Messages from Pastor Raddatz
May 2, 2021, Mount Olive Lutheran Church Houston TX
Other texts for the day: Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 150 and 1 John 4:1-11
GLORIFYING GOD - by BEARING FRUIT
Dear Followers of Jesus,
John 15 begins “Jesus’ farewell discourses”. He is going to the cross. He wants to impart his final words and his final directions to his followers. It continues through the next couple chapters.
The focus for us today is this: WE GLORIFY GOD AS WE LISTEN TO HIS WORD, in the Bible AND LIVE OUT HIS CALLING. The good fruit of Christ in us will come. For he is the vine through which we the branches are nourished.
The words sound simple, yet deep. “It must occur to all who read these discourses preserved by John how simple the text looks, and yet how transcendent is the thought when it is even dimly understood. John is sailing sky-high: are we? It is the strongest food in the Bible.” (Trench)
John 15:8 “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and prove to be my disciples”. Glory and fruit are the focus of Jesus’ words. The Christian life is proof that Jesus abides in me. By abiding in Jesus the fruit will come.
GLORY means to praise and magnify
While the world glories in man’s accomplishments we are directed to glorify our Father in heaven. I love how the Bible records Jesus crucifixion. Jesus himself refers to his death and commending his spirit into the hands of the father. Then a gentile soldier praises God in heaven by saying (Luke 23:47) “Certainly this man was innocent!” God can use a pagan as his witness if he chooses to do.
It glorifies God when we turn to him and turn away from worthless idols. This alone is the fruit God wants to see. It is called repentance.
John the Baptist, a forerunner to Jesus, confronted the crowds of Jewish followers who came to him out in the wilderness in the Gospels. He is not the best “front man”. He would not be my best choice to warm the crowd before Jesus came, but he is God’s best choice. John the Baptist is a man of truth. When the Jewish leaders proclaim that they have a long ethnic heritage of God’s chosen people. They trust their heritage. In this they find security. John says it is not our heritage or background, but it is our response to the call to follow Jesus. He directs them and us with the words, BEAR FRUIT IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE, Matthew 3:8. This means that we glorify God when we turn to him and turn away from worthless God’s. This alone is the first-fruit God wants to see. This is repentance.
FRUIT is that which originates from something, an effect and produces a result. An apple does not start out as an apple. It starts out as a seed. For us, the seed is the word of God and the fruit is that which Christ produces in our life. People will recognize that we are Christians by what the word of God produces in us. It will even produce what he wants, in spite of us. In 1 John 4:10, we read, “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Propitiation means satisfactory substitute. Christ died for our sins. He made us his own through his sacrificial love, therefore he being the source of love let’s his love flow through me.
The Bible reminds us that:
- Mat 7:18, A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
- Mat 7:16, You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
PROOF OF CHRISTIANITY is found in the fruit of forgiveness
Maybe, like me, you’ve run across these Jesus followers. Through the eyes of grace, they meet life head-on. They’re forgiven, and so they’re free.”
- Free to truly live.” – You Are Forgiven, pp. 183, 185
“A sound tree that bears good fruit” is “one who conducts his life, existence, and behavior according to the Word of God, pure and unadulterated.” -Luther on The Sermon on the Mount
HOW DO YOU LEARN TO BEAR FRUIT? Welcome God’s pruning!
POSTED by Dottie Almoney,
A few weeks ago, I was watching my grandson Joey- it was that Saturday when the temperature was in the 80’s – a bit too hot and humid for an April day in my opinion. I decided to prune back some of my bushes in my flower beds. As is always the case, Joey wanted to help. While I was determined to take my pruning shears and cut a certain bush with its spindly branches to the ground – Joey said, “Wait Gigi= I like that bush– don’t cut it.” I proceeded to explain that unless I pruned it, it wouldn’t continue to grow into a healthy plant. The branches would remain skinny and frail. It became a teaching moment.
Lessons that are learned early and learned again and again have the greatest chance to stick to us.
Robert Fulghum wrote, and interesting little book called: Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
In his book he says that Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
• Share everything.
• Play fair.
• Don’t hit people.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Clean up your own mess.
• Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
• Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
• Wash your hands before you eat.
• Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
• Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
• Take a nap every afternoon.
• When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic,
• hold hands, and stick together.
• Be aware of wonder.
• Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
• Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
• And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
This sums up what being it meant to be a disciple – Of how we are to treat each other, be aware of God’s creation that surrounds us; offer forgiveness, to be grateful for even the simplest things that God bestows on us and the knowledge that even as disciples we will experience death.
Going back to Fulghum again, it is interesting to note the term for Kindergarten is actually German for garden of children. In 1817, Frederick Froebel established a school where he believed that God’s reason should be the center of the educational system.
Froebel called for German women to come together and support the kindergarten. He described children as plants and teachers as gardeners. So this bit of history parallels our Gospel Reading.
Author C. Joy Bell has this to say about growth and Education:
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open.
We are called to be risk takers for the kingdom of God, THIS WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU SERVE GOD BY SERVING ONE ANOTHER – to reach our branches out as far as we can and we are fortunate to have God as our master gardener. God not only gives us fruit to consume, but He also wants us to produce much fruit. Again we point to John 15:5 where Jesus tells us “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” He’s telling us that to be able to do the things that make a difference in the world that we need to stay attached to Him. He is our primary source of nourishment and we need to be solidly connected to Him. Just as fruits that we eat nourish us, being closely attached to Him gives us what we need most to do the things He wants us to do in our lives.
JESUS WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU!
Stay connected to Jesus and the Fruit will come,
Pastor John Raddatz
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