Best of Manschool – Branch to Vine (1)

Simple question – which one of these two pictures best describes your life right now?

2009_05_10_vine-1iStockDeadBranch_000001762962XSmall%5B1%5D

For me, many, many days … I am that branch on the right.  Worn out, dried out, lifeless and just waiting to be tossed on a fire.  Green?  Lush?  Plentiful?  Bearing much fruit?  Not so much I’m embarrassed to say.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is because I’m attempting to do this life on my own strength instead of pulling from the Vine which can sustain me.  Read on…

We don’t draw our life from our wife, our children or one another.  Read that again – my wife isn’t supposed to infuse me with life.  I don’t get the life I need to go to battle every day from her.  Jesus is the bread of life.  George Herbert said, “All of the growth of the Christian is a reflection of the life he is getting from God.”  Sleep, breath, eating, drinking, etc. are all daily, practical reminders of our need to draw upon the life of God for our existence.  Why else would God have us sleep if it weren’t a daily reminder of our need for something beyond self?  George McDonald said, “In our troubles, let us remember our one lack is … life and the life-making presence of God.”  Remember that.  When the troubles come – and they will – when the chaos starts, will we look to the debris and the immediate “fix it”?  Or will we realize what it is we are truly missing is the life of God?

Point 1 – we are designed to live by and draw upon the life of God

John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly”.  We love that verse.  It’s a foundational verse for us.  And we tend to think abundant life is a great job, beautiful family, rich faith, material blessings… But this isn’t what comes first.  What comes first is the power to live.  The fruits are things like love, joy, kindness, creativity, friendship, etc.  Yes!  But the primary offer is the Greek word Zoe.  Zoe is the life Jesus had within Himself – that indestructible, phenomenal life!

Jesus wants to give you this life.  This Zoe.  He wants to give it to you, feed you with it daily like a vine feeds a branch.  Salvation is “life”.  Life in order that you may live.  The invitation is for you to join your life into God’s.

Point 2 – In the last days, it’s going to be hard on the saints

It’s going to be brutal.  It already is.  Brutal.  2 Timothy 3 lays out what the last days will look like, People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”  It sounds a lot like today.  In Daniel 7:25 it says, “The enemy will wear down the saints”.

When things get this way, you can feel the hatred of the enemy – there is a darkness, heaviness on your heart, on your being.  Hatred, malice and rage are being released on the faithful.  Is the enemy really unleashing new kinds of attack on us or is this just life?  Explain ISIS.  Where did that all of sudden just come from?  The evil and spread of ISIS is clearly demonic and it is a brand new assault on us.

This world, it is going to be hard on us.  We need the life of God now more than ever.  Do not, do not, do not attempt this on your own.  You live in a highly toxic spiritual environment.  It will produce a malaise over your spirit much like a poisonous gas.  It makes it hard to draw upon the life of God.  You’ve got to fight for this.  Your heart was made for Eden and you live very far from Eden.

Point 3 – Drawing upon the Life of God is your first task

Drawing your life from God is your first task every day.  It takes priority over your wife, your kids, your job and even your devotionals.  Your priority each morning is to draw upon this life.  Drawing upon this stream of living water is what enables you to tackle all that you have in front of you each day.  It is what enables you to dream big, to create, to imagine, to start new ministries.  It is the only thing that enables you to LiveOutward.

“What are you doing daily to draw upon the life of God, the Zoe?” 

Does your day start with silence and solitude?  Do you go outside to watch the sun rise and soak in the life of God?  Do you find a quiet place in your home before the family awakes to spend 15-20-30 minutes drawing upon life?   Or…  do you sleep as late as you can, roll out of bed, grab your phone and start reading emails and texts from bosses, customers, family, all the people who need something of you?  Do you turn the TV on first thing?  Shower, shave, dress quickly, scarf down some breakfast and fly to the car to get the kids to school or to get to that meeting, reading texts as you drive, making the first calls of the day and listening to noise on your radio?

Do you feel like you run on a freaking treadmill 12 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week?  It’s called the “Tyranny of the Urgent” and it is killing us.  Killing us.  Killing you.  It’s ground hog day over and over.  Rinse and repeat and nowhere in there is there time for drawing upon the life of God.  All you’re trying to do is get through the day, trying to “do right” and get ahead of the avalanche bearing down on you.  What is the effect of all that?  A lush, fruit-bearing branch — or — a dried out, cut off branch waiting to get burned up?

So which one are you?  The lush fruit bearing much fruit or the dead branch laying out in the pasture?  Again I ask you, “What are you doing to draw upon the life of God, the Zoe?”  Remember from last week, you ARE a son of God.  You ARE an heir.  The Father delights in your return to His front porch.  All He has is yours.  What are you doing to get fed by the Father daily?

NEXT WEEK > Bart Hanson will be with us in person.  The following week, we will get into the practical applications for how we can draw upon the Life of God daily.  Until then, LiveUP!

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2 thoughts on “Best of Manschool – Branch to Vine (1)

  1. Thank you so much for getting this out so quickly . . . have shared the highlights with others this morning . . . now they can get it all!! On Feb 10, 2016 10:36 AM, “The glory of God is man fully alive” wrote:

    > LiveUP1 posted: “Simple question – which one of these two pictures best > describes your life right now? For me, many, many days … I am that branch > on the right. Worn out, dried out, lifeless and just waiting to be tossed > on a fire. Green? Lush? Plentiful? Beari” >

  2. Hi Richard and brothers…..sorry I missed the entire message and group time. What I did catch stirred in me immensely all day yesterday and I struggled most of the night with it as well. Like almost every aspect of my life, including my Christian walk, I find that I am inconsistent in relying on God and God alone for the “life” which He so freely offers. I run hot and cold and while cold it definitely degrades the quality of my existence and of those that rely on me to be plugged in, branch receiving, fruit producer that I was intended to be through Him. Pray that I might really make strides in this area by simply letting God…….

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