May 19, 2016


Psalm 80:8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.

Up to now I have largely overlooked this Psalm, and I dare say I have a lot of company in that. Previously, the only thing I had underlined was the refrain asking for restoration, repeated in verses 3, 7, and 19. However, as I read it just now, it struck me that this verse, and the extended simile that follows, ties in with what Jesus said in the Upper Room about Him being the vine and us being the branches. (John 15:1-9) It also links to Matthew 2:15, which quotes Hosea 11:1. “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” (Matthew 2:15) Actually, “Out of Egypt” is a phrase that occurs many times in the Old Testament, so that by itself would hardly be surprising. It is the matter of Jesus using the vine simile that really speaks to me. As He said, if the branches don’t remain firmly and fully connected to the vine, the main trunk, then they wither and die, and certainly produce no fruit. We may think the Church is being ravaged by outside forces, but we need to examine our connection to the Vine. Sadly, there are many churches today that are Christian in name only, because they have chosen things that have cut them off from Christ. Legalism is indeed a scourge, and love is truly the fulfillment of the Law, (Romans 13:10) but we are to love God first, and Jesus said clearly that if we love Him we will obey him. (John 14:15) Claiming that “all loves are the same” is spitting in the face of God. God chose Greek for writing the New Testament for a number of good reasons, and the distinctions among different types of love is one of those. If anyone places eros on the level of agape they are badly deceived, at the very least. If the Church wants to flourish, which it should, it needs to return to its roots, quite literally.

There are some issues on which it is easy for me to point fingers, but I must be careful of my own connection to the Vine. It is only as His life flows through me that I am able to produce the fruit that He and I desire. Conventional terminology makes me an assistant shepherd, (that’s what “pastor” means) and that’s certainly Biblical, but I could also be called an assistant gardener. I need to do all I can to see to it that this church is rooted in the Word of God, with plenty of the water of the Spirit, standing guard against infections and predators, strengthening the trellis to relieve strain. I cannot make fruit happen even in my own life, much less in anyone else’, but I can encourage the conditions that make for fruitfulness, and stay faithful to the Lord of the harvest. (Luke 10:2)

Father, thank You for this Word. I feel like You give me so much! Help me share it effectively, building up believers and churches as You desire, so that Your Church may indeed produce all the fruit that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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