Rooted 2 – “Answered Prayer,” John 15:7
Mr. Marconi, famous for inventing radio technology, once constructed a receiver that would only respond to a special transmitter. If the transmitter radiated eight hundred thousand vibrations a second the receiver would only take from the same rate of vibration. In the same way, a tuning-fork will only respond to another tuning-fork of precisely the same musical tone. Resonance. This is the principle of assured answer to prayer. If I am right with God, tuned to his purposes and will, I cannot ask in vain. (John 15:7 / Psalm 37:4). Affinity of soul with God is assurance of His hearing us.
CIT/CIS: God answers prayer consistent with His will.
In other words, God's response to our petitions follows our response to His commands. That’s what I’m hoping you’ll consider this morning as we consider together what it means to bear fruit. Not only that, but fruit worthy of our calling. I’m saying two things really: (1) we’re invited to bear fruit. (2) We’re commanded to bear fruit. It’s a responsibility to bear fruit.
Bearing responsibility properly is the purest and truest source of meaning and hope for anyone and this is especially true for followers of Jesus. Hope is a candle that burns quietly under the Christian burden carried well. When you get under that burden, you find a new world of hope and meaning…
I want to suggest to you that there are two types of fruit bearing. It occurs to me there are essentially two categories. [Character and Harvest]
Character: “Bearing fruit” is a phrase used to describe the outward actions that result from the inward condition of a person's heart. Galatians 5:16–24 contrasts the works, or fruit, of the flesh with those of the Holy Spirit.
In our sinful nature, we bear things such as idolatry, jealousy, dissensions, and fits of anger. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” As Christians, we want to bear fruit in keeping (worthy) of our relationship with God. We seek to do things outwardly that demonstrate that we have been made new in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).” This is personal conduct – moral maturity.
A lot of followers of Jesus cultivate this but only dabble in the next layer or level or step of the pilgrim journey – that is harvest. (Colossians 1:10-12) To go from moral maturity to participation in the harvest may not take a significant difference in action, but it may require a shift in thinking.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38 NIV84) We’re all called to be the workers in that field. The first step is moral maturity – that’s the preparation – the next step is to orient our thinking in that direction, “I’ve got a place in God’s Army!” We do!
I know a retired Army logistician. Everything with him is logistics. Without me, the infantry don’t eat! Without me no bullets! In this man’s minds everything rises and falls on logistics. He’s personally a little outrageous but he makes a good point. We are a covenant community and I’m not suggesting everyone has to be on the front line, but like an army or a large production farm, we need people doing their part consistent with their gifts thinking and acting like whatever their part to play is really matters!
The key from going to moral maturity to harvest participant is to pass every Christian activity through the covenantal lens. Examples: Don’t donate money to offset costs for a mission trip. You go through that dollar! “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15 NIV)
Don’t pray for Christina next time she’s in Haiti in the hopes of her safe return only. I mean, we want her to return safely! But think covenantal.
Pray for her knowing that at that very moment she may be in a life and death struggle with a family unwilling to let failing grandma live go to live in one of our Matthew 25 Houses or talking to the same family about ceasing their pagan practices and returning to Christ for salvation and life!
Don’t welcome someone to church because it’s what polite people do. Welcome them because you may be God’s touch in their life today when they were at the end of their rope and they gave God one last chance. Here!
A.B. Simpson called this “Aggressive Christianity” in a missionary convention where he was speaking in on September 10, 1899. Here are some principles.
1. A deeper and larger faith. The minute we begin to think we’ve arrived in the life of faith, we’ll decline into faithlessness. “Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory. But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (II Corinthians 10:15-17 NIV84)
I’m convinced the Lord sent me to Mt. Hope to build on the foundation present so that we may continue to grow together. I don’t want to steer you in a new direction. I want to keep moving forward on the Godward path.
2. Emulate the spirit of the Master. “It brought Him to Bethlehem and Calvary... His love was always reaching out to regions beyond, and if the spirit of the Master is in us we shall be reaching too.”
3. There is the Great Commission which is mandated as an individual commission to every believer. “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” This sends us man by man to the individuals of the race, and bids us give every human being a chance for his life.” Life on Life. The induvial and imperative nature of this commission is escapable for serious minded students of the Bible and followers of Jesus. Life on Life.
We live “life on life” in covenant community then we take that to the world.
Not everyone is called by God directly to be a foreign or even a local missionary. However, we are all called to be a part of the harvest. We are all called to covenant commitment to The Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Matthew 28 describes our primary function. Mathew 25 defines our attitude and method as we do it. They are intertwined inexorably, as are we in covenant connection as the Church.
4. This is the true spirit of Christian love. “It is the native instinct of the heavenborn soul. The supreme law of the universe is love and the essence of love is to think of others and especially of the most needy and helpless ones. “There's another man," was the stammering cry of the shipwrecked sailor as they roused him into consciousness and bore him from the raft on which he was floating. His first thought was of the comrade that he had left dying behind him, and so while “there's another man” in any corner of this dark world who is sinking in the night under his awful load of guilt and with a desperate sense of helplessness…” let us not merely encourage one another with kindness, for while that is a good thing, to become harvesters is a far greater thing and it is the thing for which God saves us in Christ!
Moral maturity is important but it is intended as a springboard. It is not a means to make us harvesters. It is not an end unto itself. Does God save us to make us moral men? The world has moral men in droves who detest Christ. No. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV84) Then what is the something? What prayers am I supposed to be praying? He saved us to bear fruit worthy of the Kingdom!
He saved us in Christ to replicate ourselves by bringing others to Christ. That is our mandate. That is our army’s orders. Whatever our role on the team, that is our mission. God answers prayer consistent with His will. When we’re engaged in the war, He’ll send us power to win the battles. Amen.