Thursday, 9 April 2009

Brokenness: Study three . The Pruning of the Vine branches

“1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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” John 15:1-2 (NIV)

More often than not, God’s children go through some painful experiences not because of any evil they have done but because of their faithfulness and the need to increase in fruitfulness. Hence, God sets out to trim their growing ambitions, passions, desires, lusts and emotions so that they will bear more fruits and stand the test of time. He loves His redeemed ones and wants them to radiate more of his glory and power and look more like His Son.

Participants in this pruning exercise

God: God the Father is the Husbandman, Vinedresser or the Gardener. The garden belongs to Him. He planted the garden with a purpose and tends it. Every branch that bears no fruit, He cuts away and they die. They cannot be in the garden and remain unfruitful. The outcome or type of fruit of every branch depends on what He wants and not what the branch wants.

Jesus: He is the Vine which gives birth to the branches. No one can actually be in God’s garden in the first place except he is in Jesus. He is the Vine. Without the Vine, the branch is useless; hence without Him we can do nothing. Abiding in the Vine is the only guarantee the branch has in order to be alive and fruitful.

The Disciples: We are the branches of the Vine and our living depends on Jesus. There are two kinds of branches – the ones that bear fruits and the ones that do not bear fruit. The latter is cut off by the Gardener from the Vine while the former is subjected to purging or pruning.

Now, why is that? The branch is already fruitful, why the cutting and shaping? It may surprise you to know that these are some of the questions we ask as God does His work, especially, when He does it in such a way that we do not like or understand, though it pleases him. During pruning, the unnecessary parts are removed. The growth and shape are controlled so that the purpose of the gardener is achieved. Each time I pass a flower garden that has just been pruned, I see some of the flowers bringing out fluids, some of their parts will die and some parts of the remaining leaves are cut off also. It reminds me of how some of us cry and shed tears when God cuts off some familiar things from us which might be so dear to us. Like the flower at the period of the pruning, which may lose its beauty, we see gloom everywhere around us. But come to that same garden some days later, you will see a wonderful and beautiful shape with beautiful flowers. That is exactly what the gardener wanted.

God prunes His children so that they can be more useful to Him. It is the viable branch that abides in the Vine that receives this pruning and not the one that has refused to abide. God often uses His “sharp knives” on His faithful, fruitful children and not on the unproductive ones.

“2 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…. 5 "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.” John 15:2-5 (NIV)

Now always remember that the reason for God’s pruning is not to destroy the branch. It is because the Gardener wants to improve our fruitfulness. Have you heard some people ask, “Why me? I pay my tithes, I pray and I’m faithful. Then why are these happening to me?” God may be working out something bigger than your mind can imagine. It is possible that even if God begins to explain to, you can never understand what He will say. Always know that God has no bad intentions towards you.

“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.” Jer 29:11 (NIV)

He loves you and has shown it absolutely on the cross when His Son died for you. The Gardener has no bad intentions and his wish matters most towards the garden.

Finally, The Vine carries and supports the branches. That means that it bears the pains and the agonies with the branches in whatever pruning process the Husbandman uses. You are not alone. The Lord Jesus has promised that He will never leave us alone. He knows every thing happening where we are and has assured us that he will be with us till the end of the age. The hairs of your head are numbered and none falls on the ground without His notice.

“29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matt 10:29-31 (KJV)

Our lives have a happy end and everything works together for our good. That is why one of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. We cannot be separated from Him like the branch cannot be separated from the Vine.

God does not leave us to grow on our own. From time to time, He comes to trim off our excesses so that we remain in shape. The beauty we admire in people takes pains and patience to keep e.g.: shaving, going to the saloon etc. if we are to remain useful and relevant, God must needs now and again come to our lives to touch us - cut away any abnormal growth and put us back to shape again. Is God doing something already in your life? How are you responding to Him?

“My God my Father while I stray,
Far from my home on life’s rough way,
O teach me from my heart to say,
“Thy will be done””
(AM 357)

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