The Vine (part 3)

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.  He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes.  And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

Live in me.  Make your home in me just as I do in you.  In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

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.  Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.  But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.  This is how my Father shows who he is – when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

I’ve told you these things for a purpose – that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.”  (in other words, Jesus is saying “I have this life, this Zoe that I want to infuse into you – this is the ‘abundant life’ I speak of in John 10:10”)      John 15 The Message

So again, the question for you this morning is this – What are you going to do (daily) to draw up the Life of God?

John Eldredge offers up this summary …

“So, what will you do, what is your plan, to draw your life more deeply from God?  It’s not just going to happen; you will have to make room for it.  May I suggest…

A)  Create relational space.  I confess – I used to think couples who had a standing date night each week were a little weird.  It just seemed unromantic to me, like scheduling sex.  I see now I was wrong.  If you don’t make relational space, relationship doesn’t just happen.  The same holds true for God.  You have to create relational space in your week for God.  You can’t Tivo Jesus.  Make room in your day.

B)  Disentangle (goes with A) – Friends of mine were describing their family schedule, how it is dominated by youth sports; they eat dinner in the car.  It is utter madness.  You cannot run at the pace of the World and hope to have God.  You just can’t.  The World has gone mad; peoples lives have no margin for their soul, let alone for God.  You will have to make tough decisions.  What goes in 2014?  (ask Him!)

C)  Detox (goes with B) – the poison of the World is not merely a matter of pace; it includes the media we allow into our lives.  Over the past year a number of friends have recommended books or movies to us, and when we went to check them out, we were shocked at what Christians allow into their lives.  Vampires and zombies do not prepare your heart to receive the Life of Jesus; watching someone else have sex does not fill you with the Life of God.  The desert fathers left civilization because they felt it was assaulting their souls…and they had no TV, cell phones or internet!  My God – you live in a toxic culture.  Shut every valve you can.

D)  Pray for union; pray for oneness – This is what we are after – not a feeling, not a cool encounter.  We cannot hope to live without the Life of God flowing in and through us.  There is no other way.  So Jesus prayed for us; he asked his Father that we would be one with him just as they are one with each other (John 17:20-23).  This is the secret of his life, it must become the secret of ours.”

Men, we desperately need more of God.  We have to be intentional about this.  We have to push away the chaos and make time.  We need to crave the sound of silence.  Our souls desperately need restoration.

We debated some of this today – how much time can we devote to politics, watching news channels, are we being called to be “John the Baptists” – out there wild, anti-social, loners, isolated – or is there balance to this?  Can we do some of both?

I’m not going to ramble on this but we do tend to rationalize our way out of this.  We say “I’ve got to have my cell phone on me at all times in case work needs me”.  Or we say, “It’s OK to engage in all this political debate as long as I don’t get sucked in”.  Or we think, “This movie with the sex scenes isn’t…”

And already, we’re losing the point of this entire series – THE point is this, “What are you doing to draw upon the Life of God…daily?”  ALL of this rationalizing, justifying, etc. is taking away from the key question.  The question isn’t that we can’t engage in any of the stuff of this world.  The question is “where are you” in all this?  Are you a vibrant, lush branch producing much fruit and growing deep roots to draw upon the Life of God?  Or, are you feeling like a tired, worn-out, frazzled dead branch laying in the pasture waiting to be thrown upon the fire?

I think for most of us it is the latter.  The utter madness of the world is beating the crap out of us and we’re buying the lie that we “have” to stay connected into it.  The world is on a one-way path to destruction and yet we feel this pull of having to stay connected to it.  We’re willing to graft ourselves into that vine (which is poison ivy) and we’re reluctant to detach from it to graft ourselves into the True Vine.  It’s sort of like saying you’ll let your teenage daughter have sex and smoke pot because if she doesn’t she won’t be accepted into the world and after all, that’s what all the kids these days are doing.  THAT is utter madness.  Our need to stay connected to this world on the path to destruction is madness.  The cost of which is that for many of us men, we find ourselves slammed into oblivion nearly every day and we slink home to just seek some relief.  That’s the evidence of a life out-of-balance.

We need to revolutionize our thinking on this.  What comes first – what MUST come first – is that we are intentional to make time with God our first priority…daily.  If we are not drawing upon the Living Waters, if we are not attached to the Zoe – the Life of God, it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves wasting away as a dead branch in a field far removed from Life.

Let us all seek to draw upon the True Vine.  LiveUP!

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