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Re: Vines

"And the Word of Jehovah came unto me, saying: Son of man, how is the 
wood of the vine, the vine branch, better than any other wood which is 
among the trees of the forest? Is wood taken from it to make any object? 
Or can men make a peg from it on which to hang any vessel? Instead, it 
is thrown into the fire for fuel; the fire devours both ends of it, and 
its middle is burned. Is it useful for any work? Indeed, when it was 
whole, no object could be made from it. How much less will it be useful 
for any work when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned." 

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, 
unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in 
Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in 
him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me there is not a thing you are 
able to do. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch 
and is dried up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and 
they are burned." (Jn15:4-6)

Not long ago, in one of the weekly mailings to the subscribers, a Q/A 
item observed the claims of some of today's noted religious leaders, 
proclaiming: "We are gods"  In addition, over the years this ministry 
has existed, we continually refute the so-called "gospel" today's church 
proclaims:  You are worth sooo much to God. While you sit there feeling 
unworthy because you are plagued by self-esteem issues, you need to 
understand just how much you are worth to God. He looks at you, and sees 
that worth...that's why Jesus came. What you need to do is see yourself 
as God sees you (OF GREAT WORTH), and ask Jesus to become your friend, 
and He will go along beside you for the rest of your life, wherever you 
go; and you can begin to lift your head up high, and proclaim to the 
world, "I'm worth it!"  And since the Bible says that we will be "like" 
Him, we can simply "agree with God" and proclaim, "Yes, I am; I am like 
god! Actually, when it boils down to it, I am god!"

But a god has powers. A god has powers to do things, and make things 
happen. He creates, he blesses, he metes out revenge against disobedient 
subjects. Right? 

What does man do? He cannot create. Anything he does, he does -with- 
that which already exists. Anything supernatural he claims to do, he is 
only able to do after he has 'worshiped' for a period of time, and 
become "spirit-filled" with the spirits that inhabit the environs of the 
earth; thus, it is not really him doing those things, but the spirits he 
has given himself over to. He cannot give life to anything; that is 
God's domain. (Jn5:21, 1Ti6:13,etc)  Even "-the- gods" cannot do that!

Man, in and of himself, you cannot make anything with. If he dies, he 
rots away into dust, and becomes maggot food.

Jesus said of Believers, that we are branches of the vine. Can you build 
anything with a vine? A house? A knickknack? A tool? Can you even make a 
'god' (idol) from it? Does it even 'stand' on its own?

My grape plant is finally this year, after 13-14 years of 
unfruitfulness, producing over a dozen clusters. Last year only two. The 
year before that, one. And before that...nothing. These vines do not 
stand upright like the apple tree next to it. They must be 'supported' 
on this grid-work I built for them onto the old children's swing-set 
frame that was back there. Orchardists must use mechanisms to hold the 
vines up, so that the clusters can 'hang' down from the vines. Vines are 
held up by "arbors". When the vines are unproductive, and die, they are 
cut away. When I trimmed mine away these past many years, I did not take 
them and stack them with the other scraps of lumber that are here and 
there, waiting for some occasion in which they would be 'perfect' for 
some project. They are useless. I chop them to fit the garbage can and 
throw them away. In societies where they gather firewood, vines might be 
thrown into the fire to help cook the meal. But even there, a vine is 
not a sort of material that will produce a very 'useful' heat. It mostly 
takes up space and is in the way. You certainly cannot bank the stove 
with it to have the fire last all night. Really, it is worthless.

So, if Jesus calls Believers "branches" of the vine, where does modern 
christendom come up with the notion that we are "worth so much" to God? 
Where does christendom scrounge up the idea that we are to be busy DOING 
EXPLOITS for God? If we cannot even hold ourselves up, but must be 
supported as a vine is, how can we claim to boast in doing anything 
'for' God? How can the claim be made that God is somehow "powerless" 
without our efforts on His behalf? That we are to "command" God this or 
that? A little different context, but the truth remains: "...remember 
that you do not support the root, but the root supports you." (Rom11:18)

But if Jesus went to the efforts to redeem us with His blood, what is 
the purpose for our existence? To "bear much fruit". "In this My Father 
is glorified, that you bear much fruit; thus you will be My disciples." 

I've been very frustrated with my grape plant over the years. Please 
understand, I know nothing about such things, but as I see them grow, 
and try to do what seems to make sense to my mind. The plant was 
purchased and transplanted according to the instructions. According to 
some guidelines somebody else copied for me out of a book they had, 
there should have been fruit by the third year. I was beginning to feel 
like the one Jesus spoke of, "..why does it encumber the ground?" 
(Lk13:7)  After the winter, each spring I would watch it to see if it 
survived. (We bought two, and the other one died early-on) Buds would 
pop out...but life would extend only 'so-far' out the old vines, and 
beyond that, it was clear...it was dead. So I would trim the dead away, 
hoping the vines would grow out to some significance and fill up the 
trellis I built.. But year-after-year, there was no fruit.  Sadly, just 
like the Church!

This year, finally, the vines have been growing out strongly, enough so 
that I had to train them back upon themselves, and the trellis is 
COVERED with growth...and there is "fruit"!

THAT is what Believers are to be. Fruit-bearers. It's not anything we 
'do'. These vines of mine, if I left them alone, they would be all over 
the ground, getting trampled. But I go out there periodically, and move 
the strings with which I've kept them trained to the trellis. The long 
ends, to train them back around. As clusters have sprung out crammed up 
into the foliage, working them loose and training them, so they can hang 
free and grow out full.

How many Believers -strain- at the Christian life? That is not our job. 
It is the "vinedresser's" job. Who is the vinedresser? The "Father". 
(Jn15:1)  He is the Potter who fashions us out of the clay. (Jer18:4,6, 
Rom9:21)  One reason we can be assured that "..all things work together 
for good to those who love God.." (Rom8:28) is because God is the one 
who is at work: "...for it is God who works in you both to will and to 
do for His good pleasure." (Php2:13)

What is the vine's responsibility? To "abide" in Christ, allowing the 
nutrients of the Root to flow through us, to the fruit. It is not our 
job to make the fruit, nor to form it in the direction it is to grow. We 
are not to worry, "But Lord, what about this man?" (Jn21:21) We do not 
"judge another's servant" (Rom14:4)  "You follow Me!" (Jn21:22) The vine 
branch is not an end-unto-itself. We are to bear fruit.

What is that fruit? "...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control..." 
(Gal5:22-23)  The aroma of Christ unto life. (2Cor2:16)

In past years when I have walked out to the back yard, that old swing 
set was looking like, well, an old rusty swing-set, with some boards 
attached. This year when I go back there, there is this lush growth of 
vegetation, and beautiful fruit hanging from it. And from the past 
couple of years, I already know this particular plant produces -very- 
SWEET grapes. Yummy. To my eyes, after all those years of nothingness, 
it's a wondrously beautiful sight! Sometimes I have even felt giddy, 
happy and excited over it, and if there was somebody else to share the 
joy with, to dance around in circles: "Likewise, I say to you, there is 
joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." 

Jesus spoke of "abiding" in Him the very evening He was taken to be 
crucified. As vine branches, we are exhorted...

"And walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, an 
offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." (Eph5:2)

"For the love of Christ holds us, because we judge thus: that if One 
died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live 
should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them 
and rose again." (2Cor5:14-15)

Related topic: I AM: the True Vine