Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cleansed and PRUNED

This is THE day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it, how about you? Find something to rejoice in today. It shouldn't be too hard, we are such blessed people. I spent much of my night dreaming about the great country of Ecuador. Our church is taking a Missions trip there in a couple of months. It will be the third straight year that we have gone to Ecuador. I love the people of Ecuador! They are filled with so much THANKSGIVING and praise to God for His faithfulness, even though they don't have CLOSE to the STUFF that we have, they have more THANKS than most of us have. Thanksgiving, praise and rejoicing is about an ATTITUDE…the ATTITUDE of gratitude! So, instead of complaining and whining, let's make up our mind that we are going to PRAISE GOD TODAY!

Last night I was reading God's Word out of my Amplified Bible right before I went to bed. I know that you have had times when a verse that you have read numerous times, just jumped off of the page at you and you see it in a way that you never have. Well, that happened to me last night. I was reading through John 15, and verse three ministered to me for several minutes:

John 15:1-7 I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. (2) Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. (3) You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. (4) Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. (5) I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. (6) If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. (7) If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

Wow! What a powerful passage of Scripture. Jesus is speaking to generation after generation of His people and teaching them the importance of unbroken fellowship with Him. How do we have this type of fellowship with God? Through reading, studying, meditating on, and obeying the Word of God. Each time that we pick up the Word and study it, it CLEANSES and PRUNES us. If we do not spend time with God's Word, our lives become CARELESS and unmanageable.

About two years ago, my family and I were driving through Searcy, Arkansas. My wife and I served as youth pastors there for about three years in the early '80's. We decided to take our kids by to show them the house that we lived in. I was shocked to find the house vacated, the grass un-mowed, the trees untrimmed, and vines carelessly growing up all over the outside of the house. What had happened to this house? It was a beautiful home at one time. Someone had lost interest in its upkeep, and became careless. Because of that carelessness, it was difficult for me to convince my children that the house really used to be nice. All they could see was how unkempt that it was.

My friends, that is exactly how some people are with their spiritual walk and relationship with God. They allow LIFE to take them away from God's Word, and they go DAYS without picking up the Word of God, and their lives become unkempt and CARELESS. It is difficult for people to see anything remotely related to Jesus Christ in that type of life. Thus, we have people discussing how many HYPOCRITES that there in the church. What is the answer? "You are cleansed and pruned already because of the Word." Some people say that they don't have time to study the Word of God, however, they have time to hunt, fish, go to ball games, read the paper, etc. The truth is, we make time for what we want to do. God's Word must became a priority in our lives.

I have met with people that talk about how they LOVE praise and worship, but not crazy about the Word of God. My friend, satan couldn't care less how much you dance and lift your voice and hands towards heaven in praise and worship IF you don't take time for the Word of God in your life. It isn't praise and worship that will cleanse and prune you…it is God's Word. Now, please don't get me wrong, I love praise and worship and believe strongly in it, but it is the power of God's Word that brings deliverance, pruning and purity into our lives.

Please read the following verse and notice the emphasis that God puts upon His Word:

Psalm 138:2 (AMP) I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness; for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!

There's an old saying, "Be careful what you set your heart on for it might come true!" History surely proves this true. Thomas Edison fell in love with invention, Henry Ford fell in love with motor cars, Kettering fell in love with research, and the Wright brothers fell in love with airplanes. Their "hearts" controlled their time, energy, direction, and output. And look at the results! Love is the most powerful force in the world: want power (the heart) is the strongest impetus for will power (the head). My prayer is that we SET OUR HEARTS to love the Word of God AGAIN!

In Ephesians 5 Paul shares with us that the Word of God washes us like water:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (26) So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, (27) That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless].

The Word of God keeps us CLEAN and PURE. When we first get saved, it is the Blood of Jesus that washes away sin and filth. However, it is the Word of God that DAILY keeps us clean and allows Jesus to present His bride (the church) without spot or wrinkle! The problem with the church in America is that we NO LONGER know the Word of God. It is kept on the shelf, and that is why false doctrine is running rampant in America. We don't take time for the Word, and we are drowning in immorality because of it. We must return to honoring, obeying, KNOWING, meditating on the Word of God:

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 Love GOD, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you; love him with all you've got! (6) Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you (7) and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. (8) Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; (9) inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

This commandment is not automatically transferred from one generation to another. Deuteronomy attaches the importance and responsibility of teaching to the family.

A man who had served as a chaplain for many years at a state penitentiary said, "Out of seventeen hundred convicts, I found only one who had been brought up in a home where they had a family altar, and that man was later found innocent of the crime with which he had been charged."

Socrates asked, "Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?"

The instruction from the parents to the children was not to be just a "lesson," but a continual way of life. Truth was to be communicated when they sat, as they walked, after they lay down at night, and when they arose in the morning. If we do this, we will certainly find ourselves being cleansed and pruned to be all that God wants us to be! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: March 27, 2008 (Thursday): I Chronicles 22:1 – I Chronicles 24:31

This week's memory verse to "hide in my heart": Isaiah 43:2-3

Isaiah 43:2-3 When thou passest through the waters, I will
be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior:…"


Anonymous said...

Love the pruning of Gods word! It is in that daily unbroken fellowship and obedience that allows us to walk in the spirit, and not fulfill the desires of our sinful nature. Great devotion!

Pastor Tommy

Treasure Seeker said...

thanks for the great reminder. we must daily allow ourselved to be cleansed by the powerful Word of God!

awesome stuff!

Anonymous said...

When people realize that praise and worship is not an event, that will be the moment their walk changes with God. This in no way contradicts what has been said about the Word of God in this devotion. It is right on. When we realize that we worship on a perpetual basis whether we like it or not, our awareness of God will become much more enhanced. May we be more than spiritual exercise machines (raise hands, bow a knee, dance a step, etc.) and make our worship unto God a perpetual, practical, and purifying lifestyle.

Good blog!