Life-Giving Prayer

Life-Giving Prayer Comes From Living For Jesus And Abiding In His Word

Ross Sawyers
Jan 23, 2022    48m
Life-giving prayer comes from living for Jesus and abiding in Him and His word. We learn that the more we abide in Jesus, the more we begin to look and act like him. Let His word land in good soil, abide in Him, and you will produce good fruit. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:07] What a fantastic morning of just praising God for who he is. And when we understand who he is, then it causes us to express our need for him. So I love that last song, and it's a beautiful song to sing. I think on that one, we might have to be careful, it's such a beautiful song to sing that I want to make sure that it's really our heart desire that we do need him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:35] A while back I was reading a book on prayer, and Ole Hallesby wrote it, and the title is Prayer, and one of the things he said that was a prerequisite to effective praying is to be helpless before God. It was kind of embarrassing because I thought I was, and then I started trying to say that out loud to God, and I had trouble saying to him that I was helpless. And I realized, gosh, I lean way too much on myself. And hopefully, over time, God's begun to continue to do a work in me of being completely helpless and needing him. So I loved that we express that this morning.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:16] We've been thinking about prayer. And why pray, has been kind of our question, and we've looked at it a number of ways and there's a number of ways to answer that question. One way we talked about it is who we are if you know God, through Jesus Christ, we're in a relationship as a Father and a son or a daughter, that's how he sees us and we're in that relationship. And I can't imagine as a child not wanting to hang out with and be with a dad who is perfectly healthy, and to be with him. And so one reason we pray is we're simply in a Father-child relationship with God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:00] Another reason we pray is we recognize in Ephesians 6, that we're in a battle, we're in a war. And it's a spiritual warfare, and the real battle out there today is in the unseen places, it's not in what we see. It's not between people, it's not between groups of people, that's what we see, but that's not where the real battle is. Satan is a schemer, and he has demonic forces that he unleashes, and our battle is in the unseen places in prayer. So why pray? To get in on the battle, get in on the real fight where it really is so that people can be rescued out from the darkness?

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:42] And then another reason to pray that we've spoken of in the last few weeks is in Colossians 4, and there are people that are far away from God, and we're praying that God would open doors so that we could actually make the gospel clear so that they might respond to it. So why pray? We're praying on behalf of those far away from God. We're praying on behalf of everyone because we're in this spiritual battle, and then we're praying because we are in a relationship with our Father, and we just want to be with him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:14] And I want us to answer another question today in regard to prayer, and that is, how do we actually come to God asking him for things? My hunch is that's our tendency is when things get a little out of sorts, then we come asking, or we have big decisions and we come asking, and so I want us to think about that a little bit in prayer. And I've just kind of thought about this as life-giving prayer today. What is life-giving prayer when we think about that kind of asking? And we're also answering questions in our table for two devotionals, our website has been redesigned if you had an opportunity or do have an opportunity, if you could go to our website, there's a window on there that says table for two devotionals. And if you were to click on that and subscribe, we put out every week daily devotionals that go along with whatever someone is teaching on a given Sunday. This month we've been answering questions of why pray, and those questions have come primarily from people who don't know Christ and the kinds of questions that they would be asking. My guess is from what I've been reading in those, a lot of us are asking the same kinds of questions, so that could be helpful for you as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:32] Well, if you'd turn your Bibles to John chapter 15, we'll hang out in verses 1 through, primarily 1 through 8, but the whole passage, for context, is 1 through 17. And someone sent me a video on YouTube that I think gives a pretty good descriptor of John 15, so I want us to watch that before we unpack the scripture so that you have a picture in your mind of the metaphor and the imagery that we'll talk about in John 15.

Video: [00:05:23] Today, we're going to be looking at the vine. This is an image, a central image, that Jesus uses in John 15. I really think it's the heart of the whole gospel. And so the first thing I want to do is, I'm going to draw a picture of a hand. This picture represents God the Father, because really, the vine is all about the Father because Jesus said, the Father is the vinedresser. And so we're going to put inside of the Father's fingers, a seed, and the Father plants this seed, which is the Kingdom of God, into the soil, and then the sun comes out and the rain gives the energy, and this vine grows. And then the Father sets guide wires up, you know the Father is working all along the way to help this vine grow. Eventually, the vine grows, and the sun comes, and the rain comes, and blossoms come, and the fruit is born on the vine. Sometimes the Father has to prune and take off some branches, but here we have this picture of growth and vitality. And what we really have going on here in John 15, is this picture of the Trinity, we have the Father, and we have the Son, Jesus, who is the vine, which is really this picture of Israel, it's to carry over from the Old Testament. But then we have the Spirit everywhere, the Spirit is the Sun, the Spirit is the rain as the rain falls down onto the vine, giving life and water and baptism, if you will. The Spirit soaks down into the roots, and the Spirit then becomes the actual sap that grows up through the vine and out through the branches and to the clusters of fruit. And really, what this is about is how the disciples make fruit of the spirit, and the sap comes out into the fruit and it's really God's love. That's the purpose of the whole vine, it's really about making wine, the wine of God's love. Because what God the Father wants to do, is he wants the whole world to know about God's love.

Video: [00:07:27] And so we see we have the world over here that is looking at the vine, and the overflow of the vine is God's love, making the world happy with the love of God. That is the whole purpose, and that's the beauty of this, and so this is the overflow of the vine into the world, and that's the point of discipleship. So let's look at this thing about being a disciple, how do we do this? How do we be in the vine? A lot of times we think that it's our job to produce the fruit of the Spirit, but that's not it at all, our job is to focus on being connected to the sun, to the vine, our relationship with Jesus is what it's all about. Because all throughout John 15, Jesus says two key words, he says, "Remain in me and I will remain in you, abide in me and I will abide in you." And all throughout John 13 through 17, we have this indwelling of God, the Greek word is the perichoresis. We have the Father indwelling the Son, we have the Father and the Spirit indwelling one another and the Spirit indwelling the Son, and the Spirit which is flowing through all of it. And the Son indwelling and abiding in the disciples, which is the overflow of God's love, as we indwell the world and the Spirit indwells the world, and it's all flowing together, it's interconnected. It's what we call perichoretic power, it is the power of God's love in communion with the world.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:08] I do like the content in the middle and the way it plays out. Hopefully, that gives you a picture. Let's take a look now in John 15, and I want us to run through here two main ideas that kind of interweave. The first is abiding, that's one part we'll talk about. The other is fruit-bearing and how these two kind of weave together in the way God works, and how this fits in with the way that we pray when we come to him to ask.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:38] Just for the setting, so that you keep in mind, this is the night before Jesus is to be crucified and he's with his disciples gathered around and they are about to have what we call the Last Supper. So it's in this context that Jesus speaks these words, so it gives us an idea of what was top of mind for him before, in just a few hours, he would be in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, soon overtaken by the religious leaders and the Roman soldiers, and then the next morning, 9:00 to 3:00 throughout the day, he would hang on a cross on our behalf. And so it's that setting that we find ourselves here.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:24] In John 15 he says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.". There are seven different ‘I am’ statements that Jesus makes about himself, it gives us a very good idea of the identity of who he is. And if we just hung out on these seven ‘I am’ statements, we could feast for a lifetime on who Christ is. He said, I'm the bread of life, I'm the one that actually nourishes you. He said, I'm the light of the world, you believe in me, and you'll come out of the darkness. He says, I'm the door, I'm the way into salvation. He says, I'm the good shepherd, once you trust me for salvation, I'm the one who cares for you. In the context of suffering, he says. I'm the resurrection and the life. And in that resurrection of life, no one will really die, you'll actually just move from this life to the next. And then he makes a statement that's bothersome to a number of people in our day, and I'm sure it has been throughout the ages, he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. He didn't leave room for multiple truths, he just simply said, I am the truth, the truth is in the person of Jesus Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:39] So with these six ‘I am’ statements, this is the seventh. And he says, "I'm the true vine." He's contrasting himself to Israel, who was often described as the vine or the vineyard in Old Testament kind of metaphors. Unfortunately, most of the time in the Old Testament, when this imagery is used of Israel, it's used in such a way that's not good. What God is telling Israel when he uses this imagery, I've planted you, I've made you to be a fruitful vine, and instead, you've turned away from me, you've chased after other gods, you've gotten distracted, you've defined what your justice is and what your righteousness is, rather than what I've said to you it is, and so he uses it as a metaphor of divine judgment. So Jesus is saying this, they would have understood that when he started talking, and he gives a contrast here and says, I'm the true vine. Israel was described as the vine, but I'm actually the true vine, and I am the one that is in complete attachment with God the Father, and I'm the one that produces good fruit, and you'll produce good fruit when you're attached to me. And he says the Father's vinedresser, that means he's the gardener. And I loved the picture in the video at the initial part of it, the idea of God's hand reaching down, and he's the one that plants the seed, and he's the one that actually does the work in the lives of people, that's the imagery we get.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:17] In verse 2, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit." So every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes it away. Now, I think most of us understand that concept with bushes, or with flowers, or with trees, there's a point where they need to be pruned and need to be cut back. They're also dead branches that fall off, and those just need to be taken away. So what is he saying when he says that, he says, OK, there are those who are ones that don't bear fruit, branches that don't bear fruit, and those get taken away? Now there are different interpretations here, but I think when we look at verse 6, we can at least mostly agree that he's talking about those who are really not believers. That they seem to be, but they're actually not bearing any fruit, there's nothing that is coming out of them that's fruitful, that looks like Christ, that looks like the things of God, they get taken away. In the context in verse 6, meaning they get taken away to eternal destruction apart from God himself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:39] But on the other hand, those who are true believers, that are attached to the vine who Jesus is the true vine, the true believers actually get pruned, meaning there is discipline that the Lord does. In Hebrews chapter 12, the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and he does that so that there's actually room for more growth. The reason something gets pruned is to get the bad out of the way, the dead out of the way, so there's room for more fruitful things to grow there. And he does that in our lives, he has to prune us and discipline us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:14] I don't know what your weeks look like, but I had a week where it seemed like almost every conversation I was in, a text thing that I was a part of, it just seemed like in each of those, I was looking at a mirror and God was showing me all my weaknesses and all my flaws. Now, if I had a conversation with you, you don't take that personally, it was God doing his work in me through you. And I just felt like, just by Thursday, I was just kind of really down, I couldn't figure out why God was doing this with me. Is there are things I've confessed? Are there are things that I believe I've received forgiveness for? And yet, I just got them all at me at once, every area where I'm weak in the way I do relationships, that just came flying out of me. And by Friday, I just kind of kept asking the Lord, I don't understand why all this, all at once, in about a two-or three-day period. And this probably isn't profound, it was for me, and I think what he's saying to me is make sure you realize that you're not strong in these spots and I can be the strength for you in them as you lean on me. And that was a good reminder, and apparently, I'm getting a little out of whack in my relationships and what I think about them for God to just kind of bring me back in in the way that he did that this week. I'm grateful that he loves me enough to correct me, draw me back, and then I hope that actually gives room for more fruitful relationships from here forward, and I'm sure the pruning is not finished.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:12] In verse 3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." You're clean because you've taken hold of the teachings of Jesus and what he said, he's saying directly to his disciples. And then verses 4 and 5, He says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Now, Jesus repeats himself in verses 4 and 5. He adds a little bit to it in verse 5, but Jesus is an excellent teacher, he's the supreme teacher, we can learn from him, and repetition is good, that's good teaching. He's saying, look, apart from me, you won't be able to do anything, but abide in me...That word abide means to remain, we saw that little video, remain in me, stay attached to me, and then I in you, I'm attached to you, we are connected to each other. Now the imagery here is, we're the branches, he's the vine. Now I think we know if I were to hold up a dead branch here, I could hold that up and say not one of us in the room would think that we could bear any good fruit or anything will come off that dead branch, it's detached, so nothing good will come off of that. But if we're attached into the vine, into Christ himself, then good things start to bear out because the Holy Spirit is the one within us producing that good fruit.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:53] Now, is it reality that we can do nothing? Like when I say that you could think to yourself, well, you should see my work production, I mean, we're killing it at work. You ought to see my kids playing ball, they're crushing it, as a matter of fact, I'm their coach. It could be anything you look at and say, gosh, this is really going well. So I don't think Jesus is saying you can't do anything, what he is saying is you can't do anything that has eternal significance or value that's going to last apart from me. You can do great in your work, you can do great in your academics, you can do great in your extracurricular things, you can do great in your family, but if you do that apart from him, it has no lasting value, but attached to the vine, it does. It bears out really good fruit when we're attached to the vine.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:04] So how do we attach in? Jesus tells a parable early in his ministry about Sower and the Seed. And I thought that was a great picture of that hand, that's just an idea of God planting the seed in the soil. God is the one who prepares the soil, and we're always praying and asking God that he would prepare the soil, that the Holy Spirit would do a work in the heart of a person so that the seed can be received, because oftentimes the seed is planted, but it's not received. Jesus, in that story, he says, hey, look at the seed, one seed falls on hard ground, and he said the birds actually come and get hold of it because it doesn't get into the soil, it can't receive it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:50] I did youth ministry for 12 years prior to the time we started the church, and I led many events that were hundreds of students coming, and partnering with other churches and doing that, and free pizza gets them every time. And candidly, looking back, it's a little scary to me, it was scary to me while we were doing it. And don't get me wrong, I'm not down on pizza events, that's actually how God save me when I was 16 years old is something like that, I went for the pizza. I came away knowing Jesus, much better deal. But when I was doing student ministry, I feel like it illustrates that first kind of soil because oftentimes we'd have all these kids make decisions at an event that we would do, and then we'd wonder, where were they after that? And I think sometimes Satan just snatched that seed right up before they ever get home, and if not, then by the time they get to their friends the next day, I think he's got it and he's ripped it away, I think that's that first soil.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:53] There's a second soil that it falls into, and it's a little better, but it's rocky, and this is the person Jesus says it falls in there and it's trying to work its way out. There's a lot of joy at first, but then after that persecution comes, wait a minute, do you mean it's costing me something to follow Jesus? Do you mean a friend might not like it because I'm no longer rolling with the way they're doing life; I've changed the way I'm doing life? Wait a minute, people are coming at me left and right, I didn't see that coming, I'm out, it never took.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:32] And there's a third seed, he says, and that third seed, as the seed drops in, and it's there, it starts to grow, but then the weeds come around and start to choke it out. And Jesus describes that as the worries of the world and the pursuit of wealth. Now, we don't want to just blow by that in our context, where we're in a wealthy context because those weeds can so easily choke out the joy in the life of following Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:06] But there's a fourth soil, and that soil is what we're talking about here when we're abiding in him. And it gets in there, it's good soil, it's tilled up, the Spirit's done the work in the heart, and by the time we get there and just talk about the Gospel with someone, it's implanted in there and then it starts to take root, and as it takes root, then it's growing stronger roots, and then things start to come above ground and you start to see a life that looks like Jesus. And that's what it is to abide in him, and then we start bearing out the kind of fruit that would be Christ-like. So I guess my question that I could at least ask us today is, did the seed land on good soil in your heart? So that you're in him now, Christ is in you, you're in Christ, and you're firmly rooted. Now, we're all at different places in our growth and how that looks, but is the seed implanted, rooted, starting to grow and to produce the things that look like Jesus?

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:11] Now, we get easily distracted, and so how do we continue to abide in him once we've received him? How do we concentrate on him, keep our eyes fixed on him? We do that in Hebrews 12:1-2, by not getting entangled in sin, nor letting the burdens or weight or hindrances of the world weigh us down. God has given us a way to unhinge from those, we can just give them back to him those things that are burdens, he invites us to do that. But we get entangled in our sin, and we get entangled in the burdens of the world, but the Hebrew writer says, the way that we run the race well is to fix our eyes on Jesus, we keep our eyes on him. See, we're talking about Jesus this morning, we've sung about Jesus, we've baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the son is Jesus. We're talking about Jesus, a fixation with Jesus, a gazing on the beauty of Jesus, a trusting in Jesus, so looking and cherishing of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:27] Part of how we do that, the way we abide in him, is to remain in his word that he's made known to us. And it's not just that we know the word, but Psalm 1:2, that we delight in it. Now, Lisa picked up, my wife, she picked up a book for us a couple of months ago, and the book is called Cherish. And I've been reading that book, and the author draws an interesting conclusion to start the premise of the book, and he draws a distinction between the word love and cherish. Now, OK, it's interesting, I wonder where we're headed with this. The word love means to sacrifice, it's to meet needs, and we can do that well with each other in our marriages he says. But why is it that in our vows, we say we're going to cherish the other one for the rest of our days, and we don't talk about cherish anymore? We talk about love; we don't talk about cherish. To cherish means to actually delight in, to take pleasure in, to want to showcase, to notice, to honor. Do we cherish our spouses, where we take pleasure in their pleasure, and we can't wait to talk about them and to be attentive to them because it's a pleasure? That's different,

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:10] I say that to say it's the same with God's word. Do we treasure it, cherish it, want to showcase it, notice it, honor Jesus in it? You see God's word, it's God speaking to us, and so we cherish, and we honor Jesus. Do we read God's word and it causes us to have an awe of him, and I can't wait to tell you about him, you've got to see this about who Jesus is? And the more we know who Jesus is, we cherish that, then our connection with him and our attachment to him, we're connected in there. But the way we stay abiding is to cherish him and to dwell on him, we think on his characteristics of who he is. And I think about God, and I'm just dwelling on that He's the God who's wise, and he's trustworthy, and he's a God of justice and righteousness. And I'm leaning into the way that the Father, Son, and the Spirit honor one another, and love one another, and glory one another. And I've been invited into that as his child, that I'm in that mix with him, I'm catching the overflow of that relationship. That I'm thinking on God and his compassion and his mercy towards me, and his goodness and his sovereignty and his providence. So when I think about God, I know even when things go bad, and I think, my goodness, God, you take bad things, and you turn them into good things. I don't know how you do that, but I love that about you, and I can be confident today because I know you do that. We just cherish and treasure him, we abide in him, as we rehearse in our minds again and again what he did on the cross in the empty tomb and the life that he brings.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:58] Well, let me do it a different way, I know not everybody is a sports fan, I get it, I've got an analogy for you too, but I'm going to start with sports, The Kansas City Chiefs this afternoon will play the Buffalo Bills, the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, Andy Reid is the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, I was reading an article and it was talking about different coaching trees in the NFL, and there are a number of head coaches and then coordinators and people there in significant places all over the country that have been in Andy Reid's coaching tree. They're highly successful, he's an innovator, he's a brilliant offensive mind, he's been a great coach for years. Can you imagine when you're a coach, and the high school coaches and college coaches and NFL coaches, they work an unbelievable amount of hours, their together with their staff, can you imagine if your thing is being a head football coach and you get to hang out with Andy Reid for a year or two years or three years on his staff or more years? And you're spending hours with that man, and you're understanding how he thinks, you're hanging out with him, you're watching how he leads a team, you're watching how he puts a game plan together, you're watching how he adjusts that game plan, you're in his mind when he thinks about the kind of player he's after. And then as a coach, these coaches that are in his tree, they look like him, they don't even have to think about it, they've spent so much time with him that the things that he taught them, just being with them, they just come out of them. That's what happens when we stay attached to Jesus, the more time with him, the conformity in Christ just starts to come out of us. We're not trying harder, we're attached, and the life of Christ starts to flow through.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:00] Let me put it in another realm, let's put it in the academic realm. For some, in college, your master's work, your Ph.D., there was a professor you attached on to, and you took everything you could, even if you didn't want that particular class, you took it because of them, you just wanted to be with that teacher, that professor, and that shaped your academia. And if you think about it, you find yourself doing the same things that that prof did, because you had attached yourself in and remained there.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:44] Let's go into the artistic realm. You find that dancer, or you find that instrument that someone plays, or you find that singer, and you say, I want to be like them, I want to learn from them, and you go in, you attach in. Then you start to play like them, or dance like them. It's the same in being like Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:09] When I was 16 years old, my youth minister Becky Cassel, I saw her and I saw what she did with others, and I went and asked her if I could attach in. I didn't say it that way, but said, hey, would you disciple me because I didn't know anything about God's word or what to do? The pastor, the same, a youth minister when I didn't know what I was doing with youth ministry and thank God that he put this man in my life to teach me how to youth minister for the sake of every kid that ever ended up under me, I just did what he did. That's the abiding idea, and that's the main idea here, it's always the main idea. It's not try harder, it's abide more, it's deeply connect more, because the more I'm with Jesus, the more it's his life that starts to pour through me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:03] I had real anger issues when I was in high school and college, especially on the sports field. And one day I looked up and I wasn't as angry anymore, and it wasn't because I tried not to be angry, it was because I was growing in my relationship with Jesus and he started to push that out more and instead, a calm came in, that came from him. And yes, there are tools that can be helpful, but I wonder if we need to look at the attachment part first. Behavior things usually last just a little while, heart change, plus a little bit of help, goes a long way. Now, that's what it is to abide.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:48] In verse 6, we see the picture, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned." Just in the middle of this, he says, look, if you're not attached to me, then here's this eternal destruction that's coming. So we're either attached and we have life and we're life-giving, or we're detached and we're death-giving. That's the way I would frame this first section, that if we're attached to Christ, we'll be life-giving people, they'll get swept up in and around us as we're attached to Christ. If we're not attached to Christ, we'll be death-giving people, there won't be life around us, it won't overflow, instead, you'll walk away whipped and wonder if you ever want to be around that person again. But there's life in Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:32] In verses 7 and 8, you say, I thought we were talking about prayer today? We are, and that's an absolutely crucial piece to it. Verse 7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." All right, here we go, so if I abide in Christ, I stay attached and connected to him, then his words abide in me. That's why we even talk about praying scripture, we're praying his words, we want his words to be attached to us and to flow out of us. We can't miss when we pray, praying God's word. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, Jesus said, now ask whatever you wish, and you'll be done for you. There's a qualifier, and I wonder how often we come to God asking without first abiding?

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:27] Can you imagine, for those who understand football, those coaches going up to Andy Reid and saying, hey, what do you think about running the wishbone this week? That's a whole running attack. You'd only ask that question probably once because we throw the ball. Yes, there's a running game, but the wishbone, that is what it is, they're not understanding Andy Reid if they're wanting to do that. And so I come before God and I realize as I abide in him, I might ask some things sometimes, and I can ask them anyway, he's good, I mean, it's like a child coming to us. And all we do, is we say to the child, look, we're not going to do that, we're going to do this. He'll redirect us, a loving father will do that. But we come and we can ask, and we can ask anything. You'll say, OK, well, I asked, but it seems like that God didn't answer my prayer. God always answers prayer, there aren't any unanswered ones.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:37] I was reading a devotional by Oswald Chambers, and he talked about it, Jesus never had an unanswered prayer. I think when we say an unanswered prayer, we're saying I asked for something, this is how I expected it to turn out, it didn't turn out that way, so apparently, it's unanswered. Oh, it's answered, apparently, we don't like the answer. Jesus himself, not too long after he says this, is in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he's asking God, will you remove this cup from me. He didn't want to go through what he was about to go through, but he loved his Father so much, and he was so aligned with his Father, he said, not my will, but yours. So ask, and then I say, OK, God, but I want your will, I'm so in tune with you, I want your will and I know you can take what's bad in my life and you can make it good.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:35] Look, when my brother died two years ago of COVID, our prayer was for him to live, that was our prayer. And God answered the prayer, he answered it, no, and I can live with that, as if I have a choice. And I trust God because God says we all have a certain number of days, and apparently, my brother's days were up and he went on home, his gaze was on Jesus. So what happens is, so we can ask, and it doesn't always turn out the way we want it. But Jesus asked something that went a different direction than he preferred at that moment, we just saw the agony of what was about to happen, I think we can all connect with that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:32] Well, what is the fruit-bearing? I found this for me personally, it might be for you, for me personally, I found it to be the most insightful part of my study this week, of what does fruit-bearing look like? So, I go to God and I'm abiding in him, and I can ask him, I can ask him anything, what actually is fruit-bearing? And what is fruit-bearing, in verse 8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." It is fruit-bearing for God's name to be glorified, that anything I do where God is glorified, that's part of what it means to be fruit-bearing and good fruit. So, is that my heart's desire that I would be fruit-bearing and glorifying to God? And that's actually how we proved to be disciples, in the fruit that we bear out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:30] Now, I've talked to people over the years, and they prefer to keep their faith private. I've never understood that, and I don't think it's a biblical idea, in fact, I don't think that, I'm somewhat confident that it's not. Because we saw the picture up there, the roots under the ground, and then up comes the vine, out of the vine comes the branch, and off the branch comes the fruit, and we saw it, you can't miss it. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father." Let them see it, but not so we can be honored, but so God can be glorified.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:16] So fruit-bearing is that good will, it's good works, it's glory to God. And then here's the insightful part for me, in verses 9 through 11, it says, "Abide in My love." Part of fruit-bearing is in that we're remaining in the love of Christ. And then he says, in verse 10, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." So the way to abide in his love is to be obedient to him. And then verse 11, "I've spoken to you these things so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:44] So I may be asking God, where do you want my kids to go to college? Where do you want my kids in school in first grade? What school do you want them in? I may be asking him, God, what job do you want me to take? Who do you want me to marry? Who do you want me to date? Do you want me to stay single? What do you want, God? I'm asking those questions, and really the fruit, I mean, I would like to know those answers, but the bigger question is, on the other side of that, whatever the answer is, practically, is my love for God increasing, is my obedience to him growing, and is the joy of Christ springing up more so than ever before? It's not about the direct answer to the question, it's about God's love, our obedience, and the joy of Christ flowing. Is that what is happening? That's good fruit, and that's evidence that we're connected and attached to Jesus himself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:02] What if I don't delight in The Word like you're talking about? I think that becomes our prayer. I can't change your heart, you can't change my heart, but I can beg God to change your heart because he can. And I can beg God to change my heart, and he can. That may be as much as we pray, and I think that's a fantastic prayer. If our hearts are kind of in that place, and we are attached to him, then what do we do with that? I've been so encouraged over the last few weeks if people have ventured out to pray Scripture, you've done it in life groups. And I just say to you now, that if you haven't tried that yet in your life, will you this week? Take some time, pray scripture, let all the people in your group pray that same scripture. One group said they were surprised their whole time ended up almost being just praying the scripture. It is life-giving when we're praying Jesus's words, "If you abide in Me and My words about in you."

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:07] Ask, it's amazing what we start asking when we're connected to God's word. I encourage you in families, I've been on the guys, and I'll continue to be because I believe God has placed us to be spiritual leaders in our home, and to be the protectors and providers in our home, and I'm hopefully modeling and giving you ways to pray over your home and to pray in your life groups. It's the greatest place that we can protect in this day.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:35] I want to invite you to come this Friday night, at seven o'clock, it's our last night in January, our prayer and praise time. Our students led us this last Friday night, it was the most joyful, contagious night that I could possibly imagine. There were about one hundred and seventy-five of us gathered in here just to pray and to praise, and we prayed scripture, and we hung out in that. So let me invite you to be a part of that, as we continue to learn how God would like us to do this.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:05] All right, this is how I'd like to wrap it up, for my part. I want to pray the scripture over someone. Now, I failed in this service to ask someone ahead of time, so Thein and Shannon, y'all good? Perfect. Thank you. I had a hunch they would be, so I was trying to be careful here, I don't want to embarrass anybody. This is how I pray scripture for people, and you don't have to do it exactly how I do it, this is a way. You can just take God's word and just read it over them and let that be your prayer, but I want to pray for Thein and for Shannon, and I think they're already a beautiful picture of this and so I want to pray for them. And then I'm going to ask you to quietly pray this for someone else after I pray for them, ok?

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:56] So, Father, I pray for Thein and for Shannon, I just am so grateful for them. And, God, they're such a great picture of what we've described here. But what I pray today, is that they would be encouraged to lean into you as the true vine, and God, that you would give them sustenance through your Spirit. And, God, I thank you that they don't have to worry about being taken away or removed because they are branches that are bearing much fruit. But God. I do pray that you would discipline them when necessary and that you would prune away those things that need to be pruned away so that they might bear more fruit in their lives and be all the more productive in the work you're doing through them. Thank you, God, that they're clean because of your word. And, God, I pray that today that they would abide in you, they'd remain in you and stay connected and attached to you and thank you that you're doing that in them. And then, God, through that, I pray that they'd just be about great things all day. And that apart from you, they can't do anything, so I pray, Father, leaning into you, attached to you, that they'd be able to do things today in their marriage, with their kids, with their life group, the places they serve, wherever they go, God that whatever they do would have eternal value. Thank you, Father, and I pray that you'd put them in the paths of people who are not abiding in you so that they can be that love of Christ around them, and so that there will be fewer and fewer branches that dry up and have to be thrown away in the end. God, I pray they would abide in you, and I pray your word would richly abide in them, and that they would cherish it and treasure it, memorize it, meditate on it, think on it, that it would have command of them. That they would be so in line with you, that they'd ask whatever they wished, and then it would be done for them because they're so in line with you as Father. I pray, God, that you would cause fruit to bear out in their lives, that they'd not try hard today, but they would attach well. And, Father, that you'd be glorified in them as they bear out much fruit, and that they would prove to be your disciples as they see that fruit coming out. I pray, God, they would abide in your love today and rest in it, that they'd be obedient to your commands, not as a burden, but out of a love for you. And then, God, I pray your joy would just spring up in and through them. And so I thank you for that and pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:27] So quietly, if you would, if you want to take parts of John 15, but if you'd pray that for just someone silently. And then let me encourage you to do that at the same out loud this week in your home, your life group, or with a friend.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051