Sitting in church, having a Holy Ghost filled service, I find myself comparing how I am praising the Lord to how others are.  Now I know I should not be comparing myself to others, but I could not stop.  I was frustrated and wanted to get to the bottom of why I felt this way, so I looked inward to see why I thought my praise was less effective than others in the church.  Was it because I have only been saved for 6 years? Am I really saved?  Have I truly let God into my life and am I letting him guide my steps?  These are just a few of the questions that run thru my head.  Once I opened my eyes to my dilemma I noticed something I never saw before. This is what God revealed to me.

While driving to work one morning I drove past an area that has been excavated for future commercial buildings.  Now this area has been cleared for a year and I have driven down this street twice a day looking at a lone tree left standing. I could not figure out why this one tree was left standing. It looked like it was dead when they finished clearing the land, but since it was winter, I could not be sure. Once spring time came it started to come to life, but not as fast as the other trees in the area. Some of the branches were indeed dead while others were partially dead. Leaves finally covered the tree, but the dead branches were still there and sticking out making the tree look bad. The dead branches were still part of the tree, but they were taking away from the branches that were still alive and hindering its growth.

I know what you are thinking; what does this have to do with my spiritual growth? Well when we first get saved and ask God for forgiveness there is a lot of garbage that needs to be removed. God comes in and removes our desire for sinful things. Some of it just sits on the surface and is easily removed. Some stuff runs deep and God needs to dig deeper to remove it. When this occurs, some damage is done and we are left with “dead wood” still attached. This could be friends we should not be hanging around, music we should not be listing to, jokes we should not find funny, etc. God has removed them, but we continue to hang on to it because it has been a part of our lives for so long. We are not able to grow strong as long as we continue to leave these things in our lives. Once we get rid of all of the “dead wood” in our lives then God can focus on the living parts and our faith and praise will grow with nothing to hinder it.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”