Joh 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples just shortly before He faced the cross and may well have been His last opportunity to leave them with insights on how to move forward in the kingdoms work.  He was using the illustration of pruning grape vines in order to increase grape production, but it is applicable to all fruit growing plants.

I planted a peach tree in my yard a year ago, I thought it was dead last spring but it began to grow and grew over 4 foot during the year.  In fact it did so well that I had to prune it this spring.  I am not expecting fruit this year and if any does develop, I will knock it off.  Right now I am trying to develop the tree that will be able to support a large crop.  The sacrifice today will be more than repaid in the years to come.

There are two vital principles that are involved in this illustration. One is that the tree or vine will produce limbs and leaves in preference to producing fruit.    It will use the bulk of its resources to produce limbs and leaves and of whatever remains it will produce fruit.  Consequently the fruit is mostly seed, the flesh is smaller and doesn’t taste as good as it should.   It has the mandate from God to grow so it interprets that as producing limbs and leaves with fruit production as of lesser importance.

This could be a description of some of our churches today.  Growth is equated to having facilities, programs and certain doctrines.  It appear healthy and may even be carrying its financial obligations.  But there is a glaring problem.  Baptisms are down, there are additions but there is also a steady loss of members. The membership knows that there is something wrong but cannot identify what or why.  They have fallen into a subtle trap that Satan is using very well today known as program-ism.  It is based on the misconception that God’s delight is in our building churches with full programs that meet everyone’s personal needs.  When it truth, God delights when we grow in faith (Heb 11:6) and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

The second principle is that fruit only grows on new growth.  You never get fruit on last years growth.  Pruning the tree or vine will cause the tree to produce more new growth, on which the fruit will be the natural product. We must be thrust into situations that require us to trust the Lord, for that is where we grow in faith and the fruit of the spirit comes out as a result of faith.  We constantly undergo change and find ourselves pushed to our limits.  Its okay because God is the gardener and He knows how to work all things for good.  We can trust Him.

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