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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God's design for life (Part I: To plant, To pluck)

As a result of one of my readings by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I have begun a study on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. To get there, I had to pass through Ecclesiastes 1, which is where Bonhoeffer’s reading led me.
His reading:
“God’s way are ways that He himself traveled and that we are now supposed to travel with him. God does not let us go anyway that he himself has not gone and on which he does not go before us. The way to which God calls us is the way cleared by God and protected by God. Thus it is really his way …One does not meet God on the spot. Rather, one follows a way. And the way moves forward, or one is not with God.”

On to Ecclesiastes 1 ….
4 “One generation passes away, and another generation comes;”
9 “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us. 11There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after.”

Seasons come and seasons go, year after year. What we face today someone else faced years before and another will face in the future.
God’s design for life - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
A time – a season;
a span of time, a moment
Expansive or minute.
Remember – a thousand years to us is like a day to Him and vice versa.

Bonhoeffer says, “The source of action is not the idea, but readiness for responsibility.”

Individually, personally, globally. The time comes and what we choose to do with it – that is what is important, whenever it comes. Not that it has come, but that we are ready to take action, and responsibility.

There are many times, many seasons in the course of one’s life.
Moments come
moments go
in between
we stay a while
reap rewards
or face untold anguish
All in a single moment
of Time
A season
Always wondering,
Is there nothing new?
Is it always the same
day in,
day out
1 “To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.”

In all of Life
However short or long
there is a season
2 “A time

to be born
to die

to plant
to pluck what is planted

3 to kill
to heal

to break down
to build up

4 to weep
to laugh

to mourn
to dance

5 to cast away stones
to gather stones

to embrace
to refrain from embracing

6 to gain
to lose

to keep
to throw away

7 to tear
to sew

to keep silence
to speak

8 to love
to hate

of war
of peace.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

You read those words and you think on them and you have ideas to what they mean. But what you think and what they really mean don’t always come together. This is God’s design for life and His design is already one that is and we are to follow. But what has been will be again and what is now was once. You’d think you were going in circles, but you’re not.

My study began, not with being born and dying, because to me, that seemed self-explanatory, but with planting and plucking -
“A time to plant; A time to pluck what is planted”

The direction I went took me along this route:
• Matthew 15:13, where Jesus is speaking to his disciples. “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.”
• Isaiah 53:2, the prophet Isaiah speaks of Jesus, the Messiah, to come. “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground…”
• Isaiah 11:1-2a, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,”
• Psalm 1:3, “He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water That brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”
• Psalm 92:12-15, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a Cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing; To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no uprighteousness in Him.”
• Jeremiah 17:8, “For He shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But her leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

We are to be a blessing to others at all times.

• Ezekiel 19:10-14, “Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, Planted by the waters. Fruitful and full of branches Because of many waters. She had strong branches for scepters of rulers. She towered in stature above the thick branches, And was seen in her height amid the dense foliage. But she was plucked up in fury, She was cast down to the ground, And the east wind dried her fruits. Her strong branches were broken and withered; The fire consumed them. And how she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire has come out from a rod of her branches And devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong branch- a scepter for ruling.”
• Jeremiah 31:28, “And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord.”
• Jeremiah 1:10, “See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
• Jeremiah 18:7-10, “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it. If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.”
• Psalm 128:1-4, “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands (fruit of the labor), you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.”
• Jeremiah 11:16, “The Lord called your name, Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit.”

Jesus is the root/the vine. Israel/the Jewish nation is the natural branches. When rejection of the Lord became their preferred choice of living, God’s gift of salvation through Christ was offered to the rest of the world – the Gentiles.
I am a Gentile. The Bible calls us wild, being we are not natural. We are grafted in to become part of the Tree of Life. If/when we reject the Lord we can be removed from the Tree just like the Jews. Only those who believe and trust and obey are/is a branch of this tree.
And we are blessed. Must not brag about what we have, what the Lord has given us. The natural branches were broken off because of unbelief and unfruitfulness, making room for us, the Gentile people, to be grafted in, to become part of God’s goodness. We must never think we/I am better than another.

• John 15:1-2, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
• John 15:4-8, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
• John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last…”

The fruit He speaks of – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

“We can only live life, not define it,” says Bonhoeffer.

Jesus says, of himself, in John 14:6a, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

God’s design for all of life is found in and through Jesus Christ, who shows us the way.

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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6