Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You mark us with blessing, O God, our God!”
“It is strange how little use we have of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God Himself. Though He is ‘our own God,’ we apply ourselves but little to Him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business without seeking His guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord…that He may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, ‘I am thine, soul; come and make use of Me as thou wilt, thou mayst come freely to My store, and the oftener the more welcome.’ It is our own fault if we do not make free with the riches of our own God. Since thou hast such a Friend, and He invites thee, draw from Him daily. Never want whilst thou has a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest – there is all that thou canst want.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“The life of faith is the life that uses the Lord.”
Today’s Study Texts:
“And he (she) shall be like a tree firmly planted by the streams of water,ready to bring forth its fruit in its season.”
Psalm 1 Part 11
“All fruits grow – whether they grow in the soil or in the soul; whether they are the fruits of the wild grape or of the True Vine. No man or woman can make things grow. We can get them to grow by arranging all the circumstances and fulfilling all the conditions. But the growing is done by God.”
Have I asked my Father to grow the fruit of His choosing in my life?
In my own life what does it mean to produce “fruit in season”?
“Let us pray God that He would root out of our hearts everything of our own planting, and set out there, with His own hands. the tree of life, bearing all manner of fruits.”
Francois Fênelon and
“If we be like trees planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth our fruit in our season, it is not because we were naturally fruitful, but because of the rivers of water by which we were planted. It is Jesus that makes us fruitful.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
As we continue our study of Psalm 1, we find that the author of this poem or as the Hebrew word “Psalm” means – “Praise Song” – calls to our attention the fact that the Godly individual is likened to a tree. Make no mistake, this tree isn’t some twiglet. It is a sturdy, well-cultivated tree, planted by a water source which gives it the ability to flourish.
Because this tree is so healthy, the Psalmist goes on to draw our attention to the fact that this is a tree with fruit on it. As we dig deeper, we uncover two revelations about this thriving tree.
First, we need to look at the why behind the fruitfulness of this tree. Whatever this tree is supposed to produce it is generated in abundance. My grandparents had a number of peach trees at their ranch and I can’t begin to tell you how many jars of canned peaches were made each year off the harvest from those gorgeous trees. The same could be said about their plum and apricot trees. And down in the citrus grove, there was always a plentiful crop of lemons, oranges and grapefruit! (My mouth begins to water just thinking about those delicious oranges!!!). Because those trees were well-planted, fruit was the result.
But there’s a second point the Psalmist draws our attention to and it is this: fruit comes forth “in its season.” Not all trees bear their harvest at the same time. At the ranch there was a schedule that let us know at what time of the year various trees would provide their bounty. And unless there was some drastic change in the weather pattern, the trees bore their fruit on a very regular basis each year.
I’ll never forget one year when my sister and I got this crazy idea that if we picked some of the peaches early and put the unripened fruit in direct sunlight, we could somehow speed along the process of ripening. Now I recognize that today with all kinds of fancy machinery helping along the process, fruit is made to ripen faster. However, just my personal opinion is that it doesn’t taste the same. It amuses me to go to a grocery store now and see that shoppers are charged a premium for “vine-ripened” tomatoes. If we only ate our fresh food “in season” we could enjoy the taste God intended.
What we learn in Psalm1 is that a well-cared-for tree brings forth a robust harvest and it does so right on time when the taste and benefit of the yield is at its prime.
These two qualities found in a healthy tree are vitally important in a spiritually healthy person. As the British theologian John Stott so illustratively describes, “The Christian should resemble a fruit tree, not a Christmas tree! For the gaudy decorations of a Christmas tree are only tied on, whereas fruit grows on a fruit tree.” This thought got me to reflecting on how I am to go about bearing fruit. In the inspirational book, The Cloud of the Unknowing we are instructed that “Whatever you possess, and however fruitful your activities, regard them all as worthless without the inward certainty and experience of Jesus’ love.” I think we could all agree with the words penned thousands of years ago by Thalassios who stated “our actions disclose what goes on within us just as its fruit makes known a tree otherwise unknown to us.” If we don’t connect with Jesus, we won’t bear fruit. Period!
So how are we, in a practical way to be fruitful trees in God’s forest? We find the answer supplied to us in Psalm 1: 2, words we studied just a few days ago. The Psalmist tells us that our fruitfulness is directly related to our feasting or studying God’s words of instruction by day and by night. As we read, “and in His counsel doth he (she) meditate (ponders and studies) continuously.” In the 1300’s, the writer Ludolf of Saxony wrote these words which I might add I had to read several times to gain the full value of their importance: “If you want to draw fruit from the mysteries of Christ’s life, you must offer yourself as present to whatever was said or done through our Lord Jesus Christ with the whole affective power of your mind, with loving care, with lingering delight; thus laying aside all other worries and cares. And though many of these are narrated as past events, you must meditate them all as though they were happening in the present moment.” These words are very old. So I want to translate them into words that I completely grasp and I hope you do to: “If we want to bear fruit that reflects Jesus and His’ love, then we will not study about Him in a careless, half-hearted manner. We will absorb His words into ourselves. We will study the events of His life carefully and with a focus that pushes out the thoughts of this world. Jesus’ words will become as pertinent to us today as they were when He walked the earth long ago.” I have to ask myself, “Do I spend enough time in thought, prayer and study about my Savior so that His reflection is the fruit I am bearing in my life”? It is certainly something the Psalmist calls us to consider when he talks of a “fruit-bearing” tree.
But, I don’t want to short-change the second point found in Psalm 1: 3 that every healthy tree brings forth fruit “in its season.” There are so many times that we are wishing and longing that the “fruit of our lives” will come forth on our time-line when in fact, God’s time-clock has an “in its season” button. And in your life and mine God is at work and His season for you and me may well be very different than we think it should be. So we get discouraged because the fruit we want to ripen isn’t ready when we think it should be. I want to share the words of Douglas Sheere whose thoughts on waiting are a tremendous encouragement to me: “If something apart from ourselves is seeking to make itself known to us, it will not succeed unless we know how to wait, to persist in waiting.” God has a “season” in your life and in mine and if we are willing to wait upon the Lord, we will as a flourishing tree “bear fruit in its season.”
“Take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”
“Lord, make me strong!
Let my soul rooted be afar from vales of rest,
Flung close to heaven upon a great Rock’s breast,
Unsheltered and alone, but strong in Thee.
What though the lashing tempests leave their scars?
Has not the Rock been bruised?
Mine, with the strength of ages deep infused,
To face the storms, and triumph with the stars!
Lord, plant my spirit high upon the crest
Of Thine eternal strength!
Then, though life’s breaking struggles come at length,
Their storms shall only bend me closer to Thy breast.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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