Our room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.
As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.
After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.
The pruning made such a difference!
Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8, NIV)
Whom we spend time with really matters. (Ahem… Jesus!)
And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.
Stay with me here!
Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.
I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up.
Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away.
In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.
God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control.
If you want to live to bring glory to God the Father, as Jesus said (v8), then this fruit must be seen in your life.
Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.
But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…
Lucky for us, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t.Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.
The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree. He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.
Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on the tree of you?
Dear Lord, thank You for Your perfect love that longs for me to be fruitful and beautiful in You. Please remove any lifeless branches in my life. As the psalmist prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV). In Jesus’ name, amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE: How fruitful is your life? Read John 15:1-17 and spend some time reflecting on God’s plan for you to become more fruitful.
QUESTION: What is one thing that you can do today to become more fruitful? Leave a comment by CLICKING HERE.
Thanks for doing life with me!
Are you ready to begin a new faith adventure? Get a copy of Trusting God, by Girlfriends in God co-founders: Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland. This is the perfect book for individual study or for gathering a group of friends in what we call GiG Groups. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, free on-line video intros, and an index of trust-building Scriptures…this book is a resource you’ll refer to time-and-time again.