Isn’t technology wonderful? I don’t know how I would be able to find half the places I need to be if it wasn’t for my GPS. My wife and I made our yearly trip to Phoenix to visit our grandkids for a week. We put nearly 700 miles on the car without leaving the city. Without the GPS I would have been lost most of the time in that big city. Before I got my new GPS I had one that would always use a certain word whenever I missed my turn. The pleasant sounding voice would say: “recalculating”, and then proceed to give directions to get me back on my route.
Trying to live the Christian life in this busy, hostile world is like navigating our vehicle in an unfamiliar city. There are times we get off course, take a wrong turn, or go down a dead end street. We can even find ourselves on the wrong side of town in places that are not healthy to our spiritual lives. We make choices that take us far off course. It is then we need to plug into God’s GPS. His Word is like a GPS for life. It will help us to recalculate our poor decisions and reroute us on the right road. The psalmist tells us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). James pictures God’s Word as a mirror to show us what corrections we need to make to our lives. He also calls the Word, the perfect law of liberty. The Bible does not bind us but instead it frees us to become all that God has planned us to be.
Have you found yourself off course and traveling down a road that is taking you nowhere real fast? Are you beginning to reap the consequences of your poor decisions? I am so glad that our God is in the recalculating business. His grace is available to forgive us and to reroute us. So, pay attention to God’s GPS as He tries to recalculate your course.
My grandfather had a vineyard behind his house in Montezuma, Indiana. As a child I would love to sit with him in the big backyard swing, enjoying his company and eating the grapes we had picked from the vine. As the years progressed, grandpa didn’t have the energy to take care of the grapevines as well as he used to. One day I went up to the vine looking for grapes but only found a few, and those were puny and sour. The branches had plenty of leaves but no fruit.
Nothing but leaves can also describe the amount of fruit that some of us have to show our blessed Lord. We sometimes do so little for Him who has done so much for us. Our Lord desires for us to be growing as we produce fruit and then more fruit, and even much fruit for Him. In John 15 Jesus explains how fruitfulness in the life of a believer glorifies God and produces joy in our lives.
This passage of Scripture also answers the question: how can I be fruitful in my service to Him? Jesus tells us that it is going to take some intense purging in order to get our branches to produce more fruit. As the caretaker of a vineyard must prune away some of the unproductive branches, so must our Lord prune our lives of those things that are stopping us from fruitfulness. Jesus also emphasized intimate abiding as an essential of fruitfulness. Nine times Jesus mentioned the necessity of abiding in Him if we desire to produce more than leaves. Our Lord’s statement in
John 15:5 is so true: “without me you can do nothing”.
I wonder what is the level of our fruit producing? Are we spending our life taking care of ourselves, thinking very little of what we should be doing for the Savior? Do we have that intense desire to show more than leaves to our blessed Master? Let’s allow the Lord to take His shears and snip away the sick, the selfish, and the sinful dead branches of our life and determine to abide in fellowship with Him. Then we can stand back and watch; the grapes will soon be growing again.
During one of my walks along the harbor I happened to notice a multitude of fiddler crabs underneath the mangroves. They looked rather threatening while brandishing their huge claw. However I learned that the claw is more for show than anything else. They would much rather run than fight. I caught one of the crabs and as I touched the claw it came off in my hand. I learned that it would soon grow another one. These little creatures quickly retreated into their holes as I approached them. I suppose that I appeared as a dangerous threat to them, so they never ventured very far from the safety of their den.
We humans may feel strong and brave and wave our claws at the world and declare to everyone our power and self-sufficiency. But when something bigger than us comes along it would do us well to retreat to a place of safety. Some have taken cover in substance abuse, while others have found refuge in friends, family or other holes they have dug for themselves. I have found that God is the only true place of safety. The psalmist said in Ps. 32:7: “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance”. Psalm 46:1 also encourages us: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. He is our shelter from the storm, He is our shade from the heat, and He is our refuge from the enemy. Our great God is our hiding place. David even tells us: “In the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Ps. 57:1).
Have you found yourself far away from the Lord? Have you ventured out on your own thinking that you can handle anything that life can throw your way? Perhaps we should learn a valuable lesson from the diminutive fiddler crab. Stay close to home and run for refuge into the loving embrace and powerful protection of our great God.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation