John 15:5-8 (NLT)
“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. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
Total dependency on Jesus Christ and fruit production in the life of any believer is a process. I am no horticulturist but the process of grafting is fascinating as an illustration of our new life in the Lord. Many years ago, I decided to surprise my husband by removing three dead trees in the backyard. They were very small trees planted during the construction of our home. However, in the beginning they were not properly cared for by the workers and died before they had a chance to take root and grow. The foundation of our property is red clay and not conducive to fertilizing the maturation of any living plant life. After pulling the trees out of the ground, I took the newly purchased (as in just go back from the hardware store and tore it out of the package) chain saw to cut the limbs up for disposal. As I began cutting each one, I was not at all prepared for the process. I was not wearing glasses or protective eyewear and the foot I was using to steady the branch was in a flip-flop sandal. As I carelessly was sawing each limb, the chainsaw hit a knot in the wood and bounced unto my nearby foot about an inch below my big toe. I saw it happen with my eyes, but did not feel any pain or discomfort at first. As if in slow motion, my skin separated and blood began to appear. I knew in that moment I had a problem. At the hospital, the doctor began to prepare to suture the cut on my foot congratulating me on not cutting the whole appendage off. My precision allowed only about an inch before I would have lost the whole toe. After numbing it, he took scissors and began to cut the edge of the gaping wound. Well, that didn’t make any sense I thought we were there to repair the damage not create more. But he assured me that for the best result the skin had to cut cleanly so it would grow together and the vascular tissue beneath would connect and make new skin closing the wound completely. Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. Those who remain in His Love and He remains in them will produce much fruit otherwise life in the Body of Christ is pointless. Our life is to fit seamlessly into the Lord’s Love without gaping or poorly aligned edges. This is done by cutting, pruning and grafting our existence in Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
The Word of God is alive and very powerful. When compared to our life, it cuts away at the overlaps of good and evil making a clear separation between how we live and what the Lord expects in our life. God desires total love and trust based on a covenant commitment with His People who He refers to as His Prize Possession. We are not perfect. There is no such thing as a flawless person as we have all fallen short of the righteousness of God. (Romans 3:23) As the Word of God removes the sin that once held us back from entering the Presence of God boldly, it allows us to be grafted in to the Body of Christ firmly and securely. Grafting allows a plant that is not necessarily as viable to be connect to a stronger plant with a well-established root system to abide in each other and produce fruit. Surely it is only a matter of time before the less efficient plant dies and is plucked away and destroyed. So it is with the Lord as the Master Gardener works on His Masterpiece, cutting away anything that would offend God or be an obstacle in our life so that we can grow together in righteousness found only in God through Jesus Christ. But the cutting process is painful, it will cause discomfort. As the Spirit works to cut away at our hard heart and rebellious spirit – secret motives and personal agendas are revealed that are contradictory or oppositional to the Word of God and His Spirit working in our life. So God cuts it away, creating a deeper connection with the Father through His Word (Jesus Christ). The core of our life must be exposed in order to be grafted in to the Body of Jesus Christ.
Luke 13:6-9 (NLT)
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Our purpose in life is to bear fruit, multiply and prosper in all things living in the Blessings and Promises of God. If you bear no fruit then it is no use living in the Kingdom of God. The Lord is literally waiting on you to produce fruit. He examines our heart and life each day inspecting it as a gardener would. If there is no fruit in our life, then we are just taking up space and be wary of getting cut away in the end. ”But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23) These are the fruits that God desires to be cultivated in our life as evidence that we are grafted in to the Body of Jesus Christ. They are not necessarily what the world hopes to be its harvest, but please the Lord. When I gave my heart back to the Lord after many years of rebellion my family rejoiced as the prodigal daughter returned home. That is until my grandmother realized that the congregation of choice was a different denomination than the one I had been raised in and she questioned certain things in our full-gospel church. My heart was broken that she did not necessarily approve as every conversation would somehow turn back to my way of worship. I prayed for the right words to make her see the change in my life. Talking one day I said, “Grandma, rather than discussing this all the time and me defending my choice, why don’t you look for fruit in my life?” She agreed. Years later, she would inform me that I had made the right choice! God will produce good fruit in proper seasons of our life if we plant ourselves in God’s Way allowing the Word of God to continually connect us to the Lord through Jesus Christ.
Matthew 18:7-9 (NLT)
“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”
Sin is the biggest harvest killer in our life. It causes our connection to Christ to deteriorate. It will choke out all new growth until we are completely disconnected from the Source of Life. We must decide to cut off and remove those things in our life that are hindering our reliance and alignment with God, His Will and His Way. It may be a painful process. It could require a drastic procedure to cut away that which is holding you back especially when it comes to our flesh. Even though this is not a physical action, it slices to the very core of our heart laying it open for all to see as His Spirit works to make us, mold us and shape us into the person God has designed us and called us to be. Sin wants to steal, kill and destroy your destiny. Jesus came to give you an abundant life. Will you work with the process of remaining in the Presence of Almighty God or foster your differences that are separating from God’s Best that is waiting to be cultivated in your life? It really is a choice between life and death made in every decision we make. Will you grow closer to the Lord in this process or farther apart? Will this plant me deeper in His Will and Way or draw me out by distraction or detour? It is time for close inspection of our heart and life. Cut away that sin that is keeping you from moving deeper into the Presence of God to experience His Power as His Glory is being manifested in your life through a tight connection to the Source of Life.
Colossians 2:10-13 (NLT)
So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
Circumcision of the heart is not about the Lord leaving His Beloved open and exposed. The process allows us to move deeper into the Presence of God as a refuge. It is a consummation of our union with Christ symbolizing our covenant with God. It is an act of intimacy not abuse. We are deeply connected to sin and fond of it in many cases. It is a carefully constructed comfort zone. The eradication of it seems reckless and its processes brutal until you experience fully resurrected dreams and purpose accompanied by a restored life! You are called to live a new life which requires a change. In the particular instance, it may be painful. This is the primary process of redemption as God becomes our lifeline now until we move into Eternity. We must be grafted in. Sin must be cut away. It is by a circumcised heart that we can fully connect with Jesus and accept His Word, Will and Way for our life.
Matthew 7:16-20 (NLT)
You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
It is time to inspect the fruit that is being produced in our life. It should be compared to the fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Word of God cuts to the very depths of our heart to expose every motive and reveal its contents. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit or vice versa. Your attitude and action in life expose your motives. Growing up, mom did not choose a great deal of fresh fruits and vegetables so when I started shopping for these items I had idea what to look for or how to determine if produce was good or bad. I had to read and study to learn the proper way to examine and select each item. The Fruit of the Spirit is contrary to man’s life productivity. We must study God’s Word and communicate with the Lord to know if our life truly is a product of salvation and we are walking in His Way. This allows us to discriminate between good things and God things. I only want God-like qualities and Christ-like attitudes in everything I do so I must take the time to educate myself in these things. His Spirit is our chief examiner is assists in this daunting, day-by-day process. I have learned the more you know the more you will grow. Evaluation and inspection of our daily life is a requirement including EVERYTHING we do! Nothing is exempt from examination by the Lord. His Spirit accompanies us everywhere we go even when it is back to the darkness of sin! If you are not producing fruit it is time for a little pruning called repentance as we turn away from those things killing our harvest. We are grafted in when through this painful process choosing to seize the opportunity to press closer into Jesus and grow deep roots of faith. The Lord expects to find fruit on our branches. (Matthew 21:18-19) Every tree that does not bear fruit lives in immediate threat of being cast off. (Luke 3:8-9) Grace does not bind us to the Lord but provides access to be grafted. Faith resulting in total trust and reliance on the Lord for everything we need and want is what keeps us attached to the Source of Life. Living in confident hope anchors us with a bond that is immovable in the storms of life as it holds fast to its firm foundation. We will bear fruit in all seasons if we allow this process of God free access to our life. “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:1-3) It’s time to make the cut and experience new life of abundance in Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:10-11 (NLT)
For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.