Thursday, March 15, 2012

Being Pruned Is Never Easy

"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." John 15:8

There's been some pruning going on in our family (not to mention extended family and friends). I've been reading up in John 15 lately, evaluating our pruning experiences and I'm hoping that if you are personally being pruned right now, this may be of comfort to you. A blessing even.

Look at the word "MUCH". Results do matter to our Heavenly Father and as each branch bears a different amount of fruit, all that fruit honors God somehow. God's greatest joy comes from the ones who bear "MUCH" fruit though.

As we look at Jesus' teaching in John 15, we see four different levels of bearing fruit:

1. Level 1: No fruit. ("Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit..." vs. 2)

2. Level 2: Fruit. ("...every branch that bears fruit..." vs. 2)

3. Level 3: More fruit. ("...that it may bear more fruit..." vs. 2)

4. Level 4: Much fruit. (...bears much fruit..." vs.5,8)

I've been asking myself lately at what level of fruit-bearing I'm at. What level of fruit-bearing is our family at? If the Master Vinedresser harvested my branch this year for His glory, how much honor would He receive? A lot? Some? A little? None?

God is glorified when an onlooker, particularly an unbeliever, observes you sacrificially doing something good for a recipient and is compelled to say something like, "Thank God for what that person did! Who is the wonderful God behind this?"

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

Some things we can ask ourselves in analyzing where we are fruit-wise are:

1. Describe circumstances in our life that lead us to believe we are bearing fruit, or not.

2. What are several ways we can see ourselves bearing new fruit in the future? Based on our gifts and talents, what kinds of ministry do we long for or sense that God might lead us to?

...and finally,

3. How motivated are we to move to the next level of fruitfulness, and what do we believe it will take to get there? Are we willing?

There are so many out there who just follow the crowd and no doubt being a follower is not necessarily a bad thing as that's what Jesus called His disciples to be FIRST. His followers. But then, as we have accumulated true knowledge ("The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10), we are called to teach and lead others to the Lord. We must break away and not become "of this world" (John 15:19), but leaders, helping guide others towards eternal salvation.

So, friends, as you're being pruned, just remember this...

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus loves you so very much and knows every intricate detail of your life. He will lead you in ways you never thought of. Keep an open mind. Talk to the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to work and move in your life and the life of your family. Get specific with Him. Sometimes, not always, God will deliver back specific results. His results may be something you never dreamed. He may call you into uncomfortable situations, but obedience is key. I always joke around with my kids saying that one day, we'll create a Jonah and the Whale timeout area in our home. ;) Jonah didn't obey until he had some serious time in an area of seclusion. Then, he got the message and decided to obey God. A common saying around here is, "Lord, help me to obey with a good attitude, right away, all the way, everyday." That's my prayer for myself that I would obey God with a good attitude, right away, all the way, everyday.

Proverbs 3:12..."For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights."

...and of coarse I had to include a video on grape vine pruning!

Stay the coarse those who are being pruned! Hugs from you to me. :)
(Credit for some ideas in this post go to Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson, a wonderful devotional book that I keep on my bedside table and read often.)

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