I've been reading in the book of John the past couple of weeks. Somehow, it's like I'm seeing these words for the first time. The words are familiar - this is not the first time I've read them - but this latest read through, it's like they are moving quickly past my brain and heading right for my heart. They seem so...weighty.
A few thoughts from John 15. This chapter begins with the familiar passage where Jesus tells His disciples, "I am the vine; you are the branches." You know what sort of slapped me when I read these verses yesterday? Everybody gets cut. If you are not in Christ, not bearing fruit, you get cut - cut off and thrown into the burn pile. If you are in Christ and are bearing fruit, you get cut - cut, shaped, pruned so that you bear more fruit.
Cutting - a vine, a branch, an appendage - has connotations of ouch! to it for me. Cutting doesn't sound like something comfortable or desirable. But Jesus is saying here that if we are in Him, and if we are bearing fruit, we are going to feel the slice of the pruning hook.
It might be tempting to think, "Well, if I get 'cut' either way - either in Christ or out - what difference does it make?" At the moment the blade bites us, it might not seem to make any difference at all, but what happens afterward makes a world of difference.
I am going to be 'cut' in this life, and that probably isn't going to be a very pleasant experience. The question before me, then, is: Do I want that cutting, that pruning to end in my utter destruction, or in new life and vigorous growth? Do I look at painful circumstances as the work of God lovingly shaping me into Christ-likeness? Even in the midst of tears, do I joyfully consider that God is preparing me to bear more fruit - eternal, glorious fruit?
Sunday morning, Brother Billy preached on Luke 21:25-36. We began by looking at the tumult, fear, and distress that would accompany the coming of the Son of Man. Tumult? Fear? Distress? I don't know about you, but I sometimes feel like I'm way too familiar with things like tumult, fear, and distress.
So what should be my response to the bite of the pruning hook? What should be my response to tumult or distress, without or within?
Steve read from Tabletalk this morning: "Until Christ returns,
His kingdom is advancing, and the Enemy is responding in fear. In some
places, that means that he flees and large numbers of people are
converted. In other places, the fearful response of the Enemy shows
itself when governments suppress and persecute believers. Either way,
the kingdom is on the move..."
The reality is - in pleasant circumstances or painful - Christ is King. He is ever advancing His rule and reign, both in my heart and in the world around me. How am I exhorted to respond to His coming, regardless of whether it brings delightful or distressing circumstances? "When these things begin to take place,...straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption (Jesus!) is drawing near." (Luke 21:28)
Are you feeling the bite of the pruning blade? Are you surrounded by fear, tumult, distress? Straighten up! Raise your head! Look right here - Jesus!!!
3 weeks ago