December 19, 2021
Pastor John Hering
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the advice of the wicked, who does not stand on the path with sinners, and who does not sit in a meeting with mockers.
2 But his delight is in the teaching of the Lord, and on his teaching he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and its leaves do not wither. Everything he does prospers.
It is estimated that there are about 3 trillion trees in the world. That’s about 400 trees per person! We all love to see the trees at parks, in our yards and along the countryside. When you see a new housing area being developed, they always plant some trees. Trees provide shade, slow down wind and cut down noise. The Bible compares all of us to trees as well. In Psalm 1 we hear about trees that are “planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and its leaves do not wither. Everything he does prospers.” Certainly this is the type of tree we would all like to be. But, the truth is that not all people look like this description in Psalm 1. Therefore, may the Holy Spirit inspire us to
Be God’s Tree
Firmly Planted in God’s Word
Along with all of creation, God gave trees for us to enjoy. The wood from trees is used to build our homes, make crafts and even used in our fire pits at home. However, dead trees in Psalm 1 are not good. We would say they are spiritually dead wood. Jesus explains it like this, “5I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him is the one who bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers. Such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15). People that are not connected to Jesus through the gospel in Word and sacrament and have no faith in Jesus are these dead trees. It is dangerous to live as a dead tree in this life, for such people end up in hell. Here’s the thing, we were all born as “dead wood” in our sinful nature. It doesn’t take long for this sinful nature to show itself. There is greed, gossip, abuse of alcohol, drugs, and marriage; disrespect of authority and bad behavior. This sinful nature also shows itself when we think about life and death. We all want to live and none of us wants to die! We would call that “normal.” But, because our sins have separated us from God and the wages of sin is death, it is unavoidable. Without a perfect, holy life and filled with sin we deserve God’s eternal punishment. But, Jesus Christ has already conquered death for us, rose from the grave and promised that all who believe in him will also be raised from the dead to spend eternity with God in heaven. When the roots of our tree are firmly planted in the river of God’s promises, we stand forgiven and don’t need to fear death. Rather, rejoice that even in our death, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have eternal life. It is so important to Be God’s Tree Firmly Planted in God’s Word! And…..
Growing Firmly to God’s Glory
They say that a large, healthy tree soaks up 100 gallons of water a day—much of it is put back into the atmosphere. If you were going to plant a new tree where the winter freeze had killed your old tree, you probably wouldn’t plant a seed. You would probably go to the nursery and purchase a tree that is already several feet tall. This tree was probably grown with special care, maybe in a greenhouse with perfect growing conditions. So, what does such a tree look like? The Psalmist says, “1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the advice of the wicked, who does not stand on the path with sinners, and who does not sit in a meeting with mockers. 2 But his delight is in the teaching of the Lord, and on his teaching he meditates day and night.”
When it comes to God’s people, they are like trees who begin their life in the worse of conditions. The Bible says we are born an enemy of God, and blind to God’s goodness. The Psalmist says these trees listen to the wickedness of the world, they want to walk according to their own selfish desires, not the authority of God’s Word. They stand with bad people, and they even sit with the world in mocking God. But, then a miracle happens. The Holy Spirit works through the Good News that the children and our members will tell us about today. When a person hears the teachings of the Lord—the Good News of Jesus Christ, a change takes place. Faith in Jesus takes root in God’s Promises and hearts are eager to meditate on God’s Word to learn as much as they can about God’s plan of salvation. These are God’s Trees Growing Firmly to God’s Glory!
Today we are in God’s House where God’s Christmas Gospel is about to be proclaimed to us all. This is God’s “stream of water” for our souls. Give your attention to the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ. Listen carefully to Be God’s Tree Planted Firmly in God’s Word and Growing Firmly to God’s Glory. Amen!