A Command or a Promise

I’ve never seen a vineyard all my life, except from pictures, illustrations and the like. And whenever I read that powerful verse in John 15.. I cannot help but picture how vineyards we’re hemmed in rows, how new spring grows, and with all it’s woody stem and it’s branches.. There lies a grape fruit that Jesus used to communicate to his disciples. Hats off on how a gardener or vinedresser cares for his vineyard, because that’s how Jesus Christ cares for us too.

John 15:1 I am the vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

When I first encountered these words Jesus uttered in the vineyard, I got confused. I didn’t       understand either because I was new in my faith then.  I wrestled with God,  often felt low, disappointed and in doubt because I always want to do things my way. But looking back, I’m still hopeful that God would always come to my rescue. I failed to lean close and listen to His instructions. I did things my way and tiringly fail again and again. But through the years, God never gave up on me, and I too never held back of His promises. I listened closely time and again, until I really heard from Him and finally understand.. I was set free.. and was overjoyed. God wants from me and from every one of us.. A fruitful harvest.. a harvest that will glorify Him.

As I pondered upon John 15, I understood clearly what God wanted to tell me. Each of us is a branch that is producing a clearly defined level of abundance and His command is not to simply ‘bear fruit.’ Bearing fruit is His promise. The command is for us to “abide in Him”. When we abide in Christ and Him in us, we will bear much fruit. And it will be good fruit, the kind of fruit that He is pleased with. Unfortunately, I instinctively heard this the wrong way when I first encountered the word. That’s what happens when we focus on the fruit. The fruit becomes our idol, our measurement and we allow it to gauge how well we respond  to Him but  this robs us of our life and our faith.

“As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  We can apply His promise to our lives as we stop counting and just enjoy His presence. Christ has done it all by His death and resurrection. We are the fruit of His atoning sacrifice and victory over the sin, death and the devil. No need for us to struggle, no need for us to perform nor conform. God the Father will see to it. Abiding in Him and Him in us, we will bear much fruit not because of anything we do, but because of everything that He has done.

“My father is the vinedresser.” The vinedresser is the caretaker. He takes care of the vine and its branches. We’re not left on our own to grow and be fruitful. The Father takes care of us. He’ll prune us if our pride needs to be cut back. He’s always ready to nourish us with His Word and the sacraments that will fertilize our faith. When branches fail to bear fruit, the vinedresser cuts them from the vine and burns them. When branches do bear fruit, the vinedresser allows them to abide in the vine, but he prunes them back so that they will bear even more fruit.

This illustrates that being a disciple involves discipline, and that discipline is strict.

I myself experienced how God disciplines and I can see clearly that He’s been holding me on the palm of His hand, He’s at work since day one..and is still working till now. I understood that life’s purpose goes beyond my desires. He’s not yet through with me, every step of the way, every area of my life..He’s always working on me from glory to glory. God wants to bless us and we need to accept His care for us. There may be some pruning but He’s with me every step of the way. He’s watching us closely. When He said those words to His disciples, He was thinking about me too..it’s because He loves me. And as He reveals Himself to me, I’m amazed and in awe as I witness His wonderful plan in my life unfolds. I am confident that as the gardener lovingly cultivates each branch, He too is focused on me, He is my keeper. He never gave up on me, He wants me to bear fruit, fruit that will last forever.

~Connected to the vine, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and courses through our veins producing His gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

~To be Christlike (Galatians 5:22) and to bring Him glory even from the simplest things I was called to do. In my family life, career / business, service in the ministry and as I share His word. Now I see fruits.. and for God’s vineyard to produce, we as branches have to respond to the gardener / vinedresser…to God..

“Abide in Me” by which Jesus means to continue in obedience to “the word which I have spoken to you”. We cannot bear fruit of ourselves. Only by Christ and His word can we bear fruit acceptable to God.

Which one do you prefer… No fruit, with fruit, more fruit or much fruit?

The Father wants more fruit from us, so much that He actively tends our lives so we will keep moving up—from a barren to a productive branch, from an empty to an overflowing basket.  And more is always possible because we we’re created to bear  fruit, more fruit.. and still more fruit. This is our destiny!

Everyone is expected to bear fruit commensurate with the advantages, blessings, and gifts we are given. This is a call, a marching order for all of us. And as I share His life, I pray to be an empty vessel that He can always fill. These things will not be possible have I not yielded on the true vine, Jesus. And up until now I’m expectant of greater things to come as I commit to follow Him…and decide to always remain and abide in Him.. I claim and I receive it by faith. Fruitfulness is one of the many characteristics of true obedience to God and we can start with JUST ONE! and let’s all have more deposits in heaven.

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