Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cutting off limbs

“…[B]ecause the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in..." (Proverbs 3:12).

Marcus Dods said, "The world is unintelligible except on the hypothesis that it is for our schooling, and that he that sows in tears is the likeliest to have sheaves worth gathering." We water these sheaves with our tears. We can hope and pray that when sorrows and disillusions come into our life, we may have such trust in God that we will become better instead of bitter. If we put our roots into the Water of Life, they will flourish and grow strong. It will help if we can remember that disappointment is His appointment. John 15:2 is a comforting verse: "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful."

It may seem unfair that those who are already bearing fruit will be pruned, but only God knows what needs to be removed at what season of our lives so that we may bear more fruit for Him. Even the most saintly have sinned and come short of God's glory. He can see the beautiful and yet unnecessary blossoms developing that will hinder the growth of the fruit of the Spirit. The Vine-dresser uses the pruning-knife of trial and affliction that the branch may bear even more excellent fruit. "The pruning knife is not applied to the puny plant; and languid minds are the least touched by affliction...God [also] is never in haste. His processes are slow" (Anonymous).

"Your rod AND your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4b). The rod was used to correct the sheep and bring them back when they wandered. We are guided with the rod and sustained with the staff. What a consoling thought! "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

When we had orange groves, periodically our orange trees needed to be pruned back so they would bear better fruit; it's also known that fruit here in Florida does not sweeten and ripen until we have a mild cold snap. I’ve always thought this such a perfect illustration for our lives, that God allows pruning—some cutting away—of unnecessary limbs of life that may be tripping us up on our way to the Holy City. May we bless Him for His Gift of the Saw—He saw and then He sawed!

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