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As I often do in my evenings, I was scrolling Instagram looking at recipes from well-known chefs and artisans. I came across a video by Michael Symon talking about how to care for a tomato plant. He gave 4 steps:

 1. Stake the new plant so it has a strong vertical direction to grow

 2. Water well and consistently

 3. Prune off the suckers

 4. Enjoy the bountiful fruit

We can very easily apply these steps to our faith and life.

 1. Stake our lives with a strong foundation

 We are not created to grow alone without support. In Genesis, we see the first thing God saw that wasn’t good was that Adam was alone (Genesis 2:18). If Adam’s relationship with God alone was enough, He would never have needed to create Eve. (That might be a big dry pill to swallow) He probably would not have had the disciples. He probably would have had just one guy praying in the upper room waiting for the Spirit.

 We are created for relationship, not just with God, but with others. There is strength in community. There is accountability in community. There is GROWTH in a community. There is momentum in community.  

 In our current church culture, I often see that when someone is a new believer, we see the importance of discipleship. We encourage community and the local church. We encourage the time in the Word and with the Lord. But it is imperative that even as we grow in faith and our time in THE faith, all those things still apply. In order to grow strong and bear great fruit, we need to connect with community, keep feeding on the Word and follow the path that God set out for us! We should never do ministry (or life for that matter) alone.

 2. Water well and consistently

 When I shared these thoughts with our staff in the office one morning Pastor Lonnie talked about how when you are growing tomatoes if there is an inconsistency in the watering, during the dry times the tomato will grow a tough skin and then when it starts to get watered again, it will try to grow but it’s skin is so tough that it splits.

 Let’s apply that to us. If we look at the Scriptures, water often is representative of the Word (Jesus). Jesus is our life source. He says in John 4:10, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” In Revelation 21:6 and in 22:1, ”To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” and “The river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Draw on those deep wells of water on the inside through the Word so that we don’t find ourselves in a dry season and get a tough skin. Take time to soak in what He is saying to you as you pursue Him.  

 3. Prune off the suckers

 When a tomato plant is growing there will be these little shoots that start to sprout off the branches.  They will give the appearance of life and abundance but they will NEVER PRODUCE FRUIT. They will only draw off the life that should be going to the limbs that were created to produce. The same is true in our own lives. We all have things that are hanging on attempting to grow and pull on the life that is in us redirecting it to an unfruitful branch.  

 Let’s take some inventory in our lives. John 15:5-7 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

 What are suckers in your life? What are things that are drawing life away from things in your life and purpose that were created to produce fruit? Allow the Lord to prune those areas off of your life! Let’s grow together!

 4. Enjoy the bountiful fruit

John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

We are appointed to bear fruit. God’s purpose for you is fruitful, not dry and cracked or broken and alone. God’s purpose for your life is a life that bears fruit that remains – meaning a legacy. Some of you may be in a season that feels like you will be lucky to have fruit that remains until tomorrow but let me encourage you, it is not too late. Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” “Without repentance” means that God hasn’t changed His mind about what He has called you to do. Oftentimes, when we aren’t seeing fruit, that just means that we need to rethink our processes, plans and how-to’s within that calling. But that doesn’t change the calling. If God has called you, that calling is still there.  

Reflection: Ask yourself these questions. Where am I connected to community? Who is feeding you? How are your Word times? What is needing to get pruned in your life to help you focus that life-giving power to what you are called to do?

Fruit is possible. Even more so, fruit is inevitable when we make sure to tend to the garden the Lord has placed us in.

Prayer: Lord, I ask that you prune the areas that need to be pruned in my life. I acknowledge you as my master gardener, my vinedresser. I surrender my plans and my life to you and ask that you help me to be fruitful and to have fruit that remains. Continue to lead me into healthy community. Surround me with people who are running after you. And finally, thank you Jesus that you are with me in this whole process. I must decrease, You must increase. Amen.

written by

Ryann Weaver

Ryann Weaver