Hope is the Tree

Hope is a like a tree that bears much fruit. (for more on this see Sermons -“Hope to Share”)

One Word –

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 26, 27; John 15, 16

Big Idea –

This month I’ve been preaching on hope in Christ. One of the illustrations I’ve used is based upon the idea of Jesus’ short parable here. His Father, the Gardner, wants us to be fruitful, so the LORD will prune the vine when needed so it bears more fruit. Jesus emphasized that He is the vine and only as we, the branches remain in Him can we bear fruit – apart from Christ we can do nothing.

So I have described hope as a tree – a tree that will bear fruit (four ways hope bears fruit is joy, love, boldness and endurance). You and I are the trees of hope. However, we are planted within the soil of God’s character; the LORD is our God of hope because His steadfast love never fails. Because ‘you are what you eat’ we are a tree of hope and should bear fruit. Otherwise, if we are not planted in God, then we are just dead firewood and can do nothing.

Often we think about our lives and realize we are lacking fruit. The circumstances of life have beaten us down; joy, love and other fruit is bruised or missing all together. In these times we often ask the LORD to give us the fruit. LORD give me joy, peace, love . . . whatever it is that is missing. But that’s going about it the wrong way!

Hope is the tree. If the fruit is lacking or of poor quality, the gardener examines the tree because healthy trees produce good fruit.

So you and I need to likewise examine our tree of hope. How confident are we of God’s steadfast love? Is our hope an absolute confidence that does not waiver, or is our hope like that of the world – a wish or daydream. Let’s ask the LORD to help us to tend the tree of hope, to trim away the broken limbs, to take care of the soil and fertilize as needed. If our hope in the LORD is strong, we will be fruitful – like branches firmly connected to the vine.

Exemplify –

I need to let my hope grow strong in the LORD and be fruitful.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, thank You for planting me in the soil of God’s character of hope. Forgive me when my hope is weak and in turn I fail to produce the fruit You desire. Holy Spirit, help me to know how to tend my faith as a tree of hope, to nurture my hope through the Word of God and prayer. Keep me firmly grounded in You so I might bear much fruit.

If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Preparation of Joy!

Often our religious preparation in the coming weeks can be solemn. Could it be God wants us to make it a season of overflowing joy?

One Word –

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:9-10

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 33, 34, 35; Mark 11

Big Idea –

We are only about six weeks from celebrating the Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. In these appointed times of the LORD we celebrate our Messiah Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

The day described here in Mark 11 was the 10th of Nisan. God had told Moses to instruct the people of Israel to select a lamb on this day, to bring it into their homes, to inspect it and on the evening of the 14th to sacrifice it as their Passover Lamb (see: Ex. 12:1-6). Since that first Passover in Egypt, Israel had continued to remember God’s miracle of deliverance selecting a lamb on the 10th day in preparation of the LORD’S Passover.

Following the dedication of Solomon’s Temple and the prophetic rehearsals written by King David, the celebration of the Passover was well established as an annual routine all Jews were familiar with. Being one of the three pilgrim or foot feasts, Jerusalem was swelling with crowds of people coming in preparation of this festive time. Anticipation in the city was growing as on this 10th day the High Priest made his annual journey to Bethlehem to select the lamb that would be sacrificed for the nation. Late in the day he would return riding on a colt carrying the lamb into the city. Other priests and levites would welcome him waving palm branches crying out “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” As their cry was heard worshippers would come out of their homes filling the streets; they too would likewise begin waving palm branches joining in the festive song “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Yet this year Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a colt before the annual parade welcoming the return of High Priest with the lamb. This also helps explain why the religious leaders were so upset; the attention and celebration was upon Jesus’ arrival into the city instead of the High Priest still on his way back from Bethlehem. What had been rehearsed for centuries was now being fulfilled perfectly.

I don’t think Jesus had instructed anyone to begin crying out “Hosanna!” Instead, I believe that in the same way the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, the Spirit began moving upon the hearts of the disciples and they began crying out as they had done all their lives, but now in fulfillment of Jesus’ coming as God’s Passover Lamb. And as they did people along the road and in their homes heard the cry and joined the procession shouting out all the louder, “Hosanna!”

It’s amazing all that David saw prophetically that was rehearsed each year at the LORD’s appointed times. HOSANNA means “save us now!” For centuries the people had called out to the LORD for His salvation, and now Jesus, seated on the colt as our High Priest, came into Jerusalem to offer Himself as God’s Passover Lamb, not only in answer to their cry for salvation, but also the salvation of all who would believe.

And so next Wednesday many orthodox Catholics and Christians will begin the season of lent in preparation for Easter. Our traditional celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection are engrained within many of us as something we have done all our lives. I know how hard it can be to let go of these things.

Yet I believe the LORD is awakening His Church again to His appointed times. That just as the disciples saw the perfect fulfillment of these seasons in Jesus, so we too will so see the final fulfillment of the LORD’S appointed times.So whether you get an ashen cross placed on your forehead next week, or however you prepare yourself for the season before us, let me encourage you to as the Holy Spirit to make you aware of God’s times and seasons. And above all let us make this a season of overflowing joy for all God has accomplished through Jesus and will bring to fulfillment in His time!

A broken clock is right at least twice a day, but God’s eternal clock is still running right on time through His appointed times. May we hear the Spirit call us to join the cry, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” Soon we too shall see Him return, this time seated on a white horse with a banner “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

Exemplify –

As the season of preparation for the LORD’S appointed times begins, I desire for the Holy Spirit to continue to teach me the truth about Jesus and enable me to live each day with overflowing joy for all the LORD has done for us.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I thank You for coming as God’s Passover Lamb, that You loved me enough to not only die in my place, but to make me alive by the power of Your Spirit living in me. I pray that in the days and weeks to come that You will continue to enlighten my mind to Your truth; give me understanding through Your Word. And help me to lovingly make You known through Your appointed times in meaningful and relevant ways to others.

If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.