Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bear Fruit

Don’t you love when you’re going about your everyday work or to-do list and you suddenly get a definition of a Biblical concept?

That just happened to me this afternoon. Something inside me was awakened as God revealed His Word to me in such a clear way.

I’ve never been much of a gardener.  However, I began my interest in growing flowers and plants from seeds last year.  This afternoon after church I decided it was time to do a little end of the summer cleaning.  Many of the plants out on my balcony had either died or were being deprived of water and proper sunlight.  Some of my flower pots however have some beautiful flowers continuing to bud in the midst of healthy dark green leaves. 

However, there were some flower plants that were just too far gone to be worth the time it would take to revive them.  With these plants I resigned myself to simply go ahead and throw them away and make more room for those which were still blooming.  As I began to sort out those that needed to be tossed versus those that were worthy of keeping, I began to see the need to rearrange what would be left behind.

When I got closer to the flower pots and picked them up I began to see that on the bottom side there were some dead branches and leaves along with the living ones.  I had never noticed these before but there were so many of them I was forced to clear them out.  I believe the official term for this is called pruning. 
Suddenly, John 15:1-4 made sense.
“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

There it was right in my own hands, on my own balcony.  Often times my sin makes me feel so dead inside.  It makes me feel worthless and unusable by God.  Despite all of my theological training. Despite all of the Bible verses I’ve read that tell me otherwise knowing that I have a few dead branches makes me feel as if all of me is dead.  My gardening made me realize that just like my flower plants, I just need a little pruning.  Can I grow with these dead branches? Yes, for a period of time.  Can I still look good? Sure. At least until the dead branches begin to overtake the living branches.  While I have to admit that there are dead branches and leaves in my life, I also have to desire to have them removed.  Having a few dead leaves and branches doesn’t make me dead.  It just means I need some pruning. I need to abide in Christ. John 15:5 records Christ saying “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Allow Christ to prune you daily by abiding in Him.  Continue to watch for sin that is becoming habitual---it will become a dead branch if it hasn’t already and enough of these over time will take over your whole body.  Once pruned Christ asks us to bear fruit.  “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8

Monday, April 15, 2013

Oh my god

If you’re like me you couldn’t stop watching the news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing.  The images and video footage didn’t change but it was hard to turn off the news even when there was no new information coming in.  It is difficult to see the injury and chaos of a bombing like this in America.  This is not a part of our everyday life. We’re not in Israel. We’re not in Palestine. These things just don’t happen.  With no knowledge of who did this and the intentions behind it there is an air of public fear that will most likely remain for the next several days if not weeks.

On many of the video and audio clips that were played over and over have spectators crying out, “Oh my god. Oh my god.” Many of the news reporters sign off with a commitment of prayer for the victims of this tragedy.  I do not know each of these news reporters personally, however, I have a hard time accepting the fact that we only cry out to God in situations like these. 

There is no doubt in my mind that when we reject God, He steps aside and allows us to go on by ourselves as we please.  He is a gentleman. He does not force Himself on anyone who doesn’t wish to have His presence.  We have continually rejected God’s presence in every form and fashion. Christians and churches have now been labeled as hate-groups for disagreeing with accepted practices of the general public.  Why do we want nothing to do with God until a tragedy occurs? Why is prayer, in any public arena, unacceptable until an unspeakable act of violence or terror happens? After tragedies like this, a very popular question is always posed, “Where is God when these things happen?”

God is where we put Him. God’s presence is not felt because we have asked Him to vacate our lives. God is silent because we have asked Him to be. We cannot hold God accountable for His seemingly apathetic response to our momentary cries for Him because we only demand that He come near in the midst of our pain and suffering. Like a child who only returns home when they need more money to spend on their rebellious and prodigal lifestyle, so too, we have treated our God. 

Christians, we must live our lives in full obedience to Christ and point the way so that unbelievers will also desire to follow Him.  God has promised His blessing and favor for the nation that honors Him. And thankfully, He is faithful even through our own unfaithfulness.