Monday, April 28, 2014

Too Many Suckers

                The other day the Lord reminded me of a story that I once told to the children at church during our Vacation Bible School. The theme of our VBS that year was abiding and we focused in on John 15. As I was writing this particular VBS program, I came across a short story. This short story talked about suckers. The other day, when the Lord brought this short story to my remembrance, I understood that He was showing me I have a few suckers in my life, and He wants to prune them from me. To move forward in the ministry that He is calling me to, these suckers have to go. This is not the first time that He has spoken to me about these suckers, but His message to me is clear- I must allow Him to remove these suckers if I want to continue to grow.
Too Many Suckers
(Author Unknown)
Julie, who was helping her mother in the garden, was puzzled when she saw Mom pinch off several small stems from the tomato vines. "Why are you breaking off parts of the tomato plant, Mom?" Julie asked. "Won't that hurt them?"
"No, I'm just pruning them -- removing the suckers," replied Mom.
"Suckers?" asked Julie. "What are they?"
"Look here," directed Mom, and she reached to the center of a plant. "See this large stem with the blossoms on it?" Julie nodded. "And see this small sprout growing just below the place where that flowering branch joins the main stem?" Julie nodded again. "Well, if we let that sprout grow, it robs the stem with the blossoms of some nutrients. But if we snap the sprout off, bigger and better fruit can develop on that larger stem." Mom snapped the sprout off as she spoke.
"So pruning is good for the plants, right?" asked Julie.
Mom nodded. "It is, and I find it interesting because it's a picture of what God does with us. He helps us get rid of things that keep us from developing good fruit."
Julie laughed. "You make us sound like tomato plants or apple trees or something!"
"God wants our lives to show what the Bible calls the 'fruit of the Spirit,'" said Mom with a smile. "They're things such as love, joy, peace . . . you learned them in Sunday school, didn't you?"
Julie nodded. "Well, how does God help us get rid of the . . . ah . . ." She grinned. "The 'suckers' in our lives?" she finished.
"He uses lots of different methods," Mom replied. "Sometimes he uses parents or teachers to help young people get rid of bad habits. That's why there are rules for you to follow, both at home and at school -- and why there is discipline. God also uses both difficult and pleasant times in our lives to teach us and mold us into the people He wants us to be."
            What are the suckers in your life today? What areas of your life is the Lord asking to prune? “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) The suckers that I have in my life are literally sucking away my time and energy. The first one He has shown me that I need to let go of is the amount of time I spend in front of the TV. This is one that I have battled for some time. I do really well for a few weeks, but then I have a really stressful day and I find myself sitting in front of the television for hours. The next thing you know, I am sucked in and I can’t seem to put the remote control down. Television is one of my suckers. The more time I let this sucker hang around on my branch, the less time I spend with Him, and this is affecting the work that He has called me to do.
            In my study in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit speaks to Saul and Barnabas and asks them to “separate” to Him. (Acts 13:2) He has a work for them to do, and He needs them to let go of where they are, the people they love and are fellowshipping with and separate to do the ministry to which He has called them. These times of separation that the Lord is calling us into are also pruning moments, to separate us from the suckers in our lives.
            Like the short story above, there are suckers in our lives that are keeping us from the growth that the Lord desires to see in us. Suckers are those things that you give your time to, those things that you know He does not want you taking part in, but we haven’t obeyed in separating from them yet. To separate means to set apart. It means to take yourself away from those things that are hindering your walk, and hindering your growth. God desires fruit from us; fruit that will bring glory to Him and show forth the glorious love of Jesus Christ. But when we have too many suckers, our fruit growth is hindered.
            I know the areas that the Lord is telling me to separate from, and I know why He is asking me to separate from them. The question I have to ask myself- we have to ask ourselves- is are we willing to let Him remove these suckers from our lives? Are we allowing the Lord God to prune away the suckers of our lives? Are we willing to let Him remove them, no matter how hard it may be? This has been a hard reality for me to face these past weeks. I have done some of what He has asked, but not fully accepted the truth that He is trying to speak to me. Partial obedience is still disobedience. If I resist the pruning He needs to do, and do not allow Him to remove these suckers from my life than I will not bear the fruit He desires to see in my life.
            Our suckers can be anything from spending too much time watching television, to hanging with a friend that is causing you to sin, to staying in one place too long, when the Lord has told you to move on. They can be financial worries, fears, past mistakes, and even stresses over the daily routines of life. Anything that hinders us from moving forward, and keep us from growing in Him, are suckers that the Lord desires to prune away. What are your suckers? What are the things the Lord is asking you to separate from? We must be willing to allow the Lord God our Father to prune away these suckers and bring us to the full knowledge of His grace. We must willingly lie down under His pruning shears and allow Him to develop the fruit He desires to see in each and every one of us. Too many suckers in our lives lead to no fruit on our branches. So, I ask you today, what are your suckers?

            Father God, I come before You today and ask that all who read these words will seek to understand the suckers that are hindering our walks and our growth in You. Father, whatever these suckers are, I pray that we would be willing to lie down before You and allow You to prune away at us. Father, let us become branches that bear much fruit for Your glory. I pray that we would separate from these things that stunt our growth and suck the nutrients of Your grace from our lives. Father, bless these words which You have given me, and may Your Word go forth, touching and reaching all whom You desire to reach today. In Jesus Name, to Him alone be glory forever and ever, amen and amen.