Jesus as Lord amidst the Leaves

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in upstate New York. The trees boast of beautiful colors along the hillsides painting a gorge of grandeur. We went on an outing to Letchworth State Park, a visible sanctuary of splendor. During our hike, a scripture and a song were playing in my mind.

He who trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like foliage.
Proverbs 11:28 NKJV

While walking along the trails of the park, we noticed that multitudes of leaves had already fallen upon the ground. We became aware of the crunching sound under our feet. There was no visible beauty in the brown leaves that covered the ground and crumbled with each step we took. The withered yet crispy leaves were like the fallen riches mentioned in Proverbs 11. When we trust in riches, we trust in things that are uncertain and undependable. Like the dried leaves, riches can be blown away by the wind. It is possible for them to be here one day and gone the next. Leaves fall, and so can those who trust in riches. Proverbs 23:4 NLT warns, “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” Another scripture to remember is I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

What a contrast between the dry leaves beneath our feet and the leaves that still hung on the tree branches overhead! Splashes of orange, gold, red, yellow along with a few remaining green leaves remained attached to the sturdy arms of the tree. The fall foliage painted a pleasing portrait for the eye to behold. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Although Jesus uses the terms vine and branches, we can make the comparison of Jesus being the tree and we as believers are the leaves. Just as the fall foliage flourishes, so will believers flourish. Psalm 34:15 declares, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.” and Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

I will look up for there is none above You
I will bow down to tell You that I need You
Jesus Lord of all 

I will look back and see that You are faithful
I look ahead believing You are able
Jesus Lord of all, Jesus Lord of all

These phrases are part of the song I Will Look Up by Elevation Worship, and these are the words I was singing while hiking through the park. As we meandered along the trails, I was beholding the glory of God in nature and discerning His greatness supernaturally. When I looked up I saw the beauty of the leaves still attached to the tree and I realized that nothing was above our God, Creator of heaven and earth. (He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– He remains faithful forever. Psalm 146:6) When I looked down, I saw dried leaves and I was reminded of my need of my Creator. (God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth.Isaiah 42:5 NLT) When I looked back upon the trail we were hiking, I saw again the natural beauty behind and the faithfulness of Jesus to guide every step I have ever taken. (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6) When I looked ahead, I got another glimpse of the beauty of the park we had not yet seen and I also believed Jesus would guide each step I was yet to take throughout my life. (A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24)

Throughout this day, we became aware that fall was a good description of this season as we watched leaves fall from trees. Also, the fall foliage offered us a beauty not visible at any other time of year. There were lessons to be learned from the leaves we walked upon as well as the lovely leaves we stopped to gaze upon that were still attached to their branches. However, the primary lesson learned is declared in the final phrase I quoted from the song by Elevation Worship: “Jesus Lord of all!” Jesus was evident in everything we saw and experienced throughout our day at Letchworth State Park. Philippians 2:10-11 expresses it well, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (my emphasis) Other scriptures that confirm the lordship of Jesus are Romans 10:9 (If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.) and I Corinthians 12:3 (and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.) According to Wikipedia, “Jesus is Lord” is the shortest creed of faith expressed in the New Testament.

My Reader, will you declare with me, “Jesus is Lord”?


 

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Cloud Gazing

clouds-1clouds-6I love looking at the various cloud formations in the sky. Today the clouds are revealing the change of seasons while the calendar is marking the beginning of fall. I discern that fall is in the air by the type of clouds that fill the sky. I have been enjoying the summery cumulus clouds that look like an accumulation of cotton balls. However, now more Septemberlike stratus clouds hang in the air like a huge gray blanket covering the sky. My Reader, will you like to join me in some cloud gazing?

At this moment, the clouds are moving rapidly through the upper atmosphere. To me, these clouds look like crowds of chariots racing across the horizon to see which will be the first to triumphantly reach a designated destination. This image reminds me of the last part of Psalm 104:3 that says, “He (God) makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” Another scripture that comes to mind is Nahum 1:3 NLT that describes clouds by saying, “The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.” Both of these scriptures suggest movement by God whether He be traveling on a cloud or the cloud being dust kicked up by His feet while He was running. So, My Reader, how is God moving in your life? You can be assured that He is actively involved in your life when you hear the chorus of the Christian song God Is on the Move by 7eventh Time Down. The lyrics proclaim, “God is on the move, On the move, Hallelujah! God is on the move In many mighty ways. God is on the move, on the move, Hallelujah! God is on the move On the move today.”

While I observe the various cloud formations, my mind’s eye creates more images than  chariots and dust. Sometimes I discover a cloud that is smiling at me while another cloud may be frowning at me. My mood can influence how I perceive the clouds. These masses of water vapor vary in size and shape and are constantly forming new images. Romans 8:29 says that “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” Similar to how the formation of clouds change, the Lord is at work in us to conform us to His nature and character. My Reader, what is God forming in you? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Maybe the Lord is forming some new fruit in your life.

As I visually I follow the clouds’ movement, one cloud bumps into another. These two become attached and as they continue to move across the sky they collide with other clouds and form an even larger mass. Eventually, this new structure becomes an insurmountable mass of molecules. While the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, Exodus 13:21 says, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way. While I imagine that a pillar of a cloud was quite large, I wonder how fast it was moving. My Reader, do you sense that God has placed a cloud over you to protect you and guide you? I like the security of Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” In this verse, I think that a cloud produces the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 8:1 begins, “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” The clouds I have observed are an integral portion of God’s creation. They majestically portray the glory and splendor of the Lord. David declares in Psalm 145:5, “They (God’s works) speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty– and I will meditate on your wonderful works. I also like Psalm 19:1 that states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Yes, clouds are the result of God’s handiwork in the heavens. However, this verse reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 that begins by saying, “For we are God’s handiwork.” Clouds are spectacular but the Lord also created each of us to reflect His glory. My Reader, do you reflect the glory of God in all you do? Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you (the Lord) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” All of the Lord’s creation is wonderful including you and the clouds!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

Falling in Love with Fall

autumn-4

Since it is the season of FALL, the leaves are beginning to FALL and I FALL more deeply in love with the Lord. Looking out over the countryside, I see a coverlet of love leaves blanketing the hills. God’s handiwork creates nature’s quilt with each leaf of every tree adding a splash of brilliance. Each colorful leaf that falls reminds me of a beautiful aspect of the Lord’s love for me.

Our grandchildren like to play in the leaves and they will bury each other in a pile of crunchy brown fallen leaves. I love to be buried in a pile of love leaves from the Lord. Let me share the messages of some of these scriptural leaves with you today. The following phrases are adapted from portions of the attributed scriptural references.

leaves-9The Lord will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by his love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

leaves-5You are precious and honored in the Lord’s sight,
and He loves you.
Isaiah 43:4

leaves-1He has showered His kindness on you.
Ephesians 1:8

leaf-1See what great love the Father has lavished on you.
I John 3:1

leaves-7The Lord loves you with an everlasting love;
he draws you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

leaf-1Thee Lord crowns you with steadfast love and mercy
Psalm 103:4

leaves-6The Lord betroths Himself to you forever;
He betroths Himself to you in righteousness and justice,
in steadfast love and tender compassion.
Hosea 2:19

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new



 

 

 

 

 

A Burning Bush for Moses and Me

burning-bush-3

 

burning-bush-with-moese-2 Last week on a sunny autumn afternoon I went for a walk in our neighborhood. A burning bush with brilliant red leaves captured my attention. When I got home I decided to read about Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. Then I made some comparisons.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire
from within a bush.
Moses saw that though the bush was
on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought,
“I will go over and see this strange sight—
why the bush does not burn up.”
Exodus 3:2-3

The bright red appearance of the euonymus alatus planting attracted my attention and the bush that appeared to be burning but not burning up caught the attention of Moses. The Lord often speaks to me through the nearness of nature. Today, I believe God wanted me to see His presence in the beauty of a specific shrub. However, I am suspicious that He has more to impart to me.

God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3:4

Although I did not hear the audible voice of God from my burning bush, I believe Moses did hear God calling to him. I wonder if I am attuned enough to the Lord to be able to hear Him calling me by name. Moses gave a positive response to the Lord. Am I ready and willing to answer with the words “Here I am” if I were to hear His voice? Was the Lord trying to say something special to me when I stopped to look at the vibrant bush this afternoon?

Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals,
for the place
where you are standing is holy ground.”
Exodus 3:5

The holiness of God was evident when God asked Moses to take off his sandals. I, too, must remove anything from my life that might hinder my relationship with the Lord if I want to experience His presence. God is sovereign and I must approach Him with respect and sincerity. I need to alter my attitude to be able to approach the altar of God and worship Him.

Not only was God speaking to Moses through the bush that appeared to be on fire, but God pointed out to Moses that the surrounding ground was holy. God and Moses were in the Lord’s sanctuary of nature that day long ago, and so was I in God’s natural sanctuary this afternoon. I want to see and treat all of creation as holy ground.  I want to see the supernatural in the natural.

And God said, “I will be with you.”
Exodus 3:12

Throughout the remainder of Exodus 3 and 4, the Lord unveils to Moses a task He has for him to do. However, the first thing God did was to reassure Moses that he was not alone. God affirmed this fact by showing Himself in a bush that appeared to be on fire. I believe that God enjoys taking ordinary things and using them for His extraordinary purposes. I wonder what ordinary thing in my life God wants to use for His greater purposes. Is He trying to divulge more to me than simply the beauty of a burning bush? Moses’ encounter with God was the beginning of a new season in his life. For me, I see the changing colors of the euonymus alatus shrub at the beginning of the autumn season. Does God want to begin a new season in my life as well?

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM….
“This is my name forever.
Exodus 3:14-15

I think these two phrases are the most important words God spoke to Moses. He revealed himself as the great I AM. When God says “I am that I am,” He is saying “I am everything and anything that you will ever need.”  I like the name I AM for God because this name allows me to fully know Him. I can take the name I AM and complete a sentence by defining God in a specific way. For example, I can hear God saying to me, “I AM your provider” or “I AM your healer” or “I AM your redeemer” or whatever my need may be at that time.

God also assured Moses that His name never changes. His name didn’t change for Moses and it doesn’t change for me. The colors of my burning bush may change, but God never changes. During some seasons of my life, the Lord’s presence may be more vibrant and vital to me than at other times, but He is always with me.

The Lord used a burning bush to get the attention of Moses many years ago and this afternoon He used a burning bush to attract my attention. Thank you, Lord, for seeking me out and speaking to me while I was an ordinary walk. Lord, you turned my ordinary into Your extraordinary through Your presence. So, now, may the fire of a bush set me on fire for You, O Lord!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Autumn and Apples

 

leaves-for-autumn-mfapple-for-autumn-2-mfbible-in-autumn-mf

This is the first week of November and I am still enjoying the fall season. Autumn and apples go together for me. Apples and Proverbs 25:11 also go together for me. In the Amplified Version of the Bible, this Proverb says, “A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” The phrase “in due season” seems to tie in with my reference to the season of autumn. So, where do my thoughts take me as I begin to write a blog today?

I begin by checking to see how faithful I am to fulfill Proverbs 25:11 through this blog each week. After all, my website is based on this scripture verse. Are the words I share accurately spoken in order to be of benefit to my readers and to glorify God? Are my words like the juicy, fresh apples I enjoy eating during this season? I value my readers as being silver vessels into which I impart the words that have been spoken into my heart by the Lord. It is an awesome responsibility to be accountable for words I speak or write whether it be through my blog or living daily life. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

While reviewing blog posts over the recent months, I become aware that it has been a long time I shared an apple recipe with my readers. I think it is time for me to do so this week. I found several different online versions of a fun apple snack recipe. Below you will find my own variation.

APPLE BITES
1 tube of crescent rolls
1 or 2 Granny Smith or 20 Ounce apples
Melted margarine or butter
Mixture of sugar and cinnamon

Cut 8 apple wedges approximately ¾ inch thick – cut our seeds.
Lightly brush triangles of crescent rolls with melted margarine.
Sprinkle desired amount of sugar and cinnamon mixture on crescent rolls.
Roll up each apple wedge in one crescent roll. (You may add an extra apple wedge to each roll if desired.)
 Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.
Enjoy!

While looking at this recipe, I find some spiritual lessons for myself.

First of all, I picture myself as being the apple. Not only am I an apple but I am the apple of God’s eye. This describes God’s favor available to me. The Psalmist asks of the Lord in Psalms 17:8, “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” This is a comforting verse to me because it speaks to me of the watchfulness of the Lord over my life.

Next I think about the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Instead of sugar, honey is mentioned as a sweetener in the Bible. Proverbs 25:27 says, “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.” Okay, I don’t want too much sugar not only because it is not good for me but if there is a connection between sweeteners and my desire to seek glory for myself, I do not want it! However, a few sprinkles of sugar upon my apple of life will not be harmful, especially if it is mixed with cinnamon. According to Exodus 30:23 cinnamon is listed as one of the spices in the perfumed holy anointing oil. It had a sweet-smelling aroma and was applied to objects and people for consecration, dedication, healing etc. I want to say with David in Psalm 23:5, “You (the Lord) anoint my head with oil.” If I have the Lord’s anointing upon my life, then I identify with Paul who says in II Corinthians 2:15, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” The aroma of the sugar and cinnamon mixture on the apple snack while it is baking is definitely pleasing. I want the fragrance of my life to be the same!

The final ingredient of this apple snack is the crescent roll wrapped around the apple wedge. I compare the crescent roll to the robe of righteousness mentioned in the Bible. First of all, Romans 3:9 says, “None is righteous, no, not one.” I agree! By myself, I am not capable of always saying and doing the right thing. However, I want to do what Job said he did in Job 29:14, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.” This is possible because of Isaiah 61:10, “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness.” This is what I envision happening in the spiritual realm while I wrap my apple wedge in a triangular piece of dough in the physical realm.

Now I need to summarize and conclude this week’s blog. Personally, my daily focus is to see the supernatural in the natural. I also want to help my blog readers see our extraordinary God in our ordinary surroundings. I try to use simple words that have the potential to become golden apple nuggets of truth placed within the lives of my readers. I want others to know that I envision them as refined vessels of silver highly valued by the Lord we all serve.

My Reader, can you identify with my comments about spoken or written words being like apples of gold? Do you enjoy apples being the primary ingredient of an autumn snack? Are you reminded of what it means to be a Christian while you prepare the recipe I have shared today? Would you like to join me for an Apple Bite while thinking about the spiritual message the Lord is sending to you through the physical image of the snack? If you can give a positive response to any of these questions, then I have accomplished my purpose for today.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

What Kinds of Apples are These?

apple orchard mf


Since my blog is entitled “An Apple of Gold,” I cannot experience the autumn season without referring to it as also being apple season. I love being in an apple orchard surrounded by trees laden with fruit. Most of the apples I see are red, but there are also yellow and green ones with different shadings of color unique to each variety. While making this observation, I am reminded of a quote I read in Streams in the Desert on August 23, “Faith, hope, and love cannot be picked from trees like ripe apples.” I could spend today up a tree picking and eating apples, but instead I will pick some scriptures, quotes and thoughts to share with you about faith, hope and love. I will also be delving into a definition for patience. Patience can be described as being the willingness to endure without getting upset. Galatians 5:22 lists patience as a part of the all-inclusive fruit of the Spirit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
If I were picking red apples, I would be picking love. The reason I make this choice is because of John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God gave His Son, Jesus, to live on earth and then Jesus gave His life which involved the shedding of His blood. Blood is red, and consequently, I think of love when I see red apples. The first line of a quote by Adel Bestavros says, “Patience with others is love.” Having made this statement, I think of the following definition of love found in I Corinthians 13:4-7 New Living Translation, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” God shared His love with me and now I must share my love with others. Love and red apples are both delicious!

apple yellow mfIf I were picking yellow apples, I would be picking hope. I make this correlation because I often think of hope as being something I wait for and the yellow signal light warns me to wait and to be careful. To state the second line of Adel Bestavros’ quote, he says, “Patience with self is hope.” I am more patient with myself than I am with other people when it comes to tolerating mistakes. I will give myself more time to learn a new concept than what I may allow for others. Does this mean I have more hope in myself than in others people? When searching the scriptures for a definition of hope, I read Romans 8:24-25 in the New Living Translation, “We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” Golden delicious apples are one of my favorite varieties for eating, so I guess hope and yellow apples have similarities for me.

apple green mf

If I were picking green apples, I would be picking faith. I choose green apples for faith because the color green symbolizes everlasting life to me and faith in God is everlasting. The evergreen tree comes to my mind. The last line of the quote by Adel Bestavros is, “Patience with God is faith.” God is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the beginning and the end. He is forever – He and His nature are everlasting. He is immortal and eternal. The most common scriptural definition for faith is found in Hebrews 11:1. The New Living Translation says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Faith is something I do not see because seeing is reasoning rather than faith. However, it is possible for me to have faith because I know God is an everlasting God. Green apples can last for a long tine, so I find similarities between faith and green apples.

apples 3 mf
When I make applesauce, I like to use a combination of two or three different varieties of apples. The blending of flavors produces a unique taste. I think it is similar to how I live my life. Faith, hope and love are all needed, especially if patience is to be an aspect of my integrity as an individual. I Corinthians 13:13 says it well: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” If faith, hope and love are combined in my life, patience, along with the other virtues that are part of the fruit of the Spirit, will be evident in my life. (see Galatians 6:22-23) This fruit is more than red, yellow and green apples!


Joyfully,

Cheryl

Quotes to remember:

Faith, hope, and love cannot be picked from trees like ripe apples.”

from Streams in the Desert for August 23

Patience with others is Love.

Patience with self is Hope.

Patience with God is Faith.”

by Adel Bestavros

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13