We Are Each a “Sermon in Shoes”: Our Acknowledging The Vine: Recognizing the Fruit God Produces in Our Lives. John 15:1-8

John 15:1-8Amplified Bible

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches

15 [a]I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. 5 [b]I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

We are going to begin the New Year of 2023 by addressing the Resolutions I pray we made – the resolutions to Know God better, acknowledging our Savior more.

Maybe if God can catch us early enough in our zeal to plan out, think through, pray up, read up and study up, He can achieve a momentum in us to accomplish that which we said we covenanted to do – that others may know our Savior too.

Remember I wrote yesterday about the distinct possibility that we may be the only Gospel anybody reads or has any real chance of modeling their lives upon.

I also mentioned from our Baptism, of our being a “Sermon in Our Shoes.”

As a reminder, here are the Lyrics to that children’s song again ….

Again, when I was in Sunday School, I fondly remember singing one of my favorite choruses called, “A Sermon in Shoes.”

The lyrics went like this:

Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)

The song is a reminder that where ever a Christian walks, he or she is expected to share the Gospel news to others.

Whether it be by one’s actions, attitudes, or personal testimony, a Christian is always a sermon in shoes.

It goes along with something that American evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) once said:

“The preaching that this world desperately needs the most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with their Savior Jesus Christ.”

Indeed, it’s only fitting we are a sermon in shoes if we are walking with Jesus.

Several passages in the Bible refer to God’s people Israel as a vine planted by God – perhaps the most familiar words of reminder are those from Psalm 80.

Complete Jewish Bible Version ….

80 (0) For the leader. Set to “Lilies.” A testimony. A psalm of Asaf:

2 (1) Shepherd of Isra’el, listen!
You who lead Yosef like a flock,
you whose throne is on the k’ruvim,
shine out!
3 (2) Before Efrayim, Binyamin and M’nasheh,
rouse your power; and come to save us.
4 (3) God, restore us!
Make your face shine, and we will be saved.

5 (4) Adonai, God of armies, how long
will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
6 (5) You have fed them tears as their bread
and made them drink tears in abundance.
7 (6) You make our neighbors fight over us,
and our enemies mock us.
8 (7) God of armies, restore us!
Make your face shine, and we will be saved.

9 (8) You brought a vine out of Egypt,
you expelled the nations and planted it,
10 (9) you cleared a space for it;
then it took root firmly and filled the land.
11 (10) The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches;
12 (11) It put out branches as far as the sea
and shoots to the [Euphrates] River.

13 (12) Why did you break down [the vineyard’s] wall,
so that all passing by can pluck [its fruit]?
14 (13) The boar from the forest tears it apart;
wild creatures from the fields feed on it.

15 (14) God of armies, please come back!
Look from heaven, see, and tend this vine!
16 (15) Protect what your right hand planted,
the son you made strong for yourself.
17 (16) It is burned by fire, it is cut down;
they perish at your frown of rebuke.
18 (17) Help the man at your right hand,
the son of man you made strong for yourself.

19 (18) Then we won’t turn away from you —
if you revive us, we will call on your name.
20 (19) Adonai, God of armies, restore us!
Make your face shine, and we will be saved.

The overall idea is that, before Jesus came, Jehovah God took this rag tag group of chosen people and made a home for them where they could grow healthy and prosperous in a relationship with him.

But despite all that God did for his people, they failed to thrive.

Time after time, they wandered away from God in their sin.

They worshiped the gods of other nations.

They strayed from the path that God had placed them on.

Now, from John’s narrative we read Jesus is switching up the imagery about the vine saying that, ultimately, He has come as the true vine to give people the new opportunity to grow in a relationship with God, the way God always intended.

Practically speaking, the church has understood that this happens through spiritual disciplines, such as reading and studying Scripture and spending time in prayer, worship, confession, and fellowship an service within community.

And these things are never about scoring points with God or trying to make up for our sin.

Instead, they are all about staying connected to the vine so that we can thrive.

When we draw near to Jesus, we are supported, nourished, and sustained and able to bear for Him a high quality fruit in our day to day relationship with him.

Recognizing The Fruit God Produces In Us

Jesus compared genuine believers to branches that are grafted into Him so that they bear His good fruit.

He therefore warned that without Him, we can do nothing.

In fact, any branch that is not grafted in will be thrown into the fire to be burned.

The question becomes, what sort of fruit was Jesus referring to and how do we recognize if we are bearing His good fruit?

John 15:5-8 English Standard Version

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

The Fruit of God in our Lives 

The Bible gives us a good indication of the type of fruit that God produces in us.

  • Good fruit of God’s light — a life that produces what is good, right, and true | Ephesians 5:8-9 ESV  For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
  • Good fruit of obeying God’s commandment — love for another | John 15:12,16-17 ESV   “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you… go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
  • Good fruit of God’s wisdom — wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, impartial and sincere | James 3:17 ESV But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
  • Good fruit of the Holy Spirit — the presence of the Holy Spirit who brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control | Galatians 5:22-23 ESV  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 
  • Good fruit of God’s discipline — holiness and righteousness that is peaceful and good | Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
  • Good fruit of knowing and conviction about God’s will — a life that is pleasing to God, filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding | Colossians 1:9-10 ESV  … you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
  • Good fruit of God’s righteousness — love, knowledge, and discernment that ensures our hearts remain pure and blameless before God | Philippians 1:9-11 ESV  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
  • Good fruit of becoming “slaves” of God’s righteousness, set free from the bondage of sin — sanctification and eternal life | Romans 6:22 ESV  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 

This good fruit is birthed from within us, through the Holy Spirit’s regeneration and renewal work in our hearts, minds, and souls.

Only God can make such fruit grow in us.

Titus 3:5-7 ESV  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

On our part, we need to maintain an honest and pure heart that abides in, or remains grafted to, Jesus so we continue to be nourished and protected.

Luke 8:15 ESV  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Abiding in Jesus Christ 

The act of grafting attaches a branch that has been carefully cut from a weak tree and fitted into a branch of another tree with strong, robust roots.

The grafted branch is held tightly in place for a period of time until it bonds with the tree and becomes one with it.

As it receives nourishment from its new roots and is pruned by an experienced gardener, it will bear an abundance of fruit, bursting with rich nutrients and flavor.

John 15:2 ESV  … every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

The tree that receives the new grafted branch inevitably suffers momentary damage because it loses a healthy branch in order to receive the new one and shares its resources with it.

This is the act of abiding in Jesus — staying loyal to and holding on tightly to Him so that we are nourished by Him.

Jesus also paid a price for each one of us to be grafted in and He graciously shares His inheritance with us.

At the same time, He also corrects and shapes us to become more like Him.

Such pruning does not always feel pleasant but it always bears “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV  … he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

This is a picture of us becoming one with Jesus in our hearts, so that we come to heavily desire what Jesus desires and that is to do our Heavenly Father’s will.

John 6:38,40 ESV  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Not all grafts, however, are successful.

The attempted union can be broken off or destroyed by bacteria or disease.

Un-diseased branches can sometimes be successfully re-attached if they remain tender, but calloused hardened branches can only be discarded.

Ephesians 4:18-19 ESV  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul gave us another picture of grafting.

He described Gentile (non-Jewish) believers as branches from a wild olive tree that now receive rich nourishment from God’s special olive tree.

Romans 11:17 NLT  And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.

Paul warned us to not be complacent about abiding in Jesus because God can decide to break us off, if our hearts stop trusting and obeying Him.

We will slowly wither and die off, even if we were once alive in Him and bore some fruit in the past.

It is therefore important that we regularly resolve to check, re-check, if our graft into Jesus is still alive and well or is in any danger of coming apart.

Romans 11:20-22 NLT  Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either… But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.

What Affects Our Graft into Jesus?

When our hearts are not fully grafted into Jesus’, we experience fruitlessness, immature fruit, and fruits for death.

This happens because we are still:

  • Satisfied only by our own desiresJude 1:12,16 ESV  … shepherds feeding only themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.
  • Caught up with the cares of this world | Luke 8:14-15 ESV  And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
  • Seduced by worldly riches Luke 8:14-15 ESV  And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
  • Intoxicated with the pleasures of lifeLuke 8:14-15 ESV  And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
  • Led by sinful desires eg. revenge, hatred, judgment, condemnation etc. Romans 7:5 ESV  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

These are the things which will inevitably cut us off, away from Savior Jesus.

Staying Grafted In ….

The good news is that we can ask God to search our hearts and convict us when we are in danger of diverging from His will and losing His nourishment.

This calls for tender humble hearts that are willing to re-bind to Jesus.

Psalm 139:23-24 ESV  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

God will always welcome us as we:

Luke 9:23-24English Standard Version

Take Up Your Cross and [DAILY] Follow Jesus

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Become more resolved in our daily walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus to ….

  • Repent of our sins | Matthew 3:8 ESV  Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
  • Turn away from a life defined by this world | John 12:24-25 ESV  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
  • Grow in knowing and discerning God’s will for us | Philippians 1:9-11 ESV  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
  • Seek to live out God’s Word with the right understanding | Matthew 13:23 ESV  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” 

God the Father is the perfect vinedresser and He will guide us continually, watering us when we feel dry and restoring our strength.

This is how we can recognize the Vine and Vine-Dresser, remain part of His well-watered, flourishing garden that bears numerous good and tasting fruits.

John 15:1 ESV  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

Isaiah 58:1-11 ESV

True and False Fasting

58 “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,[a]
    and oppress all your workers.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[b] go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.

Therefore, Oh Baptized Christian, in 2023, Let it Be it resolved ….

My God, My Savior, My Most Precious Holy Spirit ….

“Open mine eyes that I may see, visions of truth God hath for me ….”

“Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free….”

“Open mine eyes, Illumine me, Spirit Divine ….”

Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

God of Grace, Creator of all life,
plant us in the soil of your grace.
Nurture us with the strength of Christ,
the vine of everlasting life.
Enlighten us with the wisdom of your Spirit,
which flows through us today and all days.
Abide in us,
that we may abide in you
and live in your love.
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

https://translate.google.com/

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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