This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Interacting Well”.
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John 15:1-8 (NIV)
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Loving God with all our heart, soul and mind are about inward things. Loving God with all our strength is the outward expression of our heart, soul, and mind love for God.
1. How Do We Love God With All Our Strength
We love God with all our strength by choosing to live all in for Him on a daily basis. There is something very important I want you to connect with in this idea of loving God with all our strength.
Loving God with all our strength is not about our loving him with our own strength, it is about loving Him with the strength He gives us.
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Everything that we have has been given to us by God. God will never ask us to give something that He has not already given us. This is a liberating, life changing concept.
We are to live each day as people who understand that everything God requires of us to give God will give to us. God has not required, ever, that we give anything that He has not given to us. God never will.
When we begin to really understand that our Christian life is through Him – everything changes.
We need to see ourselves as receivers of what God wants us to have, and then give whatever He asks us to give. Receive and give should be a way of life.
We all receive different gifts from God so that we all can be givers of different things for His glory. In loving God with all our strength, we need to figure out how God wants us to give from the blessings, gifts and talents we have received from Him.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
This life of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is not about following a bunch of rules, it is a life of the power of God flowing through us that we can experience.
It is a life giving power that changes everything and allows us to live for Him in His amazing grace and mercy.
2. Living by trying to do the next right thing
As we begin to experience the real life that comes from living in His divine power as receivers and givers, we should begin to comprehend that He is way better at taking care of us than we are. We need to learn that we can trust Him. He is not some big giant meanie in the sky who is just waiting for you to mess up so He can squash you. He wants you to be blessed, to prosper. When we do mess up, we just need to go running to Him, asking Him to forgive us and He does. We need to respond to this love by doing things His way, by following the book instead of the culture. If your understanding and His understanding are different, you need to trust Him and do it His way.
Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
With that verse in mind, I want to talk about the practical aspects of trying to live by doing the next right thing.
Life presents us with opportunities to choose to the wrong thing. We usually call these wrong opportunities “temptations”. What do we do when they happen? Fortunately, God has a plan in place to help us when we are living by trying to do the next right thing.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
When you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (do the next right thing)! Let’s break that down into three points.
a. When you are tempted
1 Corinthians 10:13c (NIV)
13 …. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Let’s change this part of the verse a little. Instead of when you are tempted, which happens to all of us, think of it like this (When are you tempted?)
You need to look at the pattern in your life that causes you to not do the next right thing. Ask yourself things like; When am I most tempted? What am I doing? Where am I? Who am I with? What is it that is most tempting to me? How do I feel right before I’m tempted? Is the evil one trying to trick me with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life? Once you get a handle on your pattern of vulnerability, you will be more able to see more clearly that
b. He will provide a way out
When you are feeling tempted, you need to pray. I have taught you temptation prayer. Remember it? HELP! Do you know that Jesus is sympathetic to what you are going through? We looked at this verse a couple of weeks ago, I think this is one we should all have memorized.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
c. You can stand up under it
When you are feeling tempted, the most important thing to do, is pray, and then change your focus. Sometimes we think that the way to avoid temptation is our will power, I am not going to do it, but the reality is, resistance is usually futile. In the Bible we are not told to resist temptation, we are told to resist the devil, which is a different issue. The secret to overcoming temptation is not resisting, it is a change in focus.
Change the direction of your thoughts. Shift your attention. If you are watching TV and something comes on you don’t like, you don’t sit there and say, I’m not watching, I’m not watching, you change the channel. That’s how you handle temptation. Don’t just say, “I’m not going to do it”, change your focus. Remember that He is with you and will help you.
Philippians 4:4-8 (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Living by trying to do the next right thing allows us to experience the most joyful and Christ-centered life by continuing to grow in loving God with all we have and all we are.