Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Trees and Palm Sunday

     A few years ago Pat and I had the pleasure of going on a brief trip to Florida.  We left cold, damp NY and landed at the Miami airport shortly after a thunder storm had left the area.  It was clear from the moment we landed that we were not in Ny anymore.  The temperature was much warmer.  The air smelled fresh and clean from the recent storm, with a hint of salt.  There were pam trees growing everywhere.  Some were only a few feet tall and others towered over us.  
     As Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jeruselem, the people broke off palm branches and waved them in front of Him.  Less than a week later these same people would gather to see Him crucified.
     The righteous shall flourish like the pam tree:  he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  ~ Psalm 92:12
     In Miami, I saw about ten palm trees on one city block that had tripod supports nailed into bands about seven feet up thier trunks.  I guess this was intended to help support them in hurricane force winds.  I wondered why more of the trees were not protected in this way.  Then I found out that the bands were unnecessary because palm trees are different from other trees.
     We have all seen nails and old clothesline wires sunk deep into the trunk of a maple tree.  As a palm tree grows it doesn't grow around the band - it breaks the bands.
          What is it about palm trees that make them so special?  A palm tree bends in a strong wind, but does not break.  A palm tree has a deep taproot that goes way down through the sands to find moisture far below the surface.  This helps a palm tree to flourish in the desert.  A group of palm trees forms an oasis which shelters other plants from the hot sun and helps to make each one stronger.  Unlike other trees, whose bark is vulnerable, the bark of the palm is meant to take abuse because it's life is on the inside.  The heart of the palm tree is alive.  As a palm tree ages, its fruit becomes sweeter.  Palm trees are evergreens and do not make good fire wood.
     Psalm 92 compares the righteous believer to a palm tree.  In the storms of life, like the palm tree, the believer bends, but does not break.  The Bible and prayer offer the believer a deep taproot that anchors him to God.  The bands of sin and death have been broken for us.  We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  Believers can provide an oasis of shade for those who are weak and hurting.
      Like the palm tree, the life of the child of God is within.
     Though the outward man perish, et the inward man is renewed day by day.  ~ II Corinthians 4:16
     Christ has removed our heart of stone and given us a heart of flesh.  As we mature in Christ, we produce sweeter fruit.  As a child of God, we will not suffer the fires of hell.  Like an evergreen, the child of God has everlasting life.
     After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:  Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."  All the angels fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying:  Praise, glory, Wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Then on of the elders asked me,  "These in white robes--who are they, and where did  they come from?"  I answered, "Sir, you know."  And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple;  and He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.  Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;  he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."  ~Revelation 7:9-17
 It is good to praise the Lord
 To proclaim His love in the morning
 And His faithfulness at night, because
 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree. ~ Psalm 92: 1-2,12

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