by: DALE NESSMITH
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12
Serotinous means late in developing, opening or blooming. Trees and flowers are considered serotinous when they require an adverse “trigger” to disperse seed or exhibit flowers. For example, the Jack pine tree will not regenerate without fire. The Department of Natural Resources in Michigan intentionally sets fire on the Jack pine forest ecosystems so that the forest will thrive and reproduce. Flowers which bloom after they produce leaves or later in the growing season are considered serotinous or “late bloomers.” In the case of the Jack Pine, the retention of seeds in the cones on the tree, often for many years, are not released until a disaster, most commonly the heat of a fire, causes their release. There are other adverse circumstances which bring out the best of the plant world, including death of the parent plant or branch, flooding, warming and drought. Fire though, is the primary prompter to the regeneration and longevity of serotinous plants.
God also uses fire to melt sin and the dross of doubt from our souls. The soul is the part of us which lives forever, either in heaven or in hell. God, by His amazing grace, has chosen a people before the foundation of the world and at the appointed time, He sent His beloved only begotten son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for those sinners by taking the wrath of His Heavenly Father for them. Then He sends The Holy Spirit to baptize them and melt their hearts of stone. God is the only one who can save a soul. Jonah was right!
“But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2:9
Jonah had to go to hell before the seed of faith opened up though. Three days at “whale” university was all it took for Jonah to graduate and surrender his soul to the one who created and saved it. Every saint’s soul is a serotinous soul! Because of the sin of the first man Adam, we all are born in iniquity and are dead in our sins. So God must intervene, He must do something to initiate and prompt spiritual life if a dry soul is going to live with and for Him. It is sort of sad, but it’s true, that we have to have our heads cracked before we can think, or we have to be crippled before we can walk and our hearts must be broken before we can love. Our Heavenly Father though knows exactly what we need and what is best for us and so He sends it by His grace just at the right time. The problem is that most of the time we don’t see the way God does and when He sends pain we can’t understand that it’s for our gain. If Job could have known as he sat there in the ashes with a broken heart wondering where God was that in all this trouble, seeds of faith were released and are still taking root in many frustrated believers today. Actually, our most sorrowful days are really our best days. The soul that has no problems and is always partying misses the very meaning of life. The greatest problem anyone can have is having no problems at all.
“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Stars shine brightest on a cold and dark winter night. God’s precious promises seem to multiply when the pressure of problems and pain heat up our lives. It takes sorrow to help us appreciate the “Man of Sorrows.” So when it seems like every day brings another cloud and it’s hard to keep on the sunny side of life, remember that if the sun shined all the time and it never rained, everything would dry up and turn into a parched wilderness. It’s good to know that the Lord is in control of both the clouds and the sunshine. He knows best and He is committed to getting us to Heaven although He never promised smooth travelling, but purposely pushes us out of our comfort zone.
A serotinous soul is not a super saint. A serotinous soul is a saved sinner. The “trigger” God uses to save sinners is the cross of Calvary. That’s where the Holy Fire of God’s wrath burned the body and soul of the Lord Jesus Christ instead of you and me. You might say that Jesus became a serotinous soul for us.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” Romans 8:29
The death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ regenerated, restores and causes to thrive multiplied millions of serotinous souls which are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. It would seem like there would be an easier, “cooler” way to save a soul than such a cruel and painful instrument as a cross. But when we think about the purpose of being saved is to glorify God, there is no argument. If we were to visit a regenerated Jack Pine
forest and stand there admiring the stately trees and lush growth, we would not praise the tour guide, we would thank the forester who set the fire! Fanny Crosby, the blind lady who wrote so many precious hymns including “Near the Cross,” said the first thing she was going to do when she got to Heaven was thank Jesus for her blindness. Now that is what a serotinous soul does! No doubt about it, all of God’s children are saved by grace through faith, so we cannot boast that we had anything to do with our eternal status. We can however, contribute to our eternal state, for sanctification is the process that manifests the serotinous strategy our Heavenly Father lovingly and faithfully uses to conform us to the image of His dear Son and our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Serotinous Souls Love God
Even though every born again believer loves God, no one loves Him like they should or even like they want to. We love Him because He first loved us. But there are so many things which compete for our love here on earth. And, if we don’t keep our serotinous shoes on, we’ll be “barefooting” with the devil and love things and places and people more than we love God. One of the greatest loves we have to break up with is ourselves!
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” II Timothy 3:2
You see what we’re up against? It takes a disaster to bring us out of being in love with the world and ourselves to loving God with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength. The reason Jack Pine need fire to release their seed and thrift is that there is a coat of resin which covers the seed in the cones. A fire melts the resin and releases the seed. There is a coat of rebellion around our hearts which we inherited from Adam. God though, loves us so much that He doesn’t leave us in hard, cold cones. He sends a fire of trials, sorrow, guilt and crosses to melt away our selfishness and pride and disintegrate the props we thought we had to have. The Apostle Peter thought he loved Jesus, even boasted in the fact that he would not deny Him. Peter was a serotinous soul and when the fire came, Peter cried when he denied his Lord. There was a big difference in Peter’s attitude about Jesus and about life after the fire. God’s love is pure love and He intends for us to love Him purely. So when we don’t, He sends fire to refine us and burn off the dross and impurities which can cause us to sneak away from Jesus. Peter’s love for the Lord and his boldness to serve Him increased after going through the crucible of convicting guilt to get to the comfort of a forgiven confession.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name un- der heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Serotinous Souls Live In The Spirit
God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him and man became a living soul. Satan sneaked up to Eve and tricked her into questioning and disobeying God’s word. Misery loves company so Eve convinced Adam to join her shame and guilt. Adam, the federal head of all humanity, by sinning against God, passed sin down to all of us. Right there in The Garden of Eden, a living soul became a serotinous soul because of sin. Sin though did not, and does not surprise God, although it grieves Him. God provided the remedy for sin, all sin, for all His people.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who- soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Yes, God can make a believer out of a serotinous soul. He does that by giving us His Spirit! The Spirit of God is like a holy fire which breaks the hard heart of a sinner and brings them by irresistible grace to the hearth and heat of God the spiritual fire is hot enough to crack and melt the rebellious resin of unredeemed human nature so that the seeds of the fruit of The Holy Spirit can take root and grow. One thing all Christians should be thankful for is guilt. Realizing that we are sinners is the first step in recreation of a believer’s ecosystem. Remember, Jesus came to earth to save sinners; He came to save serotinous souls.
In nature, the survival of the fittest is played out every day. It’s all about who is at the top of the food chain. And, in the spiritual world, it’s a battle too! Even though the Lord Jesus is the head of our spiritual food chain (He is the Bread of Life.) and our victory is assured in Him, we still struggle serotinously. But, since Jesus is committed to supplying all our needs, we have His Spirit and His word to straighten us up when we bend and keep us straight when we stagger.
“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29
The new covenant is the signature of God’s grace written by a burning love on the hearts of the children of God. God’s Word is so wonderfully powerful that its very presence should make us tremble and take our shoes off like Moses did when God spoke from the burning bush. God doesn’t like lukewarmness, so He heats up His Word with His Spirit. The Word of God is hot enough to melt that beer bottle right out of your hand. It will disintegrate that lust you have for your neighbor’s wife or husband. And the Word of God can fry the gossip right out of your lips. A serotinous soul becomes a surrendered soul under the power and influence of God’s Holy Word.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
Serotinous Souls Look to Jesus
Jesus can save the most hardened sinner. He can melt a heart of stone. Never give up on the salvation of a loved one, a friend, even yourself. Remember, a serotinous soul can be a late bloomer. God does not always work on our schedule. He does not always make payroll just on Fridays. The Apostle Paul was a serotinous soul. His cone was so closed and his heart so hard that he was having Christians killed thinking he was doing God a favor. Then God sent a fire and a fear which threw him down while on the road to Damascus. That encounter with Jesus melted Paul’s meanness to the point that he was dripping with God’s grace.
“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Acts 9:5,6
The three young Hebrews in the book of Daniel faced the battle of bowing to the world or following the Lord. King Nebuchadnezzar’s decree required either they worship him or be put in a fiery furnace. They denied the king but they honored God. The Bible is right, we cannot serve God and the world at the same time. The three young Hebrews lost the king’s favor but they found Jesus. Actually, Nebuchadnezzar found Jesus too for he noticed there were four walking in the furnace flames and one of them was the Son of God. Don’t miss the point here. The trial you may be going through and your faithfulness to God in it, may be the pressure or trigger God uses to reveal the faith of and save a serotinous soul.
Finally, God often warms our hearts with His love and grace by causing the Lord Jesus to walk with us even though we are not looking for Him. That’s how the Lord worked it out for two serotinous souls on the road to Emmaus. Those two men thought all hope was gone, that Jesus was dead and His kingdom had gone up in smoke. The stranger that walked with them though left more than His company; He left them a fire.
“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” Luke 24:32
No matter how dark the day nor tough the way, when we look to Jesus things open up. Can’t you see that sliver of blue sky behind those dark stormy clouds? Jesus can still the most raging trouble and can cause us to have a bounty from almost nothing. Look to Jesus! Look for Jesus! Look with Jesus! And, it is not uncommon for a serotinous soul to even stare at Jesus.