November 2011 One-a-Week Devos.
Take The Cut
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Jn. 15:2
We have an apple tree in the backyard. It produces hundreds of apples each Fall. The fruit is sweet, juicy and crisp. There’s just one little problem: the apples are about an inch and a half in diameter! They are barely worth eating raw and it takes a whole lot of time to make even one pie. One of these days I’ll learn how to prune the tree so we’ll have more useable fruit.
Likewise, God prunes us to produce more useable fruit. We may do a lot of things for God, producing abundant fruit, but when we branch out in too many different directions, we are in need of pruning. So our Master Gardener starts clipping. Ouch! He cuts this ministry, he removes this gift, he scraps “this really great work” of ours. He will not stop until he has a tree that produces the kind of fruit He wants.
Are we willing to take the cut? Master Gardener, may we yield to the shears, saw or ax that you wield to bring forth useable fruit for Your glory!
…and He began to teach them, saying, ”blessed are the poor in spirit…” Matthew 5:2,3a
B-rate movies are a waste of money. B-rate attitudes are worse. If B stands for “bad” I’ve had more than my share of B-rate attitudes. These are any attitudes directly opposed to what Matthew 5 calls the Beatitudes. Here, the Lord calls us to be humble (vs. 3), yet I often bristle with pride when I’m “dissed”. He calls us to be sorry for our sin (vs. 4), but I could author a book titled, A Hundred and One Excuses for My Bads. He calls us to be gentle (vs 5), yet I am a tyrant to injustices (except my own, of course). In the remaining verses, He calls us to actively seek Him, show mercy, be pure, peaceful and glad in suffering. Yet I am often lazy, accusatory, have mixed motives, stir up strife and grip about hardship.
I can either “berate” myself, or ask the Lord to help me to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus: humble, yielding, serving, dying (read Philippians 2). Almighty Attitude Adjuster, help me yield to the work of Your Holy Spirit. Change my B-attitudes to beatitudes for Your glory through Christ Jesus my Lord.
How Not to Pray
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…Matthew 6:5
Before Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, he teaches them how not to pray. He says don’t be like the hypocrites who love to show off when they pray. He says don’t keep babbling like pagans. So, to all of us who go to prayer meetings and go on and on and on, hogging all the prayers and the time, STOP IT. The fastest way to send everyone screaming from a Bible study or prayer meeting is to have one person monopolize the prayers. Jesus doesn’t tell us to stop praying of course, he just says to do that kind of praying in your closet. Alone. Door shut. This is a great motive sifter. If my prayers suddenly become stilted and brief when clothes and shoes in the closet are my only audience, well then, that other stuff I was doing in public was more like babbling. Ouch. Keep it simple. Jesus did. In a nutshell, He asked for God’s will to be done, for daily bread, for forgiveness-just like the kind we give others (now there’s some food for thought), and for protection from the bad stuff. Pretty simple. Let’s try it: Lord, help me. Now, off to our closets!
Harold the Angel and Other Myths
Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Heb. 1:14
As a pre-school teacher, I’ve heard it all when it comes to definitions for angels.
According to my students, angels are:
Fat flying babies with bows and arrows that could poke their eyes out.
What we become when we die.
Big fluffy-winged white ladies who sing, play harps and live on clouds.
Sometimes named Harold (as in “Hark the…”).
Where do kids get this stuff? From their parents, mostly.
There are so many misconceptions about angels, it is tempting to “throw the baby (angel) out with the holywater” and forget all about them. But according to the Hebrews 1:14,
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
Angels are important messengers from God, and unlike most pictures we’ve seen, they are:
Comforting: They ministered to Jesus after He was tempted and before He died.
(Mt. 4:11, Lk. 22:43)
Mighty: “God sent his angel and he shut the mouth of the lions,” (Dan. 6:22).
Strong: “He will command his angels to guard you in all your ways” (Ps. 91:11).
And a little bossy: “He [an angel] struck Peter on the side and woke him up and said, ‘Quick! Get up!’”
The point is, angels are real, they serve us, and though we don’t often see them hangin’ around, God has provided them to serve Him, and us. Thank you Lord for sending your ministering angels. P.S. The Bible doesn’t say angels are scary looking, but I’m thinking they just might be because the first words to us humans is usually, “DO NOT BE AFRAID.”( Luke 1:13, 1:30, 2:10) Or maybe their opinion of humans is that we’re a bit whimpy and in need of encouragement. Which- ya know, we are. 🙂