Have you ever thought of how much a tree has to endure... harsh weather, disease, insects, woodpeckers, lightening strikes, pruning, just to name a few. Some, eventually even get cut down in the prime of their lives. Now, it may seem like I am speaking of trees as if they were some kind of living beings. Of course, we know they are not "beings" but they do contain life. They breathe and they bleed (lose their sap). A few years ago, I had the privilege of working in the forest on brush cutting contracts. I lived in a trailer and didn't leave very often to go to town. As I worked, I would "preach to the trees" and pray and worship God. I called it preaching but actually I would just speak the Word of God out loud and proclaim to the atmosphere what the Lord Jesus was speaking to my heart. Since we couldn't make it to church most of the time, I would just have my own time with the Lord daily while working. I actually loved the experience. I worked a lot with trees. I would trim them, pull some smaller ones that had been cut by the brush cutter off the sides of the road. Sometimes I would shoot off any "widow makers" (hanging limbs) with my 12 gauge shotgun. I got to where I could identify various species. Those days are past and now I have the privilege of living full time in the woods. Before our recent snow storm hit, I was taking my usual walk through our forest and my attention was drawn to one of the larger trees. Several feet up, I noticed a significant area of disease and weeping. There were many branches above that were dead. I assumed the whole tree was dead because of the extent of the disease. As I tilted my head to look upward, I saw that closer to the top, quite a few live branches were visible. It was obvious this tree had some years left to live and lift it's branches toward the heavens. The Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart regarding the lives of people. We, like that tree, have the capability to maintain life even after we have been ravaged by disease. I am mostly referring to the disease of sin which has affected every one of us. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God." Romans 3:23. As with this tree, the results of past sins (disease) seem to be more evident in some lives as we endeavor to stand strong among the seemingly healthy ones. We know that as Believers in Christ and recipients of His salvation by grace through faith, we still fall short at times and have I John 1:9 as a promise: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Bible says in Psalm 150 to let everything that has breath praise the Lord. I believe he even designed the trees to lift their branches in praise toward their Creator! In Isaiah, "..the trees of the field shall clap their hands". In that, we see the creation rejoicing in the Salvation of mankind. The whole creation became subject to disease, deterioration and death because of the Sin of mankind. Now it awaits the final release to the Hope of the Sons and Daughters of God that comes through Faith in Jesus Christ. "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God": Romans 8:20 & 21. There is coming a New Heaven and a New Earth we are told in the Bible. There will be no more sin, sickness, disease, harsh weather, lightening, earthquakes, aging, death or destruction. We wait for that Hope of Redemption. If we could see it, it would no longer be hope. We wait patiently knowing the whole creation waits with us. So, I preach to the trees. Not that they are capable of receiving the same glory as the Children of the Living God, but I do so to proclaim to the visible and invisible realms that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Truth that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD and salvation can only be found through Faith in Him! We will overcome by that Testimony and in that, the whole creation will be set free from its suffering. My prayer continues daily for God to strengthen his people and give them the ability to endure until the end. Not only to endure, but to do so with joy as Jesus did for all of us: "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus's goal was to bring many sons to Glory and we can be the strength and encouragement for many to follow. So, I lift my eyes and voice toward the tree tops and sing praises to the Most High God for the Hope of a Glorious Future with Him for Eternity! Stand tall with me in spite of any effect that sin might have had on your life in the past and let us proclaim liberty to the captives because Christ has set us free... free from guilt, shame and condemnation! Look up in anticipation of an incorruptible future in store for those who Believe and Receive! Grace and Peace be multiplied to you this day!