In my last blog, I spoke about the need to understand the different seasons of life that you will ultimately find yourself experiencing. Biblically speaking, there are two seasons—“seed time” and “harvest time”. In this INpowering™ blog, I want to impart in you a challenging but necessary process that growing individuals must experience—the pruning process.
According to E. P. Christopher, author of The Pruning Manual (1954), R. L. Hudson, author of The Pruning Handbook (1973), and C. Brickell, author of Pruning (1979), the process of pruning is described as follows: “Pruning is a horticultural practice of cutting away an unwanted, unnecessary, or undesirable plant part, used most often on trees, shrubs, hedges, and woody vines. We use pruning to remove diseased or injured parts of the plant, to influence vertical or lateral growth for various reasons, and to increase flowering or fruit yield. Another way to define it is cutting away superfluous or undesirable branches.” The practice of pruning requires targeted removal of damaged, dead, or non-productive tissue from the plant. It must be properly pruned and nurtured in order for it to produce high-quality fruit. The pruning process is essential for keeping the plant healthy and in a condition to produce a crop of ample proportions.
Throughout the ministry and teachings of Jesus, it is not surprising that he used farming terminology in describing the Kingdom of God. In other words, He gave earthly examples that the people of that time could understand, yet it had a divine, life-shifting implication. When we read the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, we see this practice. In verses one through three, the text is as follows: “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing, He prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.”
In the first seventeen verses of the fifteenth chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus teaches us how to be fruitful. In the Kingdom of God, success is not judged by your bank account, the home you live in or by the automobile that you drive. Success in the kingdom is based on being fruitful. In order to grow fruit you must plant the seeds during the appropriate time so that when the season for harvesting comes, you will have fruit on the tree. You cannot have fruit if you don’t plant and you cannot be MORE fruitful if you don’t endure the pruning process. It’s nice that you have fruit on your tree, celebrate that; however, Beloved, let me INpower™ you with the knowledge that God has MORE for you! That’s right, my brother and my sister, “MORE” is looking for you! Stop settling; stop being pacified by what is “good” and begin setting your mind on achieving EXCELLENCE! Remember when Paul said, “I will show you the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31)? Beloved, we often times find ourselves severely challenged when we have to make a choice between what is good and what is better. We have no problems choosing between good and bad; however, when we are faced with the obstacle of having to select something that is better, we tend to settle for what is easiest to attain.
We must allow God to prune the unproductive and fruitless areas of our lives, in an effort to prepare us for greater. Take inventory of your life. Are you bogged down by lifeless friends, negative thoughts and unnecessary possessions? Or perhaps you are traveling on a dead-end path, lending your efforts to an ineffective lifestyle, or maybe even feel trapped by a hopeless future. By allowing God’s pruning process to take place, we open ourselves up for the possibility to flourish and bear more fruit for the Kingdom of God. And that, Beloved, is success! We will not only add to the Kingdom in capacity but also in excellence! Sometimes blessings are masqueraded as painful experiences. God uses those phases as a season of pruning. Isaiah noted that it was in the midst of death that he saw the Lord high and lifted (Isaiah 6). I understand that he was merely noting the time of his calling; however, I think it is quite significant that it took place during the same time that he was grieving the loss of a beloved king. Yes, one king died but he saw a GREATER King that was high and lifted.
God has a purpose for us, and ultimately, His purpose is designed to produce the best possible fruit from His vineyard. Not only does God want the best from you; God wants to give you the best, as well! Have a blessed assurance, Beloved, that when the pruning knife from our Heavenly Father comes upon your life it comes with a purpose. You and I may not always understand what that reason is but since it is God who is the Farmer, God asks that we trust Him. The important aspect about pruning is not the knife itself, but the One who holds it. What am I saying? Make sure it’s God who is doing the pruning and not anyone else. Don’t allow other people or things to cut into your God-ordained purpose. Know who you are and whose you are, and don’t settle for anything less than God’s best! Nothing happens without God’s authorization. God is working to make us more like Christ. He is working to remove from us those things that do not help us fulfill our purpose in life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God is removing from us what we do not need. He is removing from us what hinders our growth and development.
Allow me to share with you the absolute most important aspect of the gospel of John 15:1-8. It is found in verses four through seven and it is repeated in each verse. It conveys to us how we can handle the pruning seasons of our lives like champions! “Remain in me….” That’s it! Did you really get it? (Read it again). Jesus says we must remain connected to Him. Not only is having a relationship with Jesus important, however, having constant fellowship with Jesus is vital. It is critical for us to spend quality time with Jesus in order to produce because apart from him, we can do nothing. We achieve our closeness with God through daily worship, which includes prayer, and studying the Word. I admonish you to learn to seek God’s face, and not just God’s hands in your efforts to receive from God. The greatest joy comes from knowing that every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before. Your connection with God continues to get better and stronger with each passing day.
I pray that whatever The Lord is doing in this season, that He doesn’t do it without you! In Jesus name, Amen.