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5.0 out of 5 stars How to Prepare to Receive from The Prayer of Jabez, 24 July 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance (Hardcover)
I enjoy hearing what others have to say about the Bible, especially those who have a knowledge of Hebrew. They can gather meanings that are not apparent to me from the plain words in the English translation. I was delighted to find that The Secrets of the Vine focuses on one of the most puzzling Bible stories I have ever read, and expanded my knowledge of what that story means. Through a combination of this new understanding and reflecting on The Prayer of Jabez, I have come to appreciate new choices concerning my relationship to God. That's a great gift, and I feel deeply moved by the experience. I think you will be, too.
After the Last Supper, Jesus took His disciples outside to visit a vineyard in order to teach a lesson. Obviously, this was a most important lesson because it came as the last ordinary conversation they could have together in person. The story is told in John 15.
"I am the vine, you are the branches."
"He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit."
Bruce Wilkinson does a good job of explaining about viticulture as a way of expanding the meaning of these passages. The vine itself is the bulky gnarly trunk that comes up from the ground and is kept pruned into just a few branches. The branches are tied up to keep them in the air. If they are not tied up, they fall to the ground where dirt and disease will keep them from bearing fruit. The branches must be cut back in order that the vine will produce fruit rather than leaves and new growth. The older the vine gets, the more it has to be cut back to be productive. But the older it gets, the better the grapes can be.
If you have fallen off the wires, God will tie you back up so that you can once again bear fruit. Once there, He will keep you pruned.
The book argues then that much of the time we will feel like we are being disciplined (in a loving way) when we sin or pruned (to become more productive) when we are doing God's work. The book describes how to tell when you are receiving the one versus the other. Both may be painful, but each provides a different lesson.
What I got from this interpretation is that we should focus on how we can better do God's will. Mr. Wilkinson makes a fine point when he says that sometimes we see God as opposed and unloving to us. I often find it hard to imagine why God would be willing to put up with our tiny and incomplete lives. When we overcome that feeling though, we can realize that God wants us to strengthen our relationship with Him first.
A particular point that was revealing to me was that this means we should spend more time abiding with God and less time doing works. Most of us try to do more and more works. The final pruning causes us to bear more fruit.
I also see this as an invocation to narrow our focus onto God, so that His will permeates our thoughts and actions more thoroughly. Obviously, one action taken through God's will accomplishes much more than all of our actions taken without His will.
As a test of the validity of these thoughts, I was pleased to see that they made my experiences with the prayer of Jabez more vivid and moving. Thinking about this Bible lesson from John 15 also served to expand and sharpen my mental and visual focus. I took these experiences to mean that these messages were redirecting my life. I am very grateful for the experience.
After you have read and prayed upon what you learn from this book, may you find ways to abide more and more deeply with God. God bless you!
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Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance
Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance by Bruce Wilkinson (Hardcover - Feb. 2002)
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