This is an excerpt from the message “I Am the Vine” by Rev. Buck Day, Jan 8, 2012:
Jesus: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. (John 15:1-8)
… Vineyards can be a wonderful sight… They are beautiful—long, straight rows with control guide wires that help the vines grow straight…. As harvest time nears, you don’t see the grapes. That is because they are covered by the leaves from the vines so they don’t get burned in the sun.
But vineyards have a very different feel in the winter. The vine and the branches are exposed along the wires. The leaves are all gone. As a result, it is trimming time. When the vine workers come in and begin to trim the vine for next year, you can see it is no small trim job. They cut back the branches almost to a stump—you can see that—knowing that the vines will need that much room for growth, and for expansion, and the grape production for the next year.
Bearing fruit is something that the disciples could understand, because they knew what vineyards were. They walked by them all the time. Grapes are not considered an ornamental plant. When you look at them when they are flowering, the flowers are small. They are bred for one reason and that is to produce grapes, to produce fruit…. So Jesus is telling his disciples and now he is telling us that producing fruit, making disciples, is to be the focus of our lives. That is what we are to be about. Our disciple-making ability is a direct result of who we are in Jesus Christ…. How do we maximize that connection with him so that we can maximize our fruit-bearing potential? Jesus gives us some ways to think about that. Continue reading
This is an excerpt from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer:
…Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. The body becomes stronger as its members become healthier. The whole Church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life.
All the foregoing presupposes true repentance and a full committal of the life to God.
This is an excerpt from The Mark of the Christian by Francis A. Schaeffer:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
This passage reveals the mark that Jesus gives to label a Christian not just in one era or in one locality, but at all times and all places until Jesus returns.
Notice that what he says here is not a description of a fact. It is a command which includes a condition: “ . . . if you love one another.” An if is involved. If you obey, you will wear the badge Christ gave. But since this is a command, it can be violated.
The point is that it is possible to be a Christian without showing the mark, but if we expect non-Christians to know that we are Christians, we must show the mark . . . The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. . . Continue reading
This short clip (6 min) shows Martin Bashir interviewing Presbyterian pastor and author Tim Keller at a forum at Columbia University in 2008. The interviewer asks whether the actions of the church aren’t the strongest argument against the existence of God.
This is an excerpt from the message “No One Will Take Your Joy from You” by Rev. John Piper, May 7, 2011, Desiring God ministry:
. . . God is glorified in worship when we delight to worship, not dutifully worship.
My favorite story . . . let’s do it for Mothers Day. . . . I show up tomorrow, let’s say, and I have brought yellow daisies—that’s what we did for years is yellow daisies on every occasion. So I’ve got a huge bundle of yellow daisies and I ring the doorbell. Noel comes to the door, and she’s perplexed. (“You live here—why are you ringing the doorbell?”) And I say, “Happy Mothers Day, Noel!”
And she goes, “Oh, Johnny, they’re beautiful! Why did you?”
And I say, “It’s my duty.” [laughter] Continue reading