Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Practicing the presence

This message was preached at Word of Grace Church on the 221st of Oct 2012 by Bill Berry.
You can listen to the audio recording by clicking here .
We can be followers of Jesus for many years and yet there is so much more we need to grow and realize our own sinfulness and need for brokenness.

TEXT : John 15
Jesus wants us to have joy that is the shalom of God where we lack nothing. “I am the true vine_- that implies that there are other vines that are not the real thing – there are other options that we can get plugged into.

As humans we search for a life of joy in many places but Jesus says that to have true joy we need to plug into Him. Some plug into their careers, their children etc. These are good but it’s not where we get our completeness from. Some plug into pleasure- the next vacation. But that lasting peace and joy comes from Jesus – the source of life. 

The Father is the vines dresser i.e  Jesus was under the father’s care and submission.
V2 Blake translates “Cut off” as “Lifts up”. The Jewish way of growing vine was to let it run on the ground and they would prop up the vines on small rocks ( not on sticks like we do today). He lifts us up when we are not fruitful to help us bear fruit. The ones that are bearing fruit he prunes to make them more fruitful. Hebrews 12- the Father disciplines those whom he loves so that we will produce the life that will bring joy and satisfaction. So let him do the pruning.

Heb12:-2 this is what the Father is involved in – helping to remove sin in our lives and the things that hinder. Hindrances are not necessarily by sin but it can affect our spiritual life Eg) over work, over spending etc.

What is the greatest need of humanity? To be delivered from sin. That’s why God sent Jesus.The most important thing is not a good job, a good education, spouse, but the forgiveness of sin because God gave his very best for the greatest need. We need to be freed from the penalty and power of sin. So the father disciplines us so that we can become free from the power of sin and we can bear more fruit.

Heb 12:2 The way we overcome is by fixing our eyes on Jesus i.e. the eyes of our heart- that our heart is constantly in tune with Jesus. We need to be in constant contact. The greatest struggle is that we do not live in constant contact with Jesus. When was the last time I thought about Jesus? He wants to be in constant commune with you. What does “apart from me you can do nothing mean?’ Paul says pray without ceasing i.e commune with Jesus and there is awareness in the home as a husband/wife at work, pleasure time.

How do we do that ?
We need to learn to pray – it comes from practice. We need to practice the presence of God. His presence is always with us  .
Jesus could minister in power because he was in tune to the Father. Because we have Jesus with us we should be most creative people because we are in constant contact with the creator.
In business we can put God on display – he will give us ideas. Christian families should be supernatural. This comes  from abiding.

Verse 4 Jesus talks about fruitfulness. Fruit is about who you are – it will have an effect on what you do. John 13:34-35 Love one another- disciple. John 15:8  Fruitfulness – is being a disciple of Jesus. Fruitfulness authentically loves one another i.e the body of Christ. The world sees our love – this was the hall mark of the early church and they were testifying about it. Is the world seeing this today? 

Today not much difference between Christian s and non Christians in family life (we have almost the same divorce rates), business ethics etc. We have a lot of head knowledge but it not changing the heart. Proverbs 4:23 It’s the heart that God is interested in. The west has abandoned this and gone for the head or it’s gone for emotionalism.

But it’s the heart where the connection is. Get into communion with God. That is why worship touches the depths of your being. We need to learn to be in step with the spirit.
V8. “My father is glorified…” The way we glorified God is when we live in constant commune and that comes with practice. Experts become experts because they practice something about 10,000 times.
If you practice things you will make certain things begin to happen. Spiritual disciplines is the door that allows God to do things inside out. Repentance is not a onetime event but a process and a journey.

Verse 9  We are as loved by the father as he loves Jesus-the wonder, the mystery of this! These things I have said so that your joy will be complete.
We need to only keep the 2 great commands but we need Jesus to help us and the result of that obedience is joy. Joy is only found in loving God and loving people.
We need to practice abiding in Jesus. It will transform our lives and everything we do.   

Bill Berry 

21 Oct 2012

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