S t r a n g e V i n e s
Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Ezekiel 15And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?
Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?
Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them. And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord GOD.
John 15:1-10I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
The salvation of the Lord comes to us on the gentle wings of God's divine love. We are unworthy of so great a love, and such a profound sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God, who died and shed his innocent blood on the cross at Calvary to save our souls from sin, and thus the tenacious grasp of a greedy and devouring hell.
Our sins are forgiven, we are made new and accepted into the beloved of God. What then do we often do with this divine inexplicable gift of eternal life? We cast it aside and allow our flesh to take dominion over the Spirit of the living God in us, causing our souls to wither on the heavenly vine called the Lord Jesus Christ, and fall off like dead leaves to the ground of stupidity, consumed by the degradation of our sins. The winds of evil then comes along and blows our tormented souls hither and thither, far away from the Vineyard of our Lord. Strange vines have we then become, unrecognizable replicas of who we once were in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our mirrors testify against us as we see the reflection of our tattered souls staring back at us in a startling accusation because we have allowed ourselves to be duped by Satan, the illegitimate father of sin. Now, dwelling in the quicksand of sin, we have become one with the mind of Satan, who cast aside the love of the Father in his arrogance, who, thinking within himself to overthrow the Kingdom of God, he became the firstborn illegitimate son of God.
We heard the love songs of God beckoning us unto himself, we yielded to his Holy Spirit, and became one with the Lord Jesus Christ both in mind, body, soul and spirit. Can we not remember the love songs of God, how he lovingly brought us into his eternal embrace? Can we not remember how he cared for us and adorned us with his presence and made us anew? Can we not remember how he guided us in the newness of life, revealing to us his purpose for our creation? Can we not remember how he stirred up the gifts he placed in us to fulfill his divine purpose and give to us joy unspeakable?
What more could God have done to assure our love, to convey to us how much he loved us? We were invited to dine at the table of the King of kings, and Lord of Lords. We were given the Bread of Heaven.
O Thou Great Redeemer
Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but thou art mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand: Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven feed me till I want no more. Feed me till I want no more.
Open thou the crystal fountain whence the healing stream shall flow; let the fiery, cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through: Strong deliverer, strong deliverer be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death, and hell's destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side: Songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever give to thee. I will ever give to thee.
(Hymns and Psalms. Methodist Publishing House. 1983)
The good news is this, that it doesn't matter how far away we travel from the will of the Lord, he is able to renew our soul and refresh our spirit, and bring us back into right relationship with God.
Repentance is the prerequisite. We must humble ourselves before a forgiving and merciful God before judgment find and destroy us, leaving us without hope and lost in the chaos of a world encased in the grasp of impending doom.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). We can then get back on the right pathway that leads to eternal life in the presence of the Father.
Being lost in the wilderness of sin is not a good feeling; living with fear everyday. Fear of being forever lost, fear of not finding our way back home into the holy embrace of God, fear of not fulfilling our divine destiny, and fear of enduring pain and suffering for nought.
For we know that in this finite life we will suffer, the key then is to suffer for the right reason, that being doing the will of the Father, as did our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We must take up our cross of suffering, and bravely walk towards the eternal embrace of God in heavenly places.
We, who have tasted of the goodness of the Lord, do not want to end up being food for the fires of an eternal hell! Consequently, we must crucify our flesh, and go forward to eternal life, and not backward to the damnation of our eternal souls. For if we but think about it for a minute or two, we will realize that we will spend eternity somewhere; either in the presence of the Lord or be forced to listen to the mocking laughter of Satan forever and ever.
On the other hand, if we abide in Christ he will abide in us, and use us for the glory of the Father. We can then fulfill our God-given purpose in life, and not be transformed instead into fuel for the fires of hell. We find our purpose by living our lives according to the will of God. He and he alone will reveal to us what he had in mind when he created us.
However, this does not mean that we stand still a wait for the revelation of our purpose to fall down out of the sky, but we must always be on the move doing positive and constructive things with our lives; working in ministry, educating ourselves, seeking God through prayer and fasting, becoming positive role models for our children, and giving of our time and money towards the building of the Kingdom of the Lord. The list is endless because God is a creative God, there are so many avenues down which we can travel individually to fulfill our purpose in life.
Sometimes we have no idea what our purpose is, and often simple stumble into divine purpose in the midst of doing other viable and constructive things; pursuing the gifts and talents that we were born with, and allowing them to unfold into the reality of our lives. Sometimes God gives us a dream for our lives, the key then is to not just know the dream, and hope for the dream to come to pass in our lives, but to seriously take steps to make that dream come true.
For example, we can dream about becoming a teacher all day long, year in and year out, but if we don't take steps to make that dream come true, our desire to teach will die in the land of dreams. In order to pull our dreams out of dreamland we must activate them by stepping out on faith that the dream came from God, and pursue every avenue in order to escort that dream into the realm of our own specific reality.