Monday, December 16, 2013


I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

I have a garden on my property but I'm not a gardener.  I have a friend who is a gardener and technically, it's his garden and I get to cheer him on.  And he's a really, really good gardener.  So my gardening knowledge is pretty limited but I feel like I've tagged along on his journey, so let me tell you about our grape vines.

It's a rather large lot, so my friend has large strawberry patches and an area for the raspberry bushes.  We have boxes for the vegetables (everything from beans to tomatoes to lettuces to onions, etc.) and a large corner for asparagus - that stuff grows like crazy!  And another couple of spots for zucchini, patapan, pumpkins and watermelons - all which need space to spread itself out.  

And then there are the grape vines - one long fence with six posts.  We planted a vine at the base of the four inside posts and then waited for them to do their magic.  Grape vines are grabbers and crawlers, so as the plants grew, they went up the posts and then began to turn to their left and right and spread out along the wire fence.

Now, my friend told me not to expect any fruit the first year or two. The plants were too young and needed time to mature.  After the first year, he pruned the plant all the way back to the original size - the base of the vine was thickening but all the branches were cut away.  So during the second summer, as the plants were starting to grow, we were spraying for weeds and got a little too close to the vine and killed it.  

Back to step one.  It was about then that another friend gave me some vines as a gift and these vines were a success.  So in their second year, they started to produce fruit.  As I watched the fruits begin to grow, I was pretty excited - little clusters of grapes hanging all over the branches - this was going to be a great harvest!  Then, one night, just as the grapes were about ready to be harvested, a raccoon visited my garden.  It might have been a herd of raccoons, because the devastation to that harvest that occurred in one night was amazing.  That raccoon apparently pulled off each grape, one by one, squeezed the skin off each grape, ate the innards, and dropped the skin on the ground.  THOUSANDS of grapes eaten in one night.


So we pruned the branches back to the original vine and the next year we cranked up the electricity in the outer fence line before the grapes were ready to be harvested.  The outcome? Success! A bountiful harvest!

So here's what I've learned:
  • the vine is the source of life (poisoning the vine killed everything)
  • the branches need pruning for good fruit production
  • the fruit comes from maturing branches and are evidence of a healthy plant
  • raccoons are bad 
Jesus tells us that He is the vine - we must abide IN Him to bear fruit.  He says that apart from Him we can do nothing.  This reminds me of my favorite verse, Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives IN me!  The life of a believer is to be completely absorbed by Christ - we are in Him, He is in us. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  If this is the reality of your life, then fruit production will be natural.  Joy will flow, self-control will dominate, love will rule the day, peace will be evident, patience will come naturally, you'll be one of the kindest people you know, goodness and gentleness will go hand in hand and your faithfulness to the Lord and His Word will be easily identified in your words, expressions and actions.

So what is the key to a life like this?  How do we bear fruit?  Abide.  We have to abide in Christ.  We have to live in Him.  We have to immerse ourself in His Word, talk to Him all day, think upon the things that are important to Him, watch TV with Him, take Him to the grocery store with you, place Him at the dinner table with your family and ask Him if that outfit makes you look fat.  Don't be alarmed at the pruning process either - it's for your own good and for better fruit production.  

Abiding means to be with on a regular basis.

The gospel is Jesus in my place - Jesus took my punishment and gave me His righteousness. But the gospel is not just a one time event - it doesn't end on the cross.  The gospel is for every day - Jesus now lives through us and abiding simply means choosing to let Jesus be in your place on a day by day, moment by moment basis.  

For apart from Him, we really can do nothing.

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