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The Persevering Palm
Exodus fifteen is a recording of the song of Moses. The victory God gave Moses and the children of Israel was surely something to praise God about. The jubilation in the celebration however was watered down by the bitter waters of Marah. The Christian experience has its misty side and every relationship has its ebb and flow. After the bitter waters were sweetened by a cut down tree, the Lord led His people to an even sweeter spot, an oasis of seventy Palm trees and twelve wells of water. Obedience to God will always lead to an oasis, a resting place right in the middle of life's races and riddles. The twelve wells of water are symbolic of God's amazing provisions for us when we trust and obey Him. Remember the miracle of the loaves and fishes where God multiplied two fishes and five loaves so that five thousand people were fed and the twelve baskets were filled with the excess? The people God chose as a nation were divided into twelve tribes, each having a specific vocational calling and position within the nation. We can draw from these wells of purpose for our lives too. It's good to know that God chose us, saved us, and called us to glorify Him. If you are getting discouraged or weary in well doing, then go to the wells of grace and draw and drink of God's goodness and mercy. Then there is the tree of life in Revelation twenty two verse two, "...which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." So we see God provides for us a healing resting place both in this life and in Heaven. God always gives us something to look forward to.

The Palm trees are what intrigued me in this text verse though. Anytime you find something in the Bible that stands out in creation too, you have something real special. The recent destructive path of hurricane Irma left thousands homeless, millions without power, and destroyed untold numbers of trees. Yet, while watching the news media's report of the storm's damage in coastal Florida and Puerto Rico, I noticed that Palm trees suffered very little damage compared to what happened to other tree species. I think there is something to be learned from the persevering Palm. There seems to be a correlation between a Palm tree and a Chrisian.

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon" Psalm 92:12

The life of a Palm tree comes through the center or heart. Other trees' hearts are dead so to speak, and the life of those trees, water and nutrients, are taken up by the roots and distributed up the tree via the outside or cambium layer. When logs were floated down the river to sawmills years ago, the trees were "girdled" before harvesting so they would die and therefore float easily along the sloughs into the main river run. A tree was girdled by cutting a band along the outer bark and just into the woody part of the tree's outside layer. Just a little cut would do because all flow of water and nutrients were stopped by the cut. You would not be able to kill a Palm tree like that though because the Palm tree can take abuse from the outside and survive. It's the heart of a Christian too that makes the difference between life and death. God has removed our strong, dead hearts and has given us a new heart of flesh and spiritual sensitivity.

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." II Corinthians 4:16

The heart of a Christian is the biggest part of his or her being because that's where the Holy Spirit dwells. God is a heart God and He knows our hearts. We would be better off to focus more on the heart, the inside, than we do the physical appearance, the outside. Israel wanted a mighty Oak for a King in insisting on King Saul for their leader. God however showed them the real resting place was under a Palm tree, a man after God's own heart, King David!

Because the Palm tree is all heart, it can break a band that's put around it. If you wrap a wire or metal band around most any other tree, as the tree increases in diameter, the band will cut into the tree, block the flow of nutrients and water, and the tree will die. The Palm tree will break the band as it grows larger. Why? The answer is because the Palm Tree is all heart. Likewise the Christian has the power of the Holy Spirit to break the shackles of sin and shame.

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." I John 4:4

God says that we should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies: that overcoming grace comes from the Holy Spirit.

Did you know that a Palm tree cannot be grafted into another tree? Horticulturists graft trees and plants all the time and the result has been increased productivity, especially in fruit and nut trees. When a hybrid stem is successfully attached to a common root stock that stem yields the genetic property of the improved fruit or nut parent plant.

A Christian cannot be grafted into this world either! If a Palm tree is grafted into another tree, the Palm will die. Neither can a Christian serve two masters. A believer finds sustenance from God and only God just like the children of Israel in the wilderness were fed by manna from above and not from the cupboards of Egypt.

Jesus Christ is our bread of life. He is the Living Word and that's why Job said he desired the word of God more than his necessary food.

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to mouth!" Psalm 119:103

A Christian and the world just does not mix. Like oil and water are incompatible, so is a child of God and this evil world. That's why God says we are pilgrims and strangers on Earth. We are aliens in this world, and if we try to imitate or cater to this world, we will die! We will die to the witness of grace and can become castaways as far as our service and usefulness to God is concerned.

A Palm tree is different really. This tree stands out among all the trees. Christians are different too. God has done something to us; He has recreated us, has changed our principles. Christians stand out among other people not because they are better than anybody else, but because of God's grace. The Apostle Peter tried to blend in with the crowd after the Lord Jesus was arrested; but, someone detected something different about the way he talked and exposed his discipleship with the Lord. Being different may not be popular humanly speaking, but for the believer, being different is like being like the Lord Jesus. We should be different in our response to life issues, in our demeanor, our thoughts, person and speech.

Palm trees withstood hurricane Irma's fierce winds because they are deep rooted and they do not carry very many excess branches. As we grow stronger in faith, we shed our desire for worldly things which makes us less vulnerable to temptation. And, when difficult times do come, we don't worry so much about material loss because grace has taught us what's important.

I must have picked up and hauled away a thousand pecan limbs in my yard in the aftermath of Irma's winds. Now, if my yard had Palm trees growing instead of Pecan trees, I would not have had enough limbs to sharpen my chain saw for. Actually, the Palm tree is such a stately and peaceful tree that the Jews used the limbs and branches to compliment the streets for the Lord Jesus's ride into Jerusalem. Even the leaves and branches of a palm tree are useful. The pecan limbs were hauled to the burn pile; that's all they were good for. Maybe they could be useful for flavoring a Boston butt over a grill but that's about all. A Palm tree will not burn very well. And, a born again believer will not burn either. The fires of God's wrath in hell will not hurt a child of God because his or her soul is soaked with the blood of Christ and therefore is hellfire retardant.

"Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Romans 5:9

The Christian influence for good is left behind long after the believer has departed this world to go home to be with the Lord. And, it's not the bole or main trunk of a Christian that will most probably leave the most pleasing and effective influence, it will be the branches and leaves of our lives - the little things, the love, the comfort that was genuinely shown. People don't really care how much you know. What really matters though is that you care. All the great theologians of the world cannot approach the influence that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ left when He died on the cross for us. Jesus really cares for you, even when you think no one else does! What He did for you and me ought to influence every phase of our lives on Earth. His strong love and spirit should motivate and prompt us to persevere in this land of sin and sorrow.

Palm trees weather storms even though they look scrawny and weak. Here's the deal with Palm trees though. They bend but do not break. Christians don't have fewer problems; indeed, they may have more, but Christians do have an all powerful God to help get them through the tough spots.

"Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." Psalm 37:24

The persevering Palm not only survives but flourishes in the desert. Perseverance means steadfast, never giving up. The "P" in the acronym "TULIP", which is famous for defining the five points of Calvinism, stands for preservation of the saints. All God's children are finally preserved from the wrath of God and will be most assuredly with Christ in Heaven to live with Him eternally. Perseverance is the spiritual strength and passion a believer has for the Kingdom of God brought about by the new birth. In a way, perseverance is the assurance a be-liever has for preservation. That's what God means when He says in Philippians 1 verse 6: "...he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." But to be overcomers is not about going to church, or reading the Bible, nor even praying and fasting. It's about a radical change God has made in us, calling us out of this world and darkness, and placing us in a desert to show others where water is and to form an oasis of rest and comfort.

The next storm you see on the horizon of life, remember the Palm tree and also remember who you are, a planting of the Lord! And, when life gets dry and dusty and you find yourself in a barren desert, look for a group of Palm trees and camp there. Elim is a picture of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we Christians are going to persevere, then we must find a church that teaches the truth, loves the Lord Jesus and one another. How involved are you in the church? I think you will find that your commitment to the church and your persevering in faith go hand in hand.

Christ is counting on us to spread the gospel message of grace. As there were seventy Palm trees at Elim, so Christ sent out seventy to spread the good news of the gospel. Though we often get discouraged, we must never quit. Let's press on through the storms and desert paths, clinging to the Lord, like a persevering Palm.

Brother Randy

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