God In A Rose
One of my very favorite flowers is the rose, but I never had much practical knowledge about roses until I began to look for some "rosy" thoughts to share. I learned that Columbus discovered America because of a rose. On October 11, 1492, in the Sargasso Sea, one of Columbus' crewmen picked a rose branch from the water. This sign of land renewed their hope for survival and gave them the courage to continue their journey.
The rose is the official National Floral emblem of the United States since Nov. 20, 1986.
It is the state flower of 4 states and of Washington, D.C.
According to one legend, the rose was born from a smile of Cupid, but we know it is one of God's finest gifts to humanity. Its combination of beauty and fragrance are seldom surpassed by any other bloom. A rose has been fashioned by God, who was not content with making one kind of flower. No, God, in His amazing creativity, has made probably thousands of varieties of flowers, each one unique. How much like His creativity in fashioning people!
I'm thinking of you as roses today, each one beautiful in your own way. Some are sweet and fresh little rosebuds; some in the full bloom of maturity; and some of you may even feel as though you are wilting today. Like the rose, you have been created by God, made to fulfill a special purpose. You are much more precious to your Creator than any rose. And He knows and understands each and every one He has made.
Let's take a few minutes to look at three distinct features of a rose.
1. A rose is dressed in finery provided by the Creator. Man may fashion a rose of silk or another fine material, but no fabric can compare with the petals in which God dresses His roses. He desires to dress us in His finery, too.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they became aware of their guilt. They tried to cover their guilt with leaves around their bodies, but God saw right into their souls. God had mercy, and He provided a covering for Adam and Eve. He dressed them with animal skins.
You and I have sinned against God also, but God, in His mercy, provides much more than a mere covering for us; He offers to dress us in His righteousness--His goodness -- and make us clean and beautiful in His sight. The Bible says that Jesus, who had never sinned, became sin for us -- on the cross -- so that we could be made the righteousness of God in Him. He exchanges His goodness for our sin when we believe in Him and accept His gift of forgiveness.
2. Not only is a rose dressed in God's finery, but a rose has another wonderful attribute. Does anything smell as glorious as a rose?
When my roses bloom, I look carefully to make sure there's no bee hovering near; then I bend down to get close -- nose-to-rose-close -- and I inhale slowly and deeply, savoring the heavenly aroma. Did you know that you can have the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ in your life? The Bible says Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God in payment for our sin. God the Father was pleased with Jesus as He gave His life for us on the cross, and His obedience is likened to a fragrant offering.
The more time we spend with Jesus Christ, getting to know Him better, the more we will resemble Him; we will begin to bear His fragrance. In the Bible, we read that through us, God spreads the knowledge of Christ; that, everywhere we go, we give off a sweet scent rising to God. This is how it is in our relationship with Jesus -- If we immerse ourselves in reading His Word; in knowing and following Him; we will pick up His sweetness, -- the fragrance of Christ -- and it will be noticeable to everyone we meet.
3. The third feature of the rose seems undesirable at first glance. We look at a rose -- breathtakingly beautiful -- and we can't help but wonder: Why would our Creator-God make such a wonderful thing as a rose, and then put thorns around it?
Anyone among us who has any knowledge of Bible teachings will answer that thorns and thistles began to grow on the earth after Adam and Eve sinned. Yes, that was the beginning of the presence of thorns, but there is so much more to consider. The contrast of rose and thorns is puzzling when we observe it, yet the thorns serve to highlight the delicate, wondrous beauty of the rose. More than that, there is a message hidden within the rose and the thorns. When we understand that message, we will appreciate not only the exquisite flower, but also the thorns that adorn it.
You pick a rose, drawn by its beauty, but suddenly your finger is pierced and you experience a stab of pain, while a drop of scarlet blood appears on your finger.
Thorn -- Pain -- Blood. You see the parallel -- the hidden message -- and you whisper a prayer. "Thank You, Lord, for enduring the pain of your crown of thorns, for shedding your sacred, precious blood on the cross to provide forgiveness for my sins." You have begun to understand the value of the thorns. You have seen God in a rose.
There was no hint of beauty
in the crown of thorns He wore,
as His sacred head was bleeding
and the crowd cried out for more;
No loveliness in Jesus
as He hung on Calvary's tree,
but the cross He bore
and the thorns He wore
make Him beautiful to me.
Now, listen and learn the rest of the message of the thorns. God, in His graciousness, allows the presence of thorns in our lives. Thorns of all kinds intrude into our everyday living. When we encounter thorns, we need to focus on the One Who can help us to bear them. He has promised to draw near to those who draw near to Him. He says his strength is made perfect in our weakness. He tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us. When you give your thorns to Jesus, He will carry you through; and you will become beautiful through your trust in Him. Like a rose, your beauty will be enhanced by the thorns around you.
May you recall these things the next time you see a rose:
God's love for you in your uniqueness,
The transformation of being dressed in His righteousness,
The fragrance of Jesus from knowing Him well,
and the hidden message in the thorns --
They make Jesus beautiful to us
and they actually enhance our lives
and make us beautiful
when we entrust our thorns to Him.
When you see these things,
you have seen God in a rose.
When the thorns that I encounter
pierce my heart with grief and pain,
I will lift my eyes to Jesus;
He'll renew my strength again.
As I lean upon my Jesus
He will make my trials grow dim;
and my heartfelt plea
and my bended knee
make me beautiful to Him.