3 P's and a Tree
This is the first message I ever preached years ago...and I preached it again after a sabbatical we took a decade ago. It is very basic, and God had to hit me over the head to get me back to the basics. I share it now so it may help you as it has me. Purpose / Power / Purity
It's a strange title, and juvenile, but hey, God has led me to get back to being myself!
Can a tree bear fruit? Think about the question...and it's a trick question. You could be judged wrong with any answer you give. You could say yes, obviously, many trees bear fruit, so this proves a tree can bear fruit. You could look from a different angle and say, I know where you're going preacher, and I say a tree, in and of itself CANNOT bear fruit. It needs the sun and water and roots and some care. No, in the strict sense, a tree cannot bear fruit.
My answer is in-between: Yes it can bear fruit...for a while. A tree that has been established has within itself what it needs to bear fruit. It can draw from its internal resources and for a time can produce and look good. And someone else can pick from it and eat and be nourished and benefited - but only for a while.
If the sun refused to shine, trees around us would continue...for a time. Obviously, you can shut off the water resources and trees can still live. We've seen that this summer, but eventually they would all turn into weeping willows, dry up, and die!
We're introduced to the blessed man. But do we really understand what it means to be blessed of God? In many ways I consider myself blessed. And if you're talking about material things then I am blessed. [family/church/friends/good looks!]
But I've NOT been blessed. Not in the way our text is talking about.
We're all blessed with every breath we take, and blessed to be alive and that God hasn't got fed up and destroyed us. We're blessed to be saved, but that doesn't mean we are the blessed man in our text.
If I sneeze I get blessed. When I do something stupid and God saves me from my foolishness, I have been blessed in a sense, but not like in our text. [story of nearly killing us all in NYC...Griswold's crossed w/ Beverly Hillbillies]
But none of these blessings are what Psalm 1 is talking about. The truly blessed man is not blessed in temporary things...it is eternal blessings...it's forever...it never ends, never dies, never stops.
v. 3b His leaf never withers. He never stops bearing fruit.
"Whatsoever" = that's a big word that encapsulates a forever future with no limitations.
v. 3a "in his season" indicates it may come and go a bit, and yet those leaves are evergreen, year round, even on vacation, even in low times, on a bad day, after a bad decision, this tree continues to produce!
The blessed man is this: He has the blessing of God upon him, and IN him. Even when things aren't great outwardly, they are on the inside. But according to v. 3 he has something akin to the Midas touch...whatever he does prospers...bears fruit. Good things do happen, and when they don't, God still gets the fruit of the glory the blessed man gives to Him in all situations.
It used to be said of me that 'everything he touches turns to gold.' If only that were really true! Of course, I'd look pretty silly with the inside of my nostrils shining 24 carats!
I've had some claims to fame over my years. You should see my mommy's brag book! Maybe she was right...maybe I AM special! Academically, I was top 10. Excelled in sports. I've had some great cars, motorcycles, toys, etc. I've had some great successes in many ministries from the time I was a kid. [bus/jr. church/Bible clubs/outreach/soulwinning/discipleship/radio/music/Living Christmas Tree/Grace Notes
Ah yes, Jerry Shirley, everything he touches turns to gold! No. Only when he acts as the truly blessed man of v. 1. Who is that guy? That's the guy I used to be...and want to get back to being!
Let's look at these first 3 verses, backwards, to understand it inside and out, backwards and forwards...life changing truths, but soooo simple!
1. We are planted for a purpose.
v. 3 God puts us right where He wants us. We are wise to stay, dig in with roots, and bloom where we were planted! We were in our church twice as long as any pastor before us. God put us where He wanted us.
You were planted in the family God wanted you in. You had no choice, but He did, and He chose wisely according to His will. We can pick apart our situation with all its faults. Maybe it is completely dysfunctional. But God makes no mistakes, and has you right where He wants you!
You were planted in your neighborhood for a purpose. You may think you chose that house for its price, school district, layout, or wallpaper theme, but God was working on a whole different level.
You were planted in your workplace for a purpose. You are planted in this church for a purpose. Your nether regions are planted in that very pew at this very moment for a purpose that's much higher than any of us can fathom!
We travel around and people ask us about where we live. Ohio. A place only the will of God bring you! I'm proud to say I was planted here for a purpose. But like Paul said, we should learn in whatsoever state we are to be content.
I'm not here for the amenities, I'm here because God planted me here for a purpose!
But v. 3 isn't talking about the place we have been planted in the sense of its variations. It's not talking about our family, our work, our church, our neighborhood. It's saying we were all planted in exactly the SAME location. [3 L's of real estate] We were all originally planted in the best location you can ask for...right on the river!
So it doesn’t really matter if you had a poor life as a child. I don't care if you hate your job. I don't care if you do live on the wrong side of the tracks. I don't care if you live in a van down by the river, as long as you point your roots to the River, you can bloom and be blessed where you were planted!
A tree can produce fruit...for a while. But not forever. It has within itself resources for a time, but sooner than later it needs to tap into something outside of itself.
2. It takes power to fulfill it. [that purpose]
v. 3 Not planted 'in' the river, but 'by' it. We have the choice whether we point our roots to the river or not!
Our purpose is to be a tree where we were planted, but it takes power to fulfill that and that power is found only in the river of life, the water of the Word! Point your roots to the river!
It was our first week out that I had my biggest revelation...and it is so simple...what a boneheaded 'duh' moment I had when God hit me over the head with this. There was no problem. I wasn't depressed or suicidal. I wasn't looking for a new church. I didn't have a midlife crisis...that's still to come! I didn't need a convertible. Kimberly had just turned 40 but I wasn't looking to trade her in for two 20s. [besides, I'm not wired for 220!]
It was spiritual fatigue from giving out 'til I gave out. I was running on empty. And my wife and my associate pastor and my deacons knew that I repeatedly used the phrase, "The well has gone dry." I had sermonated for many years and then I reached down and there was nothing there.
This is a problem because the people in the church have the right to a meal when you come to church. You deserve some good stuff when you come out, and I felt I had run out.
The revelation? Just this: The well is not in me!
Like a tree, you can go on in your own strength for a while if you will, but you will eventually die out, your leaf will wither, your fruit will diminish, you'll turn into a weeping willow and eventually a plot of weeds rather than becoming the tree you were planted to be...it takes power to fulfill your purpose of fruit bearing and good news, you were planted right on the river!
I have decided to point my roots to the river! It's quite a flow! It's a fountain that never will run dry! A sabbatical may be necessary once in a while to let the ground lie fallow, to rest, to enrich, so you can return and bear more fruit than ever...that is ok. What is not acceptable is your well running dry because you failed to point your roots to the river!
We all draw our strength from somewhere...but we're only the blessed man when we point our roots in the right direction. In v. 1 we see he is blessed because he doesn't point his roots toward sin. In v. 2 we see where he delights to point his roots...toward the river!
We all medicate...daily! We all point our roots in certain directions where we draw strength from. We get our 5 hour energy boost in various ways. Some of you get thru your day, just watching the clock for that break, or lunch, or the end of the day whistle. News flash: God came to give us life, and more abundant than that! He's planted us for a purpose but it's gonna take the power of the water of the Word if we're gonna have joy and purpose and fulfill His will for our lives!
I hereby call you out, Christian. As your spiritual leader I implore you to follow me as I follow Christ. Some of you need to stop medicating w/ a drink or a puff, or a pill and rather get up in the morning and point your roots to the river! Fill up and you'll never run dry and never thirst for anything else!
[tv/movies/music/the old crowd/hobbies/Facebook/
It's so basic, but most of us aren't doing it, so we must get back to the basics of being in the Book!
We are planted for a purpose and it takes power to fulfill that purpose...
3. That flows thru purity.
vv. 1-2 Verse 1 is sins of commission and v. 2 sins of omission. The irony of these 2 verses: Sin will keep you from the Word and yet the Word will keep you from sin. Want the Midas touch? Much better is the touch of God! And He doesn't put His Almighty hand into a dirty glove to do His work. His power comes from His purity, and He is pleased to use a clean vessel to pour Himself into...may we be those vessels!
Two times to meditate: day and night! Read it and study it whenever you will, daily, but then WALK in it. There's no life like it, and it's what we were planted to do!
This purity can be sucked up by the roots as we point them to the river. Then it flows thru our veins and we produce fruit and we prosper. Don't be a sap! Be a sapling, purposing to grow for God!
v. 1 Our backsliding is a process. We just take a little counsel w/ the world, then we progress to standing with them, and before you know it the slippery slope has us sitting right in their seat...we are one of them!
If it's possible for this pastor to spiritually backslide and point my roots in the wrong directions then it is possible for you. If I can mistakenly serve the Lord with some success, in the power of the flesh for a time, so can you. If I can be a Christian hypocrite who doesn't spend time in the Word so can you.
Good news: If I can be corrected by God and get things back in order, so can you!
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