Spring is Coming!

  1. Message: John 15 has always been one of my favorite passages because I love the visual of the vine and the branches. As beautiful as that is there is a violent side to the beauty because of the pruning. I have grape vines and every year if I prune them down before spring they regrow even thicker and healthier branches. This is true of all kinds of trees and bushes but since we’re reading about vines I thought of my grape vines. We all want to flourish but nobody enjoys being pruned. In the past I had always read this passage with the idea that only the non-producing branches get hacked, but this passage clearly says that even the branches that are producing fruit get pruned so that they can produce even more fruit. Pruning can feel a lot like punishment but when you read about God pruning both the productive and the non-productive branches you realize he isn’t punishing the non-productive ones. He is pruning them all so they will be healthier. He is an equal-opportunity pruner! It doesn’t feel very loving during the pruning and it seems like this is done at a harsh time of the season. Plants are pruned after a winter when the leaves have fallen off and the plant looks dead. If you think about it, this is a time when the plant doesn’t have the warm sun and things have slowed down so the root of the plant struggles to send nourishment to the ends of the branches. If you have ever pruned or trimmed a tree you can tell the difference between the branches that are dry and brittle breaking off easily, and those that are still very much alive. Even though they look bare and unproductive you can still feel that those branches are pliable and still very much connected to the root. When you chop them down close to the root it doesn’t have to work so hard to send nourishment to the ends of the branches and it’s able to send more nourishment close to the root to make healthier branches. Before long, spring comes and the whole plant is healthier and able to flourish. The pruning is just one small part of the gardener’s job. The rest of the seasons are all about watering and nurturing the garden. God is described as the gardener in this illustration, and if you think about what a gardener does you don’t picture an angry madman hacking away at all of the plants. A gardener is actually caring for the landscaping and is regarded as a nurturer.
  2. Command: “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” (verse 4)
  3. Promise:  Those who remain in Him will produce much fruit.
  4. Warning: Apart from God we can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Him is thrown away like a useless branch. (Just like one of those dried out brittle sticks that break off)
  5. Application:  In this illustration we are the branches and he is the gardener. We are not individual vines, we are actually all branches off of one vine as the body of Christ. God is not punishing specific branches, he is pruning the entire thing so it will be healthy and produce fruit. When we are pruned down it removes some of the unnecessary things that prevent nourishment from getting to the areas near the root (or the heart). When the heart of the body of Christ is receiving nourishment, we as branches thrive and flourish! Reading this was an encouragement that I am not alone in the pruning season. We are all being pruned together so that we can be healthier, fuller and produce healthy fruit.

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