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#blessed: Lesson 6

I can’t believe we’re at the end of our study. I hope you have been as blessed;) from studying blessedness as I have!

BACKGROUND

We have a lot to cover in this final lesson, so we’re going to jump right into it. Let’s get started by looking at verse 3 of the passage in the Psalm we’ve been studying. Remember, this verse is still describing the esher blessed person:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:3, NIV)

This lesson will bring us all the way back to where we started - talking about fruitfulness. Once again, this is where all blessedness collides. ALL blessedness involves fruitfulness - blessed to be a blessing!

APPLICATION

The verse begins by saying this blessed person is like a tree planted by streams of water.

We’ll get into the symbolism of the tree in just a second, but there are a couple things I want to point out about this little simile. The word streams in this verse isn’t the type of stream you’re probably imagining. It means “channels” or “canals,” and it is in reference to an ancient irrigation system. It represents a place of extreme fertility in which the tree is actually being irrigated by its water source.

How cool is it that?!

The passage also says this tree is planted. It is not growing randomly, sprouting up by chance somewhere. It is purposefully and strategically planted.

There is nothing accidental or random about who you are or where you are. Nothing.

God plants us in a place in which He will be the ever-present Supplier of all our needs. EVERY detail of who we are and EVERY place we’re planted is purposeful!

Now, something surprised me when I looked up the definition of the Hebrew word translated planted in this verse - the word actually means “to transplant.”

Oh here we go…Scripture is full of so many awesome things when we dig in!

The definition of the word transplant on dictionary.com is this: “to remove (a plant) from one place and plant it in another.”

Have you ever been a transplant? Have you ever felt like a transplant? Maybe you’ve been...

  • transplanted from the coast living in the midwest.

  • transplanted from the south living in the north.

  • transplanted from the country living in the city.

Or, our place of transplant might not even be a place, it might be a role...

  • transplanted from full-time ministry into corporate America.

  • transplanted from one professional field into another.

  • transplanted from corporate America into full-time motherhood.

I’ve realized something, being a transplant myself at the moment: all feelings of being a transplant involve our identity. Who am I, and where do I belong?

I’ve lived in large suburbs of big cities my whole life, and now I am living on hundreds of acres in a very small town. We uprooted our children, walked away from our beloved church home, and I let go of the role I held professionally as President and Executive Director of Unlock Freedom.

And I’m not going to lie, I’ve felt it.

But what I’ve discovered in this season is the real struggle lies in the fact that I’ve come face-to-face with whether or not I’m truly content to find my identity in Christ alone. And that’s when it hit me: when we are in Christ, we are ALL transplants.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:15-16, ESV)

If we are trying to find our identity in the culture of our earthly home, then we are missing the fact that our true identity is found in the culture of our heavenly home!

So many people today are striving to find their identity within their pursuits or achievements. However, there is not a place, a role, nor an achievement that will allow our soul to be at rest within that identity. The ONLY place to find rest in our identity is when we realize that it is simply found “in Christ.” He IS our identity. When we place our lives in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ, our old life is completely uprooted, and we are wholly transplanted into a new life with a new identity.

I want to show you another passage in which this same word for planted is used:

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted [transplanted] in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; (Psalm 92:12-14a, ESV)

Both trees mentioned in the verse above (the palm and cedar) are symbols of longevity and growth, as both are green all year and grow large in size. This verse says the righteous, who will flourish like these trees, are planted [or have been transplanted] in the house of the LORD and that they flourish in the courts of God.

Just as we discussed last week, this doesn’t mean we only flourish when we work in full-time ministry within the walls of a church (although I believe we should all serve our local church in some capacity throughout our lives). This takes us back to the same thing we talked about last week - that when we are in Christ we become the house of God because the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We are transplanted from being of the world to being of the LORD, and in that place we flourish (regardless of our physical location). It says we will still be bearing fruit in old age!

I know some pretty amazing men and women who are still impacting the world around them in what could be considered old age;) Oh how I want to be like that!

Okay, let’s take a look back at Psalm 1:3, but this time in the ESV translation. There are two small, seemingly insignificant words found in the original text which the NIV translation omits. I’ve highlighted them below:

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

You might be able to guess where I’m going with this:) These two little possessive pronouns jumped out at me when I was studying for this lesson because this truth is sometimes SO difficult for us to learn.

In a culture inundated with social media highlight reels, how much time do we waste trying to (or wishing we could) produce peaches when God created us to produce apples?!

OR, if we want to get really real, how much time do we spend judging others for not producing peaches when they’re an apple tree?!

God created us, planted us, and waters us to produce OUR unique fruit in OUR unique season.

When God called me to fight human trafficking, He broke my heart for the issue in a way I had never before experienced and have never experienced since. I felt so strongly about the issue that I thought everyone should be fighting human trafficking with the same tenacity at which I was called to fight it. It took me a while to realize that if everyone was called to combat human trafficking with their whole heart, then who would fight for the homeless, the orphan, the foster child, the hungry, or the widow?

If all were called to vocational ministry, then who would be planted in the marketplace, in small business, in corporate America, in classrooms, and in governments to impact a lost and hurting world? If all were called to ministry in America, then who would reach those on the soils of foreign lands? It pains me when I hear Christians use the statement that “there is a mission field right here in our own backyard” to subversively accuse those called to foreign missions. The anti-trafficking organization I founded combats human trafficking in America, but oh how I love and respect those who are called to combat it globally!

The Bible says it is God who is at work within us to will and to work for His purposes (Philippians 2:13). So who am I to judge the desires God has placed within you to work for His purposes?!

Take motherhood, for example. Maybe the fruit you’re called to produce in this season is full-time within the walls of your home, while someone else’s is not. I’ve heard women judge each other so many times on this point alone. Stay-at-home moms sometimes demeaningly ask how someone could leave their child to the care of another, while working moms sometimes demeaningly ask how women could ever be content to be home all day long.

We have to stop focusing on the fruit we think other people should be producing and start making sure we’re producing the fruit we were created to produce!

The clues to our calling are found in those things which cause our heart to beat a little faster and our blood pressure to rise a little higher. Our calling is found in those things which cause our excitement level to elevate and our creativity to ignite. We have to remain so deeply planted in the soil of God and His Word, that we do what we’re supposed to do in the season we’re in. Then, when God whispers “go” or “do” or “it’s time” - or “wait” or “be still” - we hear Him!

Let’s talk about seasons. When a tree flowers, it looks beautiful and provides nourishment to various birds and insects. When a tree produces fruit, it provides nourishment to people and other animals, and it and scatters seeds (multiplies!). When a tree is consumed with leaves, it provides shade and a sense of peace. When a tree is stripped bare, there is growth happening on the inside in preparation for the next season.

Every season in our lives has a purpose in our growth and the bearing of our fruit.

Some might say my greatest fruit was produced through founding Unlock Freedom or Annie Perkins Ministries, but I was a stay-at-home mom for almost ten years before that. Who’s to say those years I spent raising my children, having constant access to their hearts and minds, weren’t far more fruit-bearing than the ones I spent building Unlock Freedom?

Psalm 1:3 says the tree’s leaf shall not wither. The word translated wither here means “to fade or to fall away.” When we remain firmly planted in Christ, we will be ever-flourishing, never fading away. Within every season God will cause us to flourish and to prosper.

When God is our Source we can be confident that He will make us fruitful and multiply us - in the season we’re in and in the ones to come!

We’ll end by going back to Psalm 1:3 one last time. It closes its entire description of this blessed person by saying, In all that he does, he prospers. (ESV)

The word translated prosper here means “to advance, to push forward, to succeed.” It encompasses the meaning of bringing something to a successful end.

This sounded to me a whole lot like something we studied in a previous lesson. Do you remember the definition of the root word ashar from which esher is derived? It means “to go straight, to go on, advance.”

With God as our source, we will advance until we have reached the successful end God created us to reach!

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6, ESV)

We are blessed. All mankind. But we who are in Christ have been consecrated to God and blessed with every spiritual blessing. Within that blessing is the promise that God will make us fruitful and multiply us. When we acknowledge the presence of God in our lives, when our roots are firmly planted in the soil of Jesus Christ, then we can walk in happy contentment knowing that God is directing our path, that He is our Source of all things, and that He is going to complete the work He starts in us until the day He takes us home to be with Him.

That’s what it’s all about, our whole purpose for being on this planet - to know God and to allow Him to bear fruit through us that will multiply and increase the numbers of Heaven.

#blessed!!

PRAYER

Oh God, once again, increase my desire to know You and my ability to perceive Your presence within my life. Help me to know that I belong exactly where You’ve planted me, and to produce the fruit You’ve called me to produce in the season I’m in. Help me to be all You’ve created me to be so that You can use my life to multiply Your kingdom. Thank You and praise You, God, for blessing me, and help me to be a blessing!

PONDER

1. Where are you planted right now? Are you struggling to find your identity in an earthly place or role, while God is calling you to find your identity in Him?

2. Look back over your life and begin to think on the various seasons you’ve already walked through. Can you see fruitfulness which has come about through those seasons?

3. What season are you in and what do you sense God working within you and through you during this season? Are you aware of the fruit God created you to produce?

© 2018 Annie Perkins Ministries, Inc.