The Pruning

January 19, 2015

The Pruning

John 15:1-2
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

The true substance and character of a healthy and fruitful branch is not in the outward, but in the inward. The outward is the glory and the fruit of the inward, but it is not the substance of it.
Why does God want to prune us even when we are fruitful? It is so that we can bear more fruit. Our outward fruitfulness may be already abundant and good, but human nature is such that even when we are spiritually fruitful, pride and complacency can creep in. When God blesses our lives with much increase in whatever dimension that takes place, it isn’t long before that little voice starts saying, ‘look what I have done’. Pruning keeps us focused on the vine and the source of our substance and fruitfulness. It creates renewed dependence upon the vine and strips the glory from the self. It helps us to not just dwell and live upon past experiences, miracles and victories. It serves to stretch us and cause to grow when we would be complacent to remain as we are. Without pruning things tend to grow wild. There may be a lot of growth, but not as much fruit. Pruning then brings focus. It keeps our eyes upon the Spirit and not upon the flesh. It causes us to remember our source of life and fruit so that we boast in the Vine and not in ourselves.
Don’t despise the days of pruning. They are the loving hands of the Father at work in you, His children. Left to itself, a branch may produce leaves, but not fruit and eventually even the leaves will die. The branch then must be cut off and cast out. It becomes a detriment to the health of the vine. Thank God He loves us enough that He doesn’t want that to happen to us and so He cares for us in what often may seem to be severe ways. Those who know Him rest in the passage from Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him and called according to His purpose.” Often we don’t understand the why and wherefore of all that takes place in our lives, but our eyes and our hearts must remain steadfastly upon the Vinedresser. He is working all things for His glory and our good. He will never maliciously harm that which He loves and cares for, but do what is necessary to bring it to its highest and best potential and productivity.
What hinders the process of the pruning and in turn our growth, is our self, our ego and stubbornness to pursue our own interest and do our own will. In addition to this we often get offended at God or others that God uses in the process of our pruning. If it doesn’t make sense to us, then it must not be fair or just. God sees the end of a thing and we tend to get hung up and focused on the process. This is why it is so important to have a vision that sees the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus and not let anything or any circumstance detour us from that vision and that goal. Our ability to run the race is in that One who has called us to it and not in ourselves. Our reliance must always remain on Him and not on us.
Just remember Hebrews 12:7-11, “If] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” God is training His people up to produce something more than religious flesh. He is preparing a people with the substance and the nature of His Son. So don’t neglect to praise Him even when it hurts. He loves you and He is ever working for your good.

Blessings,
#kent

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If a Tree has Leaves, does it have Fruit?

Matthew 21:18-19
18Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

A fruit tree is expected to produce fruit after its kind. A Christian is expected to produce fruit after their kind.
The fig tree in this story is said to represent Israel. The person coming from the outside might enter a city like Jerusalem and see it flourishing. They could go to the temple and see it full of activity and religious men walking about it and throughout the city. Jesus teaches us here that just because a tree has leaves and looks healthy doesn’t mean that it is fruitful. If it is a fruit tree that appears healthy and yet produces no fruit, it is failing in its purpose in life. Just like Israel, if we appear to be the people of God, have all of the churches and religious services, but do not bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, then we too are barren. We are missing our purpose. Our purpose is to not bear healthy looking leaves, but to produce fruit in the way God has purposed us to do. No amount of leaves or trappings can hide that.
Adam and Eve used leaves to hide their nakedness and we often do the same; hiding the shame of a life that is void of fruitfulness, but full of activity. Jesus says in John 15:1-8, “”I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” We are taught here that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. He doesn’t tell us that our function is to produce leaves, but to produce fruit. Leaves are a support and facilitator for the fruit, but they can never take the place of the fruit; they are like faith and works, they go together.
Jesus gave us many examples where He shows us that we have responsibility and accountability for His life in us. If we take and receive the life of Christ in us, then live our lives only for ourselves we are a fruitless tree or branch. We are to bear fruit so that others might be partakers of the life of Christ and be nourished through what He is imparted to us.
The fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23 are, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit operating in our lives will allow us to be fruitful in the gifts and abilities that God has given each of us for our ministry and calling.
One day the Lord will examine our tree or our branch. We have responsibility for what it is bearing. If we are truly abiding in the vine then we will be producing the fruit and not just the leaves. It is important that we judge ourselves that we be not judged. How fruitful is our tree?

Blessings,
#kent

Connection

April 4, 2012

Connection

1 John 2:24, 28
Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

The lifeline of relationships is in the connection.   We must stay connected to maintain fellowship and to keep the vitality and strength in our relationships.  That is true in the natural and the Spirit.
We know our marriages struggle and disharmony can come in when we are disconnected, distracted and loose that focus of our relationship.  There is an exchange of energy and life that goes on between us in a relationship.  That can occur on many different levels and we know the most vital one is our spiritual relationship with the Lord.  Many of us are struggling today because we have suffered a breakdown in our connection with the Lord.  1 John 1:7 speaks of this concerning our relationship as the body of Christ,  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” On the other hand we can say one thing and do another, 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”
An abiding relationship is one where intimate connection exists.  It is one where there is an exchange of life.  Jesus has called us into that kind of connection with Himself and tells us it is vital to our relationship and continued fellowship with Him.  In John 15 Jesus tells us how critically important it is that we maintain a vital connection and abiding in Him.  John 15:1-11 speaks to the heart of our connection with Christ, “”I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  The joy and completion of our relationship with Christ is in our connection and in our obedience to His Word.  When we are connected we experience His peace, His love and His fellowship with us through the Holy Spirit.   Are you connected today?  If not, you may be struggling in a lot of areas.  Our relationship with Christ is so critical to every area that affects our life.  When we loose and don’t maintain that abiding relationship and connection, we experience death and dismemberment from His body and life.  Maybe it is a good day to get reconnected and come back to that abiding relationship we must maintain in Christ.  “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalms 91:1).”

Blessings,
kent

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