The Sycamore Tree

The Sycamore Tree

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Genre: Religion and Spirituality

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Status: In Progress

Genre: Religion and Spirituality

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Chapter5 (v.1) - The Church

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 09, 2017

Reads: 78

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 09, 2017

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Chapter 5
After we walked into the church, a kind-looking man gave me a sheet of paper that looked like the program for the morning worship.  Young people, old people, and ten children were sitting on wooden seats that faced the front of the building.
The children walked towards an elevated platform in the front of the church.  Five boys and five girls stood facing the audience.  The girls fidgeted and whispered to each other as the older folks flicked their eyes towards the little ones with exasperated scowls.
Suddenly, what began as faint whispers became a harmonious chorus of voices lifting up to the heavens with a sweet song.  Young soprano voices sang “My Mother’s Bible” written by M.B. Williams in 1893 based-on the typed information in my program.
When they sang, all was forgiven.  Their sweet, heavenly voices echoed up to the rafters, filtered through the building’s cracks, and danced outside onto the graveyard that was a short length away from the Church.  I imagined that the song had become a reminder of the soothing memories of dear, departed loved ones from the past: mothers, grandparents, and other family members.

“There’s a dear and precious Book.
Though it’s worn and faded now.
Which recalls these happy days of long ago.
When I stood at my mama’s knee, 
With her hand upon my brow.”

“I heard her voice in gentle tones.
Low, blessed Book thou art sweeter day by day.
As I walk the narrow way.  
And, I look at last to that bright home above.
On thy dear old tear-stained leaves I love.”

After the children finished singing, they promptly returned to their seats next to the adults.  The Pastor said, “Please everyone stand for the prayer.  Lord, give me a special anointing today to preach your precious word and to give those around me the healing message of your word.  Lord, if there are those in this congregation that don’t know you as their personal Savior, please convict their hearts today of their need to come to you for their salvation.”
“Praise God.  I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And, I am humbly grateful to have this opportunity to speak with you today from God’s word.  Brethren and friends, I would like to begin this sermon with a reading from the Book of Luke, chapter nineteen, verses one through ten.”  
Everyone opened up their bibles to the Book of Luke.

“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  And, behold, there was a man named Zaccheus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.  And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.  And, he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”
“And when Jesus came to the place, and He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner.”
“Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And, Jesus said unto him, on this day salvation has come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
“Zaccheus already knew about the tree.  He had visited the tree many times before while seeking shade from the hot sun.  He had often gone to the tree to seek a refuge away from the crowds of people who hated him because he was a tax collector.  So, he knew exactly where he should go so he could see Jesus on that day.”
“Zaccheus was cheating people out of their money.  He wasn’t a very nice person.  Why would God want to save someone like that?  It would make more sense if God would only save the good people who were fair in their day-to-day interactions with others.  But, the problem is everyone has told a lie.  That’s a sin.  Everyone has a few sins or problems in his life that he just can’t seem to correct.  That’s all a part of the human condition.”
“God doesn’t put sin on a merit system.  He doesn’t make a distinction between more serious or less serious sins.  In Romans chapter 3:23, it says that every human being who has ever lived is a sinner.  In Romans chapter 6:23, it says that the wages of sin is death.  The good news is that God loves sinners, but hates sin…..all sin.  And, Jesus died for the sins of everyone so that whosoever believes upon Jesus as savior can have eternal life in heaven.  So, Zaccheus knew that he was a sinner.  He came to Jesus as a sinner, and believed upon Jesus as his personal savior.”  
“The crowd on that day was full of angry people who were justifiably angry with Zaccheus because he was ripping them off.  He was taxing his own people and getting rich off of them, too.  Nobody liked the publicans in those days.  The crowd was somewhat justified in their hatred of that publican up there in that tree.  But, Jesus knew his heart.  Jesus knew that Zaccheus wanted salvation on that day, and Zaccheus had faith and believed that Jesus could save him.  Jesus did not judge the publican for his sins.  He simply loved and saved the man.”

“Humans judge from the outward appearance of a man, but God knows the inward heart of a man.  It says so in the Bible.  Look in Matthew 5:8.  It says, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.’  In this situation, the publican was right and the crowd was wrong.  Zaccheus knew he was a sinner in his heart, and he knew that only Jesus could save him.  He had the heart of a little child.  The crowds murmured and complained because their hearts were not pure.  If they had pure hearts, they would have been rejoicing alongside the publican and Jesus.”
“Please don’t mistake a pure heart as someone who cleans-up his life or follows the ten commandments.  A pure heart is someone who comes to Jesus with pure honesty in his or her heart.  It is having a heart like a little child’s heart.  The person comes to Jesus as a broken-down sinner.  The sinner comes to Jesus with the naked truth of his or her state in comparison to a righteous and holy God.”
“Notice, that Jesus didn’t want to come to the homes of people standing in the crowd.  He only wanted to come to the Publican’s house because Zaccheus’s heart was right with God.  This Publican was now ready to receive the salvation that could only come from Jesus Christ.  And, Christ acknowledged to Zaccheus that Zaccheus was now saved.”
“If you acknowledge to Jesus today that you are a sinner and need Jesus to be your Savior and your only Savior, then you too shall be saved with a pure heart towards God.”
“Remember.  A pure heart doesn’t mean that you have earned your way to heaven with good works.  It doesn’t mean that you have cleaned-up your life so that God can save you.  It means that you have humbly come to Jesus, acknowledged that you are a sinner, and have believed upon Jesus for your salvation.  Only Jesus can save you.  Only the death of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the burial of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus can save you.”
“Some people have told me,  You know Pastor, life is unfair. I don’t understand why God has allowed my life to be so hard.  I just can’t forgive God for all of the difficulty in my life.  I just can’t get over the fact that God allows so much evil in the world.  So, I find it almost impossible to come to Jesus for my salvation.”
“This is very sad indeed because these people have believed a lie.  Satan is the Prince of this world.  He is the father of all lies.  If you say that life is unfair, you’re right.  It is unfair.  If you ask the question Why does God allow evil to happen in this world?  God has an answer for you.  And, I just answered some of that question for you.  God is very upset with evil in the world.  God is very angry with people who hurt other people.”
“Adam’s sin of disobedience to God meant that God had to give the world over to Satan.  Now, Satan is the temporary owner of this world.  This wasn’t in God’s perfect will.  But, let’s face it,  Adam and Eve blew it.  They disobeyed God when they ate of the tree that had the knowledge of good and evil.  God wanted to spare them.  But, they didn’t listen.”
“After you’re saved, you will experience a peace that the world could not possibly be able to understand.  Once you are saved, you will always be saved.  But, God won’t always promise you an easy life.  He does promise you a blessed life.  After you’re saved, you can try to leave God.  That can happen, and that does happen sometimes.“

“But, saved Christians who stray away from God are the most miserable people alive because when they allow sin to take over their lives, they are now grieving the Holy Spirit within.  We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities of darkness in high places.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
“Paul in the Bible was saved.  He was overjoyed with his eternal security knowing that he was going to Heaven after he died.  But, he knew that it was a struggle to walk daily with Jesus.  He actually said to die is gain

“The Apostle Paul was saying that either way, a saved person wins: he or she will have peace in this life and eternal joy in Heaven after death.  Wow!  That sounds pretty awesome to me.  Don’t underestimate the power of God even in this life.  He will have a way of protecting you even from physical danger.  Some day, I would like to start a ministry that will feed the poor and provide shelter to the poor.  I would also like to share with others the gospel message of salvation.  Maybe, some of you today would like to join me in this ministry.  I plan to call the new ministry The Sycamore Tree ministry.  If any of you are interested, please join me for a discussion about this after church.  Now, it is time for us to pray to Jesus and to trust Him for your sweet salvation today.  If you are already saved, then that‘s a beautiful thing.  However, if you aren‘t, then please read the prayer of salvation….the one that is typed at the bottom of your morning‘s bulletin.  Praise you Jesus.”  There was silence in the Church.
I whispered to myself, “Lord Jesus, I come to you as a sinner.  I believe that you died for me, shed your precious blood for me, you were buried for me, and you rose from the dead for me so that I could have eternal life.  I believe that I am now saved, and if I were to die tonight I know that I would go to heaven.  Thank you Jesus.” 
I looked at an elderly woman….probably someone’s grandmother….who had silver hair, a pale face, and sagging skin around her forearms.  Her arms were raised towards the ceiling, and she was thanking God for what He had done in her life.
I felt that I needed some fresh air, so I stood-up and walked out of the Church.  While standing on the front porch of the church, I saw my hair stirring in the breeze.  I reached for a mirror in my pocket and observed my pink nose and two spots of color burning in my cheeks.  I exhaled clouds of smoky pockets of air and thought about Pastor Gabriel’s amazing transformation from being a mere man to actually being an angel sent by God to help me.  It made me feel rather important.  I imagined that it was amazing how the creator of the universe had this much love and concern for me?  I could only give thanks, and I closed my eyes.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Mariam Greenwood. All rights reserved.

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