There is that delicious freedom and commitment to God's Will, whatever it may be, that the Holy Spirit of God produces when you pray, as we say, in the Spirit.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, my radio friend, how in the world are you? Thank God we can be in the world, we don’t have to be of the world. You don’t have to be smeared with the world’s dirty brush in order to live in a dirty world. God can keep you. “You who are kept,” says Peter, “You who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last day.” God keeps you ready and keeps you clean, if you let Him. Hallelujah for that.
Well, you and I are looking at the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John and we were talking about this matter of abiding in Christ and the fact that you need to keep the life connection unhindered, unbroken. Keep the life connection, the nourishment collection, the sustenance and strength connection such as occurs between the branch and the vine, need to keep that clear and unhindered if you wanna bear fruit. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” The last time we got together, just before time ran out, I was asking this question. Suppose you are conscious of having lost the blessing of God, and your life and heart is dry and fruitless, and you know that God hasn’t moved and you know something needs to be done, what do you do? Well, don’t start getting more busy. There isn’t something that you need to do in that sense.
But there are some other things to take care of, and I referred us to the second chapter of the Book of the Revelation where our Lord Jesus said, “You’ve lost your first love, repent therefore and do the first works.” The first thing that I have to do is deal with whatever cut off the blessing of God in the first place. Generally, it’s some disobedience, or neglect, or carelessness, or selfishness on my part that I have to face and that’s why our Lord Jesus used that word in Revelation 2, “repent.” That’s the first thing. I have to acknowledge the fact that something is amiss. And when I do, oh, how gracious God is. “Return unto me,” He said. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. God is always ready when you decide to move back into His blessed presence.
So deal with that would you, beloved, whatever it is? It’s just as simple as telling God the truth. The word “confess” in 1 John 1:9 is a Greek word that means, “say the same thing as.” Just agree with God. He knows the truth already. He won’t make any discoveries about you while you are making your prayer. He knows it already. He’s waiting for you to acknowledge it.
Mother knows when she comes into the kitchen and finds the little boy with cookie crumbs on his face, she knows he’s been in the cookie jar. She knows it, but he’s trying to hide it. What does she do? Well, she applies whatever form of discipline is necessary until the little tyke admits for himself that he’s been in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing.
Repent simply means to agree with God about it and face up to it. Then He says, “Repent and do the first works.” And just as we went off the air the last time we got together, I was reminding you that the first things you do as a newborn Christian are those which tend to keep your heart warm and tender toward God. What are they? Read your Bible, feed on it. Pray earnestly about all of the factors in your life. Obey God quickly when the Spirit of God nudges you about something. Witness for your Lord, that is to share with others enthusiastically the joy you have in Christ. This is not proselytizing or trying to change people’s minds but simply sharing your joy in the Lord Jesus and telling them what He’s done for you. That’s what a witness does. You’ll find as you follow that simple procedure of feeding on the Word, listening to your Lord, obeying what He tells you, and sharing with others your joy in the Lord, you’ll find that your heart becomes warm and tender toward Him.
There’s a therapeutic value in waiting on God until you have hit bottom on your own set of repentance needs and you’ve agreed with God and you’ve listened to what He wants you to do and then you set out to obey Him. All of a sudden, you find yourself loving God so very, very much. And I can’t tell you how that works, I only know that it does. And I would earnestly urge every one of you, beloved, to follow that procedure. Face up to whatever is in the way between you and God. Ask Him to remove it, agree with Him about it and then start doing the things that you used to do when you were a new Christian which kept your heart warm and tender toward the Lord: The Word, and prayer, and obedience, and witnessing. Okay?
Now, we go on into John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” Now, why did He have to say that? Well, because He wants you to know what your proper place is in relationship with the Lord. Too many of us, I think, treat God as though He were some heavenly office boy whom we could dispatch on the errands that we want taken care of. If we do have a prayer list, it’s like a laundry list of things that we have to take up with the deity. Now, I’m in favor of prayer lists, but I think you have to realize that you pray from the proper position. He’s the creator, you’re the creature. He’s the potter, you’re the clay. He’s the master, you’re the servant. “You call me master and Lord and ye say, ‘Well, for so I am,'” Jesus said. He’s the master, you’re the servant. He gives the orders, you do the obeying.
Remember the story of the little boy who was saying his prayers and he said, “Lord, do this and do that,” and his mother interrupted him, put her hand lovingly on that little shoulder and said, “Sonny boy, don’t bother giving orders, just report for duty.” Prayer that’s effective is prayer that agrees with God. “We know that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us and if we ask anything according to His will, we know that we have the petition we desired of Him,” the Bible says. And that’s where the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit comes in. “He that searcheth the hearts” that’s God the Father, “Knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because He, the Spirit, maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. We know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us,” or you could say in us, “With groanings which cannot be uttered.” So, you depend upon the indwelling Holy Spirit of God to guide you as you pray.
You never need to wonder about… People ask me, they say, “How can I know whether I’m praying in the Spirit or not?” You never need to wonder. “The Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God,” the Bible says. And you will know when you’re praying in the will of God. There is that delicious freedom and commitment to God’s will, whatever it may be, that the Holy Spirit of God produces when you pray, as we say, in the Spirit. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re doing it all right, just trust the Spirit of God to pray through you. And when you do and when He does, then you’re praying according to the will of God, and if that be so, John says, “We know that if we ask anything according to His will, we have,” have, not will have, “We have the petition we desired of Him.”
Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Faith accepts the will of God before it arrives. And that, you see, gives you perfect peace, because God always does everything right and you don’t have to wonder at all whether things will turn out well or not. “He hath done all things well,” that’s what they said about Him then and that’s what we say about our Savior now.
So He wants us to have the right relationship. He said, “Don’t forget I’m the vine, you’re not the vine. I’m the vine, you’re the branch.” And so He says, “He that abideth in me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.” Now, He wants you to have the right relationship and he wants you to be aware of the parameters of limitation. He said, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” You’re physically alive, yes. You’re mentally alert, yes. You’re spiritually aware, yes. But if you don’t have the blessing of God, you can’t do anything that lasts for eternity.
Have you crossed that watershed in your own thinking? See, it’s possible to be physically alive, and mentally alert, and religiously aware and at the same time not really be doing anything. I think one of the saddest sights is to see a church where the minister and his dear people are not really in the Word, and they’re not winning souls, and they’re not committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of them have never been saved but they’re religious and so they do things, and they have their Sunday morning service, very rarely a Sunday evening service. What would they do in a Sunday night service, huh? But then they have their services, and they have their bazaars, and they have their committees, and they have their crusades, and they engage in all sorts of civil action, this is part of the new social gospel, you know. Evangelism has been redefined by the liberals as getting involved in social matters. Ridiculous. Evangelism has to do with leading a person to Jesus Christ, it never could be anything else. Anyhow, it’s a sad business to see people who are busy but not really doing anything that counts for eternity.
Our Lord Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and He said, “Ye compass land and sea to make one proselyte.” They were working, working hard. But He said, “When he’s made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” He says you’re not doing any good with all of your hard work. “Without me,” Jesus said, “Ye can do nothing.” Not something, not only a little bit, not very much. He didn’t say that. He said, “nothing.” This is an all or nothing kind of an activity. Either Jesus is doing it through you or nothing is going on. Either Jesus is working through you or nothing is going on that will count for eternity.
Pastor, you wanna look at your pastoral work from that point of view? Is the Lord Jesus Christ doing anything through your life? Any lives been changed? Any hearts rearranged? Any home salvaged? Any characters rebuilt? Any sins confessed? Is Jesus doing anything through your life? When people look at you, do they get a pretty good picture of what it’s like to be a real Christian? “Without me,” He said, “Without me, ye can do nothing.”
Now, the obverse side of that is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Without me you can do nothing, with me you can do everything God asks you to do. That’s the other side of it. And perhaps, I’m speaking today to somebody who’s discouraged, you may have tried hard at something and it didn’t work. Listen, with the Lord Jesus Christ working in you, you can do anything God wants you to do. Yes, you can. And don’t gauge your performance of tomorrow by yesterday’s difficulties or failures. Instead, take fresh hope in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ working in you, Philippians 2:13, “It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” And so, take fresh hope from the fact that God working in you can produce anything that God wants done. “I can do all things through Christ.” Without me, nothing. With me, everything. That’s what the Savior is saying to you today. Take hold of it by faith. Take the first little step of obedience, and He, I promise you, will see you through to blessing and to success.
Father God, help us today to have the good sense to stay close to Jesus, depending on Him. I ask in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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