Sabbath 11/22/14 Daytona Beach Seventh Day Baptist Pastor Wray sermon “What Kind of Branch Are You?“

Sabbath 11/22/14 Daytona Beach Seventh Day Baptist Pastor Wray sermon “What Kind of Branch Are You?“ John 15:1-8

Since this is our 130th church anniversary, I was trying to think of what I would share with you. I believe churches are made up of individuals and these individuals carry the ideas of the church and the church philosophy. I’ve been to some churches that are quite exclusive and they say don’t come here. I have been to churches that worship in a certain style and they said don’t bring any other style of worship to their church. The time that I have been with this church has been the steepest learning curve of my pastoral career. This is because this church embraces a little bit of everything. Diversity. The ideal of diversity is that people are diverse-different. I’m sure glad everybody is not like me. My wife is doubly glad! The diversity that God had blessed us all with, makes our life journey interesting. The question is what kind of branch are you?

In Florida there is a tree that is unlike anything anywhere else. You go out into the swamp, trees grow so big. The limbs turn over, come down to the ground and then go back up. Yet it is not the tree, it is not the trunk, it’s a branch. Growing right next to it is this little willow tree, with its wispy looking branches that look like switches. Here are two trees so different yet growing harmoniously together. No arguments, no fights. They are like Rodney King, “Why can’t we just get along?” What kind of branch are you? In the fall when it’s getting cold and chilly, we miss our famous Florida concept of sunshine. Down at the beach yesterday, I knew the Yankees from the Floridians. The Yankees were in the water. They paid to get down here and they were going to enjoy the water no matter how cold it was. The Floridians were shivering!

In the spring when the weather is getting warmer, people are planting flowers, gardens and vineyards. Back in Jesus’ day, grape vineyards were an important industry for the nation of Israel’s economy. Back then everybody knew about growing grapes and vineyards for the wineries. Jesus knew this so He used this as a picture to describe to the people their relationship to Him and to God our Father. What kind of branch are you?
Jesus is the main vine of the vineyard and we are the branches that grow off Him. God, the Father, is the gardener and there are different branches in the vineyard. There are at least four types of branches.
  1. Throw Away Branch:
    God cuts off every branch that bears no fruit. Jesus says if any branch doesn’t remain in Him then he is a throw away branch that gets picked up and thrown in the fire to burn up. When the gardener is going through his garden and sees branches that don’t bear fruit, he cuts them off and throws them into a pile. Later the pile of dead branches is burned up. Jesus here is painting a picture of people who at one time were Christians. Something happened and they stopped producing Fruits of Faith. They stopped obeying God and they stopped living in a Christian way. Instead they started living and talking like the rest of the unbelieving world. They stopped producing Fruits of Faith in their individual lives. Why did this happen? The answer is in verse six where Jesus says that if anyone does not remain in Him. They who don’t have contact with Jesus thru His Word, will lose their Faith and fall away. They who stop bearing fruit and become a throw away branch Why does this happen? Because it is so easy to neglect the Word of God. This is the one thing we need to keep our faith alive and to bear Fruits of Faith. Some Christians break down in the middle of their lives. The Word of God helps us to maintain our daily connection to Jesus. This is easy to neglect as is the doing of good works. Anyone who does this is eventually picked up and thrown into the fire on Judgment day. The question is what kind of branch are you? Are you producing the Fruit of Faith in your life or have you broken down and been disconnected from the vine? It is good that we can go to Jesus, repent of our sins and be forgiven. Can you say Amen? Jesus says we are cleansed because of the words that He has spoken to us. These words carry with them power. Jesus lived, He died and He is risen for our sake. That is how Jesus cleanses us.
2) The Pruned Branch:
In verse 2 it says that the branch that bears fruit, he prunes so it is even more fruitful. One of the jobs of the gardener is to prune the grape vines. He cuts off the dead branches. He clips, snips on the live branches and trims them way back. All of this drastic cutting is so the branches reach their full potential. Even though the branches look almost dead, a month later they will produce a very large crop. This is only because the gardener did the sniping and clipping.
This is what God does to us. He prunes us and snips and clips on us and removes things in our lives. He changes things around for us and He prunes us for our own good. God wants each of us to reach our full potential as Christians. He wants us to produce as many Fruits of Faith as possible. All of us get pruned and though it may not be pleasant, we trust God. He is the gardener and God knows what He is doing. The goal is that each of us becomes a fruitful branch.

3) The Fruitful Branch:
The fruitful Christian has a life full of good works. The good works include obedience to God. Doing what God wants even when the rest of the world does different. It includes how you treat people at home and at work. You should want to serve and help people and witness Jesus to them. We all should want to be Fruitful branches.

4) The Connected Branch:
This branch remains in Christ Jesus so it can be more fruitful. To be a good person in the eyes of God, he must remain in Christ. Don’t be wishy-washy, one way this day and another way tomorrow. You must remain in Christ and be constant in your relationship with Jesus. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. A person who stays in regular contact with Jesus Christ, will produce much fruit in their life. Jesus promises that remaining in Him will make you bear much fruit. The only way to keep connected to Christ is to have regular contact with the Word and regular contact with God’s people. God, Word and Fellowship is how you remain in Christ.

There is a story about a native from a mountain village who went to a big city for the first time. There he saw electric lights for the first time and was amazed. He brought back to the mountain bags and bags of electric light bulbs and switches. He hung the light bulbs all around the outside of his house and on the bushes. When night came he flipped the switches and nothing happened. There was no light. No one had told him that the bulbs needed electric power to come on and give light. Their source of power came from electricity and they could do nothing without it.
Jesus tells you and me today after 130 years of this church’s existence, that apart from Jesus we can do nothing! He provides the electricity, the power that each of us needs in our lives to produce the Fruits of Faith. We are thankful that we have His Word.

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.
So I ask you today, what kind of branch are you?