Trees and Grass

Psalm 1: 3

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 37: 1 – 2

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

One of my neighbors cut down all of his trees because, he said, “They are killing my grass.” I thought, what a metaphor for life this is.

My neighbors are Christians, so I thought, “What does God say about trees and what does He say about grass?” The righteous person God compares to a tree. God takes that person and plants him where he will be nourished and have all the water he needs. Unlike grass, he will not wither but rather he will bear good fruit. In all he does, God causes him to prosper. But of course, he prospers because the Lord plants him beside the precious water.

What of the grass? God uses grass to represent evil people. They do not have strong roots going down into the rich soil. They are superficial and temporary. Trees are strong and steady yielding fruit year after year. The grass is gathered up and burned. Do you know how long it takes God to grow a tree? Years! Grass comes up quickly but has not root and so dies in the first trial by fire (See Mark 4).

There is a tree of life, while grass is associated with short, withering life. Trees are strong, grass is here today, gone tomorrow. Trees and grass are used in the Bible in contrast. We want to be God’s trees, not grass and in this way, I thought my neighbor’s value on grass over trees spoke, metaphorically, to our values compared with God’s.

I think that although we read the Bible and go to church we don’t always learn. Who among us has not read a book and failed to grasp the deeper meaning? Do we remember college English class? Still, the purpose in reading the Bible, reading devotionals and studying is not so that we can say we have read the Bible cover to cover. It is not so that we can fulfill a duty we feel towards God. Reading the Word is supposed to change us. We are supposed to begin to understand God’s values and absorb them into our bones.

This isn’t really about my neighbor’s trees, but you can see how it represents his value for the immediate versus long term gratification. The grass comes up quickly and is a pretty green. We can derive pleasure from it. However, six months of the year it is just brown and ugly. We will sacrifice the long-term pleasure of the tree for that quick hit of satisfaction. It is how we conduct our lives. How can a person take a chainsaw to something that took God twenty years to grow just so it doesn’t cast a shadow on the grass that sprouts quickly but just as quickly dies? That which God plants should cast a shadow and we should rest in that shadow because it symbolizes God’s outstretched arms shading us and keeping us from harm.

The Bible says God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55: 9) nor are our thoughts His thoughts but isn’t the point of Christianity that we should be becoming like Him? Isn’t that the point of transformation? 2 Corinthians 3: 18 reads, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” We learned in the book of Genesis that we were made in His image. Presumptively transformation is the process through which we reflect His image. If that is true, we should reflect His value system too.

The point is, we can sit in a church until Jesus comes back and never see this “from glory to glory” change. We can listen to a preacher and never let the Words penetrate our inner person and therefore, never come in synchronization with God’s thoughts, values and ways. We need to let the Word change us and that can only happen when we are serious about its transformative power and allow it to impact us.
Don’t be grass people. They wither and die. Be tree of life people firmly planted by the stream. Grow your roots deep in the rich loam of God’s Word. Be transformed through the renewal of your mind, by the renewal of your thinking. Think new thoughts. Think differently. Find out how the Father thinks and follow Him. Determine what He values and align your value system with His. This is not only the way of Christianity and faith. It is the way of love, success and peace. Shalom.

Diverging Strategies

Isaiah 55: 8

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

This might go without saying but it is probably good that it was stated so that we can consider it. Of all the doctrines and all the interpretative opinions we hear, surely there is little disagreement over this passage. However, I wonder how much we actually pay attention to the deep revelations within.

I searched my database to see how many times I have written on this passage and was astounded to find the answer to be none. I have referred to it in other Words of the Day but it has never been the subject of its own devotional. Let’s correct that today. My part is to write what the Father is telling me, yours is to meditate on these words but specifically this scriptural passage and determine how the application of its wisdom can (and should) impact your life.

 I have been thinking about today’s verse in relation to Jeremiah 29: 11 which says, “I know the plans that I have for you.” When I put them together I get – Diverging Strategies. Our plans are not His plans because His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55: 9). When you intellectually connect these dots, it changes everything. And I find that it points out a major flaw in our prayer life and our relationship with Him.

One of the major purposes of Ivey Ministries is to teach believers how to operate in the realm of God, the Kingdom of God. Today’s verse and devotion is a key cog in that curriculum and part of the Ivey Ministries Foundation Series. It is too big for one devotional but I will try to develop it over time.

One of the loudest conclusions of this study is that we need to allow our Father to be the author of the strategies for our success and fulfillment. He knows what will fulfill us and He is leading us on that path. His plans are for our well-being, not for calamity (Jeremiah 29: 11). Since He knows the way, we would be well served to follow His leading instead of stumbling around in our ignorance. Most of us, however, have learned to ask God to bless our plans. Few ever really take the time to discern God’s plans. This is a major failing in our individual lives as well as in the body of Christ. 

The shift we all need to make is to spend our time and prayers inquiring of God rather than petitioning Him to do what we want. If we will do this we will find ourselves in the promised land instead of the quagmire that so many of us are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Take the time, please, to ask Father what He wants, what His desire and plan is for you. His path and plan leads to a land flowing with milk and honey where he even gets water from rocks on your journey there. His blessing is in His plan, His plan for goodness. Your blessing and abundantly blessed life is right here in today’s devotional. Please don’t miss it.

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