Cut & Prune

John 15:1-8 (NLT)

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“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.

Recently, we hired a local tree company to prune and cut several trees in our yard that were dead or destroying our dwelling. Along with another homeschool family we watched in amazement as these professionals wielded their chainsaws, bucket lifts,
ropes to cut down 5 towering trees with expert precision.

At the end of the day the sun shone more brightly through the newly opened skyline and the breeze blew more effortlessly through our little plot of city sized land. The sweat also flowed more freely as my big, strong man and our kids chopped firewood to be stored for winter (just so ya know: I did split and stack a few logs!!!).

Prior to John Chapter 15, Jesus had promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples after shocking them with the news that one of them would betray and another would deny Him. Using imagery, He explained the reasons why trees must be cut and pruned. Jesus declared that those who received His message of salvation would be pruned and purified for eternity. Then He gave a key to the Kingdom of heaven that if used, would be unlocked on earth: remain rootedin Him (receiving love and returning love through obedience) and remain refreshed by His Spirit (life giving power to make disciples). This, He prophesied, would bring the Father great glory!

True disciples have the same promise today.

If we:

  • believe and confess Jesus as Savior,
  • receive the gift of His Spirit,
  • remain in relationship with Him, (bible, prayer, obedience…)
  • remain refreshed by His Spirit, (confess, repent, forgive…)

then we:

  • will produce good fruit, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control)
  • others will see good fruit,
  • others will taste the goodness of the Lord!

then He (our Father, the gardener) will:

  • cut what betrays Him as Savior, (lust of the eyes, flesh & pride of life) and throw it into the fire.
  • prune what denies Him as Lord, (time, talent & treasure) so that more fruit will grow from the branches that have been refined through suffering.

Not Afraid of the Arrow

Matthew 16:21-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 From then on Jesusbegan to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand himfor saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Psalm 91:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Ephesians 6:13-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[a] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[b] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[c]

Have you ever obeyed God and then had someone you love reprimand you for doing so?

I have.

In fact, I can’t recall a time when God spoke, I did what was necessary, and I didn’t suffer terrible things.

Unlike Jesus, however, I have not yet mastered the loving rebuke He demonstrated with Peter after he said “heaven forbid…this will never happen!” Instead, I often fight back with sarcasm or seething silence because I frequently take reprimands personally. But I have recently discovered that the hits from the enemy are against God- not me. Since I am made in His image and have been bought with a high price, Satan will continue to try to steal, kill and destroy me, but His attack is aimed against the One I worship.

Thankfully, the Lord has given me a helper for this ongoing battle against the principalities, powers and rules of the darkness! His name is Spirit. He is Holy. He is powerful. And He has the equipment I need.

Belt = Truth

Shoes = Peace

Shield = Faith

Helmet = Salvation

Body Armor = Righteousness

Sword = Word of God

Prayer = Spirit

The equipment I put on will determine whether or not I am equipped to fight. If I’m half dressed, the enemy will aim for the vulnerable, exposed areas. When an arrow pierces my soul, I must quickly return to the Commander and ask “how have I trusted in my own strength?” (the answer will always point back to pride, coming from the lust of my eyes and flesh). But God is full of mercy. He will forgive me when I repent. He will restore my missing armor when I humbly submit.

If I’m fully dressed, the enemy will still attack. I will not fear him. I will not be afraid of the arrow that flies out of someone’s mouth. Sure, I may be struck down by the reprimand. I may become confused. I may be bruised when the weapon hits the armor. I may feel pressed on every side. But I will not be destroyed. I will not be distressed. I will not despair. God will not leave me or forsake me. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) He will help me get back up. He will help me stand firm. He will help me continue to fight.

2arrowMy fellow warriors,

Satan’s attacks are relentless in order to thwart Gods plans for you. Do not be deceived. Do not be naive. Do not trust in your own strength. Remember, the enemy is not people (the enemy works through people, but the enemy’s name is not Peter, its Satan). So, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be equipped for battle. Forgive those who have reprimanded and caused you pain. Submit to the Commander. Rebuke the enemy. Let us march together, shoulder to shoulder to inherit the land God has promised. Let us fight for the Kingdom of God. Let us give honor to the King!