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The Vine That Bears Fruit

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He lops off every branch that doesn't produce. And he prunes those branches that bear fruit for even larger crops.He has already tended you by pruning you back for greater strength and usefulness by means of the commands I gave you. Take care to live in me, and let me live in you. Fora branch can't produce fruit when severed from the vine. Nor can you be fruitful apart from me.

"Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can't do a thing. If anyone separates from me, he is thrown away like a useless branch, withers, and is gathered into a pile with all the others and burned. But if you stay in me and obey my commands, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce bountiful harvests. That brings great glory to my Father.

"I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love." John 15: 1-9 (TLB)

Kathryn Jones Malone lives in Texas. When she moved to the countryside with her husband, they wanted to plant a vineyard and make small batches of wine. So they consulted a local winemaker who recommended varieties of grapes for their climate; they carefully planted the vineyard; they set out drip line, constructed support wires, and pruned the grapevines. They worked for five years but couldn't get anything to grow. The grapes would form and then wither in the summer heat.

Along with the grapes, they also planted a couple of blackberry bushes. They loved the soil, the water they lavished on the vineyard, and the climate. Before long, they had rows of productive blackberry bushes. One summer they harvested 200 cups of fruit! Eventually they let their vines take over the grapes.

Kathryn realized how much life is like their vineyard. They make plans and envision a future, but often they encounter God in the unexpected - in the blackberry bushes. If we stubbornly stick to our plans, we may miss the opportunities God places in front of us.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for your bountiful gifts. Help us to see your guiding hand at work in our lives so that we can know that you are the true vine and our source of life, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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