I AM the Vine

Grafting is a common horticulture technique. It’s an efficient method of propagation that produces offspring genetically identical to the original plant.

What is grafting?

Grafting typically involves joining together parts of two plants to function as a single plant. One of the plants provides the lower trunk and root system. It’s called the rootstock. (That’s Jesus) The other plant provides the upper portion (stems, leaves, flowers and fruit) that has the desirable characteristics (beautiful flowers or delicious fruit) called the scion.

The rootstock and scion must be closely related and compatible for the graft to be successful. (Jesus said a wild branch could be grafted into Him; that’s us gentiles!)

In general, a wound of some type is made on the stock plant. (Jesus was wounded for us.) A piece of the scion plant is then inserted into the wound.

That means the roots of the stock can provide water and minerals to the scion, and the scion can produce food in its leaves and send it down to the roots of the stock. This creates a functioning plant composed of two genetically different parts.

Why graft

As in other methods of vegetative or asexual plant propagation, grafting allows us to create exact genetic duplicates of superior individual plants.

If you find a superior pecan tree, for instance, grafting allows the efficient creation of thousands of pecan trees with those exact, superior characteristics. And grafted fruit trees will bloom and produce sooner than those propagated by seeds (which do not produce genetically identical offspring).

By Dan Gill, The Times-Picayune garden columnist                      Editing and emphasis mine. https://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2015/03/how_when_and_why_plants_are_gr.html

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Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to bear strong, healthy fruit. The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (humility), and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23 KJV). Our source of life and spiritual fruit is not in ourselves; it is in Christ Jesus. We can live and serve Him only if we are intimately connected to Him in a faith/love relationship as the above description of grafting describes.

Jesus emphasized His point by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This illustration of the vine and branches is no thoughtless generality or careless simile. It is absolute, stark reality. No believer can achieve anything of spiritual value independently of Jesus. All true branches bear fruit. Just as we know a healthy, living tree by the good fruit it produces, so do we recognize fruitless branches as having no connection to the True Vine. This is why Jesus tells us, “By their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:16–20). Those who do not produce good fruit are cut away and burned.

We depend on Jesus for everything, including our very life—“For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). No one can truly serve God until he is grafted into Jesus. Jesus is our only connection with the God who gives life and who produces in us the sweet, healthy fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control which are character traits of the precious Holy Spirit.

Taken from: What did Jesus mean when He said, “I am the True Vine” (John 15:1)? Edited for brevity.                                          GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/true-vine.html

I grew up thinking the fruit of the Spirit were character traits of a Christian, so I worked hard at developing each one; but eventually I gave up. I couldn’t develop patience, for example. I did not tolerate fools gladly! Then one day the Light dawned and I understood that those nine characteristics belonged to the Holy Spirit and He wanted to permeate me with His character!! Oh! What a welcome revelation. Being knit with Jesus as my rootstock and being fed from the richness of my dearly Beloved, the fruit I long to bear is sending out buds and tiny shoots. It is amazing that we are commanded in God’s Word to bear fruit and then the way is provided by Jesus being wounded for us to be grafted in – even wild branches can be engrafted. Our part is to surrender all to Him. He gave everything for me. How can I give less than all I have and all I am in return for His sacrifice and pain to buy me back from Satan and restore me to His original plan for my life? Not to mention the deeply satisfying intimacy of knowing Him and being known of Him in ways that challenge description.

 

Cities of Refuge

In the ancient Middle East it was the custom among the heathen to take a life for a life, an eye for an eye, etc. God set His people apart by directing Moses and Joshua to choose six Levite cities in the Promised Land as places of refuge for the accidental murder of a fellow Hebrew. A person guilty of accidentally killing another could flee the blood avenger by running to one of these cities.

The six cities were to be strategically placed, three on the east and three on the west side of the Jordan River. The avenger was the person who was to protect the family’s rights, so the cities of refuge were provision for the hapless murderer to escape the victim’s family.

There were certain rules to be followed concerning who could come to the city to find asylum from the avenger in each situation (Num. 35: 22-25).

  1. The slaying had to be accidental and not premeditated (Num. 35:16-21).
  2. The person had to flee immediately to the city of refuge. He was safe from the avenger only when he was inside the city.
  3. The person was not safe from vengeance if/when he decided to leave the city. The unintentional killer was a prisoner within the city walls (Num. 35: 26-28).
  4. When the High Priest died the unintentional murderer could safely return home (Num. 35:25, 28).
  5. The law included aliens as well as citizens (Num. 35:15).
  6. The manslayer could not pay a ransom instead of fleeing to or staying in a city of refuge. If a ransom could be paid, a poor person would be at a great disadvantage (Num. 35:31).

In spite of the harsh rules instituted in early Israel, the provision of refuge cities showed God’s mercy for the innocent. Without these cities many people could have been killed who were innocent. This foreshadows God’s grace and mercy toward the innocent and the poor who could not have paid a ransom for their lives. Unnecessary bloodshed was not a part of God’s nature. These six cities were to be easily accessible to all travelers and prominently located. They were to be prepared by the city fathers sitting in the gate waiting for offenders to come. The gates were never closed and where there were crossroads, there were to be signs clearly pointing to the city of refuge.

I found in some Jewish writings that ”No hillock or river was allowed to be in the way, over which there was not a bridge….” “And in every double way, or in the parting of ways, was written, Refuge, refuge” lest he that fled thither might mistake the way.” “The mothers of the High Priests used to feed and clothe those that for murder were shut up in the cities of refuge, that they might not pray for the death of their sons – since the fugitive was to be restored to his country and friends at the death of the High Priest….” (https:www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/lightfoot-new-testament/matthew/centuries/of-the- cities-of-efuge.html)

Kedesh #6946 in Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary means sanctuary, the ultimate refuge.

“I saw no temple in the city for the Lord God Omnipotent and the Lamb are its temple’ Rev. 21:22.

Psalm 20:1-2 (NIV) May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary

and grant you support from Zion.

Shechem #7926 (Strong’s) between the shoulders, as the place of burdens. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17, 18).

Isaiah 14:24-25 (ESV)

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:

“As I have planned,

so shall it be,

and as I have purposed,

so shall it stand,

25 that I will break the Assyrian in My land,

and on My mountains trample him underfoot;

and his yoke shall depart from them (Israel),

and his burden from their (Israel’s) shoulder.”

Hebron #2275 (Strong’s) seat of association.

“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” 1 Corinthians 1:9.

Psalm 45:6-7 “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

Bezer #1221 (Strong’s) an inaccessible spot; fortress.

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” Colossians 3:3.

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.”

Ramoth #7216 (Strong’s) heights.

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places” Psalms 18:33 (KJV).

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:6-7 (NIV).

Golan #1473 (Strong’s) captive.

“…now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. This is why it says: When He ascended on high, He led captives away, and gave gifts to men” Ephesians 4:7-8.

Isaiah 5:13 (AMP) “Therefore My people go into exile because they lack knowledge [of God]; And their honorable men are famished, And their common people are parched with thirst.”

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Let’s take a closer look at Hebron. The word comes from a root (#2275) that means to unite or be joined as in a marriage or a strong alliance as in occult practices. According to Joshua 21:10-13 Hebron was given to the Kohathite branch of the Levites which would have included the High Priests. They received no land but they could live in specifically assigned cities and villages.

Deuteronomy 10:8-9 (NIV) “At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name, as they still do today. 9 That is why the Levites have no share or inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the Lord is their inheritance, as the Lord your God told them.”

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The Cities of Refuge city fathers had authority to hold court to determine the murderer’s guilt or innocence. If it was an accident, he was given a place of safety in the city. As long as the man stayed in the city he was secure. The power of the city fathers in the Cities of Refuge was unquestioned.

The foreshadowing of God’s character and His plan for the new nation of Israel is revealed in the names of these six cities of refuge. An amazing God.

These cities of refuge are graphic symbols of salvation to be found in Jesus. The cities are for us today a reminder that Jesus is a place of safety. Just as there was a death sentence on anyone who took the life of another, so there is a death sentence on all born in the human race because of Adam and Eve’s sin and subsequent fallen nature. We are guilty both by birth and by choice.

Following is an interesting article about Abner’s murder by Joab in the gate of Hebron. https://fascinatedbytheword.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/abners-death-in-the-gate-of-hebron/

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from the Kohathites. Part IV

TEAMWORK

S, J. and I worked as a team when a newly converted gay dancer with the State Arts Bureau asked for deliverance. We chose S as our leader, with J. as a male co-leader.  Again, I was present as a silent watcher/intercessor/servant.

J. was unassuming but mighty in the Lord and I held him in high esteem. He taught English to adult professionals and used this opportunity for witnessing. After the new believers were established he started cell groups specifically for Christian leadership training. I remember the first year how careful he was to lay a solid foundation in the Word. More than twelve to fifteen individuals became a security risk for meetings, so he kept dividing, and by the end of the second year he had possibly two dozen cells-far too many to maintain by himself. I also remember when several Chinese businesswomen told him the Lord was calling them to be pastors. He lived in an apartment just above me and came down so we could talk about this or that problem. He had been taught that women shouldn’t be in positions of authority, but he recognized the call on their lives, so we talked about weakness inherent in male and female leadership so that he could prepare them properly.

J. was not an intercessor in the usual sense of the term, but once in a while he would knock on my door and say the Lord had sent him to pray for me, or my brother. He had not met anyone from my family but when we began to pray the Lord came down in a way I can only describe as awesome and powerful! Onetime, we were praying and the Spirit led me to speak to some demons troubling him. Deliverance! This was an unplanned event but he accepted it so humbly. Of course, confidentiality was extremely important because J was a fellowship leader. The Scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 about concealing what might hurt someone you love comes to mind.

SERVANT

In another university in a different city I acted as a personal intercessor for a European teacher of French. Although he was a Catholic religious and I a Protestant charismatic, he actively sought out my prayers and even allowed me to hold him accountable at times.  This was a heavy responsibility, so I shared everything with a married, Spirit-filled young woman, to help me stay balanced and pure. These types of intimate interrelationships are precious beyond telling – the trust and respect held for one another in the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, I’m not so foolish as to present these people as being perfected already. Commitment to the Lord, knowing who we are in Him, and trust in each other is the key.

I mailed money to A, an African student of medicine when he was transferred to another Chinese city after learning Mandarin in Beijing. The Chinese postal workers hated me for that, so finally I started mailing the money as cash, which was risky. A. wasn’t a good communicator, not even telling me if and when he received the money, but at the end of his stay in China he called me with a story. It seems the head of the university where he studied feared and hated him because he was active in organizing protests when the school authorities were abusive. You see, the Chinese educated African students in exchange for foreign currency to pay tuition, room and board. To increase the amount of money the Chinese could keep, they refused to heat the dorms and even limited the amount of food they served. Worse, A. was isolated, his food and spending allowance withheld. He had no other way to get food until I sent money! When he returned to Beijing he was very thin but in high spirits.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

Since returning from China I have been praying for the fulfillment of the redemptive gifting over this area. M is to be a City of Refuge to the weary travelers and ministers who pass through. We who live here are to be hospitable and offer what we have to refresh and restore our brothers and sisters in Jesus to strength and vitality.

I have tried to make my home hospitable to those who need a place to sleep while traveling, or to store things in my garage for a period of time as a concrete way to pronounce redemptive blessings on my American home town. And I can feel the recoil of the enemy. I kept a youth ministry couple in my extra bedroom for nearly a week two different years. Perhaps they will tell others about my extra bedroom.

My purpose in writing is to tell why being “second” is my gifting and that I find it deeply satisfying. Whether I am a door guard or an emergency intercessor, or inspire others to worship and sing to Jesus, it is all a joy. Coming along side those who carry the responsibility of leadership is not always joyful; for they aren’t always kind or understanding of their need, but my obedience brings a sacred intimacy with the Holy Spirit that defies description.

People tend to be unperceptive and I don’t need affirmation in these areas. My walk is with Jesus only and my desire is to be obedient to His promptings. Each committed Christian has a unique story to tell. The inability to tell it just makes the intimacy with Jesus the more treasured.

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Deut. 10:8-9 “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him.

 

PROPHETIC STATEMENT CONCERNING 2019 AND BEYOND

From my prophetic friend:

Beginning in the fall months of 2016 and continuing through the calendar year of 2018, the Father has been using a strategy of “the turn-about”. The turn-about affects the national and international geopolitical governments of man, and creates an effect of taking what was intended for evil by the one-world-government leaders in America and across the globe and thereby “turning things about” – turning things into positive results for the Kingdom government of God. Every mechanism used to deceitfully create nefarious outcomes has been exposed and turned into something God uses for good.

Now, what is next – what will 2019 be like and how will it impact America and the entire earth? The answer is that now “turn-about is fair play”. In other words, what the enemy has created for evil will not only be turned into something good for God’s people, but it will seek “fair play” (justice) and be turned back against the perpetrators and the evil ones. When this occurs, the evil doers will experience seven times the level of destruction that they intended for God’s people and for America. Up to now, turn- around and turn-about has occurred to expose and deliver God’s people. Now, the enemy will suffer extreme judgment for the evil seeds that he has sowed for decades all across the nation and the earth. Now, “fair play” will bring down strongholds – not just expose them – and come back against the evil ones. The bringing down of strong holds (“the deep state”) will last for three years involving 2019, 2020, and 2021.

2019 will become known as “The Year of Man’s Government” as directed by the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of God’s Kingdom Government will become congruent with the Government of Man in America. The process of bringing Kingdom Government back into the realm of Man’s Government will begin to accelerate within the three-year period noted above. This process will conclude its mission in ten years – by the end of 2028. The deep state will be obliterated and completely replaced by moral and ethical government. What happens in America will spread to many other areas of the globe and will bring many other governments into congruence with America.

Summarizing . . .

First came a tectonic shift on the earth (2016).                                                                                Second, came the turn-about (2017-2018).                                                                                      Third, and now, the “fair play” or judgment (justice) comes back upon the shoulders of evildoers (2019-2020-2021).                                                                                                                  Fourth, comes the maturation process lasting a total of ten years that will complete the bringing of America back to its roots of Judeo-Christian heritage (2028).

The Great Awakening has begun. More on this topic later.