Monthly Archives: June 2015

Isaiah’s Parable of the Vineyard

“Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!” (Isaiah 5:1-7)

God uses a parable of a vineyard to describe Israel in the days of Isaiah. He says that he planted them, gave them everything they needed, preparing them for a fruitful harvest. Yet, when the time for harvest came, instead of bringing forth good grapes, they brought forth wild grapes (sour, harsh grapes that are useless). The problem was not with what God did in preparing them, it was in their response to what they had been given.

God has done the same thing for us today. He has given us everything that we need to bring forth good fruit. He has given us Jesus to purify us, and his word to feed and nurture us. He has even prepared a place to receive us in faithfulness.

Therefore, the question comes to us: what kind of grapes will we produce? Will we produce good grapes that are representative of the love, nurture, and care bestowed upon us? Or will we take all that we have been given and produce wild grapes that are useless to everyone and bring judgment from God?

Let us strive each day to bring forth good grapes.

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Tired of Manna?

“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color like the color of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it, ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil. And when the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it.” (Numbers 11:4-9)

Oftentimes people fall into the trap of only remembering what they want to remember at a given time. It is why people often talk of the “good ole days” with such one-sided fondness.

The children of Israel are tired of manna. They do not want any more of this bland colored bread. They want meat. They remember “fondly” the fish and vegetables that they used to eat in Egypt. What they have forgotten is all of the toil, hardship, and even death that was associated with that life. They have forgotten the most important things in their lust for something “better.”

It is easy for us to fall prey to the same attitudes today. They are born of greed and lust, and they create a skewed view of where we are and where we’ve been. The whining and complaining of Israel did not turn out in their favor on this occasion, nor will it work out well for us if we follow their example.

Be mindful of the words of Paul: “But godliness with contentment is great gain… and having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:6,8)

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The Floating Axe Head

“Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.” (2 Kings 6:1-7)

While the account of Elisha and the floating axe head is an interesting one, there is also an application to be made to us today. Elisha did not make that axe head float by his own power, but by the power of God as a prophet.

Spiritually speaking, we are very much like that axe head. We are weighed down with sins and by ourselves we sink to the bottom in the trials, troubles, and burdens that this life brings. But just as Elisha was able to make that axe head to float by the power of God, so we also, by God’s grace and mercy, can be made to float spiritually.

We have no ability to save ourselves by good deeds, for the weight of sin is too great. But we can be raised to the surface of spiritual life by an obedient faith in God’s grace and mercy. Just as Elisha threw the stick into the water and the axe head floated, so there are things that we must do to be brought to the top. The actions themselves are not the direct cause of the effect, but they bring about the effect by being actions of obedient faith.

God says those actions required are: faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Acts 2:38), confession of Christ (Matthew 10:32), and immersion in water for the remission of sin (Acts 22:16). Is your axe head floating or sinking?

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A Lesson about Thankfulness

“Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and he fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you whole.'” (Luke 17:11-19, NKJV)

One of the greatest lessons that can be taught to young and old alike is thankfulness. It is easy to desire things, but it requires far more effort to be thankful for what has been given to you.

In a world of entitlement, where people believe they are owed everything they have and more, it is hard to find genuine thankfulness. Many people are thankful as long as they have everything they want, but if they desire something else they become immediately ungrateful for all they have previously received.

Out of the ten lepers Jesus healed, the only one who exhibited thankfulness was the one who was supposed to be the furthest from God. Equally in our lives, sometimes it is those that have the least, or who we think are the least deserving, that are the most thankful.

Do we thank God for the blessings bestowed upon us each day? Do we stop and tell him how much his love and grace mean to us, or do we simply continue on with life like those other nine men that kept on walking? Let us never forget to be thankful.

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What your Words say about You

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37, ESV)

We have all heard the lie: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” We recognize that words have great power. They can hurt or heal. But just as much as my words can hurt someone else, Jesus says my words can be spiritually damaging to me as well.

You see, the words that I say tell what is truly in my heart. People will often try to apologize for something they’ve said by making a statement like: “I spoke without thinking.” What they do not realize is what that statement says about them. It means that whatever dirty, foul, rotten, or mean thing that was said was what was actually in their heart. It is the true reaction of the heart.

It is sad how many times you hear an individual who claims to love God use his name as a curse. Or to hear one who is supposed to bear the love of Christ spout such foul expressions as are found on the tongues of the most ungodly people. What they do not realize is that they are showing their true selves before God and man. Jesus shows that a man who is truly good will not be found cursing and swearing, realizing that everyone will be held accountable for the things they say.

What are your words saying about you?

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Taking the Path I Think is Right

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV)

We live in a world where people live by their feelings. What seems right, feels right, looks right is what must be right. However, the wise king admonishes that there are paths before men that seem right, but they lead to death.

When people make decisions by feeling or emotion they negate the principles of reason and truth that tell them to go another direction. When we make decisions based upon what we think should be right, we have neglected to take into consideration what is right.

What path are you following in life? Is it the one you feel is right, or the one that is right? Is it the one someone else told you is right, or the one that God stated is right? Do not be fooled by your own reasoning and ideas, let God show you what is right through his word. Remember the words of Jeremiah 10:23: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”

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