Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Our church has been blessed with a new building to hold services. It was in very poor condition when purchased and in need of renovation. The saints of God pulled together on a mission to create a place of worship, to welcome the lost, to provide healing to the sick, shelter for the broken, and a sanctuary for His Glory. Endless nights of toil and sweat have produced tears among the exhausted workers, but the diamond in the rough is now shining as it is brought back to life. The image of a tree has become the logo for the new establishment. Like a tree. We all want to be like a tree lush and full by the stream of Living Water. Who doesn’t want to thrive like the olive tree in the House of God? There is a process to our purpose. It has been brought into the light.
The wall behind the platform where the Word of God will be preached and worship fully expressed is covered in old planks. Cut from pallets nailed together that once bore loads too much to carry now delivered. Running my hand across them, they are weathered and worn. Sometimes I feel that way, but look where they are. Day and night in the Presence of God living in His House forever. One day, this church will be forgotten burned as the world spins to the end. However, in this moment, on this day, they are an inspiration to the weary Christian. To the believer who is broken, they shout it is well. To the one whose hope is waning and their faith is running thin – they yell hang! You are almost there. If those planks could speak to us today, they might say, “Yes, there is pain in the process! But look at us now!”
The righteous will grow and flourish planted in the House of God. They will bear fruit even in old age. They will stay fresh and green proclaiming the Glory of God. I want to remain in right standing with the Lord, My God always. However, in the process of purpose, it becomes unclear this hope we have in Jesus. Those times of heated refinement when it is too hot to breathe in the inescapable blaze of testing and trials, where is our God? Why has He forsaken us? When will He return? God is with us. He is in us. He is reshaping us and making us who and what we need to be to live in His Presence forever and prosper in His Kingdom just as He planned. We not miss this life or what we gained here. The glory of past achievements will not be as wonderful as we thought compared to His Goodness and Glory released in fulfillment. When we see who we are in the Light of Who He is rather than what we have become.
I Corinthians 15:37-39 (NIV)
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
We have the best intentions. The Lord has a plan. His Plan is handwritten from beginning to end before a person takes in their first breath. He places Eternity in our heart so we will seek Him and find His Plan when our best intentions fail leaving us dissatisfied and unfulfilled. You will never find contentment or complete satisfaction outside of Jesus Christ. When we sow our life, it is like planting a tiny seed. We call that seed faith and as it grows, it will require a great deal of patience for it may seem quite slow. From the beginning, a person will develop a set of expectations. They decide who they think they are to become in Christ and what they will do for Him. Some of this is revelation knowledge but then some of it is human, too. Nevertheless as we take God’s Word – His Seed – planting it ever so deep into our soul. We wait with some expectation for it to become something far greater. God’s Word is seed to us containing all the potential for our life. (Matthew 13) The Parable of the Sower tells the fate of some seeds, but then there are the ones that take root and grow. Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:14) He is the seed in us. When God spoke to Abraham about his “seed”, He was not talking about Isaac but about Jesus. Jesus would be his seed. (Galatians 3:16) Christ in us makes us Abraham’s seed with faith that makes all things possible to those who believe God at His Word and are willing to endure the process of productivity require to grow, develop, mature and prosper in life.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
Right from the start salvation yields large dividends in our life as the Lord nurtures and grows that tiny seed into some faith in us. We see some things turn around and perhaps begin to make better choices. New growth buds and sprouts in our life. Things are going pretty good. Our lives are better than we deserve and we become content and complacent in this new thing called comfort. Rooted and grounded in God’s Love by faith we are beginning to notice that thing called purpose getting stronger and bolder within us. It is such a refreshing place in life tapped into that Living Water. You don’t want anything to change but it must. You do not want to leave but you will. You don’t know what is coming but it does.
John 15:1-3 (NIV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
Why must we be pruned? Is refinement really a must? Absolutely. God loves us too much to lower His Standards for our personal and temporary comfort. He desires us to be completely blessed not partially appeased. He cuts off everything in our life that does not bear fruit to make room for more. It’s hard to think about it when all you can feel is the pain of the cut. God’s Word is a two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) Stay in the Word. You will feel the stick of piercing as with exact provision the Lord prepares us for prosperity body, mind and spirit.
Like the tree must be cut down and sent to the mill to be processed into planks that will be nailed into pallets to carry some loads, the Lord prepares and process His People always in love but not always absent in pain. He circumcises our heart. (Deuteronomy 10:16) This is when our religion is cut down to reveal a relationship with Christ. No longer can we do anything other than submit to the Master’s Plan. Though evidence of His Great Love, it becomes a time of testing. We will live and not die if the Truth remains in us. If our life is connected to the Resurrection and Life – Jesus Christ. (John 11:25)
Galatians 5:22Somet-25 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Pruning allows a tree to bear fruit. In a spiritual sense, those things cut from us allow the Spirit to prosper in us. We must endure the process of God in order for the Fruit of God’s Spirit to grow freely and abundantly. Fruit doesn’t stay on the vine or it will die never fulfilling its purpose. It must be cut to be consumed. Think about it. If we never released our fruit, we would be rotting and stinking trees. Living in Florida, we once had a house built in the midst of an orange grove. Each house had one tree in the front and six in the back neatly in rows. Those trees had been there for years and produced way more fruit than we could eat. Who could we share it with? All our neighbors had the same problem? When the fruit over ripened, it would fall to the ground and begin to rot. The sweet orange blossom sent turned into the sour pungency that attracted the biting fruit flies who ate it and tried to bite us. God desires our life to be a blessing to more than just us. He allows our fruit to be sampled by others and consumed by the needy. We feel the pull and yet sometimes fail to respond. God will cut us down in order to revive us again.
Romans 12:1-5 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
There are many steps climbing the mountain by faith. Glory to glory requires many levels of pain. Victory to victory is not without costly encounters. We come to the Lord by faith that must be tested and tried to be found true – not by God but by you. We must know what we believe and live as one. To become a living sacrifice requires giving our all. The seed gave way to the tree which gave up its life to become wood made into a pallet but that’s not the end. Sometimes we lose sight that there is far greater purpose in life than what it seems to be right now. The younger the Christian the more passionate the cause; however, the shorter the distance until they are on their weak knees. Each test made us stronger yet broken inside. Each trial burned away the insufficiencies to reveal faith that seems so small. Our significance is not in what life looks like around us but who we have become inside of us. Those pallets were ripped from their labor. They became yoked to Christ. Did you know that there were cedar plank walls in the Temple? (I Kings 6:9) Each strip of wood with all its marks and dings made it to the place we all long for. To live in the Presence of God forevermore.
God is transforming us friends. Not like we would do it, but according to a blessing far greater than we could even think to ask for. He sees more in us than we sees in ourselves and loves us too much to leave us like we are. Jesus in us is the seed that grows into prosperity. I must decrease so that He can increase in my life. (John 3:30) It’s funny but I have seen this process in some of the laborers preparing the House of God for service. After weeks of working their regular jobs and devoting the rest of their time preparing the House of God, they feel like worn out wood fit for burning. However, what I see are people on purpose. Those who God loves too much to leave behind. Martha’s who are being turned into Mary’s. Joseph’s who are about to emerge. God didn’t cut down the tree without purpose. He didn’t rip it apart because it was not producing some fruit. The process of refinement leads to refreshing and renewal. It leads to revival. Why? Because in our weakness, we become strong. Grace is sufficient when “I” cannot do it anymore. (2 Corinthians 12:9) There is a promise for those who are broken. It gives God the opportunity to move in closer, deeper and greater than before. (Psalm 34:18)
Psalm 27:4 (NIV)
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
One thing. What is the one thing you desire from the Lord? I used to want many things. I had a long list of demands for things that I thought would make me complete lacking no good thing. I quickly made it through that list and did not find what I was looking for before and even after I was saved. It was when I was complete broken and my heart shattered that I realized I had the one thing in me. The one thing that I needed to be saved, fulfilled and whole. The one thing I need to have a brand new life. The one thing I needed to be complete lacking no good thing. Running my hands over the rough edges of the planks, they are beautiful. Carrying constructed together with all their variations of size, color and texture make a beautiful masterpiece when alone they were fit to be burned. I believe that is exactly what God is doing in us. Bringing us together to create a Kingdom that is beautifully one just as He planned. Have you found your place friend? Yeah, me either. At least I have come to recognize and embrace the process which leads to peace and to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. This is where I desire to be so I will surrender and sacrifice my life to get there.
Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.