Yesterday I shared an observation from my reading in John 15.  Today I want to continue this by looking more closely at God the gardner.  

Let's begin by reading John 15:1-8

15 “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away (He lifts up) every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples."  John 15:1-8

Observation #2 - God the gardner
In this passage the gardner is responsible for "lifting you up" or "pruning" you back.  As I read this I come to the conclusion that, in my following Jesus, I will be in one of three seasons.  

Season of Being Lifted Up:
In this story, concerning fruit, that grows on a vine (possibly grapes), it would be the goal of the gardner to harvest as much fruit as possible.  In your Bible, John 15:2 will say something like, "He takes away every branch that doesn't bear fruit in me."   This is a poor translation.  The actual translation, as I provided above in parentheses is, "He lifts up every branch that doesn't bear fruit in me."  Think on this scripture this way...Why would any gardner/farmer cut off or remove a potential fruit bearing branch?  That's an easy answer, he wouldn't.  But why would a gardner need to lift up a branch?  To answer this you need to think about fruit that grows on vines.  Some of the branches are located on the bottom of the vine.  Here, on the bottom, the vines often get covered in mud and dust and therefor they are unable to grow.  What does a good gardner do?  He wipes them off and lifts them up.  Why, so that they might be in the light of the sun and begin to grow.  Why would a gardner do this?  Because the gardner wants more than anything...Fruit.  Verse 8,  My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples."

Maybe in this season of life you need lifted up?  Maybe you are covered in something, could be sin, could be life, but whatever it is it is keeping you from direct contact with the Son.  If so, allow God to lift you up.  You were not created to live in the mud and muck.  You were called to a life that produces "much fruit." 

WARNING: When God lifts you up He doesn't ask you how you want this to happen.  Do not fight what God is trying to do in your life.  Think on this...Is there a person in your life that is trying to speak God's truth but you are refusing to listen to them?  Is God asking you to do something that you do not want to do?  Do you find yourself refusing to grow up in a particular area of life (establishing a budget to control your spending, working out a better form of communication between you and your spouse, changing the way you "date," etc...)

WARNING: Don't get in the way of God doing His thing in someone else's life.  Are you sure that your "helping" isn't really interference for what God is trying to do in that person's life?  

Season of Pruning:
First, if you are being "pruned" please don't confuse this with discipline.  Pruning isn't bad.  Pruning is a very good thing.  Notice John 15:2, "He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit."  During this season, God is cutting you back so that in season you will produce even MORE fruit!  Don't fight the shears.  Embrace them!  Allow God to give you rest.  Please hear me (and as you read this pray that I too would understand what I'm writing because I struggle with this), no crop produces fruit 24/7.  You're not the exception.  But...

Pruning isn't just a vacation.  Don't be deceived.  Pruning involves cutting away.  As you follow Jesus and as He produces fruit in your life...He will expect more of you.  Jesus' first call is to "come and see" and somewhere along the way He raises the stakes to "pick up your cross and follow me" or come and die.  Do not be deceived...when God prunes you, He often ask you to give up things that you really enjoy.  These are not always bad things.  He may simply ask you to give up something just to see if you are as loyal to him as you think you are.  When we allow His holy shears to go to work in our life, we can be sure that in season, He will have prepared a person able to bear more fruit.  

WARNING: Stop being mad at God.  If you can't understand why "this" is happening in your life, maybe you should consider that God is preparing you for much MORE.  Repent for your poor attitude and chill out.  

Season of Fruitfulness
Ahhh...Don't we all want to be here.  But please know...In the harvest there is a lot of work.  Let me put this before you.  Is your harvest ready?  Is it time to collect some fruit?  What I'm trying to say is, don't leave fruit on the vine!  Is it time to share the gospel with her?  Yes!  Is it time to share the gospel with him?  Yes!  Is it time to intentionally disciple them?  Yes!  If you're in this season of fruitfulness get to work.  God has entrusted with you precious fruit.  My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples."

WARNING: You are not the fruit producer.  The vine (Jesus) is the producer of the fruit.  Don't get cocky or arrogant.  Just remember, you ain't that good.  Be thankful that God chooses to use you.  You might even consider how to bless him back for allowing you to be a part of this fruitful season.  

There is much more to say to this but I think this is enough for today.  
Pastor Matt