The Pastors Corner

A Lesson from the Olive Tree
A Lesson from the Olive Tree

Richard Lennox • July 08, 2020

Jeremiah 11:16-17

A few of my children have given me the name “Crazy plant lady.” Owning several lemon trees, fig trees, an orange, and even a banana tree, but my most prized plant would be my olive tree. I love that tree dearly, mainly because my husband and I agreed that if I could keep a lemon tree alive for one year, I could endeavor onto my dream tree.

Of course, you can only imagine my heart-wrenching decision to cut the tree down to a stump when we made our 5 hours move to a new state. We were not sure what would happen when I cut the tree whether it would live or die.

One thing I didn’t know about the Olive Tree, was how resilient it was. When cut down the olive tree would bear new shoots and branches growing once again. (The perfect tree for those of us born without a green thumb)

The Bible uses the Olive tree in many illustrations, specifically when speaking of God’s people the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 11:16a “The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit:” Yet, the tree would be consumed by fire later in verse 16, “with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.” There was sin in the nation of Israel and the House of Judah for their worship the Baal, (vs. 17)

No one enjoys the view of wildfires taking away many beautiful old tree’s, yet this is the image that is given to us in verse 17. A beautiful Olive Tree has been burned with fire and it’s branches removed. Yet, God does not leave the nation without hope. Jeremiah 33:14-16 the hope is given that from the stump a righteous branch will come “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” God sent His son to fulfill the promise made to His loved people.

In Romans 11:17 Paul uses the olive tree once again, to show the mercy of God in grafting the Gentiles into this beautiful tree, so that not only the nation of Israel could enjoy such salvation, but the gift was also given to the Gentiles.

As I wrote this today, I looked out onto my deck the sun was shining on the beautiful leaves of my growing olive tree. I am reminded of God’s unending provision and grace shown to His people, and rest in the knowledge that God is a God of promises kept and fulfilled.

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Forgiven and Remembered
Forgiven and Remembered

Richard Lennox • May 10, 2020

Ruth 2:1  

Mother's Day is here, and for many, it will be a relaxing day filled with joyous memories of your children or the memories of your mother. Nevertheless, for others, it may be a day filled with thoughts of failures, looking back on your life with shame.

Let us read Ruth 2:1 together, "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

This seems to be an odd verse for Mother's Day, doesn't it? The book of Ruth is filled with several other verses that we could have chosen from, but I want to take a moment to reflect on what we see in Boaz. In Ruth 4:21, we note that Salmon begat or was the father of Boaz, but who was the mother of Boaz? In Matthew 1:5, the bible says, "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab, and Booz begat Obed of Ruth, and Obed begat Jesse;" Rachab is also spelled Rahab and Booz is also spelled, Boaz. 

Rahab, you mean Rahab, the harlot? We are not 100% sure if, indeed, the Rahab spoken of in Matthew 1:5 is the same woman in Joshua 2:1. However, there is a lot of evidence that would suggest that she is the same woman.

The question we should start with is, how did her past life affect the way she raised her children? Was she too ashamed to tell her little ones what her past life looked like? Or, would she willingly tell them of God's redeeming grace on her and her family's life?

Looking at her son Boaz, I would like to think that she openly showed her children the amazing redeeming forgiveness that God bestowed on her. We can see throughout the short book of Ruth that Boaz was kind and welcoming to his workers and the gleaners. In Ruth 2:4, it notes that Boaz came from Bethlehem and greeted the gleaners, "The Lord be with you" and blessed them, saying, "The Lord bless thee."

Boaz protected Ruth from the aggressive males that were also working the fields she was gleaning from (Ruth 2:9), and he noticed the excellent qualities that Ruth possessed (2:11 and 12). Boaz not only protected her from harm's way, but he also made it possible for her to eat with his workers as well as glean extra food for Naomi (2:14-19). Boaz was noted for his kindness by Naomi in verse 20.

He cared about her character by not allowing others to see her lying at his feet so as to mar her reputation (3:10-11 and 13-14). He was an honest man, knowing that there was another kinsman redeemer before he could take Ruth as his wife (3:12). He went before the other kinsman to allow him to take Ruth (4:3-6) as his wife. The kinsman declined the opportunity because his own inheritance would be marred, and he did not want to lose his own inheritance to Ruth and her future child.

So, as we have read through an amazing account of a godly man, we are drawn back to Boaz and his mother, We read in Proverbs 6:20 "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:" The mother carried an important role during the Old Testament of caring, tending to, and raising her children in the Lord. If Rahab had allowed her former life to destroy her future, would her son have turned out the way he did?

Today as you examine your past, as a believer, it is through God's redeeming grace that you have been forgiven (1 John 1:9). Because of Jesus' death on the cross, the sins of a believer has been removed from the presence of God. Hebrews 8:12 says, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

Do not let your past faults ruin your future opportunity; instead, let it be a way to show God's work in your life. 

Happy Mother's Day!

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The Heart of Worship
The Heart of Worship

Richard Lennox • May 09, 2020

Psalms 50:7-23

If someone were to say, "Jack of all trades." It might make a person pop up in your mind; you could have said that about the handyman that is working on your house. But do you know the meaning behind the statement?

The Collins dictionary states, "If you refer to someone as a jack-of-all-trades, you mean that they are able to do a variety of different jobs. You are also often suggesting that they are not very good at any of these jobs." That last portion may make you rethink calling a good friend that term.

What about the statement from Psalms 50:10? "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." I have heard this several times as a way to comfort another believer. Still, the question should be raised "Is this really a comforting statement?"

This Psalm is written by Asaph, who is painting the picture of a court scene for the readers. At the beginning of Psalms 50, we can see that the Almighty God of Israel using words that show that He is taking His people to court to sue them. In Verse 4 we read, "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people." He summons the heavens and the earth as His witness against the nation of Israel. Not only will He be the judge in this trial, as stated in verse 6, but as we continue reading on to verse 7, we see that God will also testify against the nation of Israel.

When we are reading through those beginning verses, it may make us start to rethinking verse 10, right?

What did Israel do that God would take the Nation of Israel to court? In verse 7, we read,  "Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God." This statement is similar to Deuteronomy 6:4; it's a call that begins with the imperative ( שִׁמְעָ֤הšim·ʿā(h) to Hear or listen. Closing with the statement, "I am God, even thy God." (אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָʾělō·hêʹ·ḵā) instead of the more common "I am the Lord."  

Was it because Israel was not doing their job, were they not sacrificing? Actually, God wasn't rebuking them over their sacrifices at all! Instead, it was how the nation of Israel would give to God. He points out in verse 8 that the sacrifices have been placed before Him continually.

God makes the statement in verse 10. "For every breast of the forest in mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." Does this mean that we need not worry about life, or that God is blessing us with the cattle of the field? No, this verse is given to remind the nation that He doesn't need their sacrifices. He created and owns all things dwelling on the earth. God becomes more vocal about this point as Israel was "preparing a meal" for God- in verse 12-13, we read, " If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?" He is not looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner from the Israelites.

In verse 14, God signals what He is looking for in worship "Offer unto God thanksgiving."

God gives a list of sins that the nation is doing to break their covenant with God. They made friends with thieves, and partakers with adulterers (vs. 18) they use their mouths for evil, and their tongues fathomed deceit (vs.19). They speak against their brother, and they slander their mothers' son (vs. 20)

I'm sure by now you would say well, of course, God doesn't want worship from those sinful people! What does this have to do with me? In verse 22, it states, "ye that forget God," but did they really forget God? Looking back at verse 5, if you remember, the sacrifices were always before Him. In the Far Eastern region, it was common for people to believe it was their obligation to serve their gods three meals a day. It would appear that they adopted such an idea that meeting the needs of God would allow humankind to manipulate Him in some way.

Ouch! That steps on a few toes. For many believers, the thought is, I attend church, sing in the choir, I give my tithe, and even work in the nursery, so how many blessings can I get from God by serving Him? We need to ask when we worship God, what is the underlying cause of such worship? Are we honoring God in our worship, or do we worship to gain or manipulate God into getting what we want?

"Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God." God desires your heart; He wants you not your money, time, or goods.

The final question remains, are you giving your goods, money, and time to God to gain favor or blessing, or are you giving Him your heart?  

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Where Does Your Confidence Lie?
Where Does Your Confidence Lie?

Richard Lennox • April 21, 2020

Psalms 27:4

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”

Context is key, right?

Why would David pen such words, where was God if David desired to be in the presence of God? In verses 2-3, we find that David is hidden from His enemies When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” (vs. 2)

David knew the protective role God had in His life; he speaks from experience having confidence that God can and will protect him. David was not afraid of the enemies, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” God was his stronghold; he had no reason to fear the attacks of man.

Why then would David continue, if he was not afraid of his enemies? Remember, this passage was written in the Old Testament when men and women did not have the pleasure of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The only way to have communion with God was through the Holy Temple, where God resided. David was not from the tribe of Levi, so the close presence he desired wouldn’t allow him to enter the Holy Place.

Yet, David longed to be in the presence of God. He desired to be near Him. To seek ( בקשׁ) and to ask or desire( שׁאל  ), David may have been not only seeking the face of God but also looking to God for guidance. David was committed to God and the way of life in which God has commanded the nation of Israel. David knew that he didn’t need to fear the shadows of death or any foe that came up against him because God was his fortress and his hiding place.

As a believer, you have that close presence of God that David so longed and hoped for because you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. Even though He is always with you, is it your desire to have that same presence and fellowship with Him? Do you desire to be near to your ever-present God? Is your confidence for the future placed in God as it was for David, or are you worried about the future and the events that are happening around you? 

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