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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 8, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Isaiah 5:1–7

I will sing for my beloved
    my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
    on a very fertile hill.
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;
he expected it to yield grapes,
    but it yielded rotten grapes.

And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
    and people of Judah,
judge between me
    and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard
    that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
    why did it yield rotten grapes?

And now I will tell you
    what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
    and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
    and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a wasteland;
    it shall not be pruned or hoed,
    and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
    that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
    is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
    are his cherished garden;
he expected justice
    but saw bloodshed;
righteousness
    but heard a cry! (NRSV)

Reflection
A vineyard on a fertile hillside planted with the choicest vines and well cared for and yet it yielded only bad fruit.  “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it” he laments.

God vis-à-vis people of Israel.

Nature vs. Nurture? The old story of man’s freewill vs. man’s sinful nature? 

At first read, I cringed at what felt like quick judgement and impatience, but not our God. Our God is ever-gracious and loving. Not quick to judge. 

But—don’t we? Haven’t we? Are we not inclined to push the limits?
Just ask any parents how often their precious children have pushed their patience despite all best intentions? Just ask any teacher how often their seemingly most promising student fell short of their expectations? Just ask any parents of pets how often they have been tested by lack of discipline.

Then, ask those same people if they would trade any of their children, students or beloved pets?  Smite them and forever turn their back on them? I would venture to guess the answer would be a resounding “No!”

Fortunately for us, God lovingly gave us free will.  And fortunately for us, our God is ever more patient, loving, and gracious than his children. Us.

Every night as I prepare for sleep, I thank God for the gift of friendships, the gift of daily opportunities to be the best person I can be and for forgiving me my trespasses and my shortcomings. And again, every morning, I thank God for another day of not giving up on me.

The question is, how do we exercise the gift of our free will and stay in God’s grace?

Prayer
Gracious and loving God, I know we are like insolent children, ever-demanding and taking and rarely thankful. As you have promised, never give up on us and thank you for your everlasting love and patience. Amen.

Written by Toni Yang, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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