As we are being challenged to read and study the book of John, I wanted to share some of my personal sermon notes with you to help you understand the book. I preached through the entire book over the course of 1 year when I pastored First Baptist Church Del Rio. Enjoy!
Introduction—Fruit is one of those foods that we are privileged to be able to consume. Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, pears, peaches, mangos, and the list goes on and on. As you well know all fruit has a shelf life. It is only good for a short period of time. When fruit is in it’s prime, in it’s natural state, in it’s juiciest of the juiciest, it is great.
Our lives are a lot like fruit. We only have a season or shelf life to make a difference. We are accountable to God for the life He has given us. Life is a gift. Let’s make it count and allow Him to use us to the fullest.
Today begins a 3 week series about financial matters. I know we are in church and some of you would prefer we just focus on Jesus, and I promise to do that even though we are talking money.
Ministry takes money to execute. If we want to be the church God wants us to be, then we must take a hard look at what that is. Let’s connect to Christ, and allow Him to decide what is best for our resources that \He has entrusted us to.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also 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.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
- Your finances matter to God—verses 1-4
- God wants all of you including your financial life.
- Every branch that does not bear fruit in Christ will be cut off.
- Every part of your life should be in Christ.
- God has no interested in partial commitment.
- Verse 1—Jesus said, “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener.
- Do we have any green thumbs here today? You know the ones who can keep a plant alive no matter what. They just have the touch.
- Jesus would love for God to be the green thumb of your finances. He knows how to manage your money the best. You see a true gardener makes sure they have the right tools in order for plant survival. Shovel, tiller, rake, hoe, water, fertilizer, soil, etc.
- God can garden your finances because He owns it all. He has an investment plan like no other. It is eternal. When you give to Kingdom ministries, churches, etc. you reap Kingdom results. Kingdom results start with God as the gardener.
- Verse 2—Jesus said, God cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, but every branch that produces fruit, He prunes so it will be even more fruitful.
- If your financial state seems to be a vicious cycle of never ending expenses, it is time cut off the dead branches. What would be considered a dead branch?
- Anything that is not producing fruit. You know your life better than anyone else, so these are just examples, so if it applies to you then let God redeem you from it.
- Cell phones. Some people need them, others of you don’t. We have allowed the cell phone to control us when the initial use was a just in case of an emergency. I am saying to go out cut off your cell phone. I am saying that if your $200 a month or more bill is not necessary, then by all means cut off the dead branch, especially if it is a smart phone that you have to pay a monthly data plan for. Facebook isn’t more important than giving to an eternal God.
- Credit Cards. If you are in debt up to your eyeballs with credit cards, then cut off the dead branch. Get help. And by all means stop charging anything. Stop digging the grave any deeper than 6 feet. You don’t need an 8-foot deep hole to bury yourself in.
- A large car payment. It is easier to qualify for a new car than almost anything else in our country. If you need to sell your car and get a smarter payment in order to pay down other things so you begin to breath, then cut off the dead branch.
- Eating out. Did you know that the average American spends $1,000 a year on coffee, and $2,000 a year eating out. Tomorrow a very popular coffee shop will open here in Del Rio, and the lines are expected to be out of bounds. If you are wondering where to find some extra cash, cut off this dead branch.
- The other half to verse 2, is God will prune the fruit producing branches in order to produce bigger, better fruit. When you give to the ministries of God, including here at First Baptist, God will make sure it is pruned so that your giving goes as far as possible.
- Here are some examples of your investment into God’s work: children are loved and cared for, and taught Godly principles. Youth are cared and loved for and given opportunities to serve God in our community, state, and around the globe. Babies are played with, kids are sung to, adults are taught the Bible, marriages are nurtured, everyone is prayed for, and Biblical guidance for areas of life are available to all. Your financial giving is guaranteed to make a difference. God promises to prune it.
- Verse 3—When you are given the Word of God, it washes over you in order to cleanse you from any wrongdoing, including the mismanagement of the resources He has entrusted to you. God wants the best for you and your family by speaking the truth in love.
- Verse 4—The key to a better financial life is to remain in Him, so that he can show you and teach you Kingdom principles. Jesus said you can’t bare fruit without me.
Illustration—A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church “Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself,” she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. “Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.”
Application—Do you believe you matter to God? If you matter to God, then your finances are of His concern as well.
- Your finances belong to God—verses 5-8
- Verse 5—Jesus repeats the saying I am the vine, but He now says that we are the branches, so in order to bear fruit, or as He says it “much fruit” we must remain in Him.
- If we are to experience all of Jesus, everything about our lives must remain in Him, including our money.
- You see spiritual fruit is what Jesus is referring to. If following Christ seems undesirable, it is not. Our understanding of God and what is His is skewed. As the old hymn goes from The Wonderous Cross: His love is so amazing it demands my soul, my life, my all.
- We are unable to accomplish financial responsibility apart from Christ
- Verse 6—Jesus implies that we are to live fruitful lives that are evident of a Savior that we say we believe in. Jesus says if we aren’t, then our Salvation comes into question. Dead branches are thrown away to be burned. He is eluding to an eternity apart from Him. Mature Christians understand their purpose. Mature Christians aren’t offended when challenged to do the Lord’s will. It is natural to bear fruit.
- Verse 7—If you follow God’s will and plan for your life including for your finances, then Jesus says ask for whatever you wish. So ask Him to guide you in the decisions you need to make to be the best steward of your money.
- Verse 8—Jesus simply states that asking in His will is God’s desire and it shows you to be His disciples. And isn’t that what we want? To be known as a disciple of the most high God. When people come to FBC
Malachi 3:6-12—I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Application—Do your finances belong to God?
- Your financial obedience expresses your love for God—verses 9-17
- Verses 9 & 10—Jesus loves you more than you could imagine. He is asking you to remain in that love in by being obedient to His commands, which include financial giving.
- Verse 11—if you want to experience all that God has for, all that He wants for you, and all that He has purposed for you, be complete in Him. Be assured that as you give you express that complete mature love
- Verse 12 & 13—Jesus never held back anything from us. He loved us so much that He laid down His life for us and He calls friends. All He asks for us in return is to love each other
- Verse 14—the way we know if we are Jesus’ friends is if we do what He commands not asks of us. He commands us to love each other. It is not an option whether want to or not. We are commanded to do it. Through the love you have for Jesus and each other, giving of our money becomes a normal part of our expression to God. It shows our love.
- Verse 15—We are to serve Christ with all that we are, have, and do. Jesus wants to give us a new title and that is friend. You are a friend of God when you show love.
- Verse 16—God loves you and He want you to produce the best fruit possible. He want you to produce fruit that will last past its shelf life. He wants you to produce fruit that is eternally ripe. When you give your financial resources to God’s Kingdome work, there is no telling how much eternal impact that your generosity will affect.
- Verse 17—Love each other
Illustration—Proverbs 22:7—Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
Application—Have you been expressing your love for Christ through your financial giving? If you haven’t, today you can commit to do that.
Conclusion—God wants the best for you. He knows how much money can control and enslave us. You can do so much in this world when you have the resources to do it. We must never allow ourselves to be controlled by money. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24—No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Money is one of those things that we can manage or it will manage us. It can bring joy or it heartache. Jesus wants us to be free in all areas of our lives including financial issues.
Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,