We thank the Lord for health and that we can meet at various places around His word. We pray that the Lord will be with those who are not well and give their families the grace to care for them. We are grateful for all those who have joined us, many of whom are dear to the work of the gospel.
There are two portions which I have considered for today. It is my wish that they do not contradict but that we can understand even more of what God’s desire for us is.
Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 2 He dug it and cleared it of stones and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. Isaiah 5:1,2
And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower and leased it to tenants and went into another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. Mark 12:1,2
The Lord addresses this to the tenants and at the end He pronounces judgement over the wicked tenants.
Who plants the vineyard? Do we realise that He is the One who has loved us? Do you love him in return? Parents, do you love Him? Fathers, mothers, is that love still alive within you or is it just a form? You wanted to plant this love into your children that as Isaiah says, “I will sing for the one I love…” You had a song in your heart. Is it still ringing, or has it been dampened? Now you notice people who have disappointed you, who have ruined your calling of service to the Lord. You still claim that God has called you, but you say people have spoiled your reputation and career. Your love is now grounded in showing the wrongs of others and letting everyone know how people have ruined you and caused you to lose money and status. Your song has become one of mourning. Ask yourself whether God is with you in your mourning? Jesus might not be there either. We praise God that people, during their suffering, have a song to sing to the One they love. They have a song to sing about His vineyards. They see the works of God. They see God walking amongst the vineyards.
Has your song come to an end? What has caused it to dry up? What has caused your tongue be emptied of praises to God? Have you forsaken your first love? Other things have become dearer to you - your wife, your husband? When you got married you said, “Lord, let our marriage be to your glory.” Your heart was filled with thanks to God for the gift of marriage that He had entrusted to you. Have you taken it out His hands and put it into your own? You live in fear that someone will rob you of your marriage partner. You fear the deceiver because he has placed a strange spirit in you. Where is the keeper of Israel? What has happened to Him in your life? What has happened to your testimony? You can only testify about your anxieties now. The love you once had has vanished. The ones whom you once loved, you speak words of hate about them. Will you be able to stand before God with the words you have allowed to come out of your lips? Do not care so much about your own feelings and sufferings, think about the One you once loved, where has He gone, why can’t you sing of him?
This spirit of deception which comes out of darkness, robs you of what God has entrusted to you. This spirit will come with all sorts of feelings and entice you in ways which you have never faced before. It comes with a haughtiness. You fear, you are anxious, but you are enticed by the one who rose against the highest places in heaven.
All the efforts of the One who loved you, who went to His utmost to exhibit His love to you - is it all in vain for you? What has become of your love? He looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. He is still expecting good produce from you. You are indebted to him.
He rented the vineyard to tenants. You say you are not a tenant, but you are tenants over the children whom God has entrusted to you. When these little creatures were born to you, what were the first prayers that you prayed concerning them? What work have you invested in them over the years and when he is an adult, he turned from those instructions? Was your love protected? Did you do things the right way? Were you diligent to keep this life aflame in their hearts which is being attacked by evil forces?
This man rented the vineyard out to workers. Covid lockdown was a period when he left the vineyard in our hands to be tenants. At harvest time he is sending servants to collect some of the fruit. In your life, it seemed an arid time and in the lives of your children. Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness where he was subjected to a time of intense trial. The devil brought him the word of God by saying ‘It is written.’ He used the word to attack Jesus. Do you accept any word that the enemy brings you to trip and make you fall? You are sometimes brought words that are not even scripture, and you fall into the trap of the enemy of your soul. Timothy was instructed by Paul to rightly divide the word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15 There are times where the enemy brings it on a tablet of gold ‘…this is what the scripture says…’ and you need to rightly divide the word of God. When the owner of the vineyard came out of the wilderness, He was triumphant. Heaven testified through a voice, which others thought was thunder, This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17 The fruit was there and heaven rejoiced.
Children, do you still love the One who gave you your life breath? Years ago, when we were young, my oldest brother had just got his license and we met with another cousin who asked, ‘Does your dad entrust you with this car? My dad would never entrust me with his car?’ My father always bought second-hand vehicles. (Do not always think that when you see a nice car, it is new. Many are second-hand.) Child, if you are entrusted with a vehicle, the owner trusts you to care for it even though you might not be such a trustworthy fellow. The owner may have heard what you have done in the past and wonder whether he can entrust you with the vehicle but because he wants to show his love to you, he allows you. You drive carefully when he is watching but once you are over the hill you try speeding around corners. Instead of slowing down before driving over speed bumps, you see how fast the car can go over them. You drive recklessly. When you return the vehicle, the owner notices how much petrol you have used.
You may have been entrusted with a tractor. Which you have been asked to grease well and ensure that the air pressure is correct. You work with the tractor for 8 hours and you feel that you must get the job done but do you treat the tractor as if it were your own? Young people, you do not realise how your fathers have sweated or others may have sweated to give your father a vehicle. You take the vehicle and do broadies with it, but you do not report it to your dad. Your father treasures the vehicle and you use it as your own and are ashamed to tell you dad that you drove it over rocks and it got scratched. You have been entrusted with that vehicle. Has the one who loves you lost confidence in you? You do things at your place of employment that you would not do if the manager were there. You use things, you take things and use them for yourself without asking permission. If your conscience reprimands you, you do not apologise. You should force yourself and apologise like Zaccheus who said that he would pay back 4 times what he stole so that he would never do it again. You need start work at a certain time, but you lengthen your hours. You forget the Scripture that says by the measure you measure it will be measured against you. If you mock others do not be surprised if one day others do the same and, on that day, you might be helpless and it will be painful. God will prove to you that what a man sows, he will reap. God looks for fruit in your life even if you blame others for mistreatment and injustice. He asks it of you and not of others.
At harvest time He sent His servants to collect fruit because He is the master, or have you become the master? You have made choices in your life forgetting that there is vineyard owner. You make choices that have an outcome in your life, your future and your old age. We thank God for leaders and old parents in the congregation who can advise us, reprimand, and warn us not to make the wrong choices.
Marriage is not a simple issue. During this time we should not even rely on your own prayers because your love or lust can influence your own prayers. Many people do not like counsellors as we call them. They want to listen to their own prayers. There is a wonderful promise that says where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name I will be there. We do not reckon with sociology or physiology, we reckon with Jesus, the owner of the vineyard. If you have sought counselling and are still hard-headed then you should visit a psychiatrist who will tell you that you need help. Why can’t you go to someone whom the Lord has called and anointed for the task and share your burden or choice with that person? A person who has a track record of years of a blessed life with good advice. You only see a beautiful man and there is no one like him. How should you pray about it? You do not go to a counsellor. You rely on the flesh. Allow God to speak in wonderful ways as He spoke to Joseph and Mary and the fruit will be good.
There will be a harvest time when the owner requires fruit. Will the fruit be there? You profess to be one of the brethren - will the fruit be there? He planted a vineyard to reap the fruit. If you are a good tenant, you will not only see your own suffering but the suffering of others. Paul could say that I bear in my body the marks of Christ… Galations 6:17 but you bewail the marks of men and say that they have harmed and wronged you. Does this draw you to Christ or to self-pity? Beware of that which flows out of your mouth or pen, God is looking for fruit. It is typical to liken yourself to Job and say that you are suffering for whatever cause. The suffering that Job experienced was because Satan asked God and Satan was given permission to attack Job but not to touch his soul. If your suffering is according to the will of God, people will be edified and the words that come out of your life will amaze people because of the glorious deeds God is doing through your battered body. Have you forgotten that God planted you as a choice vine? Who else had the privileges that you have had? Who has hindered you from loving Him as the lover of your soul? Wrong doing and sin will rob you of your song. If you do not please Him, you please another master. If you do not bear the fruit that He is looking for, you will produce sour, wild fruit. Do not allow any sin to take root in your life which will develop into a brooding place for much sin and wrongdoing. That choice vine will become corrupt and eaten by wild ants. It will shrivel and not produce good fruit. Get rid of the poison in you, the termites that are eating away at your roots. He is looking for fruit. In season He will come even if you bear good leaves (you have the right doctrine, you are Biblically based) you will disappoint the owner of the vineyard. In His season, at His time when He is hungry, will He find fruit? Let a curse rather fall on your sin and your secret sins than the curse fall on your life as a vine. Go to lengths and pray, ‘O God, let Your curse fall on this sin that has infested me.’ Jesus became a curse because of our sin. He hung on the cross and gave His life to buy you. You are not your own. You have been bought at a high price.
Parents, sharpen this in your children. They do not belong to themselves; they do not belong to you. They have a heavenly owner to whom they will be accountable one day. Jesus uses harsh words so that humans will understand. He cursed that fig tree. He killed those evil tenants. He said, ‘He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others.’ Mark 12:9
Do not lose your love for the owner of the vineyard. If you love Him why should there not be good fruit? Do not cling onto something which will be disqualified by the owner of the vineyard. Do not dare. The outcome will be a fruitless life. Do not think that Jesus will stay away - in His season He will come and require fruit.
Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
The Lord said that Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well whose branches run over the wall. Genesis 49:22 Joseph had a very difficult life. He could have blamed his circumstances, but had he done this he would never have produced the bountiful fruit that God had planned for him. He could have said that his own family did not love him, but because he had a relationship with the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he could produce much fruit.
God has planted us as a choice vine. What more could have been done for My vineyard that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to bring forth grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? Isaiah 5:4 Look at ourselves. God visited His church through the revival. He gave us the best through His spirit. He sent a revival - a renewal. He gave us a vineyard which no one else currently has received when He came down like He did in the early church when His children cried to Him.
He has planted you and I in this vineyard. When He looks our lives, what does He say? ‘When I looked for fruit, it was wild.’ The Lord visits you and you do not realise it. He may have put you through a sieve and told you that the fruit in your life is wild. How is it possible that He planted us a choice vines, He chose us but what are our lives like today? He gave us teachings. He has revealed things to us but what has become of our lives? You complain and murmur about what is wrong and right, why does he say this or that - this keeps you busy. Remember when you grew as that vine, you were eager and your love for the Lord drove your life. You could not do too much for Him.
God has given us a revival. He visited us and He still visits us by His Spirit. What type of vine have you become? Has He reached the point where He says, ‘What more can I do? I have done everything. I gave My life. What more must I do? Why have things become so wild?’ Look at your fruit. In the beginning you could not walk like the world, you could not dress the like world because you were a choice vine but today you are wild. Your clothes are tight. You show everything off. You have become wild. You never spent time in front of the mirror but now your heart speaks to you. You look at yourself longer in the mirror.
The Lord planted us in a rich, well-prepared vineyard but what has become of our lives? Is there fruit? If there is no fruit in your life, God cuts you off. You say, ‘People do not like me. People have sent me away.’ Have people sent you away? Have you asked the Lord why? You have a relationship with Him, ask Him instead you blame every other person. It is not too late to say, ‘Lord, here I am. You planted me. You wanted the best for me - but I had my own hard head, I had my own will, I had my pride – but I am returning to You.