God helps us to grow into the fruitful branches he needs us to be by having us endure different spiritual seasons. Just like each season is essential to the growth of a fruitful grape vine, each spiritual season plays an essential part in helping us as disciples better follow Christ. Jeff offers some comforting perspective on this and encourages us to embrace the seasons we’re in, even if it is one of pruning and cleansing.
Snippet from the Show
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit,” John 15: 1-2
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Introduction: God Offers a Fresh Beginning
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
We don’t have to do everything at once.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
Chapters 1-39 in Isaiah deals with a judgment, but then Chapters 40 onward are describing a new day, a springtime. This is what John the Baptist quotes from, inviting us to the new beginning.
The Vine and the Branches as a Spiritual Metaphor
God works with us in different ways at the different stages of our life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood), even in difficult and joyful seasons.
A beautiful metaphor for spiritual growth is the vine and the branches in John 15. We have to trust God as he prunes us.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 1-5
If we don’t understand God’s working in seasons, we’ll make the mistake of assuming the moments of euphoria are what Christianity is all about, that we’re always supposed to walk around full of joy and peace. This can lead us to think the moments that are not full of great joy are because we have done something wrong, or because God is not in them.
Jesus also lived through the seasons of life. Our lives have a need for change. Without seasonal changes, vineyards would never bear fruit. Every season provides something the vine needs for continued growth:
Spring– Brings the needed rain and mild days to stimulate growth without crushing the vine in the soaring heat.
Summer– Offers enough sun to bring the grapes to maturity.
Autumn– Offers the opportunity for the vines to be harvested, undaunted by rain. It also creates the chance for the vine to restore itself before winter.
Winter – Brings a much-needed rest. Without it, the vine would not be able to cycle again to harvest.
Seeing God in the Season We’re In Now
We need to cultivate a sense for what God is doing in our lives right now, instead of wishing we were in a different season.
“My Father is always at his work to this very day.” John 5:17
We don’t want to be complaining branches in God’s vineyard. God determines the seasons of our lives, when to prune, to feed, or to harvest our fruit.
Being Careful and Cleaning in Spring
Spring can be a glorious, hopeful time, but also very dangerous. The vines are under great threat and are most fragile in springtime.
Springtime is when the vineyard is clean:
“He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.” John 15: 2-3
The same root word for “clean” and “pruning”:
Prune=Kathairo vs 2
Clean=Katharos vs 3
Ask God what he is doing, and ask for the grace to not be upset by what he isn’t doing yet, but to have the patience to be pruned and cleansed first.
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Meet Your Host: Jeff Cavins
Jeff Cavins is passionate about helping people understand Scripture and become disciples of Jesus Christ. Though he was born Catholic, Jeff went to Bible school and served as a protestant minister for twelve years before reverting to the Catholic Faith. Jeff then received his MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Since then, he has become a leading Catholic evangelist and author.
Jeff created The Bible Timeline learning system, which revolutionized Catholic Bible Study for millions of Catholics. Since its introduction, Jeff has developed The Great Adventure series of Bible studies to help people better understand Sacred Scripture and its meaning for their lives.