Read an Excerpt
Secrets of the Vine for Teensbreaking through to abundance
By Bruce Wilkinson
Multnomah Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2003 Ovation Foundation, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter Onethe harvest of your life
Have you ever seen the future you hope you'll have go flashing by?
Maybe you were looking out the window of a car one day and you saw it whiz past. Maybe you saw it in a person you met, or watched in on TV, or heard it in a song. Whatever happened, it left you with a strong feeling that you just saw a picture of your future ... you hope.
And you still remember that moment, that feeling.
One day, years ago, I saw a picture of the future I really, really wanted. Here's the story.
Our family had just moved to a country place in Georgia. The new neighbors kept talking about a world-class peach orchard just around the corner. "Famous Georgia peaches," one old farmer told me proudly. "You know about Georgia peaches, don't you, son?" he asked (he pronounced it Joe-Jah). "I'm talkin' peaches big as melons, sweet as honey," he said. "Peaches so juicy you gotta bring a towel just to stay dry ..."
So one spring morning, I went looking for the orchard. But when I found it, I was shocked. Not a single peach was in sight, not even a little one. Around every tree, long poles stuck up out of the ground to prop up the scraggly branches. Theplace looked more like a hospital for crippled trees than a world-class orchard.
I went home wondering if a twister or maybe some awful plant disease had rolled through this part of Joe-Jah. When I asked my neighbor about it, though, he just laughed. "Y'all need to wait a few months," he said. "You won't believe your eyeballs."
Later that summer, I went back to the orchard to have another look. What I saw was completely different. There were peaches and more peaches everywhere I looked! And they were the biggest, most tempting fruit I'd ever seen. Every branch sagged. The reason for those poles was obvious, too-without them, the weight of such a huge harvest would snap the branches.
As I walked between the rows of trees, I found myself praying out loud. I still remember what I prayed:
Lord, someday may my life look like this orchard for You. May the fruit of my life be so heavy that You'll need angels to hold up the branches. And whatever You need to do in my life to produce this kind of harvest, Lord, please do it!
That prayer is at the heart of this little book. It's a deeply felt, almost desperate plea that your life will bring in a huge harvest for God.
Have you ever prayed like that?
If so, keep reading. Jesus wants to show you something incredible.
What on Earth Is God Doing?
If you've read The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, you know about giant-sized prayers. Jabez was one of God's favorite nobodies because he prayed a short but radical prayer for more-a lot more (read about him in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Jabez asked God for more blessing, more territory, more spiritual power, and more protection from evil.
And God granted what he asked for.
Trust me, Jabez didn't ask for so much because he deserved to get it. He simply believed that God was as good and generous and powerful as He said He was. What's more, Jabez actually believed God wanted him to pray like that. And what happened proved he was right.
You may not believe this, but a majority of Christian teenagers I've met have no idea how God works in their lives. They look at what's happening to them and around them and wonder if God is involved or not. Sometimes they start to wonder if He even cares.
Just listen to what some teens have told me lately:
Kent-"I guess there are a couple of major sins in my life, but I don't have the energy to deal with them now because too much other stuff is going wrong. Why would God let all this bad stuff happen at once?"
Reisa-"I just got fired from my job, and my manager said I was the best worker there! Dr. Wilkinson, why didn't God stick up for me?"
Adam-"I'm busy in church and I want to know God better, but He seems far away. Why doesn't He just talk to me?"
Have you ever asked questions like these? If so, you may be one of the hundreds of young Christians I've met who want to do more for God but who don't understand how He works and aren't sure how to cooperate with Him for better results. The truth is that each of the three teens quoted above are dangerously confused about how God works.
How God works in your life to get the best results imaginable is what this book is about.
As so many teens have discovered, when you pray with all your heart for what God already wants to do, you step into a life of miracles. God goes right to work in your life-not just around you, but inside you-to make incredible things happen.
Think of it this way: Jabez showed you what to ask God for. Secrets of the Vine for Teens will show you how God answers your request.
In fact, after you read this book, you'll know clearly-maybe for the first time-what God is doing in your life today to bring about a world-class bumper crop.
Surprising as it may seem, the picture Jesus used for that kind of life was a grape plant.
In the short conversation we'll use as our key text, Jesus told His disciples, "I am the vine, you are the branches ... By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (John 15:5, 8). Then, using the picture of a grapevine and the incredible harvest it can produce, Jesus showed how God the Father is always at work in our lives:
* Setting us free from the sins that hold us back.
* Showing us how to get the most out of our time, talents, and opportunities.
* Inviting us into a closer personal relationship with Him.
Once you get a clear picture of the secrets of the vine, you'll never be confused again about some of the most powerful teachings in the Bible.
Of course, you're not really a grape branch (or a peach tree). And the good things that you want to come from your life aren't really those juicy round grapes. The grapevine is only a metaphor, or visual illustration, to help you and me understand and remember some extremely important truths.
So important that if you and I don't listen to what Jesus said, we can spend a lifetime fighting against God, instead of cooperating with Him. The sad result is that we'll fall far short of the wonderful life you and I were created to experience.
And friend, just look around-the sad result I'm talking about happens all the time ... and it doesn't have to.
So don't let words like fruit, vine, or leaf fool you. Every word you're about to read is about you-your life today, your relationship with God, and your amazing future.
Jesus never wanted His followers to be in the dark about God's ways or His good plans for their future. That's why, at a very dramatic moment, Jesus revealed three secrets. Each one shows you how to get more out of your life for God. And each one is better than the one before.
Let's travel back in time to get more details.
It was the disciples' last night together with Jesus before His death (you can read about it in John chapters 13-14). Jesus knew that the next day He would give His life for His friends and for the sins of the whole world.
He and His closest friends had gathered for the evening meal in a place called the upper room. They ate. They wondered. They waited. (I think it was very quiet up there.)
Then Jesus washed their feet. (I think they were shocked to watch the King of Creation do that.)
Then Jesus told them again that He would be leaving. (I think they still didn't believe Him.)
Gently, He encouraged them.
And suddenly it was time to go.
Excerpted from Secrets of the Vine for Teens by Bruce Wilkinson Copyright © 2003 by Ovation Foundation, Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.