“'I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.'” John 15:1-2
As I started reading through scriptures this morning, my thoughts were taken back to what I wrote about yesterday and the even greater implications which could be drawn from the example of God's ability to over supply us so that in turn we can supply others from what came overflowing from our lives. But, my thoughts this morning we not about the overflowing abundance of man, but rather the overflowing abundance of the Lord towards us in even greater means than the material things of this world.
More than anyone who has ever walked upon this earth, God holds the greater wealth and abundance than man could ever conceive. Within God's storehouses dwell so much fruitful blessings which He desires to share with each and everyone of us and yet in order for us to have the capacity to bear and hold these things we must be strong enough to support them and therefore willing to allow the fruit to come forth from the channels in our lives in which the Lord deems appropriate for them to come and which have been strengthened by His work in and through our lives.
Jesus talks about how we can be recipients of God's abundance. The picture which Jesus paints us in John 15 shows us the analogy of how God is like a Gardener and each of us are a branch from the True Vine which is Him. In the first two verses of John 15, where Jesus starts talking about this beautiful analogy, He makes sure to start by pointing out that the pruning of the branches is the single most necessary part of a branch being fruitful.
In relation to words above about the Lord giving from His storehouses, I realized that the process of pruning is the same process as humbling our souls as the Lord makes us each ready for His abundance. When we determine that the leafy beautiful branches we see attached to us and admire them more for their ability to be showy on their own, we in turn sacrifice our willingness to allow God to take all that beauty away and make us ready for His fruit instead of just our showy useless leaves. The process is humbling, but yet at the same time it a necessary part of being readied to take in from God the abundance He desires to overflow in each of our lives.
But, our adversary wants us to do nothing of the sort. He works very hard to convince us that putting our lives in the hands of the Gardener, losing all of our beautiful leaves and self-fulfilling shoots will only bring us pain, disappointment, and most of all it will make us ugly. Satan does a pretty good job of spreading lies and into making us believe that we can do more and be more if we work to produce greatness and abundance out of our own resources. He does not want us to trust in the Lord to grow us from the ground up into branches that are purposefully made short (to stay close to the Vine), hearty (to be able to hold all the fruit He wants to load onto us), and almost leaf free (so that only His fruit is revealed and our worldly beauty does not hide what He has blessed us with).
“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
'In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.'
But you would not,
And you said, 'No, for we will flee on horses'...
And, 'We will ride on swift horses'...
Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30: 15-16, 18
The above verses show us from another perspective of just how right on we are in waiting on the Lord and not contradicting Him and going our own way, trying to be fruitful on our own. Thankfully the Lord is “gracious” and is full of “mercy” towards our wayward hearts that seem to fight His desire to bless us with abundance from His overflow.
There is more here than just what we think of in terms of God's abundance too – the promises that we can see produced in this world. The greatest promise God has to give us is the promise of salvation found only through Christ Jesus. Read the following verses carefully because they talk about the Vine – our source of abundance and the real reason that the devil would like for no one to be humbled by the mighty pruning hand of the Gardener.
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all...
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.' So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 4:21-26, 4:28-5:1
Some say, “But the promise of Abraham was given to Ishmael because he was the first born!” But they are wrong if they study the history of the time in which Abraham lived. The law at that time stated that if a man had a child with a woman he was married to and a child out of wedlock, the oldest child of his wife would receive his birthright even if a child from out of a marriage agreement was born first. From this lineage of Issac, the Lord God brought Jesus – the fulfillment of the promise and the Vine which is able to graft the enslaved of the world into God's abundant fruitfulness of freedom from a life controlled by bondage to sin. But this reality that Jesus provides us as the True Vine does not sit well with the one who is the master of those who are enslaved in sin.
What we experience when we feel a war of wills brewing inside us, regarding the pull between trusting God and His desire to ready His blessings in our lives and the contradictory pull of trying to stay in the safe status qua of life, is the war Satan is trying in instigate within us against the Jesus the Vine - our source of eternal freedom from the grip of sin he ensnares the world in.
Resting in faith, allowing ourselves to be pruned, and trusting in the Gardener and the True Vine are the only ways we can bring a ceasefire to the war that our enemy continues to wager. One he wants us to side with him on and not on the side of Jesus, the One alone who is the promise and who alone is promised complete and utter victory over sin, death, and eternal damnation.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God...For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8: 18-19, 24-25
Perseverance, trust, and faith are the weapons we are given to stay true to our place on the Vine and also within the hands of the Gardener. Pruning does have rewards in this life, but ultimately the promise Jesus gives us and one our enemy does not want us to have most of all - the promise that our souls will be saved with Jesus for eternity while he is left to suffer with those who did not heed the words of the Vine nor let their lives be shaped by the hands of the Gardener. In essence, those who did not humble themselves in the hands of God.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
'For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.'
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10: 35-39
As you think over all of the things I have just written today, think about whose hand you are looking at and allowing to make decisions within your heart and soul. Are you looking up to the heavens, to the hand of the Master – the Gardener – who desires to prune you so the storehouses of heaven will not be too heavy for you to hold and will reveal His glory to the world? Or are you looking at what you can see in this world and in the resources that are deceptively “good” for achieving all that is seemingly worthwhile to man – fruit that is plentiful enough but only show what you can do on your own within the bondage you are enslaved in? The choice is yours and the results will also be yours forever.
“Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He has mercy on us.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!
For we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
Our soul is exceedingly filled
With the scorn of those who are at ease,
With the contempt of the proud.” Psalm 123