GETTING THE MOST FROM GOD'S WORD:

"Do NOT labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting LIFE..." - The Gospel of John 6:27 (NKJV)
A systematic and daily reading of the Word of God is important in maintaining a strong Christian life. Establish a daily quiet time with God and His Word. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you understand what you read. By following our daily Bible reading schedule through this blog, you will be able to read the Bible through in a year. Please note that you may utilize the ‘BIBLE READER’ app that is installed at the bottom of this webpage to assist you in reading the specified scripture portion for today.

To get the MOST from God's Word, please do the following intentionally:
1. REQUEST God to connect with you as you read the word of God with FOCUS and OPENNESS to see what God wants to speak with you.
2. READ the selected sections of Scripture slowly as you mark the words and phrases that intrigue you, even reading them the second time to get a better understanding.
3. REFLECT on what God is communicating to you; stopping long enough to let the seed of God's Word take root in your heart.
4. RESPOND to the passage speaking directly to God about what is in your heart, and then look out for ways to live out what you find - individually, and to others within your church and elsewhere.

As you read and meditate, ask yourself the following three questions:
a) What is God speaking to me through this passage?
b) Is there a command, a promise or a warning for me?
c) Is there an example for me to follow?

Please POST your comments below if there is a thought or message that the Lord has spoken to you through the passage that you are reading and meditating today. Please make sure that your post is aligned to the scripture passage mentioned at the header. All comments should pertain to the relevant scripture portions only, and should be aimed to glorify God (the true author of 'The Bible') & edify everyone who visits this blog site daily - both young and old. May God bless you abundantly for encouraging others through your comments!

Let's PRAY...
LORD, give me the desire to take a little time out of my busy schedule today as I read and meditate on Your Word. Give me this day MY DAILY BREAD. Speak to me clearly & lead me today as my Good Shepherd. Help me to be a blessing to others who interact with me as I attempt to be a living witness of Your Word today. In Your Name I pray, AMEN.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Are we BEARING FRUIT or, LIVING on BORROWED TIME?

Are we BEARING FRUIT or, LIVING on BORROWED TIME? 

October 26 Bible Reading: Luke Chapters 13-15

He (Jesus) also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9)

The above passage is a parable told by Jesus Christ to His disciples that is found only in the Gospel of Luke. A fig tree often represents God’s blessing, or a people who have a special relationship with God (see Micah 7:1, 2). This fig tree that was planted in the vineyard may stand for Israel, and is similar to another fig tree that was cursed by Jesus (see Matt. 21:18–21). There are four parables of Jesus Christ that emphasize God looking for fruit from His vineyard (see Matt. 20:1–15; 21:28–32, 33–46; John 15:1–11). John the Baptist also preached about this near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (see Luke 3:8–9).

A simple interpretation of this parable is as follows: God has planted a fig tree (Israel) in His vineyard (world). During the time of the fruit-bearing season, God has been looking for fruit for the last three years. A vineyard is a fertile soil for a fig tree, and three years points to a time for a fig tree to grow, mature and bear fruit. This may also refer to the first three years of the public ministry of Jesus Christ. Thus a period of three years is sufficient time for any fig tree to produce fruit. If no fruit appeared in three years, then it was reasonable to conclude that no fruit would ever appear. Due to its fruitlessness, God the Father ordered to cut it to be down as it was only occupying ground that could be used more productively. However, the vinedresser (Jesus) interceded on behalf of the fig tree, asking that it be given another chance and one more year to bear fruit. If at the end of that time, it was still fruitless, then He could cut it down.

In reality, this is exactly what happened to Israel. Right after the third year of Jesus’ ministry, Israel totally rejected and crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. So, Jerusalem and God’s Temple was completely destroyed in A.D. 70 and the Jews were scattered as a result of God’s judgment (19:41–44; 20:9–19). G. H. Lang in his classic book 'Parabolic Teaching' has given the following insight into this parable: 

“The Son of God knew the mind of His Father, the Owner of the vineyard, and that the dread order “Cut it down“ had been issued; Israel had again exhausted the Divine forbearance. Neither a nation nor a person has reason to enjoy the care of God if not bringing forth the fruits of righteousness unto the glory and praise of God. Man exists for the honor and pleasure of the Creator: when he does not serve this just end why should not the sentence of death follow his sinful failure, and he be removed from his place of privilege?”
Thus, this parable reveals the failure of Israel (symbolized by the fig tree) to bear fruit for God. Sadly, the fig tree would be cut down and replaced by other trees that would bear fruit. The lesson to be learned is that when God gives spiritual privileges to anyone, He also expects fruit. There is an imminent danger of not producing any fruit. Even though God was merciful with Israel, He still had to judge that nation later when it still failed to produce any spiritual fruit.

As a spiritual application, our Lord Jesus Christ has chosen us with a purpose, as He stated: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." (John 15:16) Even though this parable speaks of God’s patience and forbearance, but it also reveals God’s eventual severity in judgment on those who are continually fruitless. We must pay attention to what Apostle Paul has written concerning this matter: "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off." (Romans 11:22)

Let us remember that God is gracious and patient, but there is a limit to His patience toward those who do not repent. John the Baptist also warns us about God’s judgment: "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matt. 3:10) The questions that we should ask ourselves today is: Are we bearing fruit or, living on borrowed time and taking up space on this earth? 

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