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Thursday, October 26, 2017

God Is Asking You To Walk By Faith, Not By Sight. This Is Not About What You See; It’s About What He Said! And He Said The Promise Is Yours, You Just Have To Walk Towards It.


Stop allowing yourself to get stuck on how the door will open or if the door will open, Just Move Your Faith Feet Towards It! You see, we, of course, want to know how every door might open. We want to know how every need will be met, every obstacle will be removed, and the Lord says, "Just start walking." But meanwhile, we just stand still waiting for the waters to part or until we've had a lot of our questions answered, till it looks safe. And many people have lost God's plan for their lives that way over and over again. The door can’t wait to open for us, but we’re standing at a distance wondering, “will it open, where does it lead, who’s on the other side, is it a wooden, glass or iron door, does it have a handle, do I ring the bell, who will help me with this baggage…” Stop Murmuring and Move!

God Is Asking You To Walk By Faith, Not By Sight. This Is Not About What You See; It’s About What He Said! And He Said The Promise Is Yours, You Just Have To Walk Towards It. So Move Your Feet of Faith! I know it’s risky, I know it’s scary; I know it’s intimidating, I know it’s uncertain, unclear, unfamiliar, uncommon, and even unconventional. And still I admonish you…Give Your Faith Some Feet and Move Forward! Automatic doors don’t need handles, so you don’t need your hands for this one. You’re not going to open it, fix it, or figure it out. This time it’s not about your eyes, but your ears, not about what you see, but what He said. This time it’s not about your hands, but your feet, you don’t need to handle anything; you just need to move forward.


In Joshua 3 is where the Jews are about to cross into their Promise Land. But they’re facing a flooded Jordan River and if they're anything like me, they would be wondering how in the world are we ever going to get across this! But let’s walk through the text from the beginning to dig out some diamonds in the rough. Bear in mind, the first six verses are what happens Before the Lord ever says a word to Joshua. Listen:

Joshua 3:1-6, “Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over.  After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.  Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua told the people “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.” (NIV)

Verse 1 key, this happened early in the morning! You cannot expect to get anywhere great by being lazy! You can't get to the promise while procrastinating! The leaders and the people all had to get up and out…Early in the Morning! Nutshell: No More Excuses! If you want it, get up and go get it! Just be mindful that the timing of God is often inconvenient! So, your first lesson is that you have to be ready to rise with the Son and the Sun!

Verses 2-5 key, the leaders give clear and concise orders for the people to follow. You cannot expect to get anywhere great with unorganized leaders and uninformed followers. The people were told who to look out for, who to look to and where to go, even when to go. They are taught obedience, (‘…move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go…") But they were also warned about following directions to the letter, because, (‘…you have never been this way before…’) How awesome that not only you, but a whole group of people with you get the opportunity to enter new territory, in which they’ve never been in before! And all they need is obedience to get there. And so will you. When you start to believe God to open new doors, some of those doors will be uncommon, unfamiliar and uncomfortable. What you did to get through old doors won’t open new doors. So you have to be prepared to have guidance, direction, focus, vision, obedience, and courage to step into a new place, new level and new territory. This next direction from God for your life will be where you have never been before, hear clearly and heed without compromise.  Always have a keen sense of the presence of the Lord with you. 

Truth is, going into new territory, in a way you’ve never been before, is a bit scary. And where there is fear there is the tendency to stand still. But if you do, you’ll miss where God is taking you next. If you want the doors to open, you have to move towards them by faith. God is with you even when it feels awkward, when you’re uncertain, when you’re nervous and even when unbelief desires to peek its little head in. God is with you. Let that be your motivation to keep moving forward! If you get stuck here, you’ll stay here, and the door that would’ve opened, will remain closed. Are you really willing to risk your destiny?

Verses 6-7 key, make sure those following you are uncontaminated! The word ‘contaminate’ is defined as ‘to make impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance. Listen: the last thing you need when you’re about to enter a new door, a new season, a new level, is to be attached to people who will pollute you through contact. “… Joshua told the people “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” The word “consecrate” is defined as “to make or declare sacred; to dedicate, to set aside, to set apart, to devote to sacred use.” In a nutshell: you don’t need people attached to you that are living any kind of way. You don’t need to be polluted by those who are wavering in their faith, them that are double-minded and unstable in all of their ways. You don’t need to be polluted by those who are functioning outside of the Will of God for their own lives. Make sure the people you’re taking with you are consecrated, dedicated and devoted to being holy! 

There’s a lot at stake, (‘…Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, FOR TOMORROW THE LORD WILL DO AMAZING THINGS AMONG YOU.”) Are you willing to miss out on God’s promise because you’re in contact with polluted people? He’s getting ready to do something in your life that’s absolutely amazing, therefore, check the company you keep…in advance…and make all the necessary adjustments Prior to the Promise! Now, once the people and leaders have all done their part, then the Lord speaks:

First, you always want to have a leader that tells you to listen to the Word of the Lord (and not just to listen to him). Remember, it is God who will get you to the promise, not man. (“...Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God...")

Secondly, God always has such a wonderful way of encouraging His people to know that He’s always with them. Again, when you’re about to conquer something new, amazing and unfamiliar, fear will creep in…make sure your faith kicks it out! God Himself sends them a reminder through reassurance that He is in fact with them. And no matter what enemies they would face (‘…Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, Jebusites…”) He would drive them out! God will allow nothing and no one to hinder you from the Promise He made to you. That’s why you should never allow fear to halt your feet of faith. In doesn’t matter what or who you will encounter on your way to the promise, God has already promised it will not over take you! So you need not worry if on your journey to the promise you encounter your own ‘ites’ as the Israelites did, God will drive them out. And it doesn’t matter if those ‘ites’ are (hypertension, diabetes, cancer, lumps, tumors, unemployment, divorce, foreclosure, heart break, or financial disaster) it will not impede you journey to the promise…God has already Promised! He Never Breaks His Promise! Listen to my favorite Scripture in varying translations, Jeremiah 1:12:
“…I am [actively] watching over My Word to fulfill it.” (AMP);

In other words, God Keeps His Word! He watches over it to make sure it comes to pass, so no matter what obstacles you encounter along the journey to your promise, keep moving your feet of faith forward, there is no foe that can make you slip, trip, stumble, fall or in any way be deterred!

God says, “…And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord – the Lord of all the earth – set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in the heap.” When God is with you, and goes before you, and gives you an unbreakable promise, what’s keeping your feet from moving forward in faith?

And what’s my favorite part? Well, when did the water's part? It said, "...as soon as their feet touched the water's edge..."


Today, allow this devotional to encourage, empower and inspire you, but also allow it to challenge you to change from your normal, status quo comfort zone, and get on course with God to your next promise. You’ve been standing here staring at that door long enough. Move your feet of faith towards it, and watch God open it and do amazing things just for you…Just As He Promised!

Blessings 

J.P. Olson

You Cannot Expect To Have An Enjoyable Marriage That Has No Joy! If Only We’d Stop Inviting And Involving Jesus In The Wedding Only…And Start Inviting & Involving Jesus In The Marriage.

A love triangle is usually a prescription for broken hearts unless you have the kind of love triangle that keeps hearts from being broken.

Now, there's a formula in Ecclesiastes 4. It's a formula for lasting bonds between people. You could very well call it the arithmetic of love. Here's what it says beginning at verse 9, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. If two lie down together they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (TLB)

That passage is a powerful statement about relationships, especially if you apply it to the ultimate relationship of marriage. It says two work together better than one, two walk together better than one, two stand together better than one, and then suddenly the number changes. Suddenly it's talking about three strands. Wait…I thought we were talking about two…

So enters the love triangle: a husband, a wife, and a Savior. That's the kind of love triangle that avoids broken hearts. Ephesians 5:21 alludes to it when it says; speaking to husbands and wives, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (NIV). It's the Jesus factor in a marriage that always makes the difference. Now, the triangle is the strongest geometric figure there is, and a love triangle with Christ at the top is virtually indestructible!

In other words, you've got the man and woman joined together by that line along the bottom, but they both have a line going up to Jesus at the top. That bond between the man and the woman will fray sometimes. There's interference, there's disappointment, there's disillusionment, there's hurt. But if both the man and woman are connected to Christ at the top of the triangle, that bond will hold them together when the bond of human compatibility is unraveling.

The problem with many of us as spouses is, we don’t always keep Christ at the top of the triangle. Often we fight to be in the top slot that we push Him down, or take Him out of the equation altogether. But the only way for the love triangle with Jesus to work effectively, is to always be certain that He maintains His top priority position. While we’re fighting to be heard, fighting to be right, fighting to prove the other wrong, fighting to get the upper-hand, we undermine His hand on our Covenant.

Which makes you wonder: As soon as we think divorce is the answer, isn’t it amazing when you share that theory with others, most will always ask, “have you prayed about it first?” Why do they ask that? Well, genius, you can’t call yourself a Christian then make a decision to Crucify your Covenant, and think people aren’t going to ask if you consulted Christ! Even other people are under the impression that you have Christ in your marriage! And so they ask the obvious question of “have you prayed about it first?” And more often than not, we haven’t, we just want a quick fix for what we’ve allowed to slowly break down over the years. We want Jesus, in the beginning, to bless our covenant, but as soon as conflict and crisis hits along the journey, we pull the marriage over, kick Jesus out from behind the wheel, and then drive our marriages right over the cliff! After all, how can you possibly think you can reach your marital destination without the only One who has the directions? And remember, we kicked Him out! But when you take over the Wheel, you lose your Way from His Will!

So, the question is, "How much is Jesus Christ a real Person and Presence in your marriage?" Do you pray together about real life issues as if Jesus is right there with you? "Lord, we've got to talk to You about this together."

In fact, when was the last time you prayed With your spouse? And not for houses, cars, land, business, ministry, money, promotion, elevation, or personal gain. But prayed With your spouse: “Lord, teach us to be loving, faithful, supportive, encouraging, kind, generous, patient, forgiving. Teach us to acknowledge one another strength’s and be patient and understanding in one another weaknesses. Teach us to be a better man and woman; better husband and wife; better father and mother; better son and daughter; better disciples; better believers, better friends, better spouses, better lovers, better teammates. Teach us to walk by faith and not by sight. Teach us to trust You when our finances or health is failing. Teach us to be Your mirror to the world of what unconditional love really looks like.” When is the last time you prayed With your spouse, not for personal gain, but for personal growth?

Do you often ask together, "What would Jesus do?" Are you cultivating the habit of sharing what Christ has said to you from His Word that day with each other? Are you at church together? Do you sit together? Do you labor in ministry together? Do you get on your knees together and fight for your family and children?

And though most ‘super-saved Christian’s’ may call it ‘carnal’, but do you also laugh together, watch television together, travel together, go to the movies, out to dinner, go shopping, do you still date and court your spouse? Do you call and text your spouse as much as you do everybody else? Are you in your spouses’ face more than you’re on Facebook? Do you share as many pictures with your spouse as you do with Instagram? Do you text your spouse as much as you tweet? Do you send flowers? Do you enjoy engaging conversation from talking about Jesus, to the weather, to the government, to what you ate for lunch? Do you take walks? Do you still share dreams, or have you become each other’s nightmares? Do you sit down to dinner, in your own home, at your own dinner table, without the intruding guest of your cellphone, internet or social media? 

Do you go for a long drive? Picnic in the park? Weekend get-a-ways to absolutely no-where in particular? Have you planned your vacation? I know, sounds ‘carnal’ to some, but for those who know that it takes your body, soul and spirit to make a marriage work, you get it!

We don’t spend all of our time in church, in the Word or in prayer! Those things are wonderful, those things are needful, especially when they’re done as couples, however, going to the beach together won’t send you to hell either!
If you’re finding it difficult to laugh with your spouse over something silly, then something is wrong!

Even Jesus, slept, ate, prayed, wept…in other words, Jesus expressed His natural as well as His spiritual. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you doing the very same thing! As a couple you can preach the walls of Jericho down, but when you’re done, go to Olive Garden and eat some pasta! Are you getting this?!

You Cannot Expect To Have An Enjoyable Marriage That Has No Joy!

Maybe the marriage is rotting because you’ve both stopped eating the fruit of the Spirit! Imagine if you digested daily more love for your spouse, more joy and peace with your spouse, more forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness towards your spouse, and more self-control to keep yourself only for your spouse, you’d see a tremendous difference take place in your marriage. That’s the beauty of having Jesus not only in your marriage, or a part of your marriage, but having Him (His Spirit) as Head Over your marriage! Then, even on bad days, you could still be good to your spouse!

So, are you attempting to make marriage work with just the two of you, or have you considered a love triangle with Jesus? After all, who better to have in the midst of your marriage, and even in the midst of its’ problems than Jesus? Jesus saves, heals, delivers, forgives, understands, is patient, kind, loving, and generous. Who better to teach a couple such characteristics but the One who has exemplified such characteristics with the Godhead? Isn’t it amazing how they work together? And as a believer, you have the opportunity and privilege to invite them into your marriage to show you how to work together just like them.

I’ve always said it, and always will, most often the issue in marriage isn’t ‘we’ve grown apart’, the issue is ‘we haven’t grown up.’ Marriage takes maturity. It takes two people that will stop screaming ‘mine’ and start screaming ‘ours’. It takes two people that will stop trying to have their own way, and instead go in the way of God. It takes two people who learn to talk to each other and with each other not against each other and at each other. It takes two people who learn to attentively listen, even when they have so much they want to say.

Love triangles with people will destroy your marriage, but one with the Godhead ensures that it’s indestructible! Which will choose today?

The good news? You don’t have to do it alone! If Only We’d Stop Inviting And Involving Jesus In The Wedding Only…And Start Inviting And Involving Jesus In The Marriage Always!

Before you get married, wait for someone who is joined to Jesus as you are, because it is worth the wait. And after you marry, practice His presence daily in your home. A love triangle with Jesus as that real third person is the strongest bond on earth!

I pray this devotional will encourage every Covenant Couple in Christ to maintain their Connection and Commitment to the Awesome Call of Marriage!

“Fight less, cuddle more. Demand less, serve more. Text less, talk more. criticize less, compliment more. Stress less, laugh more. Worry less, pray more. With each new day, find new ways to love each other even more.” (Dave Willis)

“Your spouse should never have to face any struggle without your full partnership, encouragement, and support.” (Dave Willis)

“Lifelong love isn’t the result of Compatibility. It’s the result of Commitment.” It's a covenant to be kept. (Dave Willis)

Blessings 
J.P. Olson

Friday, October 13, 2017

Whatever He Did The Lord Made it Succeed. These Are The Results.


Whatever He did God made it succeed. I love to read the story of Joseph life. I know his story like the back of my hand, I have read it so often, I could probably write a book on it. Everything he did or touched was a blessing. In the Pit He prospered, the Prison and the Palace he Prospered. 

Genesis 39:2-6, “…the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house because of Joseph; so the Lord’s blessing was on everything that Potiphar owned, in the house and in the field.  So Potiphar left all that he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with Joseph there he did not [need to] pay attention to anything except the food he ate…” (AMP); Genesis 39:23, “The warden paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him; whatever Joseph did, the Lord made it prosper.” (AMP)

HIGHLY FAVORED: Joseph’s family history had a big impact on the direction of his life. This journey from favored son to slave, prisoner to Egypt’s second-in-command, ultimately led to provisions for all of Israel during seven years of famine when the nation otherwise would have perished. Jacob’s life is a story of how God can take the worst possible circumstances and turn them into a positive outcome for His people.

JOSEPH’S PARALLELS TO JESUS:
1.      
BOTH WERE HIGHLY FAVORED BY THEIR FATHERS: (Genesis 37:3, “Now as it happened, Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other children, because Joseph was born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob gave him a special gift – a brightly colored coat” (TLB); Matthew 3:17, “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, and I am wonderfully pleased with him” (TLB);
2.    
  BOTH WERE SHEPHERDS TO THEIR FATHER’S SHEEP: (Genesis 37:2, “Jacob’s son Joseph was now seventeen years old. His job, along with his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah, was to shepherd his father’s flock…” (TLB); John 10:11, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” TLB);
3.     
BOTH EXPERIENCED EXTREME TEMPTATION: (Genesis 39:7, “One day at about this time Potiphar’s wife began making eyes at Joseph, and suggested that he come and sleep with her” (TLB); Matthew 4:1, “Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted there by Satan” TLB);
4.     
BOTH WERE SOLD FOR THE PRICE OF A SLAVE: (Genesis 37:28, “So when the traders came by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver, and they took him along to Egypt” TLB; Matthew 26:15, “and asked, “How much will you pay me to get Jesus into your hands?” And they gave him thirty coins” TLB);
5.    
  BOTH WERE BOUND WITH CHAINS: (Genesis 39:20, “He threw Joseph into prison, where the king’s prisoners were kept in chains” TLB; Matthew 27:2, “Then they sent him in chains to Pilate, the Roman governor” TLB);
6.     
BOTH FORGAVE THOSE WHO HARMED THEM: (Genesis 45:14-15, “Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same. Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him” (NLT); Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive these people,” Jesus said, “for they don’t know what they are doing…” TLB); and
7.      
BOTH SAVED THEIR NATION WHEN GOD TURNED WHAT WAS EVIL TO GOOD:(Genesis 50:20, “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for he brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people” TLB; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, “Our words are wise because they are from God, telling of God’s wise plan to bring us into the glories of heaven. This plan was hidden in former times, though it was made for our benefit before the world began. But the great men of the world have not understood it; if they had, they never would have crucified the Lord of Glory” TLB).

May you as people of God, and Disciples of Christ, likewise, live lifestyles that Parallel that of your Savior! Now, to learn some leadership lessons from Joseph’s Journey!

LEADERSHIP LESSON #1 FROM JOSEPH’S JOURNEY: POSSESS THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS! (Genesis 50:18-21, All those years that Joseph languished as an Egyptian slave could have been spent plotting revenge on his brothers. He could have easily let his anger turn to hatred, but instead, he chose to forgive them. When he later found himself second-in-command over all of Egypt, his brothers stood before him and he spoke to them kindly, assuring them of his forgiveness. True Leaders know that Forgiveness frees them from the bondage of past wrongs. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:26-32 MSG).

LEADERSHIP LESSON #2 FROM JOSEPH’S JOURNEY: PROVE LOYAL AND TRUSTWORTHY! (Genesis 39:2-6, His Egyptian Master became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. Like an Effective Leader, Joseph demonstrated that every task – no matter how big or small – should be done in God’s Honor. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (Colossians 3:22-25 MSG).

LEADERSHIP LESSON #3 FROM JOSEPH’S JOURNEY: LEARN TO TOLERATE TEMPORARY TOUGH TIMES! (Genesis 40:23, Truth is, Joseph could have tried to make things happen on his own (Example: Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael); but instead he waited on God to position him in the right place. God reminded the cupbearer of his interaction with Joseph when the king dreamed a dream, and the cupbearer secured him an audience with the king, which quickly led to a lucrative advisory position in the palace. Which is why, you should always heed this Scriptural Admonishment: 

LEADERSHIP LESSON #4 FROM JOSEPH’S JOURNEY: YOUR GIFT WILL GET YOU THROUGH! (Genesis 41:39-43, Joseph had an amazing gift that God used to save Egypt and the nation of Israel from famine. Joseph’s journey from the day of his brothers’ betrayal to the day he stood before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, ultimately resulted in salvation for Joseph’s family.

LEADERSHIP LESSON #5 FROM JOSEPH’S JOURNEY: MAINTAIN A GODLY REPUTATION! (Genesis 39:6-10, Joseph was unwilling to compromise his relationship with God. Even though Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph with assurances that her husband would be none the wiser, he knew dishonoring Potiphar was a break in trust with his master and, even more important, a sin against God. Joseph weighed her proposition and made a decision that kept him in right standing with God.

LEADERSHIP LESSON #6 FROM JOSEPH’S JOURNEY: ALWAYS BE A BLESSING!(Genesis 17:3-8, Like Joseph, when we live our lives according to God’s design, we, too, can be blessed to be a blessing. “And now that we are Christ’s we are the true descendants of Abraham, and all of God’s promises to him belong to us” (Galatians 3:29 TLB)

I admonish you to follow along the Journey of Joseph and glean from his nuggets of Effective Leadership. Parallel the Life of Jesus; Possess the Power of Forgiveness; Prove Loyal and Trustworthy; Learn to Tolerate Temporary Tough Times; Use Your Gift to Get You Through; Maintain a Godly Reputation; and Always Be a Blessing to Others. Then, You Will Enjoy Favor Even in Unfavorable Times, Just Like Joseph!

Blessings  
J.P. Olson

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What’s Happening In Your Life Now; It Doesn’t Feel Good, God Is Lovingly Removing Things & People You Think You Need.




 “I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and REPEATEDLY PRUNES every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” (John 15:1-2 AMP).

 “Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” (John Trapp).

We all really need to understand this pruning process, especially since it’s one of God’s Most Important Methods In Growing Us! In fact, some of the difficulty and loss that you’re experiencing right now May Actually Be Your Heavenly Father Cutting You Back to Help You Grow Up! And the results are going to be far greater than they ever could have been if He left what He has been taking away!  In short, HE LEAVES YOU WITH LESS, SO YOU CAN BE AVAILABLE FOR MORE!

Jesus went on to explain that all the things we do for Him have to flow from our deep relationship with Him – “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…If you REMAIN in Me and My words REMAIN in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.” If you keep loading up on Jesus and getting ever closer to Him, your life is going to be Abundantly Fruitful! You’re going to make a Greater Difference with your life than you’ve ever made before! You’re going to be More Spiritually Magnetic, and having you around is going to be more and more like actually having Jesus around! You are going to attract more people into the Fruitful Kingdom of God!

BUT before the fruit, COMES THE PRUNING!

I imagine if a vine could talk, he’d say to the pruner, “You’re killing me, man!” And the gardener would reply, “I know this hurts, but I’m actually removing things you don’t really need so you can explode with greater fruit.” THAT MAY BE EXACTLY WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW! IT DOESN’T FEEL GOOD, BUT IT IS GOOD! GOD IS LOVINGLY REMOVING THINGS (AND PEOPLE) YOU  THINK YOU NEED, BUT THINGS (AND PEOPLE) THAT MAY BE HOLDING YOU DOWN, HOLDING YOU BACK, OR HOLDING YOU CAPTIVE! THE CUTBACKS ARE COSTLY BUT WORTH IT! THE PRUNING IS PAINFUL, BUT ESSENTIAL TO YOUR POTENTIAL, PRODUCTIVITY AND PROSPERITY!

I actually learned that there are a few types of pruning methods:

FIRST, THERE’S “THINNING”: This is a drastic form of pruning, a thinning out cut is the removal of an entire shoot, limb, or branch AT ITS POINT OF ORIGIN! When performed correctly, thinning encourages the formation of new growth that will more readily bear fruit and flowers!

NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF “THINNING”: in order for many of us to grow properly, we have to be pruned to the extent that we remove, entirely, people, places and things that helped us get to this damaged place we’re in now! Remember: thinning removes the entire shoot, limb or branch at its origin! In other words, where it all started! Don’t be afraid or ashamed to thin some folks and some stuff out! Remove him, her or them, if they dare to compromise your potential to prosper! If you do, you’ll then be in the position to formulate (healthy people, places and things) so that new growth can transpire, more readily for bearing fruit!

SECOND, THERE’S “TOPPING”: Topping is a very severe form of pruning which involves removing all branches and growths down to a few large branches or to the trunk of the tree. When performed correctly IT IS USED ON VERY YOUNG TREES TO TRAIN THEM TO GROW INTO SPECIFIC SHAPES!

NOW FOR THE SPIRITUAL APPLICATION OF “TOPPING”:  When used correctly, topping is used on young trees to train them to grow in specific shapes or in specific directions! When you see those beautiful trees, with all their unique twists and turns to them in various shapes and designs, THEY ARE THE RESULT OF TOPPING! But in order for that to take place IT HAS TO START YOUNG! Now it would be very easy for me to pick on our YOUNG PEOPLE (Which the Church Does Far Too Often), but instead we’re going to go in a different direction, and speak of “YOUNG” in terms of “immaturity!” people of God, if you’re ever going to finally grow up, and come to full maturity, you’ve got to surrender yourself to topping! It means bringing all your immature issues before the gardener for him to prune, so you can finally grow up into the specific shape and design that he had in mind long before your birth! The good news is that you can’t do this for old trees, they’re already set in their ways and hardened, so if you’re still an “immature saint”, there’s help and hope for you yet! You’re in the best possible position to be re-directed for the destiny you’ve been designed for!

THIRD, THERE’S “RAISING”: This removes the lower branches from a tree in order to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians, and vistas!

Now for the spiritual application of “Raising”: this type of pruning is of a necessity, not for you, but for those around you! “Raising” is a form of pruning that moves you out of the way, so others can get by and get through! I hate to say it like this, but this level of pruning is often for those who have been doing something so long that they’ve perfected it and can’t nobody else on planet earth do it like them or better than them as long as they’re still alive! You have to be pruned to make room for others! After 30 years, you shouldn’t see all the same preachers in the same pulpit; the same choir members, the same musicians, the same deacons, the same members! Moses is dead and so is Joshua…but there is a new generation! Let us not block them with our old set ways!

FOURTH AND FINAL, THERE’S “REDUCTION”: this reduces the size of a tree, often for clearance for utility lines! Reducing the height or spread of a tree is best accomplished by pruning back the leaders and branch terminals to lateral branches that are large enough to assume the terminal roles! Compared to ‘topping’, ‘reduction’ helps maintain the form and structural integrity of the tree!

Now for the spiritual application of “Reduction”: this type of pruning hurts leadership! Because reduction removes branches that are high up by the power lines, cuts them back so that room for those underneath them can assume their role!  In actuality, this shouldn’t be all that hard at all, since the leader branch that is being cut back, is only making room for the lateral branch to come up and take its place!

“Every Living Thing Needs to be Pruned, So It Can Reach Its Fullest Potential – Including You and Me.” (Author Unknown)

“God Prunes Us When He is About to Take Us Into a New Season of Growth and Expansion.” (Christine Caine)

“Every Experience is Part of God’s Pruning Process. You’ve Been Picked Out to be Picked On. He Cuts Off Fruitless Branches and Prunes Fruitful Ones.” (Author Unknown)

 “For Me, Slowing Down Was Simply Another Way to Prune the Bush. To Force Myself Into Cutting Away Certain Parts of My Life So That I Don’t Wake Up Next February, Blooming Roses I Don’t Like.” (Erin Loechner)

“Pruning is a Necessary Part of Life. In Order to Move Forward, You Must Let Go.” (Cheryl Richardson)

“When God Has You in a Place of Waiting, He’s Preparing You For Greater. He’s Sifting, Pruning, Refining, and Shaping You For the Best That is to Come.” (Author Unknown)



Blessings

J.P. Olson