Monthly Archives: December 2014

A Clean Slate

This week, we may see the beginning of a new year-2015. Why did I say “may?” Because we are not promised tomorrow. We should say if the Lord will, we will do this and that. For all the promises we may make for the New Year, we might not make it. I am not attempting to be morbid, but I am saying that we should be realistic.

We should ask the Lord for His guidance and direction as we face a new year with new challenges and changes. We should seek to find out what the will of the Father is for our lives.

Happy New Year-2015!

You Can Do Nothing

Bring forth fruit cannot be done outside of God. Jesus says “apart from me you can do nothing.

 

This statement may be applied in two ways. On the one hand, it may be applied to Christians. Note the following:

 

  1. Great work to be done.
  2. The possibility of attempting to do it, but without Christ
  3. The inevitable failure that must result from such effort.

 

Spurgeon preached on this topic. He observed “Without Jesus you can talk any quantity; but without him you can do nothing. The most eloquent discourse without him will be all a bottle of smoke. You shall lay your plans, arrange your machinery, and start your schemes; but without the, Lord you will do nothing. Immeasurable cloud-land of proposals and not a spot of solid doing large enough for a dove’s foot to rest on–such shall be the end of all!” [Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Without Christ–Nothing,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 27 (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), 600-601.] It may be that nothing would come of our efforts if Christ is not working through us.

 

Without Christ, we can do nothing. What a humbling fact!

 

Remain in Me

This parable reveals the secret of fruitfulness. It is to abide in Christ. Jesus specifically says the following: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5.

Jesus means that the disciples should live such lives that He will continue to abide in them. The two “abidings” cannot be separated, and “abiding” is the prerequisite of fruitfulness. No branch can bear fruit in isolation. It must have a vital connection with the vine. To abide in Christ is the prerequisite of fruitfulness for the Christian.

A vine needs to be cultivated at least three years before it can bear fruit at all. It must be trimmed and allowed to grow. Then it is trimmed and allowed to grow again. This is done for a considerable length of time. Only after this process, it can become useful for bearing fruit. With these facts in mind, there are times in our lives when we seem to go on for considerable length of time. We undergo radical treatment at the hands of the Father and seeing little fruit come from it. In such times, we do not believe that any fruit can come from it. We cannot see as God sees. We do not have his perspective. We are not to get discouraged at this time. Remember that Jesus promises fruit in due season. We can still witness, and live the Christian life. We must refuse to be concerned about the outcome. Ultimately, God is the One responsible for the vineyard.

 

Pruning

The next thing the Father does is purge or prunes it. The Greek word for this is katharizo, which means to cleanse, make clean, or purify. We have the English word “catharsis.” The normal usage of this word means the act of cleansing the vine of anything that is harmful to it. This would include insects, moss, etc. When it is used to describe work on a vine and its branches, it is hard to escape the feeling that pruning is probably also in view. The Father is said to be doing a work of removal. The removal of everything would prove detrimental.

 

Looking at this from a spiritual perspective, it refers to God’s work in removing that, which is spiritually detrimental from a given Christian’s life. Our bad habits are stripped away. Our priorities are reordered, and our values are changed. It can mean the removal of some friends. They might be hindering instead of advancing our spiritual growth.

 

The order of these activities of the Father is most important. The reverse produces hypocrisy. We must first be drawn to God in true devotion. Otherwise, we will see ourselves as most saintly. This may not be the truth. We can consider others very worldly in light of how we see ourselves.

 

Drawing near to God will cause us to become more productive. When this happens, we hardly feel the bad things being pruned away. It is a case of spiritual maturing, which includes things being removed from our lives. As we grow, we seek new things and new habits. Dead wood and parasites fall off.

 

Cleansing takes place. We are cleansed by the Word of God. Unless we see that the Word must cleanse us, our ideas of purity are fabricated and not of God’s origin. Such activity is ineffective. David asked the question: “How can a young man keep his way pure?” He answered, “By living according to your word” Psalm 119:9. Jesus said to His disciples “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” John 15:3. It will take a careful attention to and application of God’s Word. Nothing else will cleanse us.

 

How Would You Respond?

I’m reading Job 3 now. I just want to share with you what came to mind when Job heard all the bad news found in Job 1. I wondered how I would feel if I got such bad news. He lost his children along with all his possessions. His wife turned against him telling him he should curse God and die. She believed Job had nothing to live for. Job’s response in verse 21 amazes me every time I read it.

Job 1:21 (KJV)
(21) And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

I wonder could you and I respond if this happened to us?

God Cares About Everything in our Lives

I started reading in the Old Testament with 2 Chronicles. I have made it to Job 2. I am still impressed with what I read in Nehemiah 9. This chapter is a review of Israel’s history. Such individuals as Abram are mentioned. Such events as the Egypt incident are mentioned as well. Verse 19 says that even though Israel made a molten calf, in His “manifold mercies,” He did not forsake them. He brought them out, and brought them through their wanderings in the wilderness. As published earlier, I brought up verse 21 of Chapter 9, the fact that not even their feet swelled in the wilderness. Although I have read this before in passing, this verse really rang out to me. I had to stop and reread it before going on to the other verses in this chapter.

God the Father really cares about us—even to the swelling of our feet! This was a blessed point for me because my feet swell every day. It is wonderful to know that the Lord cares even about my feet!

We need to stop and thank God for the small as well as the great things that happen in our lives. He wants to be a part of everything that happens in our daily lives.