Tuesday, July 30, 2019


Ecclesiastes 3:11a
He has made everything beautiful in its time.

                Timing is everything. Knowing when to act is essential to success in virtually any endeavor. In baseball, timing is essential if the batter expects to hit a baseball coming at him at 90-100 mph. In investing, knowing when to buy and when to sell is essential. In business, discerning the right time to introduce a new product can be the difference between success or failure. Even in baking, timing is an essential component of a successful bake.

                As important as timing is, it is not always easy to determine it. For example, several years ago our church was rapidly growing and our physical space was quickly becoming inadequate. Everything told us it was time to step out in faith and add onto our facilities. We did exactly that, totally unaware that our world was about to enter a global economic crisis that would change everything. Obviously, we do not always get our timing right.

                In contrast, God’s timing is always perfect. He knows exactly when to act and when to hold back. This is seen most clearly in the coming of Jesus into our world. The people of Israel had waiting for centuries for the Messiah to come. At exactly the right moment, God sent Jesus into the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

                It is not hard for us to look back and see the perfection of God’s timing in the past. The problem arises as our timing and God’s timing collide in the present. As much as we say that we trust God, we want things to take place according to our time table. In general, we are in a hurry. Our perspective is limited to the immediate future. We cannot see much beyond today, so we base our decisions on our present reality. On the other hand, God can see far into our future. He knows what we do not. He knows what is best for us and often this involves being patient. The Psalmist instructs us that we are to wait for the Lord and not rush ahead.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

                What does it mean for us to truly wait for the Lord? It begins with genuinely trusting God and believing that His timing is always right. Waiting is an act of trust. By patiently waiting for the Lord’s timing, we are acknowledging His sovereignty in our lives.

                Waiting is not passive though. God wants to use our waiting time to prepare us for what is to come. As we wait, we need to do our part to actively get ready to move forward. It is similar to spending four years in college so that we can be better equipped to enter the working world. God never wastes our waiting time, but uses it as His training ground. Our part is to embrace the lessons that God is teaching us.

                Waiting is also keeping our eyes open and being ready to move when the time comes. A major aspect of good timing is having discernment. The danger of waiting is that we can become complacent. We can settle into our routine and miss the opportunity when it comes. Solomon reminds us that discernment is an essential aspect of a successful life.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

                It is not wrong for us to make plans for the future. God wants us to do exactly that. But He wants to be at the center of those plans. As we submit our plans to God, we can trust that His timing will be just right.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


Isaiah 42:1-4
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
 my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope."

                Have you ever been at the end of your rope and felt like one more thing would be the end of you? Many of us feel that way from time to time. Our nerves are frayed, our emotions are raw, and our spirit is defeated. When we find ourselves in that place, it feels like we are surrounded by sharks and there is blood in the water. In fact, there are people who are more than ready to kick us when we are down. But Jesus is not one of those people.

                Too many people view God as some kind of ogre who is just waiting for an opportunity to attack them. They live in fear of God’s judgment and so they turn their fear into open rebellion and arrogance. In a movie I watched recently, one of the characters, when asked if God is just, replied that God had much to answer for. My first thought was, to whom is God to be held accountable? Many people feel that they have the right to be the judge of God!

                Isaiah gives us an entirely different picture of God’s attitude toward us. Isaiah is describing God’s anointed one, who we know to be Jesus. He states that God would give Jesus the right and the ability to bring justice to the earth. Yet he describes justice in a surprising way.

                Jesus will bring justice by His authority, not by bullying people. Isaiah says that he will not shout, cry, or raise His voice in the streets. Those words clearly define the way our world seeks justice. We have come to feel that if we just shout loud enough, we will get our way. It is an image of the bully who dominates others with his bravado and bluster. But Jesus will bring justice in a different way. He does not have to use force to get His way. With calm, measured tones He will address the issues of our lives. He will bring justice through compassion.

                Recently in my devotions I saw this passage in a way I had not seen it before. Isaiah makes a seemingly odd statement when he says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Matthew relates this very passage to Jesus in Matthew 12. The context is Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. In His interaction with the Pharisees, Jesus made it clear that compassion trumped their artificial laws about the Sabbath.

                As I thought about this passage, I was able to place it into the context of real life. There are often times when we are bruised in life. There are times when the challenges of life have bent us to our breaking point. At those times, the world is quick to finish the job. For example, a wounded person in the workplace is often wounded even more when their co-workers distance themselves or use the situation for their own benefit. Isaiah tells us that when we are bruised and bent by the challenges of life, Jesus will not add to our distress. Instead, He will come to us with compassion to bind up our wounds and to help us to heal. Instead of breaking us, he wants to brace us so that we can be restored. As Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

                Isaiah also said that Jesus would not snuff out a smoldering wick. There are times in life when our flame burns pretty low. Our energy has been drained away and only the faintest glow of life remains. People who struggle with depression know exactly what that feels like. Unfortunately, many people, when they get to that point in their life, snuff out their own wick. When our flame is burning low, Jesus comes along side of us to renew our spirit and rekindle our life flame. As we lean more fully on Jesus, we tap into His strength. Jesus stated that He came into the world for this very purpose. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

                Isaiah states that “in faithfulness he will bring forth justice.” We can trust Jesus to do what it right and just. The justice He brings is not like the world’s justice. It is not about retribution and restitution. It is not heavy handed and vindictive. It is compassionate. Jesus will make things right, restoring order to our lives. He will cleanse us from our sin and rebellion and bring us with joy into the very presence of God.

Psalm 103:8-12
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019


John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

                Yesterday we got up early, jumped in the car, and headed west to the International Peace Garden. The Peace Garden was established in 1932 as a symbol of cooperation and friendship between the US and Canada. At the entrance of the Peace Garden is a plaque that reads, “To God in his Glory we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against one another.”

                It was a perfect day to be there. The garden was beautiful. There are an estimated 150,000 flowers planted in the garden each year. It is truly an amazing sight. From the entrance there is a view up the length of the garden. It is a well-manicured lawn interspersed with gardens, fountains, and a stream that runs right along the border between the town countries. As a person strolls through this centerpiece of the garden, they literally step back and forth between the two countries. In some ways it is rather surreal.

                The Peace Garden represents a deep longing of all people; to live at peace. Yet, for all of the efforts that have been made, we live in a world of war and strife. The peace that the world offers is often at the expense of someone else. We put up walls to protect ourselves and keep others out. We tenaciously hold onto what we have instead of sharing it with others.

                James makes it clear that we don’t experience the peace we desire because our hearts are in the wrong place. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)

                Everyone wants peace, but on their terms.

                The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Shalom is far more than the absence of strife. Shalom is an overall sense of well-being, a sense of contentment and wholeness that can transcend circumstances. It is seeking not only a person’s own well-being, but seeking the well-being of others as well. True peace cannot be found in isolation. It is always in the context of community.

                Paul addressed this in Philippians 2:3-4. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. True peace comes when we take the focus off of ourselves and put it on others. As we seek the well-being of others, we will experience peace for ourselves.

                As Jesus was nearing the cross, He gave His disciples a gift, the gift of peace. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jesus knew that the disciples were headed into rough waters. He knew that they would be facing many challenges. So He gave them an underlying sense of His care and His presence that would sustain them even when their environment was in turmoil. The peace that the world gives is temporary and is based on outward circumstances. The peace that Jesus gives is permanent and it not based on outward circumstances. The peace of Christ is an internal source of strength that can overcome fear.

                Paul tells us that the way to tap into the peace of Christ is to bring everything to Him. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7) The more that we let God be an active part of our life, the more we will experience the peace that He has promised us. When we know that the sovereign God of the universe has our back, we can be freed from anxiety and worry. We can experience peace.

                The International Peace Garden is a beautiful symbol of humanity’s highest ideals. But on our own we will not attain our goal of peace. It as only as we yield, in humble submission to Christ, that we can experience the peace we so desire.

Ephesians 2:14-18
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Friday, July 19, 2019


Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

                Last week I enjoyed a reunion of sorts. My two best friends from Mankato met me in Grand Forks. We found a Culver’s and established ourselves in a back corner out of the way. For the next hour and a half, we caught up on one another’s lives.

                When I first arrived in Mankato as a solo pastor, I knew that I would not be able to do the work alone. I prayed and asked God to give me a couple of men who would walk with me. God answered that prayer. At the beginning of my ministry, I had a Board meeting every Tuesday evening. Gregg and Vic agreed to meet with me for dinner on Tuesdays, in part to help me prepare for the meeting ahead. For twelve years we met together every week. Gregg, in particular, became my Barnabas. We were able to share life at a deeper level, to encourage and to challenge one another. Then Gregg responded to God’s call and was launched on a journey that eventually took him to Germany.

                I struggled for a while to fill the void left by Gregg’s absence. Then Mark stepped into the picture. I invited Mark to have breakfast and consider meeting with me on a regular basis. That resulted in a fifteen-year journey of meeting every Thursday morning for breakfast. That journey continued until I retired and God called me to North Dakota. Mark too had become my Barnabas. He and I weathered several significant ministry storms together. We also came along side of each other as we faced our own personal battles.

                These two men have played a significant role in my life and ministry. I am deeply indebted to them for the investment that they have made in my life. But I have to say that neither of them is my closest friend.

                Today, as I was doing my devotions, I was struck with the reality that I have been meeting with another friend every morning for well over 30 years. Although that friend is not physically present with me, he is nevertheless a real presence in my life. That friend is Jesus.

                Many years ago, I made a commitment to spend the first hour or so in my office every morning in devotional study. As a pastor, this is a privilege that I have that many others do not. I do not take that privilege lightly or for granted. It is an amazing gift from God. It has become an essential part of my spiritual journey. Just as I felt the loss when Gregg or Mark were unable to meet with me, so I have felt the very real loss when I have failed to meet with Jesus. The course of my day is definitely altered by the lack of time with my friend.

                What struck me powerfully this morning is that I have not realized the connection between meeting with my Barnabas’ and meeting with Jesus. When I began my daily routine of prayer, Bible study, and devotional reading, I did it more out of duty than out of delight. I saw it as a necessary spiritual exercise, like going to the gym. I have come to consider my time each morning as a delight and not a duty.

                In both cases, when I first began meeting with Gregg and Mark, our times together were awkward, guarded, and a little sterile. But over time they became rich and meaningful. It was not so much the content of our time together as it was the genuine sharing of life together. The same was true when I began my daily routine. At first it was awkward and sterile. But the longer I persisted the richer it became. Not every morning is profound, yet very morning is enriching in its own way.

                I have struggle with seeing Jesus as my friend. Somehow that didn’t seem right. Lord, Master, Savior; these all seemed appropriate. But friend seemed presumptuous. It seemed too superficial in some way. But today I realized that I was wrong, very wrong. Although Jesus is my Lord, Master, and Savior, He is also my friend, my closest friend.

                When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, He told them that they were more than just disciples, they were His friends.
    My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:12-15

                I have experienced genuine, human friendship personified in Gregg and Mark. I have also experienced genuine, spiritual friendship in the person of Jesus. I have not always recognized this or appreciated it, but Jesus has been for me “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

                This past Sunday we had two young ladies speak at our worship service. Both of them are serving with CRU, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ. One is serving in an inner-city ministry and the other overseas. Both of these young ladies had grown up in our small town and had felt God calling them into service. I was struck by their profound, simple faith. They felt God calling and they responded.

                Jesus made is clear that we all need to come to Him through simple faith. Jesus used an incident with some children to emphasize His point. People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Mark 10:13-15

                When Jesus said that a person had to receive the kingdom like a little child, He was calling for simple faith. Not simplistic or childish faith, but simple and child-like faith. Children are generally trusting, until we teach them otherwise. When they are told something, they tend to take it at face value. They do not analyze it before they accept it, they just accept it.

                When I was in my first year at seminary, the President of the seminary told us that the greatest danger that we faced in seminary was that we would become theologians and lose our faith. The danger that he was warning us about was that we would abandon the simple faith that Jesus calls for and substitute an academic faith, which often is dead. Over the years, I have felt that very struggle. There have been many times when I have desired to go back to the simple faith of my youth. All of my theological study has, at times, gotten in the way of simply trusted God.

                Simple faith is not a mindless faith. It is not putting our intellect on the shelf and blindly following. Simple faith is trusting that God knows what He is doing even when we do not. It is taking God at His word and then acting upon the knowledge that we have. Simple faith is the foundation of living a life pleasing to God. As it says in Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. There are two significant components to this kind of faith. It recognizes the reality of God and it embraces the grace of God. There are many people that have a vague idea that there is a God out there somewhere, but they do not believe that God cares about them. The essence of simple faith is that a person both acknowledges God’s existence and trusts God to be actively involved in their life.

                When I was boy, Proverbs 3:5-6 was my favorite passage of scripture. I memorized it in the KJV. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. To be honest, in my mind, the focus was on “and he will direct thy paths.” I really wanted God to show me what I was to do and where I was to go. I have come to realize that the focus of the passage is really on “trust.” Simple faith challenges us to examine our level of trust. Am I willing to take God at His word, or am I leaning on my own understanding of my life?

                The two young ladies that I mentioned above demonstrated genuine simple faith. Each, in their own way, were willing to answer God’s call, even though that meant stepping out of their comfort zone. Each of them trusted God to provide what they needed in order to do what God had called them to do. I was inspired and challenged by their testimonies.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019


James 1:13-14
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

                We are very good at externalizing things. When something goes wrong in our life, our first response is to look for someone or something to blame. Our society has programmed us to see ourselves as victims. We embrace this attitude because it relieves us of the responsibility for our actions. If I am a victim, then it is not my fault, therefore I am not responsible.

                The Bible gives us a very different perspective. Although we cannot control the circumstances of life or the actions of others, we can control our response to these things. Instead of blaming some external force, our first response should be to look within ourselves. James makes this very clear when he reminds us that God is not the source of our temptations. The real source is the evil desires embedded within our soul.

                Because of our sinful nature, there are things within us that would lead us away from God. These seeds of rebellion can take many shapes and forms. If we fail to identify them and deal appropriately with them, they will take root in our life and bear negative fruit. James again comes right to the point. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:15)

                These evil desires within us represent our vulnerabilities. These are the areas where we are must susceptible to Satan’s influence. Satan cannot make us do something wrong, but he can use our vulnerabilities against us. He is a master at subtly probing our weaknesses until he can gain entrance into our mind and influence our actions. The real battleground is not the environment in which we live but our very mind. The battleground is within us.

                Ken Sande, in his new program Relational Wisdom 360, highlights that self-awareness is a key to godly living. The more aware we are of our own emotional responses to life, the better equipped we are to deal with the circumstances of life appropriately. Being self-aware allows us to be honest with ourselves about our vulnerabilities and then take steps to deal with them.

                One of the key things we need to recognize is that we are in a spiritual battle that has eternal consequences. How we live our everyday lives shapes us and will come to fruit in eternity. Paul reminds us of this reality. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) As long as Satan can get us to externalize the battle, he can manipulate us. He gets our eyes focused on the wrong thing so that we are unaware of the real threat.

                During WWII, in preparation for the invasion of Normandy, the Allies created a fictional army to convince the Germans that the invasion would take place at Calais. It worked. They focused their attention on Calais. Even after the invasion began, the Germon high command was convinced that it was only a diversion and that the real invasion was still to come.

                When Satan gets us to focus on our external circumstances or on a disagreeable co-worker, he is using a diversion tactic to blind us to the real attack. The real attack is on our character. Too often we walk right into the trap, and realize our mistake only after the fact.

                Paul tells us that the way to counter the attacks of the enemy is to be fully equipped with the armor of God. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11) We do not face the enemy in our own strength. We face the enemy in the strength and power of God. When we put on the armor of God, we begin to see life from God’s perspective. He opens our eyes and our minds to the reality of our situation. He also gives us the resources to respond in an appropriate way.  

                The more that we spend time in God’s Word and actively apply it to our lives, the better equipped we will be to face our enemy. Again, James pulls no punches as he addresses our responsibility for our actions. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

                We all struggle with the battle within. It is the common experience of every human being. The actual battlefield is unique to each of us, but we all face it. The more aware we are of our personal battlefield the better equipped we will be to withstand the enemy’s attacks. But remember, we are not alone in this. Our strength to resist comes as we yield to the power of God within us.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019


James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

                The sun beat down of me as I jogged through the neighborhood. Sweat ran down my forehead and into my eyes. I wiped it away with my shirt and trudged on. Then I ran into the shade of a large oak tree. Immediately there was relief from the heat of the sun. It was almost as if I had stepped into air-conditioning.

                During these hot, summer months, I have learned to appreciate the shade of a tree. On more than one occasion, the shade of a tree has been a life-saver. When we first began our summer mission trips to Ukraine, we ministered in a small village named Votilivka. The church was a typical Ukrainian building made of thick walls and windows sealed tightly shut. The temperature inside of the building was usually hotter than outside. The mud brick walls acted almost like an oven, capturing the heat and radiating it inside. Our salvation was a huge, spreading tree in the front yard.

                We had gone to Ukraine to work with a local church by providing a day-camp experience for the children of the village. We quickly realized that the combination of the number of children and the confines of the church building were not going to make for a positive experience. So the shade of the huge tree became our meeting place. It remained that way every year that we ran the day-camp for that village.

                I was reminded on my run the other day about what a gift trees are. Trees are God’s natural air-conditioners. They absorb the heat of the sun and shield us from its penetrating rays. If you have ever walked from an open field into a wood, you have experienced this amazing phenomenon. But trees area a gift in many other was as well.

                Trees are God’s natural air-purifiers. They have the ability to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air. By doing this, they help to purify the air that we breath. The more trees that are present, the better the air quality.

                Trees are a renewable source of wood, which can be used for fuel or for building. Many a winter night I have basked in the warmth of a wood fire brightly burning in my fireplace. Who hasn’t been captivated by the allure of a campfire on a crisp night? As a woodworker, I have come to greatly appreciate the beauty and diversity of wood. The different species of trees offers the woodworker an amazing variety of raw materials with which to work. These raw materials, once shaped, sanded, and polished, can be used to create a wide array of beautiful objects, both functional and decorative.

                Of course, trees also provide habitat for a variety of creatures. They provide food, shelter, and protection. A stand of trees is usually alive with activity. Many animals are dependent upon trees for their very survival.

                From the Garden of Eden on, trees have been a symbol of God’s provision and protection. They symbolize stability and fruitfulness. Trees are one of the longest living organisms on earth. Therefore, trees are used as a symbol of faithfulness, both of God and of people.

                Psalm 1 draws these ideas together in a composite picture.

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

                Jeremiah tells us that the person who puts their trust in the Lord is like a well-established tree.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
 that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7-8

                The book of Revelation uses the image of trees to represent the amazing reality of the new heaven and the new earth.

    Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:1-2

                Trees are one of God’s great gifts to us. They refresh us in so many ways. They are also a constant reminder of His faithfulness, love, and grace toward us. As we sink our roots deeply into God’s Word, as we draw closer and closer to God through Christ, we discover His sustaining power. Through our relationship with Christ, we become both fruitful and resilient.

                So the next time you experience the amazing coolness offered by the shade of a tree, stop and thank God for His amazing gift.