Fragrance and Beauty

Hosea 14:4-9 “The Lord says, Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

Thoughts on these verses:

God says he will be like the refreshing dew. = There is no end to the dew, it is new every morning, it is continually replenished. We should Look for Him, Expect Him, Feed on Him and His Word.

Then you will bloom like the lily. = The lily is compared to great beauty.

Your roots will go as deep as the cedars of Lebanon. = The cedars of Lebanon were more fruitful as they aged and their roots held firm, as we are to hold firm to our faith and in our relationship with God. (Also, the cedars were resistant to rot and decay and repelled insects. We should be resistant to sin and repel the enemy.)

Your branches will spread like a beautiful olive tree. = Branches will provide shade for others, to guard them, nurture them, teach them in the knowledge of God.

Flourish like grain. = Each stalk of grain produces many seeds and grain feeds others.

You will be fragrant like the oil of the cedars of Lebanon. = Fragrance attracts

You will Blossom like grapevines. = Constantly bearing fruit again and again, season after season and make new wine. Be an example of the true grapevine, Jesus Christ and our Father is the Gardener. (John 15:1)

Fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. = Again, fragrance attracts and wine quenches thirst.

The Lord answers our prayers, He cares for us. = We should have a prayer relationship with God. Not a ‘laundry list’ of our desires but prayers of thanksgiving and worship, we should care for him as He cares for us.

He is the tree that stays green. = The cedars of Lebanon are evergreen, we should not wither, but have life continuously.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord  and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

He is the source of our fruit. = Our fruit can only ripen and be fully formed through Him. How can any bad fruit come from God?

Matthew 7:16-20 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

When we are wise in the Lord, we understand. = When our wisdom comes from God, we have understanding.

When we have discernment, we listen carefully. = When we perceive what is true and good, we will listen intently to the Word of God.

Proverbs 4:10-13 My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths.  When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

Righteous walk in the true and right paths the Lord has prepared, however sinners will stumble and fall in the very same paths. In the NIV, it says the rebellious will stumble. If you are not following God, you are rebelling.

Prayer: Father, help me to seek you daily and worship you, to recognize your refreshing ways Every day. Help me be firm in my faith, to attract with the beauty that comes from inside of me, which is your light. Help me to guide others to you and show them the fruit which you have given me. Help me to be an instructor, an encourager, and a protector of those who are less mature in their faith. May I be fruitful and fragrant with your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Jesus kept the good out of ‘good & evil’ and nailed the evil to the cross! Then why do we try to pull it back off? We are to walk in the New Covenant in our new nature. Hebrews 8 and 2 Corinthians 5:15

Every time we walk away from God and his plan for us, we walk away from the new covenant and our true redemption. We walk away from the truth. What is that truth? Look at: Ephesians 4:21-24

God created man for communication with Him. Our omniscient (all-knowing) Father knew both good and evil and tried to protect us from the responsibility of that knowledge. Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17  It was okay to eat any fruit from any tree, but not of that certain tree. Why do we usually want to do what is forbidden instead of what God’s plan is for us? Because we walk in our sinful nature and not the nature of the new man. 2 Corinthians 5:16 God’s original purpose was not for us to obtain knowledge of good and evil. We were not to partake! But don’t blame Adam and Eve, because many are still resisting what God wants in our lives today. Hebrews 3:12-14 When we follow evil, we are taking it off the cross where it was defeated. We are pulling back down the evil that Jesus died to rid the world of. Evil is the force that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin. Sin is going beyond the limits that were set. Therefore, evil is Anything that opposes God. We are not in the new covenant which reaffirms our relationship with God when we don’t fully Trust God and follow Jesus. Galatians 2:20

Through the new covenant God has put his laws in our minds and written them on our hearts! The old covenant is obsolete. We are not to live for ourselves but for Christ who died for us. Our new nature is to be put on and renewed by reading the word and allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes. We use God’s vision which he has given us and we evaluate the world with new eyes when we follow Him. We are to be faithfully trusting God to the end. We are to carry the zeal that we were given when we first believed.  Our old self was crucified on the cross with Jesus Christ. He lives In us! God has brought us Back into relationship with Him. Now let us bring others Back to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-25

Prayer: Father, Thank you for sending your son to give me a new covenant with you. Keep me from pulling my old nature off the cross and wearing it again. Help me to trust in your perfect plan for my life and help me bring others back to you! I love you! Amen.

The Lord is My Shepherd, I have All that I Need!

Early in the morning, a shepherd would lead the flock to a spot to graze. He watched them the entire day, making sure not one of them got away. If any did wander off, he would find them and bring them back with the rest. In these lands the sheep required water and he would have to guide them to a running stream or wells where he would fill up troughs for them to drink. At night he brought the flock home, counting each one as they passed through the gate to make sure none were missing. His day didn’t end when they were corralled at sunset. Many times he had to guard them in the night through the darkest hours from attacks of wild beasts or attempts from thieves. Ever vigilant, ever protective, and always loving is the shepherd’s heart towards his sheep; seeing to their every need.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (NLT)

Father, today we commit our brother into your shepherding hands to watch over him as he goes on this long journey away from his family. We know that you will be his shepherd both day and night, his guide, because he follows after you Lord. We thank you for protection for him wherever he is while he is on this journey and we thank you that he will be a beacon shining for you. We also commit his wife and boys to you to watch over her and lead her in her daily life while he is gone. We know that you provide All that we need and we thank you for your provision and your comfort. We love you Father and we thank you for your wisdom and guidance. We thank you for your goodness and your unfailing love in this difficult time and we know that your plan is better than ours. We submit to your will Father and we thank you again for loving us and providing for us. In Jesus name, Amen!