The absolute, most important single act of the children of God is making space to encounter our heavenly Father in the secret place. Abiding in God is the foundation on which every other aspect of the Christian life finds success. It establishes roots which enable us to receive all that we need to bear the fruit of the Spirit. It guides us to constant refreshment and revival in God’s presence, thereby supplying and sustaining the abundant life God intends for us. My prayer is that you would be marked by wonderful, satisfying, and fulfilling encounters with the presence of God as we look at John 15:1-17 this week. Make room in your heart and mind to rest in the love of your heavenly Father as we look at the different ways we are to abide in the true vine of God.
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2
New Wine | Hillsong Worship feat. Brooke Ligertwood
The world teaches that discipline is about shaming us into acting perfectly. Discipline from the world usually comes from a place of selfishness rather than love, a pursuit of perfection rather than godliness, and intends to lead us to the appearance of morality rather than molding and shaping the heart. For this reason, we so often run away from the discipline of our heavenly Father. But, Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” God loves us, so he disciplines us. He has such incredible plans for us that he must mold and shape us into children ready and equipped for authority, influence, and the power of the Spirit. His discipline is always intended to lead us to abundant life, not to tear us down or shame us. As we look at God’s desire to discipline us, allow his love to open your heart and lead you into the process of pruning intended solely to refine, help, and produce fruit in you.
John 15:2 says, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The only way for us to bear more fruit in God is to allow him to prune us. The pursuit and cares of the world are like weeds that crowd out and steal nourishment from the good, fruitful branches rooted in God. God’s plan is to prune, heal and transform us into children who live in the world but are not of it (John 17:14-19). He longs to tear down the strongholds of pride and sin that have kept us from experiencing the fullness of his promises. And he plans to lead us to a lifestyle of important and eternal fruit which will fill us with the fullness of joy.
So how do we allow God to prune us? How can we engage in his process of healing and transformation? It all starts with seeing the depth of his love for us. Psalm 103:2-4 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” God’s process of discipline is so different than the world’s because it is all rooted in his unconditional love for us. In order to consistently engage in his loving discipline, we must consistently encounter his love. We have to spend time with the all-loving heart of our heavenly Father to separate his discipline from the unloving discipline of so many of our earthly fathers. His discipline is always solely for our benefit and completely to our good. In order for us to fully give ourselves over to his discipline, we must have continual revelation of the depth of his love for us.
Next we have to choose his ways over the ways of the world. We have to sacrifice what we thought mattered for what he says matters. Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” His discipline will be painful because it will lead you to look different from the world you grew up in. He will take our living sacrifice of the world’s opinions and transform us into children who solely value his opinion. Most of us have valued the ways and opinions of the world so highly that living apart from them feels completely foreign and frightening. So we must choose to trust God over what we have understood to be important or valuable. God will lead all of us to a lifestyle of humility in opposition to the world’s values of pride and success. He will lead all of us to a lifestyle of loving others rather than getting all we can out of others. He will lead all of us to a lifestyle of dependence on him rather than self-empowerment. And he will most certainly lead all of us to a life of relationship with him as our highest priority over the opinions and friendship of others. Every piece of the pruning process is difficult. But, every time you agree with and follow the Holy Spirit through the process you will come out more satisfied, joyful, free, empowered, and fruitful than you were before. Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” After you throw off the weight of the world you will wonder how you ever lived under its burden.
Engage with your loving heavenly Father in the process of pruning. Open your heart and allow him to tear down the walls that have been keeping you from experiencing the flood of abundant life and works he has planned for you. See his love and respond to it by sacrificing your ways of thinking and living. He has plans to heal, transform, and free you today if you will simply follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit through the pruning process.
1. Meditate on God’s desire to prune you. Reflect on how God’s discipline is always rooted in his love. Compare God’s desire to discipline you to the world’s. Separate his desire from other discipline you have received in the past if it wasn’t done with his heart.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:34
2. Open you heart to the Spirit and ask him to tear away any parts of your life that are not bearing the fruit of God. Follow his leadership as you think about parts of your lifestyle that aren’t filled with the abundant life God desires. What does he want to change about your perspective, time or relationships? What is he asking you to do or give up so that you might live more free, empowered and fruitful? Take as much time to listen to the Spirit as you need.
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” Psalm 103:2-4
3. Agree with his pruning and follow-through with whatever he is leading you to do. Make plans to cut out of your life anything he has revealed to you. Call a friend and ask for accountability to hold you to the discipline God has for you. Commit to engaging in the process of discipline on an ongoing basis so that God can continually transform any areas of your life that are hurting you rather than guiding you to abundant life in your heavenly Father.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
One of the greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit we can receive is a desire to be disciplined and pruned by our heavenly Father. May we all have the heart of the Psalmist who wrote in Psalm 51:10-12,
Extended Reading: Hebrews 12 or watch The Bible Project’s video on Hebrews.