Thursday, October 27, 2016

The True Vine

artwork by Krista Hamrick

It is so energizing and exciting to participate in #Write31days, an online writing challenge where writers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in the month of October. Within the #Write31days category of Inspiration & Faith, I chose to focus on the topic of the Name Above All Names every day for 31 days. You can view each of my daily posts at this landing page.

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference.

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available on Amazon at this link.

I was inspired by Lauren Daigle’s anointed hymn, Trust In You, while studying John 15:5 …

NASB: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Amplified:  I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

J. B. Phillips: I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.

TLB:  Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing.

The Message: I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.

Pastor John MacArthur
 writes: “The night before His death, Jesus says, "I am the Vine." Like the other great "I am" passages recorded in the Gospel of John, it points to His deity. Each one is a metaphor that elevates Jesus to the level of Creator, Sustainer, Savior, and Lord—titles that can be claimed only by God. The metaphor in John 15 is of a vine and its branches. The vine is the source and sustenance of life for the branches, and the branches must abide in the vine to live and bear fruit. Jesus, of course, is the vine, and the branches are people. The true meaning of the metaphor is made clear when we consider the characters in that night's drama. The disciples were with Jesus. He had loved them to the uttermost; He had comforted them with the words in John chapter 14. The Father was foremost in His thoughts, because He was thinking of the events of the next day. Jesus made a promise to His children, "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” He guaranteed the security of the child of God: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” A true believer cannot lose his salvation and be condemned to hell. A branch that is truly connected to the vine is secure and will never be removed. Jesus chose the figure of a vine for several reasons. The lowliness of a vine demonstrates His humility. It also pictures a close, permanent, vital union between the vine and branches. It is symbolic of belonging, because branches belong entirely to the vine; if branches are to live and bear fruit, they must completely depend on the vine for nourishment, support, strength, and vitality. Yet many who call themselves Christians fail to depend on Christ. Instead of being attached to the true vine, they are tied to a bank account. Others are attached to their education. Some have tried to make vines out of popularity, fame, personal skills, possessions, relationships, or fleshly desires. But none of those things can sustain or bear fruit. The true vine is Christ.”

Pastor Ray Stedman writes: "Jesus does not leave the interpretation up to us. He identifies what this rich symbolism means. "I am the vine," he says, ''the true one." In the words, "I am the true vine," Jesus is not saying that Israel was a false vine. What he means is that he is the true vine of which the nation was a symbol, a picture. It is he who will produce at last the fruit that God was looking for through the centuries. "My Father," Jesus declares, "is the gardener." This is the Greek word georgos, which means "earth worker" (the word from which we get the name "George.") That is the Father's work—he is the "vinedresser," the gardener who takes care of the vineyard. In this verse, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He did not say, “I am the vine, try to be the branches.” In other words, He wants us to realize that we are already the branches. We do not have to struggle to become the branches. As His branches, we only have to abide or remain in Christ our vine. How do we do that? We do that by simply being conscious every day of our position in Christ. Because we have received Christ, we are in Christ and are accepted in the Beloved. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 1:6) God accepts us because we are in the Beloved and He is in us. And that is how God sees us today when we come into His presence. What the devil wants to do then is to get you to focus on your condition instead of your position in Christ. The devil wants you to focus on your condition and forget your position—that you are the righteousness of God in Christ and that you are seated with Him in heavenly places at the Father’s right hand. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:6) He wants you to forget that you are an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17) The devil knows that once you focus on your position in Christ, it will give you the power to change your condition and circumstances. John 15:5 says that you will bear “much fruit.” This means that when you pray against any lack, abundant supply will flow.None of these things can happen by your own doing, but by His life which flows through you. Just as sap flowing through the branches of a vine will cause them to bring forth fruit, His life flowing through you will bring forth a bountiful harvest of provision. You only need to remain conscious of who you are in Christ!”

Oh that we would delight in abiding in Christ, that His Word would be continually in our thoughts, and that we would bear fruit in each season of our lives. None of this happens apart from God’s Spirit and power working within us. But fruit bearing is the inevitable by-product of opening our hearts and lives to the power of His life within us. As we abide in Christ and his Word, our roots to go down deep in Christ, keeping us close to Him, just as the roots of trees planted along the riverbank sink into the water source so that their leaves stay green and don’t wither. And when we pray, the Spirit releases this wonder-working power that draws us to God, roots us deeper in Him, and causes our faith to mature. Be assured of God’s promise that as you draw near to Him today and each day in the future, He will draw near to you.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for being my True Vine, by Your Spirit, give me the desire to read your Word and to meditate on it day and night. Most of all, empower me to do what it says. And for the fruit that is borne, I will give you all the glory! Grant me the power to understand the limitless extent of Your love. Be the center of my life and reveal Yourself to me today! Thank You for Your abundant supply day by day as I abide in you. Thank you for making Your divine wisdom available to me through Your indwelling Holy Spirit! Give me a heart which focuses on my position in Christ. I cannot do this on my own. But in Your Spirit’s power, as Your life flows through me, just as sap flowing through the branches of a vine will cause them to bring forth fruit, enable me to be aware of Your presence with me continually in Christ. 
In Your mighty Name Above All Names—the True Vine, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on John 15:5  pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
John 15:5  pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
John 15:5 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

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