Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jesus as the Vine

God seems to have a fondness for growing things. When he created Adam and Eve, he put them in a garden! The Bible even refers to Jesus as a Vine, and to God as the Husbandman, or gardener. Jesus and the Apostle Paul referred to people as branches. 

First, let’s look at John 15:1-5. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

First, Jesus tells us He is the Vine; later in the passage He says that we are the branches. A branch cannot bear fruit unless it is part of the vine or tree that holds it. Just like that, we cannot bear fruit unless we remain in Christ. 

In Romans 11, Paul talks about the Jews being the natural branches of that holy Vine. Some did/do not believe that Jesus is the Vine and were broken off. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to Heaven, God opened up salvation to the Gentiles (anyone not a Jew). Paul describes this be referring to the Gentiles as branches from a wild olive tree, grafted into the holy root.  He warns us not to get proud and cocky about being grafted in. 

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Romans 11:17-24

If God will break off His own natural branches who don’t believe, He won’t even think twice about breaking of grafted branches who don’t produce!  But again, in His infinite mercy, He is also willing to graft any of those branches back in when they give up their unbelief. 

The Prophet Isaiah prophesied many years ago that Jesus would come and be like a plant. He referred to Jesus as a rod and a Branch:

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;  And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:  But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Isaiah 11:1-4

Finally, what is the purpose of all these branches?  To bear fruit!  What kind of fruit?  The Fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

We must always acknowledge our need of Jesus, to hold us up and to give us life. A disconnected branch is dead and bears no fruit. The Husbandman (God) throws them in the fire! 

When we bear fruit for Him, we bring Him honor and glory!

Praise God! Let’s be fruitful branches!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give Thanks

Here in the United States we are approaching the annual celebration of Thanksgiving Day. According to tradition, this day was first observed by the Pilgrims who came to America and were saved from starvation by Native Americans. They set the day aside as a holiday to remember the Lord's goodness and give thanks to Him for His provision.

In modern times, the day turned into a time to spend with family and friends, eating and possibly watching college football on T.V.  In more recent years it has come to signal the beginning of the Christmas shopping insanity.

This year, let's remember to give thanks to God for all His wondrous blessings. My own family has been blessed with good health, ample food and clothing, a nice house, and a new daughter-in-law!

Here are a few scripture verses to remind us to give thanks, not only this week, but every day!

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.  I Chron. 16:34.

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Psalm 30:4

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 106:1

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thess. 5:18

Notice that we are not commanded to give thanks only when our situation is good and everything is going our way. The Apostle Paul said to give thanks in everything. This is not easy for most of us, but as he said, it is the will of God.  We should all make an effort to give God thanks, even when our situation is not as we would like it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bless the Lord!

Sometimes, no explanation, no extra words, no commentary, are needed.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 103