John Barnett

Perhaps the most fruitful servant of the Lord in the New Testament was Paul the Apostle.

Perhaps the most afflicted, pressured, troubled man in the New Testament was Paul the Apostle.

Perhaps the most useful servant of the Lord in the New Testament was Paul the Apostle.

Do you see a pattern between Paul's troubles and His usefulness?

Paul was pruned in every way imaginable - shipwrecked (that would be a patience builder), imprisoned (that would be a faith builder), beaten repeatedly (that would be a bitterness antidote), mocked, scoffed, and ridiculed (that would be a love builder), out of touch with everyone dear to him (that would be a hope builder), weak and sick and tired (that would be a prayer builder, with only the Lord to talk to), fighting demonic attacks 24/7 (that would be spiritual warfare workout daily), and on we could go through the endless opportunities Paul had to grow through all those problems in life. And guess what? He took most of them. He let God prune away at him until there was almost nothing left but what was constantly useful to the Lord!

What is fruitfulness for the Lord? It is simply being useful for Him....

God wants to capture us by His love, harness us by His Spirit, shape us by His Word, and change us into usefulness by His PRUNING! That is what our lifetime is all about. The shaping, refining, pruning Hand of God is with us all through life—either we accept it and grow, or resent it and miss the eternal blessings.

Taken from "Growing in God" by Discover the Book Ministries (used by permission).