God Cares for Us
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." (1 Peter 5:10)
Every fall, Ricky and his sister Anna got to go with their cousins to the apple orchard. The orchard was way out in the country, and Ricky and Anna could smell the sweet, spicy scent of ripe apples even before all the kids could pile out of Uncle Josh's truck.
The orchard owners would let them do "taste tests" on all the different kinds of apples, to see if they could tell the difference (sweet, or tart, or juicy, or crisp, and so on). They learned that apple trees need about six to eight weeks of cold winter weather so they can go dormant (which is like hibernating, or sleeping for a while) so that the trees will produce juicier, more flavorful fruit. They also learned that if the owners pruned (cut, trimmed back) a tree, it would produce more--and many times better--fruit than it would have if they had left it alone. And Ricky's jaw dropped when the owners told them that sometimes a branch from one tree is grafted onto another tree--so that it is possible to have different kinds of apples growing on the same tree!
The Bible talks about God like a husbandman, which is the name for someone whose job it is to care for an orchard or vineyard. Instead of trees or vines, God cares for people! Like the orchard owners, God puts a lot of hard work (and seemingly ugly work) into taking care of His own, and helping them bear the best "fruit."
Did you know that God prunes (cuts and trims) His people so that they will grow spiritually? In John 15:2, Jesus says, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Sometimes this process that God uses can feel painful for us, but we still ought to rejoice that He is working on us--because it is going to reap good results. We read in James 1:2-3, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
What is that spiritual fruit that God is trying to help us bear? He tells us in Galatians that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffereing, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." We know that God has many good thoughts toward us. (See Psalm 40:5 and Jeremiah 29:11.) And we can be sure it is God's will for us to bear fruit. (See John 15:8.) Knowing these things and knowing what we know about God's character and power, we should trust the heavenly "Husbandman" when He "purges" us or when He tries our faith. It is His goal to "grow us" into people who are more and more and more like Jesus Christ. And being more like Christ is the way we bear fruit.
God is our "Husbandman," and He wants to "grow" us spiritually for His glory and for our good.
» Does it feel like God has been "pruning" me or putting me through some uncomfortable "rough weather" lately?
» Does God ever have a mean or evil purpose for doing what He does?
» What kind of fruit is God trying to bring forth out of my life?
Truth In Real Life
"I don’t need explanations from God. I simply believe Him and accept whatever comes my way.”
He crouched at the starting line of the Olympic track, waiting nervously for the starting gunshot to go off. He was competing in the Paris Olympics of 1924, but his chances for winning were very poor. The 400-meter race was not his strongest run, and he knew it. The 100-meter race was by far his best chance at a gold medal, but 100-meter had been scheduled for a Sunday. That was no good. Eric Liddell always refused to run on the Lord’s Day.
Born on January 16, 1902, Eric Liddell was the son of missionaries to China. Spending most of his younger years at school in Scotland, he was known for being both humble and athletic – a rare combination in most athletes. He loved races and rugby; and he excelled in them so much that he was encouraged to enter competition for the Olympics!
He trained hard, and it was a long journey to become an Olympian athlete. He and his teammates were very disappointed when they arrived in Paris to learn that “his” race, the 100-meter race, had been scheduled for the one day he could not – would not – run. Liddell’s conscience felt compelled to honor God by resting and “not doing his own thing” on God’s special day. He wanted to do whatever he could to bring attention to God’s glory. He understood God’s nature and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Liddell’s motto was, “He who honors Me, I will honor.”
So Liddell had a race in front of him now that was 3x longer than the one he was accustomed to running well. The gunshot sounded and the race began. In his signature style, he threw back his head and ran with absolute abandon, giving it everything he had for all 400 meters. When he crossed the finish line, the crowds thundered with shouts and applause. Not only had he finished the race, but he had finished first! He had also broken the previous record! God gave Eric Liddell a gold medal after all that day.
After those Olympics, Liddell returned to China as a missionary. He learned the difficult Chinese language and told everyone he met about the Gospel. Whatever he did – running, preaching, living out the Gospel – he was faithful and gracious. People were attracted to his determination and humility and wanted to know more about his God. His life story pointed all kinds of people to his Savior. There was even a movie made about his story (Chariots of Fire).
Do your decisions and priorities make it clear to everyone around you that you love and value your Savior more than your own fame and reputation? Have you ever risked losing something you really wanted because you felt God would be displeased with you for going after it? Are you truly humble about God’s gifts to you? Do people praise your talents and your gifts only, or are they able to see beyond them to the One Who gave you what you have?
Isaiah 40:31 – But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.