Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees

Have you ever stopped to consider the similarities between the life and death of a Christmas tree, as compared to that of a non-Christian? No? Well, perhaps it’s something to not only consider, but to possibly share in some form or fashion with a non-Christian if you have the opportunity this holiday season. Consider…

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

When a tender little baby Christmas tree breaks forth from its earthen womb and begins to grow in the nursery of a Christmas tree farm, great care is taken to nurture, nourish, and protect it so it can grow. This is similar to how a helpless little human baby born in the nursery of a hospital is likewise looked after and cared for.

As the helpless little Christmas tree eventually begins to grow stronger, straighter, and up through its green, pristine, “sapling-hood,” after a while a very terrible and life-stealing event occurs to it. Suddenly, one day, it is tragically and in an instant severed from its life-giving trunk and roots, by the ripping force of a mighty chainsaw! Balance is now totally lost, and since the tree can no longer stand before the sun, it comes crashing down – and great and painful is it’s crushing fall from its pure and lofty, sunlit heights above, to the deadly, dirty, tangled depths below…

This is similar to what happens as a human being grows up, goes through childhood, and eventually reaches what we refer to as the ‘age of accountability,’ suddenly one day sinning, and at that moment, instantly losing the innocence and purity they previously had before almighty God. At that terribly tragic moment, sin immediately severs their relationship with God, just as surely as a great and mighty chainsaw rips through and severs the tree from its life-supplying and supporting roots!

From that moment on, existence for the Christmas tree is one wild and exciting, but at the same time, painful and tumultuous ride. Bound by strong cords and unceremoniously dumped onto the back end of a flat-bed semi-truck amongst hundreds of other similar trees now separated from their life-giving roots as well, the tree is soon exposed to things it never dreamed of. Interstate highways, high-beam headlights, and big city high-rises all come and go by with blurring speed, as the huge diesel engine up front powers the trees through the darkness to be delivered to market.

And while all of the excitement, new experiences, and never-before-seen world might be enough to make the little tree actually forget for a time, that from the very moment it fell, it’s severed state of existence was actually fatal and its destruction determined, sadly, this whole ride is all due to its now ‘fallen state,’ the inevitable results of which will be a very painful, burning, and fiery end. Even when our now-fallen tree is finally unbound, stood up, later further examined, purchased, re-bound, taken home, given help to stand, and covered and surrounded with glitz, glitter, lights, presents, ornaments and glamour, it doesn’t change in the slightest, the fact that it is now – and has been since the very moment of its fall – a dead tree, severed from life, and destined for destruction when “the day” comes.

People are all too often like that as well. Once they’ve been cut down by sin, severed and separated from the God who is life (Isa. 59:1-2) and have fallen from their pure, innocent, and pristine position before Him, all too many of them allow the ride they’re on to blur the reality of the fact that they are, from that moment on, dead in their sins, alienated and separated from God by them (Eph. 2:1-3, 11-12), and headed for a very painful and fiery eternity – not end, for there is none, where “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (See: Mk. 9:43-50). It does not matter how many stunningly beautiful awards, amazing achievements, or incredible accolades one may come to be adorned with in this life; how much gold, silver, glitz or glitter they may have amassed around themselves in the process; or how pricy, precious or popular they may have seemed to the people who surrounded them with ‘stars in their eyes’ and love in their hearts; the bottom line is, that once “the day” arrives, their story is the same.

When “the day” comes this year, the same as it did last year and the year before, countless Christmas trees will be summarily stripped of all their presents, and shortly thereafter, of all of their lights and ornaments, and then be discarded to be either burned and/or destroyed. But this was the inevitable end determined for them from the very moment they were separated from their life-giving roots and fell to the dirt below.

But thanks be to God, that this is where the similarity ends; that even though from the moment that we as an individual human being first fell, sinned, and was separated from the God of life by our sins (and that the end for all such sinners was already determined – Rom. 6:23), it is not absolutely inevitable or irreversible that all such sinners must perish in such a fiery fashion! For although in God’s plan and purpose dead trees might not be completely restored to thus escape the flames, praise Him that human beings can be! And not only that they can be, but that it was His very plan since before the beginning of time that they should be, could be, and ought to be (Eph. 1:4, 3:8-11)! Almighty God, in His great love, has provided, by and through the blood of His one and only begotten Son, ONE way for the life-giving relationship, once severed, to now be restored for us as human beings, so that those now dead, living under the curse and sentence of eternal fire, destruction, and damnation, don’t have to stay that way if they don’t want to! There is a way – ONE WAY – of renewal, revival, and restoration (Jn. 14:6, 15-24)!

The day is coming. Will you be more like the Christmas tree when it arrives, or would you like to be restored and escape the searing fate of those eternal flames? The day is coming. If you’ve not been restored and reconnected to the God of life through Jesus Christ (Jn. 15:1-14), don’t delay (Hebs. 3:1-19)! Come today! And if you have, then let’s focus on and appreciate His love like never before! Now THAT’s something worth celebrating (Ps. 100)!

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Feeling Shame

Feeling Ashamed

The Bible teaches that there are some things that we should be ashamed of and there are other things that we should not be ashamed of.  Ezra was ashamed of the sin that Israel had committed against God.  He said: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).  David was ashamed of the transgressor.  He wrote: “Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause” (Psalm 25:3).  Isaiah was ashamed of idolatry.  He wrote, “They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods” (Isaiah 42:17).  We should be ashamed of some things.

There are things for which we must feel shame.

There are things for which we must feel shame.

However, there are other things of which we should not be ashamed.  The Psalmist wrote: “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:6).  Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  He wrote to Timothy: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The world tries to deny the shame that God has placed within sin.  It tries to live with sin and without shame.  Such a distortion of God’s creation brings shame upon the sinner whether he realizes it or not.  However, God does not want us to live in such shame.  He gives us His word so that we can live without shame.  When we love and obey God, accepting the forgiveness that He offers through Jesus, we have no reason to be ashamed.

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Respond to the Master’s Calling

Respond to the Master’s Calling

The world of Mary and Martha had been turned upside down. Lazarus, their only brother, was sick, and they sent a message to Jesus. We are not sure exactly where Jesus was in Galilee, but he could have been more than 70 miles from these two godly women. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha heard that the Lord was approaching their home, and she went out to meet Him. “Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died.” Can you sense the emotions in her words? Her sister said these same words to Jesus when she went to meet the Lord. Martha was the one who told Mary that the Lord was there. Her words, “The Teacher  (the KJV has the word “Master”) has come and is calling for you” (John 11:28). Consider this sentence and how it applies to each of us.

Will run to the Master's calling?

Will run to the Master’s calling?

The Master…” What a title to describe the Lord. He who had mastered the storms in Galilee and had mastered temptation of Satan was now there with them. They knew of His power over sickness, for He had shown it repeatedly. What they failed to see was that He could also master death. He is truly the King of all kings and the Lord above all lords and the conqueror of death, the grave and Hades.

The Master has come…” The coming of the Supreme Master and Teacher had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets, and He now stood outside the home of these two sisters. It was not a fond dream that some might have had that He would come—they were there and heard Him. They saw the impact of His words, “Lazarus, come forth.” How blessed they were, and even more, how blessed we are that God has fulfilled His promises about the coming of the Master.

“The Master has come and is calling…” We sing so many songs that speak of His calling. “Hear the sweet voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me, I am the way.’” We have called on Him because we heard His call saying, “Come unto Me all you who labor” (Matt. 11:28). Mary heard that Jesus wanted her to come, and she ran from the house to meet Him.

“The Master has come and is calling for you.” Think of how tragic it would be if the Lord was selective in choosing those He wants to come to Him. Just suppose He had invited every person to come, except you. Think of what you would have lost. However, He longs for all men to come. He died for all, and most importantly He died for you! How have you responded to His call?

Mary had the right to ignore the message from her sister, but think of the great blessings she would have missed. Of even greater importance, think of what you lose when you fail to respond to His call. God, help us to run like Mary!

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