We were looking forward to those sweet, juicy grapes from our own grapevine this year. It would be our second harvest from the old vine that came with the home we bought last summer. Last fall, we made delicious juice and added club soda for a little zip to it. I also made several jars of grape jelly. But the thing we enjoyed most about these grapes is simply plucking them off the vine and munching on them. We couldn’t wait! Sadly, our excitement and eagerness were eventually replaced with disappointment and dismay. The vine did not produce much fruit this year. Actually, there were only about 5 bunches of grapes hanging from the pergola. Yes, we were truly disappointed, however, from this experience, the picture of a vine and branches found in John 15 brought on a whole new meaning and a deeper understanding of what Jesus meant. Here are 4 Of The Greatest Lessons From The Grape Vine.
I did a little research about grape vines and I was fascinated to learn that grape branches are pruned heavily after harvest. Very little of the flora was left after pruning – the main vines are left untouched, but the majority of the branches from that season are cut off. I thought about the pruning we did last fall…if one could even call it pruning…and I realized that we were incredibly reserved with our cutting. It wasn’t nearly enough! And as a result, we had a dreadfully insufficient amount of fruit that was produced.
We pruned our grapevine again just yesterday – and I mean really pruned! The branches were not bearing fruit anyway, so we might as well cut them down. As I gazed at the huge pile of branches and leaves on the ground, I was reminded of the passage in John 15 about Jesus being the vine and that we are the branches – either fruit-bearing or not.
Eliminating the Fruitless
Scripture says that God is the vinedresser. In my research, I discovered that the vinedresser prunes, trains and cultivates vines. Only a vinedresser with the required great skill and expertise would be able to execute this job. From my own experience with my grape vine, I knew this was the truth! I completely lacked skill and expertise! I had no idea what I was doing.
One job of the vinedresser is to get rid of any branches that are not bearing fruit. As I started writing this post, I had no idea that I’d experience this truth so closely. With much shock and sadness, I discovered that someone whom I admired and respected had fallen morally. And when I say fallen, I mean an incredible breach of trust.
You see, when those who had been abiding in Christ no longer live a fruitful life and they refuse to confess, repent and turn away from their sin, God will, in His sovereignty, remove that person from the position He placed them in.
And this is precisely what happened. Someone I know was dwelling in their sinful choices and the truth was revealed. This person lost the relationships with family, including their spouse, friends and colleagues. Not only those lost relationships, but a high position in church was lost as well as this person’s career.
This was God eliminating the fruitless branch from the other fruit-bearing branches. As painful as it is to witness, it is necessary for the health of the fruitful branches.
A good pruning hurts. But the bounty that is harvested after the pruning is worth the temporary discomfort.
I reflected on all of the difficult times in my life. Those times when I felt like God wasn’t being fair. The times when I felt alone and abandoned by Him. How about those times I obeyed Him but the situation did not turn out quite like I wanted it to? And I got hurt again.
Or those times when I had something good – or at least thought I did – only for it to be taken away from me. Or when I walked through a 3-year dry spiritual season. Just like when that 12-year friendship ended. And when those family relationships deteriorated. I am sure you can relate with your own stories. Things were just not what they seemed.
However, after these things were eliminated from my life, I realized that they really were not bearing fruit, or those relationships hindered an abundance of fruit in my life. BUT…this truth was not realized until AFTER the pruning!
Oh, how many times have I seen this in my life! Often I have asked Him to remove things in my life that were not bearing fruit. While it still hurts, I soon see new growth…and an abundance of fruit like never was before. And this harvest brings much glory to God.
Abiding In Christ
Abiding in Christ is essential to bearing good fruit in our lives. Abiding in Him means knowing His voice, running to Him for our every need. It means wearing our armor every single day.
The bearing of fruit in our lives is completely dependent upon our continuing faith in our Savior. It is impossible for us to be fruitful without Jesus; without His direction and guidance. Sue, we can commit to all works in ministry. We can help others on a daily basis. And we can give from our bank account until it is empty. BUT, if we are not abiding in Him, none of it will be fruitful. None of it will please God.
What kind of fruit are you bearing? Good fruit? The fruit of the Spirit? Are your relationships and lifestyle helping you cultivate the fruit of the Spirit?
How about the fruit of Holiness? Is this abundant in your life? (Rom 6:22)
The fruit of righteousness ought to be seen growing in our life. (Phl 1:11)
Are we offering God the fruit of our lips by thanking Him daily? (Heb 13:15)
Let’s consider the work of our hands…is it fruitful? Are our good works fruitful because we are abiding in our Lord? (Col 1:10)
Is generosity bringing fruit into your life? Are you experiencing the joy of being generous? (Phl 4:17)
When did you last bring the fruit of your life to God? Are you glorifying and honoring Him with the fruit you are bearing in your life? Giving Him all the glory? (Rom 7:4)
We have the promise of so much wonderful fruit in our lives if only we abide in Him. And not only do we have the promise of such sweet, delectable fruit in our lives, but the promise that Jesus will ask the Father for anything on our behalf IF we abide in Him and His words abide in us. Because when we are abiding in Him and His word lives within us, it is ultimately His will that we will begin asking for.
How are you abiding in Him today? In what areas are you struggling?
Has He pruned you recently? Are you seeing the fruit from that pruning? Or are you pining after the very thing He has pruned?
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