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A Fruitful Heart Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 14, 2022 1:00 am

A Fruitful Heart Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 14, 2022 1:00 am

What do you want your epitaph to say? We all want to live a good life and contribute to others. For believers, we don’t measure the fruitfulness of our lives based on worldly success. In this message, we explore the portrait of the believer’s relationship to Jesus as a branch connected to the vine. Let’s discover the lasting fruit of abiding in Christ. 

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Believers bear fruit in life's race by abiding in Jesus the vine. The resulting fruit is sweet to the Father, who tends his garden carefully to maximize the harvest. So, how much fruit are you bearing?

How much am I bearing? Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win, with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, should we as believers worry about how much fruit we bear? Well Dave, the obvious answer is yes, we should be concerned about whether or not we are fruit-bearing Christians, because after all, if we do not bear fruit, we are not pleasing to God. Jesus made it very clear that we can bear fruit, we can even bear much fruit, and so we will be his disciples.

And what is fruit? Well it's defined, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, and so forth. That is the fruit of the Spirit. You know, I think that it was so important for Jesus to give these words to the disciples, and I've written a book based on the words of Jesus in the upper room. It's titled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future, and this book is intended to help us to understand more deeply what Jesus had to say, words that we desperately need today. And for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours.

Here's what you do, go to rtwoffer.com, or you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. So I want you to take a second picture with your camera, and that is the picture of the vine going deep into the soil, that strong vine that goes and provides everything that is needed, and I mean everything for the life of those branches. Let's go on to a third figure here, and that is of course now the believer, the branches. And I'm going to be rereading some of the text here. I am the vine, you are the branches, verse 5. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can't do much.

Is that what your Bible says, or am I reading from the reversed vision? Apart from me, you can do nothing. What is a twig? A twig essentially is a grape rack.

What can those twigs do apart from the vine, cut off from the vine? Absolutely nothing. We've already learned that they're to be cast into the fire and burned because they're totally worthless. How much can you and I do without Jesus? You say, well, you know, without Jesus I can do good things.

Yes, you can. There are people who don't know Jesus at all, and they're doing good things. They are doing good works. No question about it.

There is a sense of compassion, there's a sense of helpfulness that can take place, and many of those things. But one thing you can't do without Jesus is to bear fruit. That is impossible, the fruit that the Father wants. You see, you can't manufacture fruit. Some of you who are scientists, and here at the Moody Church we have more people in research than sometimes we realize.

When we wanted to have some information researched, we were delighted to find the number of people that are. Some of you, bright lights, who are into research, why don't you go into a laboratory sometime and spend an afternoon. We'll give you a whole afternoon, but go ahead, make an orange.

Just go there and make one. Just say, you know, I mean, well, you say we can't. Well, why can't you?

What are the ingredients? Can't you put it together? And the answer is no, you can't put it together because fruit can only be grown. It can only, you see, be grown in a certain context. And without Jesus, we cannot have one little centilica of the fruit that the gardener wants to see.

None. Without me, you can do nothing. Well, it's time for us to define, I think, what this fruit means. The fruit, you see, is the expression of the inner nature. I think we call them horticulturalists, but they can walk through a forest and they can see that that tree is going to bear that kind of fruit and that tree is going to do this and have that kind of leaves simply because they can look at the tree. They can see it by the bark, by its shape.

I can't do that. But, you know, one time I was in Florida, and I will never forget the first time I saw oranges grow on trees. Now, I was born in the north where we were always told oranges grow on trees. That's where they come from. And we believe that and we saw pictures of that as children.

But the first time I saw it, I was astounded. I said, they really do grow on trees. And I looked at that, at those oranges, and I deduced. You have to understand, this takes a keen intellect.

But I deduced the fact. I said, that must be an orange tree. You plant an apple, and you get an apple tree. You get apple seeds, you plant the tree, and you get apples.

Why? It's the expression of the inner nature. And the fruit, you see, is the expression of all the nutrients and all that goes into that nature, and that's why we have fruit.

Now think of the analogy. What is fruit bearing for us as Christians? Well, of course, it's Christ-likeness. It is Jesus being reproduced in us because he said that if we abide in him and he abides in us, when somebody hits us, Jesus should break out. Was Jesus compassionate?

Yes. Well, then we are compassionate people. Did Jesus tell others about the Father? Yes, of course, he told others about the Father. So we tell others about the Father. We do, don't we?

I hope we do. Was Jesus able to endure the suffering of Gethsemane for all of its horror with a sense of knowing that this was the will of God? Yes, and then we suffer as the will of God and within that will of God. And yes, it's the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, and so forth, but it's a lot more than that.

It's everything that Jesus wants to reproduce in us and as we abide, more and more of him comes to the surface and his nature breaks out. And we say, wow, that is a fruitful Christian. In fact, we can live so closely to him. I wish I could say this is true of me. I'm sure it's not, but it's possible to live so closely to him that you actually begin to think alike. And that's why the scripture says that if you abide in me, I'm in verse seven, if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.

Because we're going to be thinking alike and the requests that you are going to be making are going to be my requests and there's going to be a unity between what you want and what I want because the relationship is so intimate. That's what fruit bearing is all about. And apart from Christ, you can't do a single thing. No fruit, none, nothing but leaves. Well, the question of course is what does it mean to remain then? What are these branches supposed to do?

And the picture that I want you to take, the third picture is of course of branches with huge clusters of grapes because that's what we're interested in. But what is this abiding bit, this remain in me? Well, first of all, it's a sense of dependency obviously. It's coming to Jesus and saying I don't have the resources that I need to bear fruit because naturally I do the opposite. So what I'm asking you to do is to grant me this sense of yieldedness that is so total, that is so complete. It's a yieldedness that is even beyond my emotions.

I don't have to feel like yielding. I don't have to feel that I have these resources, but I submit to you. Yesterday on my way to the airport at Hartford, Connecticut, a man gave me a book by Henry Newen called The Way of the Heart and I read it there in the airport waiting for United Airlines.

I have to tell you, I don't know, I can't even begin to tell you all the books that I've been able to read this summer waiting for United Airlines. But this was only a short book, maybe 90 to 100 pages and basically it is to revive some of the ancient mysticism, Christian mystics. And while I don't agree with all of it, there is a part of it on solitude that somehow I said yeah, this is right. He says that solitude is the furnace that brings about the transformation of the heart. And he goes on to talk and I thought, you know, that's true of my life. The older I get, the more I realize that I have to come away, I have to give God time to search my heart, I have to give God time to be yielded, for me to be yielded, and I can't always just be rushing in and out of the presence of God in a hurry, doing things, reading books, preparing messages and all the other things that we have to do, and at the same time abiding.

Abiding, you get your roots down deep. Hudson Taylor wrote his book A Spiritual Secret. When I was a new Christian, I read it and, you know, you've got all these books, the secret of this, the secret of that.

Listen, with all the books that are published, I need to tell you there are no secrets left. But in his Spiritual Secret, could I read just a couple of paragraphs? He said, I knew that if only I could abide in Christ, all would be well, but I could not. I would begin the day with prayer, determined not to take my eyes off him for a moment, but the pressure of duties, sometimes very trying and constant interruptions apt to be so wearying, caused me to forget him. There was nothing so much I desired as holiness, nothing so much I needed, but far from it or any measure of attaining it, the more I strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp until hope itself almost died out. He goes on to say that he began to think that maybe there was no such thing as real satisfaction in Christ until heaven to make heaven all the sweeter. He said, how shall I get my faith strengthened? Then the Lord showed me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. My faith could be strengthened not by striving after faith, but by resting on the faithful one.

Ah, there is rest, I thought. I have striven in vain to rest in him. I shall strive no more, for has he not promised to abide with me and never leave me? Nor was this all that he showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured directly into my soul. How great seemed to my mistake in wishing to get to the sap and to get the fullness out of him.

You've had that experience. You say, well, Jesus, I know that you're powerful, but look at me. How do we make the connection? And then he says, I saw now not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

The vine is not just the root, but all the root, the stem, the branches, the twigs, the leaves, the flowers, and the fruit. And Jesus is not that alone. He's the soil, the sunshine, the air, the showers, and 10,000 times more than we ever dreamed, wished, or needed.

And the sweetest part is the rest, which this identification brings. I'm no longer anxious about anything as I realize this, for I know he is able to carry out his will, and his will is mine. What do you do when you are anxious, when you don't know how to abide? You come to the one and you simply confess your need.

Yes, you confess your sins. Yes, we're not talking about a rest of inactivity where you sink into passivity. There's a war to be won and a battle to be fought, but we fight from the standpoint of strength. We fight while remaining, while we are dependent upon him.

There is that place, yes, of quiet rest. So it's dependency. It's also obedience.

It's right here in the text. You'll notice that Jesus says in verse 10, he says these words, verse 9, as the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I've obeyed my father's commands and remain in his love. So what does abiding mean? It is dependency and obedience. You say obedience to what?

Obedience to whatever God shows us through the word, obedience to sin that needs to be confessed, obedience to the purity that he demands from us if we're to be purged and cleansed, obedience to his leading in our lives. That's the way in which we put our little puny twig, which is already in Christ if we're believers, and we learn to simply say, I look to the vine for everything. Some of you bless you. You're going through times of anxiety because of circumstances that are beyond your control.

There's nothing that you can do about it. And you're wondering, is there really some place where I can go to? Yes, Christ. And I might say also to his people because we are strengthened in one another and part of the cleansing process is to be together and how I look forward to being here today.

I missed being here last Sunday and I just want you to know that my heart went a little Twitter when I thought of the fact that finally I get back to be at Moody Church this morning because I'm strengthened by your presence and by your prayers and by your singing and us doing it together. And that's certainly all part of it too, but it's yieldedness and obedience. Well, how do we finally nail all this down? What are the conclusions to which we can come? We've taken three pictures. You've seen the vineyard with all of the branches that have been cut, the purging process, the pruning process, Spurgeon said, oh, blessed acts of sorrow that cuts a pathway to my God by chopping down the tall trees of human comfort.

So we have been thinking about that. We've seen the picture of the vine deeply, deeply embedded in the soil. We've seen the grapes, the fruit.

What is the conclusion? First, let me impress upon you again that the Father is much glorified by fruit. Therein is my Father glorified. And what an important statement that is. What does God want?

Linda asked. God wants fruitfulness. And with his knife, he will cut away everything, either through the conviction of the Spirit or the means that we have talked about, he will cut everything away to get that fruit because if not, we are worthless to him.

He loves his son and he wants to see his son in us and will go to great lengths to make sure it happens. That's why being always precedes doing. I was at a conference where a young man who's just getting over alcoholism, he's been sober for three months, bless him, and is going to be in a church where he's going to continue to have accountability. He asked me a question that kind of blew me away. I normally have some kind of an answer, but in effect he was saying, you know, the world is going to hell, we're in this great mess, how do you think I can strengthen the kingdom of God? Well, I commended him for his great vision.

But my goodness, it was almost as if, you know, the world has been waiting for his unveiling and it's about to take place. And I said, you know, I don't know if I can give you a specific answer, but let me tell you something that what you should concentrate on is who you are. You take care of your character, your integrity, your purity, the discipline that God has in your life, and God will find a way for you. No question about that. Being must always precede doing.

Abiding precedes serving. Let me give you another conclusion. I asked the question at the beginning, what does God want?

Well, we know now what God wants, fruit. I also asked the question, what do you want? How would you like to die? Gallup did a survey that I attended here when George Gallup was actually in town on death, and I think it was, if I remember correctly, about 80% of people say they would like to die thinking that they had lived a good life and made some kind of a contribution to society.

I don't know what the other 20% were thinking. What do you want? Listen, what do you get out of it? Your Bibles are open, aren't they? You'll notice that it says these wonderful words in verse 11. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

That's not a bad deal, is it? You learn to abide and what do you get? The Father gets what he wants, fruit. We get what we want, joy and fulfillment. So the will of the Father and our will converge and turn out to be one and the same thing. We are fruit-bearing Christians, therefore we are joyful Christians, and our joy is complete.

Where else can you find that? I think I may have told the story recently of Joni Eareckson-Tada. My wife and I were with her this summer at a conference together in New Orleans and every time I see her I'm reminded of the story of how she, who is a quadriplegic as you may know, because of a diving accident perhaps 25 or 30 years ago, how she used to pray for healing. She begged God. She attended faith healers and tried to go forward and there was no healing and she always thought of John 5, the man there at the pool of Bethesda, the man who was disabled whom Jesus sovereignly healed, and she used to read that story and pray that it would be she, but it never was. Then a couple of years ago she went to Israel as a quadriplegic to the pool of Bethesda and she said that as she sat there she thanked God that she had never been healed because she knew that if she had been she would not know him as well as she has come to know him through her disability. I have a friend who likes to say you know God loves to use his knife to prune, to cut his people, but he wounds in order that he might heal because he's after fruit.

Well as you know yesterday I was in Northfield and back of the house where D.L. Moody is born I went to his grave and where Emma is buried and there I saw in his grave one of his favorite verses. He that doeth the will of God abideth forever. Notice in verse 16 you can just glance at it very quickly. Jesus said you've not chosen me but I've chosen you. I've ordained you to go and bear fruit and that your fruit might remain.

Wow. He that does the will of God abides forever. Now I understand that when we are dead nobody's going to come to our grave. Maybe the children for a little while but we'll be forgotten. We aren't going to be D.L.

Moody's that are going to be remembered. I know that but we're remembered to God because the Father says I have one agenda. Fruit bearing and will put you through the furnace until I see it. Let's pray together. Our Father we want to thank you today for the wonderful relationship that we have with Jesus. We thank you that when we were saved we were put into him. Help us to get away from all the distractions, all of the sins that doth so easily beset us, all of the agendas and in solitude may we seek you and know something of what it is like to have Jesus in our lives reproduced. Grant that for your people and Father for the Lindas among us and for the people who are going through those difficult times. Help us to surround them with our encouragement and in so doing that we as a congregation might reflect Jesus in whose name we pray amen.

Well this is Pastor Lutzer of course all of us enjoy Christmas but I have to say that Christmas would be meaningless were it not for the resurrection, were it not for Easter. That's why our hearts are filled with anticipation as we think of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But you know as the disciples were in the upper room they didn't really understand that the resurrection was going to come. In a short while they would see Jesus Christ crucified on the cross for them it was the end of a beautiful life the end of a beautiful journey and they saw no hope beyond the grave. In the words of Jesus to his disciples in the upper room he was preparing them for that kind of disappointment. He was trying to help them to see beyond the present to the future he was giving them hope and he was giving them peace. I've written a book entitled Prepare Your Heart for an Uncertain Future.

It's based on the words of Jesus in the upper room and of course even though our future is also uncertain thank God that a resurrection is coming. But I believe that this book will be a great blessing to you. Here's what you can do go to rtwoffer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. When you connect with us we want to thank you in advance for helping us financially because together we're making a difference.

Here's what you can do go to rtwoffer.com or call right now at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Someone once said that you can count the true friends you'll make throughout life on the fingers of just one hand. Jesus told us how true love is manifested that a man lay down his life for his friends. After a short Easter break we'll return to this series to learn about having a loving heart, a heart in tune with Jesus who can be our intimate friend. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-01 17:06:51 / 2023-05-01 17:16:11 / 9

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