One night, just before I went to bed, in my mind, I heard. “Don’t despise difficulty.”
In John 15:2 it says, “Every branch in Me that does NOT bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it…” Why does God do this? “… so that it (the branch-the Christian) may bear MORE fruit.
Vs.8 My Father is GLORIFIED by this, that you bear MUCH...fruit,.(not just a little, but MUCH fruit) and so prove to be My disciples.
To prune a tree, you must cut/remove specific branches or stems to BENEFIT the whole tree. The removal of dead, damaged diseased branches, HELP to PREVENT insect and decay organisms from entering the tree.
When God prunes me, ITS FOR MY BENEFIT! By the Holy Spirit He removes what is dead, damaged and diseased in my heart. When condescending words come from a co-worker, God can prune/cut off STEMS of pride, that are causing decay in your heart that says, how can you talk to me that way? I DESERVE RESPECT. IT’S FOR MY BENEFIT, when that big BILL comes. God can prune us to remove that disease of loving money, that UNREST you feel because your retirement fund has decreased.
God says, I’m pruning you, SO you CAN HAVE the BENEFIT of bearing MORE Fruit! Don't despise the cuts, bear MUCH fruit! Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Much more love for one another (John 15:12) with people who are different than you, rejoicing ALWAYS, peace that surpasses understanding, an ABUNDANCE of patience DURING being tempted to be annoyed at someone, the law of kindness ALWAYS on your lips though you you've just been insulted, the goodness of God flowing out of your heart, faithfulness to God, the gentleness of Jesus to others, and dependence upon the Holy Spirit for self-control.
Do you want that? REALLY?
God is saying don’t despise the pruning, the cuts of difficulty. I’m doing great things in your life! And yes, you can enjoy a good meal, a nice trip and even good sleep, BUT that’s NOT the ABUNDANT life, God is calling us to! We SET ourselves up for discouragement, when we LIVE for ease, comfort and pleasure.
Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt.6:19-21
We have to be careful NOT treasure our pleasure.
I also have to be careful what I call a BLESSING or a BENEFIT in my life.
I’m NOT COMPLETELY there yet, BUT I’m believing God WILL bring me to a place where I can ALWAYS see His pruning in my life, as an ABSOLUTE BENEFIT TO HIM! Not ONLY what benefits me. (2 Cor.5:9)
Just like we take our bags of fruit home from Safeway or farmers market. We enjoy eating the fruit. Can God do that too? When He walks out to the garden of my life, can HE partake of the Fruit of His Spirit? (Gal.5:22-23) Can He take each fruit, out of the bag and say Ah...humility? Another bite, Ah...love, ah...self-control? Another bite...ah patience, how good it is too eat of My children’s fruitful lives! If God does not prune me, I CANNOT give HIM that fruit! I cannot make Him go...Ah!
John 15:1 My Father is the vinedresser. He prunes, trains, and cultivates. If the fruit is NOT coming out of my branch, it’s possible I’m NOT abiding in the Vine, Jesus. Am I KEEPING His word? Am I dried up? Maybe you just got pruned. And you're thinking, I got nothing man. PERFECT Vs. 5 Apart from Him, you CAN DO NOTHING! Realizing how INCAPABLE we are and how ABLE He is, will help us depend on Jesus, the Vine. His grace is sufficient (2 Cor.12: 9).
Before fruit appears/grows, it must go through a process of unseen nourishment from the vine.
So it is with fruit in my heart for God. Fruit will come as I get nourishment from the Vine/Jesus. That means I remain in His love and obey His word. Not copying and pasting on the fruit of the Spirit with some dead work, selfish motive. No, if I keep/obey His word, I can prove to God in MY HEART, I'm a DISCIPLE of Jesus. Not prove to others, BUT to God first, who sees and knows all, in the deep secrets of my thoughts and desires. To prove my devotion and allegiance to Him IN the difficulty. (John 15:8) Then the fruit can grow and be GENUINE.
If we look at Luke 14:25-33, we can see some ways our devotion and allegiances WILL be tested as a disciple of Jesus. My love for GOD should be MUCH greater in comparison to my love for others and for myself. So much so, that my love for others and for myself, LOOKS like hate. This is tested in the CLOSEST relationships. Father, mother, wife, children, siblings and even our own life (vs.26). All these relationships can have disagreements. And when you have a strong disagreement, you can have difficulty.
Jesus said in the very next verse, 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
We face a choice to pick up our own INNER cross. We can decide to please others, please ourselves OR please Jesus. When we chose to please Jesus, it will cost us. It may cost us a “silent” treatment, disrespect, misunderstanding, others being angry with us and maybe even left alone or cut off. Yes, this can even happen in our OWN homes. (Luke 12:51-53).
In Phil. 2:1-11 We see the glory of Jesus, how He carried His cross. He humbled Himself His entire life, even to the point of death. Even in His own home, at least for a time, His brothers were not believing in Him ( John 7:5 ). They lived with Jesus and never saw Him sin even once! Yet they still mocked Him.
In Mark 3:21 says, “When His own people ( kinsmen-blood relatives ), heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” In other words, Jesus’ own family called Him crazy! These are just a few examples of what we can face if we live by Jesus’ standards. Jesus Himself said in:
Matt.10: 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
Maybe it's Jesus’ standard against the finances between you and your spouse. Maybe it's Jesus’ standard in your wedding plans against your family’s standards for your wedding plans. Maybe it’s deciding what church to go to or continue to go to. Or even different opinions and thoughts about ministry in the church. Yes, even there we can find Jesus’ dividing sword of discipleship. If I can't have a humble attitude and pick up my INNER cross IN my home, I certainly won't be able to do it in God's church.
God knows in these relationships we WILL be tested. We CAN carry our own cross, when we love Jesus MORE than our own families and our own life. And in so doing, we actually love them better. Whether others say so or not. If that happens because we've chosen to obey God, not man, He will honor us ( 1 Sam.2:30 ). And that is greater than ANY honor we can receive!
Jesus sums it up in Vs.33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
If we are holding onto these relationships at the cost of lowering Jesus’ standards to follow what they say, we cannot be His disciple.
Being a follower of Jesus, is not a matter of how many times we've read, studied or memorized the Bible. Not a matter of how many times we went to church, shared the word, gave a testimony, prayed or helped people. Yes, amen, we should do these things BUT it's NOT what qualifies me to be a disciple of Jesus.
Though God may prune me in these relationships, I don't have to fear
God DOESN’T prune us to be mean. John 15:4-10 says, He does this so we can remain in His love. And when we keep His word, that’s what happens. We remain in His love. He stays close to us and we to Him. And I NEVER lose out, though the pruning HURT.
We see in verse 11 Jesus asked, why have I said these things to you? To discourage you? No. I HAVE SAID THIS TO YOU, SO I CAN…. GIVE you MY JOY TO THE FULLEST!!!!
So, I’m believing God, that when I face difficulty and I’m getting pruned, I can ACTUALLY look forward to some Promises!
John 15: 8 When I bear fruit of the Holy Spirit, I WILL give Him glory. Verse 10 If I obey His word, I WILL abide in His love like Jesus did. And verse 11 When I do these things, I WILL get Jesus’ JOY…. to the FULLEST!
The Lord is so generous, He gives us His joy too when we are faithful to Him in difficulty.
If you are IN a tough spot now, remain in His love. Obey His word and believe God WILL fulfill His promises, even IN your difficulty!