Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 128 - Living to Flourish through Christ
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #128 – Living to Flourish through Christ
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to seek, find, and follow Jesus together as we live with purposed eternal perspective.
Psalm 92:12-15 says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.”
As I read this passage last week, the eloquent wording grabbed my attention. Perhaps because I’m older, I appreciated the beauty, but had to learn more about why there was such an intentional comparison to a palm tree. As I researched, I learned that the palm grows steadily over time, largely unaffected by elements of nature, unlike other types of trees that can be more susceptible to what happens around them. The palm tree stands perfectly upright under varying conditions, and survives from generation to generation.
Since I didn’t know anything about a cedar of Lebanon, I also researched this impressive tree, and found that it grows to be very large. Just the width can get to about 35 or 40 feet around, plus the boughs spread over 100 feet wide. What is most impressive and significant for the purpose of this comparison to aging is that the tree flourishes for ages, and is always green. When the cedar of Lebanon is cut down, the wood is exceptionally beautiful, durable, and, in many ways incorruptible.
Both the palm tree and the cedar of Lebanon bear fruit in old age, and as the verses eloquently show us, we can carry much beauty and grace in aging when we seek and humbly follow the Lord.
I especially valued the fact that palm trees stay “fresh and green” and are largely unaffected by the elements of nature. We each know that the elements of this life can be as stormy as the roughest seas. To draw the comparison to my own life at this time, I recently found that someone we know and trusted isn’t who he appeared. It would be so easy to be swayed by emotions and allow my fleshly nature to override how God would call me to react. As I processed my emotions, conversed with the Lord, prayed, and moved on, I rested in the assurance that my character, as it continues to mature through Christ each moment, can remain fresh and green, unmoved by the elements of life in this broken world. I can release the relationship I thought we had with this person and move on, praying for him as he comes to mind, but clinging more tightly to the relationship I hold with Jesus without becoming bitter or angry.
2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
Our Almighty God wastes nothing. I think of the purpose our Creator had when He created nature and placed man and woman beneath the glorious sky and lush trees. Since I walk outside often with my middle daughter, I understand the ability to connect with God in ways we’re unable to inside buildings. Obviously, we can be close to God as we read and study His word and converse with Him indoors, but being in nature connects us in a significantly deeper way with His nature.
Imagine Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden. God created absolute paradise for them to abide with Him. Perfect temperature, safety, freedom, and beauty surrounded them, and they neither knew nor imagined anything different. Like us, they took what they had for granted, probably never appreciating what they held until it was taken away after their dreadful, sinful mistake.
Knowing God made a perfect home for them within nature, let’s examine the passage from Psalm 92:12-15 in a deeper way. I believe the poetic structure of the wording reveals so much about God’s view on aging and the way we are to advance toward godliness of character humbly and purposely for and through Him.
Would you agree that we can easily recognize our society worships youth? Often treated as disposable, the elderly or even those of us who are aging are ignored or looked over for jobs, opinions, or advice. Instead of being shown the respect we have earned or noting the value we carry through acquired experience and wisdom, many younger people, and our society, tend to devalue elderly people.
Through the wording in Psalm 92:12-15, we experience the thoughts God carries for those older than us. More specifically, the ones who have spent a lifetime seeking and following Him, recognizing, and openly proclaiming God as their rock and strength. What can we learn from those more experienced in following the Lord? Let’s see what God’s word teaches:
Verse 12 says,” The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.” We know there is pain and heartache in this broken world, but we can trust God’s word. Despite the suffering on earth, we are promised that those who seek, know, follow, and obey the Lord will flourish. Although His definition may be different than what we sometimes hope for, we know He is sovereign and as Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
I’ve never considered “growing like a palm tree,” but I’ve always loved them. Any time we’ve gone on vacation where palm trees grow, I’m instantly ready to bask in the warmth I know I’ll find in that location. So, as I read the verse, all I immediately felt was the comparison that I could be warm to others, so they could see Christ in me. But I knew that the writer of these words would have a much deeper meaning with this word choice. Did you know that palm trees are known for their long life? If we were to flourish like a palm tree, we would have a long and productive life for Christ. Only God knows what that definition would hold as He has unique and beautiful plans for each one of us. Unless we are standing tall and flourishing for Him, we may never realize the blessings of doing so.
Growing like a cedar of Lebanon was never anything I thought of doing. in fact, I never even knew what the tree looked like, but as I researched and learned about it, I’m ready to be compared to one. Strong, solid, and immovable, a person living like a cedar of Lebanon would be upright, strong in the Lord, and the trials and tragedies of this world would not move them from their faith. In fact, anything they face only thrusts their roots into deeper and richer soil.
The strength and vitality of both trees allow them to continue bearing fruit into old age, just as those who cling to Christ and live uprightly as they come to know and show Him more clearly through daily life will do.
Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
As we mature our walk with God through Christ and live to glorify and honor Him, He continues to go before us, sustaining and carrying us as we humbly release self-control and let Him.
Isaiah 40:29-31 says, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
Have you faced situations in which you had no strength? Have you been in such despair that you had no idea how you would carry on or what to do next? If so, know that you were exactly where God desires you to be. In that space, you have a clearer view of your need for Him. For some, it is the only time they will allow God to carry the loads they stubbornly grasp tightly. When we finally realize we do not carry the capacity to endure all things alone we finally realize our true strength comes in and through Christ.
Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
The worst times of my life have proven to be the best as that clear path to God has carried me to His waiting arms.
Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
As we learn to seek Christ in every moment, good or bad, joyful or sorrowful, we develop a relationship that lasts throughout the ages as He proves to be our constant comfort and perfect friend as we age.
Job 12:12 says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?”
Job’s words are true for those who have sought to grow relationship with God through Jesus and live in ways that bring them closer to Him moment by moment. Without reliance on Christ and seeking a life that reflects Him, our life will not bring clarity or understanding to self or others.
What are you doing today that will advance your walk with Christ?
How are you advancing His kingdom in the way you live?
Each day is new. Every moment offers the chance to renew our walk with Christ and allow Him to carry us in new ways.
Job 5:26 says, “You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.”
As we grow in fullness of love for Him through an abiding relationship over time, we can live with the expectation of sweet reunion with our Father and the Son. Will the life you leave behind be a legacy for you or one that points to Christ?
Dear Heavenly Father, You are sovereign and worthy of praise, glory, and honor. Thank you for the gift You have given us through Your Son, Jesus. Thank you for providing a way to You through Him. Father, cause our hearts to crave You and reflect Jesus more each day. Help our walk with You to deepen daily during the quiet and the busy moments because we seek Your hands, face, and heart. May we age with grace learned through time spent with You and may Your love be evident to all, guiding them ever nearer to You. May our lives be testimonies of what time with You creates. Father, may our hearts adore You and shine Your perfect love and provision. Help us to live uprightly and stand on the rock that is carved by relationship with and dependence on You. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.