Tough question for you today … do you think you are making a difference?
I am more and more convinced that we overestimate what can be accomplished in five weeks and underestimate what we can complete in five years. We overestimate what can be accomplished in one season of life and underestimate what we can achieve in a lifetime.
Are you actually measuring your success to see the difference you’re making? If you aren’t measuring, it may seem like you are spinning a web of busyness, but aren’t getting anywhere. It may even feel fruitless…if you are feeling fruitless, give it time.
I heard a pastor once say, “God doesn’t move slow or fast, He moves strategically.” We can learn a valuable lesson from this; that while He does want us to be fruitful, the planting you are doing today must be strategic even if we never see the fruit.
If we don’t get this, we will confuse being planted with being buried.
Many of the best things in life take time.
In John 15:1-11, Jesus paints such a beautiful word picture of a vine with branches. The vine is Jesus; we are the branches. The vinedresser is the Father, who prunes us with His Word.
Let’s not be naive, pruning can be painful! Let me encourage you to abide as God prunes. We know that to abide in Christ means to remain in Him. Trust that there is purpose in the pain. Allow yourself time in the surgery room, being still, waiting on God as He performs surgery.
There is promise in the pain, even if the situation doesn’t make sense, even if you are unable to see Him working. Release your expectations and only expect good in the end. Because if God is doing surgery, His purpose is always to bring you healing.
We all know it is hard to stay still when you’re in pain. I’m reminded of when our oldest daughter, Madi, was little, and we pulled her first tooth. It was tough for her to sit still. She kept squirming around as we tied a string around her tooth. She was scared of the pain, but it had to happen. Once the tooth was out, she was ready for the new tooth to grow into place.
As branches, we are to bear fruit. Fruit is the gift that keeps on giving because of the seeds, which leads to replication. Paul charged Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
But as we have all experienced, these things take time.
A pastor friend of mine used to say…
“You can’t plant apple seeds in the evening and expect to have apple juice in the morning.”
The truth is, there is no such thing as a fruitless Christian. This is because Christians never work alone. They should never work alone, and in actuality, they can never work alone. If you have been trying to work alone, ask yourself why.
The reality is, we are never alone because the power of the Holy Spirit is working in us. But we must be willing to submit our lives to His leadership. Submission will be the most humbling experience of your Christian walk, the most necessary act for fruitful ministry, and the only thing that will get you out of what pride trapped you in.
Another reason we can never work alone is the spiritual resistance we experience from the enemy. He is always hanging around waiting to pounce on us when we are down. Jonathan Edwards said, “When the church is revived, so is the devil.” The devil wants nothing more than to steal your hope.
Hal Lindsey, in his best-selling book, The Terminal Generation, observed that “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”
As the old hymn says, “our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness … I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life we need in this world and the next.
Hell has no exit, and Heaven has one door.
Jesus reminded His disciples in John 15:5, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Warren Wiersbe said, “The fear of the Lord conquers every other fear.”
Remember, there is no such thing as a fruitless Christian.
So let me ask you, what are you planting?
Our challenge this week … protect the seeds in your soil. Then, give it some time while you abide in Him.