OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[Dec 01]—Vine and Branches

John 15:1-8

Now Jesus shifts to another image, one which he hasn’t used before in illustrating our relationship with him and the Father. It’s a rich image, and it has several lessons for us.

I’m a city boy (or at least I know very little about farming or rural life), but here are some things even I know. I don’t remember much from my high school biology classes, and I’m certainly no botanist (my wife handles that in our household), but I do recall one class in particular which is relevant to today’s passage.

I remember a film on growing fruit and vegetables, and one thing really stands out. A boy was growing tomato plants, and the narrator described what he was doing while he was doing it. The boy was trimming leaves off the plant, and the narrator explained that he wanted big tomatoes, not big leaves. Pruning is the process by which a gardener cuts off parts of the plant which are being used to grow something the gardener isn’t interested in seeing. Leaves aren’t bad or poisonous in themselves; it’s just that the gardener knows that the nutrients and other resources which are being channeled into growing leaves should be channeled into growing what the plant’s supposed to produce.

That puts today’s passage in perspective, doesn’t it? There are lots of things into which we can pour our time which are not direct Kingdom work: watching movies, eating out, going to a hockey game, etc. These aren’t bad in themselves, but if they’re interfering with what God wants to see in my life, then they’re likely to get pruned. Notice, if you’re using the NIV, that the text note says that the word for “pruning” is the same one for “cleaning.” It’s his process of paring down. The Father’s in the process of conforming me to the likeness of his Son, and that means he’s going to cut away everything that doesn’t look like Jesus.

Does this mean that the Father’s against fun? Of course not! Remember, we always need to keep in mind the context of Scripture. We know that he’s the source of everything good in our life, and everything—no matter how mundane or how “secular”--should be offered up to him and enjoyed in his presence. What it does mean is that we need to have the proper perspective on our life and our ultimate purpose: To be conformed to the likeness of Christ. Everything that helps that end, he’ll nurture it. Everything that doesn’t—he’ll prune it.

Now let’s move from talking about the Gardener (our Father) to the Vine (Jesus) and the branches (us). There’s one lesson I’d like to focus on today: We’re utterly dependant on him, not him on us. We have to remain connected to the Vine. What happens to a branch once you cut it off from the vine? It’s separated from nourishment and life, and it withers and dies. I almost wish I could brand this on my forehead: “Without me you can do NOTHING.” Not some things. Nothing.

Without him, acting thru his Spirit, we can do nothing. At least, nothing of eternal significance. I can attend church, mouth prayers which impress others, put money in the offering plate, all without his Spirit moving within me. But it’s all for nothing, and it leads to nothing.

So what does it mean to be “cut off”? Does this mean we can lose our salvation? If you’ve been reading for a while, you should know my answer to that question. But I think we need to examine it in more detail tomorrow.

Lord Jesus, how often do I need to relearn that lesson? How many times do I need to recognize that apart from you I can do NOTHING?

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