Reminder of God
October 5, 2005Interesting thing, perspective, how it is so directed by emotion. Funny how we will get giddy and jump up and down when God moves swiftly to change circumstances in a manner we deem to be favorable to us. Yet in so doing, we often forget the deep work of God, that is, the long term change not of our circumstances, but that which is essentially us, our character, and our soul. To be sure it is probably when fertilizer is applied and watered in that the grape vine is most appreciative, but it is the pruning of the vine that makes it fruitful, of use.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
Ok, which work is greater, God’s work for us, or God’s work in us? Clearly God’s work for us, in that He provided the needed sacrifice through whom we can know Him. Still that does not negate the fact that God is deeply at work in and through our lives. In our lives to nourish and shape our souls to make us less hellish, more heavenly in nature, and through our lives when the process of pruning is meted out in greater production of healthier fruit which is to be enjoyed by those around us…and by God as He enjoys the results of His labors. Key to this however is the concept of abiding in Christ, the true vine. That is an intimate concept, to abide in Christ; that is to experience God’s work for us. So, abiding in Christ is to experience God’s work for us. The process of pruning that we might bear more fruit in God’s work in us. Both are necessary. Both are a privilege to partake of.
October 3, 2005Glenda and I greatly enjoyed our worship time this past Sunday. Jim Wehner gave a great message on prayer. As he was doing so, he referred to “The brutal love of God”. Interesting contrasts in that phrase, “brutal” and “love” juxtaposed, especially in a sermon about prayer. It hit me however that Jim was brilliant in that expression, especially as respects prayer. “Brutal” and “Love” are contrasts, yes, and yet not necessarily contradictory, even in the topic of prayer. Let’s look specifically at a couple of prayers from scripture, first, a man teaching His disciples to pray:
Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Ok, sounds simple enough, Honor God, pray for His kingdom to come, and for His will to be done here on earth. Now, let’s check out a practical application of this. Fast forward to that same man who is in prayer in a garden—the garden of Gethsemane:
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
Shortly thereafter, that man, Christ, began His journey to the cross. The Brutal Love of God. Thank you, Jim, for such a great reminder that God’s grace is free, but not cheap. Take some time today then to think on that, the brutal love of God. When we pray, do we really, like Christ did, have the courage to ask that God’s will instead of ours, be done here on earth as it is in heaven? God is good, His intentions for us, although they might not be our plan, are good. Need proof? Look at what He was willing to give, just so that we might have access to Him, and know what forgiveness really is.
October 2, 2005So sorry this has taken so very long to get through—Work and school are both very intense yet very good. Still, I’ll try to do better at being more timely with these. We’re wrapping up this section on the armor of God today, and the wrap up, like any conclusion, is key. What a great passage this is. A reminder that battle will come, yet armor is available: not armor that we own, but God’s armor, which He extends to us to wear. In and of itself, that is an intimate act of fellowship from God. It lets us know that He knows and fights the same battles as we do, yet He extends His protection to us. Yet that protection must be appropriated by us as a conscious act. Let’s take a look then at the last sentence in this passage--
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; in addition to all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am and ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Yes, there is weaponry. Most of it defensive, yet some of it offensive in nature. Both are to be used. Yet this last passage reminds us of something of utmost importance, namely, that we are not in this alone, and that we have a responsibility to those around who are also in battle, as they too have a responsibility to us. There is a very real call here to, having put on God’s armor and taken up the sword of the Spirit, to then enlist also the strength of God, not necessarily for our own behalf (although there is nothing forbidding that) but instead to enlist God’s strength on behalf of the others around us in general, and then specifically as well for individuals. Prayer in general for all who need it in turbulent times, but also prayer for those whom we know to be on the front lines, engaged daily, for they need not only our support, but the very strength of God Himself. So, take both courage and encouragement from this last section here, in that if we are on the front lines, those who take this passage seriously are praying for us at least in general, if not by name, and those who take this passage seriously whom we know will be praying on our behalf, just as we pray for those around us, known and unknown. Gods’ armor, The sword of the Spirit, access to the very strength of God through prayer, and finally, the knowledge that we are NOT alone, that we must pray for others, as we are depending on them to pray for us. No, there is no such thing as the Lone Ranger Christian. Nor is it wise to fight naked.