Two definitions of the word ‘standard’:
- a level of quality or attainment.
2. (of a tree or shrub) growing on an erect stem of full height.
(of a shrub) grafted on an erect stem and trained in tree form.
Indeed, our Father the King has set new standards for us by having the Son call us out of the world as He was revealed to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
They are His standards for entering into His Kingdom. While they seem intolerably high to us, for G-d, they are normal for fellowship with the Israelites in the Old Testament. As He said to Isaiah, (55:8-10):
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
In the New Testament, we as Gentile vines have been grafted into Israel’s tree of life through Jesus. Let us be reminded they were a people G-d had to keep pruning in order for them to claim the Kingdom of Heaven through the promised Messiah, but when G-d delivered the Promise, just as their fathers did with the land G-d said He’d already given them, they did not believe.
Consequently, the land was taken back from them, and when they relented and tried to get G-d back on their side at their convenience, He took His hand from them, and they were defeated.
In the same fashion, Jesus warns those of Israel who don’t believe that they won’t see the kingdom either. (Matthew 21:31)
To be grafted in under the covenant of grace should then give us great comfort in being assured of the life and age to come. As we have been grafted, so too, must we be trained to form. We are different, yes, but we are all equal and loved in the sight of G-d, as we follow Christ.
Think of it this way: like the grafted branch you were selected, removed, and placed in better circumstances (though it may not seem that way at the moment).
When Jesus tells the disciples He is the Vine and they are the branches, they are admonished in their flesh to stay close to Him, as they depended on Him to impart to them the power to work miracles through faith and the Holy Spirit. In no uncertain terms does He remind them that apart from Him, they can do nothing. (John 15:5)
So today, believers, let us examine ourselves, knowing we’ve been grafted, and are in training, to receive the standard of divine reclamation through Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary, abiding in the power of the Vine.
Are we attracting the pleased attention of our King?
Let us be ever mindful to work to achieve His standards, knowing that as long as His mercy and grace preside over our time, they are given to us that we will not die in our sins.
Let us also be reminded, however, that all things end in tested works and judged lives, irrevocably. He will bring those who’ve met the standards of His sovereign will into His rest, and purge the rest from His sight and kingdom to the consequences of their unbelief for eternity, despite their cries for mercy and grace.
Therefore I pray:
Father in Heaven, as the Earth and everything in it is yours, you are sovereign in deciding who is part of the Kingdom, and what they will do as their service, to Your glory, the highest and best of all standards.
Bind our wandering souls with the power of Your Holy Spirit to Your Branch of Jesse, lest we fall in our own arrogance to die in our sins.
Forgive us, this day, our sins and rebellion, both in the past and in the days to come.
Today, help us to raise the standards of our meager service to yours, reminding us that blessings and cursing should not come from the same source. Convict us as the seed of disobedience seeks to germinate and graft us to a withering vine destined for burning. Find none in us not covered by Your blood, for sin can have no place in our salvation, as You possess none.
Let steadfast, faithful, fruitful service be our standard legacy.
May Your words be sealed to our spirits, now and forever.