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Romans 11:17b – You, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root. (NIV)

Oh, my apple trees! Their delicate pink-and-white, curled-up, wee buds are opening in the sunshine.

These new, little trees thrill me! At a horticulture workshop a few years ago, I was shown how to graft eating-apple stem pieces onto hardy Siberian roots, and two of my grafts produced trees.

Though there have been a few flowers other springs, and last year, one lonely apple, the number of blossoms this year suggests a fair crop of fruit. Even now as the branches dance in the breeze, I can almost taste the apples as I plan to share them with my neighbours.

I may delight in my fruit trees, but I must not boast of them, for I was given the pieces and shown how to secure the grafts. And of course, God gave the soil and the rain to nourish their growth.

The apostle Paul, a Jewish Christian, used grafted olive tree parts to explain to Gentiles their spiritual relationship with the Jews, urging them to be humble and steadfast. His words in Romans 11:17-21 could be paraphrased like this: "If some of the Jewish branches have been broken off, and you Gentiles, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the Jews, and now share in the nourishing sap from Jesus, the olive root, do not boast over those Jewish branches by saying, 'Jewish branches were broken off so that I, a Gentile, could be grafted in.' Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural Jewish branches, He will not spare you Gentiles either."

In his next words, Paul urges Gentile Christians to continue in God's kindness; otherwise, they also will be cut off. And he tells them that if the Jewish people do not persist in their unbelief, they, the natural branches, will quite readily be grafted back into their own olive tree. Paul states, "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans 10:12-13).

Jews and Gentiles, and persons of all nations under the sun, can exult together in God's word of assurance, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

What is more, those of us who live in communities filling with immigrants of other nationalities, races, and religions, need to realize that a mission field has come to our doorstep.

Prayer: Lord, help us to exult in Your kindness together with all peoples of the earth. Thank You that You, God, have made all nations of the earth to share one flesh and to be one nation in faith in Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your acceptance of us all who believe. Help us to work together, guided by Your Spirit, so that we will enable many persons to come to You and exult together in Your kindness. Amen.

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About the author:

Isabel Allison
Roland, Manitoba, Canada

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    May it be so, Isabel.

    Isabel, what encouraging words! Thanks for sharing them with us. Blessings.

    Thanks for a good word today Isabel.

    On Saturday we bought and planted an apple tree with four different varieties. It was just a stick with four branches. On Tuesday it had tiny leaves and blossom already! God is good!

    Hi Isabel,
    Nice to read your devotional. It was very interesting and reminded us that the Lord has many ways to show us kindness.
    God bless,

    Hi Isabel,
    My father was a rose grower and he used to graft pieces of hybrid rose stems onto wild root stock. Later when he retired he had some apple trees and on one wild apple base he grafted three different kinds of apples, which was always so amazing to look at when they bloomed and when the apples were there in the Autumn, three different kinds on one tree.
    I thought you might enjoy this. Thank you for writing. I always enjoy your devotionals.

    Delightful story, I can just picture your trees and their scriptural application is great!
    Here in Toronto and especially in my community we have people from all over the world. Sadly my immediate community is very short in Christian ministry. But a positive thing happened when a Presbyterian minister who had to leave Pakistan moved here with his family. He knew nothing about the community and was surprised to discover a mosque in his hi rise building. He is now working with recent immigrants from Muslim countries. He has taken over leadership of an Urdu speaking Presbyterian congregation. He really grafted his branch!

    Thank you for your inspiring devotion. As a Christian I feel we should be reaching out to all our immigrants. In Canada we were all immigrants at one time.
    I have a Muslim neighbour. A few years ago she had a nephew visit her and I took him sight seeing. We got talking about the differences in beliefs and we had some good discussions. His Mom took sick and he asked for prayers for her from me and my church family.
    I brought his concerns to our church and we had prayers for her as a congregation and individually. She had surgery and is doing well. Since that time we have had other requests for prayer from the Muslim community.
    To me this has been a wonderful outreach to others to show them regardless of there background we are part of that olive tree branching out in love.
    I have also taken refugees in my home in NL for over 30 years. I have had all religions staying with me and although they have come to the Presbyterian church with me they mostly have maintained there own religions of which I feel is important to them. I feel we have to make these folks inclusive regardless of there backgrounds.
    Thank you again.


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