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The Vine Eradicator

Eradicating the vines in our lives...





Have you ever worked in the yard and tried clearing the vines from a tree or some other plant?


My husband and I were working on our property a while back because he wanted to clear out an area that was overgrown with weeds and vines. We live on seventy-three acres of land with lots of oak trees and pine trees, and I might add, lots of vines and weeds too; that is until my husband gets ahold of them. My husband has single-handedly cleared and manicured this property over the past ten years. I call him my renaissance man and sometimes, a "mad-man on a green tractor", as I watch him go speedily by the kitchen window, dragging some huge tree, and sometimes…he uses the tractor. I think to myself, "It must be the puppy chow"! You'll hear more about him throughout my posts.


This area of trees was overtaken by vines, so much so, that you could not see through the cluster of trees, and this was the weekend my husband was going to change all of that. No doubt, the vines that had overtaken that cluster of trees, started out years ago, as one little vine growing close to one tree, but over time, had completely engulfed that whole cluster of trees.


I watched my husband cut down tree after tree that had been over taken by vines. Unfortunately, those trees had been covered up for so long, that they had not gotten much sunlight or nutrients and were very unhealthy. In fact, some of them had died. The vines had choked the life out of those trees. So, the goal was to save the healthy trees that had not been choked to death and take down the ones that had died. For those of you who know me, you know I hate to see even one tree come down!


I told my husband that I wanted to help and that I would be the “vine eradicator”! He laughed but was grateful for my enthusiasm and said it would help him greatly if I cut and cleaned up around the bottom of the trees ahead of time, so he gave me the "eradicator" tools and I went to work.


He warned me ahead of time that vines were very difficult to get out of trees. And he was right!


That job was not for the weak! Not at all. It was not only physically hard work, but it was quite frustrating, and my "enthusiasm" quickly began to wane. As soon as I would cut a vine thinking that I could now pull it down, I would discover that it’s entanglement went much further up the tree and was far more committed than I had imagined. Not only that; you’ve heard the phrase “strength in numbers”, well let me tell you, these vines had made friends with other vines over the years and they had formed an alliance against me and anything else that threatened their current position and authority over that tree, and they were not giving up that position very easily. I pulled as hard as I could, sometimes with all my might, full body weight against the strength of those vines, to no avail. Are you getting a visual? It was not pretty!


Stopping to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my brow, I noticed that those barnacle-like nooses went all the way up into the tree top and their grasp only tightened with every tug and pull I made, causing the tree top to bend almost to the point of breaking. It was at that point I realized, these guys have a strangle-hold on this tree and they aren't giving up. I also realized that it was going to take more than just "me" and my strength to defeat them!


Couldn't we say the same about sin?


Sin can creep into our lives like a slow-growing vine. At first, you may not recognize it as “sin”. It has many aliases, so as to go unnoticed. These "vines" can start out as bad-habits, a compromise in your Christian values, a wrong attitude or anything that keeps you from experiencing God’s best for your life. But over time, that compromise, that bad-habit, or wrong attitude, can lead to sin that grows stronger and stronger, and before you know it, it has a strangle-hold on you, choking out the abundant Life that Christ desires for you to live. Some, have even died from the effects of unchecked sin in their lives.


If we aren't intentional about living lives that are above reproach, [Philippians 2:15] sin can creep in very sneakily, and very quickly overtake our lives, and even affect those closest to us. It could be a slow growing vine or a fast-growing vine. Either way, their purpose is to choke the very life out of us and keep us from living the the "abundant life" Christ desires us to live.


Many people, unfortunately, make the mistake of thinking that “their sin” doesn’t hurt anyone else. That's a lie from Satan himself. He wants you to believe that. You might say that sin begets sin. In other words, if you allow one sin to reign in your life, no matter how "small" [there's really no such thing…that’s like saying there’s only a little poison in your sweet tea ], it's only a matter of time before it will latch onto another sin and form an alliance against anything or anyone who threatens its position and authority in your life. And when you try to deal with that sin in your own strength, with all your might, full body weight, the more you tug and pull, the tighter the grasp seems to get. Your sheer will is no match for sin.


Just as those vines had formed an alliance with other vines and made their way to the top of the tree, some of them had the audacity to travel to nearby trees and had entangled those branches as well. Several trees were all connected by those ferocious, life-sucking vines; thirty feet above my head and totally out of my reach. What started out as a small vine at the foot of one tree, had over time, become several vines intertwined and entangled within a cluster of trees; choking the life out of them all, little by little, day by day.


Oh, and I tried pulling the vines up from the ground as well, but that was impossible too. Those roots were dug-in and ran deep and I wasn't strong enough to pull them up by the roots with my bare hands. Trust me I tried! With all my might! Gritted teeth, grunting and all. To no avail. Did I mention my enthusiasm had waned? I was experiencing a whole different kind of emotion by that point.


But I was not giving up! I mean, I was the "vine eradicator", right?


That's when I decided to form my own alliance and take these vines down once and for all! I called in reinforcement - my husband - the renaissance man! He had done this kind of work by himself a hundred times, so he knew what to do. He and I together, succeeded in pulling the vines down far enough to cut them mid-way up and pull most of the vines out of the branches. What was left in the tree-tops would eventually die and then fall to the ground at some point, because they had been cut off from the roots, their life-source. I then used some of my other tools like the shovel, to dig up the remaining roots so that they would not grow back. Did I mention I was not giving up?


When I did succeed at pulling down a vine, or part of one as it may be, I began to pile them up on the ground, and at some point, I grabbed the whole bunch of them and headed toward the raging fire into which I couldn't wait to toss them, only to discover they were not going quietly. No. They grabbed onto the ground as I dragged them to their demise…they tried to trip me up by wrapping themselves around my legs as I made my way to the inferno and then, to add insult to injury, I got slapped in the face as I grabbed them up to throw them into the fire. They did not go easily...but GO they went! Are you getting another visual? This literally happened!


When God reveals bad-habits, compromise or sin in our lives Christian, we have two choices - we can try to get rid of them all by ourselves, in our own strength, “I’ll just do better tomorrow…next time…”. Or, “I’ve got this…it’s no big deal.” Or, we can call in reinforcement - the Holy Spirit and fellow believers when needed [Ecclesiastes 4:12]! We can try to pull sin up by the roots with our bare hands, in our own strength or we can use the tools that God has given us to completely up-root them - His Word, faith and prayer. [Ephesians 6:10-18]


Sin, when it's allowed to reign in our lives, is far more committed than we might think. It goes much deeper and higher, and is far more "out of our reach" than we might realize.

When allowed to reign in our lives, sin digs in and establishes roots, claims its territory and doesn't give up its position very easily. It’s grasp on us seems to tighten with every tug and pull that we make toward eradicating it. It seems to grab onto the ground below, as we determinedly grab the whole bunch of them, and drag them toward their eradication. They wrap themselves around our legs and slap us in the face! Isn’t that how it feels when we try, over and over, to “change” our behaviors on our own? Many, at that point, stop short and give up, out of frustration and pure exhaustion. And that is exactly what the enemy wants us to do!


BUT THANK GOD, the true "vine eradicator", The sin Eradicator of our lives - is Jesus Christ! He and He alone has the power to cover our sin, forgive our sin and deliver us from the penalty and bondage of sin! [1 John 2:2] Not just unto salvation, but daily, as we live out our lives. We live in a sin-sick world. [Romans 5:12] There will always be "vines", sin that wants to creep in and establish roots and eventually take over our lives and choke out the abundant life that Christ wants us to live. We must be daily tending to our trees [our lives] and calling on our reinforcement - the Holy Spirit and other believers and using the tools that God has provided through faith, prayer and His Word.


The enemy wants us to believe his whispering lies that tell us things like, "oh, that isn't really a sin…everyone has their weaknesses", or "what's the big deal...that won't hurt anyone else" or "no one is perfect." How about this one, "God doesn't really expect you to be perfect". Any of that sound familiar? [Genesis 3:1]


The bible says that Satan is a "liar and the father of lies." [John 8:44] He’s still using the same old tactics that he's always used - taking God's Word and twisting it to cause confusion, and temptation and to challenge God's Word, just to name a few. Remember - Satan is a lying, defeated foe and he has come with a determined purpose - to steal, kill and destroy you and me! [John 10:10]


God calls His children to righteousness and holiness and "perfection".

"Oh well, there goes my chance", you might be thinking. "I am not 'righteous', 'holy' and I'm certainly not 'perfect'", you might think. Well - I have good news! Nor am I any of those things; nor is any other man or woman.


BUT PRAISE GOD, that through Jesus Christ living on the inside of us, we can be all of those things! The bible says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." [2 Corinthians 5:21] God calls us to "...be holy, as He is holy." [1 Peter 1:13-16] He calls us to "be perfect as He is perfect." [Matthew 5:48]

None of us, however, can be any of those things without Jesus Christ living in and through us. We must FIRST come to the cross where we, realizing we are a sinner in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ, confess our sin and ask Him to forgive us and come into our heart and be Lord of our life. That's the first step. The next step and every step after that is to seek Him DAILY! Ask God to speak to you and equip you each day, through reading His Word, prayer and continued confession and repentance. That is to be a life-long, daily practice of the believer. My pastor says that he’s confessed sin far more after getting saved than before he was saved. Amen to that!


If you feel like one of those trees being choked out by the vines of life, just know that The Vine Eradicator, Jesus Christ, can set you free from anything that entangles you and keeps you from living the abundant life. There is no sin too great for Him. No matter how entangled you might feel today, there is absolutely no sin too deeply rooted, or too far-reaching for Him. He CAN pull up any sin by its roots with His bare, nail-scarred hands! Ask Him to forgive your sins, call on reinforcement and stand back and watch what He can and will do in your life if you simply ask and trust Him to do it.


And lastly…


There is another kind of Vine – The good Vine. A Vine that you don’t want to eradicate; not that anyone or anything could. This Vine is eternal and all powerful. This is The Vine we all need in our lives; A Vine that actually sustains life, rather than destroy it – Jesus Christ Himself! He talks about that Vine in the book of John, chapter 15. He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” [John 15:5]


But that discussion my friend...is for another day.


God bless you!


MY PRAYER:

Father, I pray that you help us to be intentional about living lives that are above reproach, pleasing and honoring to You. Help us to be about the business of tending our trees [lives] daily. Making sure that there aren’t any vines trying to creep in and establish roots and take over. Remind us daily that Your Son Jesus Christ is the Sin Eradicator! He and He alone has the power to set us free from the penalty and bondage of sin. Let us rely on Him every day in every way. In His precious and holy name, I pray. Amen.

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