DayBreaks for 03/11/13 – Using Up the Ground

DayBreaks for 03/11/13 – Using Up the Ground              

thevinedresserandthefigtreeLuke 13:6-9 (ESV) – And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’  8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.  9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Israel is not a large country. Soil was, and still is, at a premium in Israel. It was not unusual for a vineyard owner to give a little bit of his soil up for a fruit tree but the tree took up the best soil, the deepest soil, and required the most water. Three years after planting the fig tree, the owner came looking for fruit on the fig tree and found none.  A fig tree doesn’t grow fruit until three years after planting. So, the owner in this story, had given the tree “due season”, plenty of time, to bear fruit and yet there was none.  All this fig tree did was take up valuable soil and water and energy.  The owner questioned why the tree was allowed to “even use up ground.”

God had given the Israelites the choicest ground. Their land possessed everything necessary to make themselves a great nation, indeed, a light to all nations. They were strategically positioned to send the fruit of God north and south, east and west; but instead, in-fighting continued to make them a worthless fruit tree.

God has given America extremely choice ground.  The American church is the richest group of Christians to ever exist on the face of the earth – by far.  As individuals, we are all rich.  We all have been “planted” here by God, but not just for our own sake.  We’ve been planted here for His purposes…to cooperate and be a part of His plan, to be useful to Him – not to ourselves.

Everyone one of us and all of our churches will have to answer (from God’s perspective) this same question: “Why does it even use up the ground?”  What answer would you give God?  What answer would you give to anyone around you for why you exist?  What fruit are you bearing?  (If you’re not bearing fruit…go back and read the parable again.  You won’t like what you see!)

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to just use up ground, to occupy a position in space and time.  I want to be useful to You and for You.  I pray that all of us will be open to what You want to do with us and not our own will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 01/24/12 – Busted Parts and Beautiful Things

DayBreaks for 01/24/12 – Busted Parts and Beautiful Things

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. – Isaiah 42:1-3

Julie Pennington-Russell, in Our Friend Calling, wrote: “I have a friend. He’s a man in his late 60’s. Rugged, burly, brilliant guy. He’s always reminded me a little of the Marlborough Man. He studied at a prestigious university in the East some years ago, and then he moved to Texas to work on his doctorate. But somewhere along the way he became addicted to cocaine–just tumbled into that dark hole. Lost his family, lost his place in graduate school, lost big pieces of himself. But somehow he washed up on the shores of a good church. And when he did, he was so fragile–he looked like he’d been “rode hard and put up wet”–as they say in Texas. But the folks in that church put their arms around that man and slowly he started to heal, and eventually, miraculously, even reunited with his wife and children.

“We had this couple in our home for dinner and the man began to talk with Tim and me about where his life was going. “I want to believe,” he said, “that my best days aren’t behind me, and that my life can still count, can still make a difference for God.” He sat at our table with his head in his hands. “I just can’t help but feel like I’ve blown all of my best chances,” he said. That’s when his wife, who’s just this wonderful, middle-aged bohemian Texas flower child kind of woman, reached over and took his hand and said–and I’ll never forget this–she said, “Baby, you’ve got to take your sticky fingers off that steering wheel. If God could yank Jesus out of a grave, I figure he can make something beautiful out of busted parts.” And I tell you what –if I live to be a hundred and ten, I don’t expect to hear the gospel better articulated than that.”

When we are broken and busted, we tend to think that we are useless.  As we get older and feel that we’re defective, we can really despair thinking that we’re washed up and ready for the junk heap.  The joyful news for all of us is that we are never too old for God to use us, if we just stop trying to control our life and let Him take control.  It is hard to pry our fingers off the steering wheel.  We live under the illusion that we’ve done a good job of driving so far so we figure we just as well keep on driving since we’ve done so well so far.

Deep inside, though, we know we’ve not done all that well.  Could we have done worse?  Probably.  Could we have done better?  Certainly.  But God doesn’t ever make mistakes.  Let Him take the busted parts in you.  Gather them up, put them in His hands, and see what He does with them!

PRAYER: We are like shattered glass, Lord.  We need you to put our lives back together and back on track!!  Make something beautiful out of our brokenness, Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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