Sermon Texts and Topics for September 2018


September 2: John 15:1 “The True Vine.” When I was a child I remember going into the woods with my grandfather to look for wild muscadines. My grandmother would make jelly out of them.   One of the things a boy discovers quickly is that everything that looks like a grapevine isn’t a grapevine.   There are vines that run up trees like muscadines and have leaves that look like miscadines, but there is no fruit to be found. Once we found the true vine with grapes on it, my grandfather showed me the difference. Only the true vine actually bore the fruit. Here at the beginning of chapter 15 Jesus makes an audacious claim. “I am the TRUE VINE.” The true gravity of this statement escapes our modern minds. But to the Jew there would have been no mistaking what Jesus was saying. I’ll share a little more of the context in the sermon and we’ll discover that this is another way Jesus is telling all his disciples: “Amidst all the other imposters and impersonators of truth, I am the true and only way that leads to God.”


September 9:   Mrs. Cindy Blackman will be preaching at both services while Jim is away preaching Homecoming at Trinity UMC.


September 16: John 15:2 “The Pain and Productivity of Pruning.” Until recently I didn’t understand the need for pruning. I simply put my plants in the ground and let them grow. But to an experienced gardener, pruning is the key to a much better harvest. The best example of this I know is a James grape vine in my mother’s yard. My father planted it years ago, and before he died he kept it pruned. Every year he would have loads and loads of big beautiful grapes. But since my father has been gone the old grape vine has suffered. It hasn’t been pruned in many years, and now it produces only a few grapes a year. What lesson is Jesus trying to teach us here? Remember that Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, and the Father is the gardener. What parts of our own attitudes and behaviors need to come under the Master Gardner’s shear?


September 23: John 15:4b-8 “Remaining in the Vine.” A few weeks ago I trimmed the wax myrtles at the parsonage. More than any other shrub in the yard, these bushes grow like weeds. They put on new, prolific growth faster than anything else. But as soon as you cut the new growth off from the main branch it immediately withers and dies. That’s the message Jesus has for his disciples in this text: As branches of the One True Vine we MUST remain connected to Him. Our association and connection with Jesus is the source of our new life. Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing. But with me, ALL THINGS are possible.” Today we’ll learn some key truths about remaining in the vine so that God can accomplish great things through us.  


September 30: John 15:9-17: “The Relationship Between Obedience and Love.” All across the centuries the word “love” has meant a myriad of different things to different people. We use the word love to talk about our favorite foods or movies or hobbies. But that’s not even close to the way Jesus uses the word “love” in this text. When Jesus talks here about his love for his disciples and their love for him, the cross is clearly at the center of his mind. Jesus didn’t want to have to die this horrible death, but he did so because he loved us. Herein lies the key truth about discipleship this scripture conveys to us today: True love, love as Jesus describes it and exemplifies it here, expresses itself through sacrificial obedience. True love doesn’t have much at all to do with our preferences. It has everything to do with our priorities. Love is caring so much about the well-being of a friend that we will do whatever it takes to help them. Today, we will look more closely at why the love of Christ calls his followers to obey. If obedience isn’t there, neither is love. But when it is, love takes on a whole new dimension.




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