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Pruning is God's Path to Productivity

Understanding Advesity  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:52
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Introduction:

Have you ever missed a plane because you read the date or time wrong?
Have you ever missed a benefit because you didn’t know it was there? Coupon for something free that expired?
Have you ever ignored a warning sign because you didn’t know what it meant?
There is a kind of adversity that many mature Christians don’t understand. It is called pruning.
Transition:
Many Christians miss the blessing of pruning because they misunderstand what is happening.

Bottom Line: God prunes all fruit producing Christians to make us more fruitful.

Homiletical question: What is pruning?
John 15:1-16
John 15:1–16 NIV
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also 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. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

1. Pruning is only for Christians.

Something that only happens to Christians.
John 15:1-3
John 15:1–3 NIV
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Christians have a unique relationship with Jesus and God the Father. Here Jesus uses a metaphor and calls Himself the true vine and His Father is the gardener or vinedresser. Jesus is going to talk about those who He says are “in me.” This only refers to Christians.
He mentions there are some “in me” who are don’t belong there. Judas is in this category as well as many who claim to be disciples but really aren’t. Jesus mentioned these in Matthew 7:21-23
Matthew 7:21–23 NIV
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
The main point of this passage is directed to Christians, not to people who only claim to be Christ followers. It’s for those who are genuinely in Christ, those who have trusted Jesus died on the cross was buried and rose again to pay for their sins. All who have placed their faith in Jesus for salvation are placed in Christ.
Jesus statement that they are already clean is an allusion to what Jesus said when washing the disciples feet about how the believing disciples were different from Judas.
John 13:10-11
John 13:10–11 NIV
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

2. Pruning is about productivity.

Something God uses to make us more productive, more fruitful. There are three levels of fruit bearing Christians.
A. Four levels of fruit production
No fruit John 15:2
John 15:2 NIV
2 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.
Fruit John 15:2
More fruit John 15:2
Much fruit John 15:5
John 15:5 NIV
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
B. Four types of fruit
Godly character Galatians 5:22-23
Galatians 5:22–23 NIV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Good works Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 2:10 NIV
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Effective Prayer John 15:7
John 15:7 NIV
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Missional fruit John 14:12
John 14:12 NIV
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

3. Pruning changes our priorities.

The method God uses to make us more productive is called pruning. Pruning can be painful. They can be misunderstood as punishment when they are the opposite. They are a reward for producing fruit! Pruning isn’t something we choose. It’s something God does to us.
In order to recognize and understand pruning we have to perform a self-examination.
A. Location - Genesis 46:1-29, Genesis 50:19-20
God moves you or someone in your life. Jacob and his family to Egypt. Genesis 46:1-29, Genesis 50:19-20 This frees you to focus on ministry.
B. People - Daniel 1:1-7
God takes people, family and friends, out of our lives or us out of other’s lives. Daniel and his friends to Babylon. Daniel 1:1-7 It is easy to depend upon people and not take initiative. The influence of family and friends can stifle our ministry and dreams. He can do this in many ways.
Job change
This includes things such as a transfer to another location, a promotion, resulting in a person not having the free time to spend with you he or she once had.
Stage of life change
A friend gets married and no longer has time to spend with you. Someone has to care for family member doesn’t have time for you.
C. Activities
God changes what we do often because we’re to comfortable to change on our own. Joseph from shepherd to manager of a house to manager of a prison to manager of a country. Genesis 37:12-28; 39:1-6; 39:20-23; 41:39-40 We can love a good job that takes time away from ministry. Ministry can be family or church.
Remove our job to focus on ministry.
Reduce our hours in one area to enable us to free us to increase them in a different area.
Redirect our energy by de-emphasizing one role to emphasize another.

4. Pruning works through our perseverance.

The godly response to this happening is to embrace what God is doing and work harder for Him.
A. Accept (with relief) God’s loving direction. John 15:5, 9
B. Abide in Jesus by continuing with faithful obedience. John 15:10
C. Acknowledge with joy God’s plan for you. John 15:11-15
D. Ask God for more fruit. John 15:16
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