“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
There is a tree that grows mainly in the southwest United States, but also in other parts of the world. It’s called a mesquite tree. Those of you who like to grill may have heard of it, because its wood provides a wonderful flavor to barbequed meat.
When I was around 10 years old, my family lived in Tucson, Arizona. There were plenty of mesquite trees growing near my home, and I loved to climb up in the branches of the trees, or seek shade under their branches when the heat of the day got over 100 degrees.
The mesquite is a fascinating tree. In fact, let me read you a couple of excerpts from a book entitled, The Magnificent Mesquite, by Ken Rogers.
“Over the past several centuries, probably no one plant has played a greater and more vital role in the lives of humankind in the southwestern United States than the short, crooked mesquite. Relying on mesquite for a myriad of necessities such as food, weapons, shelter, and medicine, early southwestern Indian drew upon it in almost every aspect of their lives, even giving it a position of honor in their religious ceremonies … Many travelers crossing the plains of the Southwest survived on the mesquite bean. When the 320-man Texas-Santa Fe Expedition sent by the Republic of Texas to annex New Mexico crossed the Texas Panhandle in the summer of 1841, they found the mesquite bean and called it "manna from heaven.”
Let me return to Jeremiah 17:7-8, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green …"
My question to you is, “What color are your leaves?”
Let me tell you a few facts about the mesquite and how they relate to Christians
It takes a mesquite tree several years to mature.
In Galatians 1, we learn that the Apostle Paul spent almost three years after his conversion alone with God. How long has it been since you spent some real alone time with God? Are you a mature Christian yet?
Immature believers are more concerned with self than with service. They are more concerned with complaining and arguing than with action. They look to man for approval rather than to God.
How can we recognize Christian maturity?
• Mature believers see their mission in life as doing the work of the ministry: reaching out to others with the love and gospel of our savior Jesus Christ.
• The mature Christian is a builder of other believers. They encourage fellow believers to live together in love and unity, and help them grow in spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness.
• The mature Christian trusts in the Lord and has full confidence in Him.
• The mature Christian bases his every belief on the Word of God. Do you know why you believe what you believe? Have you ever really thought about it? Do you believe the things you believe in because it’s what your family has always believed in, or do you yourself study the Word of God to find out what saith the Lord? Maturity in the Word brings maturity in life.
The growth of the immature Christian is stunted, while the mature Christian flourishes and grows strong in the Lord.
The roots of the mesquite reach downward sometimes 150-200 feet to find subsurface water. The mesquite’s root system is one of the deepest documented.
Are you rooted?
Ephesians 3:17-19 reads, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
That scripture tells us we are to be “rooted and established in love.” The roots of a tree must be planted in good soil so they have something substantial to hang onto and grow in. Love is the spiritual soil that our roots need to survive. Without the good soil of love we will not have anything to hold onto and we will wither up and perish.
Do you know how much Christ loves you? According to John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus loved us so much that He went to the cross for us. No greater friend do we have than Jesus.
So, are you rooted and established in love? How deep are your roots? Can you make it when a drought comes?
• Can you make it when your friends walk away from you because you care more about what God wants in your life then what your friends want?
• Can you make it when your family members call you a religious nut because you would rather go to church on Sunday than sleep in or have breakfast with them at the nearest House of Pancakes?
• Can you make it when your coworkers talk about you because you no longer want to gossip or hear raunchy jokes?
• Can you make it when your boss passes you up for a promotion because he thinks you’re not a team player since you won’t work on Sundays?
Are you drought resistant?
Mesquite prospers in a diversity of habitats – from the humid, sandy coastal plains to desert basins and dunes.
In the final paragraphs of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians he expressed his gratitude to them for sending him support in his hour of need. Paul was in prison in Rome when he penned this letter, but he told them that he had experienced a variety of circumstances throughout his ministry. He wanted them to know that regardless of the situations that they might find themselves in they should learn to be content.
Paul wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul had learned to prosper no matter where God sent him.
Can you prosper anywhere God plants you? Can you be content in any and every situation that may arise? Or, do you become unsettled when things get a little uncomfortable?
The kind of contentment that Paul was talking about is an inward state. It has to do with having a quiet heart opposed to the murmuring, fretting, unsettledness and unstableness of the world. This kind of spirit rises above the distractions, discouragements, sinful shiftings and shirkings of the carnal heart. (Phil. 4:14) Like Paul, Christians should be happy, adjusted and content, wherever the Lord places them.
Mesquite beans are durable enough for years of storage.
Psalm 92:12-14 reads, “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.”
Are you producing fruit that will last? Do you know what I mean by “fruit that will last”? I’m talking about spiritual fruit.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control …”
A Christian’s life should be characterized by these things. Are you producing fruit? Or is the opposite true?
• Instead of love, is there hatred or bitterness?
• Instead of joy, is there constant gloom?
• Instead of peace, is there turmoil?
• Instead of gentleness, is there a short temper?
• Instead of faith, is there endless worry?
• Instead of meekness, is there pride and arrogance?
• Instead of self-control, are you a victim of your own passions?
If you are a Christian, then people should be able to look for and find fruit in your life. Why? Because a disciple of Jesus Christ will produce spiritual fruit. Jesus said, “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8) Jesus also said, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:20)
Where is your fruit?
The flowers of the mesquite produce a fragrance that attracts insects, especially bees, necessary for prolific pollination.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 reads, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life...”
Does your life put off a fragrance that would attract a lost and dying world?
There is a song that some of you may know. It goes, "Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!" This statement should be true of our witness to the unsaved.
Our message to the world must follow Jesus' example: we are to love others before they love us. Our love for others must be sincere and supportive enough that people can feel comfortable admitting their sin. People need to know that we will not judge them. After all, we’ve all committed sins. The unsaved need to know that we will still love and accept them just as Jesus does.
The seeds of the mesquite, abundant and protectively coated, may last for decades, serving as seed banks that improve the odds for wide distribution and successful germination.
In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the farmer who sowed his seed. Jesus said, "’A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.’”
Then Jesus said, “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Are you reproducing? Are you planting seeds that will last the test of time and promote wide distribution of your faith? The avid gardener knows that patience, preparation, dedication and perseverance are all key to producing a bountiful crop. All we have to do is plant the seed of faith on good soil, and God will do the rest.
The wood of the mesquite was often used in crafting furniture. Its exquisite beauty, in spite of occasional character defects, rendered its craftsman with the feeling that the wood was participating in its creation.
2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV).
Do you exhibit such beauty that the Master Craftsman our Heavenly Father can know that you are actively participating in your creation? Sure, like the mesquite we all exhibit the occasional character defect, but the mature Christian does not allow those defects to be the focal point of their life. Instead they polish their lives in such a way that others see the beauty of being a follower of Christ.
The mesquite makes the best firewood because it gives off a wonderful aroma and it burns slowly and is smokeless.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 reads, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
What aroma do you give off? Do you mind your own business, or do you spend your time interfering in the lives of other people? Do people respect you, or do they avoid you like the plague? The mature Christian minds their own business, earns their own money, and takes great pleasure in doing so.
When the fire get’s hot, and you are facing the pressures and problems of life, are you smokeless or does everyone within shouting distance know you’re in the fire?
Mesquites were often used by Native Americans for food and medicinal purposes.
John 21:15-17 reads, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’”
Are you food to those around you? Do you comfortably share your faith with others – believers and nonbelievers alike? Can they come to you for healing even though you might be in the desert yourself?
You do not have to know all the right words to share your faith with other people. Some people are unmoved by a minister’s sermon, but will turn their lives around after hearing the sincere testimony of a friend. You can be that person.
So, in looking back at how the mesquite tree relates to Christians, I want to ask you …
• Are you a mature Christian?
• Are you rooted and established in love?
• Can you prosper anywhere God plants you?
• Do you yield fruit that will last?
• Are you giving off a fragrance that would attract a lost and dying world?
• Are you planting seeds that will last the test of time?
• Are you showing the beauty of being a believer?
• When you are in the fire are you smokeless?
• Are you food to those around you?
What color are your leaves? Are they wilted from lack of the Living Water? Are they brown from lack of faith? Are they brittle and dried out from lack of love? Or, have they just fallen off and blown away altogether?
I ask that you take some time to meditate on the color of your leaves.
God Bless you.