The picture shows three stumps from a dead tree. Not a rather stunning picture today but it did help me to reflect whilst working on it. You see I was mostly in the garden removing all the foliage and dead branches. I got to this quite large tree and it seemed to be covered in ivy, head to roots. I gradually started to pull the ivy off to expose the tree which seemed very sturdy and I found out that the whole tree was dead. Also the strength of the tree was only good when it was covered in all the ivy and external creepers and tangle weed. The weed and ivy chokes the trees and it is in our life as sin.
By contrast a tree at the side was still alive but gradually being strangled by two things. One was the ivy and tangle weed, and the other was a metal wire fence that had worked its way around the trunk and was now starving the tree of food, and you could see the difference in the quality of the leaves. I needed a tool to remove the fence that had grown into the bark. We need God, in prayer and communion.
As I was pruning and sawing the dead trees up, it occurred to me our lives can be very similar. We can rely on external things to keep us going. When it has been a bad day perhaps we can open a bottle of wine, perhaps we binge eat, or eat more than we need especially with chocolate. Perhaps we escape to the computer to play some games for a while, or just spend far too much time on Facebook. Anything to not think about what we have been through and to deal with it. Many things are enjoyable and even good for us but all in moderation.
The three trunks reminded me of the three persons of God, like the three trunks of the tree all come from one source, are one divine essence and we need them all in our lives. God’s love, feeds everything we do and when we have had a bad day, or when we feel we are at a breaking point it is to God that we must turn.
When we stop and are fearful because we do not know what we will do, or someone we feel compassion for does not know what to do, then turn and cast your concerns on God. My concerns today were with my A level students and what their next moves will be with their results, where will God lead them. I asked God to guide them in their lives and to give them the assurance of salvation but also to give them fruitful lives.
The more we turn to habits, and alcohol and other addictions and things that please the body, the more the vines will grow up our tree and starve off the living energy of God.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
I had a discussion last week with a person who loved science and he came to the conclusion that he didn’t need God because he is a good person. If we fool ourselves like that and play dice with our salvation and eternal life we are truly playing a perilous game.
Jesus is our assurance.
The father prunes the vines off us,
Jesus feeds the life,
and the Holy Spirit guides us in our shape.
We can strip these vines away, the sin, simply but in order to do this we must remove these aspects of our lives, and first thing is that we need to admit that we are sinners. God literally detests hate, selfishness and many other sins and I have committed all these and worse. But we all need something to take the sin away, like I needed a tool to remove wire, we need Jesus to take away our sins. Don’t let sin creep into our lives, let us cut it off and pray for our forgiveness tonight.
Dear Lord, just like I have been doing much major pruning in the garden, I pray that you will prune the bad aspects of our lives. The times we react, the times we are lazy, the times we show no love, the times we simply fulfil our own desires. Let us go forward with all these bad aspects pruned so that we may live and bloom with good fruit, for your glory.