John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The fall grapes are ripening here in Mississippi. We have a beautiful scuppernong arbor that my husband built many years ago. He prunes it back every year, fertilizes it when necessary, and that beautiful vine takes off every spring. In August, it brings forth beautiful, huge, sweet, golden scuppernongs. Our crop is still not quite ready for harvesting, but we are getting to taste a few samples on a daily basis. The wild grapes, however, are ripening a little faster. Friday evening, we picked about three gallons of wild muscadines. Our suppernongs are large, golden grapes. The wild muscadines are purple in color. They are a bit smaller and a bit more tart, but they make an excellent jelly. Yesterday evening after church, we went out on a search and find mission looking for wild fox grapes. We succeeded in our mission, and found quite a few. My husband and I had so much fun collecting these tiny grapes. We climbed on trees, pulled on vines, and finally got a twelve foot ladder from the house to help us gather those little jewels. We rode and walked around the outer edges our our cow fields looking for the fox grapes. We had a blast, and what a great reward we received after sweating our tails while off foraging for grapes. We made jelly. Lots and lots of jelly! We made twenty one half pints of wild muscadine jelly Saturday night, and twenty one half pints of wild fox grape jelly on Sunday night. Our pantry is filling up quickly with all of God’s blessings.
We really had a lot of fun gathering our wild grapes. It is quite amazing that a delicious fruit can grow out in the woods without the loving care of a gardener. Our personal vines are tended by my husband with great care, but what about all those vines that we found out in the woods? Well, those vines have the BEST Gardener! Our heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, created all the plants that we get to see, taste, and enjoy. He cares for those wild grapes with His tender love and care. He provides rain for them in due season, sunshine, and adequate nutrition. God created these vines with a purpose.
The purpose of a vine is to send out fruit to feed the birds of the air and critters of the woods. In order to fulfill its purpose, the vine must be lifted up to send out branches that will bear fruit. The vine’s main function is to draw water and nutrients to provide the branches with everything they need to promote growth. Clusters of grapes are produced. Some are sweet, others are sour, and some are tart which are my favorite.
Under the care of the vine dresser, the vines are prepared yearly to produce crops. This is done through pruning. Pruning is the most important part of the growing process. Jeff prunes our branches down to almost nothing but the root every year. If the branches are not pruned, they become unmanageable and draw energy away from being fruitful. This will lead to the death of the vine. Trimming the shoots and removing the excess allows the branches to produce a higher quality fruit.
In John 15, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine, and God is the gardener. God will remove the branches that are not bearing fruit so that the branches that remain will be more fruitful. We have to look upon God as the ultimate gardener because well, He is. He created each of us with a purpose: to glorify Him. He sent His Son Jesus, so that we may have a direct connection with Him. So look we see God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. God will prune things away in our lives that are preventing us from bearing fruit. He will also prune people out of our lives that may be keeping us from the relationship that He desires with us. This pruning process is sometimes painful, but as the Gardener (God) prunes us, we become closer to Him. If we remain connected to the Vine (Jesus), the branches (us) will continue to grow stronger in our daily walk, and we will produce much fruit.
If a branch becomes separated from the vine, it will wither away and die. That branch is of no use any more. It has lost its source of nourishment and life. If we as Christians, do not remain connected to Christ, we will wither away. We can not produce fruit if we do not remain connected to Christ. If we remain connected to Christ, seeking Him daily, and abiding in His ways, we will produce the fruits of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22.
Today we must ask ourselves, are we producing fruit? Are we showing the love of Christ to those we come in contact with daily? Do others see the joy of Jesus in us? Are we peacemakers or troublemakers? Do we show patience and restraint? Are we kind? Are we good? Are we gentle? Do we show self control? If you answered no to more of these than yes, maybe you should check your connection to the true Vine. I am not perfect, not by a long shot, and I know that I am truly lacking in the area of fruit production many days, but the good news is that the great Gardener is still watching over me, and I am still connected to the Vine. The Gardener will keep on pruning away the things that are keeping me from producing good fruit, and I will continue to let the nourishing Vine grow me into a branch that produces the sweet, savory (though sometimes tart) fruit that He intends for me to produce.
If you don’t feel that warm embrace of the Father, if you don’t see the fruits of the Spirit in your life, or if you feel like something is missing, please check your connection. The line to Christ is always open. He wants to hear from you today. Call out to Christ, and get connected to the Vine today! There is no time like the present to recline in the presence of our Savior!