HARD PRUNING

Dr. Lewis Gregory
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“Churches close amid quarantine. Some churches fear for their future. As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff. One church leader, said some of the churches in his region were unlikely to survive because their offerings are dwindling.” (AP March 21, 2020)
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During these difficult times churches are experiencing some HARD PRUNING. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.” (John 15:1-2) Every individual Christian is part of “The Church”—the body of Christ. We are all subject to pruning, which always enables us to be more fruitful and productive.
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Therefore, when pruning comes, welcome it! Pruning is a necessary and healthy part of the growth process. And amidst hard pruning, ask yourself some hard questions.
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• Are you focusing on Kingdom work or creature comforts?
• Are you being a good steward of God’s resources or are you squandering them?
• Are you ministering life or maintaining the status quo?
• Are you exalting Christ or engaging in religious rituals?
• Are you proclaiming the gospel of Christ or presenting moral platitudes?
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Today there are far too many fair-weather Christians. There are too many Christian churches, Christian ministers, and individual Christians that are walking by sight rather than by faith. They are living after the flesh rather than walking in the Spirit. Instead of churches getting the Lord’s guidance and trusting Him to provide, they are leaning on their own understanding and looking to people as their source rather than God. They may sincerely think they are trusting the Lord but they are mistaken. Such Christians and leaders lack the spiritual maturity to remain strong in the Lord—steadfast and unmovable in a crisis. As a result, when times get tough, they flounder, become discouraged, pull back or drop out.
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ADVERSITY is the test of true Spirituality. Under pressure, do you manifest the fruit of the Spirit or the works of the flesh? When your income is severely diminished, do you moan and groan about how bad you’ve got it? Do you become fearful and anxious about what to do? Do you murmur and complain about the government? Do you blame the devil, the people who caused it, and even get mad at God?
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Or do you respond as Job? Job was the Bible character who lost everything. He lost his livelihood, his possessions, his family, his health, and his friends. Even Job’s wife rejected him and wanted him dead. In spite of all Job’s adversities, he remained faithful to the Lord. Job boldly declared, “though God slays me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Job even praised the Lord in the midst of his pain and suffering. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job was a true worshipper—he worshiped God in Spirit and in truth. Job was a true man of God—a godly example for us today. Job was a true champion—he endured hardness. Likewise by the grace of God, we can endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ!
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So, where are the true champions today? Where are the true worshipers? Where are the true men and women of God? Where are those who are living godly in Christ Jesus? Where are those who give God thanks in and for all things, and in spite of all the adversities remain more than conquerors through Christ?
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A new day is dawning. Church as we know it will be no more. It’s time for “the true Church”—the body of the resurrected Christ to arise. We need true heroes (real champions) who will be a living demonstration of God’s Spirit and power. We need champions who will stand strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
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Champions trust the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole Source and supply of their every need. Who or what are you trusting? In adversity we all find out! But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because then you know where you stand—on The Solid Rock of Jesus Christ or on the shifting sand of this old world. And then you can do something about it. Champions arise!
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Source Ministries © 2020
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