On Vines, Pruning, and Fruit

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 23-24; John 15

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples. (John 15:1-8, CEB)

I am not a gardener. I don’t have two brown thumbs, I have two black thumbs. On several occasions, Cindy and I have planted tomato plants in hopes of having some tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes (grocery store tomatoes are weak imitations at best). In truth, I am the one hoping for tomatoes. Cindy really doesn’t care. The only way she likes tomatoes is in a bottle of catsup. Me, on the other hand, even grocery store tomatoes are good (homegrown are just MUCH better). It could be said that I have never met a tomato I didn’t like unless it was rotten.

Imagine my disappointment when, in try after try, both in containers and in the ground, the plants would grow. The plants put on blooms. The plants NEVER produced more than four or five tomatoes. I am convinced it is better that God made me a preacher (or just about anything else) than a farmer. My family would have starved! (The boys don’t eat tomatoes either).

I do know a bit about plants. I worked in a gardening department for several months (before that I worked in the lumber department) of a smaller version of one of the big box home improvement stores when I was a senior in high school. While working in the gardening department I learned the importance of pruning. Whether you are talking about a flowering plant or a fruit producing plant or just about any kind of tree, pruning is important. A tomato plant, for example, will develop runners on it and runners don’t produce anything (or that is how I understand it). Runners do consume resources the tomatoes need to grow and mature (and yes, I kept the runners pruned off). Without proper pruning, the plant will not produce as much as it will with proper pruning.

For several years I served churches in and around Tyler, Texas. Tyler is the rose capital of Texas. To keep the roses blooming, pruning was necessary. I don’t know what to prune on a rose bush but I do know it is necessary.

Jesus, in today’s lesson, tells us about the importance of pruning as well. As people of faith, we are already pruned by His words that live in us. He continues by saying, if we remain faithful, we will produce fruit but if we allow ourselves to be disconnected from the vine, we will be on our own and produce nothing. And branches that don’t produce get cut off from the vine.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be cut off from the vine. May we all work to produce fruit for the kingdom of God. May we remain connected to the vine.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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