“Mercy and grace build bridges to the heart and offer hope for another day.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 16, 2022
Then he [Jesus] used this illustration: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if he could find any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he told his gardener to cut it down. ‘I’ve waited three years and there hasn’t been a single fig!’ he said. ‘Why bother with it any longer? It’s taking up space we can use for something else. Give it one more chance,’ the gardener answered. ‘Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine; if not, I’ll cut it down. Luke 13:6-9
Jesus compares a life to a tree…a fig tree…we have three in our back yard. Some bear better fruit than the others…but all require cutting back from time to time…and at some point, one may require removal. But nature’s life cycle is long and forgiving…much to the point of Jesus’ story. A fruit tree that doesn’t bear fruit needs intentional time, customized care and plenty of nutrients to help bring it back to its full capacity to bear fruit. A patient gardener like God is able to bring out the best in the barren, neglected fruit tree. Second chances wait for the fruitfulness to return.
Instead of cutting down a life lacking fruit, we are called to lift up his sagging self and nurture him back to health. Regardless of the reasons for ones’ inability to be a fruitful follower of Jesus, sometimes it requires removing the cares of this world…to cultivate forgiveness and irrigate hope. A life so beat down by bad choices (personal or provoked by another), desperately needs a safe environment to recover and be restored. If we were suffering difficult days, we would want mercy…a second chance. Grace does this…even third, fourth, or fifth chances. Lift up another wilting life in prayer and with practical help so he is able to forgive his shame and seek to get right with God over the guilt of his sins. Second chances give life to lives toying with giving up.
“Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34).
To write someone off for being wrong may be the most efficient way to be rid of another who may slow you down to do good, but such is the Kingdom of God. You need to look no further for ministry than those right under your nose—who need your love—not your hard-nosed standards that intimidate and initiate relational ruptures. Mercy and grace build bridges to the heart and offer hope for another day. Indeed, one day at a time…daily bread (love) gradually brings life to a starved soul. Embrace second chances as a way of life that is quick to infuse life into sick hearts.
You may be the one in need of a second chance from God and those who love you. If so, humble yourself by admitting your crisis of faith, perhaps spiritual bankruptcy. Take responsibility for your life by asking the Lord and those you have hurt to forgive you. Get help. Real help, not just a “drive by” quick fix to check a box, but a professional solution that drills down to the root of the problem. Unless you admit you are broken you will never be mended back to who the Lord wants you to become—His beloved child, in whom He is well pleased. If you resist God’s help, you are rejecting perfect love and could be cut down instead of being cut back to blossom and grow in love. Take your second chance back to healthy living and let love lift up your life to bear much fruit!
“Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” “Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 3:22).
Heavenly Father, I receive your grace and forgiveness and trust you to lead me in my new life in Christ, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.
Who in my life do I need to extend grace and forgiveness to, like the Lord has shown me?
MercyMe: Grace Got You
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