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.

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.

Sanctified Through Jesus Christ

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (WEB)
23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely.
May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it.

Promise: I will sanctify you and keep you blameless until Jesus returns.

In today’s promise, we read that it is God Himself who has sanctified us through the free gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. He initiated the beginning of our life in Christ and He will keep us blameless until the day that Jesus returns.

I believe it is important for us to understand that it is God’s faithfulness that will bring the fulfillment of this promise, not our own self-effort. It is His faithfulness that we can rely on because of His goodness towards us.

He is the One who has called us to be in His Son. In Ephesians 1:3-6 we read of our Father’s eternal plan where He chose us to be in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. He chose us and by His grace and mercy, He will keep us.

We can rest in His goodness to sanctify us and keep us blameless until Jesus returns because He is a good Father who has our best interest at the very core of His heart. My prayer today is that each and every one of us would be comforted with this truth and live a life with the assurance that He will keep us blameless until the day when we see Jesus face to face.

Sealed With The Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:13-14 (WEB)
13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation—in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

Promise: I have sealed you with My Spirit to guarantee your coming inheritance.

The English Standard Version of the Bible says Ephesians 1:13-14 this way… 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)

The Bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit of the living God that raised Christ from the dead dwells in every person that has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In today’s promise, we read that God even sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise to guarantee our coming inheritance.

The Amplified Bible calls the Holy Spirit the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage of what is yet to come. Our God and Father so wants us to rest assured in our eternal inheritance that He gave His own Spirit to live in us as a pledge of His eternal commitment to us.

May we all be keenly aware of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit that lives within us today, and may we all know that we are sealed with the Spirit as a promise to guarantee our coming inheritance.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

1 Peter 2:18-25

One of the hardest situations to bear is unjust suffering. We can expect to reap pain and trouble if we sow sin, but what if we haven’t done anything wrong? Even trials that seem to come for no reason are easier to bear than those resulting from someone’s mistreatment of us.

This is what Peter had in mind when he wrote today’s passage. Slaves in the Roman Empire had few rights if any, and abuse wasn’t uncommon. Becoming a Christian didn’t change the circumstances, but it did require a different response. Peter told them to respectfully submit to their masters and endure mistreatment because such a response finds favor with God.

Whoever has been saved by Christ is also called to follow in His footsteps. Although the Lord committed no sin, He suffered death on a cross for us. Jesus not only paid the penalty for our sins, but He also made it possible for us to respond to mistreatment as He did.

Christ’s responses are noteworthy, first because Jesus didn’t revile or threaten those who hurt Him. His silence was fueled by forgiveness rather than anger or thoughts of revenge. Even as He was being nailed to the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Second,
Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father, who judges righteously. The Lord had no need to fight for His rights, because He was doing exactly what God had called Him to do.

Our job is to make sure we’re following Christ and living in God’s will. Then if others mistreat us, we can simply hand the situation over to our Father, knowing that He will judge it rightly in His time.