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The Father’s Pruning Knife

February 7th, 2009

He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

John 15:2-3

 

The work of God is fundamentally positive and redemptive in our lives, not negative and judgmental. Christ said to Nicodemus, “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). And the Father’s approach as the gardener of the vineyard is of the same nature: his intent is not to focus on the unproductive elements in our lives, but rather to prune them, to cut them off, so that the fruitful parts of our lives may flourish.

 

You may recall your failures with vivid clarity. You may remember the times you sought to serve God with impure motives, with prideful arrogance, with moral compromises present in your life perhaps, for the sake of your own reputation instead of God’s glory, and you recall that the power of God was not present, that fruitlessness was the result. Has God cast you aside forever? No. The Father prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it might bear more fruit. If Christ has been flowing within you at all, it is God’s intent to build upon that reality, to lop off the impure so that the flow of the life of Christ might increase.

 

How does the Father prune us? 

 

No question that often circumstances and difficulties are tools that God uses to prune lives. What a man sows he reaps, and living through the results of impure attitudes and actions is one way the Father teaches us. Sickness also is a tool the Father uses. To the Corinthians involved in such an irreverent observance of the Lord’s Supper God told them this was the reason so many of them were sick. But we must be very careful to suppose that these are God’s only tools, that every sickness is a judgment, every hardship is due to sin, and that health and wealth are signs that we are pleasing to God. The primary tool God uses to prune lives is his truth, as Christ said to the disciples, “You are already clean,” or already pruned, “because of the word I have spoken to you.”

 

Hardship, difficulty, and sickness are not infallible teachers in themselves. Many have become embittered and hardened through these circumstances. But God’s truth that always accomplishes the purpose for which God sends it, that is alive and active, judging the thoughts and intents of our hearts, is the pruning knife the Father uses. Just as the Bible knows of no true experience of saving faith that does not result in the bearing of fruit in the believer’s life, so it also knows of no path to maturity and usefulness for God that does not involve letting the word of God search our hearts and minds. Would you be clean for service, useful to the Lord? Then go to the Word of God regularly. Let the Spirit of Christ take the word and search your heart and your motives.

 

The Word of God becomes a pruning knife not as we add it onto the other information we receive in life, but as we through faith and surrender let it prune away the false teachings and impure ideas of our minds. Jesus prayed for his followers saying,

 

I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

John 17:14-19

 

Only the truth of God can cleanse our minds filled with impurities from living in a thought-polluted world. Here are not the ideas of another man, but the words of God. As we read or listen, the Spirit takes it, speaks to us deep in our souls and does his sanctifying work. Listen to him. Agree with him. Let his truth filter out theH false of your life.

 

An airplane engine cannot run effectively on the fuel that is used for cars. It requires fuel of a different and higher quality because when you are soaring above the ground, sputtering and stalling is a serious matter. Neither can we Christians, who are sent into the world like Christ was, soar as Christ did with our hearts ruled by the common thoughts and values of the world. We need God to purify us with his word.

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, take my thoughts and bring them into agreement with yours.  Rid us of the false ideas and values that would dominate our thoughts, and fill us with the truth of your love. Amen.

 

Evening Devotionals

The Fruit of Christ

February 7th, 2009

He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.

John 15:2b

 

God’s plan is that the love of Christ would flow through the heart and soul of the believer, and this life will not cease until it bears fruit, until it moves the believer to a different way of thinking and a different way of living. Just as “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,” this same love, as we are being cast into the image of Christ, will move us to action as well. If we removed that little English word “so” from the sentence, how differently it would read. We could say, “God loved the world and gave His Son,” and that would be true, but it would not capture the full picture of the compelling love within the heart of God that moved him to sacrifice and action. This same love that the heart of God could not contain, if it touches us at all, will move us also to action. The sterling mark of being touched by God’s love is fruitfulness.

 

What does this fruit look like? The image Christ painted is profound in its simplicity, for the fruit of every plant is found in the very nature of the plant itself. The fruit that we bear, for which purpose we have been joined to the branch, is the fruit of the character of Christ in our lives, of the seeds of the gospel planted in others’ lives, and ultimately of other lives transformed by his love.

 

Two images of scripture increase our understanding. Paul wrote of the fruit of the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, of course, as being comprised of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), then he added, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). Paul used the word “fruit” in its singular form and gave this fruit nine traits, meaning that the believer receives a spiritual transfusion of the entire character of Christ. The Spirit in our lives will simply be the Spirit, or be himself.

 

James wrote,

 

Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 1:21-22

 

James is often misunderstood to teach salvation by works, because later he said that without works faith is dead, but in this first chapter he clearly pointed out that only through accepting the word planted in us, only by faith in the gospel message and ultimately faith in Christ, are we saved. The word, however, is like a plant that must grow, and the only proof of its germination is its sprouting.

 

And the Father is active in doing what He alone does to bring about more fruitfulness, as a gardener prunes and cuts back unfruitful shoots and branches. The Lord is working in your life today, in your heart and in your circumstances, to produce this fruit in your life and to increase its production. The life of Christ flows within us, and is seeking to flow within you this very moment.

 

Prayer:

 

Lord, let us listen to you and hear your voice in our hearts. Let us take your word and meditate on its. Change us and show us the true contrasted to the false. Let us crucify those affections in our hearts that are unholy, that represent a twisted view of morality. Let us work with your Spirit that your character would grow within us and we would share your love in this love-hungry world. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Evening Devotionals