Summary: A sermon on the weekend of the 63rd Annual Logger’s Jubilee in Morton, WA. God’s Word to us through the stories of 4 trees and 4 men.
4 TREES and 4 MEN
1. 21 miles northwest of Odessa, TX, in west central Ector County on Highway 302, you come to the small town of NOTREES. The town was given its name by the Grocer Charlie Brown, who opened his store in 1946 and also became the Postmaster that year. The town used to have just one native tree until the construction of a large Shell gas plant forced its removal. That event also effectively ended any hopes for a logging industry in the area.
2. I don’t think I could survive in a town, a city, an area without trees. Their beauty, their shade, their use as windbreaks, their help in preventing soil erosion, their removal of pollutants from the air, their production of fruit, of healing oils, of timber for our homes, of warmth in winter, of paper – well, we could go on and on enumerating all the many benefits that have and continue to come to us through God’s gift of trees.
3. Many of you made your living - and some still are - from the logging industry in this area. Trees are part of the “lifeblood” of this community and we celebrate this weekend the significant contribution that Loggers have made in and around Morton for at least the past 63 or more years.
4. To keep with the theme of trees that is on everybody’s mind, I want us to look at 4 trees and 4 men and see what lessons God might teach us from each of the stories:
• A man behind a tree
• A man in a tree
• A man under a tree and
• A man on a tree
A. A MAN BEHIND A TREE
1. In Genesis 2:9 we read that in the beginning “the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were two trees - the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
• And you know the story of how God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden to work it and take care of it and how they were told they could eat from any of the trees except the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil – they were not to touch it for if they did they would surely die.
• But instead of listening to and obeying God, they allowed themselves to be tempted, duped and seduced by the Serpent into believing that God was trying to keep something really good from them. And if they would just follow their desires and taste of the fruit, their understanding and insight would expand dramatically and they would become just like God – being able to make their own decisions about what was right and wrong, what was good and evil.
2. And because they gave the Deceiver the time of day, listened to his lie and swallowed his line, their eyes were indeed opened – not to being more God-like – but to their own nakedness and fear and shame flooded their minds and hearts for the very first time.
• At the sound of God’s voice they ran for cover and tried to hide behind a tree.
3. Isn’t it crazy that puny humans think they can hide from the presence and knowledge of the Almighty! Though the Scripture has God calling out to the man, “Adam, where are you?” it is not that God had no idea of where they were hiding – but that their sin had cut them off from the intimacy and closeness they had previously enjoyed.
• It is the saddened and wounded heart of God that comes through that call – “You’ve alienated yourself from me and I miss you!”
• It’s our God who initiates the search – what incredible evidence of His love!
• And it is our God, who in spite of having to follow through with the sentence on their sin and disobedience, provides them with animal skins to cover their nakedness. A life was laid down on their behalf.
4. Where are you today in your relationship with God? Are you trying to hide behind a tree? Are you living with a sense of shame because of things you have done or said that have alienated you from God and from others?
• Are you trying to hide behind your work, your busyness (even in the church), your various responsibilities, your ailments, your entertainment – anything that might divert your attention away from God, silence your conscience and make you believe that you never heard His voice calling “Where are you?”
• What is the tree behind which you are trying to hide?