Cedars of Lebanon

Last year our church pastor shared a dream he had, in which, he was praying in the church sanctuary and there grew a small forest of trees from the center. The wind blew, and all the trees broke. He prayed, and again, those trees sprang up, and the wind blew them down a second time. He went back to praying, and one huge tree sprung up from the center of the sanctuary, breaking through the ceiling.

This morning, as I read Psalm 92:12-15 I couldn’t help but think about that giant tree. I’ve always thought about that single tree with its many branches, as representing unity within the church. However, these verses made me think of an additional viewpoint…

The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love and contentment]. [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Psalm 92:12-15, AMP

Wow! I couldn’t help but think of that single tree growing through the ceiling, out from the middle of the sanctuary as I read these verses. These verses speak about the righteous (followers of Yahweh) being like palm trees and cedars; as being fruitful, stable, and incorruptible, flourishing and full of life!

Taken from Alan Titchmarsh’s blog. http://www.countrylife.co.uk

The last few years have been challenging. A lot of people have switched churches, some have reignited their passion for the Lord, and some have left the Church, altogether. Those who’ve left, were like trees that snapped from the storms of life, but I feel like those remaining, are like the palm and cedars of Lebanon. They are continually seeking the Lord, growing in the Word, in community, and have servant’s hearts.

But let it not stop there! May those left standing continue to serve and share the gospel with those beyond our own church walls. May we unite with churches in our communities though prayer and worship. May we reach the lost, though outreach and missions; but also, in our places of work, and in the everyday places God takes us (doctor’s offices, grocery stores, schools, etc.). May our roots continue to grow deeper and wider. May our branches extend in every direction and our fruit be plentiful. Lastly, may we be like the tree planted by streams of water, prospering in all that we do for His glory!

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3, ESV

The Samaritan Woman

Tonight I read John 4, which includes Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well and noticed a couple new things as I read. We’ve covered this story quite a few times over the past few weeks in various Bible studies at church, so there’s much to be said about this encounter.

First, let’s point out that Jesus was a Jew and the woman was a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans had nothing to do with each other; in fact, in the footnotes of my NIV Bible, it states that the Jews wouldn’t even eat out of the same dishes that the Samaritans used! So, immediately, this woman of intrigued by the fact that Jesus is even talking to her.

Second, Jesus offers her living water (which, of course she doesn’t understand). One of the young ladies in my young adult’s Bible study described the woman’s situation this way: “This is a woman who has been doing everything she can to make it on her own. In a land where women held no power, authority, or property, she’s married multiple times in order to be taken care of and have her needs met. And here, Jesus is offering to meet all those needs!” I love this, because that’s exactly what Jesus was doing when He offered her living water! He was offering to satisfy every need and longing of her heart, if she’d just turn to Him–the Messiah.

Third, when Jesus disciples return to Him, after buying food in another town, Jesus tells them to stop worrying about food for the moment and take a look at what’s going on around them. He says, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and looks at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:34-35).

Lastly, the woman went back to her town and testified on His behalf! The book of John says, “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39).

What have I learned from this encounter? I’ve learned that God offers many opportunities for us to reach the lost. Most often, they’re right in front of us: the lonely student, the despised boss, the struggling single mom, the stripper, or drug addict. As His followers, we’ve already been offered and have accepted that living water; our duty is to pour it into the lives of others. But how often we get distracted by our daily tasks–or worry about what others will think of us because we’re associating ourselves with someone of “unsavory” or questionable character–that we miss out on what God is doing around us and what He wants from us! Jesus reached out to this woman, whom the disciples most likely would have overlooked, because 1) she was a woman and 2) because she was a despised Samaritan, but obviously, God had much more in store for her. And finally, we ought to be doing just what this woman did upon hearing about Christ’s goodness, sharing it with the world; so that others, in turn, will do the same.