Monday, February 2, 2015

2015: The Year of Prayer - Week 5

. There was a distinct theme of living this reality of #2015theyearofprayer.  I had no idea it would be like this but 5 weeks in, I can say it boils down to one idea in two thoughts.  The Lord calls it pruning.  I call it a roller coaster.

This past week has been intense on the inside.  On the outside, I have seen a lot of wonderful things happen.  I have been a vehicle for His Kingdom movement.  But inside, I have felt nothing but insecure.

It came up over and over and over again, in all kinds of situations.  Several times I didn't feel humbled (which I know to be good) but nearly humiliated by virtue of just being aware of my own internal dialogue. Other times, that internal dialogue got so vocal, it actually came out of my mouth in very unloving ways aimed at others.

At the same time that I'm experiencing the reward for my faith in months prior, I'm also looking inferiority in the face. It looks just like me. Oy Vay, Lord.

Eleanor Roosevelt said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  Well, I tell you what Ms. Roosevelt, You Are Right!  I consented to feel inferior....all by myself.  It is tough to look into the mirror of our own souls sometimes.

This week has been a real head-trip, y'all.

The flesh must be disciplined.  That's what pruning really is: discipline.  It is learning to walk in self-control that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit and not self-directed will power.  It is a chance to let God take the garbage out and put in real treasure.  That's what insecurity is, by the way, GARBAGE.

Pruning is good because the purpose is to produce MORE fruit.  You can't produce God-levels-of-abundance without regular clipping.  Good gardeners don't prune on a whim or for pruning's sake.  The best are like botanical surgeons.  They know what they are doing; which areas to clip and which ones to leave alone.  Broken, diseased and rotting limbs must be cleaned off for new, healthy branches to grow. If you leave the bad limbs on, withered, puny fruit results. Good fruit comes from good, healthy, whole vines.

Jesus, The One True Vine, called us His branches.  He plainly states that He will prune us.  Why?  He prunes us in order that WE CAN PRODUCE MORE FRUIT.  (See John 15:1-3).  It's not for harm, it is for gain!  For more!  For greater!  He presses our good measure down to make room for more, to be filled to overflowing!  (See Luke 6:38)

It's Pretty But Some Pruning Required
That puts God's internal work these past few weeks into perspective for me.  And our God never wastes anything, even the stuff He prunes off.  It is all preparation for the next phase of life to be lived and fruit to bear....for His glory, our good and for the good of those around us. PRAISE GOD!

Our job is to keep our eyes in the right place.  If you were a patient on the table, you wouldn't watch the scalpel in a surgeon's hand.  So, as the branch of the vine, you don't watch the pruning shears in the Gardener's hand.  You keep your eyes on His face and your mind on the impending result of the pruning.  That's called the harvest.  I was reminded about two specials verses regarding the harvest this morning:
  • Luke 8:8 - Still other seed feel on good soil.  It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
  • Galatians 6:9 - So let us not grow weary of doings what is good; for if we don't give up, we will in due time reap the harvest.
The harvest requires patience and perseverance to see.  If we are careful to trust Him, it will be more than we could ever expect or hope for.  As Pastor Andy Cunningham told our church yesterday during his sermon, God operates in parason.  It's the Greek word for abundance and it means over the top, almost wasteful, excess.  I was struck by the word, struck by my need for this.

Like Mary breaking open the jar of nard and pouring it over Jesus - an act of excessive abundance - the Holy Spirit will return the favor when we submit ourselves in worship and reverence to what the Lord needs to do in (and through) us.  He is not a miserly God.  He doesn't pay us what we deserve, or just a 15% tip on top.  No, He is a God who gives in ludicrous fashion.  He gives oceans of life to deserts of dry bones.

It is always more than enough because it is not just physical or spiritual or emotional.

You see, the Lord only gives in WHOLE-NESS.  In Hebrew that word is shalom.  He gives to every part of us - spirit, soul and body.  He is a complete God, so His gifts are for the whole of us.  He is making me more whole as He prunes off the dead weight.  Even though this week was tough, I know, over the next 60 days in particular, I will find myself getting lighter.  I will learn, in even deeper ways, how to walk in His easy, unforced rhythms of grace.  The Lord is preparing my family and me to receive more.  I'm in agreement with that process, so much so, that the last 2 mornings I've prayed the prayer at the end of this post, which comes from one of my go-to resources Prayers That Avail Much. I think I will keep praying it over the next 60 (now 59) days. 

I don't like to hype it too much, but after the first day of praying it, I saw fruit start to blossom in my house - PRAISE GOD!  Small victories, but victories none the less.  The prayer section is aptly titled: To Bear Fruit.  You are welcome to join me in this prayer and I look forward to what will happen as we watch and see how He does answer it in each of our lives!

Lord Jesus, You chose me and appointed me to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give me whatever I ask in Your name.  Father, You are the Gardener.  You prune every branch that bears fruit, so it will be even more fruitful.  

The Apostle Paul said to be filled with the fruit of righteousness and that he desired that fruit might abound to our account.  Therefore, I commit myself to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.  I renounce and turn from the fruit of the flesh, because I belong to Christ and have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.

A seed cannot bear fruit unless it first fails into the ground and dies.  I confess that I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.  And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  Father, I thank You that I am good ground, that hear Your Word and understand it, and that the Word bears fruit in my life - sometimes a hundredfold, sometimes sixty, sometimes thirty.  I am like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in its season.  My leaf shall not wither, and whatever I do shall prosper.

Father, in Jesus' name, I thank You for filling me with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding that I may walk worthy of You, Lord, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of You.  Amen.

Scripture References: John 15:16, Philippians 1:11, Philippians 4:17, Galatians 5:22-24, John 12:24, Galatians 2:20, Matthew 13:23, Psalm 1:3, Colossians 1:9, 10 

No comments: