Songs for Reflection
Remain in Me
The Vine by Whiteheart
Abide With Me by Matt Redman
In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend
God of love,
plant us in the soil of your grace.
Nurture us with the strength of Christ,
the vine of everlasting life.
Enlighten us with the wisdom of your Spirit,
which flows through us today and all days.
Abide in us,
that we may abide in you
and live in your love.
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
Scripture Reading – John 15:1-8 (NLT)
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Prayer of Confession and Forgiveness by Bruce Prewer
We thank you, gracious God, for Jesus Christ the true vine, with his roots eternally grounded in you. We rejoice that by grace we have been grafted into him, to be branches on a vine which bears the loveliest of all the fruits of earth. Yet we confess that all is not well with the way we live.
Please forgive us for the occasions when we have been the ones to introduce disease into the vine,preferring its contamination to the vigour of health.
Forgive us for neglecting to draw deeply on the sap of Life, for our tendency to wander instead of growing on the framework your provide, for being content, and sometimes even proud of, a few sparse or undersized fruits, for the apathy which lets us go through some seasons without bearing any fruit.
Have mercy on us. Please do not lose patience or sever us completely from the true vine. Rather heal our diseases, discipline and train our wandering tendrils, prune our unfruitful branches and cut away our diseased ones. May we remain in Christ and he in us, through all the changing seasons of life. Let us delight in bearing the fruits of love which are our true purpose and joy. For your Name’s sake.
Jesus said: “If you reside in me, and my words reside in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.” Friends, we have asked for forgiveness and correction. It has been truly done for us. It is being done for us. And it will be done for us.
Thanks be to God!
The Purpose of Pruning
(with credit to Ann Marie from BusyBlessedWomen blog)
Possibly the most common verse associated with pruning in the Bible is in John 15: 1-8. Jesus is speaking with his disciples in the Upper Room right before his death:
Jesus is the root and stems of a vine. It is the roots and stem that provide life to the branches. We are the branches that grow from his firm base. He gives us the nutrients we need to live, branch out, and produce fruit.
Pruning in the Bible shows us how God the Father is our gardener. He waters, protects, and cares for the vine. As all good gardeners do, he carefully tends to his vine to make sure it stays healthy and produces abundant fruit. To accomplish this goal, God “cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit.”
Removing dead branches is essential for a healthy plant. If they are not removed, they decay and can harbor diseases that can infect and kill the plant.
God prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
So what does this pruning consist of, and what should our attitude be towards it?
What part of my life is God going to take out with his sharp secateurs?
God Prunes Us
God acts out of love for us. His acts of pruning are done with love, to help us grow into someone who reflects his character. “The Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12.
We are pruned to strengthen our character (to be more like him) and strengthen our faith. “We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope. Knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4
We should think of God’s pruning as a positive, even if there is some pain involved. Pruning sharpens our focus on how God wants our lives to look. Our time and energy are diverted into producing the fruit God desires. Would you rather he neglect you? Of course not! Look at his pruning as a blessing in your life. “Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law.” Psalm 94:12.
God is sovereign. He knows exactly what situations to place us in to lead us to produce fruit. His Holy Spirit directs us to abandon the emotions, thoughts, words, and actions that stand in the way of fruitful living. We need to be in tune and listening to him. “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Jesus tells us to “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” That is the only way to produce fruit for him. When we know his Word and live totally dependent on him, we can actually prune ourselves.
The Pruning Process
Every winter I trim back my berry canes. They get so long that they droop down and touch the ground. If I leave them unpruned then they will develop roots and spread everywhere making the berry bushes into an impenetrable mess.
These berry canes are like long-term bad habits, which if left unchecked and unpruned, drag us down as well. Aren’t we meant to be seeking to “put on a new nature”? (Col 3:10) The bad habits and distractions need to be addressed and pruned out of our lives.
Branches that cross over each other can rub against each other, weakening both branches. The two branches are also competing with each other for space. One of them has to go.
Is there any place in your life that competes against God? Remember Joshua’s words to the Israelites as he pleaded with them to have only one God in their lives- “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15 Prune away anything that competes with God in your life.
We will be battling our sinful nature our whole lives. Don’t let fear or weakness stop you from allowing God to do the necessary pruning in your life. God is with us daily -encouraging us, loving us, and shaping us. Isn’t that what pruning is all about?
Has the Holy Spirit shown you something in your life that needs to be pruned away?
Are you in the middle of a pruning time and feeling more pain than progress? Trust the Lord to do a perfect job of healing the wound. In His time you will see more blossoms and fruit in your life than you ever thought possible.
Prayer by Anne Osdieck
Lord of the one true vine
In you, we live and move and have our being
We are your branches – spindly and slight and fragile
Please ask your father to prune us (though gently)
We want to bear more of your fruit
A short video devotion on John 15:1-8