Thursday, June 26, 2014

Patience While Being Pruned

John 15:1-2
Patience While Being Pruned

     “I Am the true vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.”

     “Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.”    Jesus has called us His branches and said that His Father tends us and prunes us that we might be healthy and bear fruit. However, this pruning that God does is not pleasant and often leaves us feeling less than loving thoughts towards Him. We are going along trying our best to serve Him when suddenly the world falls apart around us and we lose our most precious earthly possessions. At first we feel like God has abandoned us in spite of our constant pleading with Him for help, but far from this being the truth, our Heavenly Father is jealously tending us that we might bring forth fruit abundantly. 
     God’s pruning sets us free from the excesses we have let grow up around us that take up all of our time and energy. He prunes things that our hearts are attached to so that we might be free to set our hearts on the treasure in Heaven. Jesus says it well in Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” As we draw close to God very often there are things that we know we need to let go of and yet we can’t do it and we leave them in our lives for a period of time. However, God is faithful to remove those things for us as He watches and sees that we truly desire to be free from those things and yet cannot let go. He steps in and prunes us.
     Many times, however, He prunes us from things that we have no desire to let go of and this is where we can get angry with God for His work in our lives. There are things we have that we feel we could never live without and God says, – “They are holding your heart hostage to the earth which is passing away and I have promised to set you free and preserve you for eternal life.” I call this pruning – A Severe Mercy – a blessing that we only truly appreciate years after He has done it. However, it is not fun for Him. He listens to our anger towards Him and endures it for our good. We are very often not grateful for this pruning process! If only we could bless His heart by patiently enduring it with a cheerful and hopeful heart. However, this hopeful heart is only attained by having our treasure in Heaven and it is our treasure on earth that He is pruning which means that our heart is being torn in the middle of it.
     So what can we do to more quickly come to peace with this pruning process? Surrender – we need to surrender the things that God is pruning rather than trying to re-grow those branches. The pain remains while we fight to re-grow what He has pruned, but if we surrender and focus on our roots – digging deeper into Him and drawing from His Living Water, we will grow and mature our roots so that we will be able to support the fruit that will come forth as the season changes to summer in our lives.
     I want to encourage you to not resist God’s pruning in your lives, but embrace it and bear it patiently. Set your heart on our treasure in Heaven so that your heart will be at peace and no longer feel the loss of this temporary earthly life. May God bless and encourage you in your walk with Him!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Oil of the Holy Spirit

John 14:16-17
The Oil of the Holy Spirit

     “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.” – Jesus

     Jesus says that He will send us the Holy Spirit and the world cannot receive Him or know Him, but we will know Him because He will abide in us. I think that it is interesting that Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will be our Helper forever. That means that He desires to be part of our lives and to instruct us in the ways of our Heavenly Father for all time. In other words, the Holy Spirit will truly be our closest companion. Think about what that means, the Spirit of Righteousness and Truth abiding in you. You will never be without a constant reminder of what it truly means to live a holy life before God. However, not only will He teach us what righteousness is but will be our helper in being obedient and in overcoming our sinful desires and weaknesses. He will both convict and overcome our sinful nature. What a wonderful blessing.
     Now let me ask each of you, have you truly in your heart desired such a Holy Being to be in your life? One with whom you can never get away with any sin because He stands there with conviction in His hand? It is the most fearful and yet the most desirable thing in the world to have Him reside in you and to have His Holiness upon you. You will truly never be the same again. It’s amazing how much compromise we desire to have in our lives even after we have become Christians. There are parts of our old lives that we hope we can incorporate into our new lives with Christ. However, to have the Holy Spirit dwell in you is to know that you can never pretend ignorance to the sin you desire to keep in your life.
     Brothers and Sisters, it is time to rise and wash our sin stained robes once again and pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and to recommit ourselves to the changes He wants to bring into our lives. We need to go back to the days when we first were saved and wanted to be free from sin more than anything else in the world. Over the years we have fallen back into the sleepiness of the world’s distractions and temptations and have become unfruitful. Jesus gave us the parable of the ten virgins who fell asleep. Brothers and Sisters, it is time to wake up for our Savior is coming soon! Not only do we need to stop sleeping but we need to wake up everyone around us that we might refill our lamps and not be caught without oil at His return! 
     Time is short and our brothers and sisters need us to rise and wake them. Let us ask God to refill us with the oil of His Holy Spirit! God bless you all and may you go forth and bear much fruit for our Lord and Savior!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Wake-Up Call

John 14:12-15
A Wake-Up Call

     “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”- Jesus

     “The works that I do shall he do also.” Let us explore the works that Jesus did which He has for us to do also. As we look through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we see that the miracles Jesus did all related to helping others, and when someone asked Jesus if he could join Him Jesus replies by saying that He has no place to rest His head. In other words, He has no home and the life He leads will be an uncomfortable one. When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two they were not to take any money or extra clothes with them but to live wherever they were welcomed and to eat whatever was set before them. Jesus was not concerned with His own comfort and support. His every effort was for the sake of other’s needs and salvation.
     If I could I would just like to open our eyes as Christians to show us how selfish we have become. We complain to God for every inconvenience that comes upon us and we strive every day to make our lives more comfortable. We rarely have time for a neighbor in need or a sick family member. As brothers and sisters of Jesus – these things should not be this way! Jesus was only concerned with His neighbors and never took a thought about Himself. His life was so busy helping His neighbor that He would have never even had the time to think about Himself. Can we see how far from our Savior’s example we have come?
     Jesus is not speaking poetically and romantically when He says, “Sell all you have and come follow Me.” Jesus is turning our lives as we have known them upside down, and every fleshly love is getting scraped off of us. We think we know Jesus already, but is He removing your foundation from under you right now? Are terrible things happening in your life right now and your’re finding yourself saying, “These things aren’t coming from the God I know”? I tell you – don’t resist this upheaval in your life. Your God whom you thought you knew is real, and He is changing your comfortable view of what it means to be a Christian! You say, “This is not the God I know.” You are right for you have not known Him as well as you thought and He is shaking out your false foundations so that He might replace them with His solid Rock.
     Give your lives anew to Him and say – Lord, your ways are above mine and Your wisdom for my life is higher than mine and from now on I will no longer create You in my image but will become like You! Show me who You are! God has to shake us out of our sleepiness. We need to be out on the streets serving Him with passion. We need to speak boldly to our coworkers and really care that they are heading for eternity in Hell!
     Brothers and Sisters, wake up! Turn off your TV’s and go out and see the world as it is, full of sin and hopelessness. Rise up and save this upcoming generation that has no hope of escape from the constant bombardment of sin and temptation!
     Where are my brothers and sisters of God? Rise up and take back this country! Get on your knees and pray like you have never prayed before! We have been asleep in this world’s pursuits but the time for sleep is over! Wake up and save our land! These are the works that Jesus did and greater things will He do through us!
     God bless you all and fill your lives with new life and encouragement!