John 15:2 “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes.”
This is a challenging statement from Jesus. His words are a call to be proactive about our personal growth. A dead branch doesn’t produce anything worthwhile to anyone and will be removed. A fruitful branch will be cut back and pruned in its season in order for more fruitfulness to come. Either way, we’re going to get cut. We may as well get cut for bring fruitful and not for being fruitless.
I refuse to be fruitless. Refusing fruitlessness means I intentionally position myself to grow. Someone once said, you only grow according to the books you read, the places you visit and the people you meet. I think there are other ways for growth to occur but these three are a great starting place. What books are you reading? Which new places are you visiting and studying? And who are the people you are posturing yourself in front of to receive from? God is committed to your fruitfulness and the extension of his kingdom. Be intentional, be prepared for pruning and be ready for greater fruitfulness in your life.
Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’
Being still is a lost art and therefore must become a spiritual discipline that we employ on a regular, if not daily basis in our lives. I’ve been a very busy person all of my adult life. Running here, heading there. Meeting this person, going to that event. Some of it was very productive, some of it was a waste of time.
In the midst of all the busyness, there is one thing I’ve never regretted and that is being still and listening to God. In fact, I would go so far as to say, my most defining moments have been directly shaped and influenced by what has happened in these God conscious moments.
Early on as a young Christian and pastors kid, I observed and embraced the benefit of a traditional ‘devotional time’ with God. However, even though I enjoyed it, it became more of a chore to be completed rather than something I longed to do. Not the healthiest place to be spiritually.
There is something missing in our lives when we just read the bible to find something to pass onto others or to make ourselves feel better about ticking it off the list. I think we should develop over time a growing passion to actually just sit and be still with God and learn from him.
He is longing to spend time with you. He is longing to tell you some special things about yourself and your life that you actually need to hear. Will you make time today just to stop and listen to his voice or will you put it off again until tomorrow. Have you discovered that tomorrow has a funny way of turning into next week, next month and next year.
Just stop and be still. The world will keep on spinning. The bills and demands will be there tomorrow but this moment with God won’t be. The only thing you’ll carry into eternity is your relationship with God or lack of. It’s not what you do that matters but what you do out of what God has put into your heart to do. How will you fully discover that if you don’t stop and be still and know that He is God?
I leave you with the eloquent oracle of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.’
Austrian born skydiver, Felix, has broken sound barrier in record space jump. At his top speed of free fall, he hit speeds of over 900km an hour. He opened his parachute and landed on his feet in New Mexico, USA. Who say’s the sky is the limit?
There’s a famous quote that states, ‘Who say’s the sky is the limit, when there are footprints on the moon?’ Too few of us imagine life beyond our wildest dreams. We get sucked into a consumer vortex and become content to be anesthetized by the next purchase of a fashion item, car, concert or holiday experience. But the truth is, life is so much more than our next consumption.
I believe God wants us to live fully alive and to completely embrace our humanity as image bearers of God. Too many of us cap our imagination to fit within the confines of our peer group and cultural expectations. I’m challenging you to give yourself permission to think differently about your life and think more like God.
Ephesians 3:20 ‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’
I don’t know whether Felix is a believer in Christ or not but he has helped us all dream a little bigger and raise the bar higher for what is possible in our own lives, let alone through the abundant power of Jesus Christ.
Where have you placed the limits in your own life and ministry? Have you padded your life with such comfort and convenience that there is no miracle margin left in your world? Time to get a life and live full alive. The sky is not the limit!
Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for context.
It’s official. God loves a failure! He didn’t want the beauty of his nature and the glory of the kingdom solely represented by the great, the good and the clever. He did not want a who’s who of humanity to portray his own magnificence.
God does not need to be seen in the right places with the right people. Jesus was criticized viciously for hanging out with the very people society detested. He chose to become despised and rejected.
God does not have an image problem. He chose people who had a history of failure. He chose people who had a history of not learning and who repeated their mistakes continuously. God chose people who are despised as being stupid by people who should know better. He accepted people who would require lots of training just to be normal, let alone successful.
He chose them because he wanted to love them in such a way that they would always be safe and whole, whether they were successful or not. He chose them so that his love for them could heal them of their foolishness. He has a wonderful capacity to enjoy us in our weakness.
He has a plan to make us successful through using failure for us and not against us. Failure does not demean the Father. His character and identity are so wonderfully secure that he is not afraid to know us, bless us and stand up for us.
Whether we are doing well or badly our identity is always in Jesus!