Saturday, February 5, 2011


Excerpt from Leona's book:
LIVING IT UP! Prime Time is NOW
For a book review see Leona's web site:

Are you pruned regularly? No, I'm not asking if you eat prunes for
breakfast. I mean "pruned" in the way that the gardener clips shrubs,
grapevines, and especially fruit trees. He breaks off selected branches.

Pruning gets rid of unwanted extras, the undesirables. It is not because
the little sprouts or new twigs are not inferior or bad. They are healthy and
strong. But if the gardener allows all the natural branches to develop
simply because they look good, or he feels sorry to cut them off, he
limits the strong main growth. The life of the tree or vine would be
dissipated into too many branches. The gardener shows wisdom and skill
as he says no to certain shoots and yes to others.

Does it hurt the tree to be pruned? Certainly not in the emotional sense
of pain. The greater gain resulting from the elective surgery is worth
it. The gardener does a favor to the tree by his apparent rough
treatment as he breaks off little branches. If the tree could speak, it
might not say, "Thanks, I needed that!" when the sharp clippers nip off
an apparently healthy little branch. It might not understand the need
for such pain, perhaps even yelling "Ouch! What did I do to deserve that?"

Jesus illustrated the process in John chapter 15. He made the point that
pruning was for the flourishing, good vine, the already fruit-bearing
vine, not punishment for a bad vine. Pruning is done to produce more
fruit and then much fruit.

He applied the procedure to our spiritual lives. He said that God, the
Father, is the Vinedresser, the Master Gardener. Jesus is the vine, and
we are the branches. He taught that abiding in Him and He in us was
indispensable to fruit-bearing. Branches must have their wild shoots
dealt with. If they aren't pruned, the vine becomes a tangled mess of
unfruitful, unruly shoots.

What are these untamed shoots in our lives that must be broken off? They
are different in each of us. Some people have many popping out all over.
I do! Some have fewer. They may be good things in themselves: good
works, good ideas, good talents, even good ministries. But if we allow
all of them to remain and mature in their natural way, they will make a
jungle out of our lives and our witness for the Lord.

We do not always know which branches should be broken off and which we
should permit to develop. Only God knows. If we do not prune the
unproductive shoots ourselves, He takes over and breaks off certain
branches. Painful? Yes, often. Resisted? Probably. Not understood?

The Lord breaks off our branches by closing doors of opportunity,
removing certain people from our lives, teaching us to say no to some
things which appear good but are not God's best for us. He provides us
with the gift of discernment to lay aside the unproductive. Sometimes he
lays us aside for a time to teach us how to get our priorities straight
so we can do His mainline will without wild shoots.

By submitting to God's pruning, we will joyfully flourish and produce
heartier fruit. So "Hey, look me over, Lord, and do what You need to
do to increase my fruit bearing for Your glory."


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