Of Grapes and Vines

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

John 15:1 NIV

Last summer, I read Chasing Vines, by best-selling author and Bible teacher Beth Moore. If you adore the richness of an Italian landscape, appreciate the taste of a Sauvignon Blanc or a red wine blend, or identify with the parable of the vine and the branches, (illustrated in John 15) you’ll enjoy this book from introduction to epilogue.

As many Christians know, The Vine and the Branches in John 15 is all about staying close to Christ, or “abiding,” in your walk with God through the metaphor of the gardener (God), the vine (Christ), and the branches (disciples). Through her teaching, Beth shares some beautiful analogies between the rocky soil of a Christian’s daily walk in salvation and the delicate yet rigorous process of creating fruitful vineyards.

The whole concept of abiding is not only key, but foundational to a Christian who is rooted in a personal relationship with Christ (not religion) to be free to accomplish their purpose set forth before the beginning of time.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5 NIV

She also points out that in the Bible, the Old Testament refers to “the vine” as Israel. But in the New Testament, Jesus Christ takes His rightful place as “the true vine” (John 15:1). She calls this an amazing “sub-planting.”

About this Moore says, “John 15 is about living a naturally unexplainably life. It’s about doing what we can’t do on our own and becoming who we can’t be on our own.” (P. 52 of the Chasing Vines, Group Experience)

The words, concepts, and experiences in Chasing Vines will make you want to read more. And it will be a comforting and joyous read; for me that was certain.

I’m now re-reading her book while starting a group Bible study in my neighborhood. The study consists of a workbook, which is a great way to think about what Moore is presenting in her book and put it into your own words, like personal journaling. The study series also includes six short videos, which are equally enlightening and educational as she takes the reader closer to the leaves and buds and branches of the vineyard— figuratively and literally!

To all, enjoy this study that Beth Moore brings to life. But even more importantly, know that He abides in you.

Touched by the Spirit of Hope

I come to you again with a renewed sense of hope. I can have the calm spirit you’ve given me, casting down fear and anxiety. Help me choose life each day, Lord, as I quiet the chatter in my mind. For you are the belonging and freedom for which I seek. As I humble myself before you, you promise to lift me up. Pour out your strength so I can willingly yield everything to you.

Deuteronomy 30:19

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

James 1:2-8
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

For this time and always

We need you, God. You are our rock, our ever-present help in times of trouble. But this was always true – even before a world-wide pandemic.

I am so thankful that I already had a structure in place for a daily outpouring of praise and prayer for the everyday challenges in life.

This verse in Lamentations I have always kept close to my heart, especially in raising two daughters and always striving to keep my family close together:

Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward him for the life of your young children.

Lamentations 2:19

I came across Deuteronomy 32:2 this morning in my daily devotional by Joyce Meyer. It really resonated with me as I ask God often for spiritual wisdom and understanding. I editorialized a bit, but this is basically the message:

Let your messages fall on me like rain and your words descend like dew on a cool summer morning, like showers on fresh grass, and as an outpouring of rainfall upon the herb.

Deuteronomy 32:2

As we come to you each day, God, lift us up in Jesus’ name.

Absolute faith, day after day

Through your grace, help me “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” me. Let my gaze be steady on you.

Prayers for our first responders, doctors and nurses, and everyone on the front lines today combatting COVID-19… Prayers for our communities, our states, our countries, our leaders, and our world.

Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

A Prayer for Growing in Christ

Help me live a life worthy of the calling I’ve received from you.

Let me practice humility, patience, gentleness, and forbearance.

Keep me focused on the hope of Christ with single-mindedness.

Through your grace, give me the strength to build others up.

Let me grow in faith each day, learning more and attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Based on Ephesians 3:16-19

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Our work

God, establish the work of our hands and confirm it in our hearts. Let your favor be upon us. Give us a new understanding of the work you’ve planned for us and let us use our time for eternal purposes. Renew in us your Spirit!

Based on Psalm 90:17

Breathe in calmness today

As I sat down in prayer this morning, as thoughts poured into my head, I heard… Slow down your thoughts and breathe in my presence. This is my gift to you every day. The pace of your life is quickening, you feel overloaded. But I am your God. Breathe deeply and know that I’m beside you. I’m there with you in regret; when you fail to see things as they truly are, through my eyes. I know your heart. Give me all your anxiety; pour out your fear. Be confident that I’m working in you always. The only “race” to be concerned about is keeping your faith.

(Based on 2 Timothy 4:7)