Posts Tagged ‘Roots’

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Conversation © Created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 1:1-6 – THE STORY OF CHAFF – A Conversation

A conversation between the Chaff, the Tree, the Seed and the Gardener.

CHAFF: I care for no purpose but the flight. I care for no worth other than to rise high above the trees and there to roll and ride the breeze with all usefulness abandoned for a brief instant before the scattering. I am the chaff that separates until nothing is left or useful. I am untouched by the gardener’s hand, transient and far from His voice. I am separated from the life of the seed to ride on the wind with the illusion that I am free. I care not to think that I am unsustained by the dryness of a parched husk, storm battered and unsubstantial, fruitless and rootless, disconnected from Christ and hope, scattered, even in myself, and in the end useful for nothing but to feed a fire (Matthew 3:12).

TREE: I too love the wind that blows through my being, the heady heights from which sunlit vistas and scenic horizons are seen. But I am not scattered but resilient, not useless but resourceful and timeless in my adventures. My windswept branches are within the boundaries of my belonging. There is an integrity of being that means I am free to be who I am within the borders of my abiding in Him. I am sustained by the gardeners care and connected to the life He gives, fruitful and fit for service to be all I was created to be.

There is worthlessness and scattering that comes from not knowing Christ. A uselessness of one’s being. A transience. Life that blows away. There is no sustaining, or fruitfulness or prosperity. Worthless, lifeless, windswept, scattered, insecure, separated from the seed-life, there is no reality for life’s capacity, no integral existence or fruit or purpose by the riverbank, just a scattering in the storm. Even in the earth, chaff will not grow.

CHAFF: Am I to be judged because I have no roots? Am I to be condemned because I do not respond to the Gardener’s touch? I do not belong to those who sprout their platitudes and delight in belonging to their stand. Yes, I am lost and yes, I want to be. No responsibilities. Free.

SEED: Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to each one, but in the end it leads to death.” We two were so near once, and we look so much alike, yet in the end, we are separated as you disappear in the wind. Such is the judgment you have chosen. “For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalm 1:6 NLT).  

CHAFF: You who love the Gardener, you talk like Him, act like Him, stand with Him, listen to Him, delight in every interaction with Him, even bear fruit that tastes like Him. The Gardener watches over the path of your life. In some ways, I envy you.

TREE: Then listen! …Today the Gardener is giving you the choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster, … between blessings and curses, Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 NLT).

Seek Him and you will grow roots instead of rebellious sails. Know Him intimately and you will grow to great heights. Trust Him implicitly and the miracle of life will take place. Then when the storm comes you will not simply be dismembered and scattered. Proverbs 10:24-25 (NLT) says “The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation”.

He is calling you to come to Him. He will give you right standing with Himself. If God is for you, who can ever be against you? He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for you. Can anything ever separate you from Christ’s love?

CHAFF: But you too experience the storms of life. Where is the Gardener’s love then?

TREE: Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.

CHAFF: What is love? It is as meaningless as life.

TREE: I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—and if you believe in Christ not even the powers of hell can separate you from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate you from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:30-39). Come chaff and experience the miracle of the seed.

THE GARDENER: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Psalms 1 NLT).

Without delighting in the purposes of God, whatever other purposes we may have are inevitably lifeless and worthless, fruitless and rootless. Chaff blowing in the wind may look good for a moment but it decries a life of barrenness. The flight may seem exciting, rising to great heights at times and rolling and visiting places that are always new, but it will scatter and divide and not equal the heights reached of a growing tree nor find the fulfillment of a fruit-filled branch or the integrity of abiding in Christ. The journey of chaff is transient.

The miracle is that there is a choice. The Gardener invites you to choose life.

Pastor Ross

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Psalm 1 Tree weathering a storm – © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 1:1-3 – HOW CAN I WEATHER THE STORMS OF LIFE

It was just a breath but it felled the supports of her life that day, and for a moment she was a lone tree in a forest where hundreds of carefully nurtured hopes and dreams had been uprooted in the storm.

“What will I do now? We were together for 67 years”.

Alone, vulnerable but still standing, briefly she had wanted to join him and no longer feel the pain of her loss.

But as Elaine (not her real name) looked around her once more, it seemed that other parts of her world had survived the storm after all. With the Pastors words and prayers, she realized that Faith was still standing, though some of its branches and foliage were in bad repair, and there was Love’s support, strong and unmoving, reaching out with hugs and tears as family members came to her side. She glanced through a haze of grief and for just a moment saw Hope still standing wearily in the distance.

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

Their roots are anchors, and they are storm sturdy. They are secure in life’s ragings Ephesians 3:17-18 (NLT) says “Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.”

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Elaine gives thanks through her tears for Jim, a codebreaker in the war and a wonderful husband and father, and a man of faith.

For Elaine, this storm has made her aware of the depth of her roots in Christ and in her old age she gives witness to Psalms 92:12-14 (NLT); “…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.”

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

Grounded in the principles of the Scriptures her roots have gone deep to that which of eternal value, that which is unmoved in the storms of life, that which is solid and sustaining, an anchor of hope for the future.

“What will I do now?” she says again, tears coursing down her wrinkled face. She hears the words of Christ through the noise of grief. His invitation to Elaine and to us is “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. … I am the vine; you are one of My branches … Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Hear the wind of the Spirit blowing through the trees and feel the warmth and light from above, as Christ says, “abide in Me.” (John 15:4-5 NLT).

Pastor Ross

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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

Part 3 – Matthew 12:9-14 -DEFORMITIES OF THE HEART AND HAND

Gnarled Root System

Yesterday, with the encouragement of my wife, I got rid of some THORNY WEEDS growing like trees in the back garden. The thorns were now like razor sharp nails and so it was difficult to get to the roots without punctures, scratches and a bad attitude. I knew that if I didn’t get to the roots, they would just grow again so I used the MATTOCK. A mattock is a hand tool similar to a pickaxe, particularly suited for digging. Unfortunately, I am not! It took forever to dig around the roots and pull out the bulbous, deformed hand of the root system with it’s disfigured fingers reaching out insidiously in all directions.

Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) warns us “…Watch out that no POISONOUS ROOT OF BITTERNESS grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” There are some poisonous thorny people Jesus has to deal with in Matthew 12:9. RAZOR SHARP in their responses to Jesus and just as destructive. The CLAWED FINGERS of their law system are DISTORTED AND MALFORMED and particularly difficult to uproot. It is not at all surprising that Jesus uses a man with a DEFORMED HAND to illustrate what needs to be done if ever they are to be healed of their DEFORMED HEART.

I notice in Matthew 12:9-10 (NLT) that it says that “Jesus went over to THEIR synagogue, where He noticed a man with a deformed hand. “THEIR synagogue”. Nice point, Matthew. Not the place where God chose to reveal Himself, but where THEY chose to do THEIR religious rituals and make THEIR rules and regulations.

But this verse also says something about Jesus. He didn’t back away from weeding God’s garden. He meets me on my turf. He confronts me about my LEGALISM in the place where I am more DEFORMED ON THE INSIDE than this man’s withered hand, in the synagogue of my own making (Sorry but I couldn’t help but make the analogy).

The man with the deformed hand is probably not allowed to enter the synagogue because of his disfigurement, yet the fact that he is here perhaps gives me the clue that he is in some way looking to God for help. He happens to be in the place where Jesus is – a good place to be if you are looking for healing. Nevertheless healing is often appropriated in the midst of a SPIRITUAL BATTLE.

The Pharisees could see that Jesus noticed this man and so with their THORNS BRISTLING they ask Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping He would say yes, so they could bring charges against Him.) 

There’s all sorts of reasons that I can raise as to why Jesus can’t heal me when I am DEFORMED on the inside, as these Pharisees were. I can be so concerned with maintaining my RELIGIOUS APPEARANCE that I miss the fact that I need healing of my SPIRITUAL DISFIGUREMENTS. When I am so wrapped up in myself and my legalism, and I don’t even notice the needs of others, that’s when Jesus confronts me with a question to counter my MISSHAPEN AND MALFORMED thinking.

In Matthew 12:11-12 (NLT) Jesus says, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” 

Later on Jesus encapsulated the essence of the commandments of the law by saying, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

What He says to me is “Do you value your religious rituals more than you value people?” Do I put some of my TWISTED AND WARPED ways of thinking in the way of showing COMPASSION to others? What are my PRIORITIES?

You can determine what kind of person I am by my PRIORITIES and by what I do with the OPPORTUNITIES I have to show compassion. I can equally see what kind of person you are by your priorities and the opportunities you use to show compassion. That day Jesus is not only wanting to heal a deformed hand but SPIRITUALLY DISFIGURED HEARTS. Instead the Pharisees look for opportunities to kill Him (Matthew 12:14).

In Matthew 12:13 (NLT) Jesus says, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was RESTORED, just like the other one!” Jesus doesn’t just give me perspective by His WORDS but also by His ACTIONS. He demonstrates the truth of loving God and loving people. He encourages me to reach out to Him and in that very act I am HEALED AND RESTORED.

God bless you Church as you reach out to Jesus and as He brings healing to the DEFORMITIES of our hearts and enables us in turn to reach out with our hands to others with a compassion that makes a difference.

Pastor Ross