Pruning

Introduction

Discipline, as often used in the Bible, especially in the context of Hebrews 12, simply means to train or to teach. As believers, we are called to become more and more like Jesus Christ. This means to get rid of everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1). The Bible assures us in 2 Cor 5:17 that, in Christ, the believer is made new. However, each of us is faced with the battle of choosing between right or wrong each day. Consequently, we need to be disciplined to win these battles daily as we gradually mortify the desires of the old nature and live completely void of its influence, reflecting the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The only way a believer can live victoriously, expressing the character of Jesus is by receiving the discipline that Gods Word brings through a living, active, pulsating relationship with Christ. It is only the child who has a loving relationship with his father who is most likely to receive consistent instruction, correction, chastening and guidance.

An unsurrendered life cannot be pruned

Many Christians associate the pruning of the Father with pain, suffering or bad things happening to them to bring refinement and fruitfulness in their lives. But that is not so! Our heavenly Father is not a critical, fault-finding Gardener with an inspecting look in His eyes and a big cutting device in His hand, ready to slash you to make you more effective in His Kingdom. While man may erroneously see the process of pruning from the perspective of causing pain, our loving Heavenly Father prunes in order to take away that which will eventually cause us harm because He sees so much potential for fruit-bearing!

 

The Lord said, Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it re-mains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (John 12:24). It is obvious that some sort of discomfort or pain or death is necessary for fruitfulness. Instead of having a grumbling attitude towards pruning, we must, instead, ask God for a greater yielding attitude, so we can enjoy greater spiritual success.

Pruning and discipline are two sides of the same coin

In John 15, Jesus uses the illustration of the vine to describe our relationship with Him. He tells us that we need to be pruned to be more fruitful. That is, to become more like Him. In fact, fruit-bearing is the expected outcome of pruning. Pruning simply means to cleanse, or to clean up. Jesus assured the disciples that they would undergo pruning/ cleansing although He also did state that they were already clean because of the Word He has spoken to them. This definitely tells us that after the blood of Jesus has cleansed when we rest receive Christ, we still need constant cleansing to walk in that salvation, in order to bear more fruit. After all, it is only the branches that are found in Him that He cleanses to be more fruitful. The fruit indicates any of the virtues that Gods Word exhorts. For example, the fruits of the Spirit, the fruits of righteousness, the fruit of new converts and fruit of holiness.

The essence of discipline in our lives is to mould our character to make it look like Christ’s { ridding us of all that is unclean, impure and improper in our hearts. The heart is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23) and Gods word is the only power that can cleanse our hearts of such things (Hebrews 4:12).

Although we need to be pruned and disciplined, we need to rely on Christ’s indwelling presence to bear fruit, for we must remember that before the process of pruning comes to play, the branch is rest of all connected to the vine, and that connection is the only thing that renders it capable of bearing fruit. Fruit bearing is enhanced by pruning.

Pruning 101

  1. What purpose does pruning serve in the believers life? John 15:2
  2. What is the prerequisite for being pruned? John 15:4-6 (to be made clean or to be attached to the vine)
  3. Why do we need to be pruned? What is the condition of our hearts? Jer17:9, Mark 7:21-22
  4. What attitude should we have as children of God about the state of our hearts? Psalm 139:23-24
  5. According to 2 Cor 5:17-21, we have been made new and have become the righteousness of God; why then do we need to undergo continuous consistent pruning/cleansing? 2 Cor 3:18, 2 Peter 1:3-7.
  6. Watch a five-minute video on the refining process employed in the refining of precious metals at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Ewy1BsYc8 and discuss the ultimate aim of Gods purging (pruning, cleansing, disciplining) among the Israelites and how it applies to us today? Isaiah 1:25-26, Malachi 3:3-4

 

Pruning: The Father's role

My dear child, don’t shrug o God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child He loves that he disciplines, the child He embraces, He also corrects.

Hebrews 12 : 5b – 6

 

  1. What is God’s role in disciplining us? Is God with us during times of discipline? Job 5:17-22, Jeremiah 30:11; 46:28
  2. Who does God discipline? Hebrews 12:5-6, Deuteronomy 8:5
  3. According to Hebrews 12:10 & 14 why does God discipline us?
  4. How does God discipline us? What tool does God use in disciplining/teaching us? Deuteronomy 4:34-36, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  5. What does the discipline of the Lord entail? Deuteronomy 11:2-7, Psalm 39:11
  6. Read Deuteronomy 8:2-5
    1. Why did god cause the Israelites to be hungry and thirsty in the desert?
    2. Does God discipline His children in similar ways today? Does God withhold certain blessings from us today? What is usually His intent?
    3. What assurance do we have from His word? Lamentations 3:31-36; Job 5:17-22
  7. What role does the word of God play in pruning us and making us disciplined? Hebrew 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Christ cuts away the unusable in order to make us usable

Anonymous

Pruning: The Child's Response

  1. What is God’s role in disciplining us? Is God with us during times of discipline? Job 5:17-22, Jeremiah 30:11; 46:28
  2. Who does God discipline? Hebrews 12:5-6, Deuteronomy 8:5
  3. According to Hebrews 12:10 & 14 why does God discipline us?
  4. How does God discipline us? What tool does God use in disciplining/teaching us? Deuteronomy 4:34-36, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  5. What does the discipline of the Lord entail? Deuteronomy 11:2-7, Psalm 39:11
  6. Read Deuteronomy 8:2-5
    1. Why did god cause the Israelites to be hungry and thirsty in the desert?
    2. Does God discipline His children in similar ways today? Does God withhold certain \blessings” from us today? What is usually His intent?
    3. What assurance do we have from His word? Lamentations 3:31-36; Job 5:17-22
  7. What role does the word of God play in pruning us and making us disciplined? Hebrew 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Christ cuts away the unusable in order to make us usable

Anonymous

  1. Why is it so crucial for a believer to undergo pruning? What is the result of pruning? John 15:2b
  2. According to John 15:8, what is the significant characteristic of a believer?
  3. Read Hebrews 12:1-4
    1. What does sin do to us according to Hebrews 12:1?
    2. What can we do to cause sin to increasingly lose its hold on us according to Hebrews 12:2?
    3. What should be our attitude towards sin? Hebrews 12:4
  4. Recall the theme verse (Hebrews 12:11) from memory.
    1. What is one major characteristic of discipline?
    2. Why must we go through discipline? What are the results/fruits of discipline? Also refer to Romans. 5:3-4
    3. How does one exhibit the harvest of righteousness and peace? Or what is the evidence that one has been trained by discipline?
  5. What should be our attitude towards Gods disciplining us? Hebrews 12:5-8
  6. What should be our attitude during times of personal discipline? Psalm 6:1-2; 38:1
  7. Why should we accept discipline? Psalm 94:12-13; Proverbs 6:23; Proverbs 10:17a; Proverbs 15:32b.
  8. How is the person who despises discipline described? Proverbs 1:7; 12:1b; 15:5a
  9. What happens to the person who despises discipline? Proverbs 5:11-14, 23; 10:17b; 15:10, 32a
  10. Read 2 Samuel 24:1-4,8-14. What was Davids response to the Lords discipline? What can we learn from it?
  11. Read Jonah 1:1-17, 2:1-9. What was Gods chastening Jonah meant to achieve?
  12. Recall the story of Joseph (Jacobs son, the dreamer) from Genesis.
    1. What was the attitude of Josephs heart in the face of temptation? Genesis 39:6-12
    2. How did Joseph see the difficulties he had encountered as a result of his brothers’ betrayal? Gen 50:19-20
  13. The state of a believer who has not been taught/disciplined by Gods Word is synonymous to a branch that has not being pruned? What happens to such branches and what is its implication for us? John 15:2
  14. What is the relationship between remaining in Him, bearing fruit (which results from pruning) and answered prayer? John 15:7,16-17
  15. What are some of the fruits that a growing Christian is expected to bear? Galatians 5:22, 2 Peter 1:5-7
  16. What does God require of us in terms of self-initiated cleansing? 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
  17. Internal cleansing may often be preceded by external cleansing? What are some external things we may need to cleanse (prune or purge) from our lives just like in the case of Josiah? 2 Chronicles 34:3-7
  18. Hebrew 12:11 talks about a harvest of righteousness being produced in those who are trained by discipline. Is it possible that some people may not be trained by discipline? How can one miss the training that discipline brings?
  19. In what way can we ensure that we are continually being pruned (cleansed) from our old ways and continually produce a harvest of righteousness and peace? Romans 8:6
  20. God gave a command in Deuteronomy 21:18 about how rebellion should be treated. What does that tell us about Gods character and what He desire of us as His children?
  21. What is the role of discipline in physical and spiritual parenting? Proverbs 13:24 Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:17
  22. Name some spiritual disciplines.
  23. How can we as believers help each other when one is going through a hard time of being pruned? Hebrews 10:24-25

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