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Fruit

Have you ever felt like everything is falling apart? I know I have! I've found myself asking, "I don't know what I've done wrong, but I'm getting pounded." Sometimes it feels like everything in my life is being cut back. The good news is, God is preparing me to bear more fruit! He's cutting away the old and pruning what is fruitful so I can produce even more fruit. Sometimes these changes seem harsh or unnecessary - even unfair. But this is God's way of bringing changes into my life.

One more thing about fruit. Fruit is not typically enjoyed by the tree. Fruit most often nourishes others. As God is pruning and I begin to produce more fruit, it is for the benefit of others around me. And to bring enjoyment and glory to God!

John 15:1-2 "“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."

James 1:2-4 "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

Fruit; Part 2

He is the vine, I am one of the branches. Fruitfulness in my life is the natural result of this union. Simply stated, fruit comes as I get tight with Jesus! How do I do this? By immersing myself in God's Word - the Bible - and in prayer. When I met my wife, I wanted to spend all of my time with her. I wanted to get to know her better. I wanted to cultivate that relationship. Now I cherish my time with my wife, because we have developed a deeper relationship than when we first met. In the same way, my relationship with Jesus is cultivated by spending time with Him. As I develop a deeper relationship, the fruit grows.

The Christian life is not a factory - it's a garden! There are no quotas that need to be filled. I do not labor to make God more pleased with me. As I grow in my relationship with Jesus, the burden to perform or produce is lifted.

John 15:4-5, 8 "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. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father."

Fruit; Part 3

As a teenager, I grew up on a ranch. We raised some cattle, goats, pigs and chickens. On the ranch we had a large grove of fruit trees. Every year we would prune the trees, cutting off any branches that were overgrown or no longer producing fruit. When we were finished, the trees seemed damaged and bare with many of the branches removed. All this pruning seemed counter-productive at the time. But the reality is, if the tree is not pruned it will not produce it's full potential of fruit. Left unpruned long enough and the tree will eventually die.

This is also true in my life. There are things in me that produce no good fruit. Things that God wants to do away with. The act of pruning in my life can be painful, as unproductive behavior is removed and discarded. When I have turned my life over to God, He becomes the gardener. Slowly, lovingly, He prunes me so I can develop into the beautiful tree that He has in mind for me to become. Only then will I reach my full potential!

John 15:1-4 “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."

Faithful!

If I asked you to name something that is very faithful, what might we think of? Old Faithful may come to mind. This geyser, located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, has erupted about every 91 minutes since it was first documented way back in 1870. That's pretty faithful! My wife and I have been married for over 27 years - I certainly appreciate her faithfulness!

Jesus is ever faithful. He is always with me. Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me. Often times, the Bible draws the imagery of Jesus acting as the greatest Shepherd. He protects me, loves me and keeps track of me. If I wander off, Jesus will certainly search for me.

Psalm 8:3-4 "When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?"

Psalm 23:1-6 "The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever."

Faithful?

Am I faithful? If I don't show up to work 3 days out of every month, just because, would I be considered faithful? If my car started once out of every 4 attempts, would my car be considered faithful? What about my faithfulness to God? What does He consider to be faithful?

Being faithful is not about going to church, although that is important. Rather, am I faithful to listen to the message that is being taught and open my heart to God? Being faithful is not about praying, although this is also important. Do I only pray before a meal, or do I faithfully talk with God throughout my day? Being faithful is not about reading the Bible, although this is also very important. But do I faithfully apply what I read into my life, daily activities and relationship with God?

James 1:22-25 "But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."

© HangNailed 2017