TITLE: Fruitful Lives
By Patricia Protzman
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By Patricia Protzman
“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine...apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5b NIV)
It was fall in northeastern Ohio and that meant it was grape-harvesting time. Hundreds of vineyards were loaded with large clusters of dark purple Concord grapes. Their fruity fragrances pervaded the cool air and made your mouth water. My family often picked several baskets of these lush, tasty, fruit of the vine to eat. Sometimes I would put up jams and jellies, which were welcome during the long, cold, winter months.
I never knew what was required to raise grapes until a friend, whose family owned a vineyard, described the proper growing conditions. She said the nearness of Lake Erie created a temperate climate. Planting a variety of grapes that thrived in this climate would reduce disease. Loose soil, full sun, moderate watering, and timely pruning of diseased and fruitless branches, were necessary to ensure a healthy bountiful harvest.
As my friend described how to have a bountiful grape harvest, I thought of how the Bible compares a fruitful Christian to grapevines in John 15. God is the gardener, Christ is the vine, and a Christian is the branch on a grapevine. We are in Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit the moment we trust Christ as our Savior and are born again as a child of God. The branches must be joined to the vine, for fruit bearing.
We need to remain in Christ to be fruitful; the fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). Remaining in Christ will produce effective prayer, continuous fruit, and lasting joy. Anyone having this fruit in their life will draw men toward God, resulting is soul winning. The Lord wants us to have a good time in this life. I enjoy the Christian fellowship and good time experienced in a Bible-study or in any gathering with other Christians. It is sad to see Christians in our churches who tear down and gossip about one another. The Lord commands us to “...love each other.” (John 15:17 NIV) Only the Spirit of God can produce such love in our lives.
Remaining or abiding in Christ can be difficult for some of us. Coming from a large family and being the oldest, I learned to be independent and sometimes followed my own will instead of God’s will. However, over the years, after some uncomfortable life experiences, He has taught me the importance of trusting and obeying Him. Because we have a free will, fellowship can be broken with God by going against His will or letting worldliness creep in. We need to keep in constant communion with Him through prayer, confessing our sins, and obeying His commandments. The Word of God should be read daily; it cleanses and shows us when we are not walking according to His will. The whole purpose of abiding in Christ is to glorify God.
“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.” (John 15:2 NIV). God has cut and pruned my branches of pride, impatience and disobedience. He has removed those things that offend, and pruned out that which has hindered me from bearing fruit. I have found the closer we are to God, the less the pruning hurts. This pruning may be frustrating and painful but it is necessary to make us productive Christians. “Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6 NIV)
Are you a branch producing much fruit? If not, then ask the Spirit of God to do a work in your heart. We need the reality of Christ in our hearts and lives. Know your only source of life is the true Vine, which is Jesus Christ. We can do nothing without Him.
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