Archive for October, 2006

Pruned if I Do and Pruned if I Don’t

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

One day awhile back, when things weren’t going so hot, It occurred to me that if I were to wait for everything to go right to be happy, I may never be happy. You know how life can be, it’s often laden with disappointments, inconveniences, and just general frustrations. I’m beginning to realize that I can be happy every day in spite of my circumstance, if I make it a point to be.
Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” [John 15:1-2] You see, I’m pruned if I do and I’m pruned if I don’t, so I might as well make the most of things.
God allows trials, troubles, and temptations in our lives to prune us. He lovingly snips away any weak, diseased, and dead wood, carefully shaping us into the image that will bring Him the most glory. It is through this pruning process that we develop the fruit of His spirit which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
This is uncomfortable of course, yet necessary. We must remember that if we suffer for righteousness sake we should be happy, and not afraid of the terror, nor be troubled. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that we suffer for doing well , rather than for doing evil. For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, and we being put to death in the flesh, are quickened by His Spirit. [I Peter 3:14&17-18]
I’m guessing that this pruning process may not be a pleasant task for God either. Out of all the garden chores I have to do, I find pruning to be the hardest. It’s not the hardest physically, but, it just breaks my heart to go hacking away at my favorite flower bushes and fruit trees. I go through the same reluctance every spring. This year I put it off so long that I almost missed the entire season. I knew I didn’t want to do that though, because a few years back I didn’t prune at all, and my plants only yielded a fraction of their potential growth.
So I guess this law of nature applies to us as well. In order for us to grow at our best we must also endure some seasonal pruning. Just like in the garden, we toil, but it is God who gives the increase. Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. [John 15:4-5]
So I suppose I will endure this pruning with total faith and trust in the vinedresser. He purchased me at tremendous personal cost, so I know that He has only my best interest in mind. Not to mention that it sure beats the alternative. Jesus goes on to say, ” If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” [ John 15:6] So you see, I have a choice. I can allow myself to be pruned by loving hands, or be loped off due to lack of increase.
Christ also says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.”[John 15:7-8] Since I’m pruned if I do and pruned if I don’t, I might as well choose life, with joy! I am most happy when I bring glory and honor to my Father, the vinedresser. After all, thats what I was created for in the first place.

Psalm 33

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006


1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. 2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing to him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise. 4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. 5 He loves righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. 6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as an heap: he lays up the depth in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. 10 The LORD brings the counsel of the heathen to nothing: he makes the devices of the people of none effect. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance. 13 The LORD looks from heaven; he beholds all the sons of men. 14 From the place of his habitation he looks on all the inhabitants of the earth. 15 He fashions their hearts alike; he considers all their works. 16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. 17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. 18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on them that fear him, on them that hope in his mercy; 19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. 22 Let your mercy, O LORD, be on us, according as we hope in you.

Psalm 32

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006


1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledge my sin to you, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6 For this shall every one that is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near to him. 7 You are my hiding place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye. 9 Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusts in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. 11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, all you that are upright in heart.

What You Say is What You Get

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

Well here I go talking about confessions again. Not the kind that some share with the Catholic priest to purge their soul every now and then, I’m simply talking about all the words that pass through our lips on a daily basis. This is something that God started trying to train me in about seven years ago, and I must be a slow learner because this subject just keeps coming up again.
I’m not surprised, my mouth has always gotten me into trouble. I tend to be a little blunt, maybe a little too sharp on the wit, and enjoy talking so much that I never shut up. So I’ve been trying to listen more and speak less, keep my vocabulary less colorful [not an easy habit to break], and to speak only words that edify and encourage.
Well, just when I thought that I might be making some progress in this area, I’m learning that watching my tongue goes a lot deeper than just my social graces in conversational speech. I’m beginning to see that my confessions, whether negative or positive, have an affect on every circumstance in my life. I agree with those who say that the only thing that we can control about our circumstances is how we react to them, but what I’m learning is that what we confess about them is just as important.
It helps to remember that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”[Hebrews 11:1]. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve been making is confessing what I see in my circumstances, instead of what I know to be true. Its so natural to look at my problems, remember how I’ve struggled in the past, and blurt out something negative right off the bat. Yet God’s word teaches us to believe His report, which is, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall you call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”[Jeremiah 29:11-12]
Throughout His time here on earth, Jesus gave us an example of how to confess through faith things hoped for, and not seen. Where He saw disease He confessed wellness, where He saw brokenness He confessed wholeness, and where He saw bondage He confessed freedom. Jesus’ life teaches us to, “call those things which be not as though they were.” [Romans 4:17]
Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” [ Mark 9:23] “For truly I say to you, That whoever shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he said.” [Mark 11:23]
So I am slowly learning to” walk by faith, and not by sight“. [2 Cor. 5:7] I now realize that the circumstances in my life that look like mountains, appear as such, because that’s what I’ve made them out to be. By confessing negative consequences over these situations, I was confessing Satan’s ill report over my life rather than God’s will. God’s word says, “A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue:” [Proverbs 18:20-21] So you see I have found it to be true, that what you say is very well what you will get.