Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 14 No. 6 June 2012
Page 12

The Ax at the Root

Chad Ezelle

Throughout the Scriptures, God went through great detail to paint a beautiful picture of His special people as a vine or tree. That imagery allowed Him to make clear His love and devotion to His people.

You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow, and the mighty cedars with its boughs. (Psalm 80:8-10)

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: my Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? (Isaiah 5:1-4)

Do not miss the great pictures God painted for us. He uprooted the vine (Israel) from Egypt, brought it out, and rooted it deeply in the land. He did everything He could do to make the vine bring forth good fruit. That was His desire. Yet, the vine did not comply. It continually brought forth wild grapes, evil fruit. God has been very clear about the end of the vine or tree that does not bring forth good fruit.

Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will lop off the bough with terror; those of high stature will be hewn down, and the haughty will be humbled. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One. (Isaiah 10:33-34)

For thus has the Lord of hosts said: “Cut down trees and build a mound against Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished. She is full of oppression in her midst.” (Jeremiah 6:6)

Clearly, we have seen that God had a purpose for His people. They were to relive oppression, help the helpless, serve the poor and bring good news to the needy. Instead, they oppressed the people, neglected the poor and needy, and refused to provide help to the helpless. Their lives and actions were completely antithetical to God’s purposes. God’s vine was not bringing forth good fruit, and God was ready to cut the vine down.

Jesus and His Gospel brought good news – even to the ones who had been oppressing the needy people.

He 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)

Jesus told that parable right after He taught the people about repentance (Luke 13:1-5). They wanted to focus on the sin of others, the sins that, in their minds, led to the deaths of the worshipers and Galileans. Jesus wanted them to focus on their own sins. "Unless you repent you, will all likewise perish."

He followed that teaching up with His parable about a vineyard owner (God) being ready to cut down the fig tree (God’s people). The trees were not fruitful. However, the keeper of the vineyard (Jesus) wanted more time to fertilize (teach). His message was “Repent.” Stop doing what you have been doing. Stop neglecting your neighbors. Stop forgetting the needy. Stop taking advantage of people. Stop oppressing the helpless. Start loving your neighbors as yourself.

[Editor’s Note: There is a message for God’s people today, too! Christians are supposed to be “special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). ~ Louis Rushmore]

The Difference a Dad Makes

Mark N. Posey

Mark N. PoseyBeing a father is not easy, but it is worth it! The Bible gives instructions about how to do it right. For example, notice Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” How do you bring up a child in the training and admonition of the Lord? Notice what fathers can do for their children.

Pray for Them

There are many biblical examples of fathers praying for their children: Jairus (Mark 5); the father with the demoniac son (Mark 9); Job (1:5) and David. Toward the end of his life, as David prepared to pass leadership to his son Solomon, he prayed a special prayer: “give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision”(1 Chronicles 29:19). Pray for them and with them. Let them hear your prayers to God. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is prayer.

Spend Time With Them

A recent survey revealed that the average five-year-old spends only 25 minutes per week with his father and most children spend 35 hours per week with some type of digital device. No wonder we have difficulty influencing our children. Notice God’s Word: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Moses stresses the importance of spiritual growth. Spending time with your children is an investment. When you give your children your time, you are giving them your heart.

Give Them Responsibility

In Matthew 21, Jesus told of a father with two sons. He sent both to work. One son told his father he would work, but he did not work. The other said that he would not work, but he changed his mind and did work. By giving his sons responsibility, the father learned which son was obedient and which one was not. Our children need responsibility. Giving them responsibility means letting go of the reigns and allowing them to make their journey into maturity. It will strengthen their confidence.

Give Them a Sense of Identity

It is important that your children hear about heroes in your family. The best are heroes of faith who made an impact on the history of the church. My dad regularly read Hebrews 11 in our home and emphasized the greatness of faithful obedience. He also made sure that I spent time with great preaching heroes, like Gus Nichols, Franklin Camp, Guy N. Woods, William Woodson, V.P Black and others. I was able to identify with faithful fathers. It gave me roots that have proven beneficial throughout life. This is why the Lord said to Moses, “tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I [am] the LORD” (Exodus 10:2). Identity strengthens our knowledge and wisdom.

A father that gives his heart to his children will pass the test of fatherhood. It has nothing to do with money, power or success. The thing children want most from their dads is their time.

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