WARNING: The Withering Process

Recently, I decided to surprise my beautiful wife with a bouquet of flowers, being the romantic husband that I am (smile).  As I walked into the store, I was met with a spectacular array of colored petals of all shapes and sizes.  It took a degree of deliberation to decide which bouquet to choose, and after inquiring about the differences between the blooms, I proudly made my decision.  Of course, when I walked through the door of our home with the bouquet in my grasp, I was rewarded with tears of joy from my Lady. 

A few weeks have gone by and the bouquet I purchased is still on our kitchen table, but it has undergone some serious changes; it’s not the same robust nosegay that provoked tears of joy from my wifey that fine day. Instead, it bears the effects of disconnection.  Jesus warns against choosing to live a life that is separated from Him:

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned”  (John 15:6, KJV)

 

Since Jesus is our life source, one of the consequences of being disconnected from Him is spiritual withering.  On multiple occasions in scripture, children of God are compared to trees.  Trees must have certain necessities like water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide in order to survive.  When it comes to our spiritual health we are no different.  We are people of power because we are people of prayer.  Apart from Him, we can do nothing…we simply cannot function.  Jesus gives us the formula for abiding in Him in John 15:10

   “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kepy my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (KJV)

 

 A Slow Death

The process of withering is deceptive.  When I brought the bouquet of flowers home for my wife, they were vibrant, fragrant, and bursting with color.  As time passed, the reality of the bouquet’s plight became apparent.  Weeks later as I passed by the bouquet, I noticed that all of the petals were falling off onto the table, and the leaves were now dry and lifeless.  The effects of withering are never immediate, and herein lies the great deception.  There is a dichotomy, here, that I would like to explore.  Although we are drawn to the sheer aestetic beauty of the flowers that we see on display, they have already begun to die a slow death.  If we don’t remain vigilant in prayer, we become suseptible to the following deception:

 Since everything around me looks pretty, that must mean there is still life flowing within me. 

We start trying to manipulate the outward appearance in an effort to maintain the pretty colors of our ministries, marriages, and reputations; because these are the things that people can see.  Many times we are shocked when the spiritual leaders of our day tragically fall.  It may seem like  it happens all at once, but if we were to pull back the covers of their private prayer lives, we may be surprised to find that the withering process began long before the actual fall took place.  There is a sobering quote by J. C. Ryle that sums it up nicely:

“Backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.”

Lack of prayer and Bible study cuts us off from our source, the True Vine, thus initiating the death process.  Although the process may be slow, it is sure, and in time the signs of our disconnection will begin to show.   

Things are not always what they seem, and if we’re not careful, our lives will wither due to disconnection from God.  The petals may be full of color, and the stems may appear to be strong and vigorous for now, but eventually the flowers die; the life sap that is only supplied by the vine is no longer accessible.  Jesus stated:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing”  (John 15:5, KJV) 

       

Residual vs. Actual 

One day I asked my wife why did she like to keep flowers around for so long.  Even after they were completely lifeless and shrivelled up, she found pleasure in them somehow.  She told me that it wasn’t the flowers themselves that she only loved, rather it was the memory she had of the day I brought them to her.  This made me think about something pretty interesting.  Many times, we are so in love with the residual memory of what once was, we don’t pay attention to the reality of what actually is.  There may have been a time when you were on fire for God; you prayed and read the Bible everyday.  Now, you may not pray at all, and the Bible is just a nice book of stories that has found a cozy place on your bedroom end table.  In spite of this, there is a part of you that may still feel as if you’re “on fire” for God.  You see yourself in the light of what used to be instead of what actually is.  Don’t be deceived by the residual image of your former prayer life.  Ignite the flames again and reconnect with the Father now. 

When was the last time you and the Father had quality time together? 

Are you producing the robust fruit of the Spirit that only comes from a vital connection to God according to Galatians chapter 5?

Only you can answer yes or no to these questions honestly, and I encourage you to do so. 

Private prayer and Bible study ensures that we stay connected with our life-source who is Jesus Christ.  We must be cognizant of the importance of connecting with Christ daily by reading the Word and private prayer.  The fact is, we are all like sheep prone to straying away from our sheepfold if we don’t guard our hearts as we traverse through this life. 

Here at Wisdom’s Quill, there is never any condemnation or judgement concerning your walk with God.  I am always committed to fostering change, and presenting perspectives that may not have previously entertained.  It’s never too late to reconnect with the Father.  I admonish you to talk to Him now.  He’s always waiting to hear from us, even if it has been awhile, God promised to never turn any of  His children away when we approach Him.  Boldly go to the Father to obtain the grace that He promised. 

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”   (John 6:37, KJV)  

 


 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

Editor: Jaime Evans

BE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Wisdom Wednesday: Pharisees 2.0

  1. Women should never wear anything that pertains to a man.
  2. Men should not wear anything that pertains to a woman.
  3. No one should wear a garment made of wool and  linen.
  4. No one should ever eat pork because it is unclean.
  5. Never eat before you wash your hands.

…And the list goes on and on.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are just five of the 613 laws that were jettisoned through the blood of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice on the cross.  Most of us are familiar with the Pharisees and their collective plight to rid the religious world of Jesus.   In essence, they were the religious/political sect that were the self-proclaimed overseers of the Mosaic Law.  As a result of this proclamation, they managed to compile a huge list of rules and traditions that were added to the basic Law of Moses, while simultaneously enforcing those traditions by becoming judges, jurors, and executioners. 

These traditions were noble gestures, however, the enforcement of these traditions were borderline terrorism.  Because no one could ever really fulfill all the requirements of the traditions of men set forth by the Pharisees, they used them to flex their pious muscles, while being sheltered from the consequences themselves.  This is the very reason why the crucifixion of Jesus was successful.  Jesus was legally sentenced to a wrongful death because of the force of the Pharisaic Traditions. 

You would think with the entrance of the New Covenant, that the Pharisee would be a thing of the past…

Well, think again.

The Church is still the breeding ground for the Pharisaic mentality.  The tools of the trade have changed indeed.  I’m sure you’ve encountered a Pharisee or two.  They’re the ones that police everyone on Sundays to make sure their dress is long enough, or their hair color is “appropriate.”  Nevermind the pain that a person may be going through, or the person contemplating suicide, or the person that came to church one last time before making a decsion to become an atheist because they have lost hope. 

It’s infuriating and unacceptable.  So what do you think?

 

Do modern-day Pharisees exist?

What are the “new” traditions that are enforced in church today?

How does proper teaching come into play when dealing with this mentality?

 

Let’s talk…feel free to leave a reply below.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Wisdom Wednesday: The Grace Problem

I came across an interesting article titled “The Danger of Abusing the Grace of God,” in Charisma Magazine a couple days ago.  In the article, David Ravenhill elucidates some very interesting facts concerning the perversion of God’s grace in our society today.

The theology of grace tends to be problematic for people who struggle with the commitment to doing things God’s way.  On one hand you have the ideology that through the blood of Christ, grace erases all of our sins, and gives us a perpetually clean slate (which is true).  On the other hand, however, you have scriptures like Romans 6:14 which states,

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

So what’s the real deal with grace?  Is it a license to sin, or is God holding us accountable for our actions?  Is it just a “get out of Hell free” card, or is it more than that?

When we fail to understand the purpose and the original intent of God’s grace, it leads to willful disobedience, and then to statements like, “God knows my heart.”

I believe grace is directional, and comes with great responsibility.  For all intents and purposes, God’s grace should lead us in the direction of holiness, not away from it.  It is the room and space to grow into the image of Christ, while daily going through the process of overcoming sin (yes..it is a process).  I believe God’s original intent in provisioning us with His grace was to cover us while we are actively engaged in the sanctification process.  This sanctification process is only perfected within us by living in His presence daily via prayer and Bible meditation.  As long as we are in this world, we will have to deal with sin and spiritual shortcomings.  However, the key to living above sin is our connection to Jesus Christ.  We must take this union seriously if we are to live victoriously.

At what point do we stop making excuses in the name of “grace” and start fighting the “good fight of faith?” (1 Tim. 6:12).

What do you think?  Is it possible to abuse the grace of God?  Have you ever witnessed grace abuse?  If so, how did it change you?

All dialogue welcomed…Let’s talk.

BE