Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pruned to Grow

If you’ve ever gardened, there may have been times you had to prune a tree or two; or even thousands. Why? Because when you prune (cut back or cut off), you are removing branches that are stealing the food, nutrients and water from the other branches. If you don’t cut them off, they will prevent the other branches from developing to their fullest potential.

So it is with us, there are things (branches) that will crop up and begin to grow in our lives that are stealing the potential of those areas that need to grow spiritually. If we don’t allow God to prune us by His word, we will not be able to develop to our fullest potential. What things you may ask need to be pruned? Instead of making out a list of Do’s and Don’ts, I will give a few examples. It may be something as simple as what we’re watching on TV, or the amount of time spent watching it. Or, how we treat others on the job, home, school or church. Are we spending time to pray, or are we allowing things to steal that time from us?

How, you may ask, are we pruned? We’re pruned with God’s Word. As we read and study the Bible, God will show us areas that need to be adjusted or even cut off. Warning, you should never feel condemned when God shows you something in your life he wants trimmed or cut off. The Bible tells us in Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ”.

Today, as you read your Bible, ask the Lord to show you what may be sapping away the abundant life He wants for you. As you do, you’ll grow stronger and produce fruit in your lives that others will see. When they see that fruit, I’m sure they’ll one day ask you about your life, and you will have the greatest opportunity to tell them about the Master Gardener Himself, God Almighty. So, go forth and be pruned today.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thanks For What?

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. (I Thessalonians 5:18, Amp.)

It’s so easy to say thanks when all our needs are met, kids are serving the Lord, marriage is heaven on earth, we have more friends than the house could hold for a summer BBQ, and the job is going great. Why is it so hard then to thank God when from out of nowhere, we or a family member gets really sick, or we end up owing on our taxes when we thought we’d get a huge refund, or one of the kids flunk a class.

One reason is we focus on the problem rather than the ‘problem solver’. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t have any more problems in our lives. Jesus forewarned us about that, “In the world we have trials, tribulation, distress and frustration.” Now, if that were where he ended His statement I’d say we are in big trouble. However, he continues, “but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

The other reason is we haven’t made it a lifestyle to be thankful as it tells us in our key verse. No matter what the circumstances are – good or bad – we’re to thank God. We’re to have a thankful attitude. Now, let me say we’re not to thank God for the circumstances. Rather, we’re to thank Him for the answer he’s given us in His Word to overcome each and every trial, tribulation, distress and frustration we’re confronted with.

So, starting today, whether or not it’s a good one or not, take time throughout your day to thank God. Don’t know what to thank him for? Start off by thanking Him for Jesus. When you do that, you’ll be doing the will of God and heading in the right direction to victory.