The Father’s Pruning Shears – Paul M. Williams
On a traditional vine that has been trained, there is a main with thick horizontal branches coming off from the trunk. All along the branches, at regular intervals are knuckles (spurs), out of which grow pencil-like stems called canes. It is on these canes that the grapes will grow; however, grapes will only grow on canes that are one year old which means there is a need for pruning every single season to remove the old wood. It’s been said that grapevines are probably pruned more extensively and more aggressively than any other crop. When farmers prune, they remove the majority of wood produced the previous season – up to 90 percent is pruned away!! Last year’s season of fresh long canes (of many feet) will be trimmed right back to several inches and the older canes bearing the fruit which grew the season before that (i.e. those that are now two years old) are completely removed from the branch! As one walked by at pruning season, the untrained eye would think that a massacre had taken place! Heaps of old cane lies strewn along the floor in mounts and the poor plant looks barren — from a distance, all one can see is a trunk and branches! Yet to the trained eye, the job has been well-done in order that the branches might go on to bring forth more fruit!!
Jesus said that He is the True Vine, we are the branches and His Father is the husbandman. Without the Father’s pruning in our lives, (the trials and afflictions that He allows to come upon us), we would reach a ceiling in our spiritual lives. It is not the Father’s will that we should be diminished in fruit and so He prunes us that we might bear more fruit!!
I’m sure that you’ve heard of the cat with nine lives – so the old English proverb goes, “For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays". One news story reported how that a cat in the US city of Boston survived a fall from a 19-storey window, only bruising her chest! It’s one thing to talk with lightness about the nine proverbial lives of the kitty, but the man with two lives, is no joking matter – multitudes of Churches up and down the land are plagued by this blight. As one understands correctly the title of this sermon; the man with two lives has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept of staying alive, but instead, speaks of duplicity, of feigned living, of hypocrisy and two-facedness.
In this featured sermon, we look at the lives of the Scribes and Pharisees and in so doing, we discover the nature of their hypocrisy. This is a very searching and challenging sermon, yet one that is most needful if we are to really go on with the Lord. May God give us grace to be honest before Him, that we might be found sincere in our worship of Him.
A heard is cry coming from heaven; “...the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready”. This, to the Western mind, seems strange language upon first sight. In what sense are we to understand this seeming conundrum? How can the Church be identified as the wife of Christ before the marriage? In order to understand this, we must understand marriage in the context of Jewish culture. In this 28th teaching part, we turn our attention to this great marriage supper and the need for the bride of Christ to make herself ready for her Bridegroom’s coming!
The Christian soldier is never stationary in His efforts to hold the ground of victory taken for Christ in His life. He knows full well, that yesterday’s victories could well turn to tomorrow’s defeat. We are in a war and this is no time for lightness, nor is it time to be found sleeping at the post of duty. The Word of God charges us to take to arm us for the fight, the whole armour of God that we might be able to withstand in the evil day of Satan’s special assault! Of all the armoury listed in that great chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, there’s one piece of the armour that is distinguished from the rest “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).
This sermon is an exhortation to faith! An exhortation to not allow the lies of the enemy to penetrate our minds. God has promised to keep those in perfect peace, whose mind are stayed on Him, because they have placed their trust in the Lord!!
1 Corinthians 13
Of all the many attributes of love, the one element that I have chosen to focus on in this sermon is the selflessness of love!! Well, I could have picked any one of the other colossal pinnacles to climb—the longsuffering of love or the kindness of love; the courtesy of love or the humility of love—any one of these would have been more than a well-served meal and would have satisfied to the full our spiritual appetites. Yet, it is this one aspect of love; this one pinnacle amongst the mountain range, that I want in this sermon to explore. “Charity...seeketh not her own”.
“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”. The thought of it!! The unthinkable has taken place!! In one hour, her judgment has come and the great city which once ruled over nations has fallen from her height of prominence and now has become the habitation of devils and every foul spirit.
In this eighteenth chapter, we explore the fall of this great city and reflect upon its sudden ruin.