(The book of John takes us through many deep discussions that Jesus gave at various times in His ministry. Please click here for Study #1 -- Jesus and Nicodemus; Study #2 -- The Woman at the Well; Study #3 -- At the Pool of Bethesda; and Study #4 -- Bread of Life; and Study #5 -- The Shepherd and His Flock. The next 7 devotionals are from John chapter 15, and they focus on the lessons we can learn from Jesus’ famous discourse, "The Vine and the Branches." )

Last week, in The Vine and the Branches, Part 2, we learned that a plant bears fruit so that it can reproduce. We learned that the fruit itself nourishes the seed and ensures that it has the proper nutrients to grow. We are, thus, called to "bear fruit" -- love, joy, peace, patience, etc. -- so that the Gospel "seeds" that we sow will be sown in good, fertilized soil!

But just how does one go about "bearing fruit," anyway?

To answer this question, I decided to once again use Google, and I typed in, "How does a plant bear fruit?"

The answers were interesting and varied, but the central theme was this: Fruit begins to grow when pollen is transferred from the male part of the plant to the female part, which generally occurs either within a flower or between flowers.

In order to bear fruit, a branch must bear a flower!

But how does a flower grow?

Again, Google was very beneficial in my research, and I learned that the flower is simply the natural product of the growing plant.

But anyone who has had a flowering house plant or a flowering bush in the garden will know that sometimes that plant flowers more than others. Apparently this is dependent upon the nutrients that the flower receives from the plant, as well as upon optimal lighting and temperature.

But this was general information, and since Jesus' example was specific to the grapevine, I Googled: "How do grapevines produce flowers" as my next question.

The answer?

The grapevine will produce flowers generally when the temperatures become a steady 15-20 degrees C. (50-68 degrees F), and most flowers on the grapevine are self-pollinated!

Okay, this is very interesting information, but what does this have to do with the follower of Christ who wishes to bear fruit?

First and foremost, all of my research indicates that the flower, and thus the fruit, is produced when the plant is receiving proper nutrients that travel from the soil, up the vine and into the branches. We must remember that we are not the "vine." Jesus is: "I am the vine..." (John 15:5a). He is the one who connects us to the source of the nutrients. We are but "branches" on that vine: "...you are the branches." (John 15:5b NIV2). Thus, if we are not "connected" to the vine, to Jesus Christ, we have absolutely no chance whatsoever of producing fruit. Why? Because in and of ourselves, we don't have any way to access the proper nutrients required for flowers to grow! Remember Jesus' words? "...If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5c NIV2).

So, then, the first step to producing flowers is to stay "connected to the vine!"

But there is more. In the case of the grapevine, temperature is a key factor in flower producing. How do we adjust our spiritual temperature?

1. By being filled with God’s Spirit: "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit..." (Eph 5:18, NKJV) Remember, the fruit we are to bear is also called the "fruit of the Spirit!" We cannot bear this type of fruit unless God's Spirit inhabits our hearts!

2. By being fervent in prayer: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests..." (Eph 6:18, NIV2)

3. By being fervent in Bible study: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2Tim 2:15, KJV)

4. By doing away with the slavery to unrighteousness: "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." (Col 3:8, NKJV)

But wait. Isn't this all about having a relationship with God?

Absolutely! All of the things needed to adjust our spiritual temperature are vital parts of being in a living, growing relationship with God! And therein lies the secret to producing flowers.

And what about pollination? The product of being in the vine, receiving the nutrients through the vine, and of having the correct spiritual temperature, is that flowers will grow.

But before these flowers will produce fruit, they must be pollinated. Let's remember that pollination for the grape flowers happens within the flower itself. The flowers self-pollinate! Pollination simply happens!

Bearing fruit, therefore, is about staying connected to the vine so that all of the nutrients and the proper conditions will be created for flowers to grow. That’s all we need to do! The fruit is produced as a simple result of our being in the vine!

If, then, bearing fruit is so important, what happens if we don’t bear fruit? Please join us next week for The Vine and the Branches, Part 4: the Consequences of No fruit.

In His love,
Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the rest of this mini-series, please click here.)