Let God Prune You His Way

John 15:2 “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

This purging has been interpreted in many ways. The illustration that Jesus is using is one of pruning; therefore, some have said this purging is a very painful process where the Lord cuts and slashes us through things like sickness, death, poverty, and other forms of tragedy so that eventually we will bear more fruit. This teaching not only promotes problems as being good, but necessary, if we want to bear more fruit.

That thinking is not consistent with the rest of God’s Word or even the context of this verse. The text makes it very clear that the purging that Jesus speaks of is done through the Word that He has spoken unto us.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word was given to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is God’s method of pruning us, and He doesn’t need the devil’s help. His word will make us “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

That is not to say that we cannot learn through tragedy: but God has a better way. If we mistakenly think that God is bringing tragedy into our lives to make us more fruitful, then we’ll not resist the tragedies and they will not flee from us. All of us will learn by hard knocks, but the man who welcomes them with wide open arms will suffer greatly and be far behind the man who lets God’s Word have His perfect work in him.

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God Works In The Simple things

John 14:7 “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”

Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father. This is not only because Jesus did exactly what He saw His Father do, but Jesus was God in the flesh.

The disciples didn’t realize that seeing Jesus was seeing God. They were expecting something more. Many times we miss seeing God work in our lives and circumstances because we are looking for something stupendous. Although it is true that God is totally awesome, He doesn’t usually choose to manifest Himself in that way.

God spoke to Elijah not in the fire, wind, or an earthquake, but in a still, small voice. Jesus didn’t come to this earth in a grand way by man’s standards, but was born to poor parents in a stable. Isaiah 53:2 says that Jesus had no form nor beauty that would make us think that He was anything more than a mere man.

Paul reveals in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, that God chooses to do things this way so that no flesh will glory in His presence. The Lord wants us to focus on Him through faith and not concentrate on the physical things He uses. In the Old Testament when the Lord did use visible instruments to release His power, the Israelites made idols out of those things.

Just as the disciples saw Jesus but didn’t realize that what they saw was God, likewise, God is infinitely involved in our everyday lives, but we miss Him because we are blinded by our carnal minds. The primary reason that God chooses to use those who are nothing by the world’s standards is so that no one else will take the credit for the great things that are accomplished.

We Are Complete, Only In Him

Matthew 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

The principle of the Old Covenant was “do” and you shall live. The principle of the New Covenant is “it is done,” and includes redemption, reconciliation, righteousness, and sanctification. The work is finished! We are complete in Him!

If the Old Covenant had no defects, there would have been no attempt to institute another… Hebrews 8:7. In the Old Covenant, men found themselves unable to abide in its agreement, for it was based upon a man’s performance.

The new agreement, however, is based totally upon God’s grace. Under the Old Covenant, men approached God through a priest, while under the New Covenant, we have direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ. Under the Old Covenant, a man’s sin led to his death while under the New Covenant, God is merciful to our unrighteousness. Under the Old Covenant, man could not be cleansed of a consciousness of sin while under the New Covenant, our sins and iniquities are remembered no more, and our guilty consciences are cleansed.

Prior to salvation we are incomplete and there is a constant striving in every person to satisfy their hunger. Through the new birth we are complete in Christ and our hunger now should only be for more revelation of what we already have in Christ.

In the same way that Jesus had the fullness of God in Him, we also have the fullness of Christ in us. That makes us complete or perfect in Him, that is speaking of our spiritual man. Our born-again spirit is identical in righteousness, authority, and power to Christ’s spirit, because our born-again spirit is the Spirit of Christ… Romans 8:9. It has been sent into our hearts crying “Abba, Father:”… Galatians 4:6.

Get Ready For Jesus

Matthew 24:38 “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,”

Jesus is prophesying that just as in Noah’s day, people will be dominated with the temporary affairs of this life instead of eternal spiritual truths, when Jesus returns. Before our Lord’s second return, there will be plenty of signs to show that the time is drawing near, but few will heed them. Preoccupation with the affairs of this life can dull us to the spiritual realm.

The Lord kindly but seriously, points out the urgent need to be ready for His return. In the same way that a thief comes when people are the least prepared, so our Lord will return in a time when people are not looking for Him.

This is not because our Lord desires to surprise everyone and see how many He can catch unprepared. On the contrary, He is urging us to be watchful so that we will be prepared. Jesus gave us the signs of the end times to help us be prepared. He is simply prophesying that there will be a condition of apathy in the latter days that will tend to lull even the faithful to sleep if they don’t take heed to His words.

Believers will not be assembled on a mountaintop somewhere waiting for the Lord’s return. They will still be going about their daily routines. The Lord told us to “Occupy till I come”… Luke 19:13. We should be ready for the Lord to come back at any moment, yet work as if His return was still far off.

Base Your Relationships On God

Matthew 24:12 “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

The only reason that an abundance of iniquity would make anyone’s love for the Lord wax cold, is if he were not separated from that iniquity. As with Lot, a righteous man can vex his soul from day to day by hearing and seeing the unlawful deeds of the ungodly… 2 Peter 2:8.

We have to deal with the world’s system and those in it, but we need to be careful and maintain proper balance. We should shun relationships with those who influence us negatively more than we influence them positively.

Marriage is one area where this principle is especially true. There is no closer union in life than the marriage relationship. A believer who marries an unbeliever is directly violating this scripture and is toying with disaster. The Lord should be the most important person in our life. How could we possibly become “one” with a person who doesn’t love our Lord?

It is folly to think that after marriage an unbelieving spouse will accept the Lord. Although that does happen, it cannot be guaranteed. In fact, statistics are overwhelmingly against this happening. Regardless of that possibility, a believer who marries an unbeliever is directly violating God’s instructions here. It is not a good start to any marriage to spurn God’s Word.

Being unequally yoked with unbelievers just doesn’t work. Believers and unbelievers are as different as righteousness and unrighteousness, light and dark, Christ and the devil. One has faith and the other has none. One is the temple of God and the other an idol. Any Christian who doesn’t see this conflict is deceived.

God Recognizes Our Sacrifices

 Mark 12:41-42 “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.”

The treasury that is spoken of here is a place located in the Women’s Court that was in the temple complex but was not part of the temple itself. Women were not allowed in the temple, so the fact that this widow was casting her offering into the treasury verifies the location of the treasury.

Jesus used this instance to teach His disciples a very important lesson. He did not say these things to this widow personally. God’s promises concerning giving give us an assurance that this offering was blessed back to this woman in this life, but the widow did not hear His commendation. There is no indication that this poor widow ever knew that anyone recognized the extent of her sacrifice.

Likewise, there are times when we may feel that no one knows or appreciates our sacrifices. However, just as surely as Jesus saw this woman’s giving and knew of the sacrifice involved, God takes note of our smallest deeds and one day, will reward us openly.

The Lord does not judge the size of our gifts by how much we give, but rather by how much we have left over after we give. Men tend to compare themselves with each other but the Lord doesn’t judge our giving by what others give. He judges our gifts by what we have to give. The Lord looks at the heart of the giver more than at the gift. The Lord weighs the giver more than the gift.

When we stand before the Lord, all of our works, not only our giving, will be tried to determine what sort – not what size they are.

Give Cheerfully, Not Out Of Fear

Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Some have taught that Jesus did away with the tithe since it is not a specific part of the New Testament teaching. But in this instance, Jesus made reference to the scribes and Pharisees tithing and implied that they were right in doing so. The New Covenant did not do away with the tithe but it clarified what the motives for tithing should be.

Abram tithed over 430 years before the law was given. Jacob also tithed approximately 300 years before the time of the law. Therefore, tithing was a Biblical principle that didn’t begin or end with the law of Moses. However, the law of Moses did include tithing as part of its commandments and attached were stiff penalties for those who failed to comply. It was concerning these punishments for not tithing, that the New Testament differed from the Old Testament. Malachi 3:8-9 says that if a man doesn’t tithe, he has robbed God and is cursed with a curse. Therefore, people gave out of the motivation of debt and obligation. Jesus redeemed us from this and all the other curses of the law, so that God will not curse us for not tithing.

The apostle Paul also made it very clear that any type of giving motivated by anything less than God’s kind of love is useless. He went on to explain in 2 Corinthians 9:7, that God wants us to give, “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The type of giving that God loves is cheerful, freewill giving. This does not mean that tithing is contrary to the New Testament. It is the “fear of punishment” motive, that the Old Testament law attached to tithing, that has been done away with. Giving and tithing are still very much a part of the New Testament doctrine, and if done with the New Testament attitude, are still acceptable to God. Be a giver.