By Pastor Jack Marbida
How is your personal relationship with God right now? Is He the genie that you rub out of the lamp when you need a blessing? Is He the Lord you call when you need something in your Christian life? Are you a sideline Christian or a Sunday Christian? How well do you know your God?
By now, you should have a big picture of what God is doing your life. John 15:1-2, 5-8 says, “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. 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.”
What do you think God wants to tell you in this verse? In God’s vineyard, the goal is to bear fruit. Everyone has a caretaker who knows where to cut and where to prune. The vinedresser cuts branches that do not bear fruit and prunes those that bear fruit so they can bear more fruits. Do you feel the plans of God in your life? If you do not, then you have a big problem. The beauty of God’s plan is not only for this earth. It spans throughout eternity. The things you do in this world is but a preparation for what you will do in eternity.
When you are being pruned, you sometimes get angry. Maybe because you do not know why you are being disciplined or you do not want to be disciplined at all. Just like when children are being spanked, it helps them to know the reason why they are being disciplined so that they will understand and not get angry at their parents for doing so.
Fruit bearing has different stages. But God only wants you to bear fruit. In the process, it is important to know the difference between chastening and pruning. When God chastens you, He intervenes in your life to help you sin less. When God prunes, He wants you to bear much fruit by good works. What are you doing in the first place? God chastens when you are doing something wrong while God prunes you when you are doing something right. They are on two different sides of the spectrum. God’s chastening and pruning are both painful. Hs method can be identical but His purpose is different. God’s will is that everyone knows whether He is lifting up or pruning for He knows what He is doing.
Growth in the Lord is not only by number. It is intimacy with Him. If you have a very intimate relationship with Him, the people you will bring to church is only an overflow of your relationship with Him. God knows what He is doing in your life and everything is the output of your decisions.
How do you feel about God’s pruning? When Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his tunic, how do you think he felt? When God takes something away from you, how would you feel? Do you know why your parents discipline you when you make a mistake? So that you will not do it again. And most importantly, because they love you. It is the same with God the Father. He prunes you because He loves you. He wants you to make the right choices that is why He prunes you. When Joseph was imprisoned for something He did not do, how do you think he felt? Look at your life and tell God that you want to trust like Joseph. No matter what storms may pass, may you have Joseph’s trust and faith in God.
God was with Joseph all throughout his hardships. When he was in the well as well as in prison. God has good plans for you always. You may not be where you want to be but in God’s perfect time, you will be in the good place where God wants you to be. Joseph had a good relationship with God. And that is what got him through all the trials in his life. How is your relationship with God? You should know that at the end of the day, God wants you to bear good fruit. Stay by His side in spite of everything that is happening in your life.
If you do not know God’’s purpose, you are living an empty life. Most of the time, you want what you want for your life. God prunes you little by little. And he does this so that you will put Christ first in your life. Take the step that God wants you to take. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” You can face the trials that come your way. God said so Himself. When there is no food on the table, know that He will provide. When your salary comes and there is nothing left after paying for the bills, know that God will provide. Try to write all the blessings God gives you. And when times are tough, go back to all of it for His glory. Philippians 3:7-8 says, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” Everybody wants to experience Christ everyday, not just every Sunday.
When you are pruned , how do you respond? You can choose to actively reject it and rebel. You can passively resist it and remain reluctant. Or you can faithfully rest in God and proactively rejoice. When you accept God’s pruning, you will bear much fruit