It has been a long time since I wrote on my blog. So much has happened, I am in awe. Today, I was reading a devotional on YouVersion (there is a button on the bottom of this piece where you can download the You Version App, which has Bible Reading Plans, connections to local events such as church services, etc. In fact my church Peninsula Covenant Church is connected with this app, and has the church bulletin displayed every week.) If you click on the title, Remain in Me, it will take you to the site and the devotional.
This Devotional, Remain in Me, was powerful for me today, and I will include the devotional and my thoughts:
"Remain In Me
Day 3 • 1 of 4
"A good friend once told me a story of a tree she came across while hiking on a vacation with her family. The tree was a wild overgrown apple tree with hundreds of tiny green apples covering all the branches. The apples were all very small and underdeveloped, and the weight of their number caused the branches of the tree to sag to the ground. The tree looked unkempt, and although it appeared to produce a lot of fruit, the apples were inedible. They served no purpose but to weigh down the branches and rot.
She went on to say that this tree was a metaphorical picture to her of an unpruned Christian life. We can be believers but waste all of our energy and resources on the wrong things and never reach our full potential. For example, we can meditate on the wrong thoughts, beat ourselves up over past sins, or constantly compare ourselves to others.
The apples of the undisciplined Christian are sour and not sweet because they never reach full maturity. If the tree’s branches had been pruned, the tree could have used its resources to feed the apples that remained, and they would be ripe for eating, lush, and enjoyable. They would become what God intended for them to become. God prunes us to grow us and help us reach our full potential. If we surrender to Him and the process of spiritual discipline, we’ll mature into delicious apples and be a blessing to others. The pruning process involves renewing our minds, focusing on Christ alone, training ourselves to seek Him daily through prayer, and reading His Word. He wants our apples to reach maturity so our fruit will be ripe, well-pruned, and highly effective for the purposes He has called us to in Him. He wants our life to look like a well-pruned apple tree."
Remain In Me
Day 3 • 2 of 4
"1 I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]."
Remain In Me
Day 3 • 3 of 4
"For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose]."
Remain In Me
Day 3 • 4 of 4
Talk It Over
Based on today's reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?
The first thing I thought when I was reading the devotional was about people who want lots of numbers/people in their church, drawing them with fancy titles and programs, but not discipling them. Jesus attracted a lot of people because of His healing and miracle abilities, but He wanted disciples. The disciplines He taught were not attractive to the crowds, they were for Christ Followers. Lord, I want to have the same attitude, that it doesn’t matter if I have 1 or 20 in my groups, I want to grow up and train disciples of Jesus Christ, not followers of me. Help me be aware of this every day, and help me point people only to You.
The second thing was the thought of pruning. I had never thought about the fact that when a tree is pruned, the branch is not removed from the root, the branch is pruned back, the bad part thrown away, so that the branch, which is still attached to the vine, even though it is very short, will be fed well, as it is so close to the vine, and begin to grow good fruit. So the whole branch is not removed, it is pruned back to be very close to the source of life, so that it can be fed without interruption.
So it is with Christ Followers. Things happen in our lives, sometimes everything is removed so that we only have Jesus. That is just what He wants, and where He can begin to heal our lives. Lord, help me not misunderstand Your pruning. Help me see it is purely out of love for me that You allow the “take aways” in this life. You want me close to You with nothing in the way. Lord, please help me with this. Help me desire only You.