Summary: This is the third of a four part look at Jesus teaching that He is the true vine. This message focuses on God’s utilization of pruning to prepare us to bear more fruit.
(Extensive inspiration for this sermon series taken from Bruce Wilkerson’s "Secrets of the Vine")
Introduction - Spring has arrived, we have begun gardening, and pruning (reference recent Herald-Leader Article on pruning)
Draw connection to Spiritual Pruning
Jesus final "I Am. . ." teaching on earth - John 15: 1-8
REMEMBER THE ROLES -
- Jesus is the Vine: the trunk out of the ground.
- God is the Vinedresser: focused on producing the highest yield of fruit possible in our lives.
- We are the Branches: Conduit of life from the trunk to the fruit.
REMEMBER FRUIT -
Fruit = our external works & deeds, including
evangelism and kingdom building, but much more & also the inner working and fruit of the Spirit
JESUS DEFINED FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRANCHES:
1. Does not bear fruit (v. 2)
2. Bears fruit (v. 2)
3. Bears more fruit (v. 2)
4. Bears much fruit (v. 5)
THE BRANCH THAT BEARS FRUIT
Max Lucado writes the story of Deborah Ricketts. He writes, “Everyone loves what Deborah Ricketts does. But nobody loves it while she’s doing it. Everyone loves the product, but no one enjoys the process.
“She is an independent researcher for the film industry. Do you want your movie to be accurate? Want your facts to be reliable? Send a script and a check to this former librarian and watch the facts begin to fly.
“A film set in the thirties needs everything to look like the thirties. You can’t have a person reading from a newspaper that didn’t exist back then or a band playing a song that wasn’t yet written. Such mistakes occur.
“In Raiders of the Lost Ark the map that charted Indiana Jones’s flight routed him over Thailand. Problem: The movie was set in 1936. Thailand was called Siam until 1939.
“In Die Hard II Bruce Willis makes a phone call from what is supposed to be a Dulles Airport pay phone in Washington, D.C. No one noticed that the phone booth read Pacific Bell.
“Deborah Ricketts lives to find these errors. She is on a scavenger hunt for flubs. She winds her way into props and sets and examines everything. Other people’s oversights are her undertakings. She niggles for the scriptwriter’s own good. The process is not pleasant, but the result is rewarding.”
Looking at the branch that bears fruit –
it is at this point that we have revealed a mannerism of God’s that is similar to Deborah Ricketts.
Jesus portrays God as the Good Gardener who cuts and trims the vine (v. 1-3).
It is not that God wants to nitpick at us, that He wants to point out all of our flaws and errors,
but God is the Gardener.
For the people of Jesus’ day, they understood that vines grew abundantly in Palestine. Carefully pruned, they produced sweet grapes, but left unkempt, they crept everywhere and into everything.
So the gardener trims the vines.
So they can bear more fruit.
Like a careful gardener, God will clip and cut away anything that interferes with His purpose and plan for us to bear fruit.
The Difficult & Sometimes Painful Truth –
If you are bearing fruit, don’t get too comfortable,
a pruning is coming.
How do I know?
Which branches that bear fruit does Jesus say will be pruned?
If you are bearing fruit, God is going to prune you.
It seems to be a logical contradiction of thinning, reducing, cutting off something that is bearing fruit in gardening.
Example of breaking down the muscle to build it up
& intensity of spin classes.
Horticulture Journal writer, "Because of the grape’s tendency to grow so vigorously, a lot of wood must be cut away each year. Grapevines can become so dense
that the sun cannot reach into the area where fruit should form."
Please understand, our purpose – individually or as a church – is not to become fuller plants, with bigger leaves, and thicker branches. Our purpose is to bear fruit.
SOME REASONS WHY A PRUNER PRUNES –
1. REMOVE DEAD OR DYING GROWTH.
Kyle, an airline employee, "After I became a Christian, I noticed that my monthly night out with my old crowd from high school began to leave me feeling empty and out of place. So I quit going. Interestingly enough, a few months later I led one of the guys to the Lord."
God was pruning an old activity that was dying or dead in Kyle’s life. What old part or pattern of your life is dying or dead, and needs to be pruned?
2. EXPOSE FRUIT BEARING BRANCHES TO SUNLIGHT.
LaShauna, a mother of four says, "God has been nudging me to let go of some selfish habits that have been hindering my marriage for a long time. Just accepting the challenge to change felt like pruning to me. But since I’ve been meeting weekly with an older woman in our church, I’m experiencing new freedom. I’m very thankful. So is my husband!"