Look For The Green
There are three groups of cedars to the southeast of our house. The middle group was dominated by an old cedar that had stretched its branches in all directions. The large trunk still supported these large branches, but there was a big problem. There was no life in the branches or in the large trunk. It looked like the tree was dead.
My second son’s Christmas present to me was to come up from Austin and give me more than six hours of chainsaw time. So he took off from work for a few days and attacked the tree. I threw the logs he cut into a trailer attached to our lawn tractor and hauled them to our firewood pile.
“Dad, check this out.” Joel pointed out that there was still some green on a few of the branches, and when he was all finished clearing away the dead wood, we discovered a circle of more than twenty little cedar trees that had been growing around the old dead cedar. I’m thankful Joel was careful as he cut to look for the green.**
All this week I’ve been up at Dallas Seminary for my class on “The Primacy of the Minister’s Spiritual Life.” One of my students is a retired missionary to Mexico now trying to rejuvenate a church that has a beautiful old building with a large sanctuary. It used to be filled, but no more. How do you bring renewal and a future to a local church whose glory days are in the past?
Carefully look for the green, look for the signs of life, and allow the Lord to cut away the dead wood. This is what He did in AD 33. First century Judaism was controlled by religious leadership locked into rigid rules and empty rituals, but Luke shares with us how God generated new life right in the Temple courts.
“Day by day they (those who accepted Jesus as their Messiah) united together in the Temple and then broke bread together from house to house. With joyful and sincere hearts they ate together, praising God. They had favor with all the people. And the Lord daily added to their number those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47
What will rejuvenate a dying church? Believers who not only sacrifice to meet one another’s material needs, as we learned in Friday’s Devo, but who love to eat together, enjoying meals filled with laughter, unity, and love in their homes. Our Heavenly Father loves this oneness of family and will cause it to grow larger. Even those on the outside will want to find out what’s creating all this love.
LORD, just as you are generating an entire new grove of cedars where our old dead tree used to be, I ask you to encourage my student by generating new signs of life in his church family even this Sunday as he returns to preach to them. Don’t allow the old dead wood to block the light. **
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