FLOODS, EROSION, WASHAWAYS
Ancient, gnarled red gum trees line the banks of the River Murray.
The roots of these trees are exposed by years of flooding; eventually, the trees topple into the river
to become snags to river traffic.
The trees do not succumb easily to the onslaught on their roots by flood or storm; their root system has grown deep into the earth, they are anchored by their taproot.
When I was a volunteer, working in the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden nursery, I took over the job of growing seedlings. The seeds of most Eucalypts are as fine a pepper.
There would spring two tiny leaves from seeds that appeared to be as pepper, and when the seedling was about an inch high, I would repot the seedlings into a bigger pot.
I would be left amazed; the taproot root would be up to three times the length of the seedling. The Eucalypts would grow their roots first, anchor themselves into the soil and then commence to grow their canopy., The life span of River Red Gums is hundreds of years. Ridge Park, Unley, South Australia, houses a red gum eucalypt estimated to be 300 years. The tree is immense.
We can be easily deluded into thinking drugs and alcohol will stabilize us. We look at governments and relationships, and possession’s for security., Alas, these things are not the kind of soil in which to put down our taproots and stabilize our life.
Where can we find the kind of permanency, security, peace, calm in life’s storm? How can we be adults who don’t get swept away like gums with exposed roots along the riverbank? How can we avoid meltdowns, tantrums, guilt, accuse everyone else but ourselves when life happens?
There are many myths about Jesus which we are deluded enough to believe. Unfortunately, our only fount of knowledge concerning Jesus is the TV, films and social media. We have no idea of the truth about Jesus that is to be found in the Bible. The lie is, he condemns us, keeps us poor, allows us to be sick. There is the myth that we have to be good enough; we have to be a wowser. However, the scripture says, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish.’ John 3: 16.
The truth is Jesus Christ came to give us abundant life. Listen to this, ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they (you and me) might have life and that they may have it more abundantly.’ John 10: 10.
Jesus came to stabilize our life, prosper us, give us his joy and peace.
When we take the time and trouble to search out the truth, we find that Jesus is the taproot that will settle us down and provide mental and physical strength. Jesus is the moral soil that does not wash away when life sends a flood. Jesus is the calm, the peace, the joy, the sanity in a mad and cruel world.
Anne Wells (Los Angeles Times) tells this story.
“My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.
‘This is not a slip. This is lingerie,’ he said. He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite, silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price-tag was astronomical and still attached.
“Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, and then he turned to me, “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day your alive is a special occasion.”
His words changed my life. I’m doing less dusting and more reading. I’m sitting on the deck, admiring the view. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. I’ve realized that life is a pattern of experiences to savor not endure. If it is worth seeing, doing, hearing, I want to see, hear and do. I’m trying hard not to put off, holdback, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. Every morning I tell myself that every day, minute, breath is a gift from God.
Don’t put off knowing God until later, either. It will prove to be the greatest loss of all.
Knowing God is to come alive.
The colors are brighter, the landscape is fascinating, and the bird-song is more beautiful. Knowing God completes life. ’Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Philippians 3: 7. LB.
Of course, life gets in the way and things don’t work out like we planned. Jesus, within us, gives us the power to live above depression, poverty, sour grapes and avoid pity parties. We are enabled to come through life’s challenges, unscathed, and a whole lot wiser. God always keeps his promises and comes through for us.
When we put all else aside and wait in the presence of God, our strength is renewed, we will mount up with wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary; we shall walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40: 31. So many times my human strength has run out and God has come through for me in renewed vigour. I savour life and not endure it.
These are the most joyous words ever written, ‘So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus has done for us. For because of our faith, he has brought us to this place of highest privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God had in mind for us to be.’ Romans 5: 1 – 2
Like the writer of the book of Philippians I am glad to smell the roses, listen to bird-song. I hardly dust anymore, but it’s my camera that gets the work out. ‘So whatever it takes, I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead.’ Whoohooo!
Beekeeping has been in my family for at least two generations. My father kept bees; he needed them to pollinate the fruit trees of our orchard.
Two of my brothers each kept several hundred hives. A nephew kept 300 swarms, from which he made a living.
I tried my hand at keeping two colonies in my backyard for pollination purposes. Keeping bees is a fascinating past-time. Their social structure and work ethic soon absorb one.
There is nothing as sweet as honey. God has likened his Word to be as pleasurable as this amber liquid when read and studied. Honey is mentioned 61 times in the Bible. To compare God’s Word to nectar means there are riches and food for the soul found in the Word.
Honey is a sign of abundance, ease and prosperity. Jesus is not a sign; he is a real person. He came to give us abundant life beyond our imagination.
Jesus said his yoke is easy, and his burden is light, meaning we carry no burdensome rules or laws. God speaks of His abundant provision for the birds and flowers and declares he will provide more for us because of his great love for us.
We have been elevated to a unique position with God if we will only lay down our insistence on doing life our way. Believe in Jesus, accept him as saviour, live in him as a joint-heir. Yes, Jesus can to give us abundant life. Accept him.
Thought for the day: How sweet the taste of God’s promise is It tastes more delicious than honey.
JESUS HAS MY BACK.
By Guest Writer
I have been trying to write a piece to publish on Face Book, but world events are moving so fast it is hard to keep up.
Earthquakes, floods, storms, leave a massive death toll and destruction. The displacement of millions of people by war is sleep shattering, political unrest and international strife for millions of people leave me gasping. I find fear and instability rife around me; church people are unsettled not knowing which shepherd to follow.
Please, ‘Do not let your heart be troubled, trust in God, trust also in Me.’ accept John 14: 1. Jesus was speaking to the hearts of his disciples knowing he was soon to die. Christ knew that he was not only going to die but would conquer death forever, opening up the promise of eternity for all who would believe. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes shall have everlasting life.’ John 3: 16. Christ knew he was opening the door to eternal life for all who believe. I believe, do you?
It was just days before his death when he said, ‘Let not your heart be troubled trust God and me.’
Christ was standing at the beginning of the grace age, speaking of a new era lasting more than 2,000 years. The age of Grace, it is sometimes call the church age. We are now at the further end of that 2,000 years of God’s grace age, and I say to you, put your trust in God’s word and don’t be moved by fear.
To die for Christ, and millions are doing so, is not a tragedy if we know that we have accepted and believed in Christ. We have already risen with him according to Colossians 2: 20, ‘Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him (Jesus) from the dead.’ If you know you have risen with him, you will be able to face earthquakes and disasters, and death without fear just like the apostles and millions of martyrs have done and are doing today.
DON’T BE AFRAID
So to all who know me, I urge you to find your security in the Lord alone.
‘Nothing shall separate us from the love of God,’ Romans 8: 31-36. Learn this scripture by heart, ‘nothing shall separate us;’ get this clear - nothing, even death, can separate us. You can’t beat that! So don’t let people, pastors, teachers, friends separate you from Jesus, if the news or message doesn’t sound good, doesn’t feel right, drop it.
God does not give us a spirit of fear; he promised this in 2 Timothy 1: 7, ‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or fear), but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.’ A few years ago I was suffering some physical problems, my wife printed off this verse using a large font and hung it near my bed. The Lord lit up the words, ‘God did not give us a spirit of fear,’ in my mind, today, I know fear does not come from God. The Spirit God gives us is certainly not fear.
I take courage, strength, and wisdom from the scripture that tells me I am a redeemed son of God. Revelations 5: 12 tells me that ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise.’ The Father gave Jesus power, strength, wisdom, in turn, Jesus has given the same to me. Jesus is at my back, of whom shall I be afraid.
How did I lose my peace and my joy? How did I miss the presence of God? Why did I lose the blessing? And the light of revelation blackout? Who changed? What happened? Did God change his mind about me? Is he mad at me?
Life got in my way, and I didn’t pursue God single-mindedly, I didn’t put Christ first. I didn’t value his presence, his peace and joy, his blessing, above all, himself. I appreciated things, activities, and people more than I valued Christ. That is why the light of revelation went out. The joy of blessing died. I thought what I was doing was legitimate; it helped people; therefore, it must be right. When God loses the race in the value stakes, we are in trouble. Our peace, joy, blessing fades, stress, worry, fear fill the void.
Paul the Apostle wrote, ‘What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. I count all things a loss to gain the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ. I count them dung that I might win Christ.’ Philippians 3: 7. LB
It is easy to place value on job, children, marriage and what other people think of us. These four are the big things in life and are important and must be valued highly but not at the expense of God. If we are to succeed in these four values we must put God first. All these things may be important, but they should take second place and God first place. ‘Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things are are added.'
God hasn’t changed, or mad at us, departed from us. No, we just changed our value system. Return to glorifying God, valuing him above all else as though it was dung and we’ll be in heaven, in the throne room of God, enjoying his presence and doing more significant works than Christ.
Thought for the day: ‘The reason why our experience is hot and cold is that we aren’t valuing what God has done in our lives above all else.’ Andrew Wommack
THE VINE AND THE TIME by Bruce Leane
I began my new job, meeting the boss at the shed at 8 am.
‘Good morning, Bruce,’ he greeted me cheerfully.
‘Good morning, Boss,’ I was tentative. It was my first job, and I didn’t know a thing about block work in the orchard. I had been in the dairy milking cows all my life.
‘Come with me, and I’ll give you a tour of the block,’ the boss invited, he headed away from the shed towards a patch of vines. ‘The sultana patch we are standing in you’ll be pruning starting today. Learning to prune is easy, I’ll show you how so don’t worry.’
Over the next 11 years, I would prune hectares of sultana vines, pick hectares of sultana bunches, spread tonnes of grapes on racks for drying. I would shake tonnes of dried grapes off drying racks bundling the fruit into sweat boxes ready to be taken to the Co-operative company and sold. I would have eaten my way through racks of golden dried sultanas without making myself ill. Today I crave for those golden bags of juice in my retirement.
But at that moment, I worried what if I cant learn. The vines were trellised to head height and canes sprouted untidily in every direction.
The boss handed me a pair of secateurs, ‘Sultana vines are regarded as ‘sports’ in the horticultural jargon,’ the boss snipped off a long cane and pulled it away from the vine.
‘What’s a ‘sport,’ Boss? and why did you cut off that cane?’ I was bewildered.
‘Sultana berries have no seeds and can only be grown by planting a cutting or layering a cane. They have been called ‘sports.’ I cut the cane off because it was growing in the wrong place. I have put the cane aside because I want to plant some cutting’s to extend this patch of vines.’
‘Branches must be trimmed and thinned out, so they can carry the maximum bunches of fruit,’ the boss snipped off branches and shortened others. ‘The canes must be connected strongly to the crown of the parent vine, so they don’t break off under the weight of fruit,’ the boss stood back and looked at his handy work. ‘Shaping the vine to make it a strong fruit carrier is the secret of all successful fruit husbandry,’ he added. I could feel a sermon coming on.
I preached the following Sunday, ‘I am the vine, and you are the branches.’ Christ explains about forming the branches to bear much fruit and making sure the cane is securely connected to the vine as the boss had explained to me. In the congregation was a man to whom the message spoke. Forty years later that same man, now a pastor, took me aside to tell me he had never forgotten that sermon on the vine and the branches.
‘A lot has happened to my belief system in those forty years,’ I told him.
‘In what way,’ he was curious.
‘In reading John 15: 1- 17, Christ emphasizes the word ‘remain.’ The word ‘remain’ implies intense effort and is used eight times. Over the past forty years, I have pressured myself to ‘remain’ in Christ, thinking I must work even harder to remain for fear of being pruned from the vine. During those forty years the Holy Spirit had switched on the light of revelation: Christ was living and preaching under the old covenant, Jesus lived, preached and died under the law of Moses. I believe that Christ’s earthly ministry was under the old covenant, he hadn’t yet died for our sins or risen, sin was still active.’
‘You mean you don’t believe in the Old Testament?’ the pastor was horrified. His idol of forty years had fallen.
‘It has taken all of those forty years for the Lord to deal with the ‘remain’; I constantly put myself under pressure to remain close to Christ until the Holy Spirit revealed that the ‘remain’ applied to the old testament order and when Christ died and rose he ushered in the new era, things then changed. My struggle to ‘remain’ ended by Christ going to the cross. When I accepted Christ as my saviour my struggles ended. Christ entered my heart and I am now in Christ and he in me, we are as inseparable as the branch and the vine. This light bulb experience set me free from the pressure of trying to ‘remain’ in Christ. I am in Christ, I remain in Christ and nothing can ‘separate me from the love of Christ.’ Romans 8: 35.’
‘I see what you mean, I shall have to give it more thought,’ the pastor hedged.
‘During my early years, I explained, ‘I tried hard to remain close to Christ and kept failing, now I learned, I was in Christ and he in me. ‘I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me,’ Galatians 2: 20 – 21.’
‘You sound so sure about what Christ has done, but it doesn’t seem right that we just do nothing. Isn’t that presuming on God?,’ the pastor was aghast at the thought that his best efforts were not acceptable to God.
YOU HAVE IT ALREADY
‘who shall separate us from the love of Christ…?’ Romans 8: 35. ‘Remain’ speaks of great effort but
Many readers may still be trying to ‘remain’ in Christ, so can I point out, when the reader accepts that they are in Christ at their salvation, and that Christ is in them and they in him and that he has given them all they need, the striving to remain in Christ is taken away. Can the reader accept that they are in Christ and he in them?
‘I wish I could just accept scripture in faith the way you do,’ the pastor sighed.
‘To him who can keep you…’ Jude 24, Christ is keeping you and me. Working at ‘remaining’ has gone, I live in the era of the finished work of Christ. Christ wonderfully fulfilled the Old Testament position, but it took the Pauline revelation to lift us out of the struggle to ‘remain.’ My friend, you will always struggle to ‘remain’ in Christ until you accept that you can’t do anything to ‘remain’. Until you accept that Jesus indwells you and keeps you. You ‘remain’ in Christ because he keeps you.
‘All I have to do is accept what the Bible says?’ the pastor questioned doubtfully
‘Yes, accept the word of God that all sin is dealt with; remember, Christ finished sin on the cross. Our job is to go for fruit that’s why we are attached firmly to the vine. We are no longer hanging on; our position in Jesus is secure. ‘’When I come back to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ John 14: 20 LB. A huge part of my life changed when I understood and believed that everything I do is part of Christ, ‘he in me and I in him.’’
‘I accept that Christ is in me and I in him, what must I do next?’ the pastor showed he was tired of trying to ‘remain.’
‘Listen, just concentrate on being rather than doing. You have been made a joint heir with Christ. You and Christ are in an eternal relationship. ‘Since you arose with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is with Christ in God.’ ’ Colossians 3: 1. Paul’s revelation never leaves us trying to remain but always just being a new creation.’
A great light lit up the pastor’s face, the light bulb of revelation flooded his heart and mind.
Too many people are trying to ‘remain’ not understanding they have arrived.