21 August 2009

He Shall Be Like a Tree ~

"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water"
Jer. 17:8
There were times while taking my morning walks on Saint Simons Island, Georgia that the sun's rays could not reach me because of the beautiful oak trees with their overhanging limbs covering the street below. Trees are one of God’s most beautiful creations and especially these particular trees laden with Spanish moss. The trees on the island are so respected that streets are built around them. I have often thought of a poem we had to memorize in school many years ago.
TreesAlfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Psalms One is a favorite of scores of saints. Therein is a contrast between a godly and an ungodly person. It is of the believer in God that demands our attention in this article. Undoubtedly David is the writer and he informs us that this man is blessed; that is to say he is happy and fortunate. This is one of several ‘beatitudes’ mentioned in this book. Please observe that the negative is first mentioned as pertaining to this man’s character. He “walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” This means that he does not habitually seek the advice/counsel of those individuals who would influence him to do evil. He does not associate with sinners in such a manner that others would consider him one of the ‘in groups’. And certainly he would never join the ungodly scoffers of all that is good and sit with them in their devilish fellowship and participate in their evil doings.

This blessed man is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” “Law” would not only be the Ten Commandments but would include the first five books of the Old Testament and the words of the prophets who spoke by the guidance of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in 2 Peter 1:20, 21: “(K)nowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This man of God takes great pleasure and satisfaction in having access to the Word of God to read and to meditate on its message for his spiritual growth and well being. The writer in Psalms 119:47, 48 & 97 expresses the same in this manner: “And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.” “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Such an attitude should permeate the very life of a disciple of Jesus Christ (John 8:31, 32; 2 Timothy 2:15).

The Psalmist compares this blessed child of God to one of His creations: “He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its seas, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And what he does shall prosper.” Notice that the tree was planted by someone. It did not accidentally grow in that location. The seed (Word of God) that is planted in the good ground (heart) “is able to save your souls” (Luke 8:11; James 1:21). The moisture from the rivers (channels) provides the nourishment to keep the tree healthy and strong and enables it to bear fruit to be enjoyed by all. Even in times of drought the leaves stay green because water is nearby. The Lord God blessed Israel in various ways when the people served him faithfully. The land produced bountiful crops; the herds multiplied; wives gave birth to children and there was food to eat. The Holy Scriptures contain manifold promises to the children of God who trusts in Him. Jesus taught this as recorded in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” I Corinthians 3:21: “Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours.” 2 Corinthians 9:6: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” The righteous man will “bear much fruit” as he is led by the Spirit (John 15:8; Galatians 5:22, 23).

Because Christ dwells in the heart of the righteous man by faith, he will be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). This ‘tap root’ of faith in Jesus Christ and in the knowledge of His Word, will prevent him from being “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:11-16). He will “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This is one version of an old folk song that should express the conviction of every Christian.

I Shall Not Be Moved
Words by John Benson, Jr.
Jesus is my Savior, I shall not be moved; In His love and favor, I shall not be moved, Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, I shall not be moved.

In my Christ abiding, I shall not be moved; In His love I'm hiding, I shall not be moved, Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, I shall not be moved.

If I trust Him ever, I shall not be moved; He will fail me never, I shall not be moved, Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, I shall not be moved.

On His word I'm feeding, I shall not be moved; He's the One that's leading, I shall not be moved, Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, I shall not be moved.

I shall not be, I shall not be moved; I shall not be, I shall not be moved; Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, I shall not be moved.

11 August 2009

Jesus Christ Would Have Made a Difference

This is a very sad, but true, story of a family of my personal acquaintance that was non religious and afflicted with the curse of alcoholism.

We lived in a very large old house on the ridge just out of town. Someone was building a new brick house on the road back of us. My younger brother and I, along with other friends, were curious. We found a nice sand pile that tempted us to play in and to enjoy. One day the big man who was laying the bricks told us that someone was scattering his sand that he used in making the mortar and he asked us to watch out for the persons and warn them not to do it again. How wise he was. We never played in his sand again. This was my first acquaintance with Mr. Harold.

He and his family soon moved near us and they became good friends with my family. He had a very attractive wife, two handsome sons and a very pretty daughter. The oldest son became a friend with my older brother. I liked the daughter but she was older than me. I wished her and my brother would like one another. The youngest son and I became friends. We were in the same grades in elementary and junior high school. Mr. Harold’s wife died while I was a boy.

I don’t remember this family attending any religious organization. I learned also that Mr. Harold had a very bad habit of getting drunk on occasions. His youngest son and I considered joining the Boy Scouts but he did not because he said, “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.” He had a rebellious attitude. He later married but he and his wife divorced. He was killed in a motorcycle accident. He also drank alcoholic beverages.

Mr. Harold’s daughter married a nice man but something went terribly wrong. She shot and killed him one day. Some years later she committed suicide. Their son attended the same college that our oldest son did and they became friends. But after his mother died, he committed suicide two years later.

The oldest son of Mr. Harold joined the Navy and served for years in the service. It was well known that he was addicted to alcohol. During a time of heavy drinking someone shot and killed him. I learned just recently that his son was killed by his wife. Neighbors said that they had been drinking all day and had been arguing. So even in the third generation of Mr. Harold’s family there was drunkenness and violence.

Mr. Harold later married after his first wife died. He claimed that in self defense he had to shoot and kill his step-son.

The handsome family I once knew when I was a boy is now gone. For the most part there was the absence of the Lord Jesus Christ and the presence of alcoholism and violence in this family for three generations.

If only Jesus Christ had been a part of this family, the members would have known the “peace that passes all understanding”, forgiveness of their sins and the hope of eternal life. The fruit of alcohol beverage is totally bad. It should be avoided completely. The decisions we make as parents morally and spiritually can and often does affect generations to come. It is with a sense of deep sadness in my heart that I recall these facts of friends of years past.