Robert Ballard • Pastor of Worship Ministries
How is Your Garden Growing?
I’m always amazed at how you can put a seed in the ground, add a little water, and then it begins to sprout up and grow into delicious vegetables, or how a springtime bloom on a tree transforms into a juicy apple! Let’s take a few moments each day this week to look at John 15 to see how to cultivate a healthy spiritual garden.
MONDAY: Jesus is the True Vine
In John 15:5, God describes Himself in this way: I am the vine. Notice here that He doesn’t say that He is “a” vine, but rather “the” vine. In the same manner earlier in John 14:6, Jesus says this, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The Vine gives the branches (that’s us) life! It can be tempting for our minds to become distracted as we begin to think that vines rooted in money, power, prestige, people, and promotions will bring us true happiness and contentment in life. While there is nothing wrong with striving to have any of these things, we can’t place our faith in them to bring us lasting joy and contentment. We know that all of these things, while attractive, beautiful and good, can never replace the One True Vine–Jesus Christ.
For Today: Are you fully trusting in the One True Vine?
TUESDAY: The Fruitful Branch
One of my family’s favorite summer treats is watermelon. It seems everyone loves watermelon–except for me! A watermelon is an example of one of the many fruits and vegetables that grow on a vine. While learning about watermelons, I was reminded again of the truth in John 15:5, Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit. Did you know that it takes a watermelon vine 2-3 months to produce ripe fruit? Likewise, in our own lives, fruit-bearing can take time. Faithfully and continually abide in Christ, and He will produce the fruit. Scripture speaks of the Fruits of the Spirit that should be evident in the life of the Christian. Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The branch cannot bear fruit alone; it must be connected to the vine. The same goes for you and me!
For Today: What Fruits of the Spirit is God trying to cultivate in your life?
WEDNESDAY: The Unfruitful Branch
Can you imagine what would happen to the watermelon vine if it were detached from the root of the vine? For a brief amount of time, that vine might look normal, but you would quickly see changes taking place as it would start to brown and wither. Notice how a vine that has become detached from the root no longer produces fruit. Once this happens, most gardeners will gather these vines or branches and place them aside because they are no longer useful. Our Take5 passage this week in John 15:6a speaks to this very point: If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers. Fortunately, God desires for us to draw closer to Him and to be used again for His glory!
For Today: Draw near to God, and ask Him to help you be a fruitful Christian!
THURSDAY: Time for Pruning
Have you ever pruned a fruit tree? Pruning is when you cut away the parts of the tree that are hindering its growth, allowing the tree to reach its full, fruit-bearing potential. It can be lots of work! I’m convinced that we as believers can often go through life-seasons of pruning. God will prune portions away from our lives in order to make us the sons and daughters He wants us to be. John 15:2 says that 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. No matter the life-season or circumstance, we can trust that God is working it out for our good and to make us more like Him.
For Today: What areas of your life could God be trying to prune?
FRIDAY: Apart from Him, We are Nothing
Have you ever tried to accomplish a major task on your own knowing that you should have asked for help? John 15:5 ends with this powerful life statement: for apart from Me you can do nothing. Jesus is telling a story describing Himself as “the true vine,” His Father as “the Gardener,” and you and I as “the branches.” And then He reminds each of us that without Him we can do nothing! Paul says something similar in Romans 7:18, Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. Let me encourage you to stay close to the Vine for He gives us what we need to grow and to stay spiritually healthy. It is impossible for us to bear true spiritual fruit on our own. For without our master Gardener, from which our power comes, we can do nothing.
For Today: Be encouraged that God empowers His children to do great things for His glory!