FRUITFUL PLACE TO LIVE

Ps.1:3 – He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

What is prosperity or fruitfulness anyway? Jesus said that bearing fruit is the mark of a disciple. He said it like this, John 15:8 – “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples”. David said it came from being planted by the river, Jesus said it came from abiding in the vine. Could it be that this is just two different ways of saying the same thing? Planted by the River would mean living my life in a dependency of the Holy Spirit. Drinking in His presence everyday. Abiding in Christ is the same thing, looking to Jesus and allowing the life of the Spirit to flow from Him into me. Luther talked about this kind of fruitfulness. He said it was spiritual and not carnal. Check this out.

“And with regard to this “prospering,” take heed that thou understands not a carnal prosperity. This prosperity is hidden prosperity, and lies entirely secret in spirit; and therefore if thou hast not this prosperity that is by faith, thou shouldest rather judge thy prosperity to be the greatest adversity. For as the devil bitterly hates this leaf and the word of God, so does he also those who teach and hear it, and he persecutes such, aided by all the powers of the world. Therefore thou hearest of a miracle the greatest of all miracles, when thou hearest that all things prosper which a blessed man doeth.”

Jesus said this fruitfulness would glorify the Lord. The reason it brings glory to the Lord is because it points everyone and everything back to the Lord. By ourselves we can do nothing, planted by the river suddenly all things become possible. We are no longer limited by our limitations, we are limited only by the Lord’s limitations. Of course He is all powerful and can do anything, in other words, abiding in Him breaks us into the supernatural arena. This fruitfulness effects every part of us; our work life, our family life, and our ministry life. Suddenly it is Christ working through us. Our part is to stay planted and let the River flow through us.

ANOTHER WAY TO DRINK

Psa. 1:2,3 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Spiritual drinking is at the heart of our spiritual life. The written word plays a key role in this aspect of our Christian walk. Jesus is called the Word of God in the Bible, the reformers called Him the Fountain of Gardens. Here is where we connect the dots. Today’s verse describes the blessed man as the man who delights in the word of God. The Psalmist says that this man is like a tree planted by rivers of water. What the scripture is saying is this, Christ – the Word of God- is our source of life. He is the fountain from where all life springs. These waters of life, described by David, are Christ Himself. He is the written word. As we search and feast on the scripture, we are drinking in this water of life. Here is how Erasmus described it.
“What will be the result? If he has done all this, this teacher of mine, says the psalm, “will be like a tree planted beside streams of water, because he will give in his season the fruit” of salutary (a beneficial effect, health) doctrine. He will be a tree that will not bend to the buffets of fortune, a living tree, a tree watered by the abundant stream of heavenly grace, forever standing by the sacred river of Scripture. Ezekiel entered this river long ago and was amazed to find that it could not be crossed; it is immeasurably deep, and no human being can reach to the bottom. You must be satisfied to drink from it as much is permitted.”
The Word of God is like a bottomless river. It is a flowing, clear stream of revelation, healing, restoration, and guidance. Studying the scripture is where we begin to draw this life into ourselves. Reading the Bible is far different from reading other books. Those books can give us wisdom and insight; this book is life itself. So go ahead and have a big drink today. This book can satisfy our deepest thirst and meet our deepest needs. As you develop a lifestyle of reading the Bible, it will become the greatest joy of your life.

 KISS THE RIVER

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper

Ps. 1:3
This last week was a week of weeks. Rodney Howard Browne came to our church and held revival meetings. For four services I was caught up, renewed, refreshed, I laughed and wept under the presence of God. For many they will never be the same. This last month was rather unusual, our house was flooded in the great 100 year flood of Covington and that same day I realized I had shingles. OUCH! It was a one- two punch to say the least. A month later I have recovered from shingles (thank you Jesus) and our house lays gutted. So this week became my quest to seek Him in a fresh way. It was good for me to have time to “kiss the river again”. So many folks from our church had never been in these sort of meetings and it was so special to see them getting touched and changed. I felt his love and assurance service after service and His presence deepening. The river comes and takes things that are no longer needed and leaves a deposit or residue behind. In this case, the Holy Spirit comes and washes away the coating of the world and leaves an imprint of Him upon our soul. This song comes to mind after this week, We sang this song for many years in revival.

“And I remember sitting down beside the river

The water moving, heaving like a living breathing thing

Moving closer, I was strangely drawn and then I

Heard you call my name
And now I’m drowning, drowning in your life

Somehow I’m living, I’m living just to die

Just like the river, rolls into the sea

So I surrender to the sweetest love, rolling over me
It’s funny how the memory can fade, but then I’m

Still reminded, when I smell the rain and I feel

Moved to kneel and live it all again

AND I WILL TRY TO KISS THE RIVER”
Spurgeon says in speaking of the hunger of Christians; “They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eye-balls, they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ, they are blessed the more their experience widens and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in their hour of death, and best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness.”
So where do you find yourself today. I pray despite the storms you find yourselves in –you will keep wading out into the deep and Kiss the river.

MOVE TO THE RIVER

MOVE TO THE RIVER

Psa. 1:3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

I often think of the special season Parris and I experienced when we went to Bible School in California shortly after we were married. One of those memories was our trips to the San Joaquin River that was near our Bible College. There was nothing like the cool refreshing waters of that river on those hot summer afternoons in the San Joaquin Valley. That valley is actually more like an irrigated desert. The areas that were not irrigated were barren and desert like. I remember noticing the incredible, distinct contrast of the plants growing near the river in comparison to those far away. All along the river was growth; trees, grass, bushes; everything was flourishing and green. Just several hundred yards away from the river everything turned barren, very little could survive away from the river. That brings us to the analogy in today’s verse. We must live by God’s river if we want to flourish, everything away from God’s river is stunted and barren. Here are some comments by Spurgeon about the importance of this spiritual river.

“By the rivers of water; so that even if one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ, are never failing sources of supply. He is “like a tree planted by the rivers of water”, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; not unseasonable graces, like untimely figs, which are never full flavoured. But the man who delights in God’s Word, being taught by it, bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an essential quality of a gracious man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable.”

A.B. Simpson spoke about the River of the Holy Spirit and how He is critical to our spiritual well being.

“The river is the Holy Ghost; the planting, the deep, abiding life in which, not occasionally, but habitually, we absorb the Holy Spirit; and the fruit is not occasional, but continual, and appropriate to each changing season. His life is also prosperous, and his spirit fresh, like the unfading leaf. Such a life must be happy. Indeed, happiness is a matter of spiritual conditions. Put a sunbeam in a cellar and it must be bright. Put a nightingale in the darkest midnight, and it must sing.”

So maybe you feel like you are in some sort of spiritual desert, life may seem to be barren with little or no spiritual fruit. Take a trip to the river, even better, move to the river. As David said, we need more than just occasional trips to the river, if we want to prosper in life we have to move there.

GET PLANTED

GET PLANTED

Psa. 1:2-3 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

I’ll never forget the one and only Jesus festival Parris and I went to. It was probably 1975 and it was called “The Festival of the Son”. It took place somewhere near Carmel in California, the place was breathtaking. There were several thousand Jesus freaks camped out in this beautiful valley, listening to Jesus bands and preaching day and night. The one message that really hit me that weekend was actually preached by our Bible School director, Bob Forester. The word he brought was “Get Planted”. The Lord used that word to confirm in my heart about my connection to The Lord through His word and my connection to the body of Christ. To avoid drifting through life, tossed to and fro by every doctrinal trend our by all of the various trial in life, being planted in God is essential. Dick Mills brought out the importance of meditating on God’s Word in relation to being planted in God.

“meditates, hagah To reflect; to moan, to mutter; to ponder; to make a quiet sound such as sighing; to meditate or contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite unlike the English “meditation,” which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions. From this tradition comes a specialized type of Jewish prayer called “davening,” that is, reciting texts, praying intense prayers, or getting lost in communion with God while bowing or rocking back and forth. Evidently this dynamic form of meditation-prayer goes back to David’s time.”

I love that, muttering God’s word over and over is closely associated with getting planted. This is the place where our roots extend deep into the waters of life, this is the place where we begin to experience spiritual growth. Martin Luther also spoke about the verbal nature of Hebrew meditation. Here are some of his thoughts.

“To meditate, as it is generally understood, signifies to discuss, to dispute; and its meaning is always confined to a being employed in words, as in Psalms 37:30, “The mouth of the righteous shall meditate wisdom.” Hence Augustine has, in his translation, “chatter;” and a beautiful metaphor it is — as chattering is the employment of birds, so a continual conversing in the law of the Lord (for talking is peculiar to man), ought to be the employment of man.”

As chattering is an employment of birds rehearsing God’s word verbally should be the employment of man. Next time you hear the birds chattering outside your window, you can be reminded to join right in, chattering God’s words to yourself.

LIVING BY THE RIVER

PLANTED BY THE RIVER

Psa. 1:1-3 ¶ Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.

It’s one thing to visit a river, it’s another thing all together to live there. Being planted by the river is the only way to bring fruit in times of drought. Rivers are the life source of everything around it. When something is planted by the river, it is no longer subject to the random changes that may take place from day to day. As the scripture says in Jeremiah, he is unaffected by the times of drought. For a Christian, being planted by the river includes being planted in the word of God. There is always a repeating change of climate in the passing fads of pseudo-christianity. If we are planted in the word we will not even be phased by the clatter of hip, erroneous teaching but will enjoy a productive walk with God, enjoying His bounty in our lives.
One of the current, often repeated doctrinal errors is a version of universalism or ultimate reconciliation. It was repackaged last year under the handle,”Love Wins”. The spin goes something like this, how could a loving God send someone to eternal punishment. Of course, the natural man eats this up. Live carnally and there are no repercussions. Biblical Christianity teaches a foundational doctrine called propitiation. We can see this reflected in John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Actually, all of mankind is suffering the ramifications of the fall of man. God is a God of mercy, He is also a God of justice. That is the amazing beauty of the cross. At the cross, mercy and justice have met. Christ became a man and satisfied the justice of God by judging man’s sins in Jesus Christ. That’s what John was saying, when we believe in the Son we receive life. If we reject His love, the wrath of God falls upon us. How incredible is the love and wisdom of God. In one act He displays His justice, judging our sins in Christ and at the same time, offering His endless mercy in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Christ died to save sinners. His death shockingly justifies the ungodly.
So, are you planted by the river? Are your roots going deep down into His word. Embrace the foundational doctrines of our faith. These truths bring incredible encouragement to our souls. If you are planted by the river of His word, you will be immovable when the newest, rehashed doctrinal heresy comes knocking at your door. You will be bringing forth fruit in all seasons, drawing life from the River of God.

RECEIVING A WORD FROM THE LORD

RECEIVING A WORD FROM THE LORD

Psa. 1:1-3 ¶ Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Everyone loves to receive a word from the Lord. It is something that just reassures us of God’s love and guidance in our lives. The Bible says faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word. That phrase is describing faith that comes from receiving a word from the Lord. Dick Mills has been used in this arena for many years, the arena of the prophetic word. Here is something Brother Mills wrote about meditation which is closely related to hearing the voice of God.

“meditates- Hagah To reflect; to moan, to mutter, to ponder, to make a quiet sound such as sighing; to meditate or contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite different from the English meditation, which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions. From this tradition comes a specialized type of Jewish prayer called “davening”, that is, of reciting texts, praying intense prayers, or getting lost in communion with God while bowing or rocking back and forth. Evidently this dynamic form of meditation-prayer goes back to David’s time.”

This definition of the Biblical meaning of meditation is quite enlightening. When we begin to develop a habit or discipline of meditating on God’s word in this way, it puts us in a powerful position to receive from the Lord. As we ponder the scripture it actually becomes part of our lives, that word then becomes a tool in the hand of the Holy Spirit. He will take scripture that we have taken into our lives and breathe His life upon them at specific times. He will use these scriptures to speak to us a critical times in our lives.

One of these time for me happened during the evacuation for Katrina in 2005. We were all so traumatized by the situation, it seemed as if we would have perished without the help of the Lord. I’ll never forget how the Lord met me with His word during that time. I was worried about provision for my family and the families of our staff when the word of the Lord came to me. He flooded me with scriptures I had taught on over the years. Scriptures like, “Give and it shall be given to you”, and “he that gives to the poor lends to the Lord”. Words that seem relatively insignificant can take on incredible power when breathed on by the Lord. The years of meditating on those promises of sewing and reaping brought peace and confidence into my heart by the breath of the Holy Spirit.