I was in my backyard a few days ago picking up the residue from our dogs. It's just a mess when you step in it. My husband usually does this job, but I feel the need to help now and then. Especially since there's so much of it!
Anyway, even when you're out picking up dog poop, be prepared to be surprised by joy. For some reason, we neglected to pull out one of last summer's tomato plants after it seemingly stopped producing. Tomato plants are not very pretty, they look like a big weed. There, still clinging to the vine, were two little red-ripe tomatoes. It's February! I wonder - is this fruit left over from last year, or is this little plant producing a new crop? I'll probably get a lot of comments educating me on the life of a tomato plant. That's OK, I don't know very much about how all this works. I welcome information.
I do know this - those tomatoes would never have matured had they not stayed connected to the vine from which they grew and was their source of life. I didn't want the birds or bugs to get this fruit, so I cut them off the vine and brought them in the house. Selfish of me I guess; the animals would have enjoyed the feast. I'm really surprised they hadn't devoured them already. And then I realized the Lord may be reminding me of a spiritual truth. I love when I feel His actual presence and know that He is hovering over me. I absolutely love it!
You will be blessed if you do a little study in John 15. It's all about staying connected to God. Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener" - John 15:1.
John continues to write that God cuts off every branch that bears no fruit. Now don't panic and start worrying about your fruit. If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will produce fruit. How do I know that? I've read Ephesians 2:10...
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, (have fruit) which God prepared in advance for us to do".
God cuts off dead branches (that bare no fruit) for our own good. In other words, He 'prunes' us just like we prune back a rose bush in January so it will produce beautiful flowers come April. When something painful occurs in your life and you feel a bit slapped around, take heart, be hopeful, and expect new growth - a better you and a better life will come of the pruning.
It always comes back to God's is sovereign. He has a plan for each of us, He produces our fruit in His timing, and His way, and in the amount He desires us to have for His glory. If we forget this truth, we begin to think WE are doing something to help out God and His Kingdom. Oh really? It might make us feel good, but God doesn't need our help...
Acts 17:24 - 25 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."
Do you hear these verses read very often? Probably not. You can read further in Acts 17:31 that God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the "man he has appointed." That 'man' is Jesus Christ, and God has given proof of this by raising Him from the dead.
So, going back to those two little ripe tomatoes clinging to the vine in February - we too need to cling to the vine - Jesus. It is He who produces life in us. "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4. Jesus goes on to say that apart from Him, we can do nothing. It often seems like it, life goes along pretty good, then bam! We run into something we can't handle and God uses this to bring us back to Him. He is our source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - Galatians 5:22. I desire to have all these things in my life and they must come from the only One who can produce them. We are sustained by God's love!
I have a confession to make. I had planned to blog on something entirely different than tomatoes, dog poop, staying connected to the vine and the fruit of the spirit, etc. Often the Lord grabs my blog and makes it His own....I've learned it's never about me and what I want to say, but rather about Him speaking to His own. So, I know there is someone out there in cyberspace who needs to read these words.
This is heavy stuff! I'm going to resist the temptation to write another 500 words and just let these verses work their way into your head, heart and eventually into your daily life. It's such a joy to watch God work and do all the things we can't.
I've been asked several times why I sometimes capitalize 'He and Him' when referring to God/Jesus, and sometimes not. I use the NIV Bible and they do not capitalize these words, so I quote like it's written. However, I'm so use to using the capital 'H', I can't seem to change and I don't want to because it seems 'right' to me.
Thank you Lord for being our Vine, for giving us life and reminding us that we need to stay connected to you if we want to look above our circumstances and see Your hand on us.
Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.