Sunday, September 10, 2017

Are You Withering?

My pastor said something in his sermon today that took me back to what the Lord had been stirring in my heart all week. Lately, my heart has been breaking for people who were once on fire for the Lord but aren't even lukewarm now. They're beyond having one foot in and one foot out of their walk with God. Their spiritual thermostat is set to COLD. They don't hunger for the things of God like they used to. They don't study God's word anymore. They don't fellowship with believers. They rarely (or never) attend church. And it shows up in every area of their lives. It's evident in everything they say and do that they haven't "been with" the Lord. Some even try to mask it, but there's no cover up for a heart that is distant from God.

When Pastor made reference to a very familiar passage of scripture, I could hear the words for this blog being written in my spirit. The tears began to fall, and I couldn't help but pray, at that very moment, for those who I know have lost their hunger for the things of God and have turned COLD.

Pastor referenced John 15:4-6a.  It reads, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you , unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered..."

Then he asked, "Have you ever seen a branch broken off from its tree?

He continued, "When it's broken off from its tree, the leaves (the fruit) will stay green for a little while, but it won't be long before they're brown and withering because they've been cut off from their source. The branch needs to be connected to the tree, its life-giving source, in order for its leaves to thrive."

Just hearing the explanation made my heart break all over again because I've seen it time after time. Someone stops walking closely with the Lord, and for a little while, they still talk the talk of a Christian. They still walk the walk of a Christian. They can still carry on conversation that says they know Christ, but it's never long before their "leaves start to wither" because they're not getting what they need from the life-giving source.

When they're disconnected from the source, they're easily angered. They're negative. They're unproductive and unmotivated. They even slip back into the talk and the behavior from their lives before Christ. Eventually, they begin to struggle within themselves. They want to still look like Christ, but they're not feeding themselves the things they need to continue to look like Him. There's a constant battle within them where their minds are telling them what they know they need to do to stay connected to the vine, but their actions doesn't follow through. And before they know it, they've gotten comfortable. The battle within them loses steam. They lose the desire to fight anymore. The hunger to do the things of God isn't as loud anymore, so they begin to fall into the cycle of life that pushes them further and further away from God. And they begin to live there.

There's no way they'll be able to survive in Christ without being connected to Him. They won't bear fruit that reflects Him if they're not feeding from His vine.

Because this has been so heavy on my heart all week, the Lord led me to different passages of scripture so I could pray.  This scripture stood out and replayed in my spirit more than anything else did throughout the week. 

"Those who are far from you will perish..." Psalm 73:27 a

Psalm 73 is a cry out from someone whose focus was on others instead of being on the Lord. This someone saw that the wicked were advancing with wealth and that they had no worries or cares, and he envied that. For a minute, he wanted to stop serving the Lord because in his service to the Lord, he wasn't getting what the wicked were getting. He thought his service to the Lord must have surely been in vain because there was nothing to show for it. But then, when he "entered the sanctuary of God", he got a closer look at the fate of the wicked. They had wealth and possessions, and they had big fun, but those were momentary pleasures. The writer of this psalm realized that the wicked were on slippery ground and that their "big fun" wouldn't last. If they weren't serving the Lord, they didn't have anything and WOULD NOT have anything.

Psalm 73:27 b says, " destroy all who are unfaithful to you."

The writer was reminded that a life with "enjoyment" outside of the will of God is momentary. He was reminded that "it is good to be near to God."

Is This You?
I wrote all of this to simply say, your leaves have withered. Your branch has been disconnected from the vine for too long and you're not thriving. Get connected! He longs for you to draw near to Him. He wants to give you what you need to live, and to live IN HIM. You're not so far gone that He can't love you back to Him. You'll never be too far for Him to love you back to Him.


Apart from the vine, you can do nothing.