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April 26, 2012

Ivy covered silo, Lancaster County PA
This ivy covered silo is at the Vogt Farm Bed and Breakfast on Colebrook Road about a mile from our home. We wonder how many years this has been growing. If the vine keeps growing it will look like a tree!

Ivy covered silo, Lancaster County PA
Another view

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"The Master Pruner"

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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" (John 15:1,2). "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2).

Photo of Silver maple
When we moved to our home we had a small silver maple tree growing up right along a fence in our backyard. It was healthy but it needed to be transplanted to a better location in our yard.

We dug it out and in doing so inadvertently completely bared the root system. We've since learned that, when possible, it's good to leave soil around roots when you transplant trees or bushes! After digging a deep hole in the desired location we replanted it adding some fertilizer to the soil and drenched it with a lot of water. About three days later the tree started dying with leaves turning brown and falling off. It was pathetic looking.

I had resigned to losing the tree when Don, a friend who was visiting us from Texas, told me in his distinctive southern drawl, "You've got to prune that right back, lop it off half way up."  Wow, that was hard to do and seemed counter-productive, but it was dying anyway so I took his advice. Within a few days we saw tiny new leaves forming and the tree began thriving in a very short time.

We associate the word, "prune" with trees and bushes and rightly so. In our Scripture text Jesus chose a gardening theme when He described God as the Master Gardener, Himself as the vine and His followers as the branches of the vine. The Father cuts off branches that bear no fruit, which has been variously interpreted by Christians through the ages. Today I consider the latter part of the daily text, "every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

Are you bearing fruit today? All who follow Christ are called to bear fruit. In fact Jesus ended His teaching with this statement, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:8).

Pruning involves cutting off branches and we do this to encourage flower or fruit development, promote plant health, maintain a desired tree form, and improve plant appearance among other reasons. All fruit-bearing Christians are subject to this kind of pruning as well (notice "every branch"). The purpose of the pruning is that we might be "even more fruitful." "Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:2).

The nature of this "pruning" is seen by many to be the trials that are an inevitable part of our earthly existence. I can't speak for you, but I don't necessarily like the painful pruning experiences of life. If a tree could speak and saw the pruner with the shears or hedge clippers coming its way I wonder if it would say, "Oh boy, yippee, yippee, I am getting pruned today!!!"

But our second daily text reveals that this should actually be our attitude!
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." This is an attitude that does not come naturally to me. I'd really rather avoid the pruning times!

Too often I'm willing to settle for the fruit I have and am unconcerned about being "more fruitful" which follows the pruning action. But I go back to that detail I pointed out earlier.
Jesus said, "Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

Today may God give us an assurance that the Master Pruner is showing evidence of His faithfulness and love toward us during the pruning process!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, You are the Master Pruner who is growing me into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. As I remain in the Vine You assure me that I will bear much fruit lasting far beyond one season. When I consider the fruit You want to grow in me I recognize that it is all based on character traits seen in the Son. Help me to respond in accordance to the pruning knife of the Word of God as it penetrates my soul, judging the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. Cut out that which hinders my growth and submerge me in that which will make me flourish making me fruitful for the Kingdom of God.  Amen.

Hershey Cocoa shrubbery
Our journeys yesterday took us through Hershey, PA and the Hershey chocolate factory where we pass this "Hershey Cocoa" shrubbery.  This shrubbery is so large that these letters are clearly visible on a google satellite map!

Vogt farm trucks
These old Mack farm trucks are waiting for another harvest.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Thank You Lord For The Trials That Come My Way"  Video  This was popular in our early adult years and has a great message. This was the first solo I ever heard Brooksyne sing when we ministered together at a state lung hospital (called the Missouri State Sanitarium at the time) in Mount Vernon Missouri while in Bible College. As college students we went here to practice preaching!

"Blessings"  Video  Laura Story  A newer song with a rich perspective on suffering.

"In His Time"  Video   Maranatha Singers.  Brings back memories of when we used to sing this in church.

"Consider it Pure Joy"  Video  Acapella group singing James 1:2

Vogt Farm Bed and Breakfast

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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