Thought for the Week - 26th AugustPastor Gareth Watkins
Psalm 92: 12-14
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
Last week I wrote about the responsibilities of the Levites as part of the Temple.
What are our functions under God? What are we set to do? Are we meant to just pop into church, pop some money in the basket, and then go home? Or do we have responsibilities in our church life, in our family life, in our work life, and in our church life? What responsibilities under God do we have?
Many people these days don’t seem to have any responsibility. There’s a responsibility that God has put on you and I. We have lots of responsibilities as New Testament followers of Christ. We are called to be living stones. We are called to be built into a spiritual house. We are called to see ourselves as part of a royal priesthood to praise God. We each have a responsibility to remember what God has done, to carry an anointing, to play our part within the church that God has put us in, and to give an account to whoever asks us of our faith. We have a responsibility for Holy living and a personal relationship with Christ.
Our responsibilities are not getting less, they are becoming more.
Those Levites had to do what they were asked to do by David under God, to build the temple, and to run the sacrifice etc. in that temple. We have a responsibility here to do what God has asked to do. What happens to the believer if they make those responsibilities theirs and make the commitments to Christ theirs? What is the outcome for the believer if they follow God for the responsibilities that God Himself puts on them?
In the verses above, we read the outcome for those who commit themselves to Christ. Those who make those responsibilities who God gives them, will be righteous and flourish in their lives. They will be a life that will bear fruit, even in old age. We’re not meant to be dried up, forgotten about, withered and spent. We’re supposed to be living life, fulfilling life, flourishing and bearing fruit, even into old age. For those who take their responsibilities under God.
We read “those who are planted in the House of the Lord”… that person is putting down roots! He’s alive in the House of God, because His roots have gone down. He is lifted up in God, not in his own life. He’s planted in God.
What a difference for those who take those responsibilities, and live that life to the nth degree. Where there’s no second chance, nowhere else they can go. The person who lives a holy life and righteous life, taking responsibilities for all of their days, the blessing of God comes onto their life in such a way it’s incredible! What a lovely picture.
Earlier in the week, a friend of mine who is not a Christian spoke to me about a young man that goes to our Church. He commended how well the young man was doing in his life. It’s true, the young man is doing very well. But the glory for that good life doesn’t necessarily belong with that young man in some ways. Because that man, who has committed his life, is now reaping the reward of God Himself who is bringing to that man’s life the strength, righteousness and flourishing like a palm tree. That young man is benefiting from having his roots put down in the church, and the blessings of God Himself. That’s really what’s giving the young man the blessings in his life, and the goodness in his life that my friend could comment upon. Of himself, the young man could have a good life, but it wouldn’t be the good life he’s enjoying now.
The responsibility comes to us time and time again. Do we follow Christ to the next step? Where do we go if it falters? There is only one way we can go if we follow Christ with all our heart and minds – forwards, following after Him. The blessing and the detail that comes after that, belongs to God Himself.
The verses above resonate of the good things that God brings to us.
Do you think that people make their own lives flourish? I’d say the answer is no. I know many people with good jobs and circumstances, but they can’t make their life flourish. Can you make your life fruitful? Not just have a good life for yourself, but be fruitful where it brings a continuation or a good outcome? I don’t think you can. We can do some things to a certain extent, but there comes a point where God can bring so much more to our lives by way of fruitfulness than we can do of our own doing. Can we live a strong and upright life on our own? No. The strong people I’ve known in this life have all had secret side and weaknesses. We might see a vision of a person, but when we get to know them, we see something else behind the mask.
On of the benefits of committing your life and taking your responsibilities under Christ to the next stage and the next stage, is that you shall be able to flourish, grow, that you’ll put roots down in the House of God, and you’ll bear fruit even unto old age.
Isn’t God good!
So many people who are old are stuck in their homes, don’t go anywhere, and have no zeal. But the person that follows after God in their older age still finds blessings, and things that are fresh and alive! Those things continue onward until they pass over and enter into that place where this life is finished and into eternity, where God alone is.
I like the part that says “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord?” Would you say that you are planted into a church, with a calling and responsibilities? A plant has roots. Some Christians have no roots. They are blown from one church to the next. They don’t have roots that go down into who they are in God in a church. What kind of fruit do they bear? Do they bear fruit? The person who is planted in the house of the Lord will bear fruit and flourish into old age. Where do you belong? Where is your sense of being rooted where God has put you to be? I believe that God puts you in a place. He plants you in a place, you are rooted in that place, and you bear the fruit God wants you to bear in that place.
The outcome for some of those people is they’re not like beautiful trees. They don’t seem good in their Christian walk and they don’t seem to bear fruit in their old age. They seem ready to be blown away.
Charles Finney is one of the greatest Evangelist’s the world has ever known. Around 500,000 people were saved under his ministry. He preached all over America. He wrote books on theology and was a very learned man. In terms of responsibility, at the point of his salvation, he knew he was unsaved. He knew that he was a sinner and would die a spiritual death. He knew that Christ was the only answer, and that he hadn’t been forgiven of his sin. He took responsibility under God. He decided to take this burden into the woodlands and go walking. He knew the scripture in Jeremiah (29:12-13) that says “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”, so he went into the forest to do business with God. When came out of forest, was a different man. He had spoken to God. He knew that God had forgiven his sin. He knew that Christ had died for him. He knew that his sin had been taken off his shoulders.
That was in 1821. A young man, seeking to find out whether God was real. He knew the scriptures because he’d been brought up in the church. But what he didn’t know, until he experienced it himself, was how Christ could set him free and that God could change his life, and make something into it, even into his old days. The YMCA was started in this country by man who had read Finney’s book.
When Finney brought these details in front of God, God met him where he was. He was in a forest. We might be in the house, in work or a car. From that time of that encounter, when he took his responsibilities before God – his life, books, theology, ministry etc. all started to flow out of that time. And 500,000 people were converted under that man.
Finney made his commitments. He kept his responsibilities. He was flourishing, he was planted, he bore fruit, and he died age 83. He sacrificed his life as a lawyer, but the life he lived with the responsibilities under God, was an incredible blessed and fulfilled life, even unto old age.
Years ago, we had a lady in her 80’s who used to come to our church. Physically, she had a bag of tablets wherever she went. But when she started to pray, the heavens would open, the spirit of God would come in, and you knew that the presence of God and everything was happening around that lady. She was on fire for God! Even unto the last days before she died.
Take your responsibilities seriously. Take the life that God had given to you seriously. You won’t regret it. The righteous shall flourish. That’s right living before God. Those people shall flourish like a palm tree. They’re planted in the house of God. They will bear fruit even unto old age.
The days will come where the fruitfulness will come, where the life of God will come, and you will be standing before God like the palm tree described in these Psalms.