Summary: This is the second portion of a sermon on God’s discipline in our lives. Part of a series on abiding in Christ
Nov. 2, 2003 John 15
“Ow! That hurts!” (pt. 2)
Talk about the story in the Old Testament where the Israelite spies who had gone into Canaan brought back a single cluster of grapes that was so large that it had to be carried on a pole between two of the men (Numbers 13:23-25). It was an evidence of the fruitfulness of the land. It was what they brought back to the rest of the Israelites as the motivation to go in and take possession of the land. The fruitfulness of the land made it worth the risk of whatever it was going to take in order for them to take possession of the land.
- the participants in the fruit-growing process (Vine, Gardener, Branches)
- the nature of fruit (character / Christlikeness and good works)
- the four baskets (empty, some, more, much)
- the actions the Father takes to move us toward greater and greater fruit (punishment / discipline and pruning)
1. Pruning is cutting – letting go
2. Pruning is painful
3. Pruning is perplexing
4. Pruning is productive
5. Pruning is professionally done – not by me, not by you, but by the Father
This morning, we’re going to look at three more characteristics of pruning, and then we’re going to talk about two helps that God has given us to get us through the pruning process.
1. Pruning is universal.
Every branch will go through pruning.
Job was in the category of one who was already producing fruit – and a lot of it. He was producing so much fruit that God held him up to Satan as an example of one who followed and obeyed God no matter what. And yet Job went through pruning – deep pruning.
Most people don’t like that idea because as we said last week, pruning involves pain.
“I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.” - Wilbur Rees, from When I Relax I Feel Guilty by Tim Hansel
Every branch has stuff that needs to go.
We never get to the point on earth that there are not some impurities that are still in need of getting rid of. As a younger Christian, the things that need to go are obvious in a person’s life. They are the things that everyone can see. The pruning knife doesn’t have to cut very deeply to get rid of those things. They are on the surface. But the more mature that we get in Christ, the deeper His Word cuts into us to get rid of those things that are not quite so obvious – a judgmental spirit, self-confidence, a lack of love, pride, selfishness. Whether you’ve been a Christian for 5 minutes or 50 years, you are still under the pruning knife.
Every branch has the potential for more fruit.
God is never satisfied with the amount of fruit that you are producing at any particular point of your life. That might make God sound like an ogre who is always demanding more. But God desires more and more fruit in our lives because the joy that we experience in life is tied directly to the amount of fruit that we produce. (vs. 11) God is never satisfied with the amount of fruit we produce because He is never satisfied with the amount of joy that we are experiencing. He always wants more for us.
Regardless of what basket you are in right now – from empty to overflowing – there is always the potential for more fruit. As you draw your resources from the Vine and submit to the Gardener, more, better and juicier fruit will grow.
2. Pruning is unending.
The only advantage that punishment has over pruning is that punishment ends as soon as the sin that prompted it ends. Pruning on the other hand only ends when God has accomplished His purpose for our lives.
It’s purpose is eternal.
“...Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT)
God has two eternal purposes for the pruning process – to enable you to become like Jesus and to store up treasures in heaven. All this other stuff that you are holding onto with every ounce of strength that you have and that God is telling you to let go of is temporal. It is part of this world, and it will be destroyed one day.