Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Live Like a Sequoia!

"The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:27-29 (CEB)
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   Wouldn't it be great to live like a sequoia? In case you didn't know, a sequoia is one of a variety of cypress trees also known as giant redwoods.  These mammoths among trees can grow hundreds of feet tall and live hundreds of years long. Some of its most impressive specimens have amazing records like the tallest one at 311 feet, the widest at 57 feet in diameter at its base, thickest bark at 3 feet thick, and the oldest one at 3,500 years old. With those numbers its easy to understand why it is listed among the largest, if not the largest living organism ever.

But to me one of the most interesting facts about this wonder of God's creation is what it needs to grow. The sequoias need fire...yes fire. For most trees in most forests, a wildfire is an agent of destruction, but for the mighty sequoia, its an ingredient for growth. See fire burns off other vegetation closer to the forest floor that compete for water and nutrients in the soil.  The resulting ash both enriches the soil and provides a protective covering for the sequoia seeds scattered on the ground beneath. And...amazingly, the cone of the sequoia requires heat, and lots of it to open up and germinate. So if it wasn't for the fires in the life of the sequoia, not only would it not be as big and strong and mighty as it is, it simply would not survive.

What about you? You think you need some fire in your life?  Well, the way that we typically react to it, we obviously think that we don't. We go through tough times, and we complain. We face some heartache, and we throw our hands up. We lose something or someone we thought we needed, and we question God. But what about that tree? Do we think that God would have a better plan for a plant than He would for us? Of course not!

See, we are God's creation like the sequoia, but the difference is He put more time and thought in making us. He simply said "..Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself..." and the sequoia just appeared. But with us, God decided He wanted to make us after His own image, and so "..God formed us of the dust of the ground, and breathed into [our] nostrils the breath of life". we know that the Lord took time and care in making us because the Bible says 'we are fearfully and wonderfully made".

So you think that God who created us has allowed fires to come into our lives to destroy us? No! He wants to use them to help us grow. He wants to burn off the things and get rid of the people who are only sucking life out of our environment. He wants to enrich the soil of our future with the sorrow of our past. And He wants to use the heat of our trials to open up the seeds of hope in our hearts so that He can bring forth the new life that's inside of us.

We may not be able to stop or escape the fires that come in our life no more than that tree can. But we can choose how we respond to them. And personally, I choose to Live Like a Sequoia!

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