Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Be Pruned! Be Fruitful! Remain! Love!

“You have been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you” (John 15:3NLT). The fruitfulness he's talking about is what is listed in Galatians 5:22, 23: love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. These become more fruitful in us when Jesus prunes us. We can't produce this fruit apart from Jesus. We must remain in Jesus and Jesus in us to produce a lot of fruit. We can't just come to him once or twice in our lives or even once or twice a year to produce this fruit. We must remain in him and he must remain in us. Chase him away because of sin in our lives and the fruit withers. Confess our sins and he will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NIV) and if we make a habit of this, he will remain in us and we in him.

And the thing is, Jesus prunes us (that is, cuts parts of us off) so we can produce greater fruit than if he left us alone to grow as we want—naturally. This pruning shows up as the painful things that happen in our lives—cutting parts of us off hurts! But imagine having more love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control! Wouldn't the pain be worth it? I think it is.

If we stay joined to Jesus and his words remain in us (read your Bibles and memorise Scripture, folks!), we can ask any request we like and it will be granted (John 15:7). That's powerful. But it hinges on staying joined to Jesus and having his words sunk so deeply into us that they stay there.

Jesus loves us, just as the Father loves Jesus. Well, we know that the Father (God) loved Jesus incredibly—so much that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God's throne in heaven. Jesus loves us and asks us (begs us?) to stay in this love of his (v.9). How do we do this? By obeying him (v. 10). Jesus loves us, but the only way to remain in that love is to obey him.

And what is one of his commands? To love each other in the same way Jesus loves us. How do we do this? We lay down our lives for our friends (v. 13). Yikes! What does this mean? How do we lay our lives down for others? (Several very good novels I've read lately demonstrate this: Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps and Thunder of Heaven of the Martyrs Song series by Ted Dekker and A Voice in the Wind,, An Echo in the Darkness and As Sure as the Dawn in the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers--I highly recommend them.)

Jesus chose me, not the other way around, and he has appointed me to go and produce fruit (love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) that will last (as opposed to fruit that withers and falls off). For what purpose? So that God will give me whatever I ask for using Jesus' name (v. 16)! And I must love the other followers of Jesus (v. 17) even if I don't like them or agree with some of the things they say. Jesus wants to choose you too for the same purpose, if you but let him.  

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