Rule #39 - There is no such thing as coincidence.
Most things that occur once are often unnoticed. When they occur a second time, one might sense a little deja vu, but when an event occurs more than two times a pattern emerges.
Months ago, (October 2105) I set in place a preaching schedule that would take our church through May 2016. Our Wednesday Bible study to begin in January 2016 was to focus on the "I am" statements of Jesus. The study was decided upon in November 2015. Here were two continual events that would parallel each other. How is it then that our focus on this coming Wednesday is on John 15:1-10 and the sermon this coming Sunday will be based upon John 15:1-5? Probably a coincidence. STOP! Review Rule #39 above.
Yesterday, I walked through our hallway and looked at this framed picture on the table.
It isn't out of the ordinary for a picture to sit on our table, but this picture sitting here fast on the heels of the study and sermon make me suspect something peculiar is happening.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already
clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can
bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am
the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from
me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-5, NIV)
Aside from the emergence of these scriptures lately, the more intriguing aspect is the actual message found within. Jesus is the vine, that which is anchored in the soil and reaching upward. The instruction for the disciples and for us is to remain attached to the vine. Immediately, one would see the significance in this connection.
"Remain" appears 5 times in John 15:1-5 in the NIV. Appearing once would lead us to believe it is something to think about, Appearing twice makes us take notice. Three, four, and five times, brings us to our knees in adoration and it is there we need to make a decision. We need to draw a line in the sand and claim an allegiance to 'remain' in Christ, even when all indications point to another option.
When life becomes difficult, how will I remain attached to the vine? How will I remain in Jesus Christ when people persecute me for my faith? Is it possible for me to stay fixed to the source of life during my own life threatening illnesses and injuries? What will I use to stay 'remaining' in Jesus? The glaring options in falling away from Christ include becoming firewood to be burned and a fruitless life. Time to make a plan of attachment!
In my world, duct tape, super glue, and lacing wire fix and hold just about anything in place. That would look weird to go about with these symbols stuck to our body.
Instead, adhere your heart and mind to Jesus and his unending love, Fix your heart and mind upon God's goodness. Lace your heart and mind tightly to the grace and mercy of God and the life-giving peace and hope that comes from the Vine.