Juicy Fruit

“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 ESV
That fruit that nourishes the soul. That sweet aroma of a life touched by the Spirit that is pleasing to the Children of God and that is hated by the world. That guidance by a new voice that leaves us no excuse for our sin, but that convicts us soundly and justly, and leaves us humble and broken at the foot of the cross. 
This is the Good News of the gospel,  not that we are innocent and justified in our sin to remain slaves to that other masterling – but that through an abiding faith in Jesus Christ as our only hope of salvation, that we are justified by the grace shared through His blood and imparted to us through our faith. 
A dead stick on the ground is not grafted into a living vine by its own striving, or by its own claims, or by its own dreaming – but only if the gardener chooses to graft it into that source of life. So we do not ask as heartily “have you accepted Jesus” as we might ask boldly “does He know you by name, is He living in and through you today”. Because what is a title we give ourselves in name if we have deceived both ourselves and others by claiming a religion instead of living a relationship? Christian, what will it profit us to give up a fruitful, abiding life in Christ loving and serving, just to cling to a death of feeding upon the poison of our sinfulness and worldliness? 
Don’t tell me you’re a Christian,  friend,  without showing me that you’re a Christian. No, your works will earn you no honor or favor for yourself, but they will earn my praise to the Lord for using you for His glory and honor. 
Some of you who hate me will call me a lover of works and a legalist, because you love your continued rebellion through justifying your sin and excusing the lack of fruit or life, but you could hardly be any further from the Truth than you are at this moment. If you were in fact a fool who is deaf to the voice that cries,  “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”, you would also be blind to the truth of a rebuke, a warning, that it is time to seek God while you still can, while work can still be done. 
But some of you,  a peculiar remnant of those who bear the name, are actually intent on seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven – are actually intent on seeing captives set free from the sin that enslaves them – are actually intent on seeing their powerful and Almighty God bring deliverance and revival to the people and healing to the land. And this remnant understands that healing comes through a purging, a cleansing, and through new growth as the dead are cut away and burned to make room for fruit. 
Living vines produce fruit.
Thank you, Lord, for the seed of your Word that is planted in good soil. Thank you for bringing the water and the light so that new life will break forth from this old, dead seed. Thank you for grafting us into that vine,  that abiding presence of the Holy Spirit that lives in us. Thank you for that perfect example and sacrifice through Jesus Christ that is our only justification, or only hope,  our only path to salvation, before a righteous and holy God. Do not allow us to stop and be dormant in our growth – draw us close to you,  Lord. We surrender our lives to your will and purpose,  so that they might bear fruit, so that others might praise your holy name for this peculiar life of ashes that we offer as our reasonable service to our God who paid it all for us. Thank you, so much. Teach us to love and live like your children, Abba Father, because this is who we are. Amen.

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