What it means…
The dictionaries define “flourishing” this way:

  • growing vigorously; thriving; prosperous
  • In positive psychology, flourishing is living “within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness,…growth, and resilience.”

Not bad.

Not bad at all!

“…I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God…”
The poet claims his life to be a vigorous one, a thriving one, and a prosperous one, like an olive tree. Good for him. He is living up to his human potential, functioning at the maximum. He possesses goodness and resilience while continually growing and producing.

And where does this olive tree grow? In a grove of other trees, well-tended by professionals, with the proper amounts of nutrients from the soil, radiance from the sun, rest from the nighttime, and water from above and below?

Not this tree.
It lives indoors, in a temple. The sun can’t reach it. The winds never shake it. The soil it stands in is in a pot. Other olive trees have been likewise transplanted into the house so at least our tree is not alone.

It is comforting that an olive tree would flourish in an olive grove; comforting and productive, but not surprising or worthy of note. But a tree flourishing indoors is worthy of careful observation. So is the Christ-follower who thrives in the hostile environs of this world.

Believers in Jesus are known to do the impossible.
The biblical metaphors are striking:

  • They walk on water—staying dry and keeping their balance when by all rights they should be sinking like everyone else.
  • Their houses remain upright and watertight when the raging storms and rising floods wipe everyone else out.
  • They find manna every morning and sleep every evening in times of famine and stress.
  • They return good for evil and in this strange way, overcome it.
  • They live in the same world as everyone else, but by the standards of a higher one.
  • When needs press in, they do not worry—they pray.
  • At the darkest midnight they are known to sing.
  • Their enemies get prayed for and cared for.
  • They are as human as anyone else but somehow when struck they don’t strike back; they go a second mile when only one is demanded and they give more than is ever taken from them.

Every company needs these trees.
Every house can benefit from their fruit. God calls us to impossible places and unreasonable tasks. Why? Because we are in this world but not of it. He calls us to dark places so He can shine more brightly through us.

Christ-followers are emissaries of a higher Kingdom, representatives of a more excellent way to live, and channels of the River of Life. Jesus said this River would flow from deep inside each of us, a River of blessing and peace for the people in our lives. Where else will they hear the Good News?

So we can flourish today and this week even in hostile environments because God has planted us there to do His work. The house where we do our work

  • in Jesus’ name,
  • as unto the Lord and not unto men, and
  • with all our might—

that place becomes the House of God and there do we flourish.

Psalm 52
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!” But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.
Psalm 1:1-3 NIV
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Colossians 3:17; 23-25 NIV
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
John 15:16-17 NIV
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatevver you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

Lord Jesus, You are the True Vine and I am Your branch. You have chosen me to bear much fruit in Your name. There are no limitations on this call, no lessening of Your expectations because of what the world may do or circumstances may dictate. Your leadership stretches beyond circumstances and You have overcome the world. As long as I stay in You—as I guard the vital connection from my heart to Yours—I will flourish. Your House is a supernatural place and this tree can live there and produce much fruit. And in some small or immense way, the world around me will be blessed. For Your Glory, Lord! Amen.

Make Me a Blessing

Words and Music: Ira B. Wilson

1. Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad,
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.

Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today!

2. Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow’r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True every moment you live.


3. Give as ‘twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto Your mission be true.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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