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Plain and Simple for Aug. 22, 2013

SoVaNow.com / August 22, 2013
I am not much of a gardener. My approach to gardening is to stand around someone else’s garden and say things such as, “Boy, those tomatoes are nice. I really like those tomatoes.” Eventually the person will offer me some tomatoes. That is the way this pastor does gardening.

On the other hand, I did some reading about pruning for a sermon on Isaiah 5:1-7. In that passage, Isaiah talks about the vineyard that God pours so much love into only to get wild grapes instead of good grapes. He is talking about the failure of Judah to respond to God’s love with acts of justice and mercy.

I discovered that there were three reasons that we prune a tree and I thought that they were applicable to our own lives. First, we cut away dead and diseased limbs from a tree when we prune to protect the tree. There are things in our lives that are dead and diseased. There are habits and addictions and attitudes that sicken us and will kill us if we allow them to flourish. We have grudges and bitterness and hatreds and prejudices that we carry around that we should prune from our soul.

Second, we prune a tree to allow sunshine and rain to get to all the branches of the tree. Sometimes the covering of a tree is simply too thick and dense to allow the tree to breathe and grow. Are we so preoccupied with stuff and things that we have no time for what is important to our soul? The most common complaint in this modern world is that we have no time. It would be helpful to prune away those things that are not essential so that we can concentrate on what is most helpful for our peace of mind. What do we need to get rid of so that God can speak to us? What needs to go in our lives so that the sunshine of God can go down into our souls and we can breathe deeply of his peace?

Finally, a tree can have co-dominant branches. Even though a branch is strong it may have to be pruned in order for the other branch to grow even stronger. If two branches continue to compete, a storm may rip the tree apart.

Do we allow two or more things to compete for dominance with God for our attention? Where does God come in our priorities? What do we need to prune in order to truly concentrate on God? If we want to grow strong for God, then we may need to do some pruning in our lives with God’s help.


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