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.

Uprooted

Matthew 15:1-3, 10-20

New Living Translation (NLT)

Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”

16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”

I have a stubborn planter wart on the bottom of my foot. Gross, I know. For the last year, I’ve been pulling, picking and smothering the seeds with Compound W that have risen to the surface. Several months ago, I finally relented in trying to eradicate the thing by myself, so I scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist. She brought out the big gun: dry ice (solid form of carbon dioxide). After 3 painful, burning procedures that sucker still wasn’t gone! The latest treatment involved injecting chemotherapy into the wart to kill the infection at its root. Needle into the foot? AHHHHHHHHH! Yes, I cried out to the Lord… as I was trying not to kick the doctor in her face.

Hobbling through the house, trying to avoid the pain that permeates every time I step on the affected area, I realized that I attempted to pull, pick and smother my sins…especially those that were deeply rooted in sexual immorality. After I accepted Jesus, who saved me from eternity in hell, I still experienced hell on earth as the seeds of sexual sin continued rising to the surface of my life. Ashamed, I tried covering them up with a band aid (just like I did the wart). I pleaded with God, “PLEASE make it go away!” (just like I did with the wart).

Nothing happened.

Until I asked for help. Help from my Savior and Lord. Help from others in the body of Christ. What do I mean by that? I mean bowing my will to the King of kings and Lord of lords. I mean crying out, “create in me a clean heart oh God, that I might not sin against you!” (Psalm 51:10, emphasis added). I mean taking off the cloak of shame I was wearing and laying it at His feet. I mean confessing the pain my body and soul were suffering as a result of sin. I mean standing before God naked. I mean allowing Him to shine His light on the darkest areas of my soul, to expose every single temptation and sin related to sexual immorality. I mean giving the Holy Spirit permission to dig until the first seed of sin was exposed, injected with fire, and uprooted. I mean extending forgiveness to those who sinned against me. I mean asking forgiveness for those I sinned against. I mean confessing to God- and others. I mean feeling the deep grief of repentance for the sins I committed against God and His commands. I mean asking Jesus to deliver me from the evil that resided in my wicked heart. I mean accepting His sacrifice for my sin. I mean receiving supernatural healing for my body and soul because He bore the stripes upon His body for ME.

Uprooted-2

My friend, your evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander cannot be removed by religious activity (washing your hands). The seeds of your sin cannot be smothered in Compound W. But submitting to Jesus as Savior and Lord and asking other believers for help can uproot the rebellion that lies hidden within your heart. Yes, injecting Truth into the lies will be painful. The procedure will hurt some. You will be embarrassed that others know your deep, dart secrets. But death WILL come to the sin, and life WILL grow in its place as you confess your sins in prayer!!! (James 5:16)