Earlier we looked at Malachi 3:10 and observed that very few people are seeing God fulfill that promise in their lives the way He stated it to be so in the Bible. I challenged myself with what I learned, and I hope it challenged you as well. If you have not read it, I encourage you to see the conditions set forth by God to qualify yourself to be blessed by God according to Malachi 3:10, and begin to alter your giving habits and begin to practice those conditions, of which God says, “Prove me.” Today, we look at another blessing that is preached from the pulpits, yet very few average church members can claim.
In Psalm 1:3, the Bible reads, “And 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.” Verses one and two have conditions for this blessing to be fulfilled. But verse three has a three-part blessing. The first has to do with waiting patiently on the Lord and trusting Him for promised results. The second speaks of continued spiritual health, while the third blessing refers to unlimited success. Let’s look more closely at each of these parts…
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season…” This blessed person is likened to a tree that is planted near a water source. This source nourishes his mind and soul much like a plentiful water source nourishes the tree. Notice in verse one that this person avoids any tainted water source. This man “walketh NOT in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” This man knows that anything that is bad to take in will yield bad, unhealthy, good for nothing fruit…if any fruit is even borne.
This blessed man, however, does recognize a pure water source for his mind and soul. “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord…” (Psalm 1:2). The Word of God is that pure water source for Christians. It is this water source from which we are to nourish our minds and souls. We do this to keep ourselves from drying up spiritually, thus making ourselves of little to no use to God. But this blessed man understands that he must continually water himself in the Word. “…and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). When the oppressive sun beats down on the grass in the summertime, if we water our lawns only once during the day, the grass will still have a tendency to dry up on us, but if we water it more often (say day and night perhaps), we can keep our lawns lush and green despite the opposing forces which are able to do otherwise.
Whether we have planted new grass seed, or whether we have planted an apple seedling, if we take care of it, and cultivate it, and water it, God will bring forth the fruit, in the form of a lush green lawn, or tasty crisp red apples. But this fruit, which is promised, will come forth at the appointed time. Don’t look at what yields are being gathered in the lives of others, as they may be far ahead of you in the process God has them on. It will take years to get an apple from a single seed I plant. But an orchard full of MATURE trees will produce great yields of fruit. That’s why God says in Psalm 1:3 that the fruit will be brought “in its season.” Basically, at the time God feels you are mature enough, He will begin to bring forth fruit in your life…but be patient. That, incidentally has something to do with the second part of the promised blessing.
“…his leaf also shall not wither…” When something withers, it signals either ill health, or death. If we are patient and trust God, our desire to do His will in whatever arena He called us into will not suffer and die. However, if we become impatient and begin doing the work ourselves, to get ourselves ready the best we know how, we may poison what God is trying to cultivate in our lives because of our ignorance of what we truly need. Eventually, we will be well-meaninged but start looking for help in all the wrong places, such as those listed in Psalm 1:1. And again, a tainted water supply will cause ill-health or even death to the tree…so can we, if we look elsewhere for nourishment, but it may just kill our opportunity to yield the fruit God promises in our lives. But if we are patient and trust God, we will be well fed and well nourished with pure water.
Now there is a reason why trees have leaves and why it’s important that leaves not wither and die. Leaves are actually responsible for feeding the entire plant, and so leaves are directly involved and responsible for the eventual yield of the desired fruit. If a leaf withers, it can not nourish the plant, and if enough leaves on the tree wither and die, the entire tree suffers a stingy, useless crop, if any crop at all. It’s also going to kill the entire tree eventually if too many of the energy-producing leaves have withered and died.
Again, the way to keep leaves healthy, and the overall plant healthy, is to water the plant with a pure water source…the Bible in our case. If we do that, as the blessed man did in Psalm 1:2, our leaves will not wither, our desire to do God’s will won’t dry up, our lives and dreams will stay nourished, and we WILL yield the fruit God desires from our lives. Which brings me to the promise we are often quoted, but hardly ever see in the lives of the average Christian.
“…and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Get this down right away. It does NOT say, “Whatsoever he doeth shall get done.” Rather, the verse reads that whatever God’s person does shall PROSPER! I’ll cut to the chase…make my point…and support my position with what God says in His Word. We may nourish our minds and souls with pure water from the Word. We may avoid tainted sources. We may have leaves as healthy and vibrant as they can be. But we are not prosperous because we limit God. We met the conditions of this promise and received the blessings of fruit in it’s time, and we have met the conditions to not have a single leaf withered in our lives. Yet we don’t meet the conditions that will allow God to prosper us in whatsoever He asks us to do. Why not?
If a soybean farmer toils and does all the right things and yields a good harvest, does he know what those same seeds will yield next year if the farmer does all the right things? The answer is no. Do you know what most farmers yearn for? They yearn for a “bumper crop.” The bumper crop is an unusually large harvest that year. Did the farmer see that harvest coming? No. Does the farmer expect that a bumper crop is at least possible the following season? Yes. Knowing that a bumper crop is at least possible, should he be totally satisfied with an average harvest at the end of that year? No. So it should be with us also.
If God has laid it on your heart to go into the ministry and share with others how God took you all the way from a time when you were a drug addict up to now when you are a preacher, and God has you preaching to six teens at your church initially, that’s great…praise God for that opportunity! But if you’re nourishing your soul and mind with a pure water source, and if you’re avoiding tainted water sources, and you are bearing fruit and your leaves are healthy and vibrant, and it’s been several years of preaching to teens at your church, and there’s been no movement beyond that, it MAY be time to think about a few things.
Because of the Bible’s call for humility and it’s negative stance on exalting one’s self, we have been conditioned to accept FAR LESS than God MAY have in store for us. There’s nothing wrong with wanting ALL that God has for us IF it’s in the right spirit and with the right motives. In James 4:3, God warns us that He will not answer our prayers if the motive behind our prayers is to receive what we want in order that we may satisfy our lusts. That’s a wrong motive. But if you desire to reach the largest amount of people with your story of addict turned preacher, with the intent of helping as many as possible, and there is no hint of wanting glory for yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s no more wrong than a farmer thinking that a bumper crop is possible each and every season!
Christendom is filled with multitudes of men and women who have been taken to great levels of visibility and influence, whether you agree with all of them or not. Most likely it is the rarest of the rarest cases where God thrusts someone in that position immediately and overnight. It’s much more reasonable to think that God took 99% of these cases and started them slowly, but as these people watered their souls and minds, and had vibrant leaves, that they began desiring to do more for God on even greater levels. So many of us start here, but very few of us think beyond where we start. One reason I already mentioned…we are afraid to be accused of wanting to exalt our selves and unwilling to be humble and accept a “lowly” ministry. Another reason is that we ask ourselves the questions, “Why me? Who am I?” Well, why Dr Jerry Falwell? Why Bob Jones? Why D.L. Moody? Why anyone with national and international ministries? Well..why not? One difference is motive and another key element is…faith!!!
Again, as I mentioned when teaching on the blessing of Malachi 3:10, when we are blessed, God is pleased with us on some level. It’s not only obedience that brings pleasure to God, and yields blessing in our lives, but also, it is faith that pleases God. More specifically, it is our ACTING on our faith that pleases God (Malachi 3:10 says that God asks us to PROVE Him). So when you have a ministry, and things have not moved much in several years, you have to check yourself and ask “Why don’t I prosper?” Here’s why (assuming motives are pure)…we’re not trusting God to deliver, because we have been conditioned somehow that God will exalt us “in due time,” and if we “work” toward advancing your ministry we are accused somehow looking for more than what God is willing to give you at the moment. I say that’s a very passive-aggressive attitude.
We say, “I’m still here (after many years) because this is where God wants me.” That MAY be so…but it also may NOT be so. We may lack faith in what God is willing to do with us and the extent that God wants our lives to reach others beyond where you may be ministering for the past several years. Consider this…Ephesians 3:20 reads, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…” Here’s the test of faith that will cause us to either be prosperous or not in Psalm 1:3. What can God do with me? Anything He wants. How far can God take me? As far as He wants to. What can your finite mind imagine? Go beyond that!!!
In 1st John 5:14-15 the Bible is clear, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of Him.” If you believe God has called you to move beyond where you have been the last several years, and you believe God can take your ministry to levels you haven’t even dreamed of, then according to Ephesians 3:20, we have to ASK. Now IF our motives are pure, and we are not bent on satisfying our fleshly lusts (James 4:3), and it IS God’s will to move your ministry forward, then we can believe it will happen, according to the aforementioned verses in 1st John Chapter Five. But if we don’t believe God will do it…HE WON’T! Jesus left an entire city in Matthew 13:58 and did NO mighty works there because of their UNBELIEF.
Would you agree that God taking whatever He has called you to do and elevating it beyond what you can even imagine could be classified as a “mighty work?” Well you’re unbelief may just negate any prosperity that could come from such a “mighty work” thus rendering the promise of Psalm 1:3 null and void.