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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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Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.

You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.

You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.

You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
and tell me
"You are mine"
with intensity that burns
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