Jesus is constantly pruning us. He loves us so much that He constantly takes the initiative through His Spirit to remove from us what He hates that we might blossom in the things He loves. It is a mistake to think His discipline is seasonal for He is a constant gardener. Mortification (the weakening of sin in us) is the work of the Holy Spirit. As John Owen said, “He works in us and with us—not against us, or in spite of us, or without us.”1 The beginning of a new year affords a fresh start, but let us base all our commitments on the understanding that unless Jesus does the work in us, our intentions are in vain.
God hovers over our form and deformity. It is His intention to bring light to what is dark in us. He intends to separate out the darkness, to do the fine surgery that divides those aspects of our character and nature that disgust Him from those that bring Him glory. He does this that we might produce fruit, fruit that lasts. This divine division is both beautiful and costly. It cost Him sweat and blood; it will likely cost us similarly. We may not like what Jesus cuts away from us. We may not appreciate what He by His Spirit births in us either—but both should be embraced without fear. The God who is with us conceives and births strange and unprecedented things.
Without abiding in Jesus we can do nothing. This means spending daily extravagant blocks of time in His presence and ongoing communion with Him. Our responsibility is to position ourselves where Jesus can flood us with mercy. We start with desperation. There must be an inner cry for help, based on the realization that we need certain things pruned out of our lives and other things grafted in. This desperation helps us to be disciplined, discipline then yields desire, and desire bears delight. When we delight in Jesus—when He is all that thrills and fuels us—we have the means to represent Him well among all the peoples of the earth. Clothed in Him, we have His power and His character. It is a winsome combination.
Pray for the Unreached:
Algerian Muslims of Algeria
Pray that God would raise up missionaries from all over the world to plant the church together among Algerians (Matthew 9:37).