Posts Tagged ‘ friends ’

Sermon: Growing into Friends of God – John 15:7-17

I preached again!

Once again, I was back in Paulden covering for Brother Paul. We both have been retreading ground. In my last sermon, I preached verses 1-11, and last week Paul did the same (covering things from a slightly different angle.)

This week, I started in verse 7, so only a little retreading.

As usual, these are rough notes, and I added quite a bit.

Unfortunately, the recording had a major error, so there is no video or audio. At least you can read my notes, I guess.

Growing into Friends of God – John 15:7-17

Intro – The Day I “Became a Man”

Our society today rebels against true manhood and womanhood, against all the things God calls good: family, traditional roles, childhood and parenthood.

Frankly, it is all stupid, especially as they wonder why our society is going to hell in a hand basket, even as studies keep coming out showing the importance of fathers and two-parent homes, the rise in depression especially among younger generations and even those who “find their true selves” through gender-swapping and transgenderism, and the yearning for justice that no one can find.

Yet, growing up I wanted to be like my dad.

I remember the day I knew he saw me as a man. It was a summer day in 2002. We were taking our almost annual road trip from Illinois to Upstate New York to see family and friends. I was 18-going-on-19, and I was ready for the regular 12-14 hour day of riding in the back seat, reading, playing some games with my siblings, maybe pretending to nap. (I don’t nap well while traveling.) My dad usually drove, though sometimes he would have my mom drive for a couple of hours to let himself rest a little.

We made our stop near the border of Indiana and Ohio, did the usual rest stop stuff and got some lunch, and then headed back to the car.

Dad stops me a few feet from the car, dangles the keys in front of me, and says, “Ready for your turn?”

It was huge. I knew I was a man that day.

But he also went through a quick list of “remember this and that” for safe driving and such, as well as a reminder that he would be next to me if I got worried or needed to pull over.

In other words, “You’re not a kid anymore. Remember the rules, and remember I am here to help.”

______________

Before we resume John 15, let’s remember what we’ve talked about.

The past two weeks, Pastor Paul and I covered abiding in Christ.

We discussed much about obeying God, showing we love Jesus by obeying His commands.

What are God’s commands?

  1. Love God with everything you are;
  2. Love other people;
  3. Love each other, the Church.

There are different ways of doing this, yes, but there are some specific ways of doing this.

As Pastor Paul reminded us last week, the people of Israel were supposed to be the light to world drawing other people to God. They were God’s vine that consistently did not grow good fruit, so He had to cut them off.

Not just prune the vine. He had to cut them off. First through exile, and then, after Christ’s ministry and resurrection, the destruction of the nation of Israel (until 1948).

He gave a new Vine, Himself, to make a new people, the Church.

In other words, if we want to do truly good works and find eternal life, we must be found in the Vine of Christ. Only in Christ do we find life and fulfillment. Only in Christ, the faithful Son, can we be faithful to obey.

We must be a people who desire Christ more than anything, only finding our fulfillment in Him.

This leads us back to John 15, starting in verse 7.

​Reading

John 15:7–17, ESV

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Growing Up

Just like my Old Man showed his love by letting me drive, we see here that Christ is showing God’s love for us.

We are being elevated from mere servants of God to friends.

I don’t know if I ever would have asked to drive on a road trip. That was Pop’s job. He did the hard work of driving, even if I really, really wanted to drive.

I don’t think we realize what we fail to ask God for in this life.

Many teachers, preachers, and theologians today like to teach “See! We can ask for whatever we want!” To the point that some famous preachers say they had to ask God for a new luxury car, a bigger house, and a faster private jet. Verses 7 and 16 say so!

Is this what Jesus is saying we should be doing?

“If you abide in me … whatever you ask the Father in my name …”

We should be asking according to Jesus’ will.

Am I saying we should never ask for things or to drive our dad’s car? No. God loves when we talk to Him, even over seemingly trivial things.

However, this passage and others show that we ask according to His will.

The Mega Millions was just at $1.3 Billion (a winning ticket was sold in Chicago). It got me thinking about all of those people who win and suddenly find out about family and friends they weren’t aware of. People who come asking for money and/or gifts.

That’s annoying, having people only come to you when they want something, a free handout.

Or if I had started asking random people if I could drive their car. Also annoying and silly.

But Jesus tells us that He is not inviting anyone to come ask Him and His Father for stuff.

Like my dad, He demands faithfulness to His commands, regular obedience.

He wants us to grow up.

My dad didn’t hand me keys to the car when I was five or even 16 years old (though there was practice driving from the age of 15). He waited until I had faithfully shown him that I could be trusted with a vehicle.

Likewise, Jesus says we are His friends if we obey Him. He has shown us we are friends by revealing what His will is.

He says, v. 16, that He chose us to bear fruit, so we know we can bear the fruit He wants.

He says, v. 8, that His will is to glorify the Father.

He says, v. 17, that His will is to glorify God by loving others.

He says, v. 13, that we are to love sacrificially. Even to the point of giving up our lives.

We get over our selfish desires and seek to glorify God by serving others. We are to grow up and start caring for others.

Back in the Garden of Eden, our super-great grandparents chose personal rewards over obedience, and nothing has changed since.

But now we have the Holy Spirit of God who changes our way of thinking and acting to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, to seek the will of God, to love the same way He has loved us.

Some examples

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.​
Exodus 33:11, ESV

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”
Isaiah 41:8-9, ESV

Moses and Abraham were murderers and liars, yet they were called friends of God because of their obedience and sacrificial love, both giving up children for God.

And through these men, God called people to Himself, not to be selfish but to seek the will of God.

In chapter 4 of his letter, James, the brother of Jesus, told us as much:​

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:1-10, ESV

So, the message?

Grow up. Be a friend of God, one who seeks His will and glory above your own, who loves God by loving others.

Be humble and realize your dependence on Him, drawing near to abide in His everlasting love.

We live in a world that says we should be seeking our own comfort and glory, but God demands obedience to His will. And He helps us be faithful if we draw near.

My dad didn’t give me the keys to the car because I was the greatest driver in the world.

He gave me the keys of the car because he loved me enough to train me to drive and rewarded my faithfulness to growing. (Even though I still had a ways to go!)

Likewise, Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit to go into the world and bring glory to God.

He promised (in the last chapter, 14:18) that He would not leave us as orphaned children, rather that He would help train us up and empower us by His Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to whole world, loving them as He has loved us.

[Hebrews 6:1] “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity,” [2 Peter 3:17-18] “beloved, knowing this beforehand, taking care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

VerseD: Proverbs 13:20

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:20, ESV

We can walk with God and others who do, growing in wisdom from the source of wisdom, or we can follow this world and it’s ways and suffer the consequences.

A Simple Decade

Wow. 10 years saying hello to this world for Jesus.

Here is a brief update about how things have gone lately, from New Year’s Eve 2020.

Basically, God deserves all the glory.

But for all of you who regularly read my blog, especially some of you who have become friends – whether we have met in person or not – thank you for your faithfulness and encouragement.

May we continue to be blessed by our Lord, no matter how long He tarries, as we share in His Word together.

The Lord bless you and keep you in His love and grace.

Daniel

VerseD: Proverbs 13:20

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20, ESV

Have good, godly friends. They will inspire and encourage you. Seek God, the wisest friend, and ask Him to make you wise.
Or follow our corrupt and fallen world straight to eternal destruction.

2020 Perspective on Passover:

As born again Christians, we understand the foundational truth about Jesus’ sacrificial, atoning death and resurrection that brings us freedom and life, but I want to focus on the post-salvation implications of Jesus’ awesome work. Keep in mind, this will only apply if you have already committed to the side of Jesus.

After salvation, what does freedom and life look like for a Christian? Many might think “well, if a Christian is addicted to alcohol, etc. then Jesus can set them free from that” and that is true. But beyond that, what does freedom and life look like? It looks like this:

1. Freedom from false guilt.
2. Freedom from fear about what others may think.
3. Freedom from people who try to control and manipulate.
4. Freedom from the idea that you need anyone else’s approval other than God’s.
5. Freedom from circular or destructive thought processes.
6. Freedom…to grow, which is life-giving.

Pastors are supposed to promote freedom in Christians lives so that they can grow, but sadly many pastors do just the opposite.

Friends are suppose to be life-giving and help us grow, or at the very least, not hinder us from getting closer to Jesus, but sadly, many friends do just the opposite.

Assuming they already have a sincere faith in Christ, here are some things to ask yourself about a pastor or a friend:

1. Are they someone in whom I can see consistent growth?
2. Do they listen well?
3. Am I afraid to talk around them? Why?
4. When I come away from them do I feel burdened, or more free?
5. Does what they say ring true and bring clarity?
6. Can I see any ways that they attempt to manipulate?

There are many forms of manipulation, some are quite subtle and can even be seen as pious. Some of the more subtle ways of manipulation include:

* False guilt – does this person make me feel guilty if I don’t do what they want?
* Tone – are they talking down to me as though I don’t know anything? (Pay great attention to this one!)
* Leading Questions – do they appear to have all the answers? This is accomplished through the use of leading questions, that is, a question that is asked, with a very specific answer in mind. Therefore, unless you answer with the specificity that the manipulator is fishing for, you appear inferior while the manipulator appears to have all the answers.
* Positioning – there are many types of positioning, but one example is, is the person using tactical empathy? That is, do they claim to know and empathize with what you’ve been through, in order to earn your trust?
* Redirection: there are many types of redirection, but one of the most cunning is exploiting your emotional wounds to shift the attention off of something they don’t want to talk about.

Ask yourself, “who helps me walk in freedom?” It may surprise you who you DON’T list.

Jesus came to bring us freedom and life, and I believe the Lord wants the church to walk in Freedom and Life in 2020!

Wishing you freedom and life as you celebrate Resurrection day!

In His Love,
Jesse ישי

About Jesse Walker

VerseD: Proverbs 13:20

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20, ESV

Wanting to learn and become wise leads to wisdom. Even of you only have foolish friends while trying to be wise, you will suffer for their decisions. If you purposely choose foolish friends, you brought it on yourself.

Choose Christ and His Church.

VerseD: Proverbs 29:4

By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
Proverbs 29:4, ESV

Playing favorites, disobeying rules and laws, not setting appropriate limits: all of these can destroy a nation … or a family or business or friendship or church.

Remember: as Christians, we will one day reign with King Jesus. We are all royalty through Him.

VerseD: Proverbs 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24, ESV

In the day of disconnected social media friendship and increased depression, it is comforting to know that the Son of God has called us who believe in Him friends and brothers.

VerseD: Hebrews 4:16

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16, ESV

God understands us, for He became one of us through the Son who lived amongst us, was tempted as we are, and died for our sins. We now know we can draw near to Him as faithful servants and sons (and daughters!)

VerseD: Proverbs 13:20

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20, ESV

Who you spend time with matters. Bad company ruins good morals (1 Corinthians 5:20), but good company encourages the good.