Two rich travelers in early American history stepped into a railroad passenger coach when the train was being made up and took some comfortable seats. Soon they were busy talking. Suddenly a porter looked into the coach and told them to move to another coach. "What's the matter with this car?" they asked. "Nothing," the porter said. But you need to know that it ain't coupled on to anything that will take you anywhere." Folks, if we are ever going to go to heaven, we had better get hitched to Jesus.
A new missionary was assigned a car that he could use. The only problem was that it would not start without a push. The first day he got the school kids to shove his car off. After that he would always park on a slight hill or just leave the car running. Two years later ill health forced pastor Jackson to leave. A new missionary came to the station. He was shown the car and told how to get it started. The new missionary opened the hood and found a loose cable. He tightened it with a wrench and stepped into the car and pushed the switch and to the astonishment of Pastor Jackson, the engine roared to life. For two years he had needless trouble. The power was there all the time! Only a loose connection kept Pastor Jackson from putting that power to work.
Ephesians 1:19 (Phillips)- How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. But what good is that power when we sit on the sidetrack of life unconnected to the locomotive. The problem is our connection with Jesus. Because the saving bond or link is weak or non-existent, it is so hard to live the Christian life.
We are like the man trying to cut down a tree with a chain saw. It was hard work and sweat until someone showed him how to start up the engine on the chain saw.
I want to have good works, don't you? I want fruit in my life. But How do we get power in our life to be what Jesus wants us to be? We Christians are about in the predicament that most folk faced in the super storm of 1993. The lines are down and our spiritual life is dead in the water. We are cold and getting colder. The lights are off. We are unplugged! Disconnected! Severed from Jesus Christ our strength and power.
1)- UNPLUG YOURSELF FROM PAST FAILURES.
Imagine a poor man walking around with a 100 pound back pack. It is loaded with all his past burdens. He can never run with the wind because he is so encumbered. We must disconnect ourselves from anything that is dragging us down. We must get forgiveness of past mistakes. God loves to forgive sins. Forgiveness is one of His hobbies. If you ask for your sins to be forgiven God is always faithful to do it. I John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We were saved about 2000 years ago. Whether we actually reach heaven depends on whether or not we accept Jesus' death on the cross as the payment for all our sins. You have a choice: Pay for sin yourself or Let Jesus pay for your sins. If you pay for your sins, it will cost you your life. If Jesus pays for your sins, the price is already paid on the cross. I'd much rather accept Jesus' payment for my sin. wouldn't you?
HOW GOD FORGIVES:
On my computer if I wish to eliminate a file, I just highlight it and push DELETE. Up comes a question: All information will be deleted, is this what you want? Yes! -- No! If I push yes, I will never see it again. Ask Jesus to blot out your sins and all your sins are erased. They are deleted from the hard drive in that celestial computer. In fact Jesus formats your hard drive. It is all clean. But He does not quit there. Next, Jesus downloads fresh righteous software into the computer of your heart.
Forgiveness does not mean that I will never hit the wrong key on my keyboard. It does not mean I will never have to use spell check. Even though I am a new person, I will make mistakes. But, over time, I will become more and more like Jesus.
Don't focus on your life of failure and mistakes. Unplug yourself from past insufficiencies. Focus on Jesus. When I look at Don Gettys and my works and my record of blotched up flops, I don't see how I can be saved. BUT, when I look at Jesus my Savior and His deep fantastic love, I don't see how I can be lost! When I look at Jesus I get great confidence that I will be in Heaven soon. Forget the past and focus on what you want to be. ,P. 2) PLUG IN TO REAL POWER (transformation)
Ephesians 2:4-5. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
Not only will Jesus forgive you but He will empower you to live the Christian life. We are not saved by living a good life. Going to church doesn't save you. Being nice to your neighbors doesn't save you. So why be good? We live a good life because we have been saved. Good works are the fruit of being in love with Jesus.
3)- GET TIGHTLY CONNECTED TO JESUS
At Christmas time one of my job descriptions is to get all the lights on the Christmas tree to be lit. You would think this would be simple and easy. But at times it almost breaks my preacher patience. I get each string connected to the power cord and the whole tree looks so beautiful. Suddenly I notice that half of a string of lights is not lit up. It is plugged in and should burn even if one or more bulbs are burned out. But there it is dead!
I know that one of the 3000 bulbs on that string must have a loose connection. It must not be plugged in tight. Why didn't it malfunction when I tested it? Why did it wait until I got it all installed? I don't know, but I do know that fixing that pesky string of bulbs can take a long time. You see each and every bulb must be tightly connected for the whole string to work. Are you tightly connected to Jesus? Only then can your spiritual life light up!
When you truly come to Jesus and fall in love with Him, that new relationship will dramatically transform your life. If you have bad habits and blatant immoral living, you can be changed by TIGHTLY connecting with Jesus. This new lifestyle will be clear evidence that something profound has taken place.
Your conversion will automatically produce good fruit. Just as your life of service to Satan produced sinful fruit, so your love for your new master will produce righteous results. Good works are the result of your total commitment to Jesus Christ. He becomes both your Savior and your Lord.
If you are not bearing good fruit it is clear that you do not really know Jesus. Bearing fruit is not an option. It is a natural result of attaching your life with the life of Jesus. An apple tree cannot help but bear apples when it is properly connected to Mother Earth. We cannot help but bear good works when properly connected to our Father in heaven.
So how do we have good works? What thing or act or work are we supposed to do? John 6:29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." If you want to do the work of God then believe! Believe in Jesus. The work of Christians is to Believe in Jesus. That is the work that will save us.
"The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing." -- George Sweeting. And what is the main thing? Trust in Jesus. Believe in Jesus. To maintain that saving connection with Jesus. Get TIGHTLY plugged in to Jesus.
4) STAY PLUGGED IN TO JESUS.
Change takes time. Gutson Borglum was the sculptor who carved the massive figures of four American presidents -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt -- on Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. When asked how he produced the amazing work, he replied, "Those figures were there for forty million years. (4000 years actually). All I had to do was dynamite 400,000 tons of granite to bring them into view." Did that happen overnight? No.
So Christ shapes our lives, chipping away those things that must go and replacing them with a character that honors Him. If we allow the master sculptor to work on us long enough, a beautiful character will begin to emerge. The flaws will begin to fade away. Jesus will chip away the evil things and in their place more and more beauty will be seen. The longer you stay under the transforming influence of Jesus the more you will be changed.
My wife and I went to Europe this past summer. In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has one massive root which is at least two feet thick. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, that one single vine produces 2-3 tons of grapes each year. The longer you stay plugged in the more results you will have.
Jesus is the Vine, and we are the branches. And when we need pruning, the goal is always more fruit. The pruning is not painless. You might feel the pruning is too severe. But if you stay connected to that massive powerful life giving Vine called Jesus, the fruit will come in great abundance. Keep in that life giving relationship and get ready for grapes! Stay with it!
Count the number of times John uses the word "Abide" or "Remain" in John 15:4-8. "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.
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. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."
What does the word "remain" mean? Stay! Don't leave Jesus. Linger with Jesus. What Jesus is saying is this: Stay plugged in."
The full truth is that without Jesus I am dead in the water. I can't do anything without Jesus. Some folk try hard to keep the law perfectly. Satan tells us that the only way to please God is to keep His law absolutely perfectly. But Don Gettys can't quite ever achieve that perfection. I keep trying, but Romans 3:20 says no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law
What made Jesus perfect? He did not attain a state of perfection by carrying around in his pocket a list of rules and regulations, or by seeking to conform to the cultural moralities of his time. He was perfect because he never made a move without his Father. Jesus kept it because Jesus kept loving His Father. Because Jesus kept fully surrendered to God's will. Because Jesus kept connected to His Father.
When you are plugged in it will change your life. You will have a bumper crop of good works. I love my wife. Because of that I run the vacuum cleaner, help with the dishes, and put my dirty socks in the hamper and do all kinds of things. I will stand beside her in thick or thin because I love her. I trust in Cyndie.
You can trust in Jesus. It is a Loving relationship with Jesus that produces a mountain of good works. Concentrate on your relationship with Jesus. Trust and you will obey.
Jesus will give you a new heart. It is the new heart that produces new life. All winter long those ugly brown dead oak leaves cling to that old oak tree. All the ice and snow and cold Arctic blasts will not remove them. But the warmth of the spring time sun will produce new life. Then new sap flows and the old leaves fall off. New growth begins. We need to ask Jesus to get rid of the old sap in us! The old habits will fall away and new life will come.
Once we are truly in love with Jesus we will naturally want to please Him. So we read His word to find out more about Jesus. We soon find out what He likes and what He hates. We discover that Jesus wrote the 10 commandments so we are quick to begin keeping them. God loves the Sabbath, so we worship Him on the Sabbath.
We discover that Jesus ministered to others so we visit the sick, care for the dying, give food and flowers, we visit in jail...
We soon find out that Jesus wants to live inside us. Our body is actually the temple of God! So we naturally want to care for his earthly home. We stop drinking and smoking. We eat the best foods. We begin to exercise. All these things are the fruit of our relationship.
Romans 10:9 ....if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Our work is to believe and trust and love in Jesus.
Do you believe that? John 6: 40. "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Come to Jesus. Ask Jesus to Unplug you from your sinful past. Confess your sins to Jesus, Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. Fall in Love with Jesus. Get plugged into Jesus. Make sure you are tightly plugged in. Stay plugged in to Jesus.
Our part is to fight the connection battle and Jesus fights the performance battle. He enables us to live the Christian life. Philippians 4:13 says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That does not mean I can be exactly like God. "We can never equal his (Jesus') pattern; but we may imitate and resemble it according to our ability" Review and Herald, Feb 5, 1895 E. G. White.
"No human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God, and maintains a vital connection with Him."-- Testimonies to Ministers p. 367. EG White.
Jesus will accept you and will give you His perfect robe of Righteousness. Every day, give your heart to Jesus. Ask our soft-hearted God to save you. He will. God will give you a new heart. And He will give you the power to live a life that will be more and more in harmony with His divine image. Unlike Missionary Jackson, You focus on connecting the starter cable to Jesus and your spiritual engine will take off.
The Christian Life works like Christmas. Because you love Him and want a life-giving connection to Jesus, God gives you Eternal Life, a gift that you cannot earn. For the sake of illustration let's say it is a new Bicycle under your Christmas tree. Jesus paid 100% of the cost. Jesus delivers your new bike and comes in to help assemble the new bike. (Everything needs assembling these days.) Jesus teaches you to ride the bike. Jesus provides the power to pedal the bike. You wipe out. Maybe time after time. Jesus picks you up and helps you again and again. Jesus is the training wheels- you never outgrow. Jesus rides with you... as your life companion. Jesus is the power pushing the petals. Jesus will lead you down a path that will take you all the way to heaven.
Let me illustrate what our God is like. One cold winter evening an old man suffered a heart attack and after being admitted to the hospital, asked the nurse to call his daughter. He explained, "You see, I live alone and she is the only family I have." The nurse went to phone the daughter. The daughter was quite upset and shouted, "You must not let him die! You see, Dad and I had a terrible argument almost a year ago. I haven't seen him since. All these months I've wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was, 'I hate you.'" The daughter cried and then said, "I'm coming now. I'll be there in thirty minutes."
The patient went into cardiac arrest, and code 99 was alerted. The nurse prayed, "O God, his daughter is coming. Don't let it end this way." The efforts of the medical team to revive the patient were fruitless. The nurse observed one of the doctors talking to the daughter outside the room. She could see the pathetic hurt in her face.
he nurse took the daughter aside and said, "I'm sorry." The daughter responded, "I never hated him, you know. I loved him, And now I want to go see him." The nurse took her to the room, and the daughter went to the bed and buried her face in the sheets as she said good-bye to her deceased father. The nurse, as she tried not to look at this sad good-bye, noticed a scrap of paper on the bed table. She picked it up and read: "My dearest Janie, I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me. I love you, too. Daddy."
The realization of the depth of her fathers love changed her whole life. Get Plugged in to the great love of God and you will never be the same.
Hymn of Praise: #27, Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart Scripture: John 15:1-8 Hymn of Response: #241, Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee 971011#424
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last updated m/d/2002 by Bob Beckett.