by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of June 8, 2014
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." -John 15:1
Early one morning, I suddenly felt a joyful prompting to go out into my yard and clean up my crepe myrtles. This had to be God…and I soon found out why.
As I surveyed the branches, it was clear to me that …
· Some had died and fallen away from the trunk.
· Some were broken off and entangled in other branches.
· Some were dead and still attached to the trunk.
As I looked closer…
· Some were half dead and still attached to the trunk.
So I picked up the dead branches that had fallen and started a pile...
"If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." -John 15:6
Then I reached up and pulled away the small, dry, brittle, lightweight branches that were either still attached to the trunk or entangled in other branches on their way down. Then I cut away the ones that were half dead—the ones that would suck the life from the live branches. All of the dead and half dead branches were easily identifiable because none bore any leaves (fruit) in late spring…
"He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit..." -John 15:2
The only fruitful branches I cut were those for shaping purposes—the ones that would benefit the overall practical purposes of the tree to produce more fruitful branches elsewhere.
...while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." -John 15:2
None of us can produce fruit if we do not abide in God. To abide means to remain, stay, wait and endure with God. Impatience is not an option.
The fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." And God’s fruit of The Spirit must be worked in us before it can be produced through us. It is a process over time that only God can do.
Galatians 5:24-25 tells us, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by The Spirit." Walking by The Holy Spirit is a choice of inward yieldingness that produces much good fruit outwardly.
Jesus made it simple…
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” -Matthew 7:16
If we abide in The Lord, we will see His outward fruit produced through us. And we will see both the fruitless and the fruitful things get cut away as we progress with Him in His destiny for us. Whatever God is not in will die. Life will dry up and the branch will fall away. This is a type of pruning as well. When God’s purpose is fulfilled in an assignment, He reassigns us and others. And not everyone can go with you to your next assignment.
Letting go is a part of the pruning process…
One time, an issue arose with a volunteer at one of our events, in which case I took it to The Lord. He wasted no time in speaking to me: “She is your former, not your future.” If I had held onto that branch, I would not have yielded to God’s will. Sometimes, we have to let go of people and things that are dead to God’s purpose for us but are still alive in Him to be useful elsewhere.
As I piled up the dead and half dead branches on the ground under my crepe myrtles, The Lord opened my eyes to see that the dead branches were not useless but were repurposed: “thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:6). They were used for heat. Nothing is wasted in God’s Kingdom. And God can use anything for common or uncommon purposes.
How is God pruning you inwardly and outwardly to produce more fruit? Pruning can be painful, but it is always divinely purposed. May you yield to God’s will over your own to be a vessel that produce much fruit for His Kingdom. To God be the glory.
Remember as you go…
Isaiah 58:11 (NLT): "The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."
This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, "Enduring Grace." All rights reserved. Copyright 2014.