The Vine and Branches
God’s Pruning Work
• People are incredible actors, especially when it comes to relationships and the most important relationship of all, our relationship with God. When we get to Heaven, we will be surprised by who is there and even more surprised by who is not there.
• Illus – The oldest grapevine in the world is in Maribor, Slovenia, about 500 years old, and it still produces fruit. The largest grapevine in the world is 250 years old. Despite its age the vine produces up to 700 lbs of grapes each year. In its best year, it produced over 1 ton of grapes.
• Grape-growing is something that is done over the long haul.
• Illus – Tell the story of Judas Iscariot and his betrayal. Jesus is using the whole situation with Judas to describe that there is such a thing as a false professor.
• The disciples could not believe that Judas was going to betray them and Jesus. He was the last person who would have been suspected, yet he was a fake.
• Productive branches will be cleansed as well, by whatever means necessary. God trims out what needs to be removed.
• Why is God concerned with any purging? Why is he not satisfied with the occasional fruit? Is he being demanding?
o Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
o Followers of Christ are fruit-producing people, so God wants you:
1. To Glorify Him – After all he did to pay for your sins and make a home for you in Heaven, he deserves to see fruit out of your life.
a. Living a life that desires to glorify God shows that we are pleased to be with him, that we are satisfied with him.
b. Illus – God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.
2. To Bring Others to Him – one of the most prominent and enduring fruit is pointing people to Christ.
3. To Remember Your Value to Him – when we produce fruit, we show that Christ has made us valuable to himself. There is no such thing as an inadequate believer; only inadequate living. Every person has intrinsic value to God because he is a God of love. Every person who knows Christ is reminded of their value to God when they bear fruit for him.
• Grapevines produce fruit on one-year old wood. What does that mean? When a bud sprouts in spring and grows into a new shoot within the larger grape plant, the shoot turns from green to brown by the end of the growing season, at which point it is considered one-year old wood. The following spring some of the buds on one-year-old wood will grow flowers (which develop into fruit), while the buds on older wood produce only leaves or shoots.
• How does purging work to create new growth?
1. Purging out excess foliage focuses more energy on fruit production and new growth.
• The primary goal of pruning is to maximize the amount of one-year old wood on each grapevine without encouraging the plant to produce so many grape clusters that it lacks the energy and nutrients to fully ripen them. Left to its own devices, a grapevine grows to a dense mass of mostly older wood with relatively little “fruiting wood” each year. The dense growth leads to poor air circulation, which encourages fungal diseases. Expect to remove 70 to 90 percent of the previous year’s growth each winter.
2. Purging lessens the potential for diseases to spread.
3. Purging protects the plant from growing too heavy from its own weight.
4. Purging opens the view to make it easier to spot fruit.
• Verse 11 – Frutifulness leads to fuller joy, and purging leads to fruitfulness.
o You may despise the purging process, but you can endure it if you remember the product.
• Illus – Evangelist Jack Taylor was alone in his hotel room in Houston, Texas after a Southern Baptist Convention meeting. He felt exhausted in ministry. He cried out to God in prayer, "Lord, if I have seen everything You have for me in my ministry.......then take my life and let me die." The prayer was followed by silence. Taylor went to sleep. The next morning, Jack Taylor woke up hearing God’s voice in his heart. He felt the Lord was saying to him, "Jack, I have answered your prayer and I am going to let you die. To yourself. I have seen your ministry, now I want you to see what I can do." That moment of honesty with God changed the life and ministry of Jack Taylor. He was never the same again. His ministry then became totally dependent upon God and no longer striving and sputtering in the self-sufficiency of the flesh.
• Jesus says that we are made clean by his word.
• This clean state comes from purging. The word clean in verse 3 is the same Greek word as purgeth in verse 2.
• How does the Word clean?
o Paul uses the picture of the Bible being like wash water to clean us.
o Ephesians 5:25-27
1. Sanctify – in this world of brokenness and sin-sickness, a life lived God’s way stands out.
2. Cleanse – this is a continuing process. Every day, we get dirt on us, and a lot of it comes from within us. The Word renew our minds and refreshes us.
• Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
o The Bible takes what leads us to spiritual worthlessness and shows us how to live the opposite way.
o Illus – With 900 million members worldwide and growing, Facebook is building its first European data storage facility—60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. The reason: natural air conditioning. Some Internet “server farms” spend as much to cool the machines as power them. Facebook’s Nordic operation—which will eventually expand to three 290,000- square-foot buildings, each housing tens of thousands of servers—will save millions of dollars on electricity. Plus, the buildings are designed to capture some heat from the servers and use it to warm employee offices. They looked at a problem from a different angle. So can we, using God’s Word to lead us to a new way of living.
o Repetitive Thought – This is not about information or reformation. It is about transformation. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the Bible.
• Illus – ORCHARD EXPERTS say that occasionally a fruit tree will give all its energy to growing wood and leaves but little or no energy to bearing fruit. To correct this condition, the farmer takes an ax and makes a deep wound in its trunk close to the ground. That severe procedure almost always produces a change. The next year the tree gives an excellent yield. It could be called "the fruit of suffering." Oftentimes God uses a trial as an axe, or suffering as a pruning knife, so that we may stop channeling all our energies into the pursuit of temporal things. Sorrow, tribulation, ill health, and disappointment have a way of stimulating spiritual growth and fruitfulness. Our attention is then redirected toward eternal things, and we produce the fruits of righteousness that glorify His name. - H.G.B. Spiritual fruitfulness often comes through the pruning knife of affliction.
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