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RE - Week 4

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Well, we're so glad to have all of you with us for the fourth week of our series called RE. Today, I want to talk to you about one of the most important Christian words in all of the Bible and it is the word remain. Can I get all of you to say Remain? All of our campuses, you can do better than that, we're not doing this without you! Everybody say, Remain. I'm curious, to those of you that are Christians, if you're anything like me, I wonder how many of you, you know some of the right things to do that help you spiritually, you know what builds your faith and helps you grow closer to Christ, and there are seasons when you do those things and when your faith grows, and when you're spiritually thriving, but before long life just starts to happen and you put aside some of those things that help you remain close to God. And before long, you find yourself not doing the things you should do and you find yourself doing the things that you shouldn't do and you wonder, How in the world did I get from where I was to where I am? How many of you can relate to that and you've ever been there before? In fact, what I want to do is ask you about nine different qualities that you probably hope that you don't have, but if you're like many people you probably do have. I want to ask you about these, and as I do so if you find yourself in one of these qualities or categories, just go ahead and check the little space in your notes to help indicate where you are. Here's the question: Are you sometimes or often one of these nine things? All of our different locations, I wonder how many of you would say that sometimes you can be a little bit unloving? You lose your temper, you can be inconsiderate, you can be judgmental? If that's you, go ahead and check your box. Don't you dare grab someone else's pen and unlovingly check theirs! That's not how we play here! Another question is: Are you sometimes or often depressed? You may be lacking joy? You may be miserable, you may be real vulnerable to the ups and downs in life; when things are good you're good, but when things aren't good you just feel very, very low. If that's you, just check the little space. Are you often or sometimes worried? You're concerned, you're anxious, you're concerned about whats coming up and you're lacking a real sense of peace. If that's you, mark that down. Maybe some of you would say you can often be impatient? You're rushed, you're in a hurry, nothing ever goes fast enough for you. You're already just sitting back going, I've got too much to do! When is this message going to be over? It's not going fast enough for me! Don't laugh, because I think that you actually think that! Maybe some of you battle with being rude. You just say what you think, it just comes out. You can be short with the people you love; let's call it what it is, you can be a little bit of a jerk! If that's you let's just call it, Yes, I can be rude. How many of you would say you're often or sometimes sinful? You're doing the things that you know you shouldn't do, you're sinning against a Holy God and against His people. Some of you would say that you are often or sometimes harsh. You just say whatever you think. You can be unkind to people, you don't care about what they think. You're critical and sloppy with your words. Some of you would say that you're sometimes or often unfaithful. Maybe unfaithful to God, maybe unfaithful to a friend; you've gossiped about a friend behind his or her back. Maybe unfaithful to a spouse, either in your thought life or visually, or in your actions or your deeds. Some of you would say you might be often or sometimes self-indulgent. Pastor Steven Furtick sent Amy and me a peanut butter, chocolate cheesecake for our 20th Anniversary! Can anybody say, Self-indulgent? I can't believe we ate the whole thing! You lack self control, you see something you want and you just go for it. All of our different campuses how many of you would say, I checked one or more boxes? How many of you checked nine boxes, nine? You're going straight to hell! Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars! I'm only joking because all of us at one time or another, we struggle in these nine different areas. And what I did is I just baited you and I gave you nine qualities that are the exact opposite of what Paul in the Bible, calls the nine Fruits of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, this is what the Apostle Paul said, he said: But the... What? Everybody help me out, he said: But the fruits of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self control. I asked you, Are you unloving? But the Fruit of the Spirit is love. I asked you if you're often depressed, and the Fruit of the Spirit is joy. I asked you if you're worried, and the Fruit of the Spirit is peace. I asked you nine different qualities that are the exact opposite of what we should have when we are remaining in Christ. I want to unpack that for you today and I believe with all of my heart that there are many of you that the Spirit of our God is going to speak to your heart and you will learn to remain in Christ like never, ever before. Some of you, you will enter into a relationship with Christ for the first time and as you remain in Him, you will spiritually never, ever be the same again. Let's talk about remaining in Christ. We'll look at John, Chapter 15, we'll start in verses four and five. Jesus was teaching using kind of a, almost farming or an agricultural illustration. He said this in verse four, He said: Remain in me... And I will do what? Everybody say it aloud, he said: Remain in Me, and I will remain in you... He said: ...No branch can bear fruit by itself;... What must the branch do? Say it aloud: must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit... What is fruit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. ...Neither can you bear fruit unless you... Do what? Jesus said: ...unless you remain in Me... Then He said: ...I am the vine;... Now, just to make sure you're paying attention, Jesus said, I am the vine, so who is the vine? The answer is Jesus is the vine. And He said: are the branches... Who are the branches? We are the branches. Jesus is the vine; I'm the vine, you're the branches. ...If a man... Does what? Here it is again: ...If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. The bad news is, apart from Him you can do how much? Nada, nothing! Imagine if you're a branch and the branch falls off the tree. And there's a branch on the ground, how much fruit can that branch on the ground produce? Nothing at all. If you're not connected to the true Source, you can not produce the spiritual fruit that God wants you to produce. In fact, this word remain is a really interesting word and John, we are reading John's Gospel, John used this word 43 different times. John's main theme was love. The second most dominate theme in John's writing was remaining in the One that we should know and love. In fact, the Greek word if you're taking notes, that's translated as remain; it means to stay, it means to abide, it means to dwell, it means to remain. In other words he's saying that if you stay in Christ, Christ will stay in you. If you abide in Christ, Christ will abide in you. If you dwell in Christ, Christ will dwell in you. If you remain in Christ, Christ will remain in you. In fact, my wife Amy was trying to teach this principle to our children in the daily homeschool Bible devotion that she does with our kids. And the older ones were getting it but the younger ones, Joy and Bookie, they didn't get it. And so, she said, We are to remain in Christ. They said, How do you do that? And admittedly, it's kind of a difficult concept to grasp. She said, It's like when you live by the Spirit, the Bible says you live... They were still kind of blank. And so she said, Think about it this way, if there's a little child, who does the little child need to be next to to be nourished, to be guided, to be protected? And Joy, my youngest one says; That child needs to be by the mama! And she said, Exactly! What happens if that child leaves the mama and goes out and plays in the street? And they said, The child could get run over. And so she said, Think about it, if the child wants all of the good things that life has, who does the child need to live by? And Bookie stood up and says, He needs to live by the mama! And then he said it again, he said, Live by the mama! And then he said it again and he started dancing! Live by the mama, live by the mama! Live by the... And Joy stood up and started going, Live by the mama, live by the mama! And they started going around the house saying, Live by the mama, live by the mama! And that's why homeschool kids tend to grow up the best sort of way! And Amy said, That's exactly right! Just like you live by the mama, you live by the Spirit, you remain in Christ and you're nourished and you have fruit and you grow! And so, what I want to do is I want to show you two incredible promises for those who remain in Christ. The first one if you're taking notes, understand this: If you remain in Christ you will bear spiritual fruit. We've read it before, let's read it again in verse five. Jesus said: I am the vine; you are the branches... All of our churches, help me out. He said: If a man... Does what? If a man remains in me and I in him..., What will he do? ...he will bear much fruit;... What is fruit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Let me put it to you this way, if you want a good marriage what do you need? You need some love. What do you need to do to have a better marriage? Remain connected to the vine. If you want to be a better parent, what do you do? You remain connected to the vine. If you want to be a better employee or a better leader, or a better student; or if you want to be better spiritually, what's the number one most important thing you can do? Remain connected to the Source. Remain connected to the vine. What's interesting is you don't even have to pray for a lot of what people pray for because what they pray for is already theirs if they're connected to the vine. People will often say, Craig, hey would you pray for me to have joy? I just need to have joy! Would you pray for me to have peace, I just don't have any... Well, I'll pray for you to have joy, I'll pray for you to have peace; but here's the deal, if this is the branch and this is you and if this is Christ and you remain connected to Christ, you already have joy and you already have love! It is a supernatural byproduct of being connected to the vine. You don't have to work it up. I mean imagine this, imagine if this is an apple tree and this is a branch. Imagine the branch going like this...what are you trying to do? Trying to produce an apple! It doesn't do that does it? What does it do to produce an apple? It stays connected to the source. And then, naturally without any effort what does it produce? An apple! If you stay connected to Christ, there's not a natural response, but it is a supernatural response of the Fruits of the Spirit. You will bear fruit. What do you have to do? Stay connected to the vine! But if you do not stay connected to the vine, it's difficult to put into words what kind of trouble you're capable of getting into. I'll tell you a couple of examples: There's this great woman who was known for years and years as a spiritual leader of other women. Some of you know someone like this, you go to this lady for advice because she had such spiritual wisdom. Years ago I asked her, What's your secret? What is it that makes you the way you are? And she said, A couple of things. One is, I give God the first part of my day and I give God the first part of my week. And what she meant was, when she gets up, she spends time with God in His word and in prayer and then going to church being plugged in the church, it made her spiritually strong. Well unfortunately, her husband got a big promotion and a big raise. You may say, That's kind of weird. Well, it was unfortunate for them because they could now afford the things that she had always wanted. And she decided when they got the raise she needed to totally redo her house. Wouldn't have been a big deal, except she replaced the first time in the morning with God, with now researching sofas and curtains and drapes that matched the toilet paper so you could have a bathroom that pleases God in harmony and unity! And she researched granite and rugs and she took what she used to do in seeking God and she started seeking things in this world. And then, when they started remodeling their house got so chaotic that they stopped going to church. And five years later, her marriage is hanging on by a thread, hasn't been with God, hasn't been to church, and isn't even sure if she believes in God. How do you go from being a spiritual rock to not even sure you believe in God? The way you get there is you disconnect from the vine and you become a branch on the floor. That's how you get there. This week I talked to a friend of mine. He was one of the wildest guys you'd ever meet. I mean, we are talking massive drugs, everything that goes with that scene. I watched his life get totally transformed. I mean, we are talking new in Christ! And this guy became one of the most on-fire Christians I've ever seen. He led multiple LifeGroups, not one because he had to lead...he led micro-missions and he would lead people to Christ, he was a student of God's word. He sat on the second row close to me, never missed. He was in church more than I was in church. Over time, I noticed that his church attendance started to wane and he wasn't there much several years into it. I checked into it and he wasn't leading a LifeGroup, when I asked about his spiritual walk. He still loved God, he just wasn't doing some of those things that kept him connected to the vine. I found out this week something that broke his heart and broke mine, is this guy that I used to call Mr. Spiritual because he was so connected, met a lady at work who was married, and they ended up having an affair and he is just broken about what he's done. How do you go from being Mr. Spiritual to having an affair with a married woman? You get there when you're not connected to the vine. Now, some of you may be thinking, Well, I would never, I would never do that! No, you have no idea what you're capable of doing when you're not connected to the vine. When you remain connected to the vine, there's a spiritual sense of strength and fruit. And the Fruits of the Spirit, they are a promise from God. When you remain connected to the vine you'll bear spiritual fruit. The second thing if you're taking notes, and this is so exciting to me, is when you remain connected to the vine, you will possess spiritual power. I love this. In John 15:7, this is what Jesus said, He said: If you... What? Everybody help me out, he said: If you remain in me and my words... Do what? ...and my words remain in you... He said, and get this: ...ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. If you remain in me, pray and I'm going to hear your prayer and give you what you ask for. Now, here's the sad part about this verse. Too many people have taken this verse out of context and they are like, 'Oh, so God's got to do whatever I say! God, I want a brand new sports car by Friday, leather seats please, in Jesus' name!' Or, 'I want a big raise,' or 'That cute girl just came to my LifeGroup, I claim her!' Name it and claim it in Jesus' name! Blab it and grab it! We're getting married and I've got to have it! What are those? Those are, most of the time those are selfish, fleshly prayers, because the truth is, if you remain connected to the vine, you are connected to God Almighty by His Spirit. The more and the longer you remain in Him, the more His will becomes your will, His desires, your desires, His heart, your heart. And suddenly, you know His will and you want what He wants. When you're praying you're praying His will and Scripture says that when you pray His will He will give you what you pray. And then, your prayers are answered and your faith grows and you stay more connected and then you start seeing the miraculous power of God, not when you're a branch disconnected on the floor, but when you remain connected to Him. I will give you the craziest example. Awhile back, there was a couple between services that came up to me in tears. They said, Craig, we can't have children. Would you pray for us? I said, Tell me your story. Seven years we've tried. The doctor said it's physically impossible. And so, I prayed like I have for many couples. I put my hands on them and said, God, I believe you can do a miracle. In the middle of the prayer I stopped and did something I've never done before. I looked at them and said, Go home, get your nursery ready and paint it blue because the Lord said you are going to have a son! And they just looked at me! And as the words came out of my mouth, I believed them with everything in me, and as soon as they got in the air I went, Oh crap! I came home and I said to Amy, You're not going to believe what I did today! I was praying with this couple and I told them.... She said, You what? She said, Did you hear from God? And I said, I think so! But I knew I did! And then doubt entered in. And so, the weeks went by and I was like, Oh! And I don't know how many weeks it was later, they came back up and they were crying different kind of tears this time! They high-fived and we chest-bumped, and we knuckle-bumped, and we hugged and we everything you could think of! And they said, We are pregnant! And I was like, Praise God in Heaven! And then I said, Are you going to find out what you're having? And they said, No, we already know what we're having, we're having a boy! I'm like, Don't you want to check to see if there's a stem on the apple? You can check you know! They said, No! I was like, Oh! And so, for the next how many months I was in agony waiting! What's going to happen...and I got the call, We're going in to deliver him! I'm like, Call me as soon as you do! And they called me and they said, Guess what we're having? I'm like, A son? And they're like, Yes, it was a son! I'm like, Oh! And you may say, How in the world could you be a part of a story like that? And I will answer you, there's only one way and one way only, and that is to walk so closely with Him that when He speaks you know His voice, and you're so into His presence that you have the faith to ask for things that may be humanly impossible, but because you know Him you understand, with God all things are possible when you remain in the vine. I'm preaching better than you're responding! That's some good preaching, when you remain connected to the vine! So, let's talk about this, how do you remain in the vine? Let me give you five different ways to remain in the vine. Number one if you're taking notes: Remain in God's word. There's no excuse, get your Smart Phone, download YouVersion and you've got the Bible with you everywhere all of the time. Don't you dare waste your mind by looking at your Twitter account and your facebook page and listening to talk radio all day long and depleting yourself of spiritual nutrition. You take and feed on the word of God and your remain in His truth and His truth in you and you will bear much fruit. 2. Remain in Christian fellowship. Just this week, my LifeGroup met together. Why? Because there is something that happens when believers come together and we pray and we encourage one another. I hear it all of the time, people say, Well, like in the summertime, I'm just not as connected to God! Why? Because you abandoned the fellowship of the church. Because you've put God's word down, because you're doing stuff and your distant. Don't you dare, how stupid is it? You know being in the presence of God with people in church helps you grow spiritually. We're too tired, we're resting! You're disconnecting from the vine and there's no telling what you can do when you're disconnected from the vine. Remain in Christian fellowship. 3. Remain consistent in prayer. Remain consistent in prayer. This doesn't mean that you have to pray an hour straight and fancy prayers. The Bible says to pray without ceasing and I've learned just to kind of do life in an attitude of prayer. It's just like conversation, it may be a sentence all through the day...sentence, sentence, sentence, flare prayers; God be with me, God give me the words to say, God bless that guy, God I pray that you would help me to minister to them. Just ongoing conversation, ever awareness of God's presence. What are you doing? You're remaining connected to the vine. 4. Remain amazed by God's creation. You know, you can connect with God when you just look at a sunrise, look at a sunset, look at a rainbow and go, God, you're showing off again! That's just, that flower God, how did you do that? And that little hummingbird, he's not supposed to...God you're just cool! And you just look around and you've got a God-consciousness as you drive, as you look at the glory of creation that will praise Him if people do not. And then number five: 5. Remain faithful in service. Remain faithful in service. Our culture drives us to a self-serving attitude, doesn't it? It does, self-serving, but there's something that happens when you serve others in the name of Jesus. When you're serving in LifeKids or when you're serving on a micro-mission, when you're serving in Switch, when you're helping someone out who doesn't have something. And when you do it in the name of Jesus, Jesus says you are doing it unto me! What are you doing? You're staying connected to the vine. But our culture says that we don't have time to read the Bible, we don't have time to go to church, who has time to look at creation around, who has time to serve anybody? Guess what you're doing? You're a dead stick, you're disconnected from the vine. Apart from Him, you can do nothing of spiritual value. Remain, why am I so into this? Because I'm telling you, there have been significant seasons of my life, even though I was in ministry, I didn't remain connected to the vine. Here's what I did, especially in the early years, back when I was an associate pastor, even before LifeChurch. I let the work of God, ministry, replace the work of God in me. I substituted doing church work for remaining connected to the vine and I didn't bear fruit. Guess what I was? Unloving, impatient, harsh, rude, self-indulgent. Why? Because I didn't have the Fruits of the Spirit, of being connected to the vine. I'm telling you, stay connected. Remain, don't be stupid. There's fruit, there's power. It's all about the RE. Satan tries to take us from God. God wants us to repent, to remember, to restore, to remain. In fact, I love this series because years ago I did a study on words that started with RE, because they're some of the most important words in the Bible. And so, I listed them all out and I actually wrote a one-sentence message called, The RE sermon! So today, you not only get part four, but you get a bonus message, it's part five of the RE series and it's called the RE _____. Are you ready for this? If there were seat belts, I'd tell you to buckle them right now because you're going to need it, because this sermon is so hot, you're not going to be able to believe it! Are you ready for this? You've got to get ready! Don't you dare miss it! Here it is, listen to the RE words: When you rebuke the enemy and return to God by repenting of your sins and receiving Christ, your spirit will be reborn, your mind renewed; you will be rebuilt. And while you're reconciled by Christ's redeeming work, you will remain connected in the vine and you will reap the rewards of relationship, causing revival to break free! If you don't clap for that, you can't come back! Because that's re-powerful, and re-powerful is not even a word! It's all about the RE! It's all about the RE! Now, what's amazing is I memorized that and I don't even know our church address! I always have to say, Laurie, what's our address again? What our address again? Okay, RE! It's remain in Him! And let me tell you, if you don't, let me show you what the Bible says. Let me give you a warning from Jesus if you don't remain in Christ. Verse six of John fifteen, here's what Jesus said: If anyone does... What? Help me out everybody! If anyone does not remain in me, Jesus says, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. In other words, a person not connected to Christ has no eternal chance of making a difference in this world. Apart from me, Jesus said, you can't do anything of eternal value, but if you remain in me I'll remain in you and you will bear much fruit. And whatever you ask for as you remain in me, He will give you what you ask for. There's so many of you today that need to acknowledge, I'm the branch on the ground and I need to be reconnected to the vine. And when you remain in Him, He will do things you never thought possible. All of our churches, let's go to Him in an attitude of prayer. Father, we pray God that your spirit would seal this message into the hearts of your people, that we would forever remain in Christ and He in us. All of our churches, as you are in an attitude of prayer today, let's just call it what it is. There are a lot of you, if you look at your life right now, you're not as connected as you should be. You're more like the branch on the ground than you are the branch connected to the tree. You've been disconnected, your prayer life is flat, your time in God's word is inconsistent at best. There's no real Christian fellowship, there's no real intimacy in prayer. You may know you should do those things, but you put them aside. And there are more of the unholy fruits than there are the Fruits of the Spirit, and you are going to say, God, I want to be connected like never before. I want to be connected to the vine! If that's you, would you just lift up your hands right now, be real honest. Lift them up, all of our different churches say, Yes, I want to be reconnected to the vine. There are tons and tons of hands and God, I thank you for your grace that you truly love us so much that even when we're disconnected, you love to graft us back into the vine. I pray God today, that your Spirit would do a healing work, that God as we recommit and reconnect to you, God that we would immediately sense your presence and your grace and your forgiveness. And then, God I pray your children connected to you would see spiritual fruit that love would supernaturally emerge and joy, and peace and so on. And God, I pray for a supernatural power. God, as we walk in your presence and sense your goodness, I pray God that we have the faith to ask for prayers according to your will and God, we'll see your supernatural power here on earth just as it reigns in Heaven. God, help us to be reconnected and to remain in you always, to realize it's not about works, but it's just about a relationship, remaining in relationship God with you. As you keep praying today at all of our churches, many of you are going to realize plainly, this is what I am, I am a branch disconnected from the God of the universe. You can believe in Him and still be disconnected. The Bible says that even the demons believe in Him, believing in Him is not knowing Him personally. And you recognize, you could be like me, I grew up, I went to church, but I'm telling you, I was not connected to the vine. Just because you're in church doesn't mean you truly know Him. You could have a head knowledge without a heart relationship. Some of you, you may look at your life, I talked to a lady earlier, she said, I really want to know Him, but I'm too bad, I just have to clean up first. Now here's the deal, you just come to Him as you are, you come to Him now, you never put it off. His love is real and He wants you to come as you are and you just simply repent of your sins. When you repent and confess your sins, the Bible says that He will forgive you and He will make you new. I'm telling you, that's why many of you are here, it's time to get connected to the vine. You're not going to become some kind of religious person following a set of rules and being judgmental. No, you are going to be in a relationship with a loving God who transforms you, who heals you, who makes you new, and you will live with His presence, His goodness and His power. At all of our churches, there are those of you, you know this is your moment. That's why you're here, you can sense it, your heart is beating fast. Guess what? God loved you enough to bring you here. All of our churches, those of you who would say, That's me, I can sense it. I want to give my life to Him, I want to be connected, I want His grace. I need His forgiveness, I give my life to Jesus, the Son of God who gave His life to me! I want to be connected to God, through His Son Jesus! If that's your prayer at all of our churches, you'd say, Yes, I want to know Him, I give my life! Would you lift your hands high right now? Lift them high right now! All of our churches, lift them high! Those of you at ChurchOnline, you click right below me. As there are hands at churches around the world, would you take a moment and just pray together in the family of God with those around you. Pray aloud, pray Heavenly Father, I want to know you. I repent of my sins and return to you. I rejoice that I am saved and in a relationship and redeemed and made new! My life is not my own, Jesus is first. My Savior and my Lord, fill me with Your Spirit so I can remain in You and serve You for the rest of my life. Thank you for new life, I give You mine. In Jesus' name I pray. All of our churches, would you worship God for remaining in Christ!

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Duration: 35 minutes and 52 seconds
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Jun 27, 2011

RE - Week 4 - - Craig Groeschel

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