The process of pruning needs careful attention

In the Parable of the Vine (John 15:1-8), Jesus illustrated for us some of the things which the Father does, in the lives of His children during a wilderness encounter. In this Parable He also gave us a clue, into how we can be empowered to come out of any wilderness encounter successfully. 

He said at the beginning of the Parable:

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:2-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The Lord God according to Jesus is the Vinedresser in this Parable (verse 1). He (Jesus) is the Vine; while we individually as Christians are the Branches on the Vine (John 15:1&5). 

The Branches which are casted out of the Vine are the believers who are not abiding in the Vine. Their inability to abide in the Vine (Christ Jesus) has made them susceptible, to being casted out by the Father (the Vinedresser). 

The Father is responsible for the pruning of the fruitful Branch. Every vine tree normally grows with its root into the soil. It’s therefore the main stem of the vine as it is growing into the soil, that does support all the branches. 

The believer in Christ as the fruitful Branch on the Vine, get the support in bearing fruit from it. However, a vine tree does not necessarily need to grow deep into the soil before bearing fruit. As long as there is good soil and water available for it to grow, it will bear fruit. 

Water in this regard symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians. A vine tree needs water to grow. Water to any plant tree symbolizes life. And the Holy Spirit gives life to any believer in Christ Jesus. That’s why we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then you are meant to be bearing good fruit (see John 7:38-39). 

Anyone who is familiar with the process of pruning a plant tree, will acknowledge that it is meant to make the tree much more fruitful than before. The vineyard may have been bearing fruit before; but the pruning itself will make it to start producing better fruit. 

The result of the pruning process will be a bountiful harvest for the farmer. A harvest with bigger and more delicious fruit. 

There has been some misinterpretation of this Parable by certain Christians. I had personally met Christians who had said that Jesus was signaling the destruction of the Vine in this Parable, with the action of the Father in casting out the bad or unfruitful Branch. 

This however is not what Jesus meant in this Parable. The pruning process by the Father is meant to make the Vine much more productive, and not to destroy it. 

God does not destroy anything that He has created. But the Branch which was casted out had been useless and unfruitful to the Vine. It’s already dead and defiled, even though it’s attached to the Vine. And if nothing is done to get it out of the Vine, it may end up making the other Branches unfruitful also. 

This was exactly what Paul meant when he said:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The unfruitful Branch that is being casted out is unequally yoked with the other fruitful Branches on the Vine. It is like grouping the wicked together with the righteous people. The two can’t ever agree with one another. 

They will need to be separated from one another, so that they can both be fruitful either with the works of wickedness or righteousness, until the fullness of time for the judgement of God on their fruit comes. 

The fruit that is being produced by the good Branch stands for the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. It can also represent here the fruit of our labor in God’s Vineyard; especially for those who are in the ministry. 

The ability of a Christian to be able to bear more fruit in abundance, is very important for the Kingdom of God. The Father takes the absence of fruit in the lives of His children very seriously. He sees it as the work of the enemy which must be eliminated. 

And sometimes so as to deal with this work of the enemy, He has to take His loved ones through a wilderness encounter with Himself. The purpose is for His beloved to be able to see clearly what the enemy is doing and planning; in order that we as His beloved may be able to deal with him appropriately. 

In dealing with the works of the enemy, the Father exposes His children to see his tricks. God’s children are then instructed and taught by the Lord, how to never to fall into the trap of the enemy again. God’s desire is for every one of His children to be able to bear better fruit. 

This is the reason why the Father intervenes by removing the dead, defiled, diseased or unfruitful Branch on the Vine in this Parable. And He does it perfectly so as not to affect the tenderness of the growing buds near the fruitful Branch (verses 2 and 6). 

The removal of the unproductive or unhealthy Branch gives the fruitful Branch some fresh air in bearing much more fruit, especially if the buds are fresh and emerging. 

That’s why a professional pruner is normally hired to do the pruning of the vineyard by farmers. A serious-minded farmer doesn’t need a novice or just anyone, to be pruning the branches on his vine. Otherwise, anyone who is not professionally trained to be doing this delicate task, may end up ruining the vineyard itself. 

God the Father in this Parable of Jesus is the Vinedresser. He is the Creator Who knows every delicate parts of the Vine (the Body of Christ). He therefore knows best how to remove the troubled or defiled Branch, without necessarily hindering the ability of the fruitful Branch to become much more fruitful. 

God is the Builder of His Kingdom on the earth. He takes seriously anything that is hindering the expansion of His Kingdom on the earth. He will remove the unfruitful, defiled or diseased Branch; so that the fruitful Branch may be able to bear much more and better fruit. 

The pruning is an encounter in the wilderness

The goal is for more fruit

The pruning of the Branch is meant to make the Vine much more productive than ever before. The Branch that is being pruned does has the potential in it, with the springing buds to be much more fruitful. 

When a farmer sees a springing bud on the fruitful branch, he knows it’s time for the pruning process to begin. He needs a better harvest, and he knows that the pruning will set the stage for it.

 God the Father as the Vinedresser does the same thing that a farmer does. He just as the farmer sees the potentials in our lives for better fruit, than what we do have at the moment. 

So therefore, He takes us through a wilderness encounter, so as to position us for increased productivity in His Kingdom. 

Last week we saw (for example) how God promised the restoration of the vineyards back to Israel, in their wilderness encounter with Him. 

He said:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”
‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:14-15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The restoration of the vineyards was meant to make the Israelites much more productive in the promised land, than they were before the Babylonian deportation. A door of hope for prosperity opened up in the wilderness for them. 

The “valley of Achor” in the scripture text above is a reference to the troubled sinful past of Israel. God gave them the vineyards back, in such a manner that they had to forget about their sinful past, while singing for joy in their restoration with abundance of prosperity. 

But for us under the New Covenant a dead, defiled or unfruitful Branch in this Parable of Jesus, represents the “valley of Achor”. And whatever had been troubling your anointing, while hindering your ability to be more fruitful, will have to be removed from your life, before the Lord can restore your fruitful vineyard back to you. 

That’s why Jesus said:

“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God will cast out any Branch that has become defiled or diseased on the Vine. The reason why the Branch will have to be casted out is because, even though it has been attached to the Vine, it’s not really abiding in the Vine. 

This is the image of the double minded believer in Christ, who has one foot in the Kingdom of God, and the other foot in the sinful world. Such Christians will make your spiritual life more unfruitful and defiled, as a fruitful Christian in God’s Vineyard. 

You don’t need them around you. They may be attached to the Vine; but they are not really abiding in Him. And it’s the responsibility of God, as the Vinedresser to cast them out of your life completely. 

He will do this so that you can become much more fruitful than ever before, as He restores your fruitful vineyard back into your life. 

The supernatural intervention of the Most High God in the affairs of those who are loved by Him, is triggered by the unfruitfulness of the dead and defiled Branch. It has to be removed even as God’s Kingdom is forcefully advancing on the earth (Matthew 11:12). 

There are unproductive Christians who will have to be taken out of the way, for the fruitful Branch (a fruitful Christian) to be able to bear much more fruit. 

There are many who are in one form of ministry or another today, who are being hindered from doing more than what they are doing right now, because of the spiritually dead or defiled “woods” in their lives. God’s plan is for them to be bearing more fruit. 

The enemy had planted such spiritually diseased and defiled Christians around them, to prevent the flow of God’s anointing over their lives. The work of the devil is to use these unfruitful ones, to hinder or sidetrack the plans of God in the lives of His beloved children. 

The Branch which is already productive with fruit will have to be pruned perfectly by the Vinedresser (God). He does it in such a manner, so as to achieve His ultimate goal in the life of that (Christian) Branch. 

The anointing oil over the lives of God’s children is being hindered by the enemy, to make them incapable of prospering; because of the activities of the spiritually dead or defiled people around them. 

A spiritual encounter with the Vinedresser is meant for the purpose of removing every one of these hindrances in their pathway, so that they may prosper with their anointing in their individual callings. 

The removal of such a spiritually dead or defiled Branch was what the Lord did, by enticing King Ahab into the war which eventually took his life. Ahab was like the unfruitful Branch that was hindering the prosperity of God’s people. 

And when the Lord God wanted to remove him as king, He spoke enticing words to lure him into the war in which he was supposed to die. God sent a deceiving spirit into the mouth of one of his own Prophets, so as to lead him to his death. 

Ahab would not have accepted any other prophetic word, except through his own Prophets. The Lord God knew this, and He came up with a plan to eliminate him as the king over His people. 

The Lord God said to the angels who were summoned to appear before Him:

“And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭18:19-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

An unfruitful and defiled Branch was what Ahab was to the Israelites. His many sins were preventing the Lord God from continually blessing His people. 

His many sins finally got to the point, when the Lord God Himself knew that it was time for Him to get rid of him. His cup of many sins was already full to the brim before the Lord. 

So therefore, God had to intervene by enticing him into a war, because He wanted to remove him as King over Israel. 

Whatever the Father does is always perfect. The destiny of each one of His children was more important to Him, than the lustful sins of their king.

Ahab actually did not die alone. The Lord God made sure that none of his descendants remained alive, to trouble His people ever again. 

This is so true to our world today, because I had personally witnessed God’s intervention on behalf of His people in many nations. 

When God’s people are crying out to Him in prayer, instead of joining the bandwagon of the ungodly to complain; then God’s intervention on behalf of His people takes place. 

If God could remove Ahab for standing in the way of His people, He can do the same thing in any nation today. Prayer can remove the unrighteous from the position of power. It works better and faster than when God’s people are complaining or grumbling. 

When God’s people are praying, then God will be moved to act on their behalf. But if they are only grumbling and complaining, then God’s hand will be tied away from intervening on their behalf. The devil is the one who is in charge when people are complaining and grumbling. God can only intervene in the affairs of men when they pray. 

The Bible says:

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The Bible also says:

“The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭21:1‬ ‭NLT

‬‬And:

“You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] shall shine upon your ways.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭22:28‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Prayer will change any nation on the earth today for good. It can transform nations and the people who are living in them. It’s far more effective than carrying placards, protests and even wars. When God’s people are praying, then God will act on their behalf. 

He will cut away the wicked from the land, because of the prayer of His people. The wicked in this case are the unfruitful Branches; while the righteous people of God are the ones who are bearing good fruit. God will cut the wicked away, so that the righteous can be able to bear much more fruit in the nations. 

God is seeking a Covenant relationship

A Covenant relationship of faith and love

The word of God which is being spoken tenderly and softly into the heart of the Christian, who is being pruned during any spiritual encounter with the Lord God, is meant to clean up the negativity within him, from the dead and unfruitful Branch that has been casted out (John 15:3).

This is why it’s important to be abiding in God’s word, and in His love during any spiritual encounter with the Lord. Anyone who is not abiding in God’s word and love, will be eventually cut off completely from the presence of the Father. 

Jesus said:

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:10-12‬ ‭NKJV

‬‬All the commandments of Jesus are in His written word to us. And by abiding in His love, we are able to keep His written word. Anyone who says that he loves Jesus, shows it by abiding in His written word and obeying His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). 

And the greatest commandment of Jesus is love. Every child of God must be prepared to say “yes” to Him, every time He tells us to do something without complaining. We do what Jesus says in the scriptures because we love Him. If you are abiding in His love, you will find it easy to say “yes” to every one of His commandments. 

A Christian who wants to be bearing more fruit needs to be cleaned up in the spirit, soul and body. An unhealthy spirit, soul and body of a child of God is limited in the amount of spiritual fruit, that he is capable of bearing.

Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

There is an unbroken bond in Covenant relationship that the Lord is seeking, whenever He is leading His people into a wilderness encounter with Himself. The goal in this relationship was highlighted by Jesus when He said:

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so, you will be My disciples.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

He summed it up with these words which are actually the bond of our Covenant with Him:

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:14-15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Being disciplined as a disciple of Jesus Christ glorifies the Father. A fruitful Christian is able to achieve all his goals in the calling of God, as long as that Christian is abiding in the Covenant relationship by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

The Covenant relationship gets him to a spiritual position where, he is able to ask God in prayer for anything and receive the answer immediately. This is only possible because of the Covenant bond relationship between them. 

When a child of God breaks the Covenant by the blood of Jesus Christ, and consequently backslides away from His presence; then the pathway for redemption and restoration back into fellowship with the Lord, in that Covenant relationship is through a wilderness encounter. 

The pruning in the life of a Christian who is going through a spiritual encounter with the Lord, is meant to solidify their Covenant relationship. This is especially the case between the Father and a backslidden Christian, who is being restored back into fellowship with the Lord. 

Such an encounter is for the purpose of bearing much more fruit, by the time the processes of both the pruning and restoration are completed. 

And it’s at the completion of these two processes, that such a Christian begins to realize and see Jesus as the Friend, who can always be trusted for anything in this world: instead of trusting in the world and her systems. The Covenant relationship brings their friendship together into the prime light. 

That Believer in Christ sees himself no more as a servant of God, but now as a Friend of Jesus. He now has free access into the treasures of Heaven and receive anything that he wants as he prays. 

The reestablishment of the Covenant relationship by the blood of Jesus Christ makes this possible. Jesus will always reveal the heart of the Father to His Friends. He has no reason to be hiding anything from them. 

From that moment when the Covenant relationship is reestablished, He sees them as being Partners together with Him in the Covenant. Jesus alone can do such things in the life of a restored backslidden Christian. 

That’s why it’s important never to right off any backslidden Christian. God is able to restore that person back into fellowship with Himself, no matter how far away from fellowshipping with the Lord that person may have gone. God is always in the business of redemption, reconciliation and restoration (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). 

Don’t ever right off your fellow Christians who are already backslidden. Keep on praying for them to be restored back into fellowship with the Father. This is the attitude that the Father is seeking in your relationship with Him, concerning those who are backslidden from the fellowship with Christ. 

The father in the Parable of the Prodigal son never gave up on his lost son. He was always on the lookout for the day when he would come back home. And when he finally did return there was joyful celebration in his house.

Jesus said in that Parable, as the lost son returned back home to the father:

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:22-24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This is what God does with those Christians who might had been on fire for the Lord before; but who had lost the flame of the fire of God in their lives. 

It’s interesting to note that God never forgets about the passionate love of His people, even when they are backslidden from Him. He longs to win them back to Himself; just as the father in the Parable of the lost son longed for the return of his son back home. 

The passionate or first love that they do have for Jesus is forever in God’s presence. He is a faithful God. He never forgets their labor of love for Him.

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