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Thursday, March 31, 2011

“Arise, let us go from here. I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser” (John 14:31-15:1).

Jesus had just told His disciples of many amazing comings and goings: “My Father and I will come; the Holy Spirit will come; I am going away and coming back to you; these things I have told you are coming; the ruler of this world is coming; let us go.”  It was enough to trouble the disciples, and I imagine, enough to cause them relief when they heard abide-in-the-vine language.

Though inexperienced with fruit-bearing vines, the flowering vines covering the front of my house remind me daily of my true home.  My true home is in the True Vine, and here I abide, a branch.  If through all the cosmic comings and goings in heaven and on earth the True Vine trembles nary a twig, then here I gladly abide and trust the abilities of the Vinedresser.

It is something wonderful to be a branch in this vine. The branches of this vine draw life from Christ.  They bend low not beneath the weight of the world, but (how beautiful!) beneath the weight of His love and peace.  Just a branch?  Yes, just a blessed branch!

Author: Carolyn Roehrig

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it" (Genesis 28:16).

The story goes that Jacob was travelling to Padan Aram to marry one of Laban’s daughters.  More than a day’s journey, we are told that when the sun had set Jacob decided to find a place to lie down to sleep.  He pulled up a rock to lay his head upon, stretched himself out on the ground and, I imagine, mentioned the purpose of his trip in his prayers that night.

Certainly, he logically prepared to overnight.  With the commonest of sense, he found a suitable place, as natural as the ground and as ordinary as a rock, to sleep on.  There he became unmistakably aware of the presence of the Lord and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

This brings to mind others whose stories speak the same theme from places as normal as a wedding feast, on old well and a boat in stormy weather. Once they knew where the wine came from, the servants at the wedding at Cana could well have said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  After speaking with Jesus at the well, the Samaritan woman essentially said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  After hearing Jesus say, “It is I,” as He approached the boat in the storm, the disciples too would have said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 

It seems to me that while water has never been changed into wine in my kitchen, some of the best meals have come from near-empty cupboards.  Is the Lord not involved in this?  And what of those daily places where Jesus reminds me to drink from Him?  And what of the storms which buffet my boat?  I would rather not be in a storm in the dark and four miles from shore, but the Word, “It is I,” assures. 

Most of our daily preparations, decisions and doings are as automatic as the setting sun and as normal as dirt, yet in these earthy places, heaven is at hand.    At day’s end we can lie down and say, "Surely the Lord was with me in all these places, and I did not always know it." 

Author: Carolyn Roehrig

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“…but also if you say to this mountain, ’Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will done” (Matthew 21:18-22).

A hungry Jesus had just withered with a word a fig tree with no figs.  I don’t know why, except, perhaps, to bring graphic imagery to mind when we think about prayer and fruit that nourishes His body.  When the disciples saw it, healthy one day withered the next, they marveled, “How did it wither away so soon?”  Then Jesus said to them, “If you have faith, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.” 

I have wondered about “this mountain.”  Where did the mountain come in?  Weren’t they talking about a fig tree?  Perhaps Jesus is referring to the fig tree He just withered.  A fig tree is very large, but even larger is what this dead, figless tree stands for.  It stands for everything fruitless in our lives that must be put to death.  Scripture says, “Put to death uncleanness, immortality, evil desires, covetousness, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and lying.”  These are mountainous!  They are put to death no other way than by Christ saying, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”  If we share Christ’s hunger for fruitfulness, then we will have appetite to ask Him to wither what is fruitless in our lives, no matter how flourishing it looks.  We have His word that He will, so let’s not marvel when He does.  Immediately pray its removal, to be cast into the sea, before it becomes an object of sentiment. 

As sometimes happens when I meditate on God’s Word, I dreamed it.  I saw no fruit behind a flourish of large green leaves.  In the dream I knew they represented selfishness.  “Wither it, Lord!  Wither it!” I woke praying.  Now, “Remove this mountain and cast it into the sea.”

Christ’s divine power gives all that pertains to life and godliness.  If these things are yours and abound, then you will be neither barren nor unfruitful.  When Christ weaves His fingers though the foliage of your life, does He discover figs?  Is the body of Christ being nourished by the fruit of your life?  Has the fruit become so ripe, full and sweet that it simply falls into His hand?  He will feed it to His body.

Author: Carolyn Roehrig