Abiding in the Vine

Most people love fruit. Soon it will be spring, and my grapevines will sprout leaves that will eventually produce wonderful fruit for our household and others. In the Bible, it talks about the fruit that is lasting not only in this life but fruit that will follow us into eternal life. In John 15:1-11 Jesus gave us the analogy of Himself being the Vine, and those in Him the branches. These verses describe the process of growing healthy fruit and hold the key to a life in Christ that is healthy. This key opens secrets to bringing forth much fruit for the Kingdom of God. Abiding in the Vine is the Way that brings forth the Truth unto eternal Life. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” Jesus is the vine that grows out of the ground, from Him flows all nourishment, abilities, and strength for our life. Abiding in the Vine is living, breathing, and taking nourishment from Jesus, the Word of God made manifest, as the source of our very being. Vines have branches. The purpose of a branch is to bring forth fruit. We are designed as spiritual branches to bring forth much spiritual fruit. Joh 15:5. Spiritual fruit is defined in Scripture as “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. Ga 5:22-23. God’s fruit coming forth in our lives will bring glory to God, and place eternal deposits in Heaven. Mal. 3:16-18. The fruit of our life found in the Vine, Jesus Christ. The fruit we bear will touch other lives so that they too will want to be joined to the Vine and grow into branches. Spiritual branches are a wellspring of God’s life and love to others. The quality of the fruit is dependent upon the care given or allowed to be given to the plant. Our heavenly Father is the Vinedresser or the Husbandman. He takes care of the branches. Father God is determined to keep our branches healthy. He inspects the branches to make sure they are joined into the Vine and stay that way. If a branch is broken or diseased, He is the One who mends the break or applies the healing ointment of Jesus in trying to save the branch. A vine is known by its fruit. Christians are also known for their fruit. Lu 6:43,44. If a Christian is claiming to know Jesus Christ, the fruit that comes forth out of their life should be luscious and desirable to be attained by those around them. Branches that do not bear fruit are broken or sick. In John 15:2 Jesus said, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit.” In a vineyard, you cannot have worthless branches lying around. All branches are cared for and pruned to bring forth fruit. In the Christian language, unfruitful branches are those who call themselves Christians, but God’s Word is not alive in their life and Spirit. These are the ones who bring forth no fruit to the glory of God. This is also speaking about those who have fallen into sin, and made shipwreck of their faith, and lose their good conscience by ungodly deeds or thoughts. This does not mean we will not make mistakes nor ever sin, but it means that we should continually draw from the Vine-Jesus to grow in such a way as to become a fruit-bearing branch. The trunk of the grapevine is a large gnarl from which the branches grow in either direction along the trellis, as they are trained. As the fruit develops in our life we are trained and inspired into good works by the Holy Spirit. God’s works include acts of kindness, gentleness, love, peaceful reconciliation, miracles (such as Moses did, Num. 16:28, and the works of faith such as Abraham had, among other examples in Scripture. In the process of tending the branches, Father God watches the vineyard. New, wild branches on a vine tend to grow along the ground, but they will not bear fruit if they continue to grow there. Their leaves will get coated in dust, and when the rain comes, they will mildew. Then the branch becomes sick, and in the end, is useless and is removed from the vine. Our lives must reach up to Jesus after we are born again. As we stay connected to the Vine through reading the Bible we grow. We cannot continue to grow into healthy branches if we stay earth- bound in our ways and thoughts. We must let Father God prune us and reposition us on the trellis of life. Father God walks through the vineyard looking for the branches that are growing on the ground. I do this with my grapevines. Father has a cleaning bucket in hand. Bearing in mind that we are washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. When He finds branches that are covered with dust and dirt, He lifts them up, washes them, and prunes off the sick parts. As we look up to Jesus, Father God will remove thoughts and ways that hinder becoming fruitful branches that are extensions of His kingdom. Pruning is sometimes a painful process that we do not enjoy. Many would rather continue to grow along the ground to avoid Father’s pruning shears. Because God loves us, He does not leave us in a sick state. He calls us up from the dirt into the light and begins to prune us so that we become a healthy branch. If you get angry with God, the process will take longer. You will have to go back through the discipline step, and then again proceed into the pruning process. I would highly recommend, from experience, that you avoid the discipline step and allow Father God to prune you. As you are going through the pruning process keep in mind that this will bring forth fruit in your life. And it is okay to say “Ouch!” One friend in China who spent many years in prison for his faith said, “All dross is removed when you are in solitary confinement, but Jesus comes forth in His fullness.” Sometimes the pruning process feels like solitary confinement, but as we yield to His pruning our lives grow and blossoms appear. Father’s purpose in pruning us is that we might bring forth abundant, luscious fruit for the Kingdom of God. Even with that thought in mind, the pruning process can leave you feeling bare as you nurse wounds from the pruning shears. An example is what I did to my beautiful rose bush one year. I decided to prune it because it was growing long branches and was no longer bearing roses. I took out my pruning shears and cut it back to a bare nub. As I was cutting away it seemed to say to me, “Ouch!” It even bled for a while, partly because of my lack of wisdom in doing the pruning. Father God has all wisdom as to the proper time and ways to prune us. I doctored the nubs of my rose bush with a sealer, watered it, prayed, and waited. In about three months that rose bush blossomed out with beautiful leaves, and it produced more roses than it ever had before. The lesson I believe is to yield to Father God’s pruning and trust His great wisdom and timing to bring forth fruit in our lives. Yes, the process is painful, but as we abide in the Vine (Jesus) His love flows upon our wounds and they will heal, and fruit will come forth. Joh 15:3. After the pruning process, the Vinedresser carefully tends the branches and then ties them to the trellis for training. We cannot do this on our own, but the Father is the One who sets us upon the training trellis. We must remain united to Him in a living faith that is motivated by His undying love. We began to learn to live a life of dependence on Him, and obedience to His words. As we yield to the hand of the Vinedresser and are joined firmly to the Vine, we will continually receive from Him the power to do well. Remember a branch, no matter how good it is, cannot bear fruit from itself. Joh 15:4. If branches are separated from the parent stock, they can produce no fruit. They would immediately wither and die. If we are separated from Jesus, we can do nothing, and soon will become sick and worthless. Jesus lives, and He is our source of life. Joh 1:4. As we abide in the Divine nature of Jesus Christ, we will be wise in His wisdom, powerful in His might, and become sanctified through His holiness Those who do not abide in the Vine (Jesus) the Bible says are cut off from Him. Joh 15:6. They become withered, indifferent, cold, and dead to every holy and spiritual word, and work. In our first church, a young couple came to the Lord. They had a dramatic conversion when they came out of the Hell’s Angels gang. Both were involved with drugs, but the husband was hooked on heroin. Both were miraculously delivered. They walked with God for many years as they grew in the Lord. When we moved to our second church they followed and served with us in leadership. When we moved to our third church they again followed. By then over twenty years had passed. Faithfully they continued to walk until one day the wife decided she did not need to read her Bible anymore. She stopped abiding in the Vine. Then she dropped out of fellowship. I pleaded with her to turn, sharing God’s love and concern for her soul, but she had left the trellis and was in the dirt. She never came back to God. Sadly, she became a branch that was cut off and died in that state. To watch a person, you love falling away is a hard thing to experience. When you see a brother or sister in this process pray for them, intercede for their souls, and love them with God’s love. Never give up on them. There is always the hope they will turn and be restored. I remember David Wilkerson saying how he prayed for many years for his backslidden brother. Many years later one night his brother walked down the aisle while David was conducting a crusade. His brother repented and his life was restored. It is the honor of the Husbandman (Father God) to have holy children who are strong branches, heavily laden with fruit. This is what He desires for our lives. Let us yield to His pruning, repositioning, and training so that we might bring forth much fruit for the Kingdom of God for such a time as this.