Summary: A comparison between agricultural harvest and the fruitfulness of a Christian.
Scripture: John 15:1-8
Today is Harvest Festival and we are giving food gifts to celebrate the harvest. None of us is presently living on a farm but we are familiar with the terminology and concept of harvest. We know that some plants can be harvested the year they are planted (i.e. potatoes or tomatoes) while others require years to mature. But fruit is eventually expected. In our Bible lesson Jesus is using an agricultural simile to compare Christians to plants. We are not here for a free ride. There is a purpose for each of us. The farmer will exercise patience but he is eventually expecting something.
I. CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT
(A) We are his vineyards (v.6). The church is the good soil. The pastor can be viewed as the farmer. To avoid them is to cripple God’s plan.
(B) We are fenced about. (Isaiah 5:1-2) Stones are removed and the winepress is near (opportunity).
(D) A.F. Harper told of a SS teacher who wanted to quit her class. She was urged to pray for each pupil daily. At the end of the year every student had accepted Christ and was transformed. She was thrilled and renewed.
II. CONSISTENT EXPECTATION
(A) Seeking fruit (v.7). He looked diligently and patiently. He investigated personally (v.6).
(B) Leaves and blossoms are not enough. (Matt 21:19) It takes more than a good start. New Year’s resolutions are not enough. He looks for the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
III. CUMBERSOME EMPTINESS
(A) Cumber means to defeat or hinder. It enjoys the same privileges but produces nothing. Not a tuppence! A form but no power (2 Tim 3:5).
(B) Patience was abused. He waited for nothing. The tree became a poor example with no fruit basket under it. The ground could be put to better use.
(C) The farmer knows what we are capable of. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations but he does look for something! Quality is important.
IV. COMPASSIONATE ENTREATY
(A) Painful pruning. (15:2) Clipping hurts but helps. It allows the sunlight in. The bleeding brings healing.
(B) Diligent digging (Luke 13:8). He wants to find the problem. He will add nutrients (v.8).
(C) He gives additional time as needed. Jonah and Nineveh were given a 2nd chance.
(D) God gave Noah’s neighbours 120 years as the ark “grew”.
V. CRUSHING ENERGY
(A) Grapes and apples must be crushed before you drink their nectar.
(B) The winepress is the procedure for determining quality.
(C) Tears will give way to joy. (Jer 31:13 & Psalm 30:15)
(D) Delays are not pardons. Prayer, repentance and faith must accompany digging. The vinedresser will do more and more to get results. He understands the beauty of a fruitful tree.
VI. CALAMITY EVENTUALLY
(A) Away from the vine we are hopeless. (John 15:6)
(B) Lack of fruit brings judgement. (Luke 13:9)
(C) The farmer hates to cut-it-down (Luke 13:7-8) but will do it!
(D) Drastic action will have the approval of heaven. (Rev 15:2-4) God knows what he is about.
The compassionate Jesus is working to bring you to the fruitfulness you should have. He knows your potential and is patiently at work to bring out the best in you. Don’t resist him or play hard-of-hearing. He wants you to be fruitful.
6 October 2002
London Pillar of Fire Chapel
Bernard Dawson, pastor Offering last Sunday £189.80 (am)