It’s time to start digging a little deeper into this rich portion of Jesus’ words to His disciples. Today’s the day we start using Blue Letter Bible — my all-time favorite free Bible study site! The lesson will look long, but the work won’t be. I am just giving very detailed instructions for those of you who have not used Blue Letter Bible before.
First, let’s take one more look at yesterday’s chart.
Assignment: Pray, acknowledging your inability to understand any of God’s Word without the assistance of the Helper Jesus sent to us from the Father.
Then take out your chart from yesterday. Look at the relationship of the three — the vinedresser, the vine, and the branches. They are all essential for producing a harvest of fruit.
- The vine and the branches by themselves would run wild and unproductive. They need tending, pruning, training.
- The vinedresser needs a vine and its branches for his skills to be properly displayed as he coaxes the finest grapes from his vineyard.
- The branches are nothing but fuel for the bonfire apart from the vine.
- The vine without branches has no outlet for its life-giving power.
Moving from the analogy to the truths that Jesus was teaching His disciples, the Father, the Son, and we, as God’s adopted children, are all essential to the God-glorifying bearing of fruit in this broken world. Think on this for awhile today. Pray about it. Praise God for it. Rejoice in your branchness.
Now let’s talk about Blue Letter Bible. Blue Letter Bible This Bible study site literally transformed the way I study. It saves hours of time, tons of bookshelf space, and lets me study anywhere if I use the app on my smartphone. It allows me to study original Greek and Hebrew words, consult commentaries, compare translations, look at dictionaries, and check cross-references, all with a few clicks on my phone or computer.
The website can be found at www.blueletterbible.org, but it is also available as an app, both for IOS and Android. You will need to decide which format you prefer to use. I will be giving my primary directions based on using the website online. But for those of you who prefer to use your smartphone or tablet for study, I will give secondary instructions, in parentheses, for using the IOS app. (I’m assuming the Android format will be similar enough for you to find your way around with my directions.)
- If you’re going to use the app, install it now.
- If you’re going to use the website, open it at www.blueletterbible.org.
- We’re going to use a Bible encyclopedia, the International Standard Bible Encyclopeadia, to learn more about grapevines. What exactly does the vinedresser do? Of what importance were vineyards in Bible times?
- On the computer, under the words “Search the Bible” in the upper right-hand corner of your screen type “john 15.”
(App users,  Click the icon with two Bibles in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. Choose two translations you would like to be able to view as you study. One of these needs to be KJV for future word studies.  Click “Go” in the upper right-hand corner.  Click the magnifying glass icon in upper left-hand portion of your screen to open the search box.  Type in “John 15.”)
- Select “KJV” as the translation in the next box down on the screen. (This will be more important later when we are studying original words.) (App users have already done this.)
- Click the green button with the magnifying glass icon to search. This will take you directly to the text of John 15. (App users, click the blue “Search” button in the lower right-hand corner.)
- Scroll down to verse 2 and hover over the blue “Tools” button to the left of the verse. This will open a drop-down menu of wonderful study options. (App users, click on the verse text. This will open a list of options.)
- Click the pinkish “Dictionaries” button and watch what happens! We have access to ten different Bible dictionaries. (Do you know how much space those would take on your bookshelves?) (App users, click on “Dictionaries.”
- Scroll down until you see “International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia.”
- Then (computer users) click the “more” at the bottom of the alphabetical list of topics for this resource, and scroll down until you see the word vine.
- Click vine. This will open up all the articles related to the word vine in this encyclopedia.
- Scroll down to “3. Antiquity and Importance:”
- Read this and the next portion, “Its Cultivation,” taking notes as you read. This will give us a great deal of helpful information for our study. It is especially interesting to read how the grapevines were cared for in Bible times, since it was different than much of the cultivation that takes place now. (If you have time, hover over the blue links to other verses about vineyards and read them. App users, you can click on the links to open the verses.)
- As you read, think about the metaphor of the vine and branches in John 15. What new insights do you gain? Is pruning the only task of the vinedresser? What parallels can you make between the care of actual grapevines and the care of the Father over His vine?
We’ll spend another day considering God’s pruning work in our lives.
For your children:
- Working from what you learned in your own study today, talk about the different tasks of the vinedresser. What does he do in addition to the pruning mentioned in John 15:2? (You may want to have older children do their own research before your discussion.)
- How do these jobs relate to God’s role in our lives?
- If your children enjoy drawing, let them loose to illustrate the different jobs of the vinedresser.