A Lesson in Pruning

Spring has finally arrived in Central New York!

That means along with the warmer temperatures comes pleasant outside work (translated no snow involved!!) and digging in the dirt to beautify our yard and flower beds. It’s not always easy work, but I love the challenge of helping our surroundings wake up from the winter slumber and break into color.

Sometimes it’s also not easy psychologically or emotionally. (stay with me…I’m not losing it) For example, we have a clematis bush that we enjoy so much every year. Every year it boasts beautiful purple and blue flowers that climb up the back of our garage. But before it can bloom it needs to be pruned.

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Today was the day. You’ll see in the photo that new growth has already begun but the old, dead vine was still there. If the new growth continued to grow in the midst of the dead some of it would get choked out and the vine would not mature to all it could be. The dead parts would prevent the plant from being the best it could be.

For me it’s not easy because sometimes there’s some new growth that has to be pruned along with the old. I feel badly that we have to get rid of some branches so that the whole plant can benefit.

The same is true for newly planted flowers. When they come home from the greenhouse they have beautiful blossoms and buds covering them. I want to get them in the ground and create a colorful bed. But, if the blooms are left on these newly planted gems they will grow to be tall and straggly and will not spread out, filling in for a lush flower bed. The plant will have to spend so much energy feeding the blooms they will not feed the roots.

When the blooms and some buds are nipped after planting the plant will give its attention to feeding the roots, spreading out and providing lush ground cover and gorgeous, colorful flowers.

Jesus tells us:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.   John 15: 1-4

The truths that apply to the flowers also apply to our lives. We must allow God to prune away deadness from our lives before we can produce what He desires from us.

I know in my life there have been areas where I have burst forth quickly with a grand plan or ambition only to fizzle out because I didn’t continuously allow God to get rid of what wasn’t His plan in order to produce something even better. I feared losing my dream completely, not having enough faith follow His vision.

It can be painful to watch some of our old hopes and dreams be clipped away, believing that God will produce in us even greater things than we can imagine. It is the ultimate test of our faith in Him.

In a few weeks the vine of our clematis will cover a good portion of our garage wall and produce beautiful blooms once again.

The blooms wouldn’t be the same without tonight’s pruning.

I pray for you tonight as I do for myself, that you would examine areas of your life where you have not trusted God’s pruning and have depended on your own abilities. Then step out in faith and allow Him to prune, pull away and nip in the bud things that aren’t in His plan.

Then watch in wonder as He produces something more grand than you ever thought could be inside of you.

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blessings and peace to you!
Paula

 

 

 

Overcoming Fear ~ Words Worth Remembering Week #14

For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  
                                                                      2 Timothy 5:17 NKJ

Evil showed its face again in our country this week. A wonderful celebration turned tragic when the bombs exploded in Boston. The injuries sustained went beyond the physical pain and loss of life. Grief overwhelmed not only families and friends but the entire city of Boston and reached around the world.

The explosions brought something else with them; a spirit of fear.

As the bombing suspects escaped the scene and melted into their environment fear spread through the city of Boston, the surrounding communities and caused people around the world to question our safety. We began to wonder if something like this could happen in our own communities and whether our families can ever be truly safe.

Family Picnic

One of satan’s goals is to cause us to fear things that are out of our control. If he can make us question our safety and fear those around us he can make us think less about things we can control. We allow our minds to get confused about goodness and love and overwhelmed by sadness and fear.

The truth is, evil existed before those bombs went off. Evil still exists now that the bombing suspects are no longer at large. It isn’t always at the same magnitude but it’s always around us.

So what are we to do? We need to concentrate on the power God places in us through His Holy Spirit and allow that power to override the fear that evil tries to put in our way.

God’s power is one of LOVE and a sound mind…not a mind confused by the uncertain and unknown.

Faith plays a huge part in all of this as we trust in God. I’m not saying it’s easy.

But I guarantee it works.

blessings and peace to all of you today…
Paula

 

Habits ~ Words Worth Remembering Week #13

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NIV

I love to bake.

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…and I love to eat what I bake (or what anyone bakes for that matter!)

Eating too much of what’s not healthy for my body has become a bad habit for me.

I don’t mind exercise, but it has not become a good habit of mine.

balance

Combining these two have resulted in too many pounds and preventable health issues for my body.

The older I get the more intently I look at my lifestyle and realize that if I don’t change poor habits soon my physical challenges will only increase and I may miss out on adventures and experiences because of limited capabilities.

While this should be enough to instigate change, because I have struggled with these poor habits for so long it seems like I will never conquer them. I try again, mess up and then give up.

I start believing that I can never beat these bad habits.

Can you relate?

The thing is that I cannot beat these habits on my own. Not in my own strength. I’ve proved that over and over.

But the truth of today’s verse is that if I rely on strength greater than my own I can do anything.

yes, ANYTHING.

So can you!

God doesn’t promise isn’t that it will be easy. And He won’t do it for us. But  the strength of the Holy Spirit in and through us can beat any poor habit, bad mood, or self-defeating attitude.

The Lord also gives us others to walk along with us and help hold us up when our strength fails. We are called to encourage each other and build each other up. In a community of struggling believers we can find strength to overcome and then help others to find strength they didn’t know they had either.

Do you have a habit you need to change?

Need someone to help you find God’s strength to change it?

Share with us in a comment here, or send me a note at pauladavispeace@gmail.com.
I would be honored to pray for you and encourage you.

Let’s hide this truth in our hearts and find the strength to overcome anything that comes our way!!

 

blessings and peace to you!
Paula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Spotlight ~ The Moses Conspiracy

I’m pleased to be part of the blog tour for the debut novel of Susan J. Reinhardt:

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A trip to post-terrorized Washington, D.C. in 2025 and a buggy
accident in Bird-in-Hand, PA set in motion events that expose a
diabolical plan to destroy the Christian community. Ellie and John
Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening
investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.

 

While I have not yet read Susan’s novel, I look forward to enjoying it in the near future and encourage each of you to check it out on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com or Kobobooks. I’ve attached links below:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/The-Moses-Conspiracy-Novel-ebook/dp/B00BV8ZQ0Y/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1363620282&sr=8-4&keywords=The+moses+conspiracy

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-moses-conspiracy-a-novel-susan-j-reinhardt/1114847096?ean=2940016213866

Kobobooks.com Link

 http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Moses-Conspiracy-A-Novel/book-IegUFEoIzUy8BnQ8gZqGGg/page1.html?s=0mghuw11SUS93idSXbaZsg&r=1

 

#P3 - I LIKE THIS ONE!

You can also get to know Susan better by following her blog:

http://susanjreinhardt.com

 

or on Facebook or Twitter. 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/susan.j.reinhardt

Twitter:

Follow@susanjreinhardt

 

Thanks for taking the time to encourage a new author and enjoying her debut novel! Congratulations Susan!

blessings & peace to all of you,

Paula

Anxious Nights ~ Words Worth Remembering Week #12

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

Do you ever wake from a bad or crazy dream anxious and uncertain? Does your mind race, wondering if the dream could actually come true, or fearful that something else bad might happen? You try to convince yourself that it was only a dream but you just can’t shake that feeling. It can be difficult to calm yourself enough to fall back to sleep.
Turning on the news can conjuror up those same thoughts. Wars and rumors of wars are everywhere. When we dwell on the evil in this world we can become fearful to even leave our homes. The danger to us and our loved ones can seem insurmountable. That’s the plan of the evil one.
The Lord has a different plan. He longs to be there at those anxious times. He is always waiting to ease the pain and take away the loneliness and fear, even in the darkest hour of the night. In order for Him to do that we must be silent before Him and empty ourselves of any distractions that may keep us from Him. We must be sure that our hearts and minds are pure, clear of any sin – even the sin of self-pity. We cannot allow our minds to get caught up in the “what-ifs” and “if-onlys”, but must allow Him to meet every need…and He always does!
God makes many promises to us in His Word. One of the most precious is the security that we can lie down and sleep in peace because He is there to ease our fears, relax our minds and bodies, and provide the rest we need to carry on for Him. Often the times when the hurt seems unbearable and it feels we cannot go on alone are the times His presence is the most real – His arms can be felt wrapping around us – physically holding and comforting, easing the pain.
God embrace
And through those times we can receive more grace and strength to face the next time with less fear.

 

Lord, thank You that You are a God who keeps His promises. You are always with us, providing peace and comfort if we only turn to you and don’t try to be strong in our flesh. No matter how dark the night or how long it seems until daylight, You are with us. Thank You that Your promises are all we will ever need.

Doubting ________

Do you remember that time Jesus & His disciples were crossing a lake when a storm came up? (Luke 8:22-25)  Jesus was sleeping soundly while the storm raged. The disciples feared for their life because water was coming into the boat and their Master wasn’t there to reassure them of their safety. They finally woke Him, convinced they were going to drown.

“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. (v. 25a)

Then Jesus calmed the sea.

When Jesus was killed on the cross His disciples again feared for their lives. They hid from the Jewish leaders behind locked doors. When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them in that room they believed He was alive. But Thomas wasn’t with them. When the disciples told him about Jesus being alive his faith was weak. He said he needed to see Jesus’ hands and touch His wounds in order to believe. Jesus granted this to Thomas who then replied, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus reply:

“Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

 

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In my own life I find it easy to have faith when I can clearly see the road before me and know with certainty my destination. It’s not as easy when the road is crooked and windy or when I’m not certain how to reach my destination. Sometimes I’ve been down a similar road in the past and have lost my way. It can be hard to have faith that this time will be different.

I can be quick to judge Thomas. It’s easy to read this story in the Bible and wonder how he couldn’t just believe his friends. But there are times when I am just like him. I beg Jesus to tell me His plans for me.  He tells me, but I don’t believe.

I realize that I am also a doubter. Instead of ‘Doubting Thomas’ the phrase could be ‘Doubting Paula’. What about you? Does your name ever fit in the blank of this blog’s title?

I am so thankful God doesn’t give up on us! All the times Jesus’ disciples didn’t believe and yet He was still faithful to stay with them and continue teaching them and building their faith. And He is still here with us, no matter how many times our faith fails.

Doubting friends, stay strong. Continue to build your faith and trust the promises God gives us in His word.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:22-24

blessings and peace to you!

Paula