Stay Connected (Sermon Notes)

Worthy of Worship

Stay Connected

Scripture Text: John 15:5-7

 

Introduction:

I’m going to deal with some things directly today because this is too big of an opportunity to miss.  So hold on, here we go.

 

When I first came here I had several people who came to me and said, “I’m burnt out and tired and need a break.”  In every case that I know of we made a way for people to step down from their place of service so that they could rest and heal.  Almost 5 years later some of those people still have not fully come back to serving, and others are now showing the signs of burn out.

 

Ministry is hard, and in any organization (including the church) there are going to people and events that hurt us, but in many of the instances that I have helped people work through the church (or organization) isn’t the problem.  The problem is the way we live our lives.  We drive ourselves until we run on empty, and then we push harder to fix the problem only to make it worse.   Today we’re going to look at how to break that cycle so that we can live with joy, peace, and spiritual abundance.

 

Read and Pray

 

Define the problem – verse 5

Our lives are a whirlwind of activity.  Maybe you can relate to one of these:

 

You get up, scramble to get out of the house.  Take the kids to school.  Hurry to work.  Push all day to deal with unrealistic deadlines, unsympathetic bosses, or uncooperative customers.  Rush to pick up the kids and get dinner.  Someone has to take care of things around the house, get the kids to activities, and pay the bills.

 

Or maybe you spend your whole day taking care of someone else.  Could be a small child or family member with health problems.  You work hard to meet all of their needs.  Any time you leave them you hurry to get things done and think about, or worry about, them the entire time that you are gone.  Back at home you give your best to take care of everything, but it never seems to be enough.  You give all that you can to meet the needs of someone that you love dearly while still trying to balance everything else that you need to do, but wind up feeling like you’ve got too many plates spinning and everyday you watch as something comes crashing down.

 

Or, you are all about your education or career.  You put every fiber of your being into excelling.  You give up weekends, you sacrifice sleep, and you’ve forgotten the meaning of the word vacation.  You’re focused on the next bonus or promotion, or you just want everyone to recognize you for being the best.  You’ve given everything that you can thinking that it would bring you satisfaction and fulfillment, but you feel dry and empty and the harder you try the more dry and empty you feel.

 

You don’t need a new job, church, or spouse.  We need to realize that the problem lies with us.  When we feel like this we tend to think that we need to work a little longer, try a little harder, earn a little more, or go somewhere else where we will get what we are looking for.  Actually we need to realize that the answer isn’t within us.

 

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.”  He is the power source, we are the ones His power flows through.  The answer is found in Him.

 

 

Disconnected leads to death – verses 5-6

Jesus told the disciples that apart from Him they could do nothing.  That holds true for us as well.  In Him we can do anything that He calls us to do, but apart from Him we will dry up, run on empty, and cease to be useful or productive on any level.

 

Martha found that out the hard way.  Jesus was coming to her house.  Imagine a celebrity coming to your house for lunch.  You want everything to be just right.  You stress over all the details and then suddenly realize that you are the only one doing all the work.  That’s what happened to Martha.  She was doing all the work and everyone else was hanging out with Jesus.  So Martha takes it out on her sister Mary who had decided it was better to be with Jesus than to do dishes.

 

Luke 10:40-42 NIV

Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

What we need most is not more activity, not even more religious activity.  We need Jesus.  He is the vine (the source of power and strength) we are the branches (the conduit that His power flows through).  Through Him we can do anything, but without Him we can do nothing.

 

Jesus compared not staying connected to Him to a branch that has become disconnected to the vine.  It withers and dies and then is of no use.  Like Martha, if we choose activity over Christ we will become focused on ourselves, unhappy with everything, and because of that ultimately we will be useless to anyone.

 

This is not a theory.  The fact that it’s in God’s word and spoken by Jesus should be enough to make it believable to us, but I can also add this… Every time that I have felt depleted, burned out, worn down, or otherwise like I had nothing left to give, it has lead to unhappiness, a lack of joy and purpose, and sometimes even depression.  And every time that I have found myself in that place I have traced the cause back to my failure to stay connected to Jesus.

 

 

Stay Connected – verses 5-6

So, the cure is to stay connected to Him.  Hours before He went to the cross.  Hours before the lives of these disciples would be turned upside down, Jesus warned them that being disconnected from Him would lead to ruin.  But He also promised them that staying connected to Him would lead to bearing all the fruit of an abundant life that He had told them about.

 

Some of you may be listening to this and wondering where the easy yolk, light burden, and abundant life are.  It’s difficult to realize when you’re in the situation, but some of you are doing exactly what Martha did.  You’re standing in the kitchen, tired and stressed out, and you’re wanting to blame someone or something else for how you’re feeling, but what you really need to do is put the dishes down for a while and go into the next room and sit at the feet of Jesus.

 

John 15:5 NIV

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…

 

We are just branches.  There is no real, sustaining power within us.  On our own we will run out of steam and ultimately become useless.  Jesus is the vine.  That is where real power comes from.  Branches don’t work harder to produce fruit, in fact they don’t work at all.  They just let the vine work through them to produce fruit.  The focus of the branch is just to stay connected to the vine.

 

This translation says, “Remain in me,” others put it, “Abide in me.”  The idea is staying connected to Jesus.  So, the focus of our lives shouldn’t be more activity.  Not even more religious activity.  The focus of our lives should be staying connected to Him.  When we do that the fruit that comes out is the fruit of a life that is transformed by Jesus.  There is no more rewarding or satisfying life than to live that way, the way He designed us to live.

 

It’s the difference between being a pitcher and a faucet.  When we do things in our own power we are like a pitcher.  Eventually we run out of stuff to give and that leaves us empty and useless.

 

A faucet, on the other hand, is continually connected to a source of water.  It doesn’t run dry.  It can deliver water as long as you need it to because it is continuously and directly connected to its source of power.

 

 

What it looks like to Stay Connected

So, how do we stay connected?  I’m sure some of you are thinking, “I read my Bible, I pray, I come to church, what am I missing?”

 

For the most part, it’s not the things that we are doing, but the attitude in which we do them.  For many of us, the things that we do that should draw us closer to Christ have just become activities that we need to check off of our daily list.  That isn’t worship, it’s not abiding in Him, and it won’t draw us closer.  That’s just empty religion, and Jesus didn’t give Himself for religion.  The key to staying connect to Jesus is that the attitude behind our actions is about drawing us closer to Him.

 

Here are 3 principles to help us do that:

 

Connect to Jesus directly:

Bible Intake                              Solitude

Prayer                                      Journaling

Worship                                   Evangelism

Fasting                                     Giving

 

The point behind these activities is to help us grow closer to Jesus as individuals.  We desperately need to directly connect with Him.  Some of us, though, would rather settle for a poor imitation of Jesus.

 

Francis Chan says that American Christians have become like the people of Israel.  They chose the voice of Moses over God’s voice.  We idolize pastors, teachers, missionaries, and other religious leaders.  We flock to hear them speak to us when what we really need to do is go up the mountain and speak with Jesus directly.  He’s given us that privilege but far too few of us take advantage of it.

 

Connect with Jesus Consistently & Continually

The idea behind Jesus’ words, “remain in me,” is that we would seek to always be in a state of awareness of His presence.  He is always with us, but we aren’t always aware of that because we get caught up in and distracted by everything going on in our lives.

 

It’s the same idea as Paul’s encouragement that we, “pray without ceasing,” and the Psalmist who wrote about meditating on God’s word day and night, and Isaiah’s writing about our minds being steadfast on God. Part of the issue is that some of us are still dating Jesus when He asked us to marry Him.

 

When Priscilla and I were dating we spent a lot of time together, but ultimately a time would come when I would go home.  Also, I was committed to her in our dating relationship, but not fully committed because there was no promise, at that point, to stay with her no matter what.

 

Those things changed, though, when we got married.  Now we live together.  There is no going home, unless I take her with me.  Also, I have now committed myself to her for the rest of my life.  No matter what I’m here, I’m all in.  There is no life without her.

 

Stop dating Jesus.  Stop working Him into your life when it’s convenient.  It’s time to get married.  Be all in.  Work your life around Him.  That’s abiding.

 

Connect with Jesus, and be still

A final issue that I’ll mention is that we are just in too big of a hurry.  We’re too busy.  We say a prayer and read a chapter or two in the Bible just so we can check the box and get on with our day.   We rush into church, usually right on time or a little late, do what’s expected of us, and then run out the door as quickly as we can in order to get to the next thing.

 

We rush through our lives and fit Jesus in, if we can.  Stop the madness.  It’s time to be still.

 

During His ministry we are given pictures of Jesus doing this.  He got up early to be alone, He sent the disciples to do other things so that He could be with the Father, He also pulled the disciples away from the busyness of their lives so that they could rest and get refreshed.

 

Reclaim your calendar.  Be proactive about the things that you schedule and prioritize the things that draw you close to God so that they are prominent and not overlooked because of a hectic schedule.

 

Sometimes you have to say, “no” to some good things in order to say, “yes” to the best things.  We all only have some much time to work with.  Prioritize that time around your Savior.  Spend time with Him and spend time doing what He made you for.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Take a good look at your calendar/ schedule.

 

  • Block out uninterrupted time with Jesus every day (don’t rush it)
  • Make rest and time with your family a priority
  • Focus the rest of your time on being the man or woman you were created to be
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