God changes us by pruning away the dead sprouts and leaves.~ LISA BLAIR
I heard a great sermon a few Sunday ago, it was food for thought. The sermon focused on “the God who never changes is always working to change us into His likeness.” What does that mean you may ask? Well, according to Pastor Steve Hage, when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we enter into a new relationship with our stuff, you know the secular things we cherish, our humanness prone to sin, and our ways of thinking and acting. Our salvation is the new beginning, but it is only the beginning. The things we brought with us must be removed. There was an innocence that was lost after the Fall. We regain that innocence when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Lord will continue to prune those parts of us that do not reflect His image. Generally, the pruning takes place in the valley of challenges where the devil can do his work under the veil of shadows and darkness. Most of us think and have been taught that darkness is the absence of light, not so in this context. Darkness is the absence of the knowledge of God and our inability to stand on His Word.
For many Christians the absence is not the void of not knowing, it is the process of not applying what we know, it is doubting instead of standing in faith. The truth is, mountain top experiences do not cause us to evaluate how we reached the mountain top. It is sunny, bright and warm. It is not until we find ourselves spiraling down, and in some cases landing in the muck and the mire of the cavern before we begin to question what is happening to us. Why do we spiral down, at times it is of no fault of our own, or we may have made mistakes (man-made errors), and still other times, Satan asks God for His permission to sift each of us. In Job 1:9-11, God gave Satan permission to sift Job. In Luke 22:31 Jesus was reported to having said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.” Satan asked God’s permission to sift Job and Peter, and he asks God to give him the authority to examine you and me as well.
God allows us to be sifted to prune away disobedience, sin, selfishness, pride, anger and self- righteousness to name a few of our human traits. He gave us free-will to make our own decisions but will use them to exert His will over our lives. The Providence of God means He wisely directs and permits all that happens in His creation. “God does not override our will, but He does direct circumstances to accomplish His will.” (BSF lesson 23, People of the Promised Land).
“We can trust God’s good purposes even when we do not understand what He is doing. Living by faith gives God’s children joy and brings Him glory. We must trust Him to show us all we need to know. Only God knows His infinite purposes for everything that happens. God leads his children by His Word and His Spirit and other good gifts-our parents, natural abilities and good desires. “We do not need to look for signs to know what to do. Knowing our heavenly Father is in control is more than enough for us.”
Our Father never changes, but He works to change us into His likeness. This process is most evident when we topple from the mountain top into the valley, or on our way back up to the mountain top. Like Peter, God has a plan for our lives. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always part of His plan for our lives.
Images – Google Images
Resources – The Sifting of Simon Peter, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-sifting-of-simon-peter; International Bible Fellowship, Lesson 23, March 2019