Show Me Your Ways

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Psalms 25:4‭-‬5 NKJV

Have you ever longed to pray yet aren’t sure where to begin? That is a struggle for me too. This passage from Psalm 25 was a cry of David’s heart that has become my own most regular personal prayer. If you think about it this Psalm was originally written to an ancient tune that helped the readers remember the words. I believe God allowed those melodies to be forgotten, not so we would simply convert it to prose, but so that each generation could put it to their own music. A few years ago I recorded my own version and I hope that it might help you to make these words your own prayer today.

Yes! Jesus Loves Me!

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16 ESV

As we sang, “Jesus Loves Me,” it was strange how I recalled the memory of my mother telling me to “Sit on your bed till your father gets home!” I would groan and head off to my room and plop myself down to wait. I knew the standard operating procedure by heart. First, came the lecture, then the phrase, “This is going to hurt me, more than it’s going to hurt you!” Though I had heard those words many times I was pretty sure that I was the only one who was going to feel any pain!

Some of us think of God like that. We are scared to death of what He will do to us when He comes home. But that simple song, reminds that we have a Father in Heaven who treats us differently than we expect. We are reminded that he never told us to go wait on our beds until we get a licking. Instead, Jesus waited quietly while Pontius Pilate and the religious leaders of His day misunderstood Him, unjustly beat Him and condemned Him as a criminal. Though it was our selfish decisions and actions that had injured others, He took the punishment we richly deserved. When they nailed Him to the cross, it really was hurting Him more than it would ever hurt us. But the good news is that even after all He suffered, Jesus is not angry with us. He is not making us wait for a punishment when He comes home. In spite of all He suffered; the chorus of that simple song is our greatest hope “Yes Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!”

Winter Work in the Orchard

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

When the average person hears the word apple, they picture a bin overflowing with ripened fruit at the farmer’s market, but for me, having pruned, sprayed, and harvested apple trees for more than a few years, it brings back memories of Wintertime in the orchards. I remember again that it takes four seasons to grow a single apple. In today’s verse, Paul tells us to be ready to do God’s work “Out of season”.  We need to live and love and serve, not only when the sun is warm and things are sweet, but also when the snow drifts stand around us and our sap is hidden deep underground. In an orchard there is always something to be done, and Winter is actually even busier than Fall. Trees that are left to themselves in the off season, produce smaller, more diseased and fewer apples each year. Winter is the time to cut out fire blighted branches, before they spread their deadly bacteria to the rest of the tree. Then, we must cut out the tall sucker growth that saps energy from the hard-working fruit wood. Last, and perhaps saddest of all, we have to saw off once fruitful limbs that have succumbed to age, disease or damage done by storms. In the same way that Paul tells Timothy about his work with the church, this activity is not just something to keep us busy in the off season. It must sometimes be performed regularly and in the worst possible working conditions. Even on days when temperatures barely creep above 0˚ Fahrenheit, we reprove uncontrolled selfish growth, rebuke the diseased limbs and exhort and encourage faithful fruitful branches. And on the day we finish an orchard, there is no sight more beautiful, than looking out over orderly stands of well-trimmed trees and seeing with eyes of faith the harvest to come.  Yet, even as we walk away with relieved smiles, we know that there will always be a next Winter when someone must patiently return. We remember that without our, “Out of season” work the harvest will never make it to market.

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