Taste and See!

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“I am the vine, you are the branches:  He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

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Now that’s a bold statement, Lord.  “Without Me you can do nothing.”  “Without Me flowing from you, you can’t do a thing at all.”  Without You flowing in me, I can’t do a thing at all.  Well, I could do lots of stuff and accomplish a lot of things, but nothing that would really matter in eternity.  But I want to look at this whole “allegory” thing here a little more closely.  I don’t want to miss anything.

You are the vine.  You are the base, the support, the life source that starts at the roots where the nourishment enters.  You are the stem and body from where the nourishment flows and is guided and directed.  Kill the vine and the branches die.  You are the life source for every branch.  The branch, each of them, is 100% dependent upon the vine for life.  It can’t live separated from the vine.  It only lives as it draws life from the vine, in unity with it.  Only the branch that remains unified with the vine will live and produce fruit.  Separate the branch from the fine and it becomes lifeless and unable to produce fruit.

The neat thing about branches is that they can be naturally growing from the vine or they can be grafted in.  Of course no branch can graft itself in.  The “vinedresser” is able to graft the branch in which then, over time, as it remains one with the vine, becomes one with the vine just as the natural branches were.  Thank You, Lord, that grafting is part of Your amazing work, because a Gentile like me is absolutely dependent upon Your ability to graft me in.

So, once a branch is part of the vine and it remains and continues in the nourishment of the vine, it will begin to bring forth fruit.  And today I wanted to look at the fruit.  I have a feeling I might wind up spending time understanding Your fruit tomorrow too.  But today, I looked up the uses of fruit in Scripture and it took me all the way back to Genesis.  I thought, well, there’s the beginning of fruit.  Maybe I can learn a little more about it’s purpose, it’s “essence,” how You, Lord, feel about it, how it matters to me.

In Genesis 1:11, You bring forth “the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind…”  I stopped to look at that.  The fruit tree yields fruit.  Is that important, this yielding?  The Hebrew word for “yield” here is “asah.”  It’s “a completely common verb for making or forming…There is nothing particularly exceptional about this verb.  It’s only importance lies in who performs the act, not how the act was done.” (Skip Moen)  And that’s what IS important here.  You, God, said it, and it was formed and the tree brought forth fruit.  Therefore, You are the One who brings forth fruit.  Let me hold that thought.

You had the earth bring forth the fruit trees and the fruit trees bring forth fruit “after his kind, whose seed is in itself.”  “His kind” is from the Hebrew “miyn.”  This word describes “something that shares common characteristics.”  Now, I’m going to pose a question.  Does the fruit bear common characteristics only with the tree?  Or, does it bear common characteristics with the one who brought it forth?  I think there’s an important combination here and the answer is both.

How did fruit benefit man?  “To you it shall be for meat.”  Fruit is for my nourishment.  Fruit is for my life.  I need food to live.  Fruit is my food.  But fruit is more.  I just had to dig into Your Word, get a little hungrier, devour it, and search it out.  Because fruit is amazing stuff.

Fruit was important enough to be pointed out in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.  There were commands about fruit and fruit trees.  What?  Why would that matter?  Well, what if fruit and fruit trees, and vines like grape vines that produce fruit, where created to glorify You through being a picture to help me understand You?  What if fruit isn’t just fruit?  What if every type of fruit I eat is a reminder?  What if every type of fruit I see is a means to draw me closer to You?  What if?  I wonder if Scripture supports that?

When the Israelites came into a new land, you commanded them to consecrate the fruit bearing trees and produce for three years before harvesting it.  Imagine that, You set fruit apart.  It was set apart as holy, or maybe in this case, so it would become holy and attached to You and noone else.   It was something that You referred to as holy and to Your praise.  So, if it was to Your praise, then somehow fruit was a picture of Your goodness.

Fruit was to be eaten and yield its increase.  That means it was for the benefit of pleasure and life, and to produce more, infinitely more.   It was to be gathered in and celebrated over.  It was a reminder of the provision and blessing of remaining in You, of Your presence and watch care.   You commanded us to care for the tree by sowing the field and pruning the vineyard and gathering the fruit.  It takes work on my part.  But You are the one who has given me all I need to do that work.  And You are the one who produces.

It shall be yielded, we eat our fill of it, and we dwell in it in safety. We are blessed as we obey our care of the fruit and You do the work for us as we just rest in You and receive.   Even the old fruit is sustaining.   You will provide the rain.   It is the Yours and holy to You.   It’s a sign and reward of Your love.  There is to be no forbidden mixing of seeds to keep fruit pure and holy.  The firstfruits are an offering back to You, Lord.  It’s blessed by You.

And that’s just a part of what You say about fruit.  Fruit tells us that You are the “only source of true favor…that abundant life depends entirely on [Your] goodness and faithfulness…[You are] the only one who can grant life.” (Precept Austin)  Fruit and Your Scripture, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, ” clearly states that [You are] willing to give life to all who trust in [You}.  But that trust is demonstrated in faithful loyalty to [You]….  Favor is not indiscriminate.  While the invitation to enjoy God’s favor knows no boundaries, the resulting reward requires reciprocal action… All of this was prepared ‘before the foundation of the world.’  This means that the relationship between invitation and reciprocal obedience has been in place since the beginning.  It didn’t change when [You, Jesus, were] born.  It wasn’t altered on the cross.  It’s exactly the same connection found in Abraham and in Paul…  And it will still be in place when the Final Judgment occurs.  The only question left is this:  how do [I connect this in my life]?”  (Skip Moen)

I cannot bear fruit unless I abide in You.  I cannot be separate from You and bear fruit.  Here’s another interesting thing I found out this morning about this bearing fruit.  The Greek word is “phero.”  It means to bring forth, to bear or carry.  Now, what really does the branch do to bear fruit?  The vine is really doing all the work and the vinedresser tends to that.  Because “phero” can also be thought of as bearing or carrying a ship with the wind carrying it along.  It’s the wind doing the work and guiding and empowering, not the ship.  This ship’s motor is the wind, not it’s own.  “Phero,” when used in the present tense as it is here, implies being continually “carried or borne along.”  ” The passive voice conveys the sense that they were not borne along by their own power but by an external source, in this case by the Holy Spirit.”  (Precept Austin)

Well, today, Lord, and every day hereafter, I want to learn to abide in You more and more deeply.  I know I can do absolutely nothing without You and I don’t want to.  I want to be totally and absolutely dependent upon You.  My fruit is rotten but Your fruit is more than wonderful.  It satisfies me and it satisfies others and it brings back praise to You.  I want to bear Your fruit.  So, continually teach me to be carried along and borne along by You.  Produce in me that which only comes from You.  Let me depend on You for my benefit , the benefit of others, and Your glory.  And, let every piece of fruit that I see, or eat, or hear about, be a continual reminder to me.  Oh, may I continually taste and see Your goodness!

 

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