A Congregation of Conservative Evangelical Christians

“Our Daily Bread” Devotion, February 3, 2021

February 3 | Bible in a Year: Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46

Pruned to Thrive
Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2
READ JOHN 15:1–12

As I watched a bumblebee land lightly on the Russian sage, I marveled at the bush’s lush branches exploding with color. Its brilliant blue blossoms attracted eyes and bees alike. Yet only last fall, I’d wondered if it would ever blossom again. When my wife’s parents trimmed the periwinkle plant down to a stub, I’d assumed they’d decided to get rid of it. But now I was witnessing the radiant result of pruning that had seemed brutal to me.
The surprising beauty that results from harsh cuts may be one of the reasons Jesus chose pruning imagery to describe God’s work among believers. In John 15, He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. . . . Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (vv. 1-2).
Jesus’ words remind us that in the good times and bad, God is always working in us toward spiritual renewal and fruitfulness (v. 5). During “pruning” seasons of suffering or emotional barrenness, we may wonder if we’ll ever thrive again. But Christ encourages us to continue to stick close to Him: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (v. 4).
As we continually draw spiritual nourishment from Jesus, the resulting beauty and fruitfulness in our lives (v. 8) will show the world God’s goodness.
By Adam R. Holz
REFLECT & PRAY
Father, help me to trust You during difficult seasons in my life, knowing that You’re at work to bring beauty and change. For help in strengthening your faith, read Going the Distance.
How have you seen God use struggle in your life to produce growth and fruitfulness? How do you think time gives us the perspective to see God’s hand at work in our lives?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
Jesus delivered the teaching found in John 15 not long before His trial and crucifixion—His last opportunity to warn the disciples not to be like Judas but to be steadfast in their faith and to bear fruit. The fertility of the vine (a common plant in Israel at that time) naturally suggested spiritual fruit-bearing. This illustration was not new to those familiar with the Old Testament (Psalm 80:8; 128:3; Isaiah 5:1-7). The main emphasis of John 15:1-17—as evidenced by the word’s repetition eleven times—is the message to “remain” in Him: “If you remain in me . . . you will bear much fruit” (v. 5). Alyson Kieda