A Time of Pruning: Part Two – Know Your Enemies

By: Marcy Barthelette

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. John 15:4a
Wow! Think about that statement. He makes His home in us. That is a powerful reality. The God of the
universe dwells inside us. What an awesome gift and yet, what an awesome responsibility! How do we prepare
ourselves for that responsibility? Let’s search our gardens again for some answers.
Sometimes, no matter how much I care for and protect the living things in my yard, something happens to
upset the balance and if I don’t react quickly, serious damage will occur. To stay on top of any issues I must
walk through all areas of the yard routinely and search for signs of any foreign creatures that might be lurking.
In a wet spring I often find the leaves of my daylilies literally covered with aphids. These are nasty little insects
that suck the life out of plants if not abated. A good soaking in soapy water is all it takes but first I must be
aware of their presence. In June, Japanese beetles make their ravenous appearance. Some years they cluster
by the thousands decimating every leaf of their favorite plants or trees. Unless I intercede they only depart
when all the leaves of those plants or trees resemble fancy lace. And let’s not forget the infamous tomato
hornworm. These big green guys are as fat as my fingers and sport a little horn at the rear as a defense
mechanism, hence the name. They can completely strip the plants overnight if left unchecked. You’ve
undoubtedly stepped in a mole tunnel in your lawn. One of their favorite foods is tulip bulbs! And don’t get me
started on the infamous grub! In addition to a host of predators, weather, especially in Missouri, is a constant
threat. Between wind and hail, drenching rain, and prolonged drought, our plants have to be very tough to
survive and many don’t.
If all these enemies and more are out to get our gardens, imagine what ugly things want to penetrate the armor
of our lives. My goodness, the temptations are all around us. What do we do with that juicy story that one friend
shared about another friend last week? How do we react when we arrive at a party to find that drugs are being
passed freely throughout the crowd? When we’re scheduled to participate in a mission project but a friend
invites us on an exciting trip, do we keep our commitment or find an excuse to have fun instead? When dinner
isn’t on the table when we arrive home from work, do we display anger toward our spouse? When an attractive
person makes an inappropriate move on us, how do we respond? In the face of violence, how do we react?
You can see where this is going. Every day we can be tempted to act outside God’s plan for our lives. By
employing our moral compass and using God’s word as our operations manual, we can recognize the enemies
all around us. Does that mean we can’t have fun? Of course not. I believe God has a pretty keen sense of
humor and wants all His family to laugh and be happy. In doing so, we must be aware of the external
temptations that can lead us off course. We must also allow ourselves to be filled to overflowing with His spirit.
This is our core. He offers us the gift of Himself and if we respect ourselves and keep our inner houses clean,
we create an environment where He may dwell and flourish.
In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by
itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
John 15: 4b
Protected with the armor of faith, we can walk, as Jesus did, among those who need help finding their way. We
can do the work we were created to do…help make disciples for Jesus Christ.
Next week we’ll talk about friends….

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