Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)
TITLE: GET Your Hands Dirty!
By Chuck Baker
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Praying the Psalms? How about praying the palms?
(all Bible quotations are from the NIV version of the Bible)
I want to be a gardener one day—you know, an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work—but not just ANY gardener. I want to plant palm trees.
The book of Psalms contains palms. In fact, these giants of nature can do much to teach us about how we can do the Lord’s work in our everyday lives.
"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree" (Psalms 92:12).
Rich soil allows a palm to take in the water and nutrients it needs. Likewise, solid Christians need to be firmly GROUNDED in the word of God. New Christians need to have a firm foundation in the Bible, and must surround themselves with good teaching and solid Christians.
It's also important to remember to "water in" new palms. A newly planted palm should be watered at least twice a week for the first six months, to ensure maximum moisture penetration. So too must the Christian be regularly exposed to the LIVING WATER of God—His Word and His ways. It is only then that this will lead to the next step:
“They are as upright as the palm tree.” (Jeremiah 10:5)
A properly cared for date palm can reach heights of over 100 feet. Not only that, but the trunk of the palm will be sturdy, yet flexible enough to withstand the elements. No matter what beating it may take from high winds or searing heat, the flexible palm will survive to grow straight and tall.
Properly cared for Christians are much the same. As they become more and more strongly ROOTED in the Word, they also stretch skyward, coming closer and closer to God. It's important for Christians not to be too rigid, for the taller they grow, the greater the attacks will be from outside elements. Christians must be resilient enough to bend when the winds of controversy rise up, so that their faith is not broken. Only then will they discover the true purpose of their lives as Christians:
"They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and nourishing" (Psalms 92:14).
An adult palm has fronds that provide SHELTER from the sun's damaging rays. Its leaves provide solid material that may be woven together into items that are useful in the day-to-day lives of others. Better yet, it also provides FRUIT, from which others may gain strength.
Mature Christians understand that there is a call to disciple others. Our work, our jobs as gardeners is to care for the needs of others. It is no longer "all about me.” In fact our efforts ultimately lead to more fruit for the kingdom. Better yet, the more we pray, the more we make Christian habits our habits, the more we see the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT become part of us, for "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
Rich ground, living water, deep roots, shelter, and a loving Gardener. It all adds up to producing fruit that’s there for all to see. And remember—with palm trees, the fruit is so far from the ground—maybe things will work out better for us than they did for Adam and Eve.
Let’s get back to the garden!
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