Politics these days has become excessively prejudiced, even though the idea of being open minded and tolerate has been given so much air time.  Ironic!!  It appears as though people hear each other yet do not really hear.  Instead, they hear only what they want to hear.  They then take liberty to turn their interpretation of it and use it to leverage public opinion in a negative way.  Is this intentional or has it become so much a part of their psyche they actually believe they are reporting truth.  Have we passed the point of no return?

When reflecting on that, I asked myself how often do I hear only what I want to hear from God, my wife, family or my friends and then act unwarrantedly on my selfish interpretation.  I suspect we all do this to some degree.  It is how our brain works.  It is observable in children as well as the oldest of adults and equally sad and dangerous no matter who or what age it may occur.

I was intrigued how in Paul’s letter to his friend Philemon, he was tempted to presume or take unwarranted action but caught himself and refused to do so.  In that case, Philemon’s runaway slave (Onesimus) had managed to travel from Colossae to Rome and get a job serving prisoners, one of which was Paul.  In their conversation, Paul found out Onesimus was his friend’s slave.   Paul led him to salvation and enjoyed their growing relationship and especially appreciated Onesimus’ care for him.  He wanted that to continue but was convicted that he was selfishly presuming upon his friend by not sending Onesimus back to Philemon.

Paul followed his conscience and sent Onesimus, who had become like his “son”, back to Colossae along with a letter to his friend.  In the letter he wrote that while he knew he could have presumptively left the situation as it was, Philemon 1:14 (NLT2) I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced.

What would I have done if I had been Paul?  Would I have voluntarily taken such a gut-wrenching risk to send a man who had become so close to me that I depended upon him back to his slave master not knowing what the outcome might be?  What would you have done?

These days we act presumptuously almost as casually as we eat a meal!  We presume upon our spouse, family, friends, government, etc.  Yet, God modeled the righteous way to live by refusing to presume upon us by giving you and I a free will.  Like Paul, He insists on us choosing to submit to His Almighty authority.  How have you been managing your freedom to choose to submit to Him?

Washing Machine

Connie and I have been getting some major landscaping done in our back yard.  I’ve found myself repeatedly becoming so focused on it I kneel down to do some work before changing into my yard-work jeans.  When it becomes too dark and I go in the house, I realize I had gotten dirt and stains on another pair of pants!!  Now Connie has to wash another pair of pants and I feel guilty!

What is interesting to me is how water and laundry soap move through the fibers of material like my pants and carry out the dirt lodged within those fibers and make them look like new again.  Even though we can see and smell the difference, we are not able to see the soap and water working the cleaning process.

When we come to God, our minds and hearts are like my dirty pants, caked with twisted beliefs and bad attitudes, ugly feelings, corrupt habits and deeds, misguided dreams, hopes and fears.  We are so far out of alignment our soul groans with the agitation and turmoil from what is going on deep within while waiting for its redemption.

How is it that the sense of sorrow deep within us can somehow be made free, joy filled and clean again?  No counselor, brain surgeon or psychiatrist can bring the release and freshness to the mind, emotions, intuitions and conscience that our God can.  Titus 3:4-7 (NLT2) 4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.  Absolutely incredible!!

Like our clothes, unfortunately, we again soil our mind, emotions and spirit by the unintentional sins we commit.  The washing machine God uses to move through the fibers of our mind and spirit to keep us clean and make us more like Jesus, is our soaking or meditation on His Word.  Ephesians 5:26-27 (ESV) 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

We all value our washing machines that make our dirty clothes clean and usable again.  Do you realize that God’s Word does to our souls what a washing machine does to our clothes?  I suspect all too many of us are like young boys at kid’s camp who don’t take time to take showers or change dirty clothes.  We go for days without soaking and being washed by the water of God’s word.  God has designed for you and I to take spiritual showers in God’s Word so He can present [us] to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, …without blemish.  Oh, the absolute delight of the prospect of having no spots or wrinkles!!   This adds additional value to the time I spend in God’s word.


President Trump has popularized the phrase “fake news”.   I get it because I’ve had reporters hear what they wanted to hear me say then printed “fake news”.  But then, I’m sure I too have misunderstood what someone has said even if I didn’t print it.  Chances are, you’ve had that same type of thing happen to you.  Fake news primarily happens because a person jumps to a conclusion and makes a judgement without taking the time to get to know the speaker’s heart.  Jesus did say Matthew 7:1 (NKJV) “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  But He also said, John 7:24 (NKJV) Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Paul wrote a letter to Philemon from prison sending back to him a slave (Onesimus) who had run away from him and somehow ended up in Rome with Paul.  Paul had assisted in Onesimus’ salvation and in turn Onesimus had served Paul while he was in prison.  If you isolate verses 8-10 in the letter to Philemon, the words Paul uses can appear to be emotionally packed and certainly sound like he is manipulating his friend Philemon into treating his runaway slave in an honorable way.  However, by reflecting on the game-changing verses 10-12, you are able to gain insight into the heart that motivated those words.  In Paul’s case, for a male to write such things, you realize they were penned out of gut-wrenching feelings and purely out of God’s kind of love for both parties involved.

Jesus’ word and deeds were misunderstood, even by his own disciples who knew His heart!!!  His disciples understood His deity (Mt. 16:16), but they misunderstand what He taught about the Kingdom of God and His death.   Peter couldn’t believe Jesus would die on the cross (Mt. 16:22) and the disciples could not understand why the kingdom of God didn’t happen as they had expected (Acts 1:6).  But they followed Him because they knew His heart.  In contrast, those who had only seen His miracles and heard some of His teaching ended up calling for His crucifixion.  If you are certain your heart is right, and you are still misunderstood, rest assured you are in the finest of company with our Lord.

Too often our initial wrong judgments influence how we go on to feel towards that person for decades.  Those first-time impressions are hard to unlearn when later we get to really know the heart of that individual.   Jesus’ admonition to that type of behavior is Luke 6:37-38 (NLT2) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

How quick are we to judge a person before we know their heart, but it doesn’t feel so good when others do the same about what we say or do.  Holy Spirit, please keep reminding me to relax, love others as You do and let You be the judge of what they say or do.  Please remind all of us to allow You to settle the score.

What gives you joy?

Solomon wrote Proverbs 17:22 (ESV), A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  We all long for joy but all of us don’t have the same definition of what joy is.  Even within Christendom there is a great diversity of definitions for the word.  It is this confusion that sends Christ followers in different directions in their quest for what they believe joy to be.  They have a strong tendency to be driven to seek joy from outside of themselves rather than within themselves. Like the old saying, “All that glitters is not gold!”  A smart-watch I purchased looked attractive on paper, but it totally failed to meet the advertised specs and therefore brought me frustration instead of any form of pleasure.

The church has rightly advertised many Bible promises that say we can have a joy the world cannot give.  Yet, so many Christians restlessly bounce from one church or ministry to another looking for something or someone to bring them joy.  They even find excuses to emulate behaviors of unbelievers if what they do appears to offer them temporal joy.   How can that be?

In Luke 10 Jesus appointed 72 disciples and sent them out to every town and place He was planning to go.  Verse 17 says they returned with joy.  Based on what they told Jesus, doing signs and wonders had become their source of joy.  Jesus then rebuked them saying in verse 20 (ESV), “…do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Jesus correcting them for doing what He had sent them to do must have left them a bit confused.  Isn’t it normal to have a sense of exhilaration when the Holy Spirit uses you to do something supernatural.  So WHY would Jesus redirect them as He did?  He knew there was a fine line between the joy drawn from a relationship with Him and that drawn from doing His spiritual work!  And unless He clarified that for them early on, Satan would later use it as a snare to defeat them.  How so? Joy that comes from doing His work is temporal because it is based on external stimulation and therefore can be very addictive.    That stimulus can then subtly lead a person to just using God instead of loving Him with all their being!  I know because I have fallen into that snare more often than I care to admit.

Contrast that source of joy with what happened in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were severely beaten and thrown in prison (a dungeon) when they had been doing God’s work.  Sitting in prison with aching, bloodied bodies, instead of feeling sorry for themselves or wondering why God allowed them to go through that when doing His work, they were praying and singing hymns to God!!  Obviously, the source of their joy was not on their circumstances or anything extrinsic. It was totally coming from their inner being and based upon their relationship with our Lord.  They had His joy — a pervasive sense of well-being that brings great cheer regardless of circumstances or performance, not human joy that only temporarily stimulates the human senses — an ever so slight difference yet profoundly different.  It seems it was this truth that motivated Jesus to redirect the 72 disciples from feasting on the extrinsically generated temporal joy, as good and noble as those deeds were, to a joy that would be far more enduring and energizing.

We don’t have to do anything except love Him with all that is within in order to enjoy His joy.  Psalm 16:11 (ESV), You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  That joy will result in right deeds but will not be the motivation for them.  What have you been drawing your joy from?  Has it been related to your performance or circumstances or to the intimacy of your relationship with your Creator?

What’s Your Spin on Things?

My philosophy of life used to be ‘expect the worst and hope for the best’.  My rationale was that if I expected the worst I wouldn’t be disappointed with whatever happened.  And I could feel good even if reality turned out not to be the best.  I preferred to be more optimistic about life, but my life hadn’t been a bowl of cherries.  I suspect it was my defense mechanism motivating me to think that way since, like most people, I’m not fond of having bad things happen.  My dad chided me for thinking that way.  After Connie and I got married, God used her to also chide me about my wrong perspective of life.

I knew that is not how a Christian should think but try as I might, I couldn’t help myself.  Through the years, the Holy Spirit has done what I had not been able to do for myself.  Now it is rare that I even use that phrase—Praise be to God!!  Albeit, while I’ve shifted out of that stage, I still am not as optimistic as I would like to be.  Perhaps that is why Paul’s words have attracted my attention.

He seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in prison—not the ideal place for a man of God.  Ironically, while he wasn’t there for having done something illegal, could it have been that the Holy Spirit hand arranged for him to be in prison so much.  Surprised to read that?  Think about it.  Most of the books of the Bible he authored were written in prison.  I suspect he was such a Type A personality that he couldn’t slow down long enough to write them.  So, like Psalm 23:2 (ESV) He makes me lie down in green pastures, I suspect God used prisons to make Paul slow down and write so you and I would learn from what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write.

In prison Paul put a spin on his circumstances that was certainly more optimistic than how I used to think.  He wrote Philippians 1:12 (NLT2) And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. Is that the spin you would have put on unjustly sitting in a prison?  Injustice is hard for anyone to take!  How was he able to think that way, much less write it?

I believe he had come to see himself as being “in Christ” to the point that whatever happened to him was allowed by the Spirit for the good of the kingdom of God.  It was natural then for him, when being unfairly put in prison, to immediately look to see how this imprisonment might provide God’s salvation to others (Philippians 1:13; Acts 16:19-34). When he was assaulted by an angry mob, he immediately used it for an opportunity to preach the gospel to them (Acts 22:1-21).  Even when he was shipwrecked (imagine that trauma), he grasped that opportunity to share the gospel.  Wow!

Paul’s response was not a result of self-discipline alone!  It was a result of the Spirit enabling Paul to come to believe as Jesus believed in the same way the Spirit has enabled me to change my philosophy of life.  It is easy for us to say we believe in Jesus, but it is a whole different thing to believe as He believed.  I’m very challenged by Paul’s responses.  My goal is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in coming to know our Lord intimately enough that I genuinely believe what He believed and thereby naturally respond as He responded.  Paul shows us that is possible!  Jesus said John 15:5 (MSG) I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.  Will it require the Holy Spirit to make you lie down in green pastures before you will come to that place in Him?


A very encouraging insight dawned on me in one of my recent quiet times that has gripped me for several days.  This could be a game-changing perspective for you as it was for me.

The Spirit inspired Paul to repeat one basic thought three times in Colossians 3.  Colossians 3:1-2 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  In verse 4 he refers to the reward for having done so.  Colossians 3:17 (ESV) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [with a heart set on things above], giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord [with a heart set on things above] and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Did you notice the focus was not on what was done but why it was done?  The qualifier was that the efforts were motivated from having one’s mind set on things above or unto Christ.  Could that be saying that in His eyes whatever work driven by that motivation will result in the same inheritance as your reward.   Meditate for a moment on that.  I believe He is saying here the most important thing is NOT the work itself but our motivation that flows from our attention being riveted on things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Have you felt or imagined that those doing the big or important things will get the more impressive rewards?  I’ve sometimes felt that my reward will be small compared to those who influence more people or give more time or dollars than I am able to give.  But that is NOT what the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write.  He is saying the invalid who prays or gives; the child who shows His love to others; the minister’s wife who must remain at home with the children; the usher, the sound or light technician, the secretary, the grounds keeper can all receive the same great inheritance. It doesn’t really make any difference if you are a minister of a big church or small, city or rural, in a beautiful or desolate place, in the states or out of the states; the reward is not based on your performance but on the attitude of your heart towards God as you do it.  In that light, the person who pastors a church or does a job that doesn’t fit them, may be doing it as a sacrifice of obedience unto the Lord in contrast to someone who is working for the sheer pleasure of the work.

For me, Paul’s emphasis upon focusing my mind on things above is really another way of telling me I need to see myself being in Christ (Col. 1:2, 28), seated on the right hand of the Father, then committing to do everything from that perspective!  Contrasting that thought with the view of me doing the work with Christ “in me” (Col. 1:27), it brings to light a different perspective and nuance in motivation and responsibility.  When we only focus only on the “Christ in me” truth, we essentially remain in the driver’s seat and therefore control what we will allow the “Christ in me” to do.  But when we see ourselves as being “in Him”, seated in the heavenlies, we are like a baby in a mother’s tummy with no control over what is done.  Seeing our self that way forces us to relinquish the control of whatever we might do unto Him—as well as the angst and stress!

What a great relief it is to know I am not responsible for making whatever I do unto the Lord effective.  It is the responsibility of the Author and Finisher of all of it, and I end up receiving some of the “glory” plus a great reward for having worked with Him!  How does that truth affect you?


Exactly what is prayer?  I want to pray and have done so for many decades.  I’ve read and written about prayer, taught and tried various models of prayer many times over.  Yet in the recesses of my heart, I continue to have this sense that, for the most part, we have misunderstood what prayer is.

Consider this, how often did the disciples set aside time each day to get alone, kneel and pray as Jesus prayed in the garden or in a way that we think of as prayer today?  Truth be known, His disciples weren’t able to pray one hour with Jesus in the garden.  Yes, when they were in Jerusalem they practiced the traditional Jewish temple prayer time, but that would have been a Jewish ritualistic prayer – very different from how Jesus communicated with His Father.  Other than Daniel, how many major Bible heroes are said to have arranged daily prayer times?  Where did we get the idea that we must pray the way we do today?

I was taught prayer was to ask God for certain things like a grocery list type thing.  I prayed that way for decades, but my prayers weren’t much of a two-way conversation!!  All the while, something within continued to long for more of an intimate communication with God.

What kind of prayer did Jesus teach His disciples to pray?  Was what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer intended to be a liturgy spoken in church or in private?  Based on what is recorded about Jesus’ prayers and His passing comments about His communication with His Father, may I be so bold as to suggest we have missed the mystique in what He enjoyed and intended for us to enjoy?   For starters, I am convinced that what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer was not intended to be mechanically recited but rather “talking points” of how our conversation with God might go.  He taught us to begin our conversation acknowledging the reality of our Heavenly Father and His awe-inspiring holiness.  After reading Jesus’ prayer in John 17, I get the distinct impression He didn’t depend on a prayer list.  Rather His prayers consisted of a sacred exchange of whatever the Holy Spirit prompted His intuition when talking with His Father.

I’ve also observed some of my prayers originate out of my mind or emotions (soul) while others flow out of my inner most being, my intuition, conscience or worship to Him (spirit).  It’s the latter type that allows me to sense I’m most connected with God.  I’ve also found He talks to me most when I’m meditating/reflecting on a Bible passage.  What He says is personal, but it generally consists of a greater revelation of His value, ways, truths and heart.  I thrive on that because I walk away from those times invigorated and optimistic about whatever I’m facing.

There’s something special within each believer that genuinely longs for intimate fellowship with his or her Creator including hearing His whispers in response to his or her requests.  Isn’t that longing in itself a strong clue as to how we should focus our quest in learning to pray more effectively?

Have you been sensing a deep connection with God when you pray?  If not, try breaking out of your routine and experiment with a new way to authentically connect with God who so loves you.  Try journaling what you sense God may be whispering to you as you reflect on scripture; journal your prayers; pray in a different location; add a worship time [books on prayer offer different sequences before praying]. Whatever you do, seek with all your heart to connect your spirit with His Spirit. Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.   Share your discoveries with me.  My time with God is so special; I want you to find a fresh way to also enjoy that same pleasure in His presence.

Indispensable Desire

Remember standing in line while two captains picked their team? Everyone was crying, “pick me, pick me”.  Who among us does not want to be picked; liked, respected, accepted, wanted and even loved by someone or something?  It may be our faithful dog and how he/she greets and even becomes our protector.  By the same token, we have a distaste for the person who goes out of their way to avoid us or for those who may even bully us in some way.  No one wants to spend their life with a person who doesn’t want to live with or even be seen with them.

Has it occurred to you that God also wants to be wanted?  He planted a desire for eternity [a divine attribute] in our hearts but then leaves our response to that desire to separate out the ‘gold from the fool’s gold’, the authentic from the wannabe.  (Eccl. 3:11)

Imagine a seed or a bulb enduring the cold of winter, but then the desire within begins to force its way through the frozen ground to see the sun and becomes a crocus or daffodil. The dark cold winter takes the bulb with a weaker desire out of the game, but it cannot hold back those with healthy life within.  Consider our example Jesus, Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) …who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Our Lord tells us in Matthew 6:33 (NLT2) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously… The Greek word translated “seek” means to seek God’s reign over you as much as you would seek your last, but lost, few coins.

Like us, the Apostle Peter repeatedly messed up, but he chose to nurture the passion in his heart to seek Jesus.  When in the midst of a storm with the Sea of Galilee’s waves crashing over the sides of the boat, he got out of the boat just to be with His Lord!  When Jesus was arrested, though he ran as the others, he kept following Jesus from a safe distance because he wanted to be with Christ.  After his world had collapsed in darkness when Jesus died, as soon as he heard Jesus had risen from the grave, he ran to the tomb to find Him.  Trying to understand all that had happened he went fishing, but as soon as he saw his Hero walking the shore line, he plunged into the water and swam to be with Jesus.  God allows us to go through discouraging times, even to fail miserably, in order to draw out our desire to know Him more deeply.  A snapshot of the reward is seen in Job’s awe inspired words after extended pain and confusion, I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5 (NLT).  God wants our passion for Him to grow until it is able to exceed our deepest pains.

What have you been doing with the desire God planted in your heart to know Him in a more intimate and perfect way?  Have you been persistently nurturing your desire to be close to Him to the point your family, friends or those you serve can see its fruit or have you just wanted Jesus when you want something or are in trouble?   I’ve taken great comfort in knowing that God will draw close to me when I choose to draw close to Him.   Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heartHe longs for me to want Him enough to seek Him with all my heart!!  What might God’s persistent love for you say about the kind of God who created you?    

What is a Shadow?

I can still remember decades ago trying to step on my shadow.  I was fascinated because whenever I moved to step on it, it moved.   Did you ever do that?

I recently was meditating through verses in Colossians 2 when I read Colossians 2:17 (ESV) These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.  Again, the word captivated my thinking, so I had to spend time reflecting on it.  In this case, the shadow didn’t follow the substance, it preceded it.  The shadow did have value but only when it was directly related to being in Christ.

In the context, Paul is writing about abstract things like Old Testament legal demands, laws, or rules.  I understand that to mean laws like circumcision, what you are to eat or drink, celebrations regarding holy days or sabbaths.   In their day those were a ‘big deal’.  Moses was told he would be killed if he didn’t circumcise his sons on his way back to Egypt.  People could be severely punished if they ignored the holy days, especially the sabbath.  So, they were more than just suggestions!  Their value was in how things like circumcision pointed to the necessity of being separated from sin and unto Christ.

It makes me smile today, but in my early days, I was raised to think doing things like roller skating was a sin, along with girls wearing jeans or makeup.  My dad, a pastor, asked good friends to have their daughter stop wearing lipstick in the choir.  None of those things had any direct connection with people growing in intimacy with our Lord.

Could it be that our traditional view of how someone prays the sinner’s prayer, embraces doctrines of predestination or pentecostalism, or how we do church with hymns or contemporary choruses these are days only a shadow?  If so, we can sure get into some heated debates that separate believers into different denominations over a simple misunderstood “shadow”!!

I suspect we confuse legalistic tribal rules with shadows that point us to seeing ourselves through Christ’s eyes.  It begs the question, ‘considering all we consider essential doctrines, behavioral practices, or rules and regulations of our church tribe today, are they only shadows of what is related to knowing who God really is?  Paul went on to write, Colossians 2:18-19 (NLT2) Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud and they are not connected to Christ…  I shudder to think of all I have thought, even taught, to be absolute truth may only be a proverbial shadow and lack substance of its own because it failed to connect people to Christ.

The Holy Spirit is saying through Paul, the things that have substance are ONLY found in how we relate to Christ Himself.  Unless we have died in Christ to our petty dogmas that make us proud in we are totally missing the boat!  He says in Colossians 2:23 (NLT2) These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

I am so grateful when the Holy Spirit confronts me with my prideful ways.  I so want to instruct others in the beauty of living IN CHRIST where alone there is substance.  There is no room for my prideful pettiness or controlling issues when I acknowledge I am not God and have no business confusing others with my prejudicial “shadows”.  How about you?


A couple years ago, Connie planted maybe six special tomato plants in our small garden.  We enjoy them so she chose the best plants, cared for them but at the end of the year, we had hardly a paltry amount of tomatoes.  For some strange reason, most of us plant trees, veggies, even do hard work always expecting there to be some form of ‘fruit of our labor’.  And when that doesn’t happen we fuss and fume.  In Mark 11:12-14 even Jesus was agitated because when he was hungry and went to a fig tree that didn’t have any fig, he essentially cursed the tree saying no one would ever eat fruit from that tree.  Matthew references this incident and records later when He and the disciples saw the same tree, it had withered away.  Fruitlessness is an irritation to all of us, including Jesus!  But while that less than fruitful year for us was annoying, it didn’t stop us from trying again the next year.

That wasn’t just an incident in Jesus’ life.  Because He knew how His heavenly Father felt about fruitfulness, He used various illustrations to draw attention to the importance of producing whatever the plant is designed to produce.  One was in Luke 13:6-9 when he talked about a man planting a fig tree in his vineyard and there was no fruit on it at the end of the season.  The same thing happened the next year and the third.  The man decided to dig it up and throw it away.   Wow!  He was serious about the need to be fruitful.

Like so many others, I poured my life into trying to disciple a young lady only to see her choose to join a cult.  I know of parents who have poured into their children only to see them choose to live contrary to God’s laws.  It is heartbreaking when you feel like years of your prayers and training produced no fruit.  None of us like to see a person God has shaped for some “good work” (Eph. 2:10) waste what was given them on self-destruction and hurting others.  But it is exhilarating when you see that child or person you worked with, later reverse their course of life around.

One of the motivators in my life has been the fact God hand-crafted me for some good work and I intend to do my best to be faithful and fruitful to that assignment.  On one hand I have come to so enjoy my relationship with Christ that I only want to spend more time with Him and do whatever He wants.  On the other and, I also know the truth is that Jesus Himself said, John 15:6 (ESV)  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  While that is not motivating me to seek to know and serve God as I do, yet there remains a healthy fear in my heart of my God.  He is serious about fruitfulness so I will be serious about it as well.  How about you?

As you look back as a boatman looks back at the wake of his boat, do you have confidence that your seeking intimacy with God and the subsequent fruitfulness is as God expects out of the craftsmanship He invested in you?  Remember, God can ONLY be fruitful and expects His passion for fruitfulness to be manifest in those close to Him.  John 15:8 (ESV) By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.