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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I am a character! (cont)

So, what a blessing when God steps in and corrects you!
   Mind you, don't despise the discipline of Almighty God!
True, he wounds, but he also dresses the wound;
   the same hand that hurts you, heals you.
From one disaster after another he delivers you;
   no matter what the calamity, the evil can't touch you...
(Job 5:17-19)

Sometimes I think we hope that God will be swayed, that he will change his mind, about the need for discipline in our lives.  He is not swayed by our resistance to change.  Obviously, the response he expects is submission - that we will yield to the discipline and then grow strong in our walk.  In reality, most of us simply don't embrace discipline with open arms - we revert back to the argumentative state of the "why me" mentality.

It is one thing to see God "lop off" some branch in our life that really wasn't bearing any fruit, or was like a "sucker" on a tree, taking valuable time and energy from us that would have been better spent elsewhere.  It is quite another thing to see God "pruning" branches that are actually bearing fruit!  We wonder if he has his eyes open!  What is that all about?

His love for us is not only focused on the stuff that ISN'T bearing fruit, but it is focused on bringing bigger and better fruit into our lives.  Sometimes, you sacrifice a little fruit today to have a bigger harvest tomorrow.  When we actually look deep inside and begin to see our lives the way God sees them - comparing them to the Word and what we know about his dear Son, Jesus - we can see why he is pruning us.

Sin doesn't "fit" who we are any longer once we come to Christ - so those branches have got to go!  As soon as that "branch" of sin is exposed in our lives, it is open to the pruning work of the Holy Spirit.  If we begin the work of looking for areas that don't align with the Word, we are actually participating in the pruning process - making the pruning process just a little easier.

Part of discipline is the action it takes to change the growth patterns - that is the process of pruning.  Whenever pruning takes place, the tree is shaped for its future growth.  We may not realize the growth that is intended when the pruning takes place, but all spiritual pruning is formative - it is designed to produce positive and growing character. 

Some questions to consider:  What is it that we are focusing on so intently right now in our lives?  Is that focus bringing the fruit in the proportion that God designed, or is it necessary for the pruning action to come in order to produce better fruit?  What do we see first - the branch or the fruit?  If it is just the branch, perhaps it is time to embrace a little pruning so that the formation of fruit might come next!