Devotional–Living an Abundant Life—November 21, 2022, From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12
When Hurricanes Ian and Nicole hit the Florida East Coast, I noticed something phenomenal, the palm trees swayed in the 50 mph gusty winds, yet, they did not break, nor did they lose their leaves. A little research reveals that “Palm trees are very elastic. They are fibrous, and fairly wet on the inside, which allows them to bend easily in the wind.” This should be no surprise to those who hold fast to the fact that Jesus created the earth. He spoke into existence the trees that would not break when faced with the adversity of nature.
Equally fascinating is the red cedar tree: “Because of its sleek, more compact growth habit, the cedar fits perfectly in any space. And it’s one of the hardiest and most tolerant trees. It grows anywhere across the country, in any soil or environmental condition – cold or hot, dry or wet. No diseases and pests, which means no harsh chemicals or sprays. Little to no upkeep is required because of its tolerance, hardiness, and resistance to diseases and pests.” Eastern red cedar seedlings develop a long fibrous root system, often at the expense of top growth.
In Psalm 92, God says that if we surrender and commit our lives to Him, we will hold fast like the palm and the cedar trees. What does God require from us? Faith, Trust, Obedience, knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and unceasing prayer. Most importantly, we pray daily for the anointing of the Holy Spirit who leads, gives us spiritual discernment of the Bible, and reveals the spiritual warfare of our daily temptations.
Something interesting happened last week when I had my eye exam. The glasses that I wear for reading are two years old. After the exam, Dr. Justin told me that my vision had improved except for my far vision which had a slight decline, but not enough for bifocal glasses.
Our lives include the present and the future. As we progress in our spiritual journey, we will experience short-term changes that affect our future lives. Yet, we can expect spiritual growth and development into the character of Christ if we keep our covenant with God. Although God has plans for us, we let our will and heart’s desires overrule His will.
“I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course” Jeremiah 10:23.
This verse is the beginning of the prophet Jeremiah’s prayer for God’s mercy when the nation of Israel was deep into idolatry and God had revealed the punishment of their soon captivity.
Human beings have the innate disability of being short-sighted. We plan our lives—present and future as if God’s direction is not required. Many Christians, will give their testimony that although they faithfully serve God and made sound plans for the future that their lives did not turn out as they expected.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches, But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these, I delight,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
We do not possess far-sighted–futuristic spiritual vision. If we desire to live an abundant earthly life [not referring to financial excess] then we must allow God to direct our steps. Only the Omniscient God knows our future obstacles, defeats, and victories.
Nothing happens in the righteous person’s life without the permission of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God allows the trials and sorrows needed for us to experience the spiritual transformation of our minds and characters. He is preparing us for an abundant life in heaven [and after a thousand years] in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Staying faithful to our covenant with God to do His will guarantees us that He will intervene and give us spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength like the palm and cedar trees. Yes, the righteous who stay rooted and grounded in Christ will receive their reward of an abundant, heavenly, eternal life with King Jesus, the One who gave His life for us.
Prayer: God, we ask You to save our souls. Please reveal any disobedience and waywardness in our hearts. We desire to renew our covenant with You and to have abundant earthly and heavenly lives. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.