"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Friday, September 18, 2009


What sounds better than milk and honey? To the Israelites in the wilderness, anyway, that must've sounded pretty good. Of course, our tastes in this age of over-processed foods with augmented flavor and texture have become so jaded that the simple pleasures no longer satisfy. Compared to pepperoni pizza smothered in cheese, a simple snack of milk and honey holds little appeal … unless one includes graham crackers.         When God had his people Israel marshaled to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, he issued a range of wonderful promises contingent on their obedience to his laws and statutes. One of those promises was so brief that we might easily skip right over it:
Deu 28:12b ESV And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
        From that simple promise, we must surmise that borrowing is bad, and lending is good. While we consumers have no doubt arrived at the same conclusion—especially after the consumer credit industry's recent dissolution—any substantial change in our self-indulgent habits has been sluggish indeed.         What's far more threatening in the long run, and from a national security perspective, is the position of weakness in which such wholesale borrowing places our nation … most especially in view of our creditor's historic, aggressive stance toward us and our allies.         Obviously, the U. S. of A. is not God's people Israel. Would that our Protector chose to precede us in a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. Our international diplomacy would suddenly become quite simple; if some power wanted to mess with us, we'd just point to the ominous pillar and say, "Take it up with that Big Boy!"         While that fictional scenario sounds appealing, however, there is little likelihood that we would fair any better than God's people did way back when. We are too much like they were, whoring after other gods at the slightest perceived disappointment, when the one, true God refuses to obey our petty demands. The faithful obedience God required of Israel is at least as far from our grasp as it was from theirs         How can we hope for more merciful treatment than the Israelites received from their gracious God. We've certainly done nothing to earn it. What recourse do we, the children of the New Covenant, have when we subject our Savior's holy Name to public ridicule? His New Testament makes it clear that we have none.         Yet, our Savior has not left his church destitute. He knew us too well to make no provision for our human, stiff necks. While his word clearly expresses his intolerance toward our presumption on his grace, it does give the sincerely repentant believer free access to that very grace. One Scripture passage presents that promise, perhaps, clearer than any other:
1Jn 1:5-10 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (8) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
        As with any passage of Scripture, we can take 1 John 1:5-10 to the bank, but we must not take it lightly. As beautiful as is the promise, it is riddled with conditions; such is the meaning of the word if. Do such conditions tarnish the promise? Hardly! They simply make it shine brighter, for the honest truth it contains. Grasp the promise firmly, along with the accompanying responsibility, and freely enjoy the eternal reward of true, milk and honey.

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