It is difficult sometimes to understand how you wake up one morning and discover the month of December has arrived. Wasn't it just August? Regardless of how fast it gets here, December always brings a sense of anticipation for a celebration so what better theme for #Activ8Her this month as we learn how to #RemainCelebratory. Not only do we join in the celebration of Jesus and His birth this Christmas season, we also celebrate the journey through God’s vineyard in 2022.
The time we’ve spent within the vineyard provided us with a deeper awareness as to why Jesus told us to remain in Him: our life is bearing fruit and the quality of this fruit will be effected by our attachments. Want healthy fruit? Jesus says "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me" (John 14:4, NLT).
Every month throughout 2022 we unpacked how our identity in Christ is formed when we #Remain:
Identified, Attached, Protected, Fruitful, Yielded, Nourished, Patient, Disciplined, Loyal, Fluid, and Pressed.
The vineyard taught us that In Christ we bear an identity that compares with the distinct flavor and smoothness of an expensive, high quality wine. We now know that the time on the vine makes a difference in the quality of the wine.
We discovered how some wineries use grapes of a lower quality to produce a product ready for a quick sale, and it is to be consumed now. This wine will not get any better than it is right now and will retail for a few dollars. There are also wineries producing wine with flavors unique to the weather of that particular year. This wine will get better over time and should wait a minimum of five years before opening. This type of wine will be valued at a few hundred dollars. But, there are some wineries who follow specific rules to produce a wine from rare and unique grapes. This process creates a blend so amazing that it can be sold for thousands of dollars. It’s ready to drink after hours of breathing, but the quality won’t be affected if it sits for twenty years before it is opened.
When we refuse to remain attached to the Vine, we are producing a lower quality of faith than God ever intended. In Christ, however, our lives can resemble a fine wine; one that is distinct in flavor because we live by the specific rules given to us by God.
When we remain in Christ, we recognize how every year has a flavor of its own. Some years we experience more joy and peace, while other years bring sorrow and conflict. The circumstances we’ve endured within a year will contribute to the “unique flavor” of that year; and while it might take some time to process, we know and trust there will come a time to share – without any bitter aftertaste.
In Christ, the wine produced from our lives can be an example to others of God’s ability to create something so unique and rare, that it only gets better with time. As we connect in relationship with others, allowing them to press on us until only the sweetest fruit is extracted, others are able to "taste and see how the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). Courageous faith is found in our understanding that together, in Christ, we produce a rare blend of an amazing flavor through unity. And we allow His high standards for production to be revealed when we embrace the call to live and lead with confidence within our circle of influence.
And now, it is time to turn our attention to the harvest, which, in Biblical times God intended to be a feast full of celebration. Harvest was one of the happiest times of the year in Palestine, marked by celebrations and religious festivals. The people assembled together, to give thanks, feast and offer worship to the Lord with rejoicing and thanksgiving because, “The Lord said to Moses, ’Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly’” (Leviticus 23:1-2, NLT).
The Feasts of Israel included Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Celebration of the First Fruits, Pentecost or Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. And just as the crushing and pressing of the grapes transforms them into wine, Jesus was crushed and pressed to create a new wine. He became the Passover Lamb; He was raised as the First Fruit, and gave the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Because of His obedience to do the Father’s will, we have been given a new identity. How can we not #RemainCelebratory when Jesus has done so much for us?
If you are attending one of our Activ8Her chapters, we’d love to hear one of your takeaways from the year. As we prepare to harvest the fruit from our time in the vineyard and our year of #remaining what new wine are you offering to others as you live from your identity in Christ?