John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
What does it mean to you to ‘abide’? How do you do that? What does it mean to be connected and how do you keep those connections?
Jesus affirmed who He was over and over again.
Ex 3:14 “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
This is the Name God gave to Moses in the wilderness and the one that the Jews hold in highest esteem. They pronounce it either as Jehovah or Yahweh.
John 8:12 “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”
John 6:35 “And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’”
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”
John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
In John 15, Jesus is saying He is the Savior, Lord, sustainer, creator. He is saying that He is, in fact, the Great I AM.
We are branches, but in order to live, we have to stay connected to Him.
You can’t have any productivity out there on your own. Disconnected branches don’t bear fruit. Without support, you’ll wither away and die. There must be a flow in and out of your being that can only happen by being connected.
The branch that doesn’t produce fruit is only good for one thing, to be thrown in the fire.
Are you a connected branch or a disconnected branch? How can you tell?
Jer 11:6 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: Hear the words of this covenant and do them.’”
Jer 21:14 “But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings,” says the Lord; “I will kindle a fire in its forest, And it shall devour all things around it.”
This is prophetic of what happened to Israel when they rejected their Messiah.
God has taken wild branches and grafted them into the vine.
You graft a branch into a very healthy tree right as it’s beginning to bear fruit. When a branch is grafted in, two different trees come together and are fused together like your skin when it’s been cut, it heals.
Rom 11:17-22 “And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”
Fat is good in Scripture. It means you’re getting the Spiritual nourishment in order to live.
The door was opened to people who weren’t Jewish. If you want the blessings, you’ve got to continue in His goodness.
The truth will not make you free if you’re not connected to it. How do you get and/or stay connected to that truth? How do you continue in His goodness?
Rom 11:23-24 “And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”
Jesus said on that last day of Creation, ‘This is very good.’ He formed a man from mud. The body of Adam was made out of dirt.
If you grow something out of that dirt, it’s healthy. You can’t eat dirt, but you can grow things from it. It was only after God breathed into Adam that breath of life. That Spiritual part died when Adam and Eve sinned. Disobedience causes death.
The Bible says we are dead in sin, disconnected from God. Jesus is our total sustenance. Without Him we will die.
Gal 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
What kind of fruit are you producing?
In the book of Nehemiah, it talks about rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. You’re a wall-builder. We are building something as a church in the name of being together with the church, being connected to the Lord.
A sheep has no protection of its own. It needs to be gathered away from the wolves and put inside a place where it’s protected. Sheep simply need to obey the Shepherd.
Psalm 23:1-6 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
Freddy the fish saw all the stuff going on outside of his fishbowl and wanted to be free. As he grew, he got stronger and stronger. One day, he jumped out and realized that this was not free. A boy came along and threw him back into the bowl. He had realized that he cut himself off from his source of Life. Don’t jump out of the bowl!
The church is not a gas station. You can’t just fill up and then go on your way. The church is not just a social club or a movie theater for your entertainment. The church is a wild branch grafted into the true tree. If you’re disconnected, you’re dead. You’ve got to stay connected.
A brick by itself is just a brick, but a brick connected to the wall is of great strength.
Connection gives you strength.
In what do you seek and find your strength?
You must be connected in truth and Spirit.
The power of Staying Connected:
The Bible says, one can chase a thousand. Two can chase ten thousand.
We are connected to the One who has power over sin, power to heal, power to deliver and save.
If you choose to disconnect, you’ll get eaten by a lion.
A single solo cup can’t hold up a man, but many together can hold up a table and several men!
Fear causes you to run away from safety! How many times have you seen this? We can help each other. You can go to someone who is connected and then get connected again.
How do you react to stress? Are you connected? If you’re not connected, what are you going to do about it? How will you keep yourself connected?
This Bible Study excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.
If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!