You have made it to day 40 of 40! Good work! It’s not easy to stick with something for that long, especially when the subject matter can be intrusive.
Today, there is no new content for you to ingest. Instead, you are encouraged to spend time in review. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of reflecting on how God has moved in your life.
Below, I have provided a brief summary of each of the 39 days and how we subjected ourselves to the pruning shears of the Vine-grower. You are encouraged to prayerfully reflect and click on any day if you need a full reminder.
- Orientation — These devotions are all inspired by Christ’s words in John 15:1-2, “The Vine-grower cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
- Clutter — In order to have space for the Spirit to work through this devotional, we first needed to follow God’s prompting to cut out some clutter, whether mental or material in nature.
- Timidity — There are few things that keep us from God’s purposes more than fear
- Judgmentalism — Jesus is direct about this one: not only does he want us to focus more on the logs in our own eyes, but he also wants to replace the branch of judgmentalism with the branches of curiosity and compassion.
- Independence — We are designed to be interdependent, so God might need to prune some of our rampant independence.
- Blame — Blame is a key feature of the post-Fall world, but it is unhealthy for us, for our relationships, and for our mission in the world.
- Comparison — Once we start playing the comparison game, we start devolving into an ugly combination of envy, anger, anxiety, depression, self-criticism, and shame.
- Distrust — One of the greatest tragedies in Genesis 3 is that the people learn to distrust God – “Did God really say?”
- Reticence — Why prune reticence? Because when we reflect God’s original design, we are unrestrained and uninhibited in all the best ways.
- Peacekeeping — If we understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping, we will understand why God might want to prune our attempts to “keep the peace.”
- False images of God — This entry started a series of devotionals on the false images we carry about God, ourselves, others, & the world. All these false images can lead us far from God’s intentions, especially a false image of God.
- False images of ourselves — Because we have so many false images of ourselves, we find the apostle Paul spending inordinate amounts of time helping people know who they really are.
- False images of others — Because of the distortions within us, Jesus is consistently trying to change the way falsely perceive of others.
- False image of the world — Since the world that we encounter is not the world as God intended, nor is it the world as it will be when God redeems it, we need to be careful about how we perceive this present world.
- Sanity — You probably haven’t ever thought having your sanity pruned, but in order to be a fool for Christ, you sometimes have to shed worldly sanity.
- Lies I believe from the evil one — If we pay attention to the Lord’s Prayer, we will notice that the last few lines are “pruning” prayers in which we ask God to prune us of any deceptions of the Evil One and deliver us from all his wily schemes.
- The protective false selves — We all wear fig leaves, which are modes of protection that God does not intend.
- Shame — The primary emotional feature of The Fall is the advent of shame. The God of mercy wants to prune unhappy consequence.
- Control — God wants to prune the branch of control and in its place, give a branch of trust.
- Complaining — If we are prone to complaining, grumbling, or griping, the Vine-grower likely has his pruning shears ready to lop off those branches.
- Trying to earn favor — If the Gospel is true, God surely wants to prune our tendencies to try to save ourselves.
- Overcommitment — This brief devotional turned out to be the most entertaining.
- Being inauthentic — In this entry, we tried to clarify the real definition of hypocrisy and why God might want to prune it from our lives
- Ease and Convenience — In the hopes of experiencing all that God has for us, we need to ask God to prune us of our desire not to be pruned.
- Distraction — We live in a distracted age. God surely wants to prune us of some of that distraction.
- Our critical attitudes — If we are ‘marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults and raise objections,’ God wants to prune that way of being.
- Resignation — This one featured the wonderful artwork of Gideon Anderson. He calls us to childlike faith in the face of resignation.
- Pride and Despair — God wants us to embrace being both great and small without falling into the pits on either side: pride or despair.
- Perfectionism — Surely, God wants us to be mindful of unrealistic expectations we have—both of ourselves and of others.
- People-pleasing — By day 30, you were likely convinced of this truth: The primordial narrative describes a whole set of human behaviors that rarely get classified as “sin” and yet, are outside of God’s intended design. This includes people-pleasing.
- Cynicism — In order to see people as God sees them, we may need the Vine-grower to prune the way we often see the worst in people.
- Regret — If we wallow in regret, it is sure to obstruct our capacity to bear fruit in the emerging Kingdom.
- Being Self-referenced — This post introduces a term that is very helpful in describing the human condition … and a way of being that God must prune
- False motives — If we are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, we probably do the right things for the wrong reasons.
- Stubbornness — Hopefully you are not too stubborn to receive the message of this day’s devotional.
- Being stingy — While the Pharisees were stingy with grace, Jesus was generous beyond measure.
- Comfort — In order to embrace Holy Week and the God we encounter there, we may need the Vine-grower to prune some our desire for comfort.
- Pride or arrogance — In order to emulate a foot-washing Messiah, we might need the Vine-grower to prune some of our personal pride.
- The Religious false self — As we come to the end of this religious activity (i.e., Lent & this devotional), may we not lose sight of the end goal: loving union with God.
As you reflect, I want to give you a reminder by sharing these words of wisdom from Michael Jinkins:
False selves must die if a true self is to live. And these false selves will not go quietly. They will kick and raise a ruckus, pitch fits and cry out like the demons confronted by Christ: “What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” (Mark1:24) The false selves blame and disparage others. They shiver with anger and terror in the presence of Jesus.
In other words, don’t expect instant miracles. We are quite attached to these things that need to be pruned. They are not going to go quietly, and that’s okay. It’s ‘normal’ for there to be resistance. Keep going anyway. Put in your portion of the work and trust that God will do his part as well.
TODAY’s PRAYER: Take time to pray for three things: (1) that the Vine-grower would continue pruning you so that you bear more fruit, (2) that you will continue to have the necessary strength to subject yourself to those pruning shears, and (3) that you will have the necessary courage to share your pruning testimonies with others [yes, as you are pruned, you are called to share those humbling stories with others!!!]
One last thing: As you reflect, I encourage you, once again, to share your experience via this simple form. I’ve heard from seven people, but I want to hear from more of you. Thank you!