I love the correlation that we find all through the Bible between nature and God’s word. The Bible uses examples of sheep, deer, seeds, rain, storms, fruit, bread, light and trees. If a truth is tied to a story we seem to remember it better. Jesus called these stories parables and he used them frequently.
A while back a friend sent me this picture on FB and said she knew I could probably come up with a sermon using this as an example. I’ve seen leaves like this before, holey and destroyed. We spent our summers in Iowa working for an aerial applicator, crop duster, one thing they face there are Japanese beetles. These bugs will eat the leaves of the soy beans and complete destroy a plant if they aren’t stopped. They do the same to the trees in the RV park we lived in. The leaves that fall to the ground are so badly eaten that only a shell of veins and stem are left. If not stopped they will completely destroy these beautiful shade trees that have been there for years.
These beetles came in ornamental trees that were imported and sold at nurseries. They loved the humid, hot climate and quickly multiplied. But when they first came into the country they were unnoticed or ignored, but they quickly multiplied and they ravenous appetites made them very destructive.
You know sin is like that – at first it’s hidden or even ignored. But if left to its self, it brings destruction. So how then do we eradicate it? How do we stop the harmful effects? It’s good to have an exterminator close by.
“Great blessings belong to those who don’t listen to evil advice, who don’t live like sinners, and who don’t join those who make fun of God.
2 Instead, they love the LORD’s teachings and think about them day and night.
3 So they grow strong, like a tree planted by a stream— a tree that produces fruit when it should and has leaves that never fall. Everything they do is successful.” Psalm 1:1-3 ERV
You can’t go around trying to kill all the little bugs you see – they’ve already done the damage but what you do is protect the tree, your heart, and it will grow strong. Jesus referred to us a trees that bear fruit.
“If you want good fruit, you must make the tree good. If your tree is not good, it will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it produces. 34 You snakes! You are so evil. How can you say anything good? What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts. 35 Those who are good have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. 36 I tell you that everyone will have to answer for all the careless things they have said. This will happen on the day of judgment. 37 Your words will be used to judge you. What you have said will show whether you are right or whether you are guilty.” Matthew 12:33-37 ERV
Make the tree good – have your heart filled with good things and as the verses in Psalm 1 say that happens when we love the Lord’s teachings and we think on them day and night we will be like a tree whose leaves never fall. Having a strong tree, a strong heart – allows us to provide rest and food for those around us.
We’ve all been through times when leaves have dropped from our branches that are diseased and full of holes but GOD has provided the way to health and healing, spiritually and physically, from the bugs that have attacked us. As we stay firmly planted, His life giving water (the Word) will be our defense against predatory bugs that would seek to destroy us!