A Tree

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.

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What a glorious day He has created, as I lift my eyes from the busyness of the day, allow my mind to focus on nature I hear birds exalting His name. I can see the blue sky with a few clouds that remind me of His ever-present and unending love. I am aware of the wind moving trees, rustling through the leaves – yet nobody knows where the wind comes from nor where it returns to. Only the King who created and upholds His creation. A creation that is alive and vibrant, bringing glory to the King by being what they were created to be. As a primary school teacher of many years, I am mindful of the cells, microsystems and life that exists beyond that which I can see with my bare eye. This microscopical world that I believe is even more amazing than what we can see. I think of the big Banksia tree that grows in our garden, a beautiful tree that attracts multiple birds that feed of the flowers and seed pods.

I think that we are a lot like trees, individuals with a definite purpose to fulfil. We are continuously growing, deep within us YHWH is strengthening us and pruning us. We all have different root systems that vary in depth and width. What people see may make them stare in wonderment. Trees that are not deeply rooted may not be able to withstand storms and pose a great danger to themselves and others. This signals the importance of being deeply rooted in Biblical truths, putting our roots down into the Living Water and drawing from this stream. A tree that is beside deep waters grows strong, producing healthy foliage, and bearing good fruit. Likewise, those that are in Christ will reflect His image. There are many verses that refer to trees, but Ps 1: 3 and Matt 7:17-19 provide analogies of our faith and walk:

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.

Matthew 7:17-19
So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

A tree has its own ecosystem, it bears fruit, and disperses seed to promote the growth of other trees. Trees also offer shelter to those that need a place to rest by casting an unconditional shelter for those in need. I use the word unconditional as I have never seen a tree reject a bird or person from resting in its branches or beneath it. Are you someone that provides an unconditional safe place where a friend or neighbour can just be? Are you able to listen unconditionally, without judging?

Trees also prevent soil erosion by holding fast to the ground surrounding their root system. If a tree is not deeply rooted it is in danger of toppling when storms come along. We are similar, the depth of our spiritual roots and faith determines how we weather storms. Tall trees catch the most wind and in a forest trees grow up out of the canopy to reach the sunlight. This is a beautiful analogy to how we should be, deeply rooted in belief and faith so that we can grow strong and toward the Son. How tightly do you hold onto the Word of God, do you stand firmly on His Word?

Trees are a significant part of the air and water cycle. When man was created YHWH breathed the breath of life into Adam, and all living things. Oxygen is a component breath necessary for life and trees produce oxygen as a by-product!! Trees also transpire – this means they release water vapour into the atmosphere that they gather from the ground they are rooted in. Therefore, if we are rooted in the stream of Living Water we should be releasing life-giving by-products. We should be speaking and breathing Word of YHWH through His Spirit. Our actions and words should bring life to others, fill them with hope and love. Do you offer others a drink from the Living Stream that you are rooted in? Trees are air purifiers, they bring freshness. How about you? Are you a peacemaker, do you bring peace and calm? This aligns with the blog, “What fragrance do you leave?”

Trees bear fruit that varies in form, size, purpose, and nutrition. Some trees bear fruit for a season, others bear fruit for a very specific purpose but each tree has a life giving function. When a tree produces fruit it does not hide the fruit, rather the fruit is on display and provides nutrition to the hungry. This fruit produces seeds that are dispersed in various ways. Trees have a variety of fragrances, not only the blossom, but the wood itself has a distinct fragrance, some trees even produce oil. So should we produce and bear fruit according to the gifts of the Set-Apart Spirit. We are all one body, but made up of many parts. Being part of the body of Christ is NOT a competition, it is a lifestyle where we acknowledge the beauty of Yeshua in our brothers and sisters.

I pray Father, that my roots would be deeply grounded in Your Word. That I would draw from the stream of Living Water and that I would be a place of rest to those who need a moment of peace. Let Your Spirit within me produce fruit and foliage that brings You glory. When the storms of life come, may I stand firm, may I grow in strength toward Your Son. Prune me and shape me to grow in the way You desire, that I may serve You, and may the seeds that I disperse bring You honour and grow Your Kingdom. Amen

Eat, digest, and move

Ezekiel 3:3, “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your stomach with the scroll I am giving you.‘ And I ate it and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.”

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Read Ezekiel 3: Moving for YHWH

To be filled with the Set-Apart Spirit you need to be emptied of yourself. You need to be naked before Father God, humble and contrite. When the Spirit of the Lord entered Ezekiel, he had been facedown in awe and fear (Ez. 2:2). Being facedown in awe of our lovingly-committed Father is such a glorious place to be, and can be considered as a glimpse of Heaven where we will experience an eternity of facedown time. Ezekiel recognised the might, power, and majesty of YHWH. He had a very REAL relationship with God and was sold out for Him, and was aware that his purpose was to serve God, no matter what. However, to achieve his purpose, he needed to get up and face the world. The Set-Apart Spirit put Ezekiel on his feet, with the intention to prepare Ezekiel to move forward and step out.

To go somewhere you need energy. In Ez. 3 we read how YHWH fed Ezekiel with a Word, His Word. Ezekiel takes in the Word of God, consumed it making it part of his being. Once we consume something it is digested in the stomach and enters the bloodstream to feed, and energize, the rest of the body. Although this scroll was full of woe, it was sweet to Ezekiel, a reminder that being obedient to YHWH is sweet (John 14:23). Taking daily bread is essential to our walk with YHWH. It is an integral part of a relationship with Father. When you really read the Scriptures, and pray about them, and pray them, you feed your soul by making the Word part of your being, part of whom you are. I have a very dear friend who she lives this every day, the Word is her energy. The Word of God is alive and gives life to those who read it.

To spend time in the Word, you need to making time, put the desire to be fed before the distractions of the world. It requires that we set our self apart, that we go into a quiet place and be still. Ezekiel not only consumed the Word of God, he was given specific words from God, do you ask for a specific Word, or do you search the index and read something that suits your desire or circumstances or soothes your conscience? Are you reading the Word to tick a box, to do the right thing (man-washed) or are you reading out of a desire to hear from God, to receive from Him, living Bread and quenching Water? This kind of food is soul food and it is given so that you may hear, speak and learn. In Ezekiel 3:2 we read that Ezekiel opened his mouth and ate THE scroll, implying that this word was specific, meant for him. Ezekiel 3:3, “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your stomach with the scroll I am giving you.‘ And I ate it and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.”

It is interesting that Ezekiel told to feed his stomach and to fill his stomach, implying that this word answered his hunger/desire and was satisfying in fulfilment. To feed would imply chewing, sucking, absorbing, enjoying, munching, extracting nutrition, and tasting. To fill means to complete, fulfil, pack in, expand, satisfy, consume, grow, take more in. The words ‘feed’ and ‘fill’ indicate that the scroll was to be digested, chewed, meditated on, prayed over. There was a completeness about YHWH’s serving that filled, this means it was to take place, and to be taken in as a whole. These verses signify that we should really take care when we feed from the Word of God.

Taking your daily bread is not a ‘drive-through’ experience, a quick fix. No, it is setting time aside – enough time to sit at His feet, the table is set, and the meal is served. We are invited to chat and talk, enjoying the company of the Saviour. Reading the Word is a sweet experience, not to be rushed or done out of duty. Remember that Father sees the heart, He does not have tick sheets to measure your worth, He loves you. Read a verse or two, chew them over, and digest them, so that they become part of your life. Let His Word give you life, meditate upon the Word of God, share it, mull it over. Don’t read and run off only to forget what you read.

Eating takeaways (fast food) is not good for you. You can’t live off packaged verses, they do have a place but are condiments to compliment your meal with the Lord. It is imperative for your spiritual health that you dine with the Father, taking time to break bread, and soak in His anointing. Let Him feed you – NOT man. Let Him show you His purpose for your life, He has a unique plan for you, and fast food on the run is not part of it.

Ezekiel 3:10, “And He said to me, ‘Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to YOU and hear with YOUR ears.’” Once food has been eaten and reaches the stomach, it is digested. The food is broken down and the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The blood flows through the heart and into the body. Once the nutrients are in the blood it is almost impossible to extract them. So we are to receive the Word of God into our heart. It does not stay in the stomach, it satisfies our soul, and energizes so that we can move in His will. The heart basically feeds the mind… Ezekiel was told to receive the Word in his heart, to feed the body, and mind, so that he could go forth and fulfil the purpose God had for him.

The purpose of feeding on Scripture is to share it. To share the Word of God with others we need to know what the Word says about living. Some of us may be teachers, pastors, or evangelists. The best teachers are those who are knowledgeable and a firm understanding of their teaching practises and philosophy. To speak without Biblical knowledge or without the anointing of the Set-Apart-Spirit of Truth is folly and often comes from a need for self-gratification or pride. God tells Ezekiel to feed, fill, and receive, what He gives to him. Ezekiel is told to listen with HIS ears to what God tells him. Not listen to hearsay, what he felt, or assumed; no it was specifically to listen to what YHWH told him. To speak the Word of God in vain is blasphemy, and when spoken for self-gratification it is very dangerous, to the speaker and receiver of that word. Be wary of people who approach you with “I feel that …” or “I sense that God MIGHT…” When YHWH speaks there will be NO doubt, He is sovereign and will reveal to you what needs to be revealed. Always pray about prophesy you are given, ask someone that you trust to pray with you. I say these things in no disrespect, but out of love.

After Ezekiel had eaten, and filled his stomach, he was lifted and moved in the Spirit. He did not go out of his own accord or on a whim, he was filled with the Spirit and had been prepared by the Word of YHWH. All too often we move on our own, or impulsively on a whim. When you immerse yourself in the Word of God, as Ezekiel did, the move will be real and strong. Ezekiel writes in verse 14, ‘and I went out in bitterness in the heart of my spirit.’ God had forewarned Ezekiel of hard-heartedness and stubborn spirits, so Ezekiel would not be looking forward to what he had to do, it was not something that he naturally would have undertaken. However, Ezekiel was fed and ready to step out. I know from experience that sometimes YHWH asks that us to step out of our comfort zone, and this may feel scary but it is in these moments that you need to lay down yourself, be fed by YHWH, and let the Set-Apart-Spirit of Truth move you.

Ezekiel laid his anxieties, desires and self down, he did what he was asked to do. He loved Father so much that he wanted to fulfil the purpose YHWH had for his life. He trusted YHWH explicitly, he was confident in who he was in the Father’s Hand. Ezekiel had experienced the glory of YHWH, he had spent time facedown in the very presence of God. He fed on the Word of God, walked into his calling regardless of what it required. There were no ‘drive-through’ diets in his life, he sat in His presence, eating His word, listening to His Word, being fulfilled and satisfied, and was moved by the Spirit. What a prophet!

Oh Father, I desire to be fed by You, to come into Your presence, sit at Your table, and eat Your Word. Fill me and feed my spirit so that there is more of You in my life, and less of me. Provide me with energy to do Your will, to share with others, to bring glory to Your Name.

Walking with Jesus is a journey

We often refer to our spiritual walk with Yeshua, but recently I have been pondering the use of the word ‘walk’. Is it not rather a journey?

When one goes for a walk it is normally a short activity that can be done on a whim. It is not something that we plan months in advance. We may walk our dog, walk around the block or walk on the beach. These are short trips, trips that generally are dictated by the weather and your mood.

A journey on the other hand is something that we plan to undertake. It involves some form of preparation to ensure that we arrive at the planned destination on time and with what is required. A journey may involve walking, but in modern society journeys generally involve different modes of transport depending on the destination and purpose. So I started to ponder and question if I was walking with Yeshua or on a journey with Yeshua.

When Moses was instructed by YHWH to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, his journey started. In Exodus 4:24 we read that on the ‘journey’ to Egypt, Moses and his family stopped for the night. Moses was confronted by YHWH as his son had not been circumcised and for Moses to continue and succeed on his journey, he needed to ensure that he was completely obedient and submissive to the instruction and directions from the Most High. Commentary explains the circumcision had not occurred as his wife was not from Israel, and Moses had not been part of Israel for many years. For Moses to continue on the journey and reach the destination he had to remove any obstacle in obedience to YHWH.

As we journey with the Most High we are to ensure that we walk in obedience to Him, that we are following His instructions and directions. This is part of remaining in relationship with Him, being convicted of sin and seeking His purpose and way as we journey. This will ensure that we will be able to complete the journey and run the race and receive our reward. Moses was instructed by YHWH how the Israelites were to prepare for their journey into the desert. In Exodus 12 we read a recount of the instructions, but let us pay careful attention to verse 11, “Wear your travelling clothes as you eat this meal, as though prepared for a long journey. Wear your sandals and carry your walking sticks in your hands. Eat the food quickly, for this is the Lord’s Passover.” In this chapter they were given instructions for the Passover, a prophesy of what Yeshua would do for us.

Verse 11, makes it very clear that going on a journey is more than a walk in the desert. It involved preparing clothing, footwear and nutrition, planning requirements and the route. If you don’t take a route you will go around in circles and never get anywhere. The journey is mapped out, it is planned and has a destination. Your life has been mapped out and planned – Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for your”, says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” What we need to ask ourselves is are we appropriately clothed for our journey? Do we sit at the table of the Lord and partake in Breaking of Bread? Do we clothe ourselves in the Armour of God? Do we hold the two-edged sword in our hands? Are we asking Him to guide us and show us the way? Or are we stumbling around without a plan?

Sometimes a journey may involve stopping over, residing in places for periods and the journey itself may vary in time. When Moses left Egypt with the Israelites the intent was to make their way to the Promised Land. However the Israelites complained about YHWH and were disobedient, as punishment a whole generation died in the wilderness and the journey took an extra 40 years (Numbers 14: 26-44). I have to ask myself how many times have I added extra travelling time to my journey because of my disobedience and lack of trust? Moses sets the ultimate example in Exodus 34:13-23. In this text we read a conversation between Moses and YHWH Most High. Moses asks for clear directions so that he can follow YHWH’s will exactly, Moses does not want to assume or guess – he wants to hear and succeed. Moses states that he does not want to make a single step without YHWH. Moses was seeking the direction, instruction and divine will of YHWH on the journey. This is what we should be doing, not merely going on our merry way, doing what we think. Instead we should be seeking His will and walking in obedience and relationship with Him. You and I were not accidentally dropped into the world, we were created in the image of the Most High for a purpose. We have a plan to fulfil and unless you are clothed, fed and following the map you are not fulfilling that purpose. We need to plan our journey, stop and ask YHWH Most High, “What is it that  You have planned for me to do? Please show me Your intentions so I will understand You more fully and do exactly what You want me to do.” (Exodus 34:13).

Sometimes we hear clearly from the Father, other times we may choose to walk in our way because it may seem easier, or because it makes more sense. The Israelites were disobedient and added to their journey, a 40 year detour through a small desert. I have come to realise that often what seems ridiculous or impossible is the divine will of YHWH. Often our human weaknesses hamper our ability to comprehend how the impossible can be possible. In these times we need to keep our eyes and faith focused on Him and be guided so His will can be fulfilled, and our testimony bring glory to the Father.

Where are you right now? Have you taken a wrong turn? Are you wandering around lost with no idea how to get back on track? The good news is that our Father never slumbers nor sleeps, that He is omnipresent and omnipotent, Almighty in unconditional love for you. Yeshua told the parable of the lost son. A young man that seemed to have it all planned, in human wisdom squandered his inheritance and ended up in a heap of despair. The boy realised the folly of his ways, he recognised his mistakes and returned home, to the father to ask for forgiveness. He humbly returned, expecting nothing. He was lost and broken, this is what the father saw him and welcomed him home, reinstating him into the household. Our Father is like this, He is lovingly-committed to His children and He is waiting for us to realise we need Him, to return to Him and repent of our disobedience so that He can restore and redirect us onto the path He has planned. We come to Him by acknowledging His Son, Yeshua. Yeshua is the way, the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father but through  Him.

Yeshua is the Lamb of God, His blood saves and sets you apart. Yeshua walked the Earth, He knows what causes us to stray and get lost on our journey. Yeshua has already paid the price for your redemption, He is looking at you from your destination, not from where you are. Walk toward Him, one step at a time like a child walks toward their father’s open arms. Yeshua sees the obstacles and has His hands ready to catch you if you should stumble, He is ready to carry you over the difficult patches.

Father, I pray that Your Set-Apart Spirit of Truth would reveal Your plan, will and purpose for our journey. I pray that we would not move one single step without You, that each step will bring us closer to You and that we would bring You honour and exalt Your name as we journey homewards.

Amen

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