Jan10WedJanuary 10, 2018
Our eldest son has recently shown an interest for testing his own strength. It’s not uncommon for us to find him attempting to do a pull-up while dangling from his loft bed. He also occasionally gives me a bear-hug in order to see if he can lift me off the ground. As a father, I love seeing our pre-adolescent son’s desire to understand and develop his own strength. I am fairly certain that his motivation for physical strength will continue until he is, at least, stronger than me - which won't take much.
As wonderful as physical strength is, I’m also talking with him about spiritual strength which is so much more important. Spiritual strength “holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). But how do we grow strong spiritually? Psalm 1, from our Daily Scripture Reading, leads us to a vivid analogy and a few answers.
The first Psalm portrays the image of a healthy, faithfully producing fruit tree planted by a stream of water. It’s unique in that its leaves remain green regardless of the season. For us, the illustration presented is an analogy for spiritually strength. A spiritually strong person will produce fruit – the fruit of the Spirit (like love, joy, peace, patience…) for example. And this fruit will contain seeds which can plant new trees – representing the fruit of multiplying disciples.
Yet the strong, fruit tree is contrasted by a dried-up stalk. Instead of remaining strong in any season, the dry chaff crumbles in the wind and blows away. This represents a spiritually weak person who abandons God's way and succumbs to wickedness.
I would imagine that most of us want to be strong like the fruit tree and be able to thrive regardless of the changing seasons. But for that to happen, we need at least two elements in order to grow stronger.
The first is that this tree (or person) is delighting in the instruction of the Lord. Another way to say it is that Scripture becomes the soil for a spiritually strong person. They read God’s Word. They humbly soak in God’s Word. They think about it throughout the day and night.
The second is that this tree (or person) drinks up water from the nearby, ever-flowing stream. Its roots never run dry or look elsewhere for nourishment. For us, the ever-flowing stream is the Holy Spirit, given to us by faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, a strong tree (or person) is rooted in the Word of God and dependent upon the Spirit of God.
As you face each day, how do you remain anchored in God’s Word and connected to God’s life-given Spirit? For me, it begins most days in the morning. I read a chapter of Scripture, find a verse which sticks to my spirit, and seek to prayerfully remember it throughout the day. Now, I don’t always succeed in this endeavor, but that’s my goal. It’s not difficult, but it does require intentionality. If you have habits of dwelling richly in the Word and Spirit of God, I encourage you to keep it up – and possibly help others along the way! But if not, I encourage you to take advantage of our Daily Scripture Readings (found in the bulletin, Firstlight, Facebook or on Twitter @fmcmorton). You can also join in with the Bible 101 classes which are beginning next Wednesday (17th) at 6:30pm.
Let’s continue to grow spiritually (like a tree) in order stand strong during any season and produce lasting fruit which glorifies our Heavenly Father.