Under the Tree

Genesis 3:6
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.”

John 1:47-48
“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’  ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree…’”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20a
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the Lord is your life…”

Creator God, the fruit of your Spirit is the true taste of life.

under treeYou place us with purpose into the unique complexities of our lives.  As we explore this carefully designed landscape we waver between plucking the fruit of self-fulfillment or yielding to your commands.

In that moment under the tree of choice may we remember that your eye is upon us, loving and longing for us, and may we choose to be free from guile as your true children.

Thank you for your merciful response to our stubborn wanderings.  We are humbled that upon the tree of death you endured the curse to bestow the blessings of the eternal Branch.

Listen to ‘Decide This Doubt for Me’ by Red Mountain Music

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Incense

Daniel 10:10-11a, 12b, 19
“A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.  He said, ‘…Do not be afraid, Daniel.  Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them…Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed…Peace!  Be strong now; be strong.’”

Revelation 5:6, 8
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders…Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

Ephesians 6:18
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Holy Spirit, you speak in mystery and listen with mercy.

Thank you that our prayers are not merely vapours, but by holding them you bestow substance, weight and purpose.  You cherish the pleas that crystallize around your throne.

incenseTeach us a fragrant language to voice the hope and fear in our hearts.  Fill a golden bowl with the fragments of our yearning, and keep us faithful until it overflows.

We know we are heard because the Lamb poured out his life as a sweet offering to make us saints.

Listen to ‘Throne of Grace’ by Grace and Peace Music

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Sacrifice

1 Kings 18:22, 24, 38
“Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the Lord’s prophet’s left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets…Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord.  The god who answers by fire—he is God.’…Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”

Acts 2:2-4
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…”

Romans 12:1
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Before you, the only true God, we kneel with the courage of a quiet request.

answer3By humbly presenting our hearts, souls and minds as a sacrifice we trust you will answer in power.  Your promised fire descends even when our offering is saturated and stony.

Use us as living demonstrations of your sovereignty.  May we be jealous for your honour and long for heaven’s rushing wind.

Because of the greatest living sacrifice, Jesus Christ, we lay our prayers before you, knowing we are made holy and pleasing through him.

Listen to ‘Oh Thou That Hear’st When Sinners Cry’ by Community Presbyterian Church

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Shoulders

Deuteronomy 33:12b
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

Luke 15:4-6
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”

Isaiah 63:9
“In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.  In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”

Great Shepherd, you save completely and honour undeservedly.

Running familyYou shield your beloved close to your heart, held firm on the right and the left.  We rest surrounded by your strength,  joy-filled in our rescue.

Seek us when we have forgotten the broad safety of your shoulders and no longer feel the Spirit’s rise and fall.  Keep us centred upon you in the privileged place of a child.

We pray in the name of Christ, who carried the weight of the cross so that he might exchange it for our prodigal souls.

Listen to ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’ by Folk Angel

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Silver

Zechariah 11:13
“And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’—the handsome price at which they valued me!  So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.”

Matthew 27:3-4
“When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty coins to the chief priests and the elders.  ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’”

Titus 1:15-16a
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.  In fact, both their minds and their consciences are corrupted.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.”

Righteous God, your storehouses are vast and filled with grace.

silverWe have marred our minds with greed and for a pittance—a shiny moment of self-satisfaction—we have traded our souls.  To soothe our pride we barter with your name until we have reduced you to a commodity that benefits us.

Restore our purity, Lord.  Reverse the betrayals we have indulged in and let the currency of our daily transactions be solely love for you and love for others.

We are humbled that we are given permission to ask this because Jesus, at the cost of his priceless blood, purchased back the once worthless souls we sold.

Listen to ‘Judas Song (Psalm 41:9-10)‘ by Green Carpet Players

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Planted

Ezekiel 36:8-10a, 11b
“But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.  I am concerned for you and will look upon you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you…I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

Psalm 65:9-13
“You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.  You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.  You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.”

Matthew 13:23
“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hear the word and understands it.  This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Lord of the harvest, you show your love for the land by tending it gently.

All that is chaff and stubble you turn into nourishment for spent soil.  With softening rain you bring to life ground gone stale and dry.

plantedPlough our hard hearts in preparation to receive the seed you plant.  With compassion till our fallow places into rich, rejoicing furrows.

We pray in the gracious name of Jesus, who by his season sown in death promises a great year of abundance.

Listen to ‘Mountains of Mercy’ by Grace Worship

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Sleep

Genesis 2:20b-22
“But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

Acts 12:6-7
“The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell.  He struck Peter on the side and woke him up.  ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”

Ephesians 5:14b
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Saviour of all, you are the God of quiet miracles.

As we rest, you restore.  Our participation in your new creation is to surrender our restless efforts and await your touch.

sleep

Grant us the faith to lie down in peace when all remains unresolved.  Awaken us in your time and call us to a new obedience.

We ask this in the name of Christ, who from the sleep of death brought salvation, and drew life from his wounded side.

Listen to ‘All Praise to Thee My God This Night’ by Wendall Kimbrough & Friends

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