “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”


Abiding: to remain as one in Him, not to depart from Him, to continue to be in His presence, to endure in Him, and to wait continually in Him.


In His presence, there is always liberty, deliverance and healing. There is always joy and power. The job of the branch is not to fight the weather, bugs or diseases. The branch is just to open up the arm, rest in the vine and receive the nutrients which are from the true vine. Hence, we can continually endure the trials. God is saying abide in Me in the midst of all these trials. He will take care of you and will never forsake you. I want you to be thankful for the things He is doing for you in the present and the future. The fact that we can sit here and receive from Him as a branch is a testament of His goodness for us all. Let us continue to be in His presence. Only in trials and challenges that you can be strengthened and grow spiritually. If we are in the pressure cooker or use our own wisdom, we will always want to fight and counterattack. We will always complain. We will always ask why God? Even if we were to get out of it, Christians who rely on their own wisdom will have no strength as they don’t have strength from the source. Do not be too anxious that as a Christian we have so many problems. When our faith is tested through trials, we learn patience and endurance. It will shape our character. We will bear the fruits of love, peace and joy. We will have abundant fruit. The fruit that God allowed us to grow is not for us to show it off to others. Our minds will be permeated with Christ. When people come and pluck your fruit, it is for harvest not to stay there. This fruit is for people who need it. When someone misunderstands you or hurts you, they are just saying that they do not have peace, do you? You give them the fruit of the Spirit. Fruits of righteousness can be found in good work and sincere faith. These tests are to stretch our faiths. Only those with genuine faith will be tested. Genuine faith is more precious than gold.


Isaiah 40:29-31 - “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”


1 Timothy 1:5 - “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”


James 1:12 - “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”


How to follow and to abide?


Matthew 4:19 - “Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!””


Matthew 16:24 - “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”


John 15:10 - “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”


If you keep My commandments, that is called abiding. Abiding in Me is to remain in Me and to obey Me. Patiently wait for the fruit to grow. Continue to wait upon Him to have that patience.


1 John 3:24 - “Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.”


We abide by obeying. You cannot abide in the true vine but not carry the Cross. Those who abide live in Him. Following and abiding is the key to victory. You need to remain connected and wait. We need to hold on to the faith that we receive. He is the grace and truth that fills us.


James 1:3-5 - “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”


When we complete the work, we will lack nothing and will be an overcomer. When we wait upon the Lord, He will renew our strength. Let’s serve one another and praise Him. Let’s go through thanksgiving while we are in trials. He will prune those who bear fruits.


We are not here to fight the bugs. Our job as a branch is to let the vinedresser do the cleaning through the word of God.


John 6:63 - “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

John 17:17 - “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”


John 13:8-10 - ““No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.””


If we don’t go through trials, we will not be strengthened. We will not be able to prove that our faith is genuine. We cannot be fruitful and useful. Through trials, we can grow our virtue and character. You will live a righteous life. Be rooted in Him and established in Him through thanksgiving.


Pointers to take note of:


1. We are in Him


If you are faithful in small things, you will be faithful in big things.


Philippians 4:4-5 - “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”


When is someone is being rude to you, are you responding in anger or frustration? Such kinds of responses fall short of God's grace. You are not at peace with yourself or with others. Don’t expect to abide in Him unless you are willing to give Him time. Those who want to abide but don’t want to give time, don’t expect the Father to give you time. If we can’t even have 5 minutes of our time to surrender to Him, we can’t surrender to God altogether. Read the word. You are one in Christ. Those who join in Christ are in one Spirit with Him. Our Father has put all the punishment on Christ at the cross. God cannot tempt you as He Himself cannot be tempted. Don’t let fear to manipulate you. Wait upon Him and see how He blesses you. Light is in you and darkness must flee.


2. Come to Me and abide in Me


John 15:4 - “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”


Matthew 11:28 - “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”


Don’t be alone, come to the word and go to Him.


Revelation 3:20 - ““Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”


We are very ungrateful. Many times we sin against God and go against Him. Don’t always ask why. Train our mind to put all the trust in God until you can be in union with God. You can then pray boldly in the name of Jesus. The spirit of God is doing great things in this church so don’t lose these blessings. Abide in Him in the midst of endurance. Let us all remain in Him in the midst of our suffering.


3. Rest in His love


Matthew 11:28-29 - “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”


4. Abiding by learning from Him


You don’t have to pray a God sized prayer.


John 15:16 - “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.”


God is strengthening us.


Matthew 11:29 - “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”


Philippians 4:5 - “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”


You need to learn in the mindset of sufferings. See how your situation is turned around if you are lowly and humble. In good or bad times, we praise God. This lowliness and gentleness has a superpower. God gives power to the weak. He increases their strength.


Isaiah 40:29 - “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”


2 Corinthians 4:10 - “Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”


Give all up to Jesus so that we can receive all from Him. God loves us so much that He wants us to bear much fruit to prepare for the next season to come.


John 16:33 - “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.””


Jesus promised you that you will have tribulations. As Jesus has overcome, we have victory over the world.


1 John 5:4 - “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.”


Humble abiding will bring obedience into Him and trusting Him wholeheartedly naturally. Abiding brings joy, strength and hope.


John 15:5 - ““Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”


Amen.



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