The Apple Tree

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“Like the finest apple tree in the orchard
    is my lover among other young men.
I sit in his delightful shade
    and taste his delicious fruit.”

Song of Solomon 2:3, NLT

Jesus is the subject of many different metaphors. We know him as a shepherd, a door, and bread. There are many other ‘pictures’ in Scripture, that speak of his ministry and life. There is one that strikes me today, that of Jesus Christ as a life-giving tree— an apple tree. Song of Solomon 2:3 and Revelation 22:1 are the ‘roots’ of this wondrous thought.

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”

Rev. 22:2

To think of Jesus as ‘the tree of life’ or an apple tree is both a honor to Him and a strength for us. We can swirl metaphors around all day and never exhaust their truths. Jesus (a.k.a. “the apple tree”) is seen imparting life and healing by his fruit. He is the source of everything good and grand in our lives. Eating his fruit is not only recommended, but  encouraged. (Like most things in God’s Kingdom.)

The young maiden in Song of Solomon has given us her take on Jesus— her shepherd, lover, and king. She sees him as the finest in the forest. He provides shade to her, as she eats the fruit of his branches. Oh what a worthy picture of Jesus our savior. We can look at this all day. As we come to him we can see One who is gifting each of us of his blessings. We do well to consider him this way.  The first few lines set the tone for us.

“The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.”

 

The song, based on an anonymous poem, first appeared in a New England hymn collection by a New Hampshire preacher in 1784, so it has a history. Many people sing this as a Christmas carol, although there is nothing in the words that refers to Christmas. Go through each stanza. See if it fits for you. Perhaps it will cause you to see Jesus in a new way. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

 

“Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. Learn what kind of Person it is you say you trust and love and worship. Soak in the shadow of Jesus. Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus. Watch Him. Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him. Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.”   

John Piper

 

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Lord, Undo Me

 

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29 “For our God is a devouring fire.”– Hebrews 12:29, NLT

“Brother, I know you labored,  So hard to please,  But I cut you down.  And I left you on your knees, Well I know it must be Time to get down on my knees and pray “Lord, undo me!” Put away my flesh and bone’ ‘Til You own this spirit through me Lord I am wanting, needing, guilty and greedy… Unrighteous, unholy; undo me. Undo me!

Abba Father, You must wonder why, More times than Peter I have denied. Three nails and a cross to prove, I owe my life eternally to you!   And it’s time, To get down on my knees and pray, “Lord, undo me!” Put away my flesh and bone, ‘Til You own this spirit through me Lord, Undo me.”Jennifer Knapp

 

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailJennifer Knapp wrote these lyrics.  The song itself is wonderful.  She develops and then understands the deep struggle we believers go through.  Her deep cry is for God to undo her life.  I really think that is impressive, and I know, deep-down I fall very short.

We look at the relationships we have.  And in so many ways we must admit that we need to be dismantled, to be taken apart.  And then, to be put back together, in a better way.  Ms. Knapp points us into a better way, of showing the deep heart of Jesus to all those we face.

What can we say, we know we are falling apart.  We know we fall short as His witnesses.  We vainly attempt to be honest and right.  But it seems our weak and feeble efforts are really at their basic sense, pathetic.  Simply put, we must come to the point where we understand our desperate weakness and deep failure.

Father, dismantle me, and then please put me back together again.

We must pray the prayer, “Undo Me.”  Reorganize me, and reestablish me.  I simply give up my claims of being exceptional and all-together.  I am none of these things.  I admit I falter and stumble in so many ways.  “Undo Me.”

Our deep lostness, is His opportunity for His deep grace.  ‘I will not leave you dear one, without hope.’  He has promised that He would come to the desperate and weak.  When we pray “Undo Me” we come with a weakened heart and a disturbed soul.  He will make certain that He will connect with you and draw you to His side.

When our hearts begin to cry out “undo me” we will enter into an exceptional place.  From here we expect to be dismantled, remade, and then re-established.  Our hearts will be remolded.  We will probably not recognize our selves.  His work in us is quite intense, and certainly quite complete.

Our change is significant.  We will not operate on a mediocre plane, or level.  He has directed us deeper.  We will actively understand things on a more intense place.  We haven’t done anything, we only have prayed, “undo me.”  That simple prayer, from the heart is most significant.  Please Father, “undo me.”

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Matthew 5:3, NLT

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Jennifer Knapp is a gifted songwriter to the Body of Christ.  When we examine her songs/lyrics we will be blessed and encouraged.  Quite recently she has come out and admitted she has a struggle that necessitates leaving her ministry.  Although that is a deep, and considerable shock, we still need to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit has used her and her gifts to bless His people.  Somehow, it seems fitting. “Father, please take us to the place where we will understand.” Kyrie elesion.

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The Day Jesus Sang

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“Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.” 

Matt. 26:30

This is the only place in scripture where it was recorded that Jesus sang.  There is no question that He sang on other occasions, we just don’t know the specifics.  The hymn on the way to the Mount would’ve been from the Book of Psalms, and most likely one of the Psalms of Ascent that would of coincided with that particular date. These hymns were known as the Hallel Psalms (meaning “Praise” psalms), and consisted of Psalms 113-118.

Jesus ‘singing’ tells us a lot of His frame of mind while heading for His death in just a few hours.  When a man is about to be executed at a definite place and time its unlikely that you will find him to be musically inclined.  Yet Jesus joined His brothers in singing to the Glory of God. He sings from darknesses depth.

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”

John 4:23, NLT

The search in on!  The Father looks into our hearts to find something special.  Is it there?  Will He choose you?  Let’s not foolishly think that because you play the piano or the guitar you’ll be a “shoe-in.”  “Spirit and truth” is the awareness needed.  Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ is the only thing that is really necessary.

“Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”

Ephesians 5:19, NLT

An insincere heart can’t worship sincerely.

God is looking for worship that’s sincere and strong.  If we are not “spirit and truth” worshippers we can’t fake it. It is malfunctioning. But we can commence to begin.  We can start by preparing our hearts.  Putting them under the spigot of the spirit and of truth.  Let them soak like a sponge in God’s grace.  Things that are dry, will saturate themselves in God.

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Karma, Grace and Bono

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Bono/U2 360 Tour 2011

Bono, on God’s grace:

“At the center of all religions is the idea of karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… It’s clear to me that karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called grace to upend all that “As you reap so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”

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I think ‘fallen men’  automatically try to convert God’s grace to a thing more palatable. We gravitate to making it work; we feel that He expects us to do this, at least. Grace is not logical, and that makes it hard to explain. The fact that we have received a gift of grace grates at our very core.

But we can only enter His kingdom by grace alone.

We deserve nothing, but are made sons and daughters anyway. Karma is what we want. We understand it; It makes logical sense. We have settled on this in our minds. We have the hardest time accepting this grace. For the most part, we believe we are saved by grace through faith, but we often think we must work things out ourselves. He saves us, and we ‘reason out’ we now have got to crank out something acceptable with the ‘rest of our lives.’

We want to prove we are worthy, by our good deeds. But God’s grace is radical, and we are saved by grace– being saved, and we will be saved by grace alone. We will start and finish by His mercy and grace, “not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

8 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Ephesians 2:8-9, NLT

We can only enter His kingdom by grace alone.

I desperately want grace, and not karma. To a massive degree, I have this atrociously bad habit of sinning. I can find no comfort in sanctification by my effort. I’m not consistent enough, strong enough, or good enough to enter in on my own merits. I must have God’s grace or I’ll be lost. What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?”

Psalm 116:12

The person who has been serving the Lord for 70 years still must come into the Kingdom by grace and mercy. All of their accumulated good deeds, and saintly demeanor cannot purchase their salvation. God’s grace through faith is the ‘narrow way’ to life. Just give me Jesus.

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