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  • Writer's pictureJen Stone-Sexton

Strengthened and Empowered - How Pruning Produces Growth

Do you find change to be uncomfortable? Discomfort is a natural part of growth. Read the blog to learn how God's pruning strengthens and empowers you to grow and flourish in a fruitful life.



In the devotional blog, Seeds and Soil - Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Life - I focused on the importance of soil for healthy growth, the soil of our heart, and how the Fruit of the Spirit is cultivated in our life. In the parable of the farmer planting seeds, Jesus talked about seeds and the quality of the soil in Matthew 13:1-23.


In this devotional blog, I would like to discuss another important aspect involved in a fruitful life, which is pruning.


I give credit to Beth Moore in her well written Bible study, A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place for the following two-fold concept on pruning. In John 15: 2-3 Jesus said,

“Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the Word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned.” (John 15:2-3)

Agriculture is a vital aspect to life in Israel, so Jesus spoke in terms that the people could understand. In order for a vine, a plant, or a garden to grow, it must be pruned. Because The Lord loves us, He will prune us. He prunes so that we may produce much fruit. How does He prune us? One way is by The Word. A second way we are pruned is by circumstances. Let's focus first on pruning by The Word.



Pruning by The Word


All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; so that anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)


“See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword – it cuts through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)


God is the only one who can judge rightly. And because The Word of God is living and active it convicts, exhorts, and encourages us accurately and rightly, as nothing and no one else can. In James, the brother of Jesus and Jude wrote,


“Don’t deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it! For whoever hears the Word but doesn’t do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, who looks at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But if a person looks closely into the perfect law which gives freedom, and continues, becoming not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work it requires, then he will be blessed in what he does.” ( James 1:22-25)


In Hebrew the word “law” means “teaching and instruction”. The passage in James says that “the perfect law – or the perfect teaching and instruction – gives freedom.” In-other-words, God's Word applied to our way of thinking and living, brings freedom. Unfortunately, legalism and righteousness based on works was not confined to Jesus day...it remains active today and if we are not careful, we can find ourselves feeling confined in captivity instead of flourishing in freedom.


If you were given verbal or emotional messages as a child that your work = your worth or you felt you had to earn love, it can be easy to view God the same way. The underlying message we believe is: "If I do what is right and good, God will love me. If I don't, then God will punish me." But that is not the truth of who God is or how He loves you. God loves you … regardless what you do. There is nothing you have done, or could do, that would change God’s love for you.


So it is vital to understand that pruning is done in a loving way, by a loving God, who knows what is best for you, the potential you are capable of, and the purpose He has called you to. When you allow God's Word to change the soil of your heart, you will produce the fruit of His spirit in your life.



Pruning by Circumstances


Pruning by The Word can be much less painful than the second method of pruning, which is through our circumstances. The reason why God prunes us in the first place is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. To accurately reflect the Fruit of the Spirit of God living in us. (Romans 8:29). One of the methods the Master Gardner uses, is our circumstances.

“Regard it as joy when you face various kinds of trials] for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance. But let perseverance do its complete work; so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)

If we can view the temptations we face, and the trials we experience, with a perspective of joy, that perspective will encourage us to remember the purpose: so that we may be complete, whole, and lacking in nothing. We can trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God through the process of pruning.

“And I am sure of this: that the One who began a good work in you
will keep it growing until it is completed.” (Philippians 1:6)

With that in mind, how can you look at your life - the pleasant circumstances as well as the challenging, difficult circumstances, and painful circumstances - in such a way that you see the refining process of God skimming off the dross so that you reflect the image of Jesus Christ? The qualities and characteristics of the nature of God instead of your own human nature?


“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose; because those whom He knew in advance, He also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of His Son”
Romans 8:28

When we have been successfully pruned by the Master Gardner, in addition to reflecting the image of Jesus Christ and bearing much fruit, what other result will we reap? John 15:9-13 says Joy. Pure, complete joy!

Pruning produces pure joy and an abundant, fruitful life.

I invite you to take some time for prayerful reflection and ask God to speak to you through His Word. God's pruning strengthens and empowers you to grow and flourish in a fruitful life! May you be blessed and rejoice in bearing much fruit!


Questions for Reflection: Are there areas, attitudes, or actions that need to be pruned from your life in order for you to grow? What would it look like to ask God – to trust God – to prune away these things?


Prayer: God, thank you that you love me enough to give me your best. When pruning hurts, help me remember the purpose and to surrender to your divine design as the Master Gardener. Empower and strengthen me to bear much fruit! Thank you. Amen.

 

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Editor's Note:

This devotional blog is by Jen Stone-Sexton, Christian Life Coach, Author, Speaker, Teacher and Founder. Jen has openings for a select number of new clients. Learn more about Jen and what Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching has to offer you.


Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2024 Freedom to Flourish, LLC.

All graphics created by Jen Stone-Sexton © 2024 Freedom to Flourish, LLC.

All Rights Reserved.

 

Credits:

A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place, Bible Study by Beth Moore, Copyright 1995 and 2003, Life Way Press, Nashville, Tennessee


All Scripture references and quotations used with permission: Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern, Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Clarksville, Maryland USA & Jerusalem, Israel


Photo Credits: Photo 3 by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash | Photo 4 by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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