The First and the Last Vine

This is the first vine.

One day a seed was planted in good soil, and a great vine grew tall and strong upon the earth. It grew stronger with each year and bore healthy fruit.

One day, some men were passing and saw the vine and said to themselves “we like this vine, we will take a cutting from it and replant this vine in our own land” and so they took a cutting off the branches of the vine and replanted it in their own lands. The cutting grew roots and started to grow into a strong vine but it was not as great as the vine they had seen; its fruit was not as plentiful, however they were pleased with what they had grown and were happy for the new vine to remain. They kept the fruit and the seeds of this new vine to themselves.

It is not the first vine.

On yet another day, someone else was passing this new vine and decided to take some of the seeds, and yet another took a cutting, and so new vines grew strong in other land, but they were not as strong even though the fruit was good. Some did not keep the seed for themselves and shared it with others, but the vines that grew from the seed were not strong and had weak roots. So this continued with people taking cuttings from the first vine or growing vines from cuttings or from seed not of the first vine.

These are not the first vine.

Some people decided they would not take cuttings or plant seeds, but were jealous of the vines other people had planted, so they made their own from materials such as stone, brick, gold or silver. They tried to build larger than the first vine but were not able to match the growth of the vine which was tall and had many branches.

These are not vines.

As time progressed, some vines withered and died because they did not have the same strength as the first vine, and the vines made from other materials weathered away; Yet other vines died through the effort of men. Men had became competitive, glorifying their vines saying “my vine is better than yours, it’s fruit is sweeter, is more abundant and does not rot before it is consumed.”

The first vine was forgotten.

Eventually all the men started to argue more about whose vine was greater, war and famine ensued and the first vines growth started to suffer as man attempted to cast shadows over all the vines to spite their neighbours. Many vines withered and died, the fruit of the first vine did not appear.

Time passed.

Eventually someone walked by the first vine and noticed it was strong with deep roots and many branches, but was without fruit. They wondered what the fruit of the vine would be like. So they decided to nurture the vine and each season they would fertilise the soil around it, prune the dead wood and encourage new growth. All of their efforts were rewarded with time, and the vine bore fruit again. They shared the fruit with others who left their vines to wither to dust so they might benefit from the first vine. Everyone rejoiced in how lucky they were to have such a vine.

It is the true vine.
This is the last vine.

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Trust in God

This week I went to the dentist and it occurred to me when I was going that we place a certain amount of trust in those who care for us whenever we visit, we become vulnerable, but we often only place that trust in them when we are there.

Whereas, as Children of God, we place our trust in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost every minute and every second of every day; so too must we become vulnerable to open ourselves up for His place in our lives. The trust we place in Him is far greater than any trust we place in individuals and I know I have fallen short of that at times.

I often need to remind myself that it is I, and not God, that is the source of any fear and doubt when I lack trust and that I must do my best to repay His trust in me because His trust never falters.  It will never vanish off the face of this earth and it is an eternal trust we receive, a parental trust and something so far greater than anything anyone could possibly return.  But return it we do, whenever and wherever we can, in prayer, in honesty, in who we are, for it is in and through Jesus that we find our salvation, by being like him, by learning from him, in seeing Him in ourselves and in each other, in loving God our Father and in loving our neighbour as we do ourselves.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’
Matthew 26:39 NIV

This weekend we will hear and read about the events that took place in and around Jerusalem so many years ago.  Jesus placed all of his trust in his Father, in our Father.  Even when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was at his most vulnerable his trust in his Father remained steadfast, and his resolve to complete the most glorious gift we can ever receive remained strong, and he completed it through faith, through trust, and through love.

God bless you all this Easter.

Kingdom, power and glory

Have you ever wondered where the words

“For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever”

in the Lords Prayer, the Our Father, originate?

I did up until recently.  I was puzzled as to why it is different from the Bible and during a recent bible study through the Pilgrim course I found out why.

It turns out the early church added the words after the prayer Jesus taught became more widely used.  The context is the end of David’s life after the preparation of everything for the building of the temple.

David’s Praise to God

10 Then David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly; David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, for ever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.

14 ‘But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill-offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

1 Chronicles 29:10-14 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

There’s a couple of things to take note of in this verse too:

  • ‘All the assembly’ refers to all of the gathered people of God in the temple – everyone was there!
  • ‘Blessed are you O Lord’ is an ancient Jewish way of beginning prayer, which is still used today in many prayers.

I discovered a deeper understanding and attachment to the Lords Prayer throughout the time we studied it.

Take some time and look at each line of the prayer, what does it mean to you?

Which part of the Our Father stands out the most or is most relevant to your right now?

The Lords Prayer in the Bible

The Lords Prayer, as Jesus taught us to pray, is found in two of the Gospels in the New Testament. It appears in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.

First the appearance in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 6:9-13 New International Version (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

And the appearance in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 11:2-4 New International Version (NIV)

He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father,[a]
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[b]
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”

Footnotes
[a] Luke 11:2 Some manuscripts Our Father in heaven
[b] Luke 11:2 Some manuscripts come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
[c]Luke 11:4 Greek everyone who is indebted to us
[d] Luke 11:4 Some manuscripts temptation, but deliver us from the evil one

 

 

The Lords Prayer

We restarted our weekly bible study at cafe church following on from the busy Christmas period with the second instalment of the Pilgrim course – the Lords Prayer.

To start, here are the two versions that you come across in a worship service, use at home, in work or elsewhere.

Traditional Version

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen

Contemporary Version

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on  earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but delivery us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen

I grew up to learn and use the traditional language version of The Lords Prayer. It always makes me giggle a bit when, if I’m in a prayer group, either myself or someone else forgets we’re reading the contemporary version and slots in thy or says trespass instead of sin. Years of use makes me switch automatically into the traditional version without batting an eyelid, and it’s made me feel extremely conscious of which version is being used, especially in church or in groups. I have become more accustomed to the contemporary version over time, and I feel comfortable with it these days, it is just that habits are learnt and difficult to break and we have a tendency to revert, or if you like, run back to the things we feel more comfortable with.

[I will attempt to catch up with my blog to ensure I get all my thoughts together for future use and to create the writing habit that needs reviving.]

Lean on me

I was listening to the radio this week on the way home from work, and they were playing Bill Withers ‘Lean On Me.’

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the song, but it occurred to me that I’d never actually listened to the lyrics before, just letting the song wash over me.

The chorus is fantastic of course:

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on.”

Everybody at some point in their lives needs somebody to lean on, someone they trust, who will hold them up and support them, who will brighten their day in dark times, who will not criticise, never disappoint, will hold confidences, sympathise and wrap you in warmth and comfort.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it!

A shoulder that is reliable, constantly there if we need it, and yet we do not have to rely on physical shoulders.  There is a massive amount of comfort to be held in spiritual support, and there’s only one thing we need to do to receive it, open our hearts to God, pray through Jesus and release the Holy Spirit that resides within us all.  Pray as often as we can and read the bible.  There’s a huge amount of support to be found in scripture, but you won’t find it if you don’t know that it’s there.  The Gideon NT, and most Bibles these days have references to scripture for various times of life; Pinterest is full of them.

I thank God that I can lean on Him whenever I struggle with life.  I disappoint myself that I sometimes forget to do this, but in times of reflection (usually after the fact), I recognise that I should be putting God first in situations, asking for His guidance and support beforehand, and not afterwards.

I thank God that when other people lean on us, He helps us support them, whatever weight we place on Him He provides support, we cannot fall; if we do it is through our negligence, but God is always there to pick us up.

We will always have Jesus by our side to lean on because when others lean on anyone who has given their heart to Christ, they too are leaning on Him, whether they know it or not.

People need others to lean on.  When they are walking through dark times, through the shadows of doubt, fear, sickness and sorrow, but out of the pit of darkness, we all provide the support and strength that others are lacking as they walk this part of their path.  Everyone can provide a light to brighten the path; we help hold them up when they are falling, He helps us all do that; we are their comfort in their sorrow, and we rejoice as much as they do when they can.

People lean on us, so it is important that we lean on God so that they also lean on Him, we do so through the words and life of Jesus, through recognising and accepting His gifts within us, and by utilising the Holy Spirit to bring Gods will upon this earth into fruition.