Life as a Branch

What does a branch do? Not much. The roots, vine and leaves of a plant do most of the work. Without them, the branch will wither and die, and be pruned and thrown into the fire and burned up (Matthew 7:19).

 

Yet, securely connected to the vine, the branch will bear much fruit (Matthew 7:18). The vine is one long system with many branches flaring out from it. It uses rocks, other plants, trees or any viable support for growth.

 

The vine helps to fertilize the soil over which it spreads, holding in moisture needed by the branches to bear fruit. It colonizes and spreads quickly. When pruned, the branches bear even more fruit (John 15:4-8).

 

The vine always moves toward the light in order to position the leaves of the plant to access the most and best sunlight. The vine will even overcome walls, fences and ravines in order to spread. So like our spiritual walk.

 

Vines stabilize the plant on which they attach as a support, and also help to hold soil in place and to cover parts of the earth that would otherwise be bare, parched soil.

 

A stem is stationary and remains in one spot, but a vine spreads out and up and around. Jesus could have used the word “stem” instead of vine in illustrating our connection to Him.

 

However, His use of the word vine shows that He is interested in spreading His gospel as quickly and prolifically as possible. The roots of the vine also spread out in the soil, offering stability and nourishment for the whole vine and branches.

 

Roots act like tiny straws, sucking up water and minerals from the soil. The little hairs sticking out from the roots help in this absorption process too. Roots anchor the vine much like God’s Spirit anchors us in life.

 

Roots also store extra nutrients for later use, ensuring that the Vine and branches have the provision they need for healthy growth now and in the future.

 

The leaves on the branches join the roots in providing much needed food for the vine and branches. They use sunlight, water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air in photosynthesis to make a sugary energy drink for the vine and branches.

 

Living apart from God’s presence, the nurturing of His Spirit and the Body of Christ, we cannot survive in this world (John 15:5). We would wither and die, be pruned and discarded.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for providing Jesus as the support for our life as our Vine. We are amazed at how You piece together the Body, the Spirit and Your presence to make us healthy, and a viable conduit of Your life in order for us to bear fruit for Your Kingdom.

 

Remind us that we are useless without You, Your Spirit and Your Body, because we could not bear fruit. We rely on You for everything we need for life and godliness (2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Peter 1:3). Use our fruit to feed the multitudes who come to gather in Your presence.

 

Thought for the Day

The symbolism which Jesus used of the Vine and branches is such a perfect picture of the Christian life; the fellowship, comradery, spiritual nourishment and support provided to us by Jesus, His Spirit and His Body is invaluable to our personal growth in Christ.

 

 

Life is No Longer a Struggle

After surrendering our life to Christ, we experience a struggle between our soul and spirit. Our spirit is born again by the Spirit of God at salvation. Our carnal nature is now dead, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ is our whole life (Colossians 3:1-4).

Yet, there are predispositions in our life through habits and addictions, which continually pull us back to the deeds of the flesh (Romans 7:14-24). Thankfully, our redemption through Christ rescued us from serving a slaves to sin (Romans 7:25).

We can trust His Spirit to slowly sanctify us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The result is that we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:15-26). We bear holy fruit in our life and share this fruit with those God brings our way (Galatians 5:22-23).

We cannot accumulate enough good works to earn God’s love (Ephesians 2:8-9). While we were still sinners, He already gave us His unconditional and unmerited love as a free gift (Romans 3:23, 5:6-8, 6:23).

He gives us an example of how to love our children, spouse and other family members and friends. Our love for them is not based on their behavior or accomplishments, but as a free gift.

When we believe that our self-worth is based on our performance, we lose respect for our self if we fail. When we base our identity on Christ in us, we always succeed because we follow His Spirit on a daily basis.

This frees us from wearing masks to fit in or lying or living a hypocritical life in order to live up to the image we believe people expect from us. Receiving our worth from Christ in us keeps us humble and totally dependent on God.

We rely on God to point out our inconsistencies, to effect these changes in us and to help us to accomplish the works He pre-ordained for us to do (Psalm 139:23-24; Ephesians 2:10). He is our all in all through every moment of every day (Ephesians 4:6).

Prayer:
Father God, we choose to enter Your rest and to bear fruit through Your Spirit and by no effort of our own (John 15:4). We trust in the saving work of Christ on Calvary’s cross rather than on our good works; and we accept our holiness, righteousness, justification and sanctification as gifts from Your Spirit.

Thank You for rooting and grounding us in the soil of Your love and for caring for us as our Vinedresser throughout our entire lifetime. We pray that as we submit to Your will for our life, we will glorify You by bearing much fruit for Your Kingdom through Your Spirit’s work in our life (John 15:8; Galatians 5:15-25).

Thought for the Day:
God searches our heart and tries us, seeing our fears and anxiety and healing us of every hurtful memory as He leads us in His everlasting way.
– Psalm 139:23-24

Hungry and Thirsty

Jesus proclaimed that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst after His holiness, because He shall fill us (Matthew 5:6). We hunger for spiritual meat and drink, rather than spiritual junk food.

Junk food gives us the false impression of being satisfied. We feel full and enjoy the taste; yet it leaves us lacking in essential vitamins and minerals, which our body needs to function.

The same is true spiritually. If we dabble in religion, we get fat and malnourished. Yet, if we respond to the Holy Spirit when He draws us to God, we are filled with His goodness (John 6:44).

When we hunger and thirst for God we find His blessings, peace, joy and love. He gives us His eternal perspective. We live to do only the will of God with our life.

We align our life with His Word and His Spirit, praising Him with unceasing songs, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:17-19). As a city sitting high on a hill, our light cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).

We are His Body and He works in and through us; continually drawing us to His side and filling us with His spiritual blessings and eternal presence (Ephesians 1:3).

We make a difference in our world, because we do the works of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16; John 6:29). We see the fruit of our spiritual labors and we rejoice and are humbled to be of service to our King.

Prayer:
Father God, let our life be a shining light into the dark world around us. Help us to avoid sin at all cost and to live as a testimony of Your saving grace in our life. As we love You with all of our heart, remind us to lean on You and not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Remove any pride and rebellion from our life, which hinders us from obeying Your Word. Help us to walk in Your Spirit, to live the Christ life in this world, to follow where You lead us and to rejoice ever more in the center of Your will for each moment of the day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-28).

Thought for the Day:
We can trust in the Lord because we know His name, nature and character and realize that He never forsakes those who seek Him. – Psalm 9:10

My Soul Waits – Part 1

In our stressful lifestyle in this modern society, we are often too busy with too many responsibilities to find a place of solitude in our spirit.

We maintain the illusion that we are satisfied with our lifestyle, but our soul is dying within us, because we are spiritually bankrupt.

We care so much about this world that we starve our soul and spirit. The cacophony in our soul – our mind, choices and emotions – is deafening and dulls our spiritual connection to God’s Spirit.

The remedy for this is to develop a deeper connection with Christ through His Holy Spirit. We can quiet our soul and focus on Christ dwelling within us, even through the storms of life.

Throughout each moment of the day, our soul waits in silence for God alone (Psalm 62:1). Our focus changes from earthly goals and desires to spiritual ones.

God’s Spirit transforms our thoughts into the mind of Christ, fills our emotions with His fruit and directs our choices to walk in God’s will (Romans 8:29; Galatians 5:15-25; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Christ is our all in all (Colossians 3:11). Nothing this world has to offer compares to the joy and peace, guidance and fulfillment that comes from living a life dedicated to the Lord.

Listening for God’s voice requires that we still our soul and enter our spirit, where God’s Spirit abides. We totally surrender our will, goals, fears, dreams and aspirations to the will of God.

Silently waiting on God throughout our day reduces our anxiety, silences the negative self-talk, teaches us patience and reshapes our mind into the mind of Christ.

He nourishes our body, soul and spirit as we meditate on His Word, trust Him for our daily bread and enter into union with His Spirit.

Prayer:
Father God, teach us how to empty our soul, still our mind and wait on Your Spirit’s direction each moment of our day. Silence the negative thoughts and emotions, which Satan uses to distract us from Your will for our life.

Fill our soul with Your peace and help us to restructure our priorities to put You first and foremost above our soul’s pursuits. Remind us that Your Kingdom is the only true reality in this life and everything else is simply wood, hay and stubble to be burned up in the end (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).

Thought for the Day:
Physical solitude is not necessary in order for us to wait on the Lord, because He is available any time or place.

Continual Filling from the Rivers of Living Water

 

We receive God’s Spirit at salvation, which is the river of living water within us (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:3). We receive all of Him, all of Christ and all of God at that very moment (Romans 8:9).

God’s Spirit seals our redemption in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14). He gives His gifts and fruit to all Believers to enjoy and to share with the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Galatians 5:22-23).

He reveals to us the riches, which the blood of Christ purchased for us, and which God prepared for all those who love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:12-17; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

He is the supplier of every spiritual blessing, which Christ has for us in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). These blessings provide us with everything we need for an abundant life of holiness (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Out of His presence within us flows rivers of living water (John 7:38). As we walk in the Spirit, we no longer carry out the desires of the flesh, because we follow Him one step at a time throughout our day (Galatians 5:15-25).

The world, the flesh or the devil may tempt us, but we rely on God’s Spirit to vanquish every foe. The fruit and gifts of the Spirit gain ascendancy over our former carnal nature, and we do only the will of God (Ephesians 2:10).

If we do not have the Spirit of God within us, we do not belong to God (Romans 8:9-10). If God’s Spirit abides within us, we are a watered garden with unfailing springs of living water flowing from us (Isaiah 58:11).

We shall never thirst again (John 4:14). We joyously draw life from His springs of salvation and share them with those around us who hunger and thirst after God (Isaiah 12:3; Ezekiel 47:9).
Prayer:
Father God, there is nothing in this life, which we desire more than You. We find our lasting peace and joy in the center of Your will. Everything else compromises our ability to enjoy the filling of Your Spirit each moment of our day.

Remind us that the pleasures we receive at Your right hand are lasting and fulfilling, and so much better than anything this world has to offer. What we once found entertaining or enjoyable loses its luster and we see it for the counterfeit that it really is.

Thought for the Day:
For the glory of God, our spirit and soul need to experience a continual filling of God’s Spirit as we daily lay down our life and anything in it that may grieve or quench God’s Spirit.
– Ephesians 4:30, 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Puzzling Pieces

When I assemble a puzzle, I start with the corner piece; then I build the frame of the puzzle before attempting to find all of the inner pieces. This brings order and clarity to the puzzle.

Our walk as Christians follows this same principle. Jesus is the main cornerstone on which we base the rest of our life (Ephesians 2:20; Matthew 21:42). He helps us to line up the other three corners and to build the framework of a successful lifestyle.

We use God’s Word to place the parameters within which we frame our thoughts, words and deeds. These are not restrictions, but a simple plan, which gives our life order and clarity.

The inside pieces are a beautiful tapestry, which God weaves throughout each moment of our day by His sanctifying process; adding brilliant colors and beautiful scenery which enhances our existence.

Each new piece that He adds makes the panorama come to life and brings logic to some puzzling pieces that made no sense in the past. The enigmatic life experiences in our future fall into place with ease when each new aspect is added.

With the safety of God’s spiritual border around our life, our fears and insecurity fade, anger diminishes, earthly focus switches to spiritual focus and dependence on God replaces self-reliance and codependence.

Through our total commitment and surrender to God’s will we experience the richest measure of His presence, the multi-dimensions of His love, and the magnitude of His mercy, grace and peace (Romans 8:35-39; 2 John 1:3; Ephesians 3:16-19, Amplified Bible)

Prayer:
Father God, thank You that our true identity is found only in Christ and that Your Holy Spirit continues Your sanctifying work in us. Teach us to follow Your voice each moment of the day and to do the works You created us to accomplish before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:10).

The parameters of Your love give us peace and security and help us to experience the fullness of Your presence and Spirit within us. Give us Your wisdom and understanding to enable us to walk worthy to wear Your name, to please You completely and to bear spiritual fruit through every good work we do (Colossians 1:9-10).

Thought for the Day:
In the midst of the puzzling aspects of life on this earth, God gives us healing from our past, trust to face the future and clarity of thought in each new moment.

Split Personality

When we come to Christ, our spirit which was dead in sin, comes alive (Ephesians 2:5). We are Born Again and everything in us is made new (John 3:1-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17). The manifestation of this change takes years.

God convicts us in areas which are negatively affecting our witness for Him. We cannot judge others. We may think someone smokes too much; but God is more interested in deeper issues, which we cannot see.

In the beginning, we are partially surrendered to Christ. We hold back whole rooms in our soul, where we do not want God to go. We slam the doors shut and sometimes even lock them.

This is why we appear to our self and other people as a split personality. Part of us is sanctified and part of us is carnal and still caught in the web of sin.

The longer we walk with the Lord, the more willing we are to surrender more of our secret self to Him. We unlock some doors, but we protectively keep some of them closed or partially open.

We are not willing to live in total transparency before the Lord and our fellow Christians. With time, we learn to trust God’s kindness and mercy. We depend upon His grace above all else.

We come to live a surrendered life when we understand that it is not I, but Christ living in and through us (Galatians 2:20). Christ is our whole life and we want nothing else (Colossians 3:4).

Total surrender to Christ produces fruit in us from the Vine (John 15:5). We develop the habit of walking in stride with God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:15-25). We learn to think and speak by the Spirit too, reaping God’s rewards (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Prayer:
Father God, Your Spirit transforms us from a split personality into a totally new creation. We no longer desire carnality, but want only that which is spiritual in our life. We come to know Christ intimately and the power, strength and truth of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). We grasp all that Christ provides for us (Philippians 3:12).

Thank You for transforming us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Help us to live a life of whole-hearted devotion and worship to You in holiness and with eternal goals, priorities and values. We rely on You to walk with us through the perils of this life and to make us victors in all things (Romans 8:37).

Thought for the Day:
We bring glory to Jesus when we live in the fullness of His atonement and the redemption of His sacrifice, which He shared with us by His resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven. – 1 Peter 1:3-4