Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Shepastor: “Lessons from Trees…”

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Psalm 92: 12-15, NIV

Scripture frequently uses trees to teach lessons:
The Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden
The Juniper Tree that Elijah ran and sat under when he was depressed
The Tree that Absalom got hung on when his hair was caught in the thicket
The Tree that is spoken of in Psalm 1
The Tree that bears fruit
The Tree that Jesus cursed
The Tree of Life

But in our particular text for today, the Psalmist lifts up two trees:
The Palm Tree and The Cedars of Lebanon

The Psalmist said that the righteous shall flourish like a Palm Tree. What is so special about a Palm Tree?
- Palm Trees are tall, majestic and beautiful
- Palm Trees are resilient. They flourish even in drought because of their deep root system
- Palm Trees are able to withstand hurricanes and massive storms because they know how to bend

The Psalmist also likened the righteous unto the Cedars of Lebanon.
-The Cedars of Lebanon stood 120 feet tall and 30 feet wide.
-They were firmly rooted and were very strong. They were so high that they could see far above the city out into distant lands.

The Psalmist said that the righteous, like the Cedars of Lebanon are firmly planted and they flourish in the courts of the Lord. They continue to bear fruit even in their old age. They stay fresh and green.

Sometimes we have to be like Palm Trees, getting our thirst quenched by our deep root systems. There will be times when “surface faith,” won’t be enough. In other words, it’s easy to trust God when everything is going your way. It’s easy to have faith when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But can you trust God in the darkness? Can you trust God when the answers are not clear, when the outcome is uncertain, when it appears that everything is falling apart. In times like that, you need DEEP faith! Deep faith requires us to go way down on the inside and pull up what we know to be true about God…that God is faithful…that God has seen us through before,… that God did not bring us this far to leave us…that God has promised never to leave us or forsake us…that many are the afflictions of the righteous but the LORD delivers us out of them all! It takes deep faith to continue to hold to God’s unchanging hand when the enemy is screaming let go.

Sometimes we have to bend like the Palm Tree. We’ve got to learn how to be flexible. We’ve got to learn how to bend down and be humble. We’ve got to learn how to make it through the storm. We must be flexible. We must learn the “Serenity Prayer,” that says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” There will be times when we have to accept that there are things that we cannot change. We cannot change others, but with the help of the Lord we can change ourselves. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. We can’t make everything better, but we can do what is possible to bring hope, and joy and light.

When storms are raging, we must learn how to bend with the wind. Palm trees don’t snap because they know how to bend. Bend down and pray. Bend down in your heart and let God do the heavy lifting. Bend, and let God fight your battles. Bend and let God make your enemies your footstool!

Sometimes we’ve got to be like the Cedars of Lebanon. Sometimes we’ve got to stand firm, stand tall and stand strong. We’ve got to learn how to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, in as much as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

We’ve got to stand tall and stand strong. In order to do that, we’ve got to be firmly planted in the courts of the Lord. The courts of the Lord, the house of the Lord, the ways of the Lord, the Word of the Lord. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the council of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate both day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. His leaf also shall not whither and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away..." Psalm 1.

This past week we celebrated the life and the legacy of Congressman John Lewis. His mantra was, “Get into ‘good trouble.’" The son of sharecroppers, and the great, great-grandson of slaves, Congressman Lewis stood tall for human equality and justice for all. He was determined to speak out, to march, to endure beatings, rejection, misunderstanding from family and friends and risked life and limb for the greater cause of freedom, equality and justice in America! And while we will not all be called to endure the things that Congressman Lewis did, we ALL are called upon to stand for that which is right whether it is popular or not…to speak truth to power, and to speak up when we hear or are engaged in conversations where people are saying racist, hateful and ignorant things!

The Lord is looking for those who will be like Trees, Palm Trees, Cedars of Lebanon who know how to be resilient through Christ, who know how to bend and be flexible, but also who know how and when to stand tall, stand firm and will not move. Will you learn the lessons of the palm and cedar trees? Embrace their wisdom today!

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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