Tuesday, September 8, 2020

That which benefits, that which does not

“Your fruit is found in Me.” Hosea 14:8 NKJV 

Our fruit is found in God by our union with Him. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Cut the connection, and the branch will die—no fruit will be produced. By virtue of our union with Christ, we produce fruit. Every bunch of grapes originates with the root. The productive power has moved up the stem and flowed through the branches and fashioned itself externally into fruit—but it was first in the stem. So it is with every good work we do. It was first in Christ, and is then brought forth in us. Oh, Christian, treasure this precious union with Christ—it must be the source of all the fruitfulness you can hope to know. If you were not joined to Jesus Christ, you would be a barren branch indeed. Our fruit also comes from God by His providence. When the dew falls from on high, when clouds look down to dispense their liquid treasure, when the bright sun swells the berries of the cluster, each heavenly blessing might whisper to the tree and say, “Your fruit is found in me.” The fruit owes much to the root—that is essential to fruitfulness—but it also owes very much to external influences. How much we owe to God’s gracious providence! He provides us constantly with revival of spirit, teaching, consolation, strength, and whatever else we want. We owe our all of usefulness and virtue to Him. And our fruit comes from God by His wise husbandry. The gardener’s pruning knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree by thinning the clusters and cutting off unnecessary shoots. Christian, it is the same way with the pruning the Lord does on you. “My Father is the gardener,” Jesus said. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1–2). Since God is the author of all our spiritual graces, let us give Him all the glory of our salvation. - C.H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening 

Woke up much earlier than I needed to, but then again, maybe it was necessary to think more clearly this morning.  

Was reading this devotional and a visual came to me of how pruning in a life may play out.  We often get attached to people and things.  Pruning by Jesus often is the removal of those things that aren't going to be helpful in the growth He wants to see in me.  I may not like the pruning but it's being done for my eventual benefit.  The loss of someone close to us is a formidable one.  The loss of possessions. The loss of aspects of what was everyday life.  

I find it oddly interesting to watch believers go on the warpath when their rights that they claim as their's are curtailed.  Yet these same people aren't as zealous over talking to others about their life with Christ.   How is it that your sports, your entertainment, your extracurricular activities are more important than whether or not someone near to you is heading for Hell?  Are you still going to be happy when you get your rights back, yet, the one closest to you whom didn't know Christ is now more lost than before you spoke up about your rights being violated? 

Our lives are to be our testimony.  A light lit and in a dark space doesn't require an explanation.  Those who experience it know what it is.  The burning question, no pun intended, is that light bright enough to those who don't have it, to want it?

What's amazing about light is even a matchstick lit in a dark space can reveal almost as much as a log fire. It doesn't take much for the eyes to adjust to the truth of the world now revealed. 

Often times we go through the pains of things being removed from our lives in order to make way for God's plans for us. 

Again, I would be lying if giving up things we have donated to thrift stores wasn't to some degree painful.  You spend money or someone else did, to get those things.  And now we give them away.  Yet that effort wasn't in vain if its freeing to be able to accomplish or accommodate something new or something needed.

Pruning of people, however, is probably the most painful. Either lives move apart or God calls them home.  We require relationships.  People who are isolated suffer in many ways.  When God says it's time then it's time. We are really spoiled in this modern culture.  In Abraham's day when you moved to somewhere else, likely you never saw family members again.  If you did it was weeks, months or a year or more to find them.  We just go online and can find just about anyone.  We can travel a number of hours or minutes to visit.  In his day, Abraham really never knew when family died.  

Be mindful of our attitude towards the pruning that Jesus does.  I say our because that message is for me too.  
I am just as much in that boat as all of you my friend.  I am reminded of some of the post op scenes in M*A*S*H. Sometimes the soldiers went back to the front lines, sometimes they went home. Sometimes men in a platoon were separated, some did go home others didn't.  It wasn't always something easy to digest.  Some fought the idea of going back to the front lines. 

As pruning goes of grapes on a vine, sometimes the branches get entangled.  It takes a special hand to be able to unlock them without damaging them.  The only one qualified in life to do that is Jesus. 

I really miss friends who are now in different places.  As the saying goes you can't go back.  God pruned us for a reason. If they are in Christ, we will indeed see each other in Heaven.  Doesn't make the void any less wide.  But I have to trust God and His plans for me.  In some things God has brought me back around to the same places only to really see that life isn't going to be the same even if I am physically in the same place as once before. 

One last thing is the attitude.  Even in the pruning we are to give thanks.  I see Churches embracing more of the world when God's pruning was meant to allow for a deeper relationship with Jesus.  We have to have the right attitude and thinking to work through His pruning.  Just because we can do something doesn't follow that we must.  Proverbs tells of how much more the worth of wisdom is above silver or gold. 

I ask for understanding every morning when I pray.  Not just in the pruning but in life's revelations.  Scripture says that God isn't a God of confusion.  I pray for understanding so that I am not frustrated or frightened.  I pray for understanding when the world doesn't make sense. 

Pray for yourself and others in regards to God's pruning.  We need it even if we can't see the reason why. 

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