The Killer Tree!

Matapalo_o_higuerote_(Ficus_elástica)Lester Sumrall tells of an interesting plant in Central America which is often shown to the visitor. It is known as the Mata Palo or Killer Tree and is a botanical “boa constrictor.” This parasitical growth often begins its life by being blown into the fork of a tree by the wind and takes root by clinging to the bark. It lives on the lifeblood of the tree as it starts its growth and soon sprouts tiny tendrils which grow slowly toward the ground. When it comes to live on a tree, it appears to be quite harmless, but the fact is, the moment it arrives, death begins for its victim.

The Mata Palo drops its roots to the ground and secures a permanent foundation; then begins to encircle the healthy tree and imbibes its life from hundreds of points. After a few months the parasite is flourishing with life and growing rapidly (through it is an ugly growth) and the once healthy tree begins to show signs of disease and decay. The great tree loses its leaves; its strong limbs droop from lack of life and ultimately, it perishes while wrapped around it from the base of the trunk to its top is a hideous, serpentine vine. It looks so pitiful that a stranger can scarcely realize that it was once a giant of strength and a specimen of grace and beauty. It amazes the visitor to learn that the great tree was defeated by a small, insignificant seed which chanced to fall on its bough.

In the lives of humans there are little things which, by growing in our lives, become big things. Frequently they appear to be entirely innocent but become deadly to our moral or spiritual life. They choke the fruit-bearing strength of character and virtue and become the very tentacles of Satan which entwine our souls, despoiling the once choice life. We must deal with these tiny seeds before they become strong and capable of utter destruction.

Sadhu Sundar Singh once said, “Beware of the small sins.  They are the most dangerous.  They are like germs that cause disease.”

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Songs 2:15 NIV

Podcast button

Why Doesn’t He Keep His Word?

mx001-kraft-vintage-envelope-stationary-paperMark Guy Pearse tells an interesting story of a poor old woman in Scotland, whose son had come to America and was doing well. He wrote home to the widowed mother to tell her that now she would not have any troubles anymore. As long as she lived, he would send her money for her rent.

The mother was overjoyed, and carefully put his letters in an old broken teapot on the dresser and almost every night she took them out and read them with eyes filled with tears of joy. But day after day the time drew nearer for the payment of her rent. As sweet as the words of her son were, still it took more than pleasant words to satisfy her landlord. At first, she was angry with herself for the fears that whispered within her. Her son had promised and promised again in every letter he wrote. But what good were the promises if the money did not come?

At last the rent day came. Surely the postman would bring the money today. It was just like her son to calculate everything exactly, and to send it just when it was due…but to her disappointment the postman went his way and there was nothing for her. The mother tried to stay positive; there was some delay somewhere, but it was all right, tomorrow would explain it all and the landlord could wait until the next day. But day after day went by with no money from her son. The day came where the landlord could wait no longer. The money had to be paid or she must go.

Once more she put on her glasses and went through the letters. There she read it again as plain as plain could be. Her son had promised to help her.  What could have happened? Oh, if her son only knew that the very next day all her possessions would be sold to pay for her rent!

That afternoon a friend that had heard of her trouble came in to see her. “I thought your son promised to pay your rent?” said the friend.

“He did!” said the old lady, shaking her head very mournfully. “He did and I don’t understand why he hasn’t kept his word.”

“Will you let me see the letters?” asked the friend.

“Yes,” said the old woman, and she took down the broken teapot from the dresser and took them out.

The friend read them through. “Was there nothing in this letter?”

“Yes,” said the old woman, “there was a strip of paper.  I think it was some advertisement or something, but no money.”

“Where is it?” urged the friend. There it was in the depths of the teapot.

“Why, it is a cashiers check!” said the friend. “This is more than enough to pay for all your rent.”

They went to the bank as quickly as they could. There was some difficulty at first because the time limit for the check had passed, but after the matter was explained, the check was cashed. The poor old widow’s troubles had come to an end.

It is the same with all these precious promises in God’s Word.  They are useless to you unless you “cash” them as checks in a bank. Consider the promise, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”. It has power to save every poor sinner in the world, yet it will never save you unless you come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. Joshua 21:45 NIV

Podcast button

The Most Beautiful Valley!

1599px-1_yosemite_valley_view_zLester Sumrall tells an interesting story. “Suddenly, we rounded a curve in the pathway and a bloodcurdling signboard met my eyes. The sign depicted an arrow pointing up a path, beneath which was drawn a horrible-looking skull and cross bones. Across the sign in large black letters was written – DEATH VALLEY! This sign alone had a tremendous effect on me for I was convinced that this was real! At the sign we dismounted and walked up the path. Within ten minutes we reached a larger marker which resembled a tombstone, bearing an inscription upon it. I asked our Dutch friend why a tombstone would be raised in this jungle wilderness, and he deciphered the epitaph which I shall pass on to you.

Some years before, while a German scientist was exploring this part of the tropics, the natives had told him of a strange valley. They told him that if any living creature descended into it, it never returned. Whereupon, the scientist asked to be directed to this fabulous spot. Upon viewing the deep valley which lay between two precipitous slopes which were covered with verdant tropical foliage, he laughed at the natives and told them that it was simply one more of their foolish superstitions. To prove to them that they were wrong, he tied a rope about his waist, leaving one end in the hand of a native guide and leaving instruction with him to pull him back up if there were a sudden tug or if he were gone too long.

As the copper-colored boy watched the distinguished white foreigner descend slowly into the shadowed depths of Death Valley, he hoped that soon they would know the cause of the death of all who dared venture into the valley. After the scientist had been gone a long time there seemed to be few pulls on the rope. Therefore, the guide decided to pull him back up. There was no response at the other end of the rope as he tugged and pulled, until at last the limp body of the German was brought up – dead. Now, even scientists knew that there was real death in the valley! The scientist’s mother in Germany requested that the body of her son be buried by Death Valley, and that the story be engraved on the stone, so that everyone coming there might see his tomb and know that there indeed was real danger.

Other scientists sought to discover the death-dealing element in the valley. Soon they discovered by their tests that the bottom of Death Valley had been a volcanic crater, and though it was now extinct, poison gases still exuded from the earth. If a respiratory creature ventured deeply enough into the valley he contacted the deadly gases before they could become rarified in the atmosphere; thus being rendered helpless, he died.

This story was getting more exciting to me. I wanted to look into this mysterious valley of death which had killed animals, birds and men. We climbed a very steep incline from the tomb and upon arriving at the top of the elevation were confronted with another signboard which had two piercing words: Danger! Stop! I looked below and there was a most beautiful valley resembling a tropical gorge burdened with a riot of luxuriant growth. I mused: ‘This does not look like a valley of death; it is so lovely’. Yet I was compelled to believe because of the testimony of the tomb. Here was beautiful Death Valley!

You come to realize that there are real Death Valleys near you also. Some valleys of death are beautiful, fascinating, glamorous; others are cultured, learned and fashionable – yet the very dregs of death are there. However, greatly to your advantage, there are tombstones strewn along the way to warn the wise of the Death Valleys of sin.”  (Lester Sumrall)

Be careful what you entertain.  Sin fascinates before it assassinates.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 3:23 NIV

Podcast button

An Encounter with God Changes Everything!

2_editedHe sat there deep in thought as he watched his three children playing.  The fourth baby was sleeping in his little cot.  Something was troubling him, but he was not a man to talk about his struggles.  As he looked at his children he was saying under his breath, “I am not a bad father!  I love my children and want the best for them.  A deep struggle was going on in his heart. Why was this missionary struggling so much?

A few days earlier a well-meaning friend had visited him.  As the missionary shared some of the details of the mission field, the man suddenly said to him,   “Martin, you are a responsible father.  You have to think about your children now.  Look at all the opportunity they would have if you stay home.  They would get a better education and they would not be put in the many dangers the mission field presents.  Do the responsible thing and take a pastorate here at home.” Sometimes the devil speaks through friends.

This began a deep struggle in the heart of Martin.  Again and again he could hear the words of that friend saying, “You are a responsible father…”. Was going back to the African mission field being irresponsible?  Martin began contemplating abandoning his calling to be “a responsible father” but he just could not shake the calling of God on his life.  The struggle continued in his heart for days until that one service.

Martin was invited to preach in his home church that morning.  As he stood up to preach, the glory of God came upon him.  When he had finished his message, the Holy Spirit was manifesting on him powerfully.  He left the service quickly because he just could not talk to people in his state.  He walked across the market place crying then laughing then crying again not able to walk straight.  He was drunk in the Holy Spirit.  He said later “I am sure people were saying, ‘What is wrong with that man’.”  That encounter with God brought total clarity.  He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to take care of his children.  Martin and his wife, Hilde, went back to Africa and were on the field for 39 years.  Many of the completely unreached tribes of Kenya were reached with the Gospel because God used them. All of their children love God and three of Martin’s sons followed in his footsteps.

An encounter with God changes everything!

These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!  No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’. Acts 2:15-17 (NIV)

Podcast button

I saw her pass away!

1This devotion is by Smith Wiggelsworth, Smith Wigglesworth Devotional, Compiled by Patricia Culbertson, Whitaker House, 1999, P 481

When I was in the plumbing business, I enjoyed praying for the sick. Urgent calls would come, and I would have no time to wash. With my hands all black, I would preach to these sick ones, my heart all aglow with love. Ah, your heart must be in it when you pray for the sick. You have to get right to the bottom of the cancer with a divine compassion, and then you will see the gifts of the Spirit in operation.

I was called at ten o’clock one night to pray for a young person who was dying of tuberculosis and whom the doctor had given up on. As I looked, I saw that unless God intervened, it would be impossible for her to live. I turned to the mother and said, “Well, Mother, you will have to go to bed.” She said, “Oh, I have not had my clothes off for three weeks.” I said to the daughters, “You will have to go to bed,” but they did not want to go. It was the same with the son. I put on my overcoat and said, “Goodbye, I’m leaving.” They said, “Oh, don’t leave us.” I said, “I can do nothing here.” They said, “Oh, if you will stay, we will all go to bed.”

I knew that God would not move in an atmosphere of mere natural sympathy and unbelief. They all went to bed, and I stayed, and that was surely a time as I knelt by that bed face-to-face with death and the Devil. But God can change the hardest situation and make you know that He is almighty.

Then the fight came. It seemed as though the heavens were brass. I prayed from 11:00 P.M. to 3:30 A.M. I saw the glimmering light on the face of the sufferer and saw her pass away. The Devil said, “Now you are done for. You have come from Bradford, and the girl has died on your hands.” I said, “It can’t be. God did not send me here for nothing. This is a time to change strength.” I remembered the passage that said, “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Death has taken place, but I knew that my God was all-powerful and that He who had split the Red Sea is just the same today. It was a time when I would not accept “No” and God said “Yes.”

I looked at the window, and at that moment, the face of Jesus appeared. It seemed as though a million rays of light were coming from His face. As He looked at the one who had just passed away, the color came back to her face. She rolled over and fell asleep. Then I had a glorious time. In the morning she woke early, put on a dressing gown, and walked to the piano. She started to play and to sing a wonderful song. The mother and the sister and the brother all came down to listen. The Lord had intervened. A miracle had been worked.

The Lord is calling us along this way. I thank God for difficult cases. The Lord has called us into heart union with Himself; He wants His bride to have one heart and one Spirit with Him and to do what He Himself loved to do. That case had to be a miracle. The lungs were gone; they were just in shreds. Yet the Lord restored her lungs, making them perfectly sound.

Thought for today: After the Holy Spirit comes, you are in the place of command.

1 Corinthians 12:9 – “To another gifts of healing by the same Spirit.”

Podcast button

Don’t you see that he is dead?

Man lying in bed on a lazy dayThis devotion is by Smith Wiggelsworth, Smith Wigglesworth Devotional, Compiled by Patricia Culbertson, Whitaker House, 1999, P 476

One day when I came home and found that my wife was out, I was told that she was down at Mitchell’s. I had seen Mitchell that day and knew that he was at the point of death. I knew that it would be impossible for him to survive the day unless the Lord undertook to heal him.

There are many who let up in sickness and do not take hold of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ that is provided for them. I hurried down to Mitchell’s house, and as I got near I heard terrible screams. I knew that something had happened. I saw Mrs. Mitchell on the staircase and asked, “What is up?” She replied, “He is gone! He is gone!” I just passed by her and went into the room. Immediately I saw that Mitchell had gone. I could not understand it, but I began to pray. My wife was always afraid that I would go too far, and she laid hold of me and said, “Don’t, Dad! Don’t you see that he is dead?” I continued to pray and my wife continued to cry out to me, “Don’t, Dad. Don’t you see that he is dead?” But I continued praying. I got as far as I could with my own faith, and then God laid hold of me. Oh, it was such a laying hold that I could believe for anything. The faith of the Lord Jesus laid hold of me, and a solid peace came into my heart. I shouted, “He lives! He lives! He lives!” And he is living today.

There is a difference between our faith and the faith of the Lord Jesus. The faith of the Lord Jesus is needed. Your faith may get to a place where it wavers. The faith of Christ never wavers. When you have His faith, the thing is finished. When you have that faith, you will never look at things as they are. You will see the things of nature give way to the things of the Spirit; you will see the temporal swallowed up in the eternal.

As we remain steadfast and unmovable on the ground of faith, we will see in perfect manifestation what we are believing for.

Thought for today: It is when we are at the end of our own resources that we can enter into the riches of God’s resources.

James 5:15 – “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up”

Podcast button

Let Jesus fix it!

printA South American company purchased a fine printing press from a firm in the United States.  After it had been shipped and completely assembled, the workmen could not get it to operate properly.  The most knowledgeable personnel tried to adjust it, but to no avail.

The company finally sent a wire to the manufacturer, asking for a representative to come and fix it.  Sensing the urgency of the request, the U.S. firm sent the designer of the press.  When he arrived on the scene, the company officials were skeptical because he was young.  After discussing the situation, they sent this cable to the manufacturer: “Your man is too young.  Send a more experienced person.” The reply came back, “He made the machine.  Let him fix it!”

Mankind is in a similar situation.  Every area of life seems to be in chaos.  People don’t know how to “put it all together.”  Addictions, enslaving sins and nagging guilt leave them confused.  Man-made plans and panaceas offer little hope.  It is only Jesus who can really fix our lives.*

Do you fully trust Jesus to get your life victorious?

Psalm 62:6,7 – “He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”

Podcast button