Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Vinedresser

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. 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. You are already clean because of the Word, which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the Vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:1-8).

"Abide" is defined as to live or dwell, to comply with, obey, observe, follow, hold to, conform to, adhere to, accept, respect, defer to, and acknowledge. According to that definition, we understand what the scripture means when it tells us to abide in Christ who is the one true Vine.

We know that for plants or trees to grow and be healthy and vital, the dead leaves, overgrown branches, excess stems, or invading weeds must be cut away. The Word tells us that every branch that bears fruit, He prunes. 

"Prune" is defined as to cut back, cut off, clip, shear, top, and snip. 
Therefore, we can expect God to prune areas in us that hinder our spiritual growth and our ability to bear more fruit. Sometimes His pruning is painful, as we struggle with disappointments, illnesses, unanswered prayers, or anything that challenges us. During that pruning, we might become angry, discouraged, frustrated, and rebellious. However, if we submit to His pruning, we will begin to see a new beauty emerging from within. 

I can personally attest that in submitting to the Vinedresser, it has been difficult, and yes, there have been times when I became angry and discouraged. However, in the pruning process, I have learned what is good and what is unacceptable in my character. Through the Lord's encouragement and chastisement, a deeper relationship has been forged with Him, resulting in a resilience and determination to walk in faith and obedience to Him.  

Though we may have our own plans, it is the Lord's plans that will stand (Proverbs 19:21). Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." 

We live in dangerous and troubling times and for that reason, God has been impressing upon me the importance of His Word being firmly fixed and working in my heart and the hearts of His people. Our level of obedience and how much we abide in Him will determine how we weather the storms of life, the timing of answered prayers, where He uses our talents, and whether those giftings and talents will bear fruit for His kingdom. Without Him, we can do nothing, because without Him all efforts and accomplishments are in vain (John 15:5). 

Jesus said that when the source of nourishment is cut off, it is impossible for a branch to live or even produce fruit by itself. 
Jesus, who is the Word made flesh, should be our daily source of life. As sap gives life and nourishment to the tree and its branches, our sanctification through the blood of Jesus Christ gives life and nourishment to us. If we remain in Him, the one true Vine, then our lives will reflect His light and the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

Every good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bears bad fruit or no fruit at all. It is by ours fruits that we will be known to the world (Matthew 7:17-20 NKJV). Those who are committed and obedient to Christ are true branches, for all true branches bear much fruit. If a branch doesn't bear fruit, it is removed so that it doesn't hinder the growth of the tree.

Doubt, unbelief, rebellion, and negative emotions are bad fruits that hinder or prevent the production of good fruit. However, God's love for us is so great, that when He sees that happening, He quickly prunes those dry and dead areas, so that our lives have the opportunity to become engrafted back into the Vine to produce good fruit.

Pruning is not pleasant but it is necessary so that what is dead, useless and unprofitable can be removed and new growth can spring forth. God who is the Vinedresser, continues to prune us until we no longer conform to the errors of this world. Those who are seeking and looking for something better than what the world offers, will scrutinize the fruit that God's people are producing. If the fruit is dented, bruised, discolored and rotting, it will not attract those who are seeking. Jesus said His Father is glorified when we bear much [good] fruit because in doing so, we show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ (John 15:8).

We, the Church, were created to be representatives of His Kingdom. Now is the "season" for us to produce fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). Our responsibility is to love and serve God in such a way that our lives attract a hungry and dissatisfied people who are groping in a world where darkness is increasing.

We are then left with the question, "What am I doing for God and His kingdom? Am I producing good fruit? Am I abiding in Him?" God wants us to be that branch that abides in Him and whose fragrant fruit draws the world to His beauty. We should welcome and not resist the Vinedresser’s pruning, for it is His loving way of bringing beauty, conformity, direction, and purpose to our lives.

If you are walking through a difficult time and you don't understand the purpose in it, may I assure you that God not only loves you and cares about you, but He cares so much that He is using this opportunity to prune those things that have hindered your walk with Him. If you want to become fully committed and submitted to God, then I invite you to say the following prayer:

Father, I come before you this day with a heavy heart. You know what I am struggling with and at times, You seem far from me. If there are things in my life that are hindering my relationship with You, I give You permission to prune them. I want to be all that You created me to be. I ask that You free me from those things that prevent a full commitment to You. Teach and guide me, so that I may bear much fruit as Your purposes are fulfilled in my life. It is in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" 
Matthew 5:16