JOHN 15:1-2:  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (NKJV)‭

OBSERVATION: “This is the year of ‘little tree’!” That is what I said to my wife one short year ago. What was I talking about? It was about a tree in our front yard that we had planted 12 years prior. This little tree never really grew – it just simply survived. I was determined to see that tree finally reach its full potential. I carefully studied it, pruned every dead branch, aerated the soil, and carefully fertilized it around the outline of its crown. And, if you promise not to laugh – I even talked to it. While others mocked, I proudly said – “I believe in you little tree!” I felt like Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

There were signs of hope. It was surviving, and I surely thought I saw new growth. Then it happened. There was a series of storms with strong winds and hail.  These storms beat upon our house, and the little tree. These storms were so strong, my roof was damaged to the point of having to be replaced. And what about the little tree? It was still in the ground, but it was leaning at almost a 45 degree angle. All of my efforts had not saved it. All the pruning, all the fertilizing, and all the hope – gone with one storm. What does this have to do with these two verses in John?

As I read these verses I realized something very important. God is faithful to trim and prune the dead parts in our lives that are hindering our growth so that we can continue to grow in Christ. However, the pruning is only secondary to the most important thing. And what is that? It is being rooted and grounded in Jesus! If there is an insufficient root system, if we are not completely trusting in Him, we are merely surviving at best. If there is no root system, then we are merely an ornamental shrub that will never bear fruit! 

Jesus said,

  • “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

This was the problem with the little tree. It did not have any root structure. When the storm hit, it was instantly snapped at the root. In fact, when the landscape company came to remove it and plant a new tree, they hardly had to dig to get it out of the ground. They simply rocked it back and forth and it broke free. There was such an insignificant root structure that they did not even worry about removing the old roots before they planted the new tree. It was a sad day for my little tree – but it taught me a very valuable lesson!

I will always think of this little tree fondly. It taught me the importance of being deeply rooted and grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word! It taught me the importance of establishing myself daily in the Word of God and in prayer. It taught me that outward appearances are not important, what is important is what is in my heart! Sadly, my little tree did not have the happy ending that Charlie Brown’s little tree did. However, my prayer is that the personal tree of my heart surely will!

Lord, help me be deeply rooted and grounded in You! Let Your Words abide in me, and let me abide in in Your Word! Help me yield to Your correction and personal pruning of my life so that I can bear more fruit and glorify the Father. Let me grow in Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

And help me always to remember the valuable lesson I learned from one – “little tree”!

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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