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Being Pruned

Greetings All,

This week's thought comes to you from the well-known devotional writer Andrew Murray (1828-1917). This particular selection is found in his book "The True Vine," which is a verse by verse expostion of John 15:1-16. A missionary to South Africa with the Dutch Reformed Church, Murray reacted against the deadening effects of raw rationalism and a Christianity that offered no vital experience with Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Murray has a special place in my own spiritual life, for he "discipled" me (in a way) in my first two years as a Christian. One week before I headed off to the Dominican Republic as a missionary (shortly after my conversion in 1980), I realized I needed some Christian literature to bring with me for that two year mission stint. And since I literally had no money at the time, and only a week before I left the U.S., I prayed earnestly for the Lord to supply some funds for the purpose of buying those books. Two days later a check for $55 came in the mail!

I then took the money, went to a local Christian bookstore in Marion, Indiana (totally ignorant of what Christian literature was good and what was not), and spent every dollar on books. I bought two by A.B. Simpson, one by F.B. Meyer, and SIX by Andrew Murray (Like Christ / The Spirit of Christ / Abide in Christ (his most popular) / Absolute Surrender / and With Andrew Murray in the School of Prayer).

All of Murray's books are set up in devotional style, with short 2-3 page chapters, making them very easy to read, contemplate and digest. This thought has to do with God pruning us so as to bring forth greater fruit in His service. Enjoy.

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, so it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:2)

"I look out my window on large vineyards. The chief care of the vinedresser is the pruning. You may have a trellis vine rooting so deep in good soil that it needs neither digging, nor manuring, nor watering, but pruning it cannot dispense with, if it is to bear good fruit. Some trees need only occasional pruning; others bear perfect fruit without any; but the vine must have it. And here at the very outset of this parable, our Lord tells us the one work the Father does to the branch that bears fruit -- He prunes it that it may bear even more fruit.

Consider a moment what this pruning is. It is not the removal of weeds or thorns or anything from outside that may hinder the growth. No, it is the cutting off of the long shoots of the previous year's growth. The removal of something that comes from within, that has been produced by the life of the vine itself. It is the removal of something that is a proof of the vigor of its life.

The more vigorous the previous years growth has been, the greater the need for the pruning. It is the honest, healthy wood of the vine that has to be cut away. And why? Because it would consume too much of the sap to fill all the long shoots of last year's growth. The sap must be saved up and used for the fruit alone...

What a solemn, precious lesson! It is not to sin only that the cleansing and pruning of the Husbandman here refers. It is also to our religious activity [to growth spawned by the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives] as it is developed in the very act of bearing fruit. It is this that must be cut down and cleansed away. We must, in working for God, use our natural gifts of wisdom, or eloquence, or influence, or zeal. And yet, they are ever in danger of being unduly developed, and then trusted in. And so, after each season of work, God has to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the consciousness of our helplessness and the danger of all that is man, to feel that He is all and we are nothing. All that is to be left of us is just enough to recieve the power of the life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit.

What is of man must be reduced to its very lowest measure. All that is inconsistent with entire devotion to Christ's service must be removed. The more perfect the cleansing and cutting away of all that is of the self, the less surface over which the Holy Spirit [like the sap] needs to spread. The less there is of us, the more intense can be the concentration of our whole being to be entirely at the disposal of the Spirit."


Then he ends with this prayer: "O our holy Husbandman, cleanse and cut away all that there is in us that could make a fair show, or could become a source of self-confidence and self-glorying. Lord, keep us very low, that no flesh may glory in Your presence. We trust You to do Your work."

Añadir vídeoSo often we think that we must always be building upon, or leaving intact, all the growth of the past. We can be led to think that the healthy shoots that grew during past year's of vigorous spiritual growth should never be snipped or pruned. It almost seems counter-intuitive (to someone who has never farmed) to cut back the branches that grew so strong and high during rich and precious seasons of growth! I myself have often suffered from the false belief that fruit of a more precious and useful nature will grow on branches that sprouted long in my previous years of growth.

But this passage tells us otherwise. Past growth (though good and necessary at the time it grew) can actually be a deterrent to the production of richer and sweeter fruit in the present. The sap of the Spirit, if we understand Jesus, is diluted and weakened and wasted when it flows through lengthy branches of past growth all over again. As with grape vines, you want the sap to go directly to the new year's fruit, to sweeten it and make it more lucious and nutritious.

Though we don't often pause to think of it, I fear that many Christians (myself included) have frequently placed their trust in their growth, instead of the Lord who produced it. Or, as I have also seen, people sometimes cling to past experiences with God, or become content to live in the memory of those past times of growth, when what the Chief Vinedresser desires to do is come and prune them away (painful as it may be), that we may have new and better growth. Old growth is not pruned because it is bad, but because we don't want the sap of the Holy Spirit to be diluted and diminished in its intensity by having to flow through that now unnecessary old growth.

Just as pruned vines produce the best fruit, so also there is a habitual need for less of us, and more of Him. Instead of glorying in our growth, every so often we need to ask God to prune away the past season's growth, that we may be better able to bear lucious fruit for God in this present season of our lives.

With prayers that that pruning may not be too painful! Pastor Jeff