(Revised!) Remembering Stone #9: a branch in the VINE

(Revised!) Remembering Stone #9: a branch in the VINE

So Jesus and I started from scratch together . . .

Many years have passed. The Lord has had me on a journey into freedom and joy in him. It has definitely not been all smooth sailing, but in those early days He used a little book, Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray, to transform my Christian walk.

I’m just a branch, that’s all I ever have to be!

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Happy Dependence Day 2015

cross & flag
cross & flag

Here at A Branch in the Vine, we are proclaiming our Declaration of Dependence!

We are celebrating that every day is Dependence Day for those of us who "live from the life of Another." True liberation, freedom inexpressible and full of glory, begins when we embrace the words of Jesus,

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV

John 15:5
John 15:5

Nothing glorious can happen in and of ourselves! Only as we believe in the depths of our beings...

...the mystery [is] Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

So please join me in celebrating the thrilling dependence of our union with our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ* by faith:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life 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 ESV

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant... 2 Corinthians 3:5-6a ESV

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV

AMEN!

Lamg of God & cross
Lamg of God & cross

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE LAMB

I have heard how Christians long ago Were brought before a tyrants throne And they were told that he would spare their lives If they would renounce the name of Christ. But one by one they chose to die The Son of God they would not deny Like a great angelic choir sings I can almost hear their voices ring.

CHORUS: I pledge allegiance to the Lamb With all my strength With all I am I will seek to honor His commands I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

Now the years have come and the years have gone But the cause of Jesus still goes on And now our time has come to count the cost To reject this world, to embrace the cross And one by one let us live our lives For the One who died to give us life. Till the trumpet sounds on the final day Let us proudly stand and boldly say

REPEAT CHORUS:

To the Lamb of God who bore my pain Who took my place, Who wore my shame. I will seek to honor His commands I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

Thanks to Mike Merritt for his creative sermon from the book of Daniel entitled "Dependence Day" (July 1, 2012, Believers' Assembly)

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*You might also like to explore how this truth is operative in our lives as believers:

UNION with CHRIST, a summary

Happy Dependence Day 2014

dependence day
dependence day

Here at A Branch in the Vine, we are proclaiming our Declaration of Dependence! We are celebrating that every day is Dependence Day for those of us who "live from the life of Another."  True liberation, freedom inexpressible and full of glory, begins when we embrace the words of Jesus,

fruitful vineyard
fruitful vineyard

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV

Nothing glorious can happen in and of ourselves!  Only as we believe in the depths of our beings...

...the mystery [is]Christ  in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

So please join me in celebrating the thrilling dependence of our union with our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ* by faith:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life 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 ESV

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,  who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant... 2Cor 3:5-6a ESV

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2Cor 4:7-10 ESV

AMEN!

cross & fireworks
cross & fireworks

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE LAMB

I have heard how Christians long ago Were brought before a tyrants throne And they were told that he would spare their lives If they would renounce the name of Christ. But one by one they chose to die The Son of God they would not deny Like a great angelic choir sings I can almost hear their voices ring.

CHORUS: I pledge allegiance to the Lamb With all my strength With all I am I will seek to honor His commands I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

Now the years have come and the years have gone But the cause of Jesus still goes on And now our time has come to count the cost To reject this world, to embrace the cross And one by one let us live our lives For the One who died to give us life. Till the trumpet sounds on the final day Let us proudly stand and boldly say

REPEAT CHORUS:

To the Lamb of God who bore my pain Who took my place, Who wore my shame. I will seek to honor His commands I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

*Thanks to Mike Merritt for his creative sermon from the book of Daniel entitled "Dependence Day" (July 1, 2012, Believers' Assembly)

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*You might also like to explore how this truth is operative in our lives as believers:

UNION with CHRIST, a summary

Hebrews 3 & 4: Consider Jesus...and Rest!

STAR-GAZE at JESUS!  That's what these words mean:  CONSIDER JESUS!

Why gaze at anyone or anything else?

  • He is God's final WORD!
  • SON of GOD
  • SON of MAN
  • BUILDER of God's House (us!)
  • Our SABBATH REST

Let us be diligent to enter HIM, our SABBATH-REST Let us enter day in and day out! Let us live in HIM and let HIM live in and through us!

Amen and amen!

Homework --   Read Hebrews 4:14-5:10; 7:1-28 Answer questions in Hoping for Something Better, p. 193-195 Read chapter 4, p. 55-72, Hoping…

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I've attached two posts that you may enjoy as you bask in Jesus our Sabbath:

Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting  (April 2012)

Ah! REST...what a glorious word!  I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it!  And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest...

Moms especially need it...as do dads.  Single folk need it; workers need it; retirees do too...even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially after no-sleep sleepovers!)

This is the time of the year that I begin to really drag, needing my rest!  I'm a teacher...among other things like wife, mother, grandmother, friend, sister, etc.    A year or so ago, I also became a blogger/amateur writer.  Right now, I'm hitting Blogger's Block/ Writer's Block -- that brain-draining fatigue that hits everyone (including students) who has put pen to paper regularly.

So let me say it again -- we humans ALL need deep, glorious rest...no matter what our role in life.  And we need rest, not just for our bodies, but for our souls most of all!

I don't know about you, but I am going to the only Place I know to go for the rest I need...and that place is my Lord Jesus Christ!  HE is Rest!  I'm responding to His gracious invitation, 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

We who are burdened and work to exhaustion can find anapausis (REST in Greek). But this is not just the "take a nap" kind of rest...it goes much deeper:

In Matthew 11:28-29, the Lord promises "anapausis" (inner tranquility) to the weary and heavy laden who come to HIM while they are engaged in necessary labor. Spiro Zodiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, p. 156

Isn't that good news, dear friend? Even when we cannot take a break from our duties, we can have inner tranquility because of our relationship with our Lord Christ.

And there's an interesting emphasis in that short phrase, Come to Me, in the original Greek.  Literally, Jesus says,

HERE (Hither, KJV)...to ME!

That's right, the word COME isn't found in the original!  It's just implied...and I think, for a reason.

I picture Jesus Himself beckoning to the battered and beleaguered crowd of ordinary people following Him.  He points to HIMSELF as the source of spiritual rest:  HERE...to ME...for rest!

The religious rulers, who hounded them, burdened them with duties above and beyond what God required.  Jesus, on the other hand, joins (yokes) Himself to His people to give them rest on every level.  So in a sense, He says,

Don't go to THEM! HERE...to ME!

And the same is true for you and me, dear friend.  What is hounding and harassing you?

Is it the pressures of mothering? ...the stress of financial needs? ...the guilt of not being spiritual enough: reading the Bible, praying enough? ...the confusion and grief of relational rifts? ...the concern for struggling/straying loved ones? ...the fatigue/uncertainties of your job? ...struggles with ill health? ______[fill in the blank]______?

In every situation and in every stage of life on this earth, He Himself is our Rest. Join me in responding to His invitation:   HERE...to ME!

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, And Thy beauty fills my soul, For, by Thy transforming power, Thou hast made me whole.

Jesus! I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart.

Oh, how great Thy loving kindness, Vaster, broader than the sea: Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness, Lavished all on me!

Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved, Know what wealth of grace is Thine, Know Thy certainty of promise, And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art, And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, Satisfies my heart,

Satisfies its deepest longings, Meets, supplies its every need, Compasseth me round with blessings, Thine is love indeed.

Ever lift Thy face upon me, As I work and wait for Thee; Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, Earth's dark shadows flee.

Brightness of my Father's glory, Sunshine of my Father's face, Keep me ever trusting, resting, Fill me with Thy grace.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm9_MHAbbIE[/youtube]

For the rest of the Resting in Jesus series, click here.

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Job Descriptions in the Father’s Vineyard (April 2011)

By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:8

Have you ever started a job with no job description?  I have, and it’s pretty confusing.

About 8 years ago, I was looking for a part-time teaching job.  A friend asked if I would like to apply to substitute teach in ESL & GED classes.  I told her that I didn’t have a clue about either one of those.  She assured me that it wasn’t difficult.  All I had to do was follow the teacher’s lesson plans.  So I naively applied.

Well, guess what?  As my application reached the supervisor’s desk, the beginning ESL teacher was in a very serious accident.  This was at the end of the first week of class.  By then, beginning ESL students don’t know much more English than the day they walked in.  There were no lesson plans and no curriculum, because the teacher was so experienced that she did her own “curriculum”.  Needless to say, I was terrified.  But God met me in my need (and that’s for another post!).

BUT that first year, I had no job description.  I just took the bull by the horns and prayed and taught and loved it.  And I think the students did too, by God’s grace!  (I’m still teaching that class 8 years later.)

However, without a job description, I made many mistakes and often got myself in trouble.  Most of the time, my mistakes were from my ignorance…or from my zeal to “do things right”.  As a result, in several instances, I unknowingly went over the head of my supervisor and assumed her role.  Not good!

That’s what happens for us believers with living the Christian life.  I don’t think we truly understand our “job description.”   We try to do in our own strength the things that only God can do.

John 15 is a perfect place to start to understand what it means to be a Christian (the branches) in relation to our Father (the Owner/Gardener) and His Son (the True Vine).  So let’s look at WHO does WHAT in a vineyard?

First there’s the Gardener or Vinedresser.  His job is to care for the vine and branches by watering, fertilizing, and above all… pruning. Without that almost “violent” pruning, a rich crop cannot come forth.

And after all, the vineyard owner’s reputation is at stake!  If someone sees a barren vineyard, no one shames the branches or even the vine, but rather the owner/vinedresser.  That’s because whoever does the work gets the credit or the blame!   So it’s his job to do whatever is necessary to ensure an abundant crop of grapes.  Even the good, new growth gets cut back so as to bring forth an abundance of fruit.

As we’ve seen in a previous post, that is what the Father does for us branches.   Sometimes we may feel like we’ve grown so much and have been “fruitful”…then all of a sudden, the desert! dryness! seeming barrenness!  But the process is not done yet!

Then there’s the Vine.  The Vine is the source of life for the branches, which then enables the fruit to come forth.  Without the life of the Vine flowing through healthy branches, nothing fruitful can happen!

Jesus is the Source of life for us His branches.  In another post we saw that Jesus, the I AM, is LIFE itself! In Him was life, and the life is the light of men…I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly. John 1:4; 10:10b

And that’s why the main job of the branches is to abide or stay connected to the vine.  The branches are the vehicles for the life of the vine to flow through so that fruit will come forth.

Jesus said,  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.  John 15:4

So what does it mean to abide in Christ?  It means to live in & from, remain in, sink down deep into, rest in, stay [experientially] connected to HIM!

Here’s a feeble, but hopefully helpful illustration of what I think it means to abide.  I have this wonderful couch in my living room.  It is hard to sit or lie on this couch without falling asleep.  When I come home from a full day of teaching, I look forward to sinking my weary body into that couch.  I’m often able to just put some instrumental music on and surrender to the comfort of my glorious couch. Later, I leave that place refreshed and energized!

However, sometimes I still have things I need to do before supper time.  So I abandon my tired self to my life-giving couch and make my phone calls or read my lessons or do whatever duty or desire dictates.  I still come away refreshed because I’m working from a position of rest.

That’s what I think abiding in Christ means.  I do what I do from my position of rest in my Glorious Vine.  I’m secure in Him and He in me.  His resurrection life flows through me, His branch, to bring forth the fruit designed by the Father for my unique life.

What about you?  Are you living the Branch-life?  Do you do what you do from the position of rest in your Glorious Lord Christ? Or are you trying to do what only God can do — give life and produce fruit?

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.  John 15:5

For the rest of the Vine & Branches series, click here

Happy Dependence Day!*

bible & flag
bible & flag

Here at A Branch in the Vine, we are proclaiming our Declaration of Dependence! We are celebrating that every day is Dependence Day for those of us who "live from the life of Another."

Join me in basking in the thrill of our union with our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

fruitful vineyard
fruitful vineyard

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV

...the mystery...Christ  in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life 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 ESV

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,  who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant... 2Cor 3:5-6a ESV

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2Cor 4:7-10 ESV

cross & fireworks
cross & fireworks

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE LAMB

I have heard how Christians long ago Were brought before a tyrants throne And they were told that he would spare their lives If they would renounce the name of Christ. But one by one they chose to die The Son of God they would not deny Like a great angelic choir sings I can almost hear their voices ring.

CHORUS: I pledge allegiance to the Lamb With all my strength With all I am I will seek to honor His commands I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

Now the years have come and the years have gone But the cause of Jesus still goes on And now our time has come to count the cost To reject this world, to embrace the cross And one by one let us live our lives For the One who died to give us life. Till the trumpet sounds on the final day Let us proudly stand and boldly say

REPEAT CHORUS:

To the Lamb of God who bore my pain Who took my place, Who wore my shame. I will seek to honor His commands I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

*Thanks to Mike Merritt for his creative sermon from the book of Daniel entitled "Dependence Day" (July 1, 2012)