For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Friday, April 26, 2013

Get Out the Pruning Shears

John 15:1-2
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Branchy green suckers sprouted off the roots of the crabapple tree in our backyard. The miniature forest, which popped up around the trunk, stole nutrition and water that the tree’s blooms needed in order to blossom. Other trees in the neighborhood bore pink and white flowers, while my tree struggled to stay green. Because I wanted my tree to flower, too, I took the clippers and pruned away the extra growth. I think I heard the tree sigh with relief. Within a few days, white buds burst into bloom.

In John 15, Jesus reminds me that He is the true vine and God even cut the fruitless branches from him. As a believer in Christ, I’m one of the Father’s vines, too. Sometimes, out of fear of change, laziness, or habit I spin my wheels and stay in a rut that keeps me from following God’s will.  It’s not easy to change behavior, step away from a situation or move in a new direction. But there are times that God redirects my path and asks me to change what I’m doing in order to serve him better and produce more fruit. Jesus knew that God expected him to die on the cross, but he also embraced the promise to bring him to life and take him to heaven. Along with God’s pruning comes the promise of life with Him in heaven.

What change has God asked you to make for him?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Deliverer

Psalm 2
Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.
 Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.
From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

If God loves people, then why do so many evil things happen in the world? I’ve been asked this question. From the time that Eve and Adam shared the fruit that God told them not to eat, Satan has jumped in and taken every possible opportunity to flower the world with hate, doubt and fear. I believe in God and I know that the Bible brings truth. So if I know that God exists as a supernatural being, then I have to accept that the Devil is alive and roaming the earth. I wish he wasn’t, but I know he is.

Beyond the sin, the criminal acts, the disasters, and the heartbreak, God delivers and sustains his people. When the bombs exploded n Boston, God provided medical workers as he wrapped his arms around the hurting. When the fighting and war in the east erupts, He’s there holding up the soldiers who represent truth. For those who don’t survive the violence, He comforts the families. God doesn’t abandon his loved ones. When I call him, he answers. He blesses me with his constant grace and love. He delivers me from Satan and casts his care and protection over me. Praise God!

Also posted on FEBC blog.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shout for Joy

Isaiah 35:1-2
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.

I embrace it when I see the first daffodil bloom. Or the magnolia tree grace the sky with bursts of purple and pink. When pale green laces across the branches of the lilac bush and the hyacinth shoots blue stars into bloom. The hope of spring shows up, in full costume. The atmosphere reminds me of Christmas without the hustle and bustle. People smiling, chatting, happy. I see excitement on the faces of children free to run outside and play. Who doesn’t appreciate leaving the winter coat in the closet?

I embrace it. The pure joy that walks in with spring. The freedom to throw off the heaviness of winter and wrap my arms around the beauty of our Creator. The writer of Isaiah understood the joy that only comes from a relationship with Jesus. Even though he had not met him, God showed him what it meant to be part of his kingdom. He rejoiced greatly, shouted for joy, and celebrated the splendor of God. Jesus fills my heart with joy when I witness his beauty, not just in flowers but in knowing that he died for me. And that he lives and brings hope. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Wait for You

Psalm 38:14-15
I have become like one who does not hear,
    whose mouth can offer no reply.
Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.

I have a confession. I like to fix things. If something’s broken, I’ll tinker with it until I mend it or realize that I can’t. The problem is I don’t just want to repair broken objects. I want to set things right in life. You see, I’m not good at waiting. As a matter of fact in a recent conversation, someone pointed that out to me. I’m afraid that I’m the girl who prays “God, can you help me, and by the way, I need it now.” God doesn’t work that way. He wants me to wait on his timing.

I try to pause and let God take control. But then, anxiety, selfishness, lack of trust, and a number of other sins, creep in and scream at me. They tell me— “You know best. Why wait on God? Just do it.” Wrong! God knows my heart, he sees my circumstances, and he wants the best for me. So why do I doubt and try to hurry through life? Because I’m not listening to my creator. He’s the one who set my life in motion. He’s the one who has plans for me. I just need to slow down, listen and yes, wait.

Jesus, help me wait on the Father’s direction for my life. I pray that you’ll continuously remind me that you are in control. Amen

Do you have difficulty waiting on God? How do you handle it?

Also published on the FEBC blog.