Friday, January 30, 2009

Abiding in the Vine, Writing to Bear Fruit John 15:2

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. John 1:25

These verses are ones that I've meditated on over the past few years. I love the depth of them, and it really hasn't mattered how many times I've read them. They truly mean something a little more or different to me every single time.

It's interesting because there are two types of pruning or purging here. I grew up in a rural area and I understand that these scriptures illustrate two types of pruning or purging. The first type of pruning is when the branch is cut off and taken away from the vine because of lack of bearing fruit. We remember that Jesus cursed the fig tree because it was not bearing fruit. We will experience separation from Christ when we are not bearing fruit. One writer explains that when we are not bearing fruit we will be "cut off from the divine flow of life."

So, this naturally leads to the question, what does bearing fruit mean? It means that we are drawing others to Christ, but it also has further implications in scripture. Fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Each time I go over this list in the Word, I pause and reflect. As much as I might strive to obtain and demonstrate these characteristics, I know that it is only through the Holy Spirit that I can produce these traits, the awesome character traits of Jesus Christ.

The by-products of being under Christ's control are no mystery, yet at times, it can seem easier to fufill our religious duties (attending church, paying tithes, giving to the poor, etc.) than to . We can be connected to the vine and bearing spiritual fruit detach ourselves and perform duties that are not life-giving. However, when we love Him, know Him, seek to please Him, and daily surrender ourselves to Him, the result has to be bearing fruit for Him. We will never fall short in bearing fruit for Him when we are grounded in Him, His love and His truth in the Word.

I want to go further, but the baby is crying. I'll continue on these verses next time. . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Abiding in the Vine, Writing to Bear Fruit

I'm a little shaky about the whole blog thing, but here goes. . .

The scripture basis for my Christian fiction novel, The Taste of Good Fruit (Walk Worthy Press/Harrison House), is from John 15, so I think there's no better way to start my blog than from there.

John 15:1 says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman."

A grapevine is a plant that bears many grapes from just one vine. The vine is rooted into the soil and needs nourishment to bring forth grapes. According to this verse, Jesus is the vine, and God is the gardener.

I've always wondered why Jesus says that He is the "true vine." Does this mean that there are other vines we can be connected to? I think so. We can get entangled in things that do not give us life and can even bring forth a slow and debilitating spiritual death.

Many times we don't have a difficult time identifying the "big" things that can destroy us spiritually and even physically. We know that things like stealing, lying, killing, cheating, doing drugs, etc., are wrong, but what about the more subtle evils we become connected to?

I think even those of us who are blessed to have been brought up in the church can be easily deceived because even religion, especially religion, can keep us from being connected to the true vine. It doesn't matter how many church services we attend, and it doesn't matter what position of power we hold in the church or outside of it. We must be real, and we must be pure in heart. He must come first. Remember that everyone that cries "Lord, Lord" will NOT enter into the kingdom of heaven.

It doesn't even matter how much money you have or how many friends love you. We all have to check ourselves.

I have found that an area of weakness for me has been in religion. I love church, and I love to work in the church. Many times I get so wrapped up in the activities in the church that I have to check my motives. I don't get brownie points for doing what I am supposed to do for the Lord--it's my reasonable service. I shouldn't do anything in the church for any other reason than to glorify God and serve Him. The Pharisees and Sadduccees were great at religion, but they weren't abiding in the true vine.

So, are you abiding in the vine? Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? When we are fruitful branches, we are spiritually productive. If we wonder if we really are connected to the true vine, there is a system of checks and balances in the Word of God; the evidence of our connection to the true vine is the fruit we bear.