By Faith Moses . . .

By Faith Moses . . . Obeyed God

Hebrews 11 – The Hall of Faith

Hebrews 11 is sometimes called “The Hall of Faith”

Because Hebrews 11 highlights the most notable deeds of many of the Old Testament saints.   This includes several of the most significant acts Moses accomplished “by faith.” The faithful acts of Moses recorded in Hebrews 11:24-29 include:

  • By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (Heb. 11:24-26)
  • By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible. (Heb 11:27)
  • Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest He that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Heb 11:28)
  • By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. (Heb 11:29)

The Old Testament records many other Acts Moses performed by Faith:

  • By faith Moses returned to Egypt and demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go (Exodus 4-12)

  • By faith Moses warned Pharaoh before each of the 10 plagues (Exodus 7-11)

  • By faith Moses walked out of the city during the hail storm before asking God to end the plague of hail (Exodus 9:33)

  • By faith Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40-years

  • By faith Moses spent 40-days without food or water on mount Sinai receiving the law (Twice back-to-back!) (Exodus 24:12-18; 31:18; 32:15-16; 34:1-2, 28-29)

  • By faith Moses interceded with God on behalf of the children of Israel pleading for mercy after their sin (Exodus 32:7-14)

  • By faith Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch (AKA – “the books of the Law)

  • And much more

Three times, God’s Word declares that Moses was faithful in all God’s house (Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3:2, 5).  Moses was acknowledged by all of Israel as the lawgiver.  Centuries later, the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day said, “We are Moses’ disciples.  We know that God spake unto Moses . . .” (John 9:28-29 / KJV).

Application

So what can we learn from the life of Moses that will help us live by faith?

  1. Moses was humble (Numbers 12:3)
  2. Moses communed with God (Exodus 34:28-35)
  3. Moses considered “the reproach of Christ” as better than enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25-26).
  4. Moses kept his eye on the prize.  “He had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (Heb. 11:26).
  5. Moses believed God – he endured, “seeing Him who is invisible” (i.e.: God) (Heb. 11:27).
  6. Moses obeyed God’s Word (Heb. 11:28)
  7. Moses trusted God (Heb. 11:29)

In light of this, how can we live by faith?

  1. Conquer your pride.  Humble yourself and humbly walk with God. (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:5-6; Micah 6:8)

  2. Commune with God through daily Bible reading and prayer

  3. Choose Christ rather than the world.  Openly display your faith, disregarding any shame or ridicule that might result. (Heb. 12:2-3; 1 John 2:15; Mark 8:38)

  4. Keep your eyes on God and the finish line as you run your race (Heb. 11:26; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

  5. Keep believing in God and trusting His Word (Heb. 11:1-3; John 14:1; 1 Timothy 4:10; Heb. 11:6)

  6. Obey God’s Word (John 14:15, 15:10; 1 John 2:3, 5:2-3; Rev. 14:12)

  7. Trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 1:9)

 So how are you doing?  Are you “living by faith”?

If someone were to describe your life, what would they say you do “by faith”?

 

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Are You a Halfway Christian?

Why did Terah leave Ur for Canaan, but Stop Halfway in Haran?

Why Did Terah Stop Halfway?

Have you ever wondered why Terah (the father of Abraham) left Ur of Chaldeans to go to Canaan?

Have you ever wondered why God’s Word devotes eleven verses in Genesis 11:24-32 telling us about Terah?

Who is Terah anyway?

Beginning in Genesis 11:10, this chapter recorded “the generations of Shem.”  From verse 10 through 25, the Bible simply lists what father begat what son, and how long they lived, through nine generations in a direct line from Shem to Terah.  Beginning in Genesis 11:26, the pattern changes.  Suddenly a lot more information is given about Terah and his children.  Why?

Genesis 11:31 tells us:

Terah took Abram his son . . . , and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. (ESV)

But why does God tell us this?

Genesis 11:32 records the death of Terah.  Then Genesis 12:1-5 tells us that God called Abram to leave his family and country to go to Canaan, with the promise that he would be blessed for his obedience.  He was also told that if he obeyed, all the families of the earth would be blessed in him (Gen. 12:3).  So Abram left Haran at the age of 75, taking Sarai his wife, his nephew Lot, and all their possessions with him, and entered the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:4-5).

So why did we need to know about Terah leaving Ur to go to Canaan, but stopping in Haran?  After all, the record of Abraham’s family history and call could have started in Haran.  Why did we need to know about Terah and Ur?  Since the Word of God provides this information, I think it must be significant.

Why did we need to know about Terah leaving Ur to go to Canaan, but stopping in Haran?

First, what would motivate Terah to uproot his family and leave the great city of Ur to travel 1,000 miles to the land of Canaan?  This would be a slow, arduous and dangerous journey.  He would have to take a roundabout route staying on “the fertile crescent,” rather than taking a direct route across the desert.  That is why he traveled 600 miles to Haran.

Second, since he left Ur to go to Canaan, why did Terah stop in Haran rather than continuing on?  The land of Canaan would have been about another 400 miles, so he was over halfway there.  Why did Terah settle halfway?

Could it be that God originally called Terah to go to Canaan with the same promises that were later given to his son Abraham?  It seems likely, because that would explain his reason for leaving his extended family and the prosperous city of Ur to travel to a land he did not know.  That would also explain why God chose to tell us so much about Terah and his move to Haran.

Could it be that God originally called Terah to go to Canaan with the same promises that were later given to his son Abraham?

So if God called Terah to go to Canaan, why did he stop halfway in Haran?  The Bible does not tell us, so we can only speculate.  Perhaps he stopped because of illness, injury, or just to rest.  Terah died at the age of 205 (Gen. 11:32).  Abram left Haran after Terah’s death when he was 75 years old (Gen. 12:4).  So Terah was probably over 150 years old when they made the trip.  Maybe he just got tired.

“Haran” is the name of Terah’s deceased son, Lot’s father (Gen. 11:27-28).  So it is likely that Terah named the place after his son.  If so, then Haran probably was not an established city when they stopped there.  No doubt it had water and pasture land for livestock (based on the many shepherds there during the days of Isaac, Jacob, and Laban).  So it may have provided a nice rest stop.

Terah stopped halfway; he did not fully obey

It could be that once they lost their momentum by stopping, they just got comfortable.  Then inertia (an object at rest tends to stay at rest) took over so they just settled in.  Maybe Terah felt comfortable enough that he just did not feel the need to sacrifice more in order to be blessed.

Whatever the reason, Terah stopped halfway.  But if God called Terah to go to Canaan, then he did not fully obey.  And incomplete obedience is disobedience.  So Abraham got his blessing instead.  Even though Terah is in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:34), it is through Abraham that all the families of the earth are blessed, not Terah.

All this Bible history is very interesting, but how does this apply to your life?

Abraham demonstrated his faith in God by continuing to obey Him through many hardships and trials.  “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23).  So Abraham is the example we should follow, not Terah.

I may provide more applications on this subject in the future, but for now, Remember:

  • Terah stopped halfway; he did not fully obey

  • Starting is not enough.  Like Paul, we must finish our course (2 Tim. 4:7)

  • We need to demonstrate our faith by remaining faithful to the end

  • If God gives you something to do, you need to see it through

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What My Great-Great Grandfather Saw In His Garden

Rev. Dr. Dean

Oliver Stone Dean

Would it surprise you to learn that there were several preachers in my ancestry?  A few years ago, my sister sent me a copy of a book by our great, great grandfather, Oliver Stone Dean (1835 – 1927).  In 1923, he published a short book entitled, “What I Saw In My Garden“.  In this book, he used his garden to illustrate various spiritual principles and teach wisdom.

I knew nothing of this book until a few years ago.  My sister found two of the books in a little chest full of memorabilia from our parent’s home after they passed away.

What I Saw In My Garden - book coverThe book is in the public domain now, but has long been out of print.  We thought it would be unfortunate to lose our great-great grandfather’s spiritual observations.   So I transcribed his book into an electronic format to give it a second life.

My great-great grandfather has been awaiting the resurrection of his physical body for over 90-years.  That resurrection will have to continue waiting until the return of Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the earth.  But we hope to resurrect his book now by breathing new, electronic life into it.

This book is a window into another world.  It takes you back to the America of a century ago.  The people were different, the culture was different, and the writing style was different.  But truth, wisdom and spiritual principles transcend time.  If you would enjoy a glimpse into that world, and the thinking of a 19th Century Christian, then this book is for you.

My great-great grandfather’s book is now available electronically on Amazon as: What I Saw In My Garden: An Interpretation

If you would like to “Look Inside” it or buy it (for 99 cents) you can go to the “What I Saw In My Garden: An Interpretation” sales page on Amazon.com.

There is more information about my great, great grandfather and his book on a page on this site dedicated to his book.  The “What I Saw In My Garden” page also includes a copy of the first chapter, if you would like to sample the book for free.

Do You Talk Too Much?

Before You Talk - Listen to Understand

You Might Be a FOOL – IF You Talk Instead of Listening – Proverbs 18:2

Do You Talk When You Should Be Listening?

The 5th of Stephen R. Covey’s 7-Habits of Highly Effective People says, “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.”  This wise advice succinctly states a Biblical principle.

“Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” – Stephen R. Covey

Thousands of years before Stephen Covey was born, King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) spoke thousands of proverbs (1 Kings 4:32), many of which were collected into the book of Proverbs.  The book of Proverbs was written to teach wisdom and understanding through instruction (Prov. 1:1-6).  In Proverbs, Solomon often contrasts the behavior of fools to those who are wise, and shows the natural results of foolishness.

Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (ESV).  Unlike Stephen Covey, the fool is not interested in understanding.  It is not clear that he even cares about being understood.  The fool just wants to speak his mind.  The fool does not want to listen; he only likes to talk.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2 / ESV)

This principle can often be observed in everyday life.  People are naturally interested in their own lives, and many like to monopolize conversations.  People often ignore what others are saying as they think about what they want to say next.  And people often interrupt each other as they vie for airtime.  In the midst of a long conversation, there is often an amazing lack of communication.

Proverbs 18:13 also speaks to this communication failure:

Listen to Understand Before You Answer

You Might Be a FOOL – IF You Answer Before Hearing – Proverbs 18:13

“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (KJV)

This proverb clearly teaches that we should “listen to understand” before we respond to what another says.  It also plainly states the consequences of this foolish behavior: “folly and shame.”  Yet virtually all of us fall into this self-made trap at least on occasion.  (I know I do.)  Many people are especially good at letting their opinions rip on social media pages and other online forums.

Perhaps we all need to pause to examine our communication behavior and motives.  You could ask yourself:

  • What is my true motive for talking so much?
  • Is my opinion really so valuable that it needs to be shared?
  • Or am I just being proud, wanting to show off my vain opinion like a fool?
  • Have I really listened?  Do I understand what they said?
  • Do I really even understand what I am answering?
  • Is my pride setting me up for a fall (Proverbs 18:12)?
  • Am I being Christ-like in my communication behaviors?
  • Am I speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15)?
  • Would I want others to treat me the way I am treating them (Luke 6:31)?

We should follow the admonition of James:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19 / KJV)

We need to Listen More (be quick to hear) and Talk Less (be slow to speak).

In other words, We need to listen with the intent of understanding before we speak.

 

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Seek Wisdom and Live

Proverbs 8:32-36 on Wisdom

Seek Wisdom and Live

Whoever Finds Wisdom, Finds Life and is Blessed by God.

Wisdom is Calling You

In Proverbs 8, Solomon personifies Wisdom.  So throughout this chapter, the speaker is Wisdom.

Proverbs 8:1-11 says:

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Hear what Wisdom says in

Proverbs 8:32-36

Now therefore hearken unto me (Wisdom), O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
Hear Instruction, and Be Wise, and refuse it not.
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

(KJV)

So Be Wise and Listen to Instruction

Seek Wisdom and Live!

 

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Does Your Life Need Sharpening?

Proverbs 27:17 Sharpening generates friction and heat

Sharpening May Cause Sparks to Fly!

The wisest man who ever lived said,

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”

(Proverbs 27:17)

Solomon used an interesting analogy in this Proverb.  Because sharpening metal requires friction,  it always generates heat, and often causes sparks to fly!

God often uses other people to work in our lives.  Our friends and family may bring out the best in us by lovingly encouraging us.

But God often challenges us using people who rub us the wrong way.

This friction may chafe us.  If we are not careful, we may get hot under the collar and lash out at those who irritate us.  But that would not be the way of Christ.

Jesus would tell us to turn the other cheek, go an extra mile, forgive, and be reconciled to others.

Paul would  tell you:

“No temptation has befallen you that is not common to man, but God is faithful and will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Paul would remind you:

  • All things work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28). 
  • So you should give thanks in everything because that is God’s will (1 Thes. 5:18).

And James would tell us to:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 / NASB)

So the next time someone gives you some “Constructive Criticism”

  • And you feel yourself getting hot
  • And are are tempted to get mad

Consider the possibility that God is using that person to test you.

Even the most irritating feedback usually contains some helpful truth if you are honest enough and strong enough to face it.

Instead of angrily rejecting the criticism,

Be patient and accept the lesson God has for you. 

Let the trying of your faith produce patient endurance in you, “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)

 

But why stop there?  Go “the extra mile.”

Thank them for the gift of feedback they have given you.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

 

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Revealed Truth Is On Pinterest!

Revealed Bible Truth on Pinterest

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If you do, then come visit the Revealed Truth “boards” at: http://www.pinterest.com/RevealedTruth

Our boards include: Bible Quotes, Wisdom Quotes, Bible Prayers, Creation, God, and more.  The selection is currently limited, but growing.  Follow the Revealed Truth Profile on Pinterest to be notified as new content is added.

It’s Time to Decide!

Decide, Choose Who You Will Serve

It’s Time to Decide!

As I read the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, I am often struck with sorrow and fear.

God chose Israel, miraculously delivered them from Egypt, and gave them the Promised Land.  He also promised to bless them if they would just obey Him and walk in His ways (Jer. 7:23).

Despite God’s blessings, the children of Israel repeatedly walked in their own evil ways (Jer. 7:24).  They often went through the motions of worshiping the God of Israel, while committing spiritual adultery.  They bowed down to idols made of wood and stone. They worshiped the host of heaven; the sun, moon, and stars.  They committed immorality, and then burned the unwanted fruit of their sin with fire as offerings to pagan idols.

I sorrow over the sin and apostasy of Israel that broke God’s heart.

God repeatedly sent prophets to warn the people, but they refused to repent.  So He had to judge them.  First, the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyria. Then the southern kingdom of Judah was destroyed by Babylon.

I fear that America is walking the same evil paths that led to the destruction of Israel.

Immorality is not only openly practiced, it is promoted and applauded.  Millions of unwanted babies resulting from this sin are aborted every year.  The innocent blood of these murdered children demands God’s judgment.

America has turned away from God, the Bible and Christianity.  Our nation has rejected the Creator and now worships the material universe.  Our “science” bows to the gods of chance and time.  Our schools have become temples indoctrinating children in the religions of materialism and evolution.

I fear that many “Christians” today are seeking a truce with the World

They want “The World” to love them; even though they are strangers and pilgrims, citizens of God’s kingdom.  They are more concerned about the immediate praise or ridicule of worldly people than the ultimate judgment of God.

So they compromise.  They accept The World’s faith in materialism and evolution, and add it to the Bible.  They put on The World’s make up, dress in The World’s clothes, and allow themselves to be molded into The World’s image.

They try to be sheep while masquerading as goats.  In reality, many are just goats pretending to be sheep.  But Jesus knows who are His, and He will separate them when He comes in His glory (Matt. 25-34).

Jesus knows who are His

“Christians” may walk The World’s walk, and talk The World’s talk. But Satan and The World will still hate them.  The World laughs with contempt when Christians compromise.  And Satan uses their compromise as he seeks to stamp out any remaining true to The Faith.

The World laughs with contempt when Christians compromise

Those who are tempted to follow this slippery path need to remember that even though we are “IN” The World, we are not to be “OF” The World (John 17:11-18).  So let those who think they stand take heed lest they fall (1 Cor. 10:12).

Remember the admonitions of Scripture:

• “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26 / KJV)

• “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:10 / KJV)

• “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5:11-12 / KJV)

• For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. (Rom. 1:16 / KJV)

• And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:2 / KJV)

• Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16 / KJV)

• But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:14 / ESV)

• Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31 / KJV)

 

Christians, The World, Sin, Repent

Who Will You Choose?

It is time to decide.  You must choose a side.

If you are a true Christian, then act like it.  Take up your cross.  Die to The World and yourself every day (Luke 9:23-24).  And live for Christ, proudly bearing His reproach (Heb. 13:13).

If you love the things of this world and want the people of this world to love you, then give up the pretense of being a Christian.  Renounce your faith, walk away from God, and go enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.  But please stop defiling the name of Jesus by calling yourself a Christian.

If you do this, The World will embrace you.  But beware; this decision will have eternal consequences.  Those who have been enlightened and forsake The Faith may never return (Heb. 6:4-6; 1 John 2:19).

Now, therefore, fear the eternal God of the Bible and serve Him in sincerity and truth.  Put away The World’s  gods of materialism and evolution, and serve God the Father and His Son, Jesus the Christ.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the self-existent Creator God, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods of time and chance, the god of the humanism, or materialism and evolution; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Joshua 24:14-15)

It is time to decide. With whom will you side?

 “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:14-15 / KJV)

 

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7 Steps to Spiritual Fruitfulness

Time to Prune my Rose Bush!

My Rose Bush Needs Pruning Again

Does Your Life Need Pruning? – Part-2

In Part-1 of this series, we examined John 15:1-8.  God the Father is looking for fruit in the lives of His children.  Jesus said that if we abide in Him (Jesus), then we will bear fruit.  He also said that the Father prunes those abiding in Him (Christ), so they will bear more fruit.

Pruning is not meant to hurt you, or suck the fun out of life.  It is meant to make you better.  Christians who really want to please God should be grateful to have sin and harmful influences removed from their lives.  At times, even good things may need to be removed to make room for better and best.

This post will suggest 7-Steps for becoming more fruitful as a way to reduce the need for God to prune you.

How to Avoid God’s Pruning

The way to avoid being pruned by God is to recognize what needs to be pruned out of your life, and take action before God has to.  God’s children should want to produce spiritual fruit.  We should want to remove the things that hold us back.  We should “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares” us (Heb. 12:1-2).

This process, of course, should be conducted in harmony with the Spirit of God. You should pray for guidance as you search God’s Word, seeking His will.

Seven Steps to Fruitfulness by Pruning Your Own Life:

1. First, you must critically and honestly examine your life

• As the apostle Paul said, “Let a man examine himself . . .” (1 Cor. 11:28a / KJV)
• And “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. . .” (2 Cor. 13:5a / ESV).

2. Confess any sin in your life

• “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 / KJV).

3. Repent of any Routine or habitual sins in your life, and Remove them

• “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works . . .” (Rev. 2:5 / KJV).
• “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19 / KJV).
• “Lay aside every . . . sin” (Heb. 12:1).

4. Ditch the Doubtful

The Bible does not provide specific instructions for every situation.  In these cases, even sincere Christians may disagree about what is acceptable.  Romans 14:1-23 and 1 Cor. 10:12-33 both provide guidance about doubtful things.  You should never violate your conscience.  And you should be willing to give some things up for the benefit of others.

Unless you are fully convinced that something is acceptable, it is wrong for you

Ultimately it is better to sacrifice things that might be permissible than to do something you think may be wrong.  Unless you are fully convinced that something is acceptable, it is wrong for you to do.  As the old saying goes, “If it is doubtful, it is dirty.”

If you want to do something, but have doubts about it, then study it out.  Study God’s Word, pray about it, and seek godly counsel.  But do not do it unless you are fully convinced that it is acceptable.  Never violate your conscience.

• The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Rom. 14:22 / NASB).
• “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23 / ESV).
• “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 / KJV).

5. Diminish Distractions

Identify any areas in your life where you often invest excessive time, energy, or attention.  These things may not be bad or sinful in of themselves, but they can become idols if you love them more than God.  Even good things can be bad if they keep you from doing what is best.

Hobbies, sports, and entertainment often fall into this category.  They may be good in moderation, but can be overdone.  Even family, friends, and work can interfere with your fruitfulness.  You do not have to cut these things out of your life entirely, but you may need to trim some of them back.

Even good things can be bad if they keep you from doing what is best

• In 1 Corinthians, Paul said that all things are lawful, but not everything is expedient. Not everything edifies us or makes us better. And we should not let anything bring us under its power. (1 Cor. 6:12; and 1 Cor. 10:23)
• We are also commanded, “Love not the world, neither the things in the world . . . (1 John 2:15-17)
• While you do not have to stop these things entirely, sometimes “complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation” (St. Augustine).

6. Filter your Friends

You become like those you spend time with.  Are your friends helping you grow spiritually or hindering you?

What are your friends like? Do they love God or the world?  Do they talk about spiritual things or the things of the world?  Do they want to please God or their peers?  Are they seeking spiritual fruit or worldly pleasure?

Are your friends helping you . . . or hindering you?

• “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2 / KJV).
• “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:19 / KJV).
• “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).

7. Replace what you Remove

Most of what we do is habitual.  Breaking habits is hard.  And as the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.”

If you want to succeed in removing something bad from your life, it is important to replace it with something good.  This applies to habits, friends and food; anything you try to prune from your life.

After all, the whole reason for removing sin, distractions, and negative influences from your life is to make room for better things.  It is to free up your time, energy and affections for godly habits and pursuits.  The goal of this pruning is to increase your spiritual fruitfulness by becoming more like Jesus.  So replace the things you remove with fruitful activities that will please and honor God.

Are you ready to voluntarily go to work pruning your own life?  Or will you wait for God to do it for you?

To prune or be pruned, that is the question

What will you do?

 

This concludes part-2 of this three part series on Pruning.

If you have not read part-1, Click Here to be taken to it.

Part-3 will examine the relationship and differences between Chastisement, Natural Consequences, and God’s Pruning.

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Does Your Life Need Pruning?

Prune that rose bush

That Branch was Out of Control – It Needed Pruning

When I arrived home from work one day, I noticed a wildly overgrown branch on a rose-bush in our front garden.  I hadn’t noticed the growth of this branch as it was happening.  Suddenly, it was just there.

That one extra-long branch was detracting from the beautiful purpose of the rose-bush.  So it had to go.

That one branch had grown longer and taller than the rest of the bush.  It served no useful purpose.  It had no flowers, and added nothing to the beauty of the rose-bush.  It just stuck out and looked silly.

My wife must have noticed it too, because a few days later she cut it off.

We were not mad at the rose-bush.  We did not want to hurt it or punish it.  But that one extra-long branch was detracting from the beautiful purpose of the rose-bush.  So it had to go.

“Pruning is a horticultural . . . practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant . . . . Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping, . . . improving or maintaining health, . . . and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants.” (Wikipedia/Pruning).

Gardeners routinely use pruning to improve the health, appearance and fruitfulness of plants.

People Need Pruning Too

God is the master gardener.  The Bible says that God the Father prunes unproductive things from the lives of His children to make them more fruitful (John 15:20).

The night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.
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.
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.
If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.
John 15:1-8 (KJV)

God is the master gardener

God wants His children to be fruitful.  So like a good gardener, He watches over us, cares for us, and prunes our lives.  The Father’s pruning involves the targeted removal of things in our lives that hinder our fruitfulness.

God’s pruning is meant to improve us, not harm us.  But that does not mean we will enjoy the process.

If this seems harsh, please understand that it is better to be trimmed than cut off entirely.  Jesus said that those who abide in Him will bear fruit.  So a lack of fruit demonstrates that one is not abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ (John 15:4-5).  And if anyone does not abide in Christ, they will be thrown away as a branch and cast into the fire.

Pruning is meant to improve us – Not harm us

To prune or be pruned, that is the question

There may be a way to avoid being pruned by God.  The way is prune our lives before God does.  . . .

 

This is the first article in a three-part series.  The next article provides 7-Steps for pruning your life before God does.

Click Here to continue on to Part-2

 

 

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