“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Nobody likes fresh, home-grown tomatoes any better than me. I can eat ’em morning, noon and night. For the last few years, I have tried to grow some in my backyard. My gardening friends assured me I could and told me how to do it. Every year so far, something has gone awry. The wrong soil, where I had them located, the plant variety, when I planted, and on and on. Well, this year, I was all set: planted when I was supposed to, the best mixture of soil, the best plants, location, not too much water but just enough. You know the rest of the story: the heat zapped them. The heat didn’t just fry mine but just about everyone’s that I know. I’ve had a backup plan with a lady in the country who really has great tomatoes, but even she is without fruit this year. The heat is a killer.
There is one thing the Lord looks for and expects from His people, and it is fruit. In the Old Testament, God lays this out plain for His chosen people. Through the song of Isaiah, God compares the calling out of His chosen people to a man planting a vineyard. God chose fertile land; it was tilled and cleared of rocks. He planted it with the choicest of vines, and he built a winepress in preparation for a good harvest. When harvest time arrived, God was expecting good fruit (obedience, faith, love, thanksgiving, worship and service) but instead found foul-smelling wild grapes (disobedience, rebellion and idolatry). In Isaiah 5 in the New Testament, Jesus presented this same picture to the unbelieving Jews. And then He presents the truth of how God will have the fruit He desires.
Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-7).
Jesus also said that whoever would come after Him, let him take up his cross daily and follow Him. I believe our cross is the daily labor of putting the old man and his works to death. The world, the flesh, and the devil work daily to excite and incite the passions of the flesh. I believe that Satan uses whatever tricks and devices he can to put the heat on God’s children, to dry us up spiritually, to render us fruitless.
Christian people are called to walk in newness of life, to put on the new man who has been created in the image of Christ. Remaining faithful in prayer will keep us spiritually fertile, whereby the Holy Ghost can continually feed and water us with the faith, hope and love of Jesus Christ. And not only will the heat not dry us up, but we will bear fruit that will remain: “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Brother Bill is a Bible teacher and can be contacted at email@example.com.