Posts Tagged ‘Belonging’

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Psalm 1:1-3 – THE GARDENER AND THE SEED

This post is dedicated to my amazing son …

Psalm 1:3 (NLT) says “They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”  

Seed: What is it You see in me? Why am I so important to You, Gardener. I am only a seed.

Gardener: I have chosen you to clean the air of pollution so that others breathe easy, cool passers-by under the shade of your branches, invite wildlife to gather and make joyful music and prevent the erosion of your community. You are not just a seed but a tree planted along the riverbank. I am positioning you for My purposes and I have already taken into consideration the physical, social, spiritual, political and economic climates of your environment, the fruits that your life will produce and the right atmosphere in which you will thrive personally and be a blessing to others.

Seed: (thinks) “I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” (Psalms 52:8 NLT)

BELONGING

Seed: Where do I belong, Gardener?

Gardener: I have considered the topography (mountains and valleys), the springs (rivers of water), and taken into account erosion (your life will not be worn down by the influences around you), a place where you will have the most impact and where you will thrive on land that you can call your own.

You are planted in a wisely chosen place where you have the most potential to live a fruitful life, intentionally planted where I, the Gardener, want you to be. Perhaps your circumstances will change, but My purposes do not.

You will have room to grow alongside others and together you will find support and nourishment.

GROWTH

Seed: But Gardener, what if I don’t grow?

Gardener: You have been touched by My Hand and I have chosen you to be one of the “trees of righteousness, one of the … great oaks that I, the Lord, has planted for My own glory” (Isaiah 61:3 KJV, NLT). I am your Gardener, Your God, and only “… God makes the seed grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NLT).

STORMS

Seed: Gardener, will there be difficult times ahead?

Gardener: Yes. But despite the extremes of climate in your community that may come and go, I want you to survive and thrive where I have placed you. Your roots will take hold, anchored in the place where you will not get swept away by the next storm. You are created to be committed, standing strong and firm in Christ.

Listen to My words in Isaiah 58:11 (NLT) “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength …” 

PRUNING

Seed: What will I look like? What if I grow deformed and diseased?

Gardener: My Son is a gardener also and I will send Him to prune you of broken, dead and diseased limbs, and remove them completely from your life. Your past sins are no longer an issue for your life and your present sins will also be pruned. You will be beautiful in my sight “… He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed…” (John 15:2-4 NLT).

SEASONS

Seed: So I am a fruit tree?

Gardener: Yes. I want you to produce good fruit but there will be seasons where there is none. You will have fruit in the right seasons. You will not always see fruit and at those times you must not be discouraged.

VALUE

Seed: But Gardener, I am afraid I will not bear fruit at all. I have heard the story of your Son, in Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) “… He was hungry, and He noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.”

Gardener: You are planted to add value and produce good fruit. You are not a fig tree to be cursed or a noxious weed causing damage to neighboring gardens. You are chosen to be a blessing.

I have planted you for such a time as this; at just the right time, giving you every opportunity to grow and survive.

POTENTIAL

Seed: I have to admit that at present I feel so small and insignificant and of no use.

Gardener: Listen to the words of My Son. Jesus says “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 NLT)

Seed: You speak as if I have already grown to be a great tree of righteousness.

Gardener: See yourself as I see you many years from now. I have prepared you to flourish with lush foliage, bearing good fruit. I marked the spot in eternity past. I placed you gently into the soil, not too deep, not too shallow, so the roots are buried and not exposed.

You are planted by the water of the Word of God. I know the nurture of moisture, soil, winds, and other conditions that affect how you survive. You will always be sustained and find deep-seated joy in Christ.

Listen to My words in Psalms 128:1-3 (NLT) “How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow His ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!…”

CHOSEN

Seed: Will I really enjoy my life? Will my fruit taste good to others?

Gardener: Joyful delight in My Word makes you able to produce that for which you are created. In Matthew 7:17-19 (NLT) Jesus says, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.” 

My Son, Jesus, says in John 15:16 (NLT) “You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.” 

My servant Paul says in Colossians 1:10 (NLT) “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”

FRUIT

Seed: What kind of fruit will I produce, Gardener?

Gardener: You produce fruit that helps others respond to the gospel. In Romans 1:13-17 (NLT) Paul says “I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit … For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith …”

You grow in holiness (Romans 6:22), in generosity (Romans 15:28, Philippians 4:17), in an understanding of who I am (Hebrews 13:15) and in character. Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

THIRST

Seed: “O God, You are my God; I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You;…” (Psalms 63:1 NLT). “I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain” (Psalms 143:6 NLT).

Gardener: “Jesus, My Son, once stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory)” (John 7:37-39 NLT).

My word in Revelation 22:17 (NLT) says “Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”

This is not a stagnant pool but a flowing, nourishing river of water, even though you have been placed in a world where springs are few and far between.

UPRIGHTNESS

Seed: How big will I become in the world?

Gardener: I am not concerned with how big You become in the sight of others. You are designed and planted as one who is upright, no matter how big or small you are to those around you. You are making a difference in each season of your life. You are an evergreen. You prosper away from the invasive trees whose wicked intrusive influence leads nowhere in terms of bearing fruit and prosperity.

Standing tall is not always desirable. Standing upright always is. Standing tall among Sinners would be like a fruit tree planted in a desert, and left to die. The Wicked and the Mockers are not evergreen. They are here and gone. They despise what is fruitful and prosperous. They wither and die, whereas you are a fruit tree, standing upright, along the riverbank doing what you are designed to do; bearing fruit. Bringing prosperity to others. Blessing those around you. Bringing joyful delight.

AGE

Seed: What will happen when I am old and I am ready to die?

Gardener: “… The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (Psalms 92:12-14 NLT).

One day I will transplant you for advantage in an even better location at just the right time. But you will always belong where I have planted you.

GRAFTED

Seed: Gardener, all this sounds too good to be true. I am afraid that I will not be able to achieve all that You aspire for my life.

Gardener: And you are right. You can’t. Not by yourself. By yourself, you will not flourish or bear good fruit. Only one tree planted along the riverbank has the characteristics that I have been speaking about for you. Jesus is that tree. Jesus bears fruit in His season, with leaves that will not wither, adding value to the environment, providing shelter and shade and a resting area for those around Him, a meeting place in His branches. Refreshment, nourishment, music and ideas will find their place in Him and fly to other places from His branches.

I am the gardener and I am willing to graft you into the tree of life. Jesus is the tree. You are the branches. Listen to My words from Romans 11:16-24 (NLT) “For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too … You …, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. … You are just a branch, not the root … and you are there because you do believe (in Christ) …” In Christ, you will achieve your destiny.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) says that as you believe, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin.”

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “… It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

The invitation is to be united with Christ by entrusting your life to Him, so that you, like My Son, will be like a tree planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Your leaves will never wither, and you will prosper in all you do, not because there are no storms but because you are grounded in Christ.  

Pastor Ross

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST THING

Animated Film by Shaun Tan

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST THING

Sometimes we discover that not everything fits into the secure boxes in which our perspectives are housed. Our curiosity is not simply drawn to those things that are easily explained but mostly to those things that defy conformity.

The dull colour palette of our everyday existence with signs that seek to direct us away from exploring anything that doesn’t line up, go on the rails, or that challenges the design is different to the unboxed, unfettered and unexplainable world around us, waiting to be explored by those fearless enough to take a step of faith.

In a city signposted, clear and functional, all meaning is predefined and presumed. What if we know we just don’t fit into this world of predetermined answers?

The story of The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan, explores our inner world and is an invitation not to lose that which is extraordinary, creative and fun-loving, that which is beyond explanation. It is an invitation to find a place for the expression and fulfilment of our human spirit, to discover our inner journey. So here are just a few random thoughts on this brilliant story…

YOU WILL NEED THE EYES OF A CHILD TO SEE THE LOST THING

You will need the eyes of a child to see the Lost Thing; to see that part of you that does not belong, does not conform, does not feel at ease or fit in with the surroundings of a world which concerns itself with other matters of limited importance, because it is the trust of a little child that truly understands how to give full expression to your purpose. Only the eyes of a little child can see the Lost Thing.

THE LOST PART OF US NEEDS A PLACE TO BELONG

The Lost thing has tentacles and an iron shell for protection, drawers and doors that contain secrets and at the end of the day, after playful interaction and masterfully innovative projects, it is still there, asking without words, “Where do I really belong?”

THE LOST PART OF YOU CAN NOT BE EXPLAINED

Along the way we try to find people who might know something about our plight, to explain this odd nowhereness feeling we have that no-one really notices. It’s big to us and sometimes friends will try to find the exact answer from a psychological, scientific point of view, identifying the lost part of our life from empirical evidence and careful observation and experimentation, as if there is something wrong with us, but in the end the textbook doesn’t help and they encourage us not to think about it. “Some things are like that,” they say. “You just have to live with it,” and so we don’t mention it again and take our Lostness home with us.

YOU’RE LOSTNESS CAN NOT BE CONTAINED

But it gets in the way at home and so you have to hide your Lostness in the back shed where you go to be alone and feed your thoughts. It’s better when you don’t share this Lost Thing you feel with anyone else. You are kind of happier keeping it to yourself but you know you can’t keep it in the shed forever. It’s too big for the shed. This isn’t the right place for it to find it’s true potential. It really is a dilemma.

It doesn’t belong at home or in the emptiness of beurocracy or places devoid of imagination where people sit in the darkness of disinterest or in the rush of things to do.

THERE IS HOPE

Then comes a still, small voice and you are given a sign of hope. It points you to a long and narrow way through the city to a place you would never know existed unless you are actually looking for it.

You find a door, reach out in faith and turn the key and it whirs and eventually someone opens it up to a wide world that you knew somehow, even with your Lostness, must exist. There is colour. There is creativity and you are in awe. You have found the purpose of the Lost Thing and it belongs here, where you are free to express who you really are. Your life has meaning and purpose. What was lost has been found.

Oh, you can’t enter fully into that place of belonging yet, but that “Found Thing” can. That inner part of you that was lost has finally found a home, a place to express the full realisation of your potential.

And somehow I hear the voice of Jesus gently saying “Don’t ever lose the childlike humility of responding to Me and My purposes for you. I came to give you life and life to the full. The Son of Man came to save that which was lost”

Pastor Ross

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