Flourish or Wither

Dear Brethren,

When the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day are over, we head into about five months of late fall and cold winter days before beginning all over again with the Plan of God in the spring Holy Days.  It is not a time to let down, but a time to renew our resolve to stand strong in the faith.  It can become discouraging when it seems the entire world is dedicated to being merry and frolicking in their revelry and festivities.  At this time of the year darkness sets in early, the days can be cold and the weather dreary.  We hear music declaring, “Peace on Earth.”  Whenever we leave the serenity and tranquility of our homes we are hounded by winter rites that have nothing to do with the peace of God.

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:7)

There is a true and lasting peace that will come upon this earth—but not the way this world thinks it will come.  They do not know the true Prince of Peace who said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives do I give it unto you.”  (John 14:27)  God intends that His people flourish and not wither.

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon.  Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”  (Psalm 92:12-13)

“Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it YHVH-shalom.”  [“God is Peace”]  (Judges 6:24)

“In His days shall the righteous flourish and abundance of peace until the moon no longer exists.”  (Psalm 72:7)

Flourishing is well described by the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.  Shalom means: Peace, Justice, Prosperity, Salvation, Healthiness, Wholeness, Integrity, Soundness, Righteousness and Well-being.  Shalom indicates a reconciled relationship with God and with neighbor.  Shalom is the way God intended the world be when He created it.

We know for sure that these winter days are certainly a time to separate ourselves from those who do not understand Godliness and Christianity.  We also know that we have to buckle down and flourish in the work of God—lest we wither.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”  (2Corinthians 6:17)

So many of those in God’s Church over the years have withered and have gone back into the world—even some who think they remain in the Church of God—have gone back into the world.  God warns us not to let down…

“Some seed fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.” [They did not exercise God’s Holy Spirit] (Luke 8:6)

“The Godly love of many shall grow cold”  (spiritually speaking).  There are ways to attain the goal and not grow cold (Matthew 24:12).

Is it possible to fall away from the truth of God and His good graces, and lose out on salvation?  The answer is, "Yes."  Extremely trying days lie just ahead for those of us in the Church of God.  Everything that we hold sacred will soon be overthrown – everything, that is, except our faith, which must continue until the very end.  Over and over in the Bible the Church brethren are admonished to live lives of overcoming, and remain faithful to the end.  How do we go about it?  Do we grit our teeth in rigid determination to hang on – or is there another method?  “…Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Sermon:  "Flourish or Wither"