Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are you like a tree or a shrub?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV

Where do you turn when trouble comes, when life is difficult, when you've feel you've lost your way? Do you turn to your insurance, or the doctor, the lawyer, the financial experts. Do you seek out the wisdom of our day and exhaust every avenue and resource before you turn to seek the Lord? Sadly the Lord is often the last resort for many people. This verse reminds us that the person who trusts the Lord is blessed. The person who puts their hope in the Lord will be like a tree near a water source.

I read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 17 this morning and I found another verse that I thought was interesting and not one that you find plastered to every magnet and wall plaque. It actually precedes our verse of the day.

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

I know that conventional wisdom tells us to turn to the experts. I have seen people who run from friend to friend and from expert to expert sharing their problems and looking for advice and the opinions of others. In the end they have so many conflicting views that they still have to make their own decision. They become like shrubs in the desert and they don't see good when it comes and stares them in the face.  

The difference between a shrub and a tree. Trees provide shade. You can lean on a tree. You can climb a tree an see for a distance and get your bearing. The tree in our verse is always yielding fruit. It provides nourishment, shelter, and shade.  Not so the shrub. Having lived in the desert for a while the shrubs really don't provide shade from the heat. Their roots don't go very deep and the wind often turns them into tumble weeds that are tossed about. Shrubs provide no stability or shelter and more often are simply in the way. 

I am not saying that it is wrong to consult experts who are knowledgeable in their particular field. I am simply saying make the Lord your first resort rather than your last. Allow him to lead you by His Holy Spirit to those who will help you determine his will. 

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 8:14
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.

Isaiah 33:6
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.
If you search the word "wisdom" you will find it 231 times. The Lord is the one who created you, he is the one to turn to if you are broken. He is the one to turn to if you are having problems. He is the one who set this world in motion he can help you to navigate wisely through this life. 
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. Its hard to get much clearer than that. Lets turn it around just for fun. If you want to be blessed put your trust and hope in the Lord. We try to find the solutions to our problems and our pains in so many other things. We try to numb, deaden, burry, and hide our pain and we become addicted to things that solve nothing and generally only create more problems. Take that pain to the Lord face it head on, allow Him to deal with it. Yes it will hurt to have Him touch and examine it. Yes the healing can be slow and painful but it leads to health, it leads to a solution. 
Some of you have become like shrubs you have chased careers or money, success, power and fame. You are tossed about and have no stability. You have said I will become prosperous and then I will seek the Lord. You have said to the Lord let me fix myself up first and then I will turn to you. I tell you that you are chasing the wind and you will never become wealthy enough or fixed or cleaned up enough to feel like it is time to turn to the Lord. You have become a shrub to be tossed in the fire. 
Maybe you are tired of being tossed about, maybe you realize the error of your ways. The word says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and then all these things will be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 It may look and feel like a crazy decision. You can continue chasing your own plans and purposes or you can stop and humble yourself before the Lord and begin to seek His. He knows why he created you, and what he desires to use you for with in his kingdom. None of us are ever good enough. Its really not about being good enough it is about being His. Turn to Him and be saved, restored and set free. Become His tree planted by His living water. Let your roots grow deep into Him.
My life is not my own and I choose to honor the Lord with my body and with my life. 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 

Prayer: Lord we choose to humble ourselves before you. Help us to see the places where we are not seeking you first. We choose today to put our trust and our hope in you. Lead and guide us by your Holy Spirt. Plant us like a tree beside a water source, make us strong and fruitful in you. We are tired of chasing the wind, mark this day as one in which we are choosing to turn to you.

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