Sucker Shoots Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. A vine left to itself, produces what are called "sucker shoots". As they grow larger, they begin to do exactly what their name suggests: they suck away the life-giving sap on its way from the vine to the branch. Before the long, the branch becomes malnourished and eventually dies, all because the sucker shoot was allowed to consume what was originally intended for the branch. Sucker shoots will never bear fruit. They will grow leaves abundantly, but they will never produce fruit. They will only greatly reduce the quantity and quality of fruit the true branches can bear. "They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us, but they went out that it might be plain that they all are not of us," (1 John 2:19). Pruning (literally meaning to cleanse) also removes dirt, cobwebs, dried leaves, and fungus that has collected. According to our Lord, in the believer, this is done by the "word which I have spoken unto you." You can look at a hundred vines and you will never see one branch pruning another branch! It seems to me that the job of pruning, shaping and otherwise trimming those vines must be the job of someone besides the branches themselves. That responsibility is left to God. Are you feeling weak, drained, weary,unproductive? Maybe it`s time to ask God to show you the sucker roots that are sapping the abundant life and strength He intended you to have! Allow Him to prune you! This may mean some old habits, practices, (religious and good as they may seem) thoughts or attitudes or behaviors need to die, so that, through the power of Jesus, even more fruit will be produced in our lives. This is not usually a pleasant process, we as humans, tend to cling to our human understanding, and the things we deem to be important in this life (careers, social standing, financial security, 'church' status, etc) If we are not willing to suffer the loss of 'all these things', it`s a pretty good indicator we are not depending on the true vine as our life source. "We are utterly dependent on an outside source for life itself. And what is that source? Has there been any such source found besides the Vine, provided by the Vinedresser?" "For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:11-12 ASV). Man`s 'religion' has produced many sucker shoots the Father "hath not planted." They are human, added things which have not come "by the revelation of Jesus Christ." "The simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3) One thing is needful, (Luk 10:42) that is to stay connected to the true vine, Christ Jesus. Spend time with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, become familiar with the sound of His voice, abiding in His presence, all day every day, reading the Word often, drawing steadily from His unfailing wisdom! It came from God. Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Joh 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. What exactly is this fruit that God is expecting from us? In Galatians 5:22 the Apostle Paul says, "The fruit of the Spirit" (that which the Spirit produces) "is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control," Nine qualities gathered as one cluster, just as a grapevine produces. 2Pe 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 2Pe 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 2Pe 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 2Pe 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.