[This is part 1 of a 2 part post]
We spend most of our life in process with the Lord. During these times when we feel in the “wilderness” or that we are waiting on the Lord, God is teaching us. He is refining us in the fire of His love and in His mercy He is pruning away the things in our lives that bear no fruit.
What does it mean to be refined and pruned?
Psalm 66:10 ” For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” The Bible tells us that God tests and tries us as someone who would refine silver. Silver is refined in the fire because it removes contaminates and impurities. In the same way, God allows us to go through various tests and trials thus, perfecting our faith. God removes qualities in us that would contaminate so that we may become pure.
This is often an uncomfortable process. The heat of a fiery situation naturally causes us to retreat. But if we can stand the process we emerge beautiful with Christ-like character- shining in radiance for our King.
The Bible also talks about pruning. Listen to what Jesus says in John 15:1-2, “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.” The branches that do bear fruit are the believers who abide in Christ. The Father in His love prunes away parts of us that are bearing no fruit so that we can be more fruitful.
For example, these are times that God will deal with us about our character, attitude, and things we partake in. These are not usually comfortable situations but its for our good and they always bring us to a place of deeper intimacy with God. We begin to become more like Him, leaving our old nature behind.
If we miss these times of allowing God to teach and correct us we miss out on the aspects that would bring greater spiritual maturity (getting rid of dead branches to grow more fruitful ones).
Sometimes we get so bogged down with our current circumstances that we, in our stubbornness, refuse to learn from God in the midst of our process. We become a barren tree, unable to bring forth anything of substance.
I want to share some keys with you that will help shift your focus to see God in your circumstances and to position yourself for greater spiritual growth.
This list is in no way exhaustive but i believe that when we operate in these things we will see so much fruit in our time of process and waiting.
Here are 5 keys to remember when going through times of refining and pruning:
- Avoiding a critical spirit
- Refusing to be offended
- Operating in the Fruits of the Spirit
(For the sake of this post getting crazy long we will just focus on the first two keys and save the last three for part 2 of this post).
Key #1 Humility
“When pride comes [boiling up with an arrogant attitude of self-importance], then come dishonor and shame, But with the humble [the teachable who have been chiseled by trial and who have learned to walk humbly with God] there is wisdom and soundness of mind. Proverbs 11:2 (AMP)
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 (NIV)
When God takes you through a time of refining and pruning, humility is an amazing key to remember!
I imagine a scenario like this; God comes to you and says, Daughter there are some things in your life that aren’t bearing any fruit. I need to prune those things away so that you can be healthy and fruitful again, living in abundance because i love you so much. I imagine us saying, but God I don’t see why you have to take those things from me, its not hurting me. Honestly, I’m ok, I mean bearing some fruit, right?
But God in His goodness takes us through some momentary pain so that we could live in much more abundance then we realized we could.
How many of us are so used to our current level of living that we fail to see that we are operating beneath our privilege as daughter of the Most High God?
This is where humility comes in! Humility is knowing where we fall short. Humility is knowing we need help. Its acknowledging our broken state, our absolute need for our savior to prune away our flesh and characteristics that are not like God.
And humilty is operating in the wisdom to surrender to the Father so He can take us through whatever He may will to attain growth and the abundance He has for us.
I don’t know if you caught this but the two verses we read just a moment ago connect humility with wisdom.
God is laying out a biblical principle, don’t miss it! He is saying that if you operate in humility you will have wisdom. Isn’t that cool? Yes Lord, sign me up for wisdom! Wisdom shows me that I need to abide in Christ and surrender to His process.
Also, humility teaches us to find community with those who are further along in their faith. You have wisdom to know that “where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)
Being vulnerable around others takes humility; being vulnerable with others in a season where God is stripping you of everything takes even greater humility! But the Bible says there is safety in surrounding yourself with those who can help you.
Finally, God honors humility and He lifts up those who humble themselves.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (AMP)
God takes us through these trials so that we may be perfected in Him and used for His service. If you read the rest of 1 Peter 5:6-7 it says, “casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].”
Humility knows that God is ultimately in control and that we can and should cast all our worries on Him.
Key #2 Honor
Honor is another important key when we are in process. We set ourself up for success when we honor who God has put in our lives to bring us wisdom and counsel. There are so many ways the Bible teaches us to honor, here are just a couple:
- Honoring those over you in the faith (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) (1 Timothy 5:17)
- Honoring God (Romans 1:21)
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to appreciate those who diligently work among you [recognize, acknowledge, and respect your leaders], who are in charge over you in the Lord and who give you instruction, and [we ask that you appreciate them and] hold them in the highest esteem in love because of their work [on your behalf]. Live in peace with one another. 1 Thess 5:12-13 (AMP)
Its really important to God that we honor those He has sent to instruct our lives, especially in times of refining and pruning. During these times we need the most council and instruction because we are in a vulnerable place spiritually.
Ive noticed that in times of transition or when im going through refining thats when the enemy tries to rush in with lies to get me off course. Often times he brings confusion or misunderstanding to get you to distance yourself from people who can give you spiritual council. Thats why its vital to intentionally honor the people around you, knowing they are instructing you for your good.
Finally, honoring God is of the upmost importance. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21)
This verse is talking about those who have recognized God yet not believed in Him personally. But those of us who have a personal relationship with Jesus can still learn a vital lesson. Failing to honor God in our lives causes us to “unplug” from the source of all wisdom and knowledge. That sends you on a road of becoming futile in your thinking.
You fall back into operating in your flesh and not in the Spirit. The renewing of your mind stops and you fail to guard your heart. This is the worst place to be when you are going through times of refining and pruning. You can’t afford to be far from God or to miss His instruction. Let us guard our heart, put off the old self, and honor God even in times of trial and pain.
Regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude] Eph 4:22-23)(Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
I hope you can see how important it is to be intentional with the way you carry yourself in times refining and pruning. I pray I encouraged you and gave you some food for thought! Part #2 of this series is coming next week but get a early look here!
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