Today's Word for Pastors...
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Today's Preaching Insight...
God Delights in Obedience
Have you ever made a decision to obey God as a way of life? I'm not talking about obeying once in a while but in every area to the best of your knowledge and ability. Or do you find that there are times when you struggle to do what you know is right and in keeping with His principles? There may be times when it is easy to discern between what is right and in keeping with God's will and what is wrong and not a part of His plan. In fact, you may actually obey Him at crucial junctures because you want His best. Other times, you may feel as if you are being pulled aside by disobedience simply because you did not do your homework in prayer and the study of God's Word.
Solomon admonished us to "catch the foxes." He went on to explain that it is the "little foxes that are ruining the vineyards" (Song of Solomon 2:15). Often the smaller decisions bring about the biggest consequences. A decision to tell a little white lie is very costly because it leads to sin and usually the next step, which is deception. The enemy is very keen. He knows better than to tempt a seasoned believer to flat out disobey God. Obvious sin always draws a response. Friends and family members usually speak up when you are involved in something that leads to shame, failure and a damaged testimony. You may falsely believe that something perceived as being insignificant is much easier to disguise. It may be for a season, but at some point God pulls the covers back, and the truth is revealed about what you have done.
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Illustration: Blaming God
In his Church & Culture blog, James Emery White shares this: "If all else fails in passing blame, there's always God.
"The author Philip Yancey writes of being contacted by a television producer after the death of Princess Diana to appear on a show and explain how God could have possibly allowed such a tragic accident. 'Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going 90 miles an hour in a narrow tunnel?,' he asked the producer. 'How, exactly, was God involved?'
"From this, Yancey reflected on the pervasive nature of the mindset that our actions are actually an indictment of God. Such as when boxer Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini killed a Korean boxer in a match, the athlete said in a press conference, 'Sometimes I wonder why God does the things He does.'
"In a letter to a Christian family therapist, a young woman told of dating a man and becoming pregnant. She wanted to know why God allowed that to happen to her.
"In her official confession, when South Carolina mother Susan Smith pushed her two sons into a lake to drown, she said that as she did it, she went running after the car as it sped down the ramp screaming, 'Oh God! Oh God, no! Why did You let this happen!'
"Yancey raises the decisive question by asking, 'What exactly was the role God played in a boxer pummeling his opponent, a teenager abandoning her virtue, or a mother drowning her children?' God let us choose, and we did; and our choices have brought continual pain and heartache and destruction. Our self-destructive bent has seemed to know no bounds."
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