Posted by: pastortomvabeach | November 28, 2017

Thought for the Week December 3, 2017

In John’s gospel, Jesus uses the metaphor of a grapevine to show His followers their purpose in life, 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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2). Did you know that God has a purpose for you as one of His children? The grapevine illustrates this very keenly. If you examine the branches that come off the main trunk of a grape plant, you will find that they are not composed of very strong material. These branches can’t be cut off and used as a source to build anything because they are too fragile. The prophet Ezekiel says they are actually good for nothing but to be burned (Ezekiel 15:2-5).

So what purpose do the branches serve? Their only purpose is to be the conduit by which the vine sends its sap (life-giving nutrients) out to produce the fruit of the vine. In the case of the grapevine, the fruit is many healthy bunches of grapes.

How does that relate to us? As followers of Jesus in whatever arena of life we find ourselves, our function, our purpose, is to be the conduit of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit that produces fruit for the vine (Jesus Christ). That means in my career; at home; as a parent, husband, wife, or single person; at school; in the supermarket; at the football game; wherever I find myself, the Lord wants my life to be characterized by good fruit.

Jesus said, By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8). This says that we bring glory to God when we are fruitful and that being fruitful proves that we are Jesus’ followers. So what would that say to someone who has no fruit? Can that person truthfully claim to be a follower of Jesus? I’ll leave that to you but I think it is obvious.

So if our purpose is to bear fruit for the Lord, what does that fruit look like? As I mentioned Sunday, some Bible teachers point to obedience, because verse 10 says, If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, so the context tells us obedience is the fruit He’s looking for. Other teachers assert that fruit is what grows when the seed is planted so our fruit is other people we lead to Christ. They believe this teaching is very evangelistic. Still others focus in on what the Bible defines as fruit, the fruit of Spirit; love joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self control, (Galatians 5:22-23). Since this is a clear definition of fruit in the Scripture, they say that’s what Jesus means.

So which is right? If you look at another place where Jesus mentions fruit, it might help. In Matthew 7:16-17, He says, You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. So Jesus says we will recognize good fruit when we see it. If we take that thought and apply it, we find that obedience is definitely something good, so that’s good fruit. Winning people to Christ is something all of us desire and it’s good, so that’s good fruit. And, certainly, having a character that overflows with the fruit of love, joy, patience, etc., I think anyone would say is good. So the answer to the question is that good fruit is that which is good! All of these are good and should typify the life of someone who is actively and intimately connected to Jesus, the vine.

That last thought is probably the most instructional. Being connected continually and intimately with Jesus is the recipe for a fruit-filled life. Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5). This tells me that if I stay close to Jesus, I will bear fruit but also, if I drift away or let my relationship get stale or weak, the fruit might wilt or disappear. If I can’t do anything apart from Him, I want to be with Him all the time!

So what’s your fruit look like? If we are known by our fruit, what are you known for? Are you regularly in touch with Jesus through prayer, reading and listening to His Word in the Bible, and connection to His body, the church? Or is your connection something that happens mainly on Sunday and then, only some Sundays when you can fit it in? If our main purpose is to bear fruit and if that proves we are His followers, wouldn’t it be important to stick to the vine (Jesus). That’s a thought and a challenge.

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