I am absolutely convinced that there are thousands of people who are drying up on the vine simply because of the lack of encouragement. Lonely, forgotten missionaries, military service men and women far away from home, collegians and seminarians, the sick and the dying, the divorced and the grieving, those who serve faithfully behind the scenes with scarcely a glance or comment from anyone.
In the three previous messages, we have examined other “living portraits” of the universal church of Jesus Christ: a growing family, a flock of sheep, and a human body. Each analogy conveys different aspects of God’s people on earth. We have come to the fourth and final mental picture—a productive vine—another vivid analogy preserved for us in the Word of God. In fact, this one comes to us from the lips of Jesus as He left His disciples words of encouragement just before He was crucified.
When you accept Christ as your Saviour you have someone who is always your advocate; always in your corner. And when you forgive those who hurt you, you model Christ. And you become a little more like Him.
For some, devotions are like a placebo. People go through the motions but since there are no active ingredients, the effect is minimal. They may even think they are growing spiritually, but in reality there is little spiritual impact. So what active ingredients in a personal time with God make it one that produces spiritual growth?
I was finishing my post-graduate degree thesis, raising a young family, planting a church, constructing a church building, holding services in my home, and helping start a Christian school. I was so burnt out I smelled like smoke!
Clipping away the dead growth on a grapevine is hard work. But any gardener can tell you, pruning is an essential step if you want the vine to flourish! Chuck Swindoll describes how God prunes His children…so we can be healthy and produce spiritual fruit!
If you were to list the basic essentials for life, you would likely include air, water, food, and perhaps shelter. But what about friendship? Chuck Swindoll argues that companionship isn’t a perk, it’s a requirement for life.
There’s no shortage of preachers who offer a “prosperity gospel” promising health, wealth, and happiness. While those outcomes are wonderful, they’re not guaranteed! Chuck Swindoll reminds us that as followers of Christ, we will face persecution.