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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #991

The Pathway to Fruitfulness
One Part

October 2, 2011

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 991 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: The one thread of thought is that God desires to make Himself known to people. He desires to share His salvation and His life with others besides just us. And His principle means is not just to get somebody to come hear a preacher, it is through the life that is expressed in us. They need to see Him, not just hear our words. It’s a demonstration of who He is that people see.

And that was, of course, God’s method in Jesus Himself. He’s the ultimate example of somebody that simply came and lived among men, and the life that was in Him was so different that men saw it. Now a lot of people just didn’t understand it, didn’t like it, didn’t want it. But God used what was in Him to draw those that He was working in.

And it’s never been any different. God has to do a work. We just…I think we struggle to come to terms in a practical way with just how supernatural all this is. Left to ourselves, we will try, we will struggle, we will do what we think we need to do as sort of religious duty. Every area of our lives, we are geared to “try” as the means of getting anything done. But Jesus, of course, teaches that the principle--the life principle that works here is that of the vine and the branches.

How does a branch bear fruit? Does it bear it by trying? As we’ve said so many times…you know it doesn’t. It simply has to come to a place where it stops trying, recognizes its inability, and simply looks to the vine for the source of its life, and fruit happens. Fruit doesn’t happen because the vine is anything. Fruit happens because there’s a life that’s there, that’s capable of doing whatever needs doing.

What a perfect example that one from Brother Yun, “The Heavenly Man” is, and how often does God bring you and me to a place where we feel that inability. And I thank God…you know we ought to be just shouting and praising God when that happens. It’s God answering a prayer many times.

I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit. But down in verse 5 of John 15, He says – Jesus says this – “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.” (NIV). Now that principle, “apart from me you can do nothing” is one of those things where we say, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that. I know that. Come on, let’s get to something good. The fact is, we don’t know it very well. This is one we trip over every single day.

I appreciate Steve’s testimony this morning. That was a perfect example. It afflicts all of us in every area of our lives. We try to do stuff ourselves. It just comes naturally. It takes the supernatural work of God in us to make us fit to live for Him, to serve Him, to do everything, because…if it doesn’t come from Him, it isn’t worth anything. There’s nothing that you and I can produce in the way of righteousness, in the way of religious effort that will have any eternal impact whatsoever. The sooner we come to that place, the sooner that something is gonna happen that will last forever.

But you know, it’s easy to get hung up on the last part of that…apart from me you can do nothing. We just…

( groaning ).

…You know, it’s almost like a downer. Here I am, oh God I’m helpless, that’s…okay, I’ll just sit down and let somebody else do it. But that’s not what God is after, because that isn’t the whole truth…

( coughing ).

Pardon me. That isn’t the whole truth that He’s conveying in this verse, is it? Because right before that He says, “If a man remains in me and I in him--and I in him…” Notice that. “And I in him” …there’s where the source comes from. There’s where when Paul preached that was his expectation, that he knew he couldn’t do anything, but there was a sense…Lord, I’m looking to You right now. I’m expecting…I’m not just looking, I’m not just asking, I’m expecting that as you have put me in this opportunity to share the Word, or to do whatever, that You are gonna be doing the work. I’m gonna open my lips, but I know that I have no power to do anything. I’m expecting “life” to happen. But the promise is, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” So you see the two sides of the coin here. On the one hand, yes we can do nothing, but in him, what?

( congregational response ).

We can do all things, can’t we? And I believe that’s what God wants us to see so that we don’t get bogged down with our inability and our weakness. Paul readily confessed that, “I was with you in weakness…and in much trembling. (KJV). And all those expressions…I mean, that’s not a place we enjoy. Anybody here enjoy feeling like that?

( congregation inaudible ).

No. We want to feel like we can handle things. We want to feel like we’re in control, we’re able, we’re smart, we’re capable of planning and executing strategies, and getting stuff to happen. And as has been said, God has just got to get us to the point where…all right, I’m done, Lord. Nothing’s happening, nothing’s working. I can’t make it happen. Lord, I just stretch forth my hands. You’re gonna have to do whatever needs doing. Do you know that’s what God’s been waiting on? I wonder how many of us are in that place right now in many areas of our lives. Where we just are struggling and striving…is the Christian life lived by trying or is it lived by trusting?

( congregation inaudible ).

Yeah. Which are you doing today? Which are you doing with respect to your own salvation? You know, nobody ever comes to Christ until they stop trying. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s the truth. So long as you’re trying to get God to accept you by any effort on your part, you’ll never be accepted. I’m not accepted because of anything in me or anything I do. I’m accepted because of His promise and what He has done for me in Jesus. And so all of my focus needs to turn away from anything that I am and just say, Lord, I give up--I give up. I can’t help myself. There’s nothing I can ever do. But You’ve already done it! And so instead of trying, I’m just gonna stop trying and trust.

But you know it never stops being that way. It never, ever in our walk with God and anything we do in this world, that principle never ever changes. Is that not what the vine and the branches illustration conveys to us? God help me…you know, I’m especially weak this morning, for whatever reason. But you know we need to learn to say, thank You, Lord.

( congregational amens ).

You know, Carl was expressing what I believe is something God desires to bring forth from every one of us, where we’re hungry to learn of God. We’re not satisfied to be where we’re at. We hunger for more of Him. That was Paul’s confession. He said, I’m forgetting what’s behind…thank God, we can do that. We’ve all got a lot of “behind” we need to forget.

( laughter ).

But you know, we can in Christ! Isn’t that wonderful? We don’t have to drag it with us. We can just say, thank you, Lord, for all that you’ve given to me. So forgetting those things, the stuff that’s back there, but reaching forth! You see, it isn’t just forgetting, it’s reaching. And there was a desire for more.

And his confession in Philippians 3, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” There was a…he wanted to experience everything that Christ had provided at Calvary. He wanted it to become his by experience!

You know, you start praying that way, and guess what? Like I said Wednesday night, stuff will happen. God’s answer to our prayer is very different than we’re looking for some time. Have you ever experienced that? Oh you pray, God, I want You to…I need You to move in a situation. And the next thing you know, you’re flat on your face! Yeah. Well you know God might just be answering your prayer. He might be taking a situation so incredibly out of your hands, so…well what’s the word? I’m lost for words here…but anyway, so completely out of our hands that we come to the place that we needed to be to start with, when we don’t just say, oh yeah, I know I can do nothing without Him. Ha, ha. It’s a nice little, sweet confession we all have. We know that. Where we say, oh my God, I can’t do anything. And it becomes a reality. It dawns on us, I really ‘can’t’ do anything--I really am just as helpless as He said.

But all is not lost! My hope was never in me to start with. It was always in Him. He’s just bringing me to that place where I can let go and say, all right God, it’s up to you now. That’s what He wanted in the first place. You think He’s mad at you because you failed and you messed up and you couldn’t do it? No! He knew that to start with. The problem is, we didn’t. And you know, we mentioned some examples the other night about God being the God of the impossible. Just being a light in the world is an impossibility but it affects every area of our lives. And very often when we begin to pray and when God begins to work to execute His plan, not ours, but His plan…the first thing He’s got to do is to get us to the starting line. What’s the starting line? I can do nothing without Him.

( congregational amens ).

And most of the time that’s not where we’re at. We’re not even ready to run the race. We’re not even at the starting gate. We’re not even dressed. We don’t have our track shoes on. He’s got a lot of work to get us off the couch and up to the starting line, ready to say, okay Lord. I’m Yours, I’ll do what You want, but I know that I can’t do any of this in myself. Well, it seems like we don’t learn that except by experience, somehow. Maybe you do…I’ve never been able to. God has to put us in experiences where He proves this principle to the point where we know, we can look back and say, I was in an impossible situation and God was faithful and He brought me through. I found strength I did not have. There was no way. Every direction I looked, every door was closed and the wall reached to heaven. There was no way that situation could have been remedied. But it was! God worked, didn’t He?

Now how many times has God deliberately put His people in situations like that so that they would learn, so that His name would be glorified. So many things God accomplishes to bring reality to bear upon our own lives and our own circumstances. You know, we pointed out the example of the Israelites being led. Now how did they get next to the sea?

( congregational inaudible ).

I just told you, didn’t I? I kind of tipped my hand.

( laughter ).

They were led there, weren’t they?

( laughter ).

That wasn’t put together very well, but…you’re supposed to leave a little bit of guessing there. But anyway, they were led there, weren’t they? God deliberately brought them! How many of you remember the movie…was it “Exodus” or…“Ten Commandments” is what I’m thinking of--“Ten Commandments.” And Pharaoh’s comment…shows you the wisdom of the world, when he realized…he decided after he’d let the people go, and then he got all stirred up, I think by his queen mocking him. And so, he gets his army and man, he’s gonna go out there and show them. And he suddenly looks at their circumstances and said, boy, the God of Israel is sure a poor general, to bring them to a place and leave them no retreat. Well, that’s human reasoning, isn’t it?

( congregational response ).

But our God is a perfect general! He knows exactly how to lead us and He is never stymied by such things.

( congregational amens ).

There is nothing that He cannot do. In the first place, He could’ve gone like that…

( snapping finger ).

…And the Egyptian army would’ve disappeared, as far as that’s concerned. What kind of limitation does an infinite God have? None! He just wants us to understand that and to come to a place where we are willing to let Him work things out and do it His way. That’s often our problem. We…oh, God, I need You to do this, and here’s a great way. I’d like to suggest that You do it this way.

( laughter ).

Well, you know, He delights in ignoring such suggestions…

( laughter ).

…And surprising us, so that we know it was Him. I mean, we can’t even rely on our own suggestions, our own wisdom in such things. God just…He never does things the same way twice, does He? Seems like. Oh, we try to reduce everything He does to a pattern. Okay, now I know how He works. Aha! I’ve got the formula. Let’s apply this to everybody. We go around telling everybody, this is how God is gonna solve your problem. No it isn’t. God’s got some…I mean, He just isn’t limited by our way of thinking.

And of course, you know what happened. How God opened the sea. But you know, He could’ve brought them out in a lot less dramatic way. But you know, all of history remembers what He did and the greatness of His power. And you look…you follow all the way through Scripture, you see story, after story, after story, after story, after story, after story, where the same principle works. Jehoshaphat wasn’t just attacked by a marauding band where he could just send out a few people and say, take care of this while we sit here and play games. The army that came against him was so overwhelming there was simply no way. All he could do was throw up his hands and say, there is no natural way, no strategy we can employ, nothing we can do about this circumstance. It’s out of our hands.

Well how did it get to that place? Did God slip up? Was God looking the other way and the devil slipped one in? No. God wanted to glorify Himself in the eyes of the people. He’s the One who allowed that heathen king to mount up this immense army and to come thinking, oh I’m gonna take…I’m gonna seize all they have. That’s a beautiful land that God’s given His people, but it’s gonna be mine because we have superior forces with which to fight.

Well, he didn’t know who he was up against, did He? But Jehoshaphat knew what to do, didn’t he? He didn’t plan and strategize and say, well we’re gonna go down fighting…get the cheerleaders going, let’s have a rally here and we’ll just…whatever we do, we’re gonna go down fighting. No, he didn’t. He said, God, You are the One who gave us this land. We’re here because of Your promises. We’re here to glorify Your name. Oh God, You see what they’re doing. They’re coming to cast us out of Your…he just put all the responsibility back on God. He said, God we don’t know what to do, our eyes are on You.

Wouldn’t that be a good strategy for us every day? You know, we just think that applies to the big stuff. It applies to the little stuff. You think God could use us more if we learned more of this in practical application? I believe He could. But oh, we know the story of what He did. I mean, He didn’t even give them a brilliant strategy. He gave them something that looked utterly ridiculous. Now all you choir members, how would you like to go out in front of the army? And not with…no sword now. You don’t get a sword. You get to march straight toward a million man army and you’re gonna sing! What a great strategy!

But it worked! It wasn’t the singing that did it. It was God who honored their faith and went before them and I mean…there was nothing there when they got there. It was just…it took them three days to gather up all the treasure and all the bounty that the Lord had in mind. He turned that thing completely around into a blessing. God can do what He needs to do, folks.

But when you start praying…this is the part that I wanted to get to from what Carl said. When we start praying and saying, oh God, make me more fruitful, make me more effective as a Christian, teach me Your ways. Look out…He’s going to. But you know, we don’t need to learn…we need to learn not to be dismayed when He answers our prayer by how He answers our prayer. When He puts you in a distressing, difficult, impossible situation, He’s done it so that you will learn to let go, stop trying and trust Him. And I’ll tell you, faith will grow and God’s name will be glorified.

You know, the other example we used the other night in prayer meeting was Gideon. And, they were attacked by the Midianites and I think they were under the thumb of the Midianites…actually had been for a long time and God had purposed to deliver Israel because there were some people that cried out to Him. He raised up a common ordinary man. I think that was the one, isn’t it, where the angel came to him and said, thou mighty man of valor.

( laughter ).

I’m sure he was looking around wondering who was standing behind him. But you know, God can say that about us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is…just like the fruit doesn’t happen in the vine, in the branch, by the strength of the branch. It happens because of the life that’s in the vine, and that’s true of us as well.

So Gideon was sent out with the armies of Israel…sent out the word, everybody come, we’re going to battle here. I believe it was 32,000, if I remember correctly. Don probably remembers that better than I do. But anyway, 32,000 people showed up and you can almost see the wheels begin to turn. Okay now we’ve got a good bunch here. We’re gonna take care of business. Now let’s get out generals together, work out a strategy. This is gonna be great. We’re gonna…you know. But the Lord said, wait a minute, this is too many. Lord, are you sure? You told me to send out and to have people come, and now we’ve got too many. What’s going on here? How can you have too many?

And so anyway…of course, we can look at this through the eyes of history and we can see what God was trying to accomplish. He didn’t want them to be able to say, hey, we won the victory because of our strength and our strategy. God wanted to make this His victory…something that only could happen if He acted. And so, of course, the first step was everybody who’s scared go home. Well, 22,000 went home.

And you can see the wheels turning, Well okay, 10,000. This is gonna be tough, but somehow…I guess we could figure out a way to make it work. 10,000 is still not…it’s a bunch of people and they’re not scared, so we’ve got that on our side. So all right, let’s get some strategy and then, the Lord gave them something else, didn’t he? He said, go down and have them drink. Divide them into two groups, those that lap this way and those that get down and drink. And so there were two groups and one group was 300 and the other was 9,700. Well now if you had been the leader, what would you have said? Okay I guess we can live without those 300.

( laughter ).

But that’s not how it worked, was it? Send the 9,700 home. You know, we…you’d have been the same way. You can just think how…you can imagine what Gideon was thinking all these times. It doesn’t spell it all out, but he was human--he was just like us, just an ordinary guy minding his own business and an angel comes and says, you’re the deliverer. So he’s looking to God and doesn’t know…he’s totally dependent.

You know, God’s wisdom was in that. God didn’t pick some mighty warrior. He picked somebody who had no credentials, except he had God behind him. That’s pretty good credentials. But you know, every one of us has that. Every one of us can be what God has called us to be because of the God who has called us! That’s the secret of everything in the Christian life and in the Kingdom of God.

And so, of course, you know the story of how God wrought a great deliverance just sowed total confusion…sent dreams and caused the people to have fear…the Midianites were afraid…there was just something in their psyche. I mean, talk about psychological warfare, this was the original. God had already had them prepared to be frightened of something that was coming, and then all of a sudden the confusion of all these people, this handful of people surrounding them and shouting and they thought this great army was there, and they took off in confusion. God won a great victory.

Well, can you imagine anybody coming up with a plan like that…or marching around Jericho? Now there’s a plan! You know, we’ve got a God who never runs out of plans, never runs out of resources, and we tend to be His biggest problem. We just come…if we would, not only pray, God teach me Your ways, but then yield to Him when He does, and believe Him and thank Him, and recognize what He’s doing when He brings you into a difficult place. He wants you to let go and say, Lord I’m in Your hands and You’re gonna have to fix this.

And we’re gonna learn, as David did, we’re gonna learn how to trust God. God sent the lion, God sent the bear, didn’t He? And as a result, Goliath was not a problem, because he knew it wasn’t the one coming against him, it was God that had given Him the victory. I praise God for this, this morning. God does want us to be a light. He knows it’s impossible. Everything about the Christian life is impossible to us. But He wants us to simply come to a place where we learn His ways, and we quit trying and start trusting, and we’re willing to learn of Him in the process. And guess who gets the glory when it’s all said and done…the only One who deserves it.

( congregational praise ).

Praise God! Praise God!