Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Seeking the Vinedresser

The flowering limbs of a crepe myrtle beautifully drape our Southern landscape in spring. Shades of pink and red, white, and purple adorn these trees and beautify the earth. Their beauty is stunning in certain seasons, but have you ever noticed crepe myrtles in the winter time, the ones that have been taken care of properly?

A crepe myrtle that has been properly pruned doesn’t “catch our eye.” It looks like a stump with blunt forked limbs growing up in the shape of a Y; it doesn’t grab our attention. But wow, when spring rolls around, the tree blossoms and bears the fruit of spectacular flowers. It’s a beauty for all eyes to behold!

Isaiah prophesied about a man whose appearance had no majesty that would attract people to him. He was despised by men. He was pierced through and crushed for our sins; he received our punishment, yet we are healed by his stripes. We can receive a fruitful life because of his dying. Read about what Jesus did for you in Isaiah 53; it’s a chapter about The Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ.

If we believe in this Suffering Servant, accepting His forgiveness of sins and receiving His righteousness, we are called to the same kind of life that He led. We may not have to go through a physical crucifixion, but we are to die to ourselves and our own wishes every day. And that is not easy to do. So if we are called to a life of sacrifice, how do we succeed in dying to ourselves?

Jesus answers that question by telling us how we are to live in Matthew 6:25-34.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

We are to seek God’s kingdom first. We’re not to worry about ourselves; we are to be concerned only with the righteousness of God. If we make Him our priority, He will take care of everything else in our lives. He wants our lives to blossom with the fruit of righteousness so that others can behold His beauty. At times we may have to be like the winter crepe myrtle, bluntly pruned. If we allow God to strip away everything in our lives that interferes with the work of Christ, then eventually our experience of sacrifice will flourish in the lives around us.

Consider Paul who endured all sorts of persecution because he was a “sold out” follower of Christ. Once he became a believer, he sought after God’s righteousness with gusto. He ministered to individuals and churches. He kept his branch attached to Jesus, allowing God to prune his life so that only Christ was seen in his life. It must have been difficult, yet he still sought the kingdom of God first.

Now consider all the fruit that Paul’s life bore many years ago and stills bears today. We can read his story in the Bible and be encouraged to stand with him, seeking God’s kingdom first. If we stay attached to the Vine (Christ Jesus), even if the Vinedresser needs to prune away our excesses, our right to ourselves, our worries, and our desires, His energy will abundantly flow through us causing us to flourish with His fruit of righteousness. Then other eyes will behold our beauty, people will be drawn to Christ, and God will receive the glory and majesty that He is due. Praise God!

Sacrifice your life to God today, permitting Him to prune away your lifeless branches. Stay attached to the branch of Christ and, in the right season, you will be abundantly blessed with fruit that will bless others. Begin now with a thanksgiving of praise from Psalm 66.

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name.”
Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man’s behalf!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Praise our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, O God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.
Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
Thank you, God, for sending us your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us and save us from ourselves. Help us to seek You first, knowing that we thrive because of You. Thank you in advance for the abundance that You will produce with our lives. To You be the glory!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post and reminder of how important pruning is! Thank you for your faithfulness!