May 22, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“God’s Pruning Process”

Jeremiah 5:10-19

“Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely. Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the Lord. 11 The people of Israel and the people of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” 14 Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says: “Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes. 15 People of Israel,” declares the Lord, “I am bringing a distant nation against you—an ancient and enduring nation, a people whose language you do not know, whose speech you do not understand. 16 Their quivers are like an open grave; all of them are mighty warriors. 17 They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust. 18 Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’” 

Back in 2014, after moving to the suburbs of New Jersey and starting a 9 to 6 job, I felt an urgency to bring some new excitement into my daily routine. Thus, in my efforts to bring some joy into my daily grind, I attempted to pick up a new hobby – gardening. So I went and bought three succulents and propagated a dozen of its leaves until I had about fifteen plants on my window sill. I diligently watered those plants, gave it plenty of sunlight, and repotted them as they grew bigger.  My goal was to get these little succulents I had bought for $5 to grow to become big, luscious succulents that I could replant in beautiful flower pots around our family home. Let’s just say, I went from fifteen plants to one pink moon cactus. The problem: I didn’t prune the leaves, all in my attempts to get them to grow bigger!

In today’s passage we continue to read of God’s plans to judge the nation of Judah for its rebellion. God declares to ravage their vineyards and bring a nation to pummel their city for their wickedness; yet in the midst of God’s anger, He states, multiple times, that He will not destroy Judah completely. Instead, God decides to prune Jerusalem in order that they may bear fruit again and fulfill the promise to be the chosen nation of God. Even in God’s judgment to a nation that taunted the Lord and where not even one person was found righteous, God still shows mercy.

Pruning is a necessary process that, first and foremost, keeps plants safe from diseases that may affect the healthy parts of the plant. It’s also a process needed to give room for plants to thrive as well as to focus its energy on the necessary parts of a plant. In the same way, God calls us to prune the negative areas of our life that are bearing bad fruit and taking away our energy. Let’s take time to reflect on areas of our life that are not bearing good fruit. Maybe it’s a job that’s taking away from your time with the Lord, or a dream that is clouding God’s dream from you, or even a relationship that has taken the place of God in your life. God calls us to seasons of pruning, not to punish us, but because His desire is for us to thrive.

Prayer: God, I thank You that Your ultimate desire is that I may bear good fruit. Help me to recognize the areas that have been hindering my relationship with You. And grant me the wisdom and courage to prune these areas that I may be faithful in all that You ask of me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: James 2


Lunch Break Study 

Read John 15:1-11: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Questions to Consider

  1. What measure does God use to determine whether we are His disciples?
  2. Why does God ask us to prune certain areas of our life?
  3. What areas of your life have been preventing you from experiencing God’s joy?

Notes

  1. God sees the good fruit we bear to prove we are His disciples.
  2. In order that we may be filled with God’s joy.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Today we talked about how God asks us to prune different areas of our life in order that we may bear good fruit. Take some time to reflect and ask God to reveal the areas you need to prune off. Next, write out a prayer asking for courage and wisdom to let go of the areas that you may be holding on to. Remember, God’s ultimate desire in the process is that you would experience the fullness of His love.

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