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The Vine and the Branches

John 15:1-8

Service Notes

JOHN 15:1-8
     1.  Jesus said: "I am the true VINE and My Father is the farmer.
     2.  Any branch that doesn't grow fruit, that one My Father cuts-off.  And every branch that grows fruit, that one My father trims (prunes) to make it grow more fruit.
     3.  The things I said to you make you clean.
     4.  Stay joined to Me, and I will stay with you.  A branch separate from the VINE can't grow fruit by itself alone.  Also, you can't grow "fruit" without Me.
     5.  I am the VINE, you are the branches.  If you stay with Me, and I stay with you, then you will grow fruit.  Without ME you can do nothing.
     6.  If anyone doesn't stay with Me, then they become thrown-out, same-as a branch, cut off, and dies.  Those branches become gathered-up and thrown into the fire.
     7.  If you stay in Me and you follow My teaching, then you will ask for anything and you will have it.
     8.  Every time you "grow fruit" and show that you are My followers, you give glory to MY Father."

 

The Vine =  

The Branches =  

The Farmer =  

The Fruit =  

Trimming the Branches =  

The Fire =  

Application to me:


ITEMS to bring:
This lesson may be too long for just one meeting.  You may want to break it into three separate lessons.



PART 1

[Show the two branches: the fresh green one and the dry dead one.]

What's the difference?  (invite discussion)

Now if we wait a few weeks, and compare them again,
what will be the difference?  NONE!  Why?  (discuss)

Both branches become good for firewood; that is all.

Jesus uses that picture for helping understand that
    if we want to have life,
    we must stay connected to Him.

      

Jesus said: "I am the vine, you are the branches."

The Vine = Jesus
The Branches = us

That branch lives, why?
It is connected to the vine.

We have life -- not only body life. 
We have spiritual life.
We have eternal life.
Why?
We are connected to Jesus.

How do we become connected to Jesus?

1. Honestly admit to Jesus that we are sinners,
    and that we hate that sin that we see in ourselves.
    The Bible calls that "repentance."

2. Trust Him for forgiveness -- faith.

Those two points are most important,
    That is how we first became connected with Christ.
    That is how we first received His eternal life.

If we become connected with Christ Jesus,
    then what happens?

Jesus said:
"If you stay with Me, and I stay with you, then you will grow fruit."

Fruit = ??
(Invite discussion.)

GALATIANS chapter 5:16-25 lists several fruit for a Christian life.
1.  love
2.  joy
3.  peace
4.  staying patience
5.  staying kind
6.  doing good
7.  having continuing faith
8.  having nice behavior
9.  controlling our desires   [Galatians 5:16-25]

Those nine fruit really summarize Christ's attitude, His character.

And He makes those same attitudes in us.

Fruit = Christ-like attitudes, faith, & service

Our human nature tells us,
    "If I want to become connected Christ,
    I must do right things."

That's like saying:
    "If I tie this apple to this dry branch,
    that will make the branch live."
 
Wrong!
We can't grow Christ's attitudes ourselves, using our own power,
the same as a dead branch
    can't grow green leaves,
    can't grow fruit, by itself.

That branch must get life from the tree,
    the same as we must get life from Christ.

Good works, good actions...
   
    
...come from good attitudes...
     

And good attitudes come from Christ...
   
 
Fruit tied to a dead tree doesn't make the tree live,
    but a living tree makes fruit...
   

Growing fruit shows that the tree is alive,
same as the Christ's attitudes and actions in us
    show that we are connected to Him.


PART 2

If a farmer sees that one branch is not growing fruit,
    what does he do?

That branch is no-good.
The farmer cuts it off the tree,  and burns it...

   


Jesus uses that same picture in our lesson:

Jesus said: "I am the true VINE and My Father is the farmer.
    Any branch that doesn't grow fruit,
        that one My Father cuts-off....
    Those branches become gathered-up
        and thrown into the fire."

The Farmer = God the Father
The Fire = hell

If a branch doesn't grow fruit,
    that shows that the branch is not receiving life
    from the tree,
the same as a "Christian" that doesn't have Christ's attitudes
    and  doesn't do Christ's actions,
that shows person doesn't really have Christ!

But if a branch is successfully growing fruit,
    what does the farmer do?
Does he leave it alone?

No! The farmer trims (prunes) the branch
    and ties the branch to a fence line...
   
 

The same thing happens to us.

Jesus said:  "Every branch that grows fruit, that one My father trims (prunes) to make it grow more fruit."

How does God our Father "trim" us?

He trims us in two ways. 
    The first is the easy way.
    The second is the hard way.

The first way that He trims us and disciplines us is through His Word, the Bible. 

Jesus said: "The things I said to you make you clean."

When His Holy Spirit opens our eyes and opens our hearts
for the Bible, that message
    gives us faith,
    teaches us wisdom,
    helps us focus on Him,
    changes our attitudes,
    inspires us to act,

And sometimes God sees things our lives that
    change our focus to worldly things,
    waste our time,
    waste our energy,
    reduce our enthusiasm for Him,
    make us follow our own ways, our own ideas, not His,
    tempt us to do things that are wrong,
    give us bad attitudes.

Those things make our life with Christ weak,
    and we grow less fruit from the Holy Spirit.

So what does God our farmer Father do?

He disciplines us
    and He shows us that we must release those things.
Sometimes He removes those things from us
    through trouble, problems, sickness, or accidents.

When we become busy doing worthless things,
    God will poke our conscience.
But we ignore our conscience,
    so He will poke us harder,
    sending us trouble that will make us wake up
    and turn our attention back to Him.

That discipline hurts, yes.  But this is good for us,
    same as the farmer trimming a branch
        helps it grow stronger, growing more fruit.

Hebrews  chapter12:
"The Lord spanks every person HE loves, and disciplines every person HE accepts same-as HIS son.  Accept your suffering same-as a spanking from a father.  You are children of God, and God is doing same-as a good father to his children... Spanking always hurts and makes us sad.  But later, people that got spanked, they get the peaceful blessing of a righteous life."

James chapter 1:
"My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy.  Why?  You know that troubles test your faith, and that will help you become patient. Let your patience show fully in everything you do."

That is how God trims us like a branch,
    for helping us grow more fruit for Him.


PART 3


In our lesson today,
Jesus emphasizes that we not only become connected to Him,
    but we must also stay connected to Him.

He said,
"Stay joined to Me, and I will stay with you. 
A branch separate from the vine can't grow fruit by itself alone.  Also, you can't grow 'fruit' without Me... 
If anyone doesn't stay with Me,
    then they become thrown-out,
    same-as a branch, cut off, and dies."

If we want to continue our connection with Christ,
If we want to continue having eternal life,
    we must continue hating sin in ourselves,
    and continue trusting Him.

How?

#1.
Jesus already told us:
    "The things I said to you make you clean...
    Stay in Me and My Words stay in you."

That means:
    Study God's Word, the Bible, continually.
    Let God's Word touch our hearts.

His Word changes our point-of-view,
His Word encourages us to trust Him and obey Him more,
His Word gives us power for resisting temptation,

His Word gives us wisdom for counseling other people
    who are looking for real answers for their problems.

Jesus said:
    "Stay in Me and My Words stay in you. Follow My teaching."

How can we follow His teaching, if we don't know what He said??

In our study of His word, we never "graduate."

Psalm 1 says:
God's law, His teaching, thrills us.
    We focus-on His teaching,
    meditating-on-it all-day and all-night.
We will become as a tree growing near a river. 
    that tree grows good fruit,
    Same-as His Word gives us life.
That tree has green leaves that never become dry,
    Same-as his word continues helping us grow,
    and blessing everything we do.

In that picture, God's Word gives us life,
    like water that gives life to a tree.

Maybe you know the phrase: "You are what you eat."
If that is true for our bodies,
    that is more true for our souls.

If we fill our eyes,
    fill our mind,
    fill our time
focusing on worldly pleasures,
    we become more worldly
        and we disconnect from Christ.

If we fill our eyes, our mind, our time
    focusing on God's Word,
His Word keeps us connected with Christ,
    and changes us to become more like Him.

#2.
Pray  -- communicate with God
    every day ... and every hour.

Often we skip repenting about our sins.
    We skip trusting Him for forgiveness
    We skip studying His Word.
We just start asking God for things,
    and we call [name] that "prayer."

But when we first repent, trust, and study His Word,
    then we have connection for real communication with God.
We will know HOW to pray,
    with confession, praise, and thanks.
        Not only asking for things.

And if we study God's Word,
    then we know how we can pray for things that God wants.

And, Jesus says,
    those are the prayers that He is eager to answer.  (see verse 7)

Finally, Jesus says that the real proof,
    the real test for life in a Christian
is not "Can you talk religious?"
No.
 
He said,
"Every time you 'grow fruit' and show that you are My followers, you give glory to MY Father."

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