Keys to the Kingdom – Carolyn Tucker
While picking up branches that had broken off the trees after we had those two days of freezing rain, I noticed that nearly all of the branches were dead. Obviously, they hadn’t been receiving the necessary nutrients they needed to stay alive. Somehow, the branches disconnected from the trunk and had become weak and useless. Dead branches don’t have what it takes to survive storms. Obviously, they were just barely hanging on, so when the ice formed they fell to the ground. After gathering up the good-for-nothing sticks, I dumped them into the burn pile.
Jesus taught that believers are like branches and they can‘t remain productive if they separate from their life source. Jesus said to His disciples: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts away every branch of Mine that doesn’t produce fruit. But He trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit“ (John 15:1-3 CEV). A vine is the stem of a plant that carries nutrients and water from the roots to the branches. The vine/tree trunk is the center part between the roots and the branches. Jesus is the one-and-only source for true life and He supplies all our needs. By making Him the center of our life, we’ll be equipped to survive the storms that hit us.
Jesus further instructs His disciples: “Stay joined to Me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without Me. If you don’t stay joined to Me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire” (John 15:4-6 CEV).
Believers weren’t designed to be self-sufficient; we simply can’t make it on our own. Without Him, we’re like a big apple tree full of dead and dry branches instead of apples. However, we’re strong and productive as long as we remain in Christ. God needs all of His children to be out and about doing His work. The harvest is great and we need to be bringing in the sheaves (lost and hurting people).
I don’t like dry things, e.g., lips, creeks, pastures, or cornbread. As the Master Gardener, God doesn’t like dead and dry stuff either. If you’re not producing fruit, you’ll be cut off (ouch). If you are producing fruit, you’ll be trimmed so you can produce even more. Dead, dry, and empty go hand-in-hand with thinking you’re smart enough and saved enough to not need to stay joined to Jesus. He is the Way, so if you’re not hanging onto the Vine for dear life, you’re headed for the burn pile.
If you inspect your own fruit basket and find it empty, I want to encourage you with Ezekiel 37:1-14. The Spirit of the Lord set Ezekiel down in a valley of a bunch of very-dry bones. Then God asked him, “Can these bones live?“ He appropriately replied, “O Lord God, You know.“ God then commanded Ezekiel to prophesy and as he did, the bones came together and muscles, flesh, and skin covered them. Then breath came into their bodies and they came to life, stood up on their feet and became a great army. Even when a situation looks hopeless, always remember that with God all things are possible.
The Key: You don’t have to be a dead and dry stick-in-the-mud. Stay alive and connected to the tree trunk and get to baking those apple pies!