My good friend Somer bringing us a great word today at Study.
This morning I looked out at the overgrown jungle that we call our backyard. Interesting that it is overgrown because the sprinklers have been turned off for months, well before the holiday season last year. We were expecting a monster, a Godzilla sized El Niño weather pattern here in the lower Pacific Northwest. Oh, El Niño came and we are thankful for the rain we did receive but then, El Niño left limping like an old jalopy with a flat tire.
As I stood gazing at our jungle, er, backyard, contemplating where to begin, I saw my nemesis, an ugly, intrusive vine that weaves itself back and forth between our neighbors yard and ours and only God knows where it is originally rooted. My nemesis produces offshoots in the form of thin tendrils that wrap themselves around everything in our backyard seemingly choking out the life of the other plants with its death grip.
What was that? As I was scanning I caught a glimpse of something I hadn’t seen before. It sat there as if it was floating in air, without a care in the world, and it was, beautiful. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was a beautiful flower, one I had not planted and attached to something I didn’t want. The bloomin’ vine had bloomed! And, there were many more pods waiting to burst forth with their hidden beauty.
I was reminded of how ugly and intrusive life can get sometimes. How the true Vine is Jesus and if we choose to stay closely connected to him, in his time, He makes all things beautiful.
…to give unto them beauty for ashes…Isaiah 61:3a.
I have a rock and not just any rock. I received this rock about four years ago with instructions to write on it what I felt the Holy Spirit was speaking to me at the moment. On one side I wrote “Faith” and on the other side I wrote “My Life Has Purpose.” My rock sits on our kitchen counter where I have the opportunity to look at it several times a day. Little did I know this rock has been ‘whispering’ to me these past four years. Hey, if God can use a talking donkey….!
About 8 months ago God placed a message in my heart. Through some topical Bible studies I was working on, he began to highlight verses that I felt I ought to keep track of. Praise God for Evernote! I even wrote in my journal, “is this a sermon or a teaching?” A few times a year I have the awesome opportunity to give the message to our faith family, and throughout the year I co-teach at our Women’s weekly Bible study. Deep down I knew this was a sermon message and for some reason that scared me! Maybe because I had become complacent and cozy right where I was.
In January we were in D.C. helping our oldest lovebug move into her first apartment. We had stepped outside for a few minutes and I missed a call from our Pastor so he messaged me asking if I would like to preach the following month. As I read his message my heart started racing and I knew the message God had placed in my heart months before was for this time. But, all those months before, as I was keeping track of the verses He was giving me, I was ignoring the prompting of Holy Spirit to begin putting His message together. I strongly advise against ignoring!
As soon as we arrived home from D.C. I began putting this message together. Holy Spirit titled it “Connected to the Vine.” and it was all about purpose. I was amazed, as I always am, how Holy Spirit brings together verses that are seemingly unrelated and weaves them into one another so that they walk side by side, holding hands, complimenting each other and making perfect sense.
Since this message was titled “Connected to the Vine”, it made total sense to me that the leading verse Holy Spirit gave me was John 15:5.
“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.
I have read this verse numerous times, as I am sure many of you have as well, but I couldn’t ‘walk’ away from this verse without digging deeper into what it says to us.
I found that in addition to live, dwell and abide, the word remain in John 15:5 also means to follow Christ’s example of living a life obedient to the will of God. So right away we see we have a purpose in John 15:5.
We have a second purpose found in John 15:5 and that is to bear much fruit. Karpos is the Greek word for fruit in John 15:5 and it means everything done in true partnership with Christ and is the result of two lives – the Lord living His life through ours.
This morning I was reading Acts 26. Paul is recounting his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road to Festus, King Agrippa, his wife Bernice and many others who were in attendance.
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:16-18.
I would like to say it hit me with a huge Emerile Lagasse, “Bam!” but it didn’t it was more subtle and matter of fact….we have purpose found in Acts 26:16-18. Our purpose is to open the eyes of everyone God sends us to or brings to us and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Him.
Acts 26:16-18 is one of the reasons we say our life is not our own. Jesus paid the ultimate price for us upon the Cross, taking on the sin of all humanity once and for all. And at that moment God turned his face away from Jesus and he was forsaken because of our sin. Jesus has never been out of communion with God or Holy Spirit except for this one moment and he did it all for me and for you, because He loves us, because He wants our life to have purpose. His purpose.
Precious One, God’s purpose for your life and my life is to live life obedient to His will, to bear much fruit because He is living his life through ours and we are in true partnership with Him. Our purpose is to turn others from darkness to light, from Satan to God for the forgiveness of sins and the hope of life everlasting.
Live life on purpose. His purpose. Stay connected to the Vine.