Posts Tagged 'sanctification'

Sanctification/Pruning

JESUS SPEAKING

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 1 – 5)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

Jesus uses an agricultural illustration known as pruning to explain the biblical process referred to as sanctification. Pruning is the practice of cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems to promote healthier and more fruitful plant growth. Similarly, sanctification entails removing any decaying or unproductive practices from our lives. After making an initial decision to repent and to embrace the faith, we are then grafted into Jesus Christ (the vine through which all of our spiritual nourishment is delivered.) Despite repenting from our most egregious sins (adultery, drunkenness, fornication, and idolatry, etc.) we remain a work in progress. Over the course of many weeks, months, and even years, God prunes us; trimming away the remaining segments of our existence that are unfruitful (usually the lesser sins, such as impatience, selfishness, and pride, etc.) Through this process of sanctification we become more like God; which enables us to win many souls for His glory.

This process of sanctification is remarkably similar to the purification of precious metals. Within a refinery, the raw materials are placed into a kiln and heated until they melt. The dross, or worthless impurities separate from the metal and rise to the surface; this thin layer is then skimmed off, leaving the purified metal beneath. Without this continuous process of heating, melting, and skimming, purification could never occur. As additional impurities are removed from the molten ore, a more precise reflection of the metal worker appears in the smooth, pure, surface beneath. We too are being sanctified each day; an ongoing process of purification that causes God’s reflection to become clearer in our lives, and more apparent to those around us.

When we repent and believe in Christ, our lives are immediately transformed. And yet, although we’ve been reborn, we must also undergo a process of sanctification. Over time, the thorns and dead branches that prevent us from being a precise reflection of God are removed. As the Vinedresser, the Lord is the one who accomplishes this pruning. Only He has the power to mold us into the image of His Son. May we lay down our own selfish wants and desires to be transformed by God, that we might become even more fruitful.

“Lord Heavenly Father, continue pruning us every day. Trim away the dead and unfruitful portions of our lives, that we might more efficiently spread the Gospel to others. May we relinquish control and allow You to transform our hearts and minds. Give us the courage to step out in faith and be bold; that we might produce much fruit for You. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Cutting Away Sin

JESUS SPEAKING

    “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5: 30)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

  Sin is defined as any act of willful disobedience toward God. Sin is very serious because it separates us from our Heavenly Father. Because God loves his children, He desires for us to let go of our sinful practices, that we may be reunited with, and grow closer to Him. Any grievous sins, such as fornication, adultery, lying, stealing, lewdness, etc, must be abandoned. In order that we may live, we must cut away the sinful portions of our dead flesh.
   In April of 2003, an experienced mountain climber named Aaron Ralston was hiking alone in a remote mountain pass in Utah. While maneuvering through one of the crevices, a giant boulder dislodged and pinned his arm against the canyon wall; for days he attempted to free himself. He had not told anyone where he was going, so he knew that no one would be looking for him. When he had finally run out of water, Aaron was faced with a terrible choice […] He could severe his arm with an ill-equipped pocket knife; or he could keep his arm and simply lay down and die. The only thing standing between Aaron and the rest of his life were two bones, several muscles, and some tendons in his forearm. Aaron chose to break both bones in his arm; he then proceeded to saw through his own flesh with his dull knife. After nearly 127 hours of confinement, he left his severed arm behind and climbed out of the canyon. Until that day, Aaron had lived selfishly. He had been a ‘loner’ who continually pushed others away. Shortly after his experience he came to believe that the boulder had been waiting for him his entire life (that it was destined to transform him.) He said, “I left my hand behind in that canyon, but I gained my life back.” His experience allowed him to see what was truly important. He began to put the emphasis on personal relationships; he eventually married and started a family. He now travels the world telling other people about his inspiring story.
   Like Aaron, there are boulders in our lives; giant rocks that pin us down and keep us from knowing complete freedom. If we have entered again into serious sin, and we have been separated from God then we have some cutting to do. Cut away the dead flesh, so that you may live. Ask God to reveal to you any sinful practices that have crept back into your life and He will. How you respond to what you find, will determine your eternal destination. May God help us all to make the right choices.
  “Lord Heavenly Father we recognize that sin can cause us to become separated from You. We know that we have received forgiveness through Your Son, but we also have a responsibility to refrain from willful acts of disobedience. If we have become defiant, then please give us the strength to put these sins to death, that we may eternally continue to live for You. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Divine Transformations

JESUS SPEAKING

                He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and Pharisees complained against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered and said to them,“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have come to call sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 27-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Tax collectors in Israel were Jewish citizens who had ‘sold-out’ to the Roman Empire, and turned against their own people.  The Roman taxes were severe, and tax collectors earned their wages by overtaxing the people; in turn, they were passionately despised.  The religious leaders were enraged because Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners.   Jewish meals were extremely intimate affairs; those who dined together dipped in to the same bowls and drank from the same cups.  Most Jews were very careful who they ate with, because they falsely believed that sin could be transferred from person to person through the sharing of food.  The Son of God however, was not concerned with being contaminated by the sins of those he dined with.  Instead, his purity was contaminating and cleansing the dirty hearts of those who ate with him.  The messiah, the chosen one, sent of God had a distinct purpose; he came to seek the lost; he came to bring light in to the darkest of hearts; he came to cleanse the dirty, and to reach those the world had set aside and rejected.

                In 1464 a block of Marble weighing nearly 9 tons was shipped to the workshop of the Cathedral of the Santa Maria Del Fiore in Italy.  An artist was commissioned to carve a massive sculpture of a young King David.  It is said the artist abandoned the project because the piece of marble contained too many flaws (or veins—veins in marble are weaker than the surrounding stone, which can cause it to crack and break.)  So the flawed block sat in the yard for nearly a decade; until another artist was commissioned to continue the work; apparently he also foresaw problems with the veining in the marble and walked away.  Again, the scarcely carved stone block was pushed to the back of the yard where the sun, wind, and rain beat down on it for nearly 25 years.  Then in 1501 a 29 year old sculptor named Michelangelo looked at the stone optimistically.  He didn’t see an old dirty block of marble taking up space; he didn’t reject it as a defective throw away, fit for the trash heap.  Unlike the other sculptors, Michelangelo saw the giant slab, not as it was, but as it could be.  Michael Angelo accepted the commission to complete the work because he believed that he could create a masterpiece from a worn down, dirty block of marble.  In 1504, after nearly 3 years of work, the Statue of David was completed; immediately it was marveled over; its beauty and elegance were heralded by even the harshest of critics.  Today, the statue of David is on display in Florence Italy, and is unquestionably one of the most beautiful marble sculptures ever created.

                Like Michelangelo, Jesus Christ is a master craftsman whose purpose is not to attempt to improve perfect people, but to take the worst people and transform them in to divine works of art.  As followers of Jesus Christ, our duty is to reach out to those who are outcasts.  Rather than turning our backs on sinners, we are to embrace them in love.  We shouldn’t just see sinners for who they are, but instead, as who might become (with the assistance, love, and attention of an all powerful divine creator.)  Reach out to the lost; make friends with the weak; dive in to the trash heap and pull out the people the world has discarded.  He has sent us in to the world to reach those who have gone astray and to bring hope to the hopeless.  Are you willing to be an instrument God can use to accomplish a masterpiece?

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask that You use us to reach those who are sick.  Give us a heart for everyone the world has rejected.  We yearn to be instruments that You can use to transform the lives of sinners.  Therefore we lay ourselves at Your feet and place our lives in your capable hands; make use of us as You see fit.  Father, we love You, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you. 


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