t is with delight and great joy I welcome you to the year 2018 our year of flourishing! The word of the Lord to you this year is that you shall flourish. As the Lord speaks who does not lie, he who helped you to crossover to this year, says he will cause you to flourish in every direction. You shall flourish financially, materially, physically, in health, matrimonially, academically and most importantly spiritually. This is the word of God for you: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing"(Psalm 92:12-14.)
Note the two conditions for flourishing. Are you the righteous? Not yet, it is a free gift, receive Jesus now and acquire that status. Are you planted in the house of thy Lord? Not yet, do it now. Salvation is a free gift, being planted is your choice and takes hard work and discipline.
Do the necessary and start flourishing!
This year you shall flourish like the palm tree and Cedar tree. Happy New Year!
What does it mean to flourish?
To flourish is to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment. Biblically to flourish means 'to break forth. 'Synonyms of flourish include thriving, successful, doing well, blooming. Even though flourish appears severally in the Old Testament it appears only once in New Testament in Philippians 4:10 meaning to put forth anew. This new year your life will flourish anew in Jesus name.
The symbolism of Palm and Cedar trees.
Believers are often likened to trees in Scripture: "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3). "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God" (Psalm 52:8). "His branches shall spread, and His beauty shall be as the olive tree, and His smell as Lebanon" (Hosea 14:6).
In the text message specifically of Psalm 92, the righteous are compared with two trees Cedar and Palm Tree. Benson Commentary says 'The cedars in Lebanon are immensely large, being some of them thirty-five, or even forty feet in the girt, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of their boughs. They flourish for ages, and are always green; and, when cut down, yield a most beautiful kind of wood, inclining to a brown colour, solid, durable, and, in some sort, incorruptible.' Similarly, Pastor Henry Morris articulated the usefulness of Palm Tree as follows.
"The palm-tree figure is especially intriguing. In Scripture, the palm tree is always the date palm, stately and beautiful. It has extremely deep tap roots-called a root ball-and thus can flourish even in the desert, growing tall and living long. It is perhaps the most useful of all trees, not only producing dates, but also sugar, wine, honey, oil, resin, rope, thread, tannin, and dyestuff. Its seeds are fed to cattle and its leaves are used for roofs, fences, mats, and baskets. Its fruit is said to get sweeter as the tree grows older, and this is compared to the believer in a beautiful verse.
When a palm tree is cut down all of it can be used. The wood makes good beams for building; termites do not infest it, but it produces 'edible worms'. In the days when we used to live in Warri edible worm was one of my wife's favourite meat. I cannot pass through Sapele (that seems to be the world headquarters for edible worm and not buy for my wife!) The Palm Tree roots are used to make ink and a pithy part of the root is used to make medicine. The leaves can be used as paper and also to make roofs for booths (temporary shelters),huts and poorer people's houses. In Africa we make brooms from Palm leaves.
Significantly, It was palm branches that padded the path of the Lord Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on the ass's colt on that first Palm Sunday long ago (John 12:13; Matthew 21:8). This itself was a picture in miniature of the great multitude of the redeemed and resurrected saints who will greet the Lord Jesus at His throne, "clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands"; crying, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9,10).
Essentially by God comparing us to these trees God desires for us to flourish like them and be as useful if not more. In the year 2018 God is narrowing and focusing his lenses on these trees to ensure we are beautiful in the Lord, useful in His service, bearing good fruit to His glory, even if you are old in age or mind or both.
What makes the palm tree flourish?
Permit me to focus more on the Palm Tree that we are more familiar with globally. What are its peculiarities and how does that help us in our Christian walk. Because all the words of God are immutable, powerful, purposeful and given to us to enable us succeed and flourish as Christians, when we carefully study them, meditate on them and appropriately apply them to our lives and situations.
1. We are special.
For starters, unlike traditional trees, palm trees are not made of wood. "Instead, you'll find a jumble of spongy tissue, scattered instead of arranged" inside a palm tree.
Christians are made of special stuff. Renewed, regenerated, blood bought, high class Holy Spirit filled human beings. Eagles, not chickens. Transformed from sinners to saints by the precious blood of the lamb. There are 188 known genuses of palm trees, and 2,585 species, according to Judy Jernstedt, a professor of plant sciences at the University of California, Davis. USA. There are diverse denominations, countless parishes but we have the same blood line, the Jesus bloodline. People often asked me how come we have so many denominations in Christianity as opposed to other faiths. My response is in the army you have various battalions but they are all soldiers. Besides the various denominations is like the fast food franchises McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King, they have same baseline food but they have various appeals to their customers. We don't have various species of Christianity but each Christian is special to the Lord.
2. Palm trees are God's property.
The Palm tree is considered to be a God tree, it flourishes by the grace of God. God's palm tree is a miracle of growth; if ten seeds are planted, ten trees emerge and it lives without man's assistance. The people of the east say it is God-planted, God-watered, and God-owned. Even in the desert Palm trees flourish. We are God's property.
We are saved by grace not of works. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We have God's DNA. Our righteousness is not based on our right doing, but what Jesus did on the cross, shedding his blood to redeem us from our sins and opening to us door of eternal life with the Trinity God. As God's property wherever you are when you are born again you are to flourish. This year whether you are in Canada or in any other place you shall flourish. You are God's temple bought with a price. The precious blood of Jesus that qualifies you.
3. Palm tress rejoice in storm.
Like the eagle rejoices during storm, so the Palm Tree rejoices during the storm and hurricanes. The Palm Tree God is referring to grows straight and tall, up to 80 or 90 feet. In all their height they do not change in thickness. They are a very strong palm that can withstand severe weather, even monsoons; they are flexible and bend in the storms but do not break. Their root system is so secure that no palm has ever been known to be uprooted by a storm.
To flourish God does not want us to panic during challenges but to rely on the power of The Holy Spirit where we are firmly rooted and not uprootable by challenges. Like the palm tree, we who are made righteous by God, are to grow straight and stand tall. We are not to collapse like a pack of cards when storm arises in our offices, churches, marriages and businesses. We are not to drop out of school because of abuses, bullies and failure. We are not to pack out from our matrimonial homes, separate and divorce when we face marital, financial, moral material hurricanes challenges in our marriages. We are not to split churches or cross from one church to the other because of little challenges - those that be planted in the court of our Lord are to flourish. Put your talent and resources into use to cause your family, marriage, ministry to flourish this year. Youth are to know how to be able to use the skill of God's word to navigate the intricacies of sexual and peer pressure challenges. Flourishing answers to nourishment, endurance and ruggedness in faith, studying the Word and engaging in fervent prayers and fasting.
Most trees lay down rings as they grow every year. But not the palm tree; some of its cells are malleable, and others can easily flex and then return to their original position. To flourish as a Christian, you have to be flexible. There is a saying "Those who are flexible shall not be bent out of shape." Most marriages and ministries break because we are unbendable and not flexible. There must be step downs and step ups. Every thing must not always be your way or the highway or no way. Whether in ministry, business ,office and community. The Palm Trees lack of conventional structure is what gives the palm its flexibility and makes it supremely adaptable to the gentle island breezes that periodically coalesce into ruthless hurricanes. Like the palm, we, those who are made righteous by God, are to grow straight and stand tall. Even if the storms of life batter us we are flexible in nature and steadfast in God's Word so that we do not break and are not uprooted. In hard times and good times, we flourish like the palm.
5. Fruitful the Year round.
The palm tree that God talks about also bears fruit all year long. From January through March you can obtain milks duchess wine from the fruit, from April through June the fruit can be broken open and the meat eaten. From July through September the fruit has become soft enough to be peeled like one would an apple and eat the flesh, and in October through December it can be eaten like a plum. The fruit is a bit larger than a grapefruit and is supplied abundantly all throughout the year. The fruit yields oil. So, to the eastern mind, when God says flourish like the palm, as a Christian you need to grow heavenward, you must be steadfast and have fruit to give abundantly through all seasons, diverse fruits for that matter. If Christians fail to bear fruits of righteousness who else shall. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Bear fruit of integrity, of soul winning and high productivity in all endeavours.
Watch out for Part 2.