Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Jesus, The True Vine - Victor Black

How beautiful is a bouquet of roses? Yet the moment they were cut from the rose bush, they ceased to continue in growth and began a slow death. Just like those beautiful roses, apart from the vine we begin a slow death. Vibrant colors and life, in exchange for momentary admiration that withers and loses its beauty and usefulness.

Jesus is the true vine and our Heavenly Father is the vinedresser. Does a branch have the ability to grow and produce fruit apart from the vine? What good are branches apart from the connection to the vine?

John writes: “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” — John 15:4 (ESV)

This truth makes it abundantly clear that we are unable to produce any Kingdom act without a connection to the vine of Jesus. He is our source of all things holy, beneficial and life-giving. We must see this as a mutual relationship, not parasitic. See, we aren’t just feeding off the vine, but rather gaining life and power to live according to what Ephesians 4:1-3 tells us:

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (ESV)

This is an impossible calling if we continue to wake each morning, put our running shoes on and hop onto the hamster wheel of life, hoping to win the race. If this is our habit, we will live in defeat and exhaustion, and ultimately we will declare this life as unbeatable. All the while, our great Father in Heaven is waiting for us to just grab His hand for our good. He instructs us to abide in Him, not to control us or become one of His mindless robots, but rather to develop a beautiful relationship with the one true vine.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” — John 15:11 (ESV)

Joy, people! It is for His love that we may be full of HIS joy. The joy of God! Malcom Smith wrote in his book, “The Power of the Blood Covenant,” “The mark of dead religion is to be found in the dedication of the devotee to keep vows with a view to pleasing God.”

Too many Christians toil in the fields of life, pledging to God to change and be better. They often make promises that can never be kept, trying to bargain on an already guaranteed inheritance. It is insanity to go to the God who promised us His love through Christ and try to gain it.

I challenge you tomorrow morning, rather than taking the attitude and position of, “God, I’m going to be good today, I’m going to finally figure this thing out, you’ll be proud of me today,” try this: Get out of bed, fall to your knees in humility for even waking up and bow to the King who paid it all. Thank Him for His love, stand up and take the finished work of Christ with you, knowing through His victory we have victory in this life.

True freedom isn’t found in our effort to be in the right place each day. True freedom has been given to those who are branches of the true vine, Jesus. Now grow and live in victory, producing fruit to glorify the King of Kings. He loves you infinitely more than you are able to imagine and will never leave you nor forsake you.

Victor Black, MLB pitcher

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