Persecuted but GrowingHave you ever seen God use something negative or discouraging to accomplish something amazing?
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[God] waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter (v.2).
My neighbor planted some apple tree seedlings. Several years later, the mature trees bore fruit. But there was a problem. The first bushel of apples my neighbor picked contained some unwanted guests . . . uh, pests. Worms were found, leading his wife to conclude that a few bad apples do indeed spoil the whole bunch! Since that fateful day, the only things that have munched on my neighbor’s apples are wild deer (and worms).
God recognizes good fruit from bad fruit. The prophet Isaiah portrays God as a Master Gardener who “plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines” (5:2). He had even protected His garden and built a winepress nearby. But, sadly, the grapes didn’t turn out to be sweet, but bitter. Rotten fruit alert!
This fruit metaphor revealed God’s desire for His people to follow Him in love and obedience. But they didn’t. God asked, “What more could I have done for My vineyard?” (v.4). He had blessed His people, but the fruit they offered was worm-laden. Instead of justice, He found oppression. Violence, instead of righteousness (v.7). Due to their production of the wrong kind of fruit, God’s people were reprimanded and disciplined (vv.5-6).
Jesus described a vineyard in laying out His expectation for our lives, stating, “I am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn’t bear fruit” (John 15:1-2). So how do we bear fruit? “Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit,” He says (v.5). If we don’t obey and follow Him, we’ll be “thrown away like a useless branch . . . gathered into a pile to be burned” (v.6).
God expects good fruit from us. What are we producing?
Read Matthew 21:33- 44. How can you apply verse 43 to your life, local church, and nation?
How do we “remain in” Jesus? How will you strive to live a more fruitful life in Him this week?
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