The Pruning Process of God

John 15:1-2
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (WEB)

I am not a farmer but I know a little bit about the pruning process. Not the pruning of a fruit tree, but the pruning of my heart. In John 15, Jesus paints a very vivid picture of the Christian life using the illustration that He is the vine, we are the branches and His Father is the gardener. It is interesting to note that it is the fruitful branches that are pruned back, not the unfruitful ones. Not being a farmer, I risk not giving an adequate explanation of the pruning process, but here goes anyway…

When a branch begins to grow, it develops leaves and smaller branches that are meant to bear fruit. But along the way, it also produces useless shoots that do nothing but distract the branch from the fruit bearing process and drain it of its energy.

To help the branch be more fruitful, these useless shoots are cut away so that all of the energy coming from the vine can go directly to where it is supposed to go. There is one thing that I have discovered about the pruning process though… IT HURTS! No doubt about it.

I have had many ‘useless shoots’ pruned from my life over the years. At the time, the loss of some of these things was very painful. But in hindsight, I am thankful to my Father who lovingly cut away all that was necessary, so that I could bear the fruit that brings glory to Him (John 15:8).

If you are going through a pruning process in your life right now, my prayer is that you will know that all things will ultimately work together for your good (Romans 8:28). Our dear friend Jack Winter used to say… “The Gardener is never closer to the branch then when He is pruning it”. May we all receive comfort in these words as we submit to the fruit bearing process in our daily lives.

John 15:1-9
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you. 8 “In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples. 9 Even as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Remain in my love. (WEB)

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God Is Our Refuse and Strength

Psalm 46:1 (WEB)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Promise: I am a very present help for you in times of trouble.

In today’s promise, the psalmist makes the declaration that God is ready to help us at the first sign of trouble. He is always with us and is our refuge and strength when we need shelter from the storms that come our way. Reading from the English Standard Version Bible, I want to read Psalm 46:1-3…

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah (ESV)

When we read the first three verses of this psalm, we can fully appreciate the result of us embracing the promise that God is a very present help for us in times of trouble… We will not fear. Even if the earth itself gives way, we will not fear. If the mountains are thrown into the sea… We will not be afraid. Though the waters roar and the mountains tremble… We will be safe in the secret place of the Most High.

In a time when natural disasters are at an all time high and there are increasing wars and rumors of wars, we need to be convinced that God is who He says He is. He is our ever present help in our time of trouble and He promises to be our refuge and the very strength of our life. May the revelation of this promise bring peace to all of us that passes our understanding.

Following The Light Of The Word

 

Psalm 119:105 (WEB)
Your word is a lamp to my feet,
and a light for my path.

Promise: My Word will brighten your steps and light your path.

Have you ever walked on a path in the forest in the middle of the night without a flashlight? If you have and there wasn’t a full moon shining, it is a pretty difficult thing to manuevre. Without a light to guide the way, you will inevitably go off the path and at the very least, bump into a tree.

I believe the psalmist in today’s promise is saying the same thing about the importance of God’s Word for you and me. In the grand scheme of things, we are only little boys and little girls who need all the help we can get. We do not have the navigational tools to manage our own life. We need both the written Word of God and the timely spoken Word of God to guide us through this life.

It is comforting to know that our God and Father equips us with all we need to live a godly life including lighting our path as we take one step at a time. Notice that the psalmist doesn’t say that God’s Word lights the path miles in front of us. He says that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet.

May each one of us rejoice in the fact that God has committed the resources of heaven to guide us on our life’s journey. He has not left us in the dark to try to fend for ourselves, but has focused His Word like a huge beam of light at our feet to guide every step we take.

Safety And Security

Psalm 91:9-10 (WEB)
9 Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.

Promise: If you make your home in Me, then no evil will come your way.

Psalm 91 is an amazing chapter for anyone who struggles with the fear of not being safe. It is a powerful picture of safety and security. It tells us that we are living in the secret place of the Most High. In today’s promise we read that when we make our home in the Lord, no evil will come our way because we live in the fortress of the living God.

I am sure that many of us have watched movies or read stories of huge castles, surrounded by high walls, motes and scores of soldiers. Even that picture of safety and security pales to the sense of protection that we have when we abide under the shadow of our Papa’s wing.

Jesus did tell us that in this world we will have trouble, but we can be encouraged because He has overcome the world. Living in the secret place does not mean that we are insulated from trouble but it does mean that when troubles come, He is the safe place where we can find safety and security.

My prayer today is that each and every one of us would feel the safety and security that comes from knowing that we have a refuge in the heart of our God and Father, where we can live all the days of our lives. I pray that fear would have no place in our lives as we make our habitation in the living God.

All Things Work For Our Best

Romans 8:28 (WEB)
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God,
to those who are called according to his purpose.

Promise : I will cause all things to ultimately work for your good (best).

This Bible verse has brought comfort to a countless number of people throughout the years. It is very reassuring to know that no matter what happens in our life, our God and Father is able to cause all things to work together for our good.

Of course this does not mean that everything that happens in our life is good, because we know that is simply not the case. We live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. Nevertheless, our God is able to redeem even the most difficult of situations and somehow, some way, He promises to ultimately work all things for our good.

We might not see the ‘good’ that He has in store for us immediately, but be assured that from God’s eternal perspective, His heart is for your best interest in the long run. May this promise of our Papa’s plan for a bright future encourage you in the midst of any hardships that you are facing today.

Our Heavenly Eternal Home

2 Corinthians 5:1 (WEB)
For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal, in the heavens.

Promise : When your body fails, you have an eternal home waiting for you.

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the Apostle Paul tells us that faith, hope and love remain. In the last few devotionals, I have been talking a lot about love and faith. Today I want to talk about hope. If we have what we hope for, we no longer need to hope for it. There are some promises that God has made to us that we have not yet seen the fulfillment of. This is one of the those promises.

It is comforting to know that one day, when our body fails, we will have an eternal house in heaven that will last forever. This is a promise that we can hold onto with all our hearts. The eternal home that is waiting for us will not be built with human hands, but will be built by God Himself…and we will be a pillar in His house.

On that day, we will no longer experience suffering or loss. Pain or disease will be gone, for we will be with God and He will be with us. May today’s promise bring great comfort to us when we think of those in the faith who have gone before us. May we also be filled with hope ourselves knowing that we have an eternal home waiting for us too!

Against all Odds

Judges 7:1-8

The story of Gideon offers scriptural guidance for times when the odds are overwhelming and defeat seems imminent. No matter what your challenges are, the Lord is able to demonstrate His awesome power and deliver you.

God uses difficulty to build faith. Gideon was willing to believe God and go up against an army four times larger than his own. Trusting the Lord is a process that must be learned through experience. At times God takes the people He plans to use and places them in impossible situations—in that way, they discover He is faithful. We may prefer to acquire faith by reading a book, but the Lord knows the best classroom is a place of utter helplessness.

God may require us to do what seems unreasonable. The Israelites were already outnumbered, but the Lord instructed Gideon to reduce the army to a mere 300 men. That made the odds 450 to one! Although God’s ways may seem illogical to us, His wisdom and power are far greater than ours, and His plan can be trusted.

God leads us to do that which brings Him glory. Gideon’s army was so small that its men could in no way take credit for the victory. The Lord delights in demonstrating His awesome power and glory through our weakness and inadequacy.

Think of life’s challenges as opportunities for the Lord to build your faith and prepare you for ministry. He uses those who are willing to obey Him even when the task seems illogical or impossible. And He takes pleasure in showing His faithfulness to those who trust in Him regardless of the situation.