This past April my husband and I were able to do something we've wanted to do for a long time take down two big pine trees in our front yard. We've lived in our home since 2000. The pine trees in our front yard have been there for years and years. Both were very big around, especially one of them. You could have made a nice table top from the bigger one if you took a slice from it. Through the years the tree has grown so strong and big that it overshadowed our house, not to mention all the pine needles and pine cones we had to pick up all the time before you mowed the lawn. The roots of the trees grew up so much that it made the trees sit on a hill. The trees took all the water and our grass would suffer from the lack of water it received.
It wasn't an easy job to take down two big pine trees that were taller than the size of two phone polls put on top of each other. A lot of branches came down first. When it was time for the trees to come down, I had to leave the house as it made me very nervous to watch the branches come down, let alone the tree itself. Our house became a place for our neighbors to come and watch. It wasn't everyday you would see someone climb up to the top of an extremely tall tree and cut its branches down. Our yard was filled with branches and tree trimmings.
When it was time for the trees to come down, everyone waited with anticipation to see if the trees would come down in the direction planned. As the trees came down, people cheered and clapped to see such a huge structure come down in the right place. Much planning had to happen for the tree to not hit other houses, vehicles, or yards. It took over a month for our yard to be totally cleaned up after the first tree fell.
Watching this whole ordeal made me ponder the scripture in Isaiah 61:3. It states we will be called "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord," for God's glory. It is God who plants and takes care of the tree.
Isaiah 61: 3 (KJV)
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
I like how the Amplified Bible states that verse
To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God, which God planted that He may be glorified. Doesn't this sound like something you want to be? It is God's intent to plant you as trees of righteousness. I believe righteousness is a process and it is also immediate. What Christ did on the cross made God's righteousness available to us immediately. His robe of righteousness is on us and we wear it well. But, there is a process of righteousness that happens when we walk with God. This process is the growth we experience in Him.
As we allow God to have control and learn to trust Him, we become those trees of righteousness. Trees don't pop up over night. They gradually grow into a tall, magnificent structure that brings fruit and shade in the proper season.
The Lord compares His people to trees. Isaiah 65:22 states, "They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."
We have to look at a tree and consider why we are compared it.
1. Trees need water, rest, and refreshing to grow.
Just like a tree, we need water, rest, and refreshing to grow. We need to drink of God's word and apply it to our lives. It is one thing to look at a glass of water and know it will refresh you, but it is a whole other thing to take the glass of water and drink it all. Water is good for the body and will only help us if we drink it.
Water, in the Old Testament, is a type of the Holy Spirit. I don't want to go into detail about that here, but we need to allow the Holy Spirit to saturate our hearts so that rivers of living water will flow from us. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring refreshing and rest in your life. Rest and soak in the Lord's presence. Find time to go into your secret place with God and just soak in His presence. This will bring refreshing and growth and insight.
Scripture speaks about being planted by rivers of water.
Psalm 1:3 (NJKV)
"He shall be like a tree planted by rivers (or channels) of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."
This all comes by not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the path of sinners, or sitting in the seat of the scornful. This comes by delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating or pondering it to your self. (Psalm 1:1 2) This brings me to the next point;
2. Trees are subject to decease or sickness.
One of our pine trees had a "pine beetle," (Found in the Pacific Northwest, USA) Once a pine beetle gets into a tree, if not treated, it will kill the tree. Trees are subject to decease, and we are subject to spiritual decease if we are not careful.
One way spiritual decease comes is when we are not being careful with our five senses. We have to guard what we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. In other words, be careful what you watch. Don't allow yourself to listen to things that are not of God. Tune your ears to what God says and not what your flesh speaks or what the enemy tells you. Be careful of what you say to people. We can have bad habits that will bring decease into our lives. Bad speech, bad attitudes, bad additions are just a few things that can bring decease and sickness to our righteous tree. Be careful to not allow bitterness, un-forgiveness, or hatred to fester in your trunk. This will bring a rotting to your soul and will eat you from the inside out like a pine beetle.
On my newest CD, Brokenness, I wrote a song entitled, "I Will." This song was birthed from reading Psalms 101.
Psalm 101:2 - 7 (NKJV)
A Psalm of David
I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked (unclean or worthless) before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him will I destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure. My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence."
We have to guard what we experience because we will take action from what we see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.
Proverbs 4:23 (God's Word)
"Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it."
Ask God to help you in these areas. He will as you seek Him for guidance and strength to overcome any weakness you may have.
If you feel separated from God right now, it might mean you have not guarded what you are doing. There might be sin in your life or deception. I was at a conference in Alaska last week and was ministering to a precious lady. She wanted prayer to experience God more intimately. She said she has prayed and prayed for God to be closer, but still felt He was distant. Through a few questions asked, I found out there was sin in her life. At first she would rather hold onto her sin then pay the price of letting it go to get closer to God. But, her hunger for the Lord was stronger and she walked away from her sin to be closer to God.
Do you find your self wanting the comfort of your sin more than experiencing the intimacy of a loving God? Don't let the enemy lie to you and tell you your sin is better. In fact, it is way worse because it is keeping you from your Bridegroom. Sin separates us from God and it will lead us down a path of destruction. Flee from it immediately, die to your flesh, and run into the merciful arms of God. He will meet you there.
3. Trees produce fruit.
Pine trees produce pine cones. Pear trees produce pears. Apple trees produce apples. Orange trees produce oranges. We are to produce fruit as well. We are trees of righteousness, so it makes sense for us to produce righteousness. Our actions are our fruit. How we respond or lack of response produces the fruit that is in us. Matthew 7:16 20 speaks of knowing false prophets by their fruit, and we can apply that to our own lives. What fruit are you producing? What do your actions tell people? What is deep in your heart that comes out? If it is anything but good fruit, stop right now and ask God to forgive your actions and ask Him to help you make right choices that produce good fruit.
One awesome thing about trees that produce fruit is it gives life to others. Just like how we can eat an apple from an apple tree and it nourishes us, so can our fruit nourish others.
4. Trees live long and grow strong.
Trees stand strong in the midst of a storm. They suffer and endure hardship. But those storms make the tree stronger and make its roots grow deeper into the soil. This is what happens with us. It is hard to see spiritual growth, but it comes. When we have been growing in Christ, there will come times of hardship and suffering. It is natural, but when our roots are deep in Christ, we will withstand anything that comes our way because we are reading God's word and getting it into our spirit. We are spending time in prayer with Him and communing with Him. This brings growth.
God will never stop supplying what we need to grow. There will always be abundance for us to partake in. In fact, He will plant us by streams of water to make sure we get the proper nourishment to make us live long and strong lives in Him.
Jeremiah 17:5 8 (NLT)
This is what the Lord says: "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, on the salty flats where no one lives. "But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.
A tree takes time to grow. It starts from a seed and, through time and proper nourishment, it grows into a sapling. From there it will grow little by little throughout the years until it becomes a beautiful, majestic structure that brings fruit and shade to those that need it.
I want to become that majestic tree. God's word has promised that He will take care of us and will feed us. We can trust God to bring growth in our lives as we place our confidence in Him.
May we all grow strong, tall, and majestic for God's glory. May we be planted by streams of living water and rest. There might come a time that God will make you lie down in green pastures and lead you by the quiet waters to restore your soul (Psalm 23:2 3). Let Him take you there. Remember He knows what you need even before you do.
From one fellow tree to another,
Pastor Kris Belfils
Kris Belfils is an Author, Pastor, Singer/Songwriter, Speaker, and Worship Leader. She has a passion to see people transformed and set free. Her newest book, "The Garbage Man Always Comes On Fridays," is a powerful tool to help others overcome their past. www.krisbelfils.com
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