Google+ 11/07/12 We are the Branches!

John 15:1-3

 

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit,

And he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 

You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 

 

I must confess that God has given me many talents for which I am extremely grateful, but being a Gardener is not one of them!  Fortunately, God has called me to be a spiritual gardener in His Kingdom which is much better for me.  Like everything else in my life, God has surrounded me with fabulous, earthly gardeners and I have been able to learn by observing.  Knowing the precise time to prune or harvest is the most important decision the Master Gardener will make.  If you prune or cut too soon, you might well destroy a bountiful harvest of grapes that just needed the right amount of time to be the perfect texture and flavor.  If you prune or cut to late, the branches that are not bearing fruit will take valuable resources away from the productive branches and cause them to be far less fruitful than they could have been.  Notice in our Scripture today, God the Father does both.  First He removes EVERY branch the does not produce fruit.  This is extremely important.  Churches must learn from this example.  Once new Christians have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, we should teach them God's ways.  I am constantly amazed that we believe that people who have been in constant sin without God will figure His Kingdom out on their own.  If that was true, Matthew 28:20 would not insist that we "teach" them God's ways and make them disciples.  Many churches are good at "soul-winning" but spend no time disciplining people and teaching God's ways.  This is the single biggest reason people are not productive Christians.  They end up bearing no fruit and become very discouraged.  The danger of this is that God will cut off those branches.  This is why many new Christians leave their local New Testament Church as soon as the newness and initial enthusiasm wears off.  We must teach New Christians to run to the loving arms of God as they face the trials of being Godly.  This will lead them to being fruitful.  Now, what does God have to say about those seasoned Christians?  Our Scripture today tells us.  The Master Gardener will prune those branches that are fruitful so they will produce more fruit.  This is what I refer to as remembering your first love.  You may call it a constant refocusing.  Daily, we must evaluate what we are doing in Christ and let God "prune" us to be even more fruitful.  Do you know people who seemed to have been extremely focused on how fruitful they were for God, only to become less fruitful over time?  I do and that's why we all need "pruned".  Finally, how does that pruning occur and how to we become purified?  The Scripture always has the answer.  We are purified by the message.  Remember that Jesus Himself spoke these words to His disciples, probably as they traveled from the Upper Room (John 14:31) through the streets of Jerusalem toward Gethsemane (John 18:1).  What is Jesus saying to you today?  Do you need to accept Jesus as your personal Savior and grow in Him and be fruitful?  Are you a branch that has stopped producing fruit and in danger of being cut off for the good of God's Kingdom?  Are you being fruitful and need to be "pruned" so that you can be even more fruitful for God and His Kingdom?  Whichever one you are (and we all fit into one of these three categories), Jesus has the answer for you.  Spend some time with Him today and let Him lead you.  After all, He is the Vine, we are the branches, and He must always be greater!