As I've been reading and studying God's Word lately (I've been reading in John 15), I've been so encouraged at how God wants to 'prune me'. It's interesting to think about how Jesus used grapes to illustrate as a metaphor for supernatural abundance in life. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, amongst a vineyard, about to be betrayed and hours before he would be crucified, and he's still giving his disciples encouragement and sharing how God will 'prune' them to use for His glory. Oh, the majesty of Christ. (Thank you Lord for your perfectness and love!)
I wanted to share with you all a book that I've been reading lately (above). It's a devotional and it's been leading me through reading John 15. I've been really touched by some of the things Mr. Wilkinson has had to say and have been blessed by looking at my own life through these verses in the Bible. It's amazing how every time I read through this passage, I pick out new things each time. Anyway, I just wanted to share a little from the book and what's on Kelli's heart and mind today. :)
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. I am the vine, you are the branches. " John 15: 1,5
Jesus promises us that the only way to producing good fruit, is to have a relationship with him.
We have to break it down here...
The vine is Jesus.
The branches are His followers.
The vineyard keeper is God the Father.
The fruit is the good works of Jesus' disciples.
1. shows you God's purpose for you.
2. shows that you have been created and are reularly being tended to succeed in this purpose.
3. shows yo uhow God will work in your life to achieve His purpose.
4. show sthat we are created for a living relationship with God.
5. is proof that God wants you to be clear, not confused about His ways in your life.
Let's jump over and talk about The Fruits of the Spirit for a minute.
1 Peter 2:11-12 says...
"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."
Peter is telling us here that Christians are to live in such a way (set apart) that even hostile unbelievers might be persuaded to glorify God when they see our good works. So, you see, fruit is supposed to be our way of showing others how much we love Jesus! Neat, huh? I think so. Our fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) should be...
1.) leading other to Christ (John 4:35-38),
2.) encouraging and teaching other believers (Romans 1:13),
3.) Giving to others and helping others (Philippians 4:16-17),
4.) and it should be GENUINE worship (Hebrews 13:15)
Fruit is any good work that brings glory to God! (Titus 3:14)
"We can struggle unknowingly for our entire lives against what God wants, all the while assuming we are living according to His will."
"A grapevine's natural tendency, you see, is not abundance. In fact, one expert describes the plant's natural growing tendency as 'undisciplined, scattered, and dispersed'. Left to itself, a grape plant rambles through teh udnerbrush. It straggles over rocks and climbs up any handy tree trunk. In the process, it manages to produce only small, often bitter fruit. But, in cultivation, the picture changes completely. One grape plant can easily yield sixty large, sweet clusters of grapes each season. One life can, by God's grace, be a trophy for His glory."
Let's take the story of John Bunyan who in seventeenth-centuary England, spent 12 years of his life in jail for preaching God's Word (He used this time in jail to write Pilgrim's Progress...by the way!). Bunyan was offered freedom on the account that he stop preching the gospel. He refused and replied with, "If I were out of prison today, I would preach the gospel again tomorrow with the help of God."
Bunyan is an amazing example of someone who was being 'pruned' and producing MUCH fruit for God. His efforts were producing fruits for eternity, not temporarily here on earth. His only goal was God's goal for him. This is how we need to be living our lives everyday. It's not always easy though! Sometimes, we break. Know what though? When a branch breaks, it doesn't technically die. It's just waiting to be transformed and it will grow a new way. That is how our walk with Jesus needs to be!
We will fall, make mistakes, sin, lack faith, be doubtful and disobey God (forgive us, Father). God also has His own way of shaping and molding our lives through hardships that we must persevere through. The BEST part about having a relationship with the Lord is knowing that He does forgive us (we do have to ask Him) and through these mistakes, we learn and grow. Satan sure does a great job of deceiving us though. He plants lies into our heads and makes us dwell on the fact that we've messed up. He makes us believe that we can't start over, new and afresh through Christ.
Looking closely at John 15, we can see four different levels of bearing fruit...
1. No fruit ("Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit")
2. Fruit ("every branch that bears fruit")
3. More fruit ("that it may bear more fruit")
4. Much fruit ("bears much fruit")
Hmmm...each person think about where you are. I know that I definately have some work to do! That's what life is all about!.Not only are we here to glorify God in all that we do, but to reach this goal in glorifying Him, He has to prune us so that we can do this at the highest level possible. Does this make sense?
Here are some great questions that I took away from this book:
- "Up to now, what have I imagined Jesus wants from my life? How might my thinking change, based on the truths Jesus revealed that night in the vineyard?
- "How much do I truly desire fruitfulness? What can I point to in my life right now that is a sure sign of fruit that brings God glory?"
-"What black-cloud beliefs about myself do I need to put aside without delay so I can receive the life-giving light of God?"
-"How do I feel about my current level of fruit-bearing? What do I see in my life that leads me to conclude I'm producing at this level?"
I'll wrap up with this verse today:
"It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
A song that I loved singing when I played in the band for short while in High School..."Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Hallelujah!"
God is waiting to bless us. He wants to bless us. BUT, with blessing comes some pruning. Be aware (identify) as God is pruning you. Ask Him to prune you. Ask Him for strength as He prunes you. He's got some great things for you. I hope that today's post has blessed you like it has blessed me. :)