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Got any grapes?

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples." (John 15:5, 8)

Most might be familiar with this passage about the vine and branches - being joined together with Christ producing new life within us. I have to ask - did anyone really see the part about how God shows WHO HE IS to the world? It is the production of fruit in our lives - when we become mature in our faith and stand strong in the faith - these are evidence of WHO he is, not just what he does! The first thing to remember is that fruit cannot be produced where there is no connection to the life-giving source that produces it. Apart from Christ, we don't bear great fruit - but connected directly to him and the fruit becomes pure, agreeable, and perfectly enjoyable. 

Connection is something I refer to from time to time because I think it is easy to get caught up in 'life' and forget about the things that really matter. We need connection with Christ on a daily basis - dare I propose it is a moment-by-moment connection, as well? We need time alone with him - considering his truth as declared to us in his Word - and then we need to take time to listen, not just talk. The fruit is a result of the vine's work, not the other way around. We cannot expect fruit if we disconnect from the life-source of the vine. As important as our connection is with Christ, it is also important to maintain positive connection with those he has placed in our lives. Perhaps this requires a little mending of fences on occasion, as we humans can mess things up in relationships, sometimes without even knowing we have!

Connection means we have a 'conduit' of sorts for what we need to be 'infused' into our lives. When the 'conduit' becomes broken or clogged, the 'flow' of all we need for good fruit to be produced is interrupted. As a plant grows from the smallest stages of new growth into a fuller and more vibrant plant, we may help it grow straight and tall by providing support. We 'tie' it to a trellis and help it find its way. In time, if those ties are left in place, they will become points where the life-flow is 'strangled'. We need to release those ties when the plant is able to stand on its own. In much the same way, we may be 'tied' pretty close to Jesus at times, then he lets those 'ties' go as we are learning to stand on our own. We might call these 'tests' or 'trials', but their purpose is to help us stand in our faith - removing all hindrances to us having any 'strangled growth'.

I have two grape vines in the backyard, but this year they produced zero grapes, and the year before they were so tiny they weren't really all that edible. They got green and healthy looking, putting off new growth in various directions, but produced nothing for all that growth. God doesn't just want growth - he desires fruit and 'fullness' of fruit. Growth is a great thing, but when the growth is designed to produce fruit, a 'fruitless yield' is kind of disappointing. Just sayin!

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