Thursday, April 27, 2017, 1:06 a.m. – I woke up from sleep with the phrase in mind “Shake someone’s tree and see what falls out.” The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Why Are You Afraid?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 6:43-49 and Hebrews 12:25-29 (NIV).
I looked up the phrase “to shake someone’s tree,” and it means “to arouse to action or reaction, disturb” (dictionary.com). A tree can symbolize human character, nations, kingdoms and/or institutions. As well, “shaking” means agitating, stirring, unsettling, and/or distressing.
By Its Fruit (Luke 6:43-49)
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Here a tree symbolizes an individual person, and the tree’s fruit represents the person’s moral fiber, his character, his temperament and what is stored in his heart. The fruit can be that of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Or, it can be, that, out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matt. 15:19). When we are put through trials and difficult circumstances in this life, they have a tendency to bring out the true us, i.e. what is hidden in our hearts.
Yet, I am not certain that it is all as black and white as this may appear. What I mean by this is that a Christian, although cleansed by the blood of Jesus, is still flesh and blood, and thus still has the propensity to sin, to feel pain, and to react to that pain in ways which might indicate bad fruit if the individual does not immediately respond in the Spirit, but rather in the flesh.
So, this may not indicate that his whole tree is bad or that all his fruit is bad, but that he still has some things in his life which need to be brought to the cross of Christ. For instance, Jesus said that daily we are to take up our cross and follow him, and Paul said that if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live. We are being made into the image of Christ. So, what I believe this comes down to is lifestyle, i.e. our daily walks; what we are made out of on a consistent and continuous basis. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” i.e. what fills his life.
Basically, this has to do with what we practice as the normal course of our lives. Obedience to Christ does not necessitate absolute sinless perfection, but it does indicate that obedience is what we practice on a day-to-day basis. It is what is our customary way of acting and reacting, our habits, routines and normal procedures. Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, we will live with Christ for eternity, but if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. So, if we do sin, we confess it, turn from it, and keep following our Lord in obedience, and do not keep repeating the same sins over and over and over again.
If we call Jesus “Lord,” this means he is our owner-master, and that we are his servants (slaves). He is the one in charge of our lives, not us. So, if he is Lord, then the normal practice of our daily lives should be to listen to what he says and to obey it (do what he says). If we do not do what he says, this means we do not practice obedience, but our practice (habit, routine), instead, is to ignore his words to us and to do what we want, instead.
We may be able to perform well, for a time, but when we are put to the fire, and our world is shaken, what lies underneath will be brought to the surface, i.e. when a tree is shaken, we see what falls out. Then, the truth comes out. Our foundation, and I don’t merely mean our initial decision to believe in Jesus, but rather the basis for our lives (for our lifestyles) by which we build our lives in Christ, if shaken, should not destroy us, because our lives are built on Christ and on his Word and on obedience to his Word. But, if we do not put into practice what God teaches us through his Word, then when we go through trials, which shake our very foundation, then our lives will come crashing down, because they were not truly built on Jesus Christ.
What May Remain (Heb. 12:25-29)
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 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.”
Again, if we walk (in practice) according to our flesh (bad fruit), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh (the bad fruit), we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Yet, if we refuse to obey the Lord as the normal practice of our lives by ignoring what he teaches us so as to live to please our sinful flesh, instead, we should not expect that when we die that we have the promise of eternity with God.
God is going to shake this earth, and the people of the earth, and when this tree is shaken, we will see what falls out. What falls out (i.e. what is removed from the tree) may be human lives, either in the loss of positions of power, or in death, and loss of life for eternity, or it may be the removal of literal trees, animals, or plant life which we need for food and survival. But, this will be so that what is eternal (righteous, holy) will remain. What this may indicate here, as is discussed earlier in this chapter in Hebrews, is that God will discipline us (shake us) in order to remove from our lives what is of this earth so that what is eternal (righteous, holy) is what remains.
This is a call to obedience to Christ, to surrender to his will, and for us to walk in the fear (honor, respect and awe) of our Lord. Too many people take God too causally, and they think he doesn’t notice their sins or that he will do nothing to them, and so they think they can keep on sinning and God’s grace will cover it all. But, scripture does not teach that. It says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, we are liars. We cannot walk according to our flesh and have the hope of heaven when we die. We need to know that God will judge those who call him “Lord” but who do not make a practice of doing what he says. Yet, obedience is done all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit, living within individual followers of Christ. True obedience cannot be done in our own flesh or willpower.
And, lastly, we have to know that this “shaking” is going to bring about troubled times, and persecution of Christians, and enemies attacking us, yet we are not to be afraid, but we are to put our trust solely in the Lord Jesus and trust him with our lives. And, we are to keep on sharing Jesus Christ with others, because many need to believe on him before Christ returns.
Why Are You Afraid? / An Original Work / December 5, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.
Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.
Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.
Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.
Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.
Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.
Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?
Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.