• Karen M. Peeler

Two Oak Trees

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:1-4

My house is overshadowed by two enormous oak trees. Seven years ago, as we drove toward the house, their presence made a lasting impression. The family dwelling looked small tucked behind the long sturdy limbs, God spoke into existence so many years before. Looking at the trees in the rear view mirror as we drove away, I knew this was the house God had built.

Life's view is clear in reverse. Jesus said in John 15:4, "For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine". He was preparing us for what would happen if we disconnected from the vine. "You cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me", serves as a warning.

Remain, stay, wait, abide in Him. This is not a command to memorize the entire bible as a formula to gain acceptance and head knowledge; Jesus invites us into a relationship. Daily clinging to the vine and depending on Him alone, prepares us to advance the kingdom, carrying His heart. When we spend time with Him we become like Him.

You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

John 15:14-15

We are grafted into the inner circle. Verse 15 says "I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves". When we sit in his presence, Holy Spirit exchanges worldly thoughts for heavenly wisdom. Friends not slaves. Religion is formal and cold, Jesus is relational and full of growth. He calls us friend.

The Word of God is alive and active in hands tightly woven into the vine. Fruit produced from the vine transforms all we are into an outflow reaching a lost and lonely world.

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12

"Cold, boxes crammed full of people who have head knowledge and lack the heart of God breed confusion and build roadblocks to the cross."

Looking out my window this morning the oak trees have dropped multiple branches on the ground. My husband will scoop them up and throw them in the burn pile. But the branches still connected to the tree will be lush with bright green leaves, come spring.

"I can quote scripture and teach the word from sun up to sun down but if I do not treat others with love and compassion my effort is worthless."

We can either be an expression of the vine or a dead fallen branch waiting to be cast aside and burned.

"Protecting time with Jesus builds an intimate connection and empowers us to live life as an expression of His love."

Jesus did not want us to walk this world unprepared. He told us in John 15 what happens if we choose to carve our own pathway built on empty rules and regulations. We serve a relational God. Words on paper are personal and priceless, when they are written by a friend who knows everything about me.

Just like my oak trees overshadow my home the Father longs to cover us and ready us for battle. But we must choose to abide, read his word and sit at His feet hungry for more.

What will you choose?

16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:16-17

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