Lessons From 
The Cedar Tree

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Pastor Bill Farrow

Psalm 92:12

Introduction

Just one verse of scripture, in fact one half of  one verse of scripture I want to address tonight.  You  know I have never done it but one day I might preach a  series of sermons on the trees in the bible. Adam  behind the tree hiding. Elijah under the tree.  Nathaniel beside the tree. Zacchaeus up the tree.  Jesus on the tree. I mean there are all sorts of  things you could preach on.

I want us to examine the Cedars of Lebanon.  The  Psalmist said that the righteous man shall flourish  like a Palm tree He shall grow like a Cedar in  Lebanon. The Cedars of Lebanon were used in the temple  to make it beautiful. God gives us some Cedars to make  the church beautiful. Cedars describe a Person  (Righteous) Cedars describe a potential (Flourishing).  Why is there so little spiritual growth.

I. CHARACTER OF THE FLOURISHING MAN

A. “He will flourish.”

It means to grow. He  thrives. He blossoms.  He shall flourish like a Cedar  of Lebanon. Now maybe some of you think that there is  only one kind of cedar tonight. There are four Cedars  we will look at tonight.

B. First the Little Cedar.

The little cedar was  very small, very unimpressive. But very important.  It  was named so because it wasn't very tall. The little  Cedar was small but it was very important. It was used  for fence posts. It was used for studding in the  walls.  It was used in the ceilings and even in the  furnishing of the temple.

Now there is something very interesting about  the little cedar. When a man goes out to get them he  cuts them down and then piles them on a cart. It's not  necessary for them to be tied on with a cord or a  rope. So he can just pile them on a cart and they will  stay there. I mean he can whip those old oxen and down  the road they go, around the curves, across the  potholes, but not a one falls off. Do you know why?  Because there is a certain "consistency," in the bark  of the little cedar and they simply cling like glue to  one another.

Now brother that's the kind of stuff that God  is looking for. He's not necessarily looking for the  beautiful oak or the polished maple tree. But God is  looking for some ruff, crude, if you will, little  cedars.

As a pastor I spend most of my time going  along behind the cart, picking up the little trees  that fall off.  And about the time I think I have them  all on another falls off. The result is that most  pastors don't have time to give himself to study,  prayer, or the preparation of his sermons because too  much of his time is spent in picking up the little  trees that fall off.  And then he can't find the time  to go out and the get the lost and preach salvation  in.

And brother it shouldn't be that way there  ought to be a certain consistency. There ought to be  certain dependability. Something of that bark of the  little cedar that holds them together.

Another thing about them is they are not  usually the most outspoken, or the most visible, or  the most impressive people, in God's church.  Did you  know that many times the most important in God’s house  are those who feel themselves to be most unworthy. 

And if you are here today, you feel you are  small. “I am too insignificant and preacher you know  I'm not very talented.   You know I'm not very smart  and there's really not much I can do for God.” Well I  am saying to you are important to God. You are  important to the church. You are important to me and  to what God is doing in these last days in which we  are living.   3. Do you know what makes the difference in the  little cedars?  They have developed a pattern of  faithfulness. They don't live by their fickle feelings  but they live by quality decision that they have made.

They are faithful and they are not shaken by  anything. They are patterned to read the word of God  and to pray. It is their pattern to go to the house of  God and to worship.  It is their pattern to give in  the offering and tithes. It's their pattern to witness  every day.

 

I heard about this young lady who after dating  this boy for about three years was having second  thoughts about marrying him because he was too  predictable.  She knew every move he was going to  make. She said I am afraid I will get bored.  She said  she wanted someone who was not so predictable.  She  said I like a fellow that you don't know what he is  going to do from one minute to the next.

Let me tell you something, in marriage or your  Christian life look for predictable people. Some one  you can count on today and tomorrow.

Now folks I get a little uneasy about those  people that you don't know where they are coming from.  People scare me when they are sweet as honey today and  tomorrow they are as sour as a dill pickle. This week  they are on fire for God, ready to turn the world  upside down but the next time you see them they are  cold and indifferent. Be predictable.  God is looking  for people who are consistent. People who are faithful  to the work of God. 

Do you know the one sin that plagues the  church above all others? It's not the sin of murder or  adultery. It's the sin of inconsistency.  The one sin  that I have failed God in and that is not doing what I  know that I should do.

C. But thank God for the little cedars.

They are  faithful. They hang in there and you can depend on  them to do what God has called them to do.

 

The 1992 Summer Olympics featured two  tremendously poignant moments. American sprinter Gail  Devers, the clear leader in the 100-meter hurdles,  tripped over the last barrier. She agonizingly pulled  herself to her knees and crawled the last five meter,  finishing fifth—but finishing.

Even more heart-rending was the 400-meter  semifinal in which British runner Derek Redmond tore a  hamstring and fell to the track. He struggled to his  feet and began to hopple, determined to complete the  race. His father ran from the stands to help him off  the track, but the athlete refused to quit. He leaned  on his father, and the two limped to the finish line  together, to deafening applause.1

D. My friend that's the stuff that little cedars  are made of.

 

Clarence Jordan was a man of unusual abilities  and commitment. He had two Ph.D.s, one in agriculture  and one in Greek and Hebrew. So gifted was he, he  could have chosen to do anything he wanted. He chose  to serve the poor. In the 1940s, he founded a farm in  Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia Farm. It was  a community for the poor whites and the poor blacks.  As you might guess, such an idea did not go over well  in the Deep South of the '40s. Ironically, much of the  resistance came from good church people who followed  the laws of segregation as much as the other folk in  town. The town people tried everything to stop  Clarence. They tried boycotting him, and slashing  worker's tires when they came to town. Over and over,  for fourteen years, they tried to stop him.

Finally, in 1954, the Ku Klux Klan had enough of  Clarence Jordan, so they decided to get rid of him  once and for all. They came one night with guns and  torches and set fire to every building on Koinonia  Farm but Clearance's home. Which they riddled with  bullets. And they chased off all of the families  except one black family, which refused to leave.  Clarence recognized the voices of many of the  Klansmen, and, as you might guess some of them were  church people. Another was the local newspaper's  reporter. The next day, the reporter came out to see  what remained of the farm. The rubble still smoldered  and the land was scorched, but he found Clarence in  the field, hoeing and planting.

“I heard the awful news," he called to Clarence,"  and I came out to do a story on the tragedy of your  farm closing." Clarence just kept on hoeing and  planting. The reporter kept prodding, kept poking,  trying to get a rise from this quietly determined man  who seemed to be planting instead of packing his bags.

So, finally, the reporter said in a haughty  voice, “Well, Dr. Jordan, you got two of them Ph.D.s  and you've put fourteen years into this farm, and  there's nothing left of it at all. Just how successful  do you think you've been?"

Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the  reporter with his penetrating blue eyes, and said  quietly but firmly, "About as successful as the cross.  Sir, I don't think you understand us. What we are  about is not success but faithfulness. We're staying.  Good day." Beginning that day, Clarence and his  companions rebuilt Koinonia and the farm is going  strong today.2

I. CHARACTER OF THE FLOURISHING MAN 
II. COMMUNION OF THE FLOURISHING MAN

Now let me tell you about another cedar I've  learned about.  The fire cedar got its name because it  was saturated with a very oily sap and it was highly  flamable. In fact the shepherd used the fire cedar to  light their campfire at night because it would ignite  with a spark and burn almost indefinitely.

And brother we need some fire cedars in the  church today. I love to see people in our church who  need no pressuring, no priming, no programming. I am  talking about seeing people come to the House of God  soaked with the oil of the Holy Spirit and ready to  catch fire and burn for the glory of God. 

I believe one of the most distracting things I  see in some Baptist Churches today are preachers who  get up and beg and plead and coax and try to get  people to worship God. I think that would be a good  place for an amen.

Worship is not something that you whip up down  here below. It is something that comes down from  above. Now I don't think we ought to freeze in  formalism.  I don't think we ought to fry in  fanaticism. 

Somebody say praise the Lord.  Somebody say  amen. That's distracting.  Have you ever pumped water  from a well and you pump and pump and nothing came  out. What did you do? Sometimes we have to put  something in to get something out. Worship, God  desires it, God deserves it, and God demands it.

 

It is said of Rowland Hill that, on one occasion,  someone sat on the pulpit stairs, who sang in his ears  with such a sharp shrill voice, that he could endure  it no longer, but said to the good woman, "I wish you  would be quiet."; when she answered, " It comes from  my heart." “Oh," said he, "pray forgive me- sing away:  sing as loudly as you will."3

You have got to put something in before you  can get something out of it.  If we know that in the  natural why don't we know that in the spiritual?  It  shouldn't be that we have to pump the people up. When  they come they ought to be prayed up and ready to  praise God. Why do people come and sit and slump and  soak and sour and say “Here I am preacher, bless me if  you can and if you can stir me more power to you.”  I  mean here is a man who reads the morning newspaper and  then hunts for his bible so he can get to church on  time. You know folks we ought to come to church ready  to go. And if you aren't primed for the service then  more than likely you won't get anything out of it.   Amen.

And let me tell you sometimes on Sunday nights  I go home beat and worn out, shoulders aching why,  because I have been pumping. I've been preaching to  folks who have lost their prime. They haven't prayed  since last Sunday. They haven't been renewed since the  last revival service and here I am – pump, pump. Lord  help us to put some fire cedars in the church that  will come already primed and ready to rejoice in the  power of the Lord.

We need some fire cedars in the church today  because when it burns it energizes, it warms, it  empowers the people of God. It's the fire of the Holy  Spirit we seek.

God hates bondage; He hates it so much that he  sent a Moses to lead the children out of Egypt. He  hates it so much that he sent His son Jesus Christ to  set you free.

I. CHARACTER OF THE FLOURISHING MAN 
II. COMMUNION OF THE FLOURISHING MAN 
III. CONSOLATION OF THE FLOURISHING MAN

Let's look at the Humming Cedar.  The way it  got its name was because of the way the leaves were  shaped on the humming cedar.  When the winds would  blow especially on a cold winter night those humming  cedars with its bell shaped leaves would give off a  melodious humming sound.

There was a legend years ago that said King  David tuned his harp by the Cedars of Lebanon. They  made a very beautiful sound when the wind blew through  them.  The harder the wind blew the louder they would  sing. Oh what a beautiful sound that must have been.

Did you know that God uses humming cedars  today?  He sure does. He uses humming cedars to keep  the sweetness of spiritual harmony ringing in the  church.  We need humming cedars through and through.   Men and women who can turn bitterness into sweetness.

You see God knows we've got enough fussers and  complainers and backbiters and criticizers, people who  moan and groan and sigh and cry.

 

I heard one pastor say that he had the whole  Tator family in his church. He said he had the  dictators, the agitators, and the irritators. He said  he had them all.

God deliver us from the Tators.  Let's pray that  God plant some humming cedars in the church. The  harder the wind blows the louder and sweeter they will  be.  Praise God for the humming cedars.  You know  people are like the humming cedars.

When the pressure is on what ever is on the  inside will come out on the outside. If there is  sweetness on the inside and the storm rages then  bitterness is not going to come out.

My friend you can always find people out and  they will find themselves out too. When the winds blow  and the pressure is on. Now listen to me. You will  never know if you are a crab apple or a weeping willow  or a humming cedar until the wind blows. So we need to  pray that God will give us some humming cedars to keep  the melody in the church.

 

Robert Browning wrote a poem about a little girl  named Pippa who worked in a sweatshop. On her way to  work she passed through a ghetto of doom and despair.  As she walked through that neighborhood that reeked of  hopelessness and grief, Pippa sang. As she sang from  her heart the shutters flew open, and it seemed that  sunlight once again shone because Pippa brightened the  valley through which she passed. 4

Will we add to the gloom of this Old World or  will we create joy? Oh how we need the humming cedars  in the church to keep the fellowship sweet.  The  harder the wind blows the sweeter the sound. 

I. CHARACTER OF THE FLOURISHING MAN 
II. COMMUNION OF THE FLOURISHING MAN 
III. CONSLATION OF THE FLOURISHING MAN 
IV. CONFIRMATION OF THE FLOURISHING MAN  

The fourth and final cedar, it's called the  Tall Cedar. It got its name because it grew tall.  Sometimes it grew to be 80 or 90 feet tall. Now the  thing that makes the tall cedar impressive is not its  great height. It is impressive because of its rootage.  I have learned that just as far as the body of the  tall cedar extended above the ground it also had a tap  root that spread beneath the ground.

Do you know what the results would be if you  tried to take a tall, heavy cedar tree and support it  with a 5 foot tap root. It wouldn't last one winter  night.  It would just blow over. Now listen up! You  need to know that God is not going to help you grow by  just keeping the winds calm.

God is not going to help you "survive" by  taking away all of the threatening influence of life.  But God is going to help you grow and be stable by  showing you how to get roots down deep enough so that  you can withstand even the most severe of  difficulties. My friend being saved does not deliver  you from having troubles. Pressures and trouble are in  the process of working out a future glory. No pain, no  gain.

 

One man had the personal hobby of handcrafting  violins. He focused on the kind of wood that made the  best violin. He used all domestic woods. He imported  foreign woods. He used aging processes to harden the  woods. In all of it, the tone he desired from his  violins rested beyond his reach. One day he found a  gnarled piece of wood that came from the timberline.  It had grown at that point where trees stop growing.  The blast of winter wind, the slashing rain, and the  wind –swept bleakness of a mountaintop had twisted the  wood and hardened it. Yet the violin created from wood  taken at timberline produced a heavenly tone unlike  anything else ever made. Timberline! It was a place of  pain and of gain.5

In the program of God there are those who are  to live at Timberline where it is not easy, but that  is where he puts the music in our lives.   Romans 8:28  "I consider our present sufferings not worthy to be  compared with the glory that will be revealed in us".

 

Charles Spurgeon was the greatest preacher in the  English language. Yet he preached out of the pain of  intense personal suffering through gout and related  diseases. His wife was an invalid confined to her room  during the ten most productive years of his ministry.  As the pained preacher sat in his wife's room one  evening while a log whistle in the fireplace, Gases  trapped in the wood were released causing a brief,  musical tone. Spurgeon told his wife Susannah, "It  takes the fire to bring out the music." What is true  of logs is true of life.

We need to be like the tall cedar. We need to  get our roots down deep.  We may bend but we won't  break. We will weather the storms of life.

Lets me asked you a question:

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Are you  flourishing? 

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Are you growing? 

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Has it been long time  since you have grown? 

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Are you flourishing? 

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Are you a  blessing to others?  

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Do you turn bitterness when it  comes into sweetness?

1. What Makes Olympic champions?    John E. Anderson, February 1991    Reader's Digest., page 120

2. W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching &     Preachers., page 221

3. Classic Sermons on Praise., W. Wiersbe

4. Basic Sermons., James T. Draper, Jr. p 82

5. Growing Pains of the Soul., Dr. Joel Gregory P.11