Rooted in Christ

Flower head

He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon,Hosea Ch 14 v 5.

A Long Winter

As spring approached there was no sign of the daffodils in my garden bursting into bloom and as I looked across the marshy ground behind my house I could see no evidence of the irises which were usually, by this time of year, pushing spear shaped stalks up above the ground.

I began to wonder if the long winter was going to prevent the flowers from blooming.

Winter Over

However, with the onset of warmer weather, all my fears were dispersed ‘as the early dew,Hosea 6 v 4, as flowers appeared. Winter was past!

There can be testing times, in life’s experience, when we would dearly wish to say that ‘the winter is past,Solomon’s Song 2 v 11, for no matter how strong our faith in Jesus is, we are not exempt from trial for Jesus said ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation,John 16 v 33.

Nevertheless, trials do not mean we can not remain firmly ‘rooted,Ephesians 3 v 17, in Christ and continue to ‘grow in grace,2 Peter 3 v 18.

Firmly Rooted

What was it that ensured the spring flowers would eventually burst into bloom? Surely it was the fact they were firmly rooted or entrenched in the ground, where they had lain dormant for many months. After flowering they had died back, their flowers and leaves had withered away, and to the untrained mind they would have appeared to be dead.

But there was still life in their bulbs, tubers or roots.

Dear reader, have you living spiritual roots? Are you so firmly rooted in Christ that you trust Him in every situation that comes your way? Or do trials burden you with negative and faith undermining thoughts?

Tried Faith

I am reminded as I write this, that despite the long hard winter, it led to an exceptional display of flowers as my garden became alive with the cheering colours of spring. It would appear that the inclement weather had actually strengthened the rooting systems in which the life of the plants lay.

And so it often is, with tried and tested believers, that affliction and trials strengthen their faith in Jesus!

Better the End than the Beginning

Friends, sometimes our faith may appear to be like ‘a grain of mustard seed,Matthew 17 v 20; and sometimes Satan’s ‘devices,2 Corinthians 2 v 11, can lead us to think that God has deserted us altogether. But we can be strengthened by the thought that though the Lord may ‘cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies,Lamentations 3 v 32.

There is an old adage that says ‘Better is the end of a thing than the beginning,Ecclesiastes 7 v 8.

May God help us to truly believe that for those who firmly trust in Jesus ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us,Romans 8 v 18.

May our faith, though sometimes weak, grow stronger as we experience, overcome and move on from the various trials of life. And, may we, by searching the scriptures, be encouraged by God’s dealings with the saints of old and how they coped.

Trials of Old

Job’s trials were so severe that he felt compelled to say ‘Let the day perish wherein I was born,Job 3 v 3. And yet, despite all his suffering he was able to say regarding God ‘Though he slay me yet will I trust in him,Job 13 v 15.

Paul was sorely tried on many occasions but could still say ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?Romans 8 v 35.

Both were to find their faith rewarded.

Crowns of Glory

The ‘Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning,Job 42 v 12.

Paul could say that ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,2 Timothy 4 v 8.

May God help us to look beyond the trials of today and focus on what awaits us in glory. May we find that afflictions and trials grow into blessings and increase our faith, strengthen our perseverance and build up our hope for eternity.

David Joy 

George Beverly Shea

George Beverly Shea

The first time I heard of George Beverly Shea was at breakfast one morning in 1955, when my Dad was telling my Mum, my sister and myself about Billy Graham, George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows. At that time Dad was a policeman in Glasgow and the previous evening he had been on points and crowd control duty at the Kelvin Hall in the city. He spoke about thousands of people queuing to get into the Kelvin Hall to hear an American evangelist on his first crusade to Scotland. While they waited for up to three hours for the doors to open, the crowd sang hymns and gospel songs. My Dad said,” The singing was good on the way in, but on the way out! it was wonderful!”

George Beverly Shea

George Beverly Shea

George Beverly Shea was born on 1st February 1909 in Ontario, Canada, one of eight children born to a Wesleyan Methodist minister father and a mother who played the organ in his church. He grew up playing piano, organ and violin and sang in the church choir. His early ambition was to be a Mountie. He moved to New York State in the US to attend a Christian College but left without completing his degree in order to return home to help support his family during the Depression. For ten years, he worked as an insurance clerk, taking voice lessons in the evenings. It’s unclear as to when his conversion took place. However at the age of twenty-three he found a poem by Rhea Miller. He put music to it thus creating what would become one of his signature songs, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold”.

In 1947, a young Southern Baptist minister called William Franklin (Billy) Graham Jnr heard him sing on the radio and invited Shea to join him and musical director Cliff Barrows for the first of what Billy Graham called his “crusades” in Charlotte, North Carolina. Those three men would spend the next 50 years traveling the world together on these crusades.

George Beverly Shea recorded in excess of 70 Gospel albums one of which earned him a Grammy Award in 1966. In 2011, at the grand old age of 102, he became the oldest recipient of a Grammy – on this occasion a Lifetime Achievement Award which he received in person. Apart from his appearances on Dr Graham’s TV and radio shows, he sang at prayer services in the White House for presidents from Dwight D Eisenhower to George Bush Snr. It is said that his voice was heard from North Dakota to North Korea!

Over the six weeks of the 1955 Crusade in Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, many thousands walked forward to enquire further or to give their lives to Jesus. It is estimated that over 2.5 million Scots heard George Beverly Shea sing and Dr Billy Graham preach. A BBC TV broadcast of the Crusade attracted the biggest audience since the Coronation two years earlier. The Reformed churches in Scotland experienced a large increase in membership over the next couple of years. Some regarded this as a defining moment in Scottish religious history.

The last time I heard of George Beverly Shea was on 16th April 2013, when George Hamilton IV announced from the stage at Eden Court Theatre that “George Beverly Shea had, that morning, gone Home to be with his Lord”.

A truly long life dedicated to the Lord’s service in this world had come to an end:
a glorious life continues in Eternity.

Willie Campbell

Everlasting Treasure

Drawing of a squirrel eating acorns

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,’ Matthew Ch 6 v 19

Busy Squirrels

While on a short holiday during the winter, I spent some time watching three squirrels that had set up their residence in the garden of the house where I was staying. Every morning they could be seen busily taking nuts from a basket which the owner of the house had hung on a nearby tree.

I was impressed by their energy and agility as I watched them leaping from tree to tree as they raced up, down and around their tree top habitat. All morning they could be seen collecting nuts.

It seemed to me, as I watched the nuts diminishing inside the baskets, that the squirrels were being greatly rewarded by their efforts to collect food.

I wonder what all our efforts in life will earn us when God ‘will reward each person according to what they have done.’ Matthew 16 v 27.

Determined Gatherers

As I daily watched the squirrels it became evident that each one was determined to gather as many nuts as it could and also, it appeared, to make sure nobody else did.

Whenever a bird approached the feeding station it would be chased away. And if another squirrel tried to sneak in while one was already feeding it would be chased round and round the tree trunk and up into the topmost branches until it fled from the scene.

Are you and I as determined in our quest to lay up ‘treasures in heaven,’ Matthew 6 v 20, as the squirrels were to lay up supplies of food?

Do we do our utmost to chase away anything that is coming between us and our hopes of joining those who ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.’ Revelation 7 v 16?

Disappointing News

One morning while speaking to the house owner about the squirrels he gave me some disappointing news.

Apparently the squirrels were burying the nuts they harvested all over the garden and sadly they did not seem to remember where they had buried them. In addition, when spring came most of the nuts were lost when the garden was dug up and seeds sown and plants planted.

It was quite sad really that despite all their determined efforts the treasure they thought they had stored away would soon be lost forever.

Friends, it is sad too that many in this world are storing up treasures upon this earth that will soon be lost forever, for our lives are but ‘a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’ James 4 v 14.

Jesus tells us to lay up ‘treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.’ Matthew 6 v 20.

Will our possessions, personal treasures, achievements and beliefs be of any use in the world to come?

Insights into Heaven

The Saviour, who God decreed ‘would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead,’ Acts 26 v 23 had a clear view of heaven for He ‘came from heaven,’ John 3 v 13, and returned there. The insight He had of joy in heaven is revealed to us in the Bible for it tells us that He ‘For the joy that was set before him endured the cross,’ Hebrews 12 v 2.

He was not the only one who had an insight into heaven for the martyr Stephen when close to death ‘‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ Acts 7 v 56. We are told that those who persecuted him ‘saw that his face was like the face of an angel,’ Acts 6 v 15. He passed into glory saying ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Acts 7 v 59.

Clearly Stephen knew that he had treasure in heaven that would never perish. Is there an ‘inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God,’ Ephesians 5 v 5, awaiting you and me? Is that where our treasure is?

Treasure in Heaven

The busy, energetic and determined squirrels had found and stored up a treasure, which although in its self perfect for them, was going to prove worthless.

Stephen had found a treasure which was priceless and sustained him during his time of trial and beyond the grave.

What do our treasures of life consist of? Will they, like those of the squirrels, prove to be worthless? Or will they, like that of Stephen, prove to be ‘an inheritance, that can never perish, spoil or fade.’ 1 Peter 1 v 4?

May we be assured of eternal life, and treasure in heaven, by truly believing in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation and deliverance from sin.

Dave Joy