Words of Faith 2-9-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Winter Conference at FFC - February 10-12 - with Nate Garrett. Four great teachings in 1 John - "True Love".
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"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, and I will 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.
Chapter fifteen of John’s Gospel records Jesus’ teaching concerning three key relationships in the life of a disciple.
1. Our relationship with Him (15:1-10)
2. Our relationship with one another (15:11-17)
3. Our relationship with the world around us (15:18-16:4).
In describing the relationship of a believer to Himself, Jesus called Himself the true vine. This is the last of the “I AM” statements found in John’s Gospel. The vine had been an image of Israel. It was an image that was vivid and powerful for the disciples. There were many vineyards in the land. Some vines were very old going back hundreds of years.
In this description, Jesus is closer than close. He is the Vine and we are the branches. He is not a servant to us. He is not even an objective entity with which we interact. He is the source of life. We are attached to Him and the only life we have grows out of Him.
It is interesting that many grapevines are “grafted” because the base of the vine is resilient to enemies such as insects, molds and bacteria. Jesus is the true vine that is resistant to the Enemy. We are the branches that are nourished and protected because we abide in or remain in the true Vine.
The Father is the Gardener. The gardener has several important jobs. The first task of the gardener is location. Nothing affects the growth and fruit of a vine quite as much as location. Choosing the right spot for the vine is critical. The temperature, rainfall, sunlight, altitude, slope and soil composition all make a huge different in the fruitfulness of the vine.
The Father was deliberate and purposeful in where and when He located Jesus. At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). Our Father is deliberate and purposeful in choosing where and when He locates us. The family we were born into was not an accident. The places that we find ourselves are not by chance. This is not to say that the Gardener does not change our location or replant us in another place from time to time, but we must be careful not to resist His sovereign plans. The steep slope can sometimes be the most fruitful one.
It is also the job of the gardener to cultivate and “train” the vine so that it can bear fruit. A gardener is purposeful and patient. The vine and its branches must grow along a trellis or guide structure that is designed to maximize exposure to the sun. This “training” makes all the branches of the vine healthy and fruitful while preventing rotting.
When a vine is planted the first harvest of grapes is normally after the third year of training and cultivation. The full crop does not appear until after about five years. Fruit takes time. The gardener is patient. If after the expected time of cultivation there is no fruit from a particular branch it is cut off and the fruitful branches are pruned. Pruning involves removing some of growth dead wood so that the branch can be more fruitful.
The key here is that Jesus is our very Life. He is the true Vine from which we gain all life. The Father is the purposeful Gardener. In His sovereign plan He locates, cultivates, waters and prunes the vine. He carefully watches the growth of the branches. There are some branches connected with the vine which bear no fruit even after cultivation. These are cut off. But every branch that bears fruit is also pruned. There is no branch that is not either cut or pruned.
So how do we bear fruit? We cannot. Jesus does in us. We can only remain in Jesus. No branch can bear fruit by itself. We do not bear fruit by our hard work or exhaustive effort. We do not bear fruit as a result of our religious activities or organized dedication as significant as they may be. We bear fruit simply and only by abiding in Jesus. Everything else flows from this truth.
Effort without connection is fruitless. Connection that leads to effort is exceedingly fruitful. Paul who “worked harder than all of them” is a great example of this (1 Cor. 15:10). The bottom line is that no matter our effort we will not have a fruitful relationship with one another or with the world unless we are connected into the True Vine Jesus as our source of life. We also will not have a fruitful life in Christ without pruning. In His love, the Father prunes and “cleans” the things that that need to be removed from our lives. This is done in many ways but most certainly through work of the Word of God.
How is your connection to the true Vine? Is there fruit in your life? Do you see the fruit of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Do you see the fruit of God’s work in your life, the growth and encouragement of others through you? Are you allowing the Gardener to be at work in your life, locating you, nurturing and pruning you? Are you inviting the Gardener to use the Word in your life to trim and clean you? Most of all, are you abiding in the true Vine?
Lord Jesus, I choose to abide in You this day. Give me Life that can only be found in You, the True Vine. Father, locate and nurture me as You see fit. Prune and clean me by the power of the Word. Bear the fruit of Your Spirit in my life. In Jesus’ name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2017
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.