Tuesday, April 10, 2012
In honor of Easter I have been reading part of John Stott's "Through the Bible" daily devotional book. Today I hit a devotional about John 15 - The Vine and the Branches. A few years back God used these verses to cause some growth in my spiritual life and hammer out some "trust issues" I had been having with Him. So, it was really nice to be reminded of this teaching. It felt like returning to and old friend's house.
Then, in the middle of the devotional there were some suggested readings the normal verses about the fruit of the Spirit, and then Isaiah 5. So, I looked at Isaiah 5. God found some good soil, planted a vineyard, made it all nice, but then the vines gave wild grapes instead of grapes. I don't know what wild grapes are, but apparently not the result He was going for, because he proceeds to trample the vineyard, undo everything He had done, and let it get overgrown with weeds and thorns. I just keep thinking - what are wild grapes? So, I looked it up.
Most commentators that I read about commented that wild grapes are beautiful, but sour and even poisonous. Also, they are what you would expect in the wild if nothing was done to cultivate a vineyard. So, rather than just even being unfruitful, which perhaps would have warranted more care (just my speculation), God's vineyard had actually produced bad fruit as if He had done nothing at all. So, in my life, wild grapes would be the natural sin from my sin nature. Is there good fruit in my life? Do I live as if God has done anything at all for me? Sometimes I wonder, but then I go back to the vine and the branches. Christ is the true vine. If I am living in Him, I will produce fruit. The branch can't say "Well, I feel like producing fruit today." It just does.
One more part of the devotional that struck me was about pruning. I thought of my mom and grandma. They always get so much grief over their overpruning practices ("Don't kill the thing!"), but in the springtime, my mom's garden is really something to see. There is color everywhere. Stott mentions also that spiritual growth is rarely disconnected with some kind of suffering. This is a great thought. Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen!