There is a fascinating and unusual tree called the “Bristlecone Pine.”
Growing in the mountain regions, sometimes as high as two or more miles above sea level, these evergreens may live for thousands of years. The older specimens often have only one thin layer of bark on their trunks.
Considering the habitat of these trees, such as rocky areas where the soil is poor and precipitation is slight, it seems almost incredible that they should live so long or even survive at all.
The environmental “adversities,” however, actually contribute to their longevity. Cells that are produced as a result of these perverse conditions are densely arranged, and many resin canals are formed within the plant. Wood that is so structured continues to live for an extremely long period of time.
However, the Bristlecone Pines which grow in richer conditions grow faster, but also die earlier. The harshness of their surroundings, then, is a vital factor in making them strong and sturdy.
How similar this is to the experience of the Christian who graciously accepts the hardships God allows to come into his life.
ln Hebrews 12:11 we read that such chastening produces “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
Are you in a difficult place today because the winds of trial are sweeping over your life? lnstead of complaining, thank God for the assurance that “after ye have suffered awhile,” He will “establish, strengthen, and settle you.” Rejoice in the added power and grace that comes through adversity!
King Henry IV of France once asked the Duke of Alva if he had observed the great eclipse of the sun that had recently occurred.
“No,” said the duke, “l have so much to do on the earth that l have no leisure to look up into heaven.”
Commenting on this, Thomas Brooks said, “It is sad to think how heart and time are so taken up with earthly things that we have no leisure to look to Christ and the things that belong to everlasting peace.”
How many people are so absorbed in earthly matters that they never take the time to think beyond this present temporal world?
The person who thinks only of the here and now is indeed a fool. For the things of this world are temporal. The momentary pleasures of this world cannot bring the eternal rewards of heaven.
A day is coming when this present world will be no more and there will be a new heaven and earth reserved for those who did take the time to look up and place their faith in the King of Heaven.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.
lt was May 21,1946. The place – Los Alamos.
A young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific atoll at Bikini. He had successfully performed such an experiment many times before. In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction–scientists call it the critical mass-he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus instantly stopping the chain reaction.
But that day, just as the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped! The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. lnstantly the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze. Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and thereby possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and thus interrupted the chain reaction. By this instant, self-forgetful daring, he saved the lives of the seven other persons in the room. . .
As he waited. . for the car that was to take him to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, ‘You’ll come through all right. But I haven’t the faintest chance myself.’
It was only too true. Nine days later he died in agony.
Two thousand years ago the Son of the living God walked directly into sin’s most concentrated radiation, and He allowed Himself to be touched by its curse. By His substitutionary death on the cross He broke the chain reaction of sin and its terrible deadly affects for all those who place their faith in Him.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ (Gal. 3:13)
Dwight L Moody, by his own admission, made a mistake on the eighth of October 1871. On that day, he made a mistake he determined he would never repeat. He had been preaching in the city of Chicago. That particular night drew his largest audience yet. His message was “ What will you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?”
By the end of the service, he was tired. He concluded his message with a presentation of the gospel and a concluding statement: “ Now I will give you a week to think that over, and when we come together again you will have opportunity to respond.” A soloist began to sing.
But before that final note, the music was drowned out by clanging bells and wailing sirens screaming through the streets. The great Chicago fire was blazing. In the ashen aftermath, hundreds were dead and over a hundred thousand were homeless. Without a doubt, some who heard Moody’s message had died in the fire.
He reflected remorsefully that he would have given his right arm before he would ever give an audience another week to think over the message of the gospel.
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2)
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit’; where as you do not know what will happen to you tomorrow. For what is your life? “(James 4; 13,14)
An old seaman said, “ In fierce storms we can do but one thing. There is only way to survive; we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.”
Commenting on this idea, Richard Fuller wrote:
“This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you.
Reason cannot help you.
Past experiences give you no light.
Only a single course is left.
You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may- winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers- no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness and his everlasting love in Christ Jesus.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God my rock in whom I take refuge: my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)
The following story is told of a cobbler who lived in Edinburgh.
One day the newly installed minister of the shoemaker’s church made his first call at the shoe shop. As the pastor talked, he used some lofty theological language.
The cobbler replied with understanding and deep spiritual insight that left the preacher astonished. “You should not be cobbling shoes,” he said. “A man with such thoughts and such a manner of expressing those thoughts should not be doing secular work.”
The cobbler was quick to reply, “Sir, take that back!”
“Take what back?” asked the preacher.
“That I am doing secular work,” responded the shoemaker.
“Do you see that pair of shoes? They belong to widow Smith’s son. Her husband died last summer. She is supported by her boy, who keeps a roof over their heads by working outdoors every day. Bad weather is coming. The Lord said to me, “Will you cobble widow Smith’s boy’s shoes so he won’t catch cold and come down sick this winter?” And I said, “I will.”
“Now you preach sermons under God’s direction, I trust, and I will cobble that boy’s shoes under God’s direction. One day when the rewards are given out, He will say to you and me the same sentence: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. ( Col 3:23)
That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or laboured in vain. Philippians 2 15-16
The SPIRIT of man, says the wise man, is the candle of the Lord. ( Proverbs 20:27). By nature, we are like so many unlit lamps and candles. As the wick is adapted for the flame, but stands dark and cold until it is ignited, so we are unable to shed any light until our nature is kindled from the Eternal Nature of Him who” is Light, and in whom is no darkness at all.” Has the candle of your life been lit by contact with Christ, the Son of Righteousness?
Our Lord says: “Let your light shine before men.” He shows how absurd it is to light a lamp, and then obscure its rays by placing it under a bushel. The purpose of ignition is frustrated if the light is covered. Ah! How many of us place bushels on the light of our testimony for God- the bushel of uncharitable speech! of ill-temper! of a discontented spirit!
These, as well as more conspicuous failings, will prevent us from shining forth as light in a dark world. It is not for us to ignite the flame or supply the oil. All we have to do is to keep our lamps clean and bright, to guard against anything that may obstruct the out-shining of the Love and Life of God through the soul. If we are careful to see that anything which might hinder the effect of our testimony and mar our influence is put away, Christ will see to it that our light shall effect the full measure of His purpose. In contrast to the bushel is the stand or the candlestick.
The Master of the House may place you in a very small dark corner, and on a very humble stand, but some day, as He passes by, you shall light His footsteps as He goes forth to seek and save that which is lost.
What is your stand? Your place in society, your position in the home, your situation in some business house, factory, or school wherever it may be, it doesn’t matter, so long as your light is shining forth, steady and clear, warning and directing men and women in the path of life.
George Bernard Shaw was a brilliant man. His stories delighted many and his writings show great genius. Yet he was an atheist, and he rejected the message of Scripture and placed his trust in his own systems of belief.
George Bernard Shaw was a rationalist, which means that he based his view of life on his own limited human reason. His system of belief provided him with no comfort in later life. Throughout his life he could not find lasting inner peace, and he slowly lost confidence in what he believed.
Shortly before he died in 1950, after experiencing the horrors of two world wars, he wrote;
“The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, have led directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.”
One can only wonder how Richard Dawkins and his atheistic followers will end their days.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are “There is no God.” ( Psalm 10:4)
Donald Cargill was one of the bright stars among the Covenanters in Scotland.
This man was among many Scots who refused to compromise the gospel and the doctrine of worship.
Consequently he was condemned by the church authorities in Scotland and the time. He was condemned by the government and sentenced to the gallows. When he came to the scaffold, Cargill said these moving words, although it was said that the drums were beaten in an attempt to drown out his voice:
“Now I am near to getting to my crown, which shall be sure; for I bless the Lord, and desire all of you to bless Him that hath brought me here, and makes me triumph over devils, and men, and sin – and they shall wound me no more. I forgive all men the wrongs they have done to me, and pray the Lord may forgive all the wrongs that any of the elect have done against Him. I pray that sufferers may be kept from sin, and helped to know their duty – farewell reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproaches, and sufferings. Welcome joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Tim 4:8)