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Saturday 14 December 2013

Second nature

The tree had appeared to be dying and was almost completely brown on one side.  It was a conifer, originally bright green in colour, which I had planted in front of the window not long after we had moved into our last house and I liked it very much.    'Cut it down' my husband had said when it first began to turn brown late in Summer 2004, but I had not wanted to and had left it alone over the Winter months. 

Now it was February 2005 and I noticed tiny green shoots sprouting from both trunk and dry brown branches and I was overjoyed, not only because the tree was not going to die, but because I was being taught something by the Lord through the tree just when I desperately needed it.

Sometimes it can be extremely hard to focus on the Spiritual when the carnal mind will constantly focus on the flesh, and many times we will look negatively on ourselves and one another because of this, dwelling more on the old sinful nature instead of the new creation which is forming within us.

Eagerness to learn comes as 'second nature' to me but God has a principle when teaching us and it is 'line upon line, precept on precept'.  'It would be like throwing the whole of the Oxford dictionary at you at once' said my digital imaging course tutor when I had wanted to know something that I was not ready to learn.

There had been many areas in my life, and still are, where I felt I had failed in my Christian walk and most of the self condemnation had grown out of dwelling on what needed to be changed instead of what the Lord had already done in me.  I had not actually realized this until the incident with the tree brought it to my attention.

I was being reminded not to fix my gaze on the old me and my human capabilities, but to look at the new spiritual creature that God was creating through Jesus and all the benefits that came with being a child of God.  As far as God was concerned, that old creature was dead.  Verse 16 of 2 Corinthians ch.5 tells us not to regard anyone from a human point of view, and verse 13 of Colossians ch.2 tells us that though we were once dead in trespasses, we have been made alive with Christ.  Human mind and eyes will limit what is possible both in personal salvation and prayer by focusing on the old creation instead of the new.  

As a new creation in Christ Jesus all things are possible to him who believes. Mark ch.9 v.23  Just as it says in Genesis chapter 25 v.5 'Abraham left everything he owned to his son Isaac', in Jesus I inherit all things given to Him by God.  My part is to put on my new nature by allowing God to renew my mind in His Son Jesus so that I have the mind of Christ.

Colossians ch. 3 describes both natures as follows:-

Old nature
Fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander and foul talk.   

New nature
Compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.  And above all these put on love.  

We are encouraged in Ephesians ch.4 v.22 - 24 to 'Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the Spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.'

Just as with my tree the new green shoots were gradually replacing the old dead wood, so too am I gradually being conformed to the image of my creator.

The following is a poem that I wrote at that time, reflecting my self condemnation and the Lord's encouragement to me to concentrate on my 'second nature' rather than my first.  

Look and see

All that look - that look on me
see only here a dying tree
In brittle branch and withered wood
they find no beauty - see no good
perceiving just what would have been
if You had not come on my scene

But shoots of green they do not see

new budding leaves that struggle free
from lifeless form that once was me
For carnal mind and human eyes
both dwell and gaze on all that dies
and in this chrysalis of tree
will fail to see eternity

Oh all that look - look again at me

look now through eyes of faith and see
the hand of Jesus Christ - God's Son
gaze on the work that's being done
See miracle of power to save
a soul once destined for the grave

This Saviour whom my heart does love

has come from God on wings of dove
to change my destiny of strife
and bring to me eternal life
So look again upon this tree
see everywhere new greenery
Don't look upon the dying wood
See my Saviour's beauty - see my Saviour's good

'Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.'  2 Corinthians ch.4 v.16'


Ceil said...

Hi Brenda! It's like that tree is coming to life again, a new resurrection! I love that you stuck right by that tree, waiting to see if it would live. And it did!

And Jesus sticks right by us too. I love that you are learning to let go of the earthly, and set your sights on what is above. St. Paul says its a 'transforming of the mind.' It's so much easier to think about what Jesus has done for us, than to dwell on the negative all the time.

You have a wise tutor too!
Have a great weekend :)

Stephanie said...

It truly is a gradual process being transformed into a new creature. Sometimes the process is painful and difficult, but the end result makes it worth what we may have to endure.

This post was such a great lesson, Brenda, and I appreciate you taking the time to share it with us. I hope you're enjoying your weekend :) And thank you for the many lovely comments on my blog - it is a joy hearing from you!

Hugs and blessings!

child of God said...

Hi Brenda,
Death to self, a new creation and a second chance through Jesus Christ!

The old ways go and the new ways come and although we are the same we are yet different. Love this comparison of the tree and new growth. I had a plant that nearly died on me. One of those plants that spreads out. My son and I replanted it and cut it back really far and soon little buds appeared. Now the plant is growing but it is different from how it used to be. Same plant but now, thicker, fuller and not as long. :)

Blessings hon,

Laurie Collett said...

Such a beautiful poem, Brenda, and such a wonderful metaphor of how He transforms us from death in sin to new life in Him. May we die daily, as Paul urges us, to our sin nature, and be progressively conformed to His image. Many blessings to you,

Brenda said...

Hi Ceil,
I smiled when you said 'You have a wise tutor too', because my mind immediately went to the Holy Spirit 'tutor'. I am not sure if you was talking about the tutor in the digital imaging course though, but the tutor, the course and the story of the tree happened back in 2004/2005. Whichever way, isn't it wonderful how everything speaks spiritually. So I will say 'Yes I have a very wise tutor.
God bless you Ceil

Brenda said...

Hi Stephanie,
Yes it is a gradual process being changed into the into the image of our Lord, even Paul the apostle said he was still running the race,but the lovely thing is God takes care of us from when we are a spiritual babe in Christ to full maturity as long as we listen. I have to admit that I love the changes because I know the One bringing about those changes is able to do all things, and it is only after the change comes that you can feel the peace that comes with it. His ways are much better than our ways.
God bless you Stephanie

Brenda said...

Hi child of God,
yes, death to self and a second chance. I wrote a song called 'Second chance' that I used to sing out in the street. As you say, we may look the same on the outside but it is only the flesh that is dying when we are in the Lord. I liked the story of your tree. We could say that we have been replanted too - into good soil - and we are 'fuller' and not so 'high' through it eh?
God bless you.

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
thank you for your kind comment. Many of the spiritual things shown to me in my walk with the Lord have been accompanied by something that is happening physically in my life. I totally agree Laurie to dying daily that we may be progressively conformed to His image.
God bless you.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Hi Brenda,
As I was reading your blog, I couldn't help ponder on this saying:
A bruised reed he will not break, neither will he quench a smouldering flax.
In the desert a tender shoot sprouts up...

God can certainly bring life in locations where none were expected. It's the heart of his Grace.
God bless.

Brenda said...

Hi Frank,
that is absolutely right, the love of God for His creation is a very deep love. He is not like man who many times will look on the negative side. My husband saw only the dead part of the tree, not the new life. (that is not to say that my husband is not loving, he is)ha ha! God, however, will see the struggling within us to reach out to Him in our spiritual battle with the enemy.
God bless you and blessings to Alex

Aritha V. said...

What a wonderful comparison to that tree. So I understand it better. A good example. Thank you for writing about this. Beautiful poem.

Brenda said...

Hi Jedidja,
yes, the tree taught me a lot about not going by what I see or hear and not giving up hope for the Lord to change us.

S. Knowles said...

Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story Brenda.

I'm always amazed at how you can look at something as simple as a dying tree and be able to see such amazing things, through spiritual eyes I'm sure. What a wonderful gift.

I love your poem here, I always love all of your poems but I especially love this one, because I have found myself often self condemning myself in my mind. I see only the mistakes I make, but I don't focus very much on the ways I have improved. I think I do this sometimes on purpose in fear of commending myself to much when I do do good things and then end up becoming conceited and arrogant and prideful.

It is good that God is not like man, and is the one who searches the hearts and minds and tests the hearts and minds, He can see what I cannot, but what I hope to see.

I know I have grown a lot, and I give God the glory and thanks. I truly pray that I be able to not regard anyone from a human point of view like Paul mentioned. I truly believe God is working on me, I can see the ways in which he is, and sometimes I can't really tell, but I know He is. He has left us with a promise.

"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6. In this hope I rejoice.

God bless you Brenda. I am so grateful and happy that God made a way that I can get to know you on here. Your words have been a lot of encouragement in times I needed it so much. I love you Brenda.

Brenda said...

as I read your comment it was very much like reading about myself and my own feelings, I think we are very much alike. I find it difficult to accept commendation of any sort. I love the scripture 'Only God is good', and am well aware that any 'good' in me is the 'Him' in me. There are still many things in me that need to be changed, but I am glad there are because I can use this fact to remind me not to judge others. I also love the scripture you quote about the work in those who believe being completed. God wants that none should perish.
God bless you my sister.

Stephanie said...

Hi Brenda! I just wanted to pop in and say Merry Christmas, sweet friend! Your comments have been such a joy to read and I appreciate what you have to say, dear Brenda! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me - may you and your loved ones enjoy your Christmas. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year :) Much love!

Brenda said...

Hi Stephanie,
Merry Christmas to you too my friend. Thank you for your kindness regarding my comments. I can be a bit of a chatterbox in real life. My husband always says to people 'If you see any two legged donkeys around it's because Brenda talks the hind legs off them.' I just love communicating with people and the blog is a lovely way to do this.Have a lovely time over Christmas and speak to you in the new year.
God bless

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
Yes, I'm often amazed that God speaks to us in the physical as well as in the spiritual -- often through the beauty of nature surrounding us, and sometimes through physical changes in our own bodies. May God bless you for hearing His voice no matter how He speaks.
May you have a very blessed Christmas.

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
it is lovely how God speaks to us. I love the scripture that says that even though Jesus was without sin, He learned obedience through the things He suffered. Even though we are 'without sin' in Jesus, we still learn obedience to God through our trials. It is wonderful that we have a mediator, a shield from God's wrath, who has paid the price for our sins, while we are being changed into God's image.
God bless

T-Childs said...

Hi Brenda, Have a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year!!!

Brenda said...

Hi Tim,
lovely to hear from you. I have been missing your blogging, and wondering how you are. You too have a lovely Christmas and a blessed new year.

Ricardo Miñana said...

Hola Brenda, te dejo un abrazo con mis mejores deseos de felicidad,
feliz Navidad!!, feliz año 2014!!.

Brenda said...

Hello Ricardo,
I haven't found out how to translate on comments yet, but nice to hear from you, have a good Christmas and a blessed new year.

Reformed rebel said...

Merry Christmas Brenda! May the LORD bless you abundantly! I so enjoy, and am blessed by, your blog and comments on mine. Thank you for being a bloggy friend. I pray you have a wonderful Christmas season.

child of God said...

Merry Christmas Brenda!!
Have a blessed day. :)

Brenda said...

Hi Chelle,
and may the Lord bless you abundantly as you enjoy your Christmas. I also enjoy your blog and have found my blogger friends a true blessing. I could not find a writers' circle when we came to live here, and decided to try blogging. It is lovely. God bless you my friend.

Brenda said...

Merry Christmas child of God.
Hope you are enjoying your Christmas, you have a blessed time and thank you for being my blogger friend.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda -- trials strengthen our faith and give us the opportunity for increased obedience. In turn, we grow closer to and more like Him. Hope you had a blessed Christmas!

Brenda said...

I totally agree Laurie, and the closer we come to our God the more we see the depth of His love for us. Yes thank you Laurie, a quiet Christmas and very nice. Hope you had a blessed one too.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda, God blessed us with a lovely Christmas, and I'm glad to hear He blessed yours as well. As Paul said, now we see Him as through a glass darkly, but when we see Him face to face, we will thoroughly understand the depth of His love. But as we grow in grace, we do appreciate Him more and more in our Christian walk. God bless you.

Brenda said...

Amen Laurie.

Patrinas Pencil said...

Greetings in this New Journey - 2014

I love how you see the spiritual aliveness in the typical illusion of supposed lifelessness.

I used to be more that way too - than I am now. Partly because - like you portray here - of self-condemnation for my failures ..personal and spiritual disappointments. It is hard to not get stuck on the old 'regrets' rather than spring forth into the new forgiven you!

God is working overtime with me on this! And your sharing here has helped me choose to let HOPE arise in me!It isn't finished until Jesus says its done!There is always HOPE! Nothing is impossible with God!

TRUE! So I celebrate the new green sprigs that are springing forth in me...rather than focus on the brown and brittle. What a joyous moment to actually see GREEN - a newness of life...amidst the old dead barrenness!

A great analogy, Brenda. And the picture is worth a thousand words in and of itself!

Lovely poem - so fitting - the tree SPEAKS with a thankful heart!


blessings, Brenda
patrina <")>><

Brenda said...

Hi Patrina,
Lovely to hear from you, you are a very encouraging person, as are all my blogger friends, and the more I blog the more I see the importance of us all being one in Christ to encourage one another and to share what the Lord does in each one of our lives. We all, as believers, have an amazing warrior in our Lord Jesus and He will fight our battles and bring us through if we 'hold fast that which is good' eh?
God bless you Patrina

Brenda said...

I can't find a 'comments' box on your blog post. Have you taken it off?

Patrinas Pencil said...

"...the more I blog the more I see the importance of us all being one in Christ to encourage one another and to share what the Lord does in each one of our lives. We all, as believers, have an amazing warrior in our Lord Jesus and He will fight our battles and bring us through if we 'hold fast that which is good' eh?"


Brenda said...

Amen and Amen to this Patrina. I love the diversity of believers in Christ, and the fact that we are all One in Him.

Laurie Collett said...

Praise God that He saves whosoever will come, regardless of the depth of our sins, race, religious heritage or nationality. What a blessing it will be when every kindred & tongue are gathered around His throne!
May God bless you richly,

Brenda said...

That is right Laurie,
there is no one who could do this except the Lord Jesus, the One mediator between God and man. God wants that none should perish and how could the God of creation not know how to do this. His love and His abilities are beyond understanding, and He knows exactly how to use us to bring forth fishes after our own kind.
God bless you richly too Laurie, and all that He uses you to minister to.