Grampa and granddaughter were sitting in her room when she asked, “Grampa, did God make you?” “Yes, God made me.” he answered. A few moments later, she asked “Did God make me?” Again the answer was “Yes.” She looked in the mirror for awhile, then said, “You know, God is doing a whole lot better work lately.”
During the football season, the college bookstore at Iowa State puts a big sign in the window saying “Kill Kansas” or “Whip Washington” or something like that, depending on the name of the upcoming foe. In 1983, just before Iowa State was devastated 72-29 by the nation’s top-ranked team, the wording was altered a bit. The sign read: “Maintain Dignity Against Nebraska.”
It is a loving parent that tries to change the wayward child. God is so involved in our lives. The vine and the branches holds important symbolism for the Christians relationship with God. The illustration of the vineyard goes back to Isaiah, ISA 5:1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard…. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and David use the illustration of the vine and the branches. The vineyard was a golden symbol used on the front of the Holy Place in the Temple in Jerusalem.
We are not lost in the symbolism that Jesus refers to Himself as the true vine. Spiritual life is only found when it is connected to the “true vine.” The root is God. The main steam was the “chosen people.” We as Christians have been “grafted” onto that vine.
Have you ever been to a vineyard? I visited a vineyard in southern Indiana at a winery. There, at the very beginning of spring, what amazed me was how bare the vines looked. Beneath every vine there was a large pile of branches, the results of winter pruning. How ruthlessly these grape growers cut their vines! Yet the cutting is essential for a good harvest and healthy vines.
We sometimes miss how rich in meaning Jesus’ comparison of the vineyard to the Christian, really is. Growing is unavoidably associated with pruning. The branch that isn’t growing is pruned to help it to grow. Every branch that does bear fruit God prunes to make it bear even more. God works to develop the best in God’s creation.
God’s pruning takes two avenues. Sometimes God allows the world to do the pruning. Job was a classic example of God allowing the world to do the pruning. Job was a good and righteous man except for one problem, pride. Pride is a very serious flaw. PSA 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. So God allows Satan to put Job to the test to prune the pride out of his life.
Look at what Job had: He had seven sons and three daughters,this was an especially close family. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes (parties). They would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This man loves his family and has great pride in them. A messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen
and five hundred donkeys. This is a man who has great respect and pride because with his hard work and knowledge, look at what he has done! A messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword….”The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants…. “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off.
They put the servants to the sword….a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. At least Job has his health. …afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. When the pruning was over Job was a better man.
Sometimes God does the pruning Himself. The Lord sent Nathan to David. “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb. David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ `Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you….But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.