GROWTH IN THE VINE – Part 1 (New Blog Series)
Today we begin a new blog series to help you “grow” in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is our Victory Over Everything (including depression), it is necessary to nurture this relationship to keep Jesus as your Victory every day.
The specific parable we will look at is The Vine And The Branches from the gospel of John, chapter 15. You will be blessed immeasurable. Look for a new series part/blog every few days.
Growth In The Vine – Part 1
I am sure you have frequently read or heard teachings about the parable of The Vine And The Branches that Jesus spoke about in the gospel of John, Chapter 15. I do not want to bore you with “another story” about the vine and the branches. For I am far from being an expert about vineyards. I only pray you bear me your patience as a share what I believe the Holy Spirit is putting on my heart to share for your edification.
I vividly recall a story that clearly parallels the parable of The Vine And The Branches. One day a man witnessed a butterfly trying to emerge from a cocoon. A considerable length of time passed as the man watched the butterfly’s unsuccessful attempts to come out. The man became impatient waiting and decided to assist the butterfly. He blew on the cocoon for a few minutes. Soon there was a bigger hole in the cocoon for the butterfly to emerge from. The butterfly did emerge, but with a damaged wing. And a butterfly with a damaged wing is as good as dead. The man was sincere in his intentions, but he obviously was sincerely wrong. The butterfly was not ready to come out. The butterfly needed more development in the solitude within the cocoon. Then, at the right time, she would emerge from the cocoon on her own.
We, Christians, are like both the man and the butterfly. When we come out “too early” in areas of our Christian walk, we quickly have a damaged wing. Or we may help another Christian, who is not yet ready to be helped, and give her a damaged wing. And a Christian cannot do anything with a self-inflicted, damaged wing. We can be very sincere in our actions, but sincerely wrong.
There is absolutely nothing more important in a Christian’s walk than developing her intimate, quiet, inner prayer life with Jesus. Jesus must be your #1 passion to pursue in life. This is what the butterfly needed to do further in the cocoon – develop maturity for this stage of her life until she is ready (mature) to fly. This is what the Christian is to do in her cocoon with Christ. Jesus is to grow quietly within the Christian in her inner life that the fruit of the Holy Spirit will grow through her. For only the love of Jesus will be the prime motivation of her life. Otherwise, she rushes out of her cocoon with a damaged wing and may just give another Christian a damaged wing also.
The story from the Bible that shows the contrast between the inner life in Christ and Christian ministry work without (or ahead of) Christ is the story of Martha and Mary found in the gospel of Luke. Luke 10:38-42. “Now it came to pass, as they went, that He (Jesus) entered into a certain village and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him (Jesus), and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing in needful and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” This story obviously is very important to reflect on often. For it only appears once in the gospels. Five simple verses have such significant, spiritual impact.
Mary exemplifies the quiet, hidden life with Jesus. She was falling intimately more in love with Jesus everyday. This is the prime motive and action in the inner life – falling deeper in love with Jesus everyday. Mary sat quietly at the feet of Jesus and listened to every word that came from His lips. How often do you sit quietly in the presence of Jesus listening to every word He speaks – especially from His Word? If not or rarely at all, then you are a Martha with a damaged wing.
Christian service and ministry is very important, but, never at the expense of developing an intimate, inner relationship of love with Jesus. This is what Martha obviously missed. The result is she is becoming anxious and upset, not just with her sister Mary, but with Jesus Himself. This immediately tells me something is wrong. If I ever become upset or angry with Jesus, I have definitely missed Him somewhere. And I need to be honest and come back to intimacy with Him.
The Christian life is ONLY growing in love with Jesus. This must be the Christian’s primary motive. If Jesus saved you because He loves you, then it is only obvious that a love relationship between two people must grow. The only growth for the love of Jesus must be done in you. Christ lives in you and must now grow through you. The growth must be done through your flesh – for you still possess a sin nature that is always against the Holy Spirit and God’s love. (We have already looked at the sin nature of “flesh” in our study in Esther.) Your growth in the love of Jesus is both painful and joyful. However, they both are necessary. This is where our lesson of the “Life Of The Vine” comes in. As long as the heart is alive in Christ, God the Father, our Vinedresser, will be pruning and disciplining us. He does this only for our good and growth in love for Him. This is what we will now look at – “Growth In The Vine” – A GROWTH IN THE LOVE OF JESUS.