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Monday, November 9, 2015
Our Garden Cart overflowing with many golden and crimson fall colors.
"The Pruning Process"
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"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).
We are moving solidly into the autumn season with shorter days and colder nights. Last night it dipped below freezing. We've just about completed our fall cleanup, which involves trimming, cleaning out our flower and vegetable beds, leaf collection, etc. Based on garden cart and wheelbarrow loads of cuttings I've moved I'm amazed by how much vegetative growth occurs during a single growing season!
Brooksyne often buys plants that are on clearance. Many times they look like they are dying and hopeless but there's something rewarding about providing a "wanted" home for them where they will be indulged with some TLC. Several years ago, during the late fall season, we bought two hydrangea trees on clearance from Lowes for a dollar each. We planted them and they have done very well, covered with beautiful flowers. However this summer one tree did so well that the bounty of heavy flowers caused the branches to droop to the ground (see above).
I recall a lesson from Don Eaton, a friend of ours who owns a large tree farm north of Reading Pennsylvania. Several years ago we had a Rose of Sharon tree that had the same drooping branches problem. Don advised some extreme pruning so I took the loppers and really went to work, cutting it way back so it practically looked like a stub. I wondered at the time if I had gone too far but the shapely tree was beautifully restored the next growing season.
Remembering the outcome from the Rose of Sharon I decided to apply some radical pruning to the hydrangea trees this year. My hope is that next spring the tree will grow back even stronger than before, giving less opportunity for drooping branches. If not, then Brooksyne will not be too happy about my extreme pruning methods.
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.
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.
Today let us consider the latter part of the daily text, "Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." This is a very purposeful act to make the plant even more fruitful.
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). So the question begs to be asked, "Are you bearing fruit today?"
All fruit-bearing Christians are subject to pruning as well (notice "every branch"). The purpose of the pruning is that we might be "even more fruitful." The nature of this "pruning" is interpreted 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 that hydrangea tree could speak and saw me coming with my large loppers I doubt that it would gleefully say, "Yippee! I am getting pruned today!!!"
But in our second daily text James indicates that this should actually be our attitude when being pruned (facing trials)! "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 already grown and overlook the Father's desire that I be "more fruitful" as a result of His pruning action. But then I go back to the important detail that 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 even during the pruning process!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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 very 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 here and for the eternal Kingdom of heaven. Amen.
Here's a photo taken this morning of our Rose of Sharon tree. Several years ago I pruned it back similar to the hydrangea tree shown in today's message.
I found this photo of one of our front yard oaks from 2008 and notice the brighter red color when the tree was younger. They have grown a lot more in the last seven years but still offer outstanding fall foliage this year which offsets the thousands of leaves and acorns that drop to the ground keeping us busy with our fall clean-up!
Our young church drummer, Neville, who dressed in his African attire yesterday morning, all the way from Zimbabwe Africa.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"When Trials Come" Video Keith & Kristyn Getty
Thank You Lord, For The Trials That Come My Way" Video Continental Singers (Contemporary music" as it sounded in our college years.)
"He Who Holds The Pruning Knife" A short video teaching by J.R. Miller (4:39 minutes)
Eaton Farms The Core Values illustrates a business unashamedly honoring Christ. Here's Don and a worker pruning a tree speed style video. Don is passionate about trees and is essentially a walking encyclopedia.
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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