John 15:1-8
Sunday Morning – 8 Jul 2018 11:26:22 am – Pastor James Yang

There was a rich man once who thought about handing down his business to his son. He thought that if he gave all his possessions and business, then he would be too busy. So he called his son and told him his intention. Since he was getting old, there was one thing he wanted him to know. He asked him to travel the world and see how people in different communities live and experience different cultures.

The son travelled and in the desert he got lost. They tried as much as they could but could not find him. Even all government officials gave up. So the father made a flyer with his son’s photograph and it said “Son, I love you, and until I find you, I will not give up”. At the bottom was also the photograph of the father. Using an airplane, he spread thousands and thousands of flyers around.

The son who was lost in the desert almost died. He was half buried in the sand and the entire sand was almost covering him. A pamphlet happened to fly past him. As he saw his father’s photo and the message, his father’s heart and his son’s heart connected together. He received strength and he was able to free himself from the sand. Then the rescue team eventually came and saved him.

It’s a short story, but as the father’s heart and the son’s heart connected together, he could strengthen himself.

In the scriptures we read today, the vine is Jesus and the branches are us. As long as the vine and branches are connected together, then it can bear fruit. In spiritual life, as long as we are connected and connected to the heart of God, then we will begin to live an amazing life.

Yesterday, I went to Concord Hospital and I was so thankful in my heart that I met brother Martin’s wife who was in a coma state and is now awakened and can speak properly. A while ago, brother Martin came to me and told me about how his wife went into a coma state, including a car accident.

“Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.””
‭‭John‬ ‭11:3-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Who is it who became sick? Lazarus, the one whom Jesus loved. So folks, when you are sick, think this way that God loves you.

As I connected brother Martin’s heart to God’s word, then clearly the sickness was not unto death but for the glory of God. The brother was clearly engraved in his heart. “My wife is not going to die”, he felt. Soon, his wife opened her eyes from the coma state; and she was reacting to visual stimuli. Her eyes could blink.

Yesterday, I visited again. Sometimes, she gets emotional and at other times, I could communicate with her freely. I asked if she had sin in her heart. She said that she had not done any bad things and so she did not sin. I felt she did not understand what sin was.

During my time in Muchangpo church, there was a lady whom I preached the gospel to for three years. Then, soon after she wanted to come to church. I thought she spoke about our church but in fact, she wanted to go to the church next to her house. She thought that all churches were the same. I asked her to go but then told her that she should not go there without the clear purpose of being free from sin and living spiritual life. Folks, why do people go to church? So firstly they can have their sins washed. Secondly, so that they can learn about spiritual life. So I told her that if the church does not teach about the forgiveness of sins and how it can be washed off, then there is no purpose.

And so, as she went to these churches, the asked people how her sins could be washed off but no one knew, including the pastor, elders, deacons and so on. She asked like this for a year and then she returned to our church. From then on, her husband, mother, and children received salvation. Her daughter’s friends also received salvation. So through this one lady, about 13 people started to come to our church. I was so thankful in our heart.

About brother Martin’s wife, I explained to her about sin. I asked if she was angry with someone before, and she said that she did and so that was evidence of sin. So I explained to her about sin and how anger is the same as murder. As she could accept what sin was, then finally I preached the gospel to her. She received the Word with a very clear mind. I was so thankful to God as I could clearly see what this true gospel was.

The gospel is about connecting our heart with the heart of God. Once connected, then what kind of life do you think you will live? The bible says that we will live with God from then on. Such people are Christ-like which is why they are called Christians. Such people no longer live the life they used to live.

Once upon a time in China, there was a policy of redemption. Let’s say there are two brothers. Let’s say the older brother did something wrong. According to the severity of the crime, he may be killed or imprisoned. The younger brother however can take his sin and die for his older brother.

This is a true story in the US. There was a Chinese man living in America. He had a job but he wanted to resign. The boss was surprised and wanted him to stay. He tried to entice him with a pay rise. But the boss could not understand why he wanted to return to China for good. Then the young man explained, “I have a brother and many nephews. He did something wrong and received the death sentence. I am going back to my home town so I can die for him.” So he did so. He died with the name of the older brother. The older brother does not live with the name of his own anymore but with the name of his younger brother. His life changes.

This meaning is also biblical. Jesus died with our names. The life that we live now, we live with and under the name of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of God, we are already dead.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In the eyes of God, we live under the name of Jesus and no longer our own. Do you prefer your name or the name of Jesus better? You will go to heaven with not your name but the name of Jesus. However, Satan deceives our heart and makes us to look at ourselves.

Nine years ago, I came to Sydney. I used to minister in Townsville. As I was despatched to Sydney, I felt a bit stuffy in my heart. Why this is is because the pastor before me bought this building but we could not use it. There was way too many things to do. Personally, I just wanted to stay in Townsville. It was so good there compared to the burdens in Sydney.

I read the bible while on the ariplane then and saw this verse:

““I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I was so peaceful in my heart. It showed me my position of the heart. The branches showed me who I was. I was initially burdened about Sydney and the work that awaited me. I saw how I was nothing but merely a branch. When you realise that there is nothing for you to do, then you can rest genuinely in your heart, right?

When you see your family members and they have not received salvation, you feel stuffy as if you want to do something for them, right? Also, you may feel difficult about your business, right? It is because fundamentally, you think you can do better or do something. But if you can find that there is nothing that you can do, then you will be very peaceful.

As I came to Sydney, I went to Auburn Council, and explained to them that we had bought this building but for over two years, we could not use the building. So one of the officers told me that I could use it as long as there were no complaints from people around us. So we started renovating and we used the building for about five months. Then another officer came and visited our site and asked me to produce the certificate of occupancy that we could use this building. I told him that I did not have any. So I went to the council again and met the initial officer, who was stuck in a difficult situation because of us. In that meeting, I could meet another senior office who helped us with all the inspections and works required to obtain the occupation certificate.

The first works he helped us with was about connecting our water pipes to the Sydney Water. He checked all our documents and said that our sewer system setup was also ok. As time passed, he helped us to obtain the Construction Certificate and eventually the Occupation Certificate.

If I testify about the construction, then it would be endless. We had no money to begin with. One sister called me and said that she was old and she had retired. And she wanted to give all of her superannuation money to us. So this way, we received $34,750.24 and this is how we could start buying materials for the construction. For seven months following, a brother from Townsville came and helped us construct the parsonage. He did not even receive a cent for the work. At the end of it all, we were able to construct the parsonage.

““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:1‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This verse really remained in my heart.

Even with the brick laying in the church, we did not know how to do it. Thankfully, I was able to preach the gospel to a person called “Frank” who was from Nowra. He was a brick layer. As he came to our church one day, he happened to see our brick works. He said that it was all done wrong and suddenly he started to teach us. He then did most of the work for us.

Folks, our life is not ours. It belongs to God. You sitting here is not your will as you may think. It is God who allowed you to be here.

I never imagined to be here in Australia. I am so thankful I was despatched to be here.

I did not even know that Australia’s national language was English. One time, I was able to preach the gospel to an Australian and his wife. They started coming to our church and it was all good. One day, his wife came to see me in tears because she had a huge fight with her husband. I had no idea what she spoke of and just read some bible verses to her. She thanked me and left. But she did not come to church anymore. When I visited them, the husband told me that because of my English which was so lacking, they went to another church. I was so hurt.

“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Thanks to this verse, I could believe that Townsville was the best place for me. Now, Sydney is the best place. Because I place my trust in the Lord. I am now very joyful in the heart. God is with me. Inwardly, I am connected to the heart of God.

No matter what I do, I by myself cannot do it. Just as the earth receives energy from an external source, likewise, I need to receive grace and help from God. If I try to do things, then it comes from unbelief in God. Those of faith realise that there is nothing for them to do. Then after, God works. We rest. God works. This is true rest.

Jesus said that He is the master of the Sabbath. He also healed many sick people on Sabbath day.

Many in Seventh Day Adventist church are still under the law.

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.””
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Many received the sabbath as the law. Sabbath is mean for the people to rest. Many do not understand the true meaning of the Sabbath. True sabbath means Jesus working for us. No matter what problems we have, if you are at work, then it is wrong. A branch cannot work in and of itself.

Jesus said that it is all finished when He died on the cross. We are nothing but branches. Branches when connected with the vine are one. This means that we are one with Jesus. All our problems are not our problems.

Please do not depart from the vine.

There was a general called MacArthur, who was in charge of the Pacific. After WW2 broke out, the Japanese had a lot of ambitions and colonised a lot of Asian countries and also wanted to take over America. They bombarded Pearl Harbour and the Americans could not bear it anymore. They stopped the iron export to Japan and the Japanese could not make any weapons anymore. As a result they attacked America. So Americans decided to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These cities were chosen because they had the lowest moisture level – a condition good for the atomic bombs.

The Japanese had a lot of American soldiers as hostages and confined them into a small island. In that island, there was another general who was caught. General MacArthur really wanted to saved this general so he sent two spies who sneaked into the island. These spies saluted the general and said, “General MacArthur will save you in one month’s time”. As this general heard the news, he was full of hope and power. He was uplifted in the spirit. He refused to eat the meal the Japanese gave him and kicked the bowl of food which looked like it was meant for dogs. The general exclaimed, “You have to treat me as a general”. From then on, this general polished his shoes, badges and uniforms and so on.

When the atomic bombs were dropped more than 100,000 people died. Even before people fell to the ground, their eye balls were gone (as per Zechariah). But before the bombs were dropped, the Americans dropped fliers to the Japanese asking them to evacuate. However, no one believed. And within one hour, the entire cities were wiped out. The Emperor of Japan surrendered immediately. When general MacArthur came, he asked for his general to be released. And so the general (say general x) was released.

When we think about General X, it is really cool. As soon as he received word from the spies, he changed totally. Although he was in the prison, he was free from his heart. He was so bold and asked the enemy soldiers to respect and treat him as a general. He boldly to said to them that after a month he would be saved by General MacArthur and most likely asked the soldiers to treat him well, for when he would be released, he may treat them well too.

Likewise, we are no longer people who belong to this world. We truly have hope in the kingdom of God. Please do not give in to your thoughts. Please focus on the Word. We are the branches of the vine.