THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

February 13, 2019

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

The one book in the Bible that people often tend to avoid is Song of Solomon. Perhaps they don't know what to do with it, find the romance in it embarrassing, and wonder why it would even be included... what's the purpose.

We have been doing a study on Song of Solomon in our Wednesday evening Bible study at church and it has been fascinating and truly amazing. We are using The Passion Translation of the Bible for our study and it really clarifies what the scriptures are saying. Weekly, we have such good discussion and our small group of attendees are learning and finding out how truly wonderful this book is.

King Solomon wrote this book and it is a conversation between the king and his bride. It depicts how this relationship matures and grows, as they spend time together and get to know one another intimately. It truly is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His bride (us); with the king in Song of Solomon representing Jesus and the Shulamite woman representing us, His bride.

It is a love story, and that sometimes makes people uncomfortable. Speaking in terms of having an intimate, passionate relationship with Jesus makes some feel uneasy. But that is His desire, and should be ours, also.

There is one scripture that I would like to share with you from Song of Solomon 2:3. The Shulamite woman is speaking about the king and says, "My beloved is to me the most fragrant apple tree -- he stands above the sons of men. Sitting under his grace shadow, I blossom in his shade, enjoying the sweet taste of his pleasant, delicious fruit, resting with delight where his glory never fades."

There are many different thoughts that I have connected to this verse, and would like to share just a few.

Here are some interesting facts: When an apple tree begins budding out, each bud cluster usually forms the same number of buds and leaves. Then when the buds open up and blossom, each blossom has five petals. The blossoms produce a sweet scent that is very fragrant. Apple blossoms begin their blooming cycle pale pink, gradually fading to a pure white as flowering progresses.

In this verse, the woman says that to her, her beloved is the most fragrant apple tree. An apple tree's blossoms are very fragrant; in fact, it belongs to the rose family. Apple wood also has a faint sweet smell. Notice the perfection of the apple tree: each bud cluster forms the same number of buds and leaves; and each blossoms has five petals. The flowers end up being a pure white. She didn't just pick a tree out of a hat in an attempt to be romantic, but there was significance in her comparing him to an apple tree. To her, he was perfection. That is how we should view Jesus, our beloved. He is pure and perfect in every way.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says, "But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing."

Just as the Shulamite woman says that to her, her beloved is the most fragrant apple tree, we can say the same about Jesus. Our lives are to be a Christ-like fragrance; meaning that Christ has a fragrance that we are to take on and smell like. When we act like Him and spread the gospel and love of Jesus, it is like a sweet perfume, because we take on His fragrance.

Have you ever hugged someone wearing perfume or aftershave, and afterwards you can smell their odor on yourself? You take on their fragrance. That's kind of how it is with us and Jesus. When we are in His presence and are hugged by Him or sit on His lap or touched by Him in any way, we take on His fragrance. That is a very good thing! We smell like Jesus to those around us.

That last line says, "But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing." When someone smells like Jesus, it attracts others who have that same sweet aroma on their life. They want to smell like Jesus and want to be around others who smell like Him. But to those who are perishing, this fragrance is perceived very differently and instead of being a sweet perfume, it smells like condemnation, guilt, judgement, conviction, shame, etc. Those who love Jesus and see Him as their beloved want to smell His fragrance and be near Him. It is endearing and a "love scent" to them.

Another part of that verse says, "Sitting under his grace shadow, I blossom in his shade."

Have you ever been outside on a hot day, where finding just a bit of shade to sit or stand under helps tremendously? When I mow during the hot summer, I try to time it so that I can do so when there is the most shade in our yard. There is a difference being where the sun is beating down on you, and being beneath some shade. Occasionally, I have stopped the mower to just sit underneath the shade for a few minutes to cool off a bit.

The tree takes the brunt of the heat, so that those under its shade doesn't have to. That is just like our Beloved! Jesus takes the brunt of the heat of our lives, so that we can rest beneath His grace shadow and blossom in His shade. We can give Him our burdens, cares, stress, worries, etc. and leave those things with Him, then rest under His shadow. He shields and protects us from storms, danger, problems, worries and cares while we blossom and grow under His shade.

The last part of that verse says, "....enjoying the sweet taste of his pleasant, delicious fruit, resting with delight where his glory never fades."

Have you ever eaten fresh ripe fruit picked right off the tree? It is much more delicious and better than what you can buy in a store. When fruit is picked to be shipped, it is picked before it is fully ripened so that it doesn't rot during shipment. There is a huge difference between eating fruit that has been picked fully ripened and that which was picked before ready to harvest. In fact, the taste is somewhat altered; but we are so accustomed to store-bought fruit that we rarely recognize the difference and think what we are eating is just fine.

When Jon and I went to Singapore, the hotel where we stayed had the largest breakfast buffet that either of us had ever seen. There were several different food bars with all kinds of different types of breakfast items. Some of the food we really liked, some was somewhat different and not really to our liking. But our very favorite area was the fresh fruit bar. It was unbelievably delicious!! We had no idea what some of the fruits even were, because we had never seen or tasted it before, but they were amazing. All of the fruit tasted as if it had been freshly picked each morning.

Eating a peach right off the tree, or fresh strawberries ripe off the vine, or plump blackberries are some good eating! Their flavor far exceeds what is shipped to a store that was harvested early before ripening on the tree or vine.

This woman compares her beloved to pleasant, delicious fruit. He isn't second best, but is choice. She didn't choose someone because she couldn't find someone better, so settled for second best. She didn't choose a man that wasn't hers to love or have a relationship with. She chose the best, ripest, most delicious fruit as her own.

When I was single, and getting older and older without dating and getting married, people would occasionally make comments to me such as, "Maybe you should stop being so picky!" "You may have to settle for someone." I didn't want to settle for second best... or for someone who wasn't God's choice for me! I either wanted the right man that God had chosen for me to marry, or else remain single. There wasn't any other choice as far as I was concerned. Besides, it wasn't as if I had men lined up at my door wanting to marry me, and I was turning them down. But even if there had been the case, I still would not have wanted to settle for anyone less than God's best for me. I wanted a godly man whom I could delight in, who would be like the most choice delicious fruit.

Jesus is the most choice fruit imaginable. When we try to put something or someone in His place, it's like accepting the green unripened fruit over what has ripened on the vine and is truly ready for harvest. We settle and end up with a belly ache, so to speak, or are spiritually sickened because we failed to love the best.

Apple trees have to be pruned yearly. In fact, it is necessary to open the branches up so that sunlight and air can reach the ripening fruit. This promotes fruit production so that you can reap a bountiful harvest year after year. I read that it is almost impossible to kill a tree by pruning it. You also get rid of the weak branches that can break, possibly damaging the other branches and fruit around it.

John 15:1-2, 4-5 says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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."

In order for us to be our very best, we have to remain attached to the vine and allow the Father to prune us so that we can be even more fruitful. Our lives are worthless and bears no fruit if we live detached from Jesus. We have to consistently abide in Christ and allow Him to abide in us. The pruning process is important and necessary, and opens us up to allow more of God's light in so that our harvest is more bountiful. It also gets rid of the weak areas in our life.

In closing, I ran across a poem written in 1761 believe to be written by Rev. Richard Hutchins, who was a Calvinist Baptist clergyman, entitled, "Jesus the Apple Tree", which was based upon this passage of scripture in Song of Solomon. It sums up everything perfectly.

"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're 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; I missed of all; but now I see tis found in Christ the apple tree. I'm weary with my former toil, here I will set and rest awhile; Under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ the apple tree. 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."

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

Loretta already mentioned how you can take on the smell of someone with a good perfume. The opposite is also true. The few times I've worked in a smoking shop or office, Loretta can always tell the minute I walk through the door. I don't even have to walk close to her. Sometimes, she can even tell if I just worked closely with someone who smokes, but not around me.

I used to go to college with a few people who didn't bathe, but dowsed themselves in cologne to try to cover it up. But you can't smell both sweet and stinky at the same time. It just smells worse. They didn't notice because they were used to it. And the others who lived the same way didn't notice either.

Sin is like that. When we make a habit of sin, when we accept sin in our lives, we take on a stench. Even when we just flirt with sinning, daydream of it, or contemplate sin, we take on the bad odor. But when we get used to it slowly, we don't always notice.

ON THE MENEWE:

Valentine Cupid Chow Candy

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter

9 cups Crispix cereal

1 cup chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

M&M's

Combine peanut butter, butter, and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute; stir. Add vanilla and stir again until well blended. Put cereal in a very large bowl. Pour mixture over cereal and mix gently to coat. Next coat with powdered sugar. To coat with powdered sugar, pour the cereal mixture in a large paper bag. Add the powdered sugar; fold down the top and shake to evenly coat. Pour into a tightly covered container to store.

To make if festive for Valentine's Day, add in the Valentine seasonal M&M candies. You could also add in peanuts or pretzel sticks, if desired; or other ingredients to your liking.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Happy Valentine's Day! Do you remember the parties at school when you were a kid? At least at the small school where I attended, we always had a fun party. Each kid would make a valentine box out of a decorated shoebox, then we would bring those cheap paper valentine's for each student in our class. We would get to have a party with cupcakes and candy, and each of us open up our box and read our Valentine's from our classmates. I would then go home and re-read each card. Fun memories!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

You know you've grown when you truly care about

the impact your words and deeds have on other people. - Christine Caine

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org