|Volume 22 Number 10 October 2020||
The Bible is full of practical advice for Christian living. We can learn what God would have us to do from reading the Scriptures, and we can also find the keys to happiness in this life. In 1 Peter 3:10-11, the apostle Peter wrote a simple formula for how a Christian can love life and see good days. He wrote, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” Let us notice this three-part formula more closely.
Refrain Our Tongues from Evil, v. 10.
James 3:5-6 tells us that our tongues are little members but boast great things. The tongue is also described as a fire and a world of iniquity. When we use our tongues for positive things such as confessing Christ and preaching the Gospel to others, then the tongue is used for its intended purpose. However, when we misuse the tongue, it can be very dangerous. Misusing the tongue includes gossiping, which is condemned in 1 Timothy 5:13 and cursing, condemned in James 3:10. The context of 1 Peter 3:10-11 also deals with speaking no guile. This means we are not to use our tongues to speak deceitfully. Speaking good things will lead to good results and will save us from so many problems in our lives. It will allow us to love life and see good days.
Eschew Evil and Do Good, v. 11.
The word “eschews” here is found in Job 1:1 where Job is described as “one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Eschew means to avoid; thus Job avoided evil. As a result, he received the praise of Almighty God. We are to avoid foolish and hurtful lusts (1 Timothy 6:9-11). We are also to avoid false teachers (Romans 16:17). Yet, avoiding evil is not enough; we must also do good. I have never been truly happy in my life when I was doing evil. The only true contentment we enjoy is through living a godly life (1 Timothy 6:6).
Seek Peace and Ensue It, v. 11
The word ensue means to pursue. We are commanded to seek and pursue peace in our lives. The Bible says that we as Christians are to be a peaceful people (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 14:19). Of course, we have an inward peace because we trust God (Philippians 4:6, 7), but we also are to live peaceable lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Christians have a peace the world cannot understand, a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7; John 14:27).
Following God’s formula for happiness is a sure way for success. After all, He created us and knows what is best for us. When we do what God would have us to do in our lives, then and only then can we love life and see good days!
The Miracle of Sap
As we come to late winter and early spring, a tradition begins in many Appalachian communities, that of collecting maple sap to boil down into maple syrup. As we can see from the psalmist, the Lord created the trees that are full of sap. “The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted” (Psalms 104:16). Explaining this process has not been as easy as scientists might have liked, so let’s take a look at the mystery of the rising sap of the maple tree.
Plants were created with a pipe-like vascular tissue that provides them with the crucial tubes through which water and nutrients flow. The vascular system is composed of two types of specialized tissue called xylem (which transports water and dissolved minerals) and phloem (which conducts food from the leaves to all other parts of the plant). The xylem is located more closely to the center of the plant, and wood is the best known of the xylem tissues. It is mostly composed of dead cells with a tube-like structure. The phloem, however, consists mostly of living cells. Located closer to the outside of the plant and just under the bark in trees, the phloem moves organic nutrients (known as photosynthate). The dependence of the plant upon phloem is why trees can be killed simply be removing a circular layer of bark around the trunk. There are many other types of supporting cells that work together to allow these tubes to function and allow movement of water and food in trees more than 350 feet high like the Giant Sequoia.
The processes that move fluids around the plants are complex. Water is moved from the roots to the rest of the plant due to two factors: Root pressure (in which osmosis moves water from the soil into the roots) and transpirational pull (where water is lost by transpiration in the leaves and the resulting surface tension pulls water up the xylem). Sugars are concentrated during the summer and makes some water flow through osmosis, and the fancy name for the movement in the phloem is called the Pressure-flow Hypothesis. Yet, the flow of maple sap this time of year is not by any of these processes and is a totally unique physiological event that God has created.
Maple syrup makers have long known that the key to sap flow is cold nights followed by warm days. Only when the day and night temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing will the trees release their sweet elixir. At night, when it is normally cold, there is little sap flow. In the daytime, once the temperature warms above freezing, sap flow begins. The amount of sap flow is related to how cold it got during the night and is most directly connected with the temperature of small branches in the canopy of the tree.
It has been discovered that as night falls and the temperature drops, air bubbles in the sap contract and dissolve, decreasing the pressure within the cells. This initiates a suction pressure that pulls water from nearby cells. In turn, these cells are refilled by water absorbed from other cells and ultimately from the roots. As the temperature continues to drop, water freezes inside in the xylem and in the intercellular spaces. The next day, when the temperature warms, the ice bubbles melt and the compressed gases expand, producing the pressure that pushes the sap up the stem to produce maple sap flow. So, the cycle of freezing and thawing from night to day is what causes the sap to move up the stem where the taps intercept the flow and collect it for boiling into maple syrup.
The collection of sap is not harmful for the trees, and the amount of sap produced depends on many factors, such as the health of the tree, the amount of sugar produced last summer and variation of the day and night temperatures. Not all trees have been created with the ability to produce sap that contains enough sugar to boil down to obtain a sweet tasting treat. Besides maple trees, other trees, producing smaller amounts of sap, are butternut, walnut, sycamore, birch, boxelder and ironwood — all of which can be tapped. God has provided for all of the needs of mankind, including the “…trees of the Lord…” being “…full of sap…” Let us always praise the Lord for the blessings He has provided.