Bible Studies In The Christian Library

        I never cared very much for flowers, especially when they were growing in the ground.  They were all right when they were cut and in a bouquet.  I always enjoyed the odor.  It's just that I never really took an interest in growing them.
        But that has changed somewhat since we moved into our new home.  We inherited several rose bushes, irises, daffodils, tulips, peonies, and hyacinths.  My wife has been excited ever since we moved in and became owner of a veritable flower garden.  I have to admit, it stirred my interest too. All through the last part of the Summer into the Fall I enjoyed beautiful roses blooming outside my window where I worked at my computer in the den. It did tend to lift my spirits and gave me a different perspective on flowers.
        But one thing disappointed us dearly.  When we took possession of our new home in July we noticed that one of the rose bushes beside our house was dead.  There was absolutely no life in it.  We took this as a sure sign that there would never be life in it, since it was the middle of Summer.  We proceeded to prepare the rest of the roses last Fall, pruning them as best we could in accord with what we had gleaned concerning rose cultivation. When it came to the dead rose, Bonnie cut it down to the "root union", having decided that it was probably dead but leaving the root  just in
case. But there was little doubt in our minds that it was truly dead. 
      What a surprise we had this Spring!  As we were admiring the early daffodils and hyacinths, we discovered something amazing.  The "dead" rose bush was very much alive.  It even survived our late snow.  Before long there were four beautiful roses.  Not only was it alive, it was the first rose to bloom.  We had not been in our home last Spring.  Evidently, this rose was an early one, blooming early and "dying back" later in the Summer.
        While I was looking at this beautiful rose, I began to think of some spiritual principles that we can learn from the little rose.  Consider the following:
1.      Even those who are "dead in sins" and seem to have no spark of spiritual life can come alive and bloom.  How many people have you who seen seem to have no interest in spiritual  things suddenly come alive with a desire to serve God?  We may pray for years for a family member or friends, encourage them to obey the Gospel, think that it is hopeless, and suddenly they respond to the truth. 
2.      Unfaithful Christians can be restored, even when it seems like there is little or no hope.  Haven't we all gone to an unfaithful brother/sister and begged, pleaded, and encouraged them to come back to the Lord?  They have become hardened in their sins.  They use every excuse under the sun. Perhaps they have become discouraged, perhaps they have been caught up in some personal sin.  The result is the same.  They are hardened in their sins.  They are dead spiritually.  But then, for some unknown reason, they come to services one day, walk down the aisle at the invitation, and rededicate their lives to the Lord.
3.      Unfruitful Christians can start bearing fruit, even after long years of inactivity.  Preachers have often been frustrated because they have spent years exhorting lukewarm Christians to get serious about their Christian living.  Suddenly, one Sunday, brother/sister Lukewarm comes forward and starts being active in the Lord's work.Let's remember one very important truth.  We are not the ones responsible forthe conversion of the lost!  We are commanded to take the Gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We are commanded to teach/preach the truth to every person on
the planet.  We are not commanded to baptize all!  That is the responsibility that is on the shoulders of the lost.  We are commanded to restore the erring Christian (James 5:19-20).  We do that by encouraging, pleading, warning, etc.  But where does the responsibility of repentance lie?  It lies with the erring child of God.
        Paul gives this principle in 1 Corinthians 3:6,  "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase."  God's Word will either lead  to repentance or cause a sinner to rebel and go further into sin.  It depends on the individual.  Isaiah tells us, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).  The Word will always have an effect on hearts.  Sometimes sinners  may seen callous on the outside but be struggling on the inside. It often takes years for a person to come to repentance, confession and baptism.  God's Word still  works.
        Let us never grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9).  Let us plant the seed of the Word in the hearts of man. There will always be those who obey. Teach the truth, that a stubborn sinner may become a "beautiful rose."

Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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