God is a Farmer (Part 2)
Open with a short prayer.
During October and November, we are exploring the Biblical metaphor “God is a farmer.” As a farmer, God has planted you in his field (i.e. the world). He provides everything you need to grow and mature in faith, particularly his Word and Spirit. God employs farmhands — like you! — to work in his field to produce good fruit for his harvest.
Read Isaiah 5:1,2 slowly.
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines. …
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit. Isaiah 5:1–2 (NIV)
Often in our lives we yield “bad fruit”. Have you ever eaten bad fruit, perhaps by accident? It’s not very nice! Bad fruit, like a sour grape, is a Biblical metaphor for sin. Sin means we don’t live up to the farmer’s expectation; we don’t grow as intended; we produce wild grapes that are shrivelled, sour, and worthless.
Discuss some of the “sour grapes” that God’s people produced over the years (e.g. name some Bible stories where God’s people failed or sinned). Think about some of the bad fruit in your own life.
Jesus says that bad fruit grows on bad trees, but every good tree produces good fruit (Matthew 7:17). Just as a branch that bears bad fruit deserves to be cut down, we too deserve to be cut down for the fire.
Read Matthew 7:16–20 slowly.[Jesus began to teach his disciples, saying,] By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them. (NIV)
Jesus Christ alone is the ‘true vine’ that produces good fruit (John 15:1). Yet he was cut down for you. As he hangs on the cross, Jesus displays the fruit of the Spirit: God’s perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc. The good news is that you have been grafted into Jesus, “the Branch” (Isaiah 11:1) and “Root of David” (Revelation 22:16). A graft is when a shoot is inserted into a slit on a living branch or root. Instead of being thrown on the fire as a wild shoot that produces bad fruit, you are “grafted” into Jesus, and you now draw upon his good and nourishing sap (Romans 11:17). As you remain in Jesus, and are nourished by his Word and Spirit, you cannot help but bear good fruit.
Read John 15:1–8 slowly.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. … This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1,8 (NIV)
God the farmer is looking for a crop of good grapes to harvest. God has planted you in a particular part of his field to bear much fruit. As the “choicest” or finest vine (Isaiah 5:2) you have the potential to grow juicy, dark red grapes. His harvest in you is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness etc. (see Galatians 5:22–23). “Good fruit” means to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Each person is given particular “vocations” or “place to stand” in the field. Every person has four places (or “vocations”) in which they bear fruit: (1) family, (2) work, (3) community, and (4) church. Think about or discuss the following (if you are with a group, you may like to discuss in pairs):
(1) Family: Every person is planted in a family (see Psalm 68:6). Each family looks different: you may be a child, parent, sibling, spouse; some families are large, others small; some biological, others surrogate etc. Discuss where God has planted you in terms of family. Who is your family? How does God produce “good fruit” (e.g. love, joy, peace, patience etc.) in you through your family?
(2) Work: Every person is given work to accomplish. God says: Be fruitful and increase in number. Genesis 1:28 (NIV). Your work might be Monday to Friday 9am–5pm. It might be studying as a student. Perhaps you run a household. You might babysit, volunteer, attend a community group, regularly help your next-door neighbour etc. Just as a plant changes through the various seasons, your work also changes with the seasons of life. What work has God given you in this particular season? How does God bear good fruit for his harvest through your work?
(3) Community: Every person is a citizen in their community. If you have ever obeyed the law, voted, or written a letter to a politician, you are acting as a good citizen. Write a short prayer for your local, state, and/or national leaders in government. You will be invited to pray this later. (If you don’t know the names of your leaders, research this to pray for them by name).
(4) Church: God has planted you in your church community. What good fruit have you tasted and enjoyed in your church community? What fruit does God produce in you for his church? (Remember: at the very least, every person is a church member who prays and sings praise to God — this is good fruit!)
End with prayer:
- • Thank God for grafting you into Jesus, the true vine, through baptism;
- • pray by name for your local, state, and national leaders in government;
- • ask God to produce good fruit for his harvest as you grow where he has planted you in your family, work, community, and local church.
Spread, O spread, almighty word LHS 221/TIS 450
Come, ye thankful people, come LHS 564
God whose farm is all creation TIS 159
Spirit of God AT 264, v4.