Thursday, August 23, 2012
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It all started when my Dad helped some people lift a piano. There were not enough men to lift it, but they all thought they could handle it. And the next thing I knew, my Dad ended up in the hospital for a hernia operation, all because of lifting that big piano. He never should have tried to lift that much. You know what? I'm talking to somebody now who is sweating, and straining to lift...oh, not a piano! But it might be something you were never meant to lift.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Avoid a Spiritual Hernia."
Well, our word for today from the Word of God is John 15:4-5. I guess you could say it's about avoiding spiritual hernias! Jesus is probably walking through the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. He's now in the countdown hours before He goes to the cross, and He stops and says, "Gentlemen, take a look at that grape vine over there." And in the process, He teaches them a lesson that they probably remembered every time they looked at a grape vine. He said, "I am the vine, you are the branches." And then in verses 4 and 5 He said, "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you can do nothing."
Now, what Jesus is saying here in simple language is this: you concentrate on staying close to Me, and I'll produce the results. Not you'll produce the results; I'll produce them. Don't get it backwards. You're not the vine producing the fruit. Jesus said, "I'm the vine. All you are is the branch."
When He says you'll bear fruit, I think that every follower of Christ who has any life at all in Him is going to be a fruit-bearing Christian. What does that mean? Well, it means, for example, the love that you need for that person in your family or at work that's really difficult for you to deal with...maybe somebody at school. The fruit that you need to produce is love for that person who has given you no reason to love them.
How about the patience you need? Or fruit can mean people coming to Christ. So, how do you have the love you need, the patience you need, the self-control you need? How do you lead people to Christ? It is not about you producing the results. Don't forget the vine and the branches picture. You look at that branch on that vine, it looks like the grapes are coming from the branch. But that's wrong! They're coming through the branch. They're coming from the vine. All of the good traits of a Jesus follower, all the love, all the witness, all the persuasion, all the power, all the patience that you need isn't yours. The good result oh, comes through you but not from you.
Imagine a little branch lying off on the side going, "Oh, oh, wait! I've got to get some fruit on me!" You say, "Get back on the vine! That's where the fruit comes from." Maybe you've seen the Christian experience as something where you have to sweat, and strain, and push and say, "Oh, I've just got to try harder. I've tried so hard to be a good Christian." That's why you get a spiritual hernia. All you've got is a self-improvement plan with Christian words. See, your mission is to stay close to your Jesus, and then as you do your part, He will naturally produce what you've been trying to force.
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary leader, said, "I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him, and I ended up asking Him to do His work through me." Listen, "Open your hands, open your arms and relax." Or in the words of Corrie ten Boom, "Don't wrestle, just nestle."