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Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple basket at National Apple Harvest fesitival
Apple Basket at National Apple Harvest Festival

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"Like Apples Of Gold"

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).

On Saturday we drove over to
Adams County Pennsylvania (not too far from Gettysburg) to the National Apple Harvest Festival. This is in Pennsylvania's main apple growing region with thousands of acres of apple orchards along the east side of South Mountain. The festival celebrates the apple harvest but also hosts many craft booths, singing groups, antique items and of course plenty of food. We ate apple pancakes, fried apples, apple sauce and apple cider. They even had pet treats made from apples (we didn't sample those)!

The apple is only mentioned a few times in the Bible. We often assume the forbidden fruit was an apple but the fruit is not specified. All Scripture references to this delicious, wholesome fruit are positive, including this romantic line from the Song of Solomon, "the fragrance of your breath (is) like apples" (7:8) I tend to say this to Brooksyne when we awake in the morning. (Brooksyne's Note: Yeah, sure!)

Bunny and Peg 10/5/12On Friday we stopped by a large warehouse store and I was sampling a meatball when I was startled by a deep voice behind me asking, "Has anyone told you today that Jesus loves you?" It was our longtime friend Bunny O'Hare, whom we first met when we lived in New England over 12 years ago.

Bunny and his wife Peg both have vibrant personalities. Much like those who include a tagline on their email correspondence Bunny has a tagline when he greets you. It's more than a cliche but from the depths of his heart when he asks, "Has anyone told you today that Jesus loves you?" Interestingly, when he asks me that my answer is most often "No, you're the first".  Bunny is a chaplain to the trucking industry and I have heard him make phone calls asking the same question. It's a good word fitly spoken to remind us of eternal matters and opens a door for witnessing to those who don't know Jesus.

Apples of gold in settings of silverToday let us consider one of the Scripture references to the apple:  "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver". The daily Scripture verse is a Proverb, which is a "short pithy saying". The word "fitly" in the text translates a Hebrew word found only once in the entire Bible which conveys the sense of "in season", (translated "aptly" in the NIV). The New American Standard Version uses the phrase, "a word spoken in right circumstances."

Here are several Scriptures with a similar theme:
"A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!" (Proverbs 15:23).
"The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary" (Isaiah 50:4).
"For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes." (Jeremiah 31:25).

Apples of Gold book
It seems to me that these are God-ordained words that go right to the heart, meeting the need for that particular circumstance. I specifically recall several other times in my life when I have received a "word fitly spoken". Once, shortly after we were married, I was greatly discouraged in regard to closed doors of ministry and Brooksyne spoke eleven meaningful words she had put to memory, "God will never lead us where His grace cannot keep us." It didn't change the immediate circumstances but it gave me a much more hopeful perspective that I still remember some 35 years later.

When you've experienced times of hardship or perplexity I hope you can recall those special occasions when you have been the recipient of "a word fitly spoken." Or perhaps God has used you in giving "a word fitly spoken." In fact I desire to hear many and give many!

When we offer words of encouragement or words of wisdom to others we're usually unaware of their effect!  As I reflect on times when I have been the recipient of these needed words it occurs to me that generally they are very brief. I encourage you to reflect on times in your own life when someone has been a blessing in sharing such words with you.  We mull them over and over in our minds and it deeply impacts our attitude and thereby our actions.

Today's encouragement will hopefully be a reminder of the power of our words to encourage others (whether spoken or written).  Every one of you will have numerous opportunities throughout the day to build others up.

For some that may be a lengthy "formal" discussion. However most encouragement is brief and may even seem inconsequential at the time. Who needs to hear (or read) such a word from you today?  As you ask God for divine appointments in your workplace or in your surroundings this day, may you be mindful of the needs of those around you. As the Lord enables you, be sure to offer "a word fitly spoken."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You know the exact number of words that will flow from my lips today, some of them meaningful and others meaningless. Would You help me to be conscious of the words I speak to others and make me sensitive to those who need caring words. Help me to look not only to my own interests but also to the interests of others as I offer words fitly spoken to those desperately needing to hear a word from You through a servant like me. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: It's interesting to consider expressions of care, thought-provoking words, Christian music and other positive influences that have greatly impacted me over the years.  Many of the messengers God has used in my life are unaware of how God used their "fitly spoken" words at various times. Sometimes it was a word of correction spoken not directly to me, but God applied it to my heart. As I read through Proverbs in my personal devotions I see the prevailing theme of using our words wisely and weighing our actions very carefully. I've committed quite a number of Proverbs to memory but wish I had made a habit of doing so when I was very young. Some Christians are in the habit of reading a Proverb every day to coincide with the day of the month. For example on October 1 they read Proverbs 1 and today, October 8, they read Proverbs 8.  It's a great exercise and no doubt much memorization will take place with little effort for those who do this regularly.

Photos from the National Apple Harvest Festival

Apple Harvest fesitival display
We enjoyed looking at the displays in the demonstration area.

Apple harvest cider press
This is an old press for making apple cider.

Making apple butter
 The air was crisp and the spitting fire was so inviting. A young man used the paddle to stir the apple butter as it congealed to just the right thickness.

Apple peeling machine
This old machine peeled apples. The stamping on the red states, "Do not run over 25RPM which is 50 apples per min" At 50 apples per minute the operator sure would have to hustle!

1921 Frick steam engine
This old steam engine was near the apple cider making area.

Russell steam engine
This team engine had a long belt attached to a saw mill making wood shingles.

Biglerville, PA apple street lamp
The streets of Biglerville were lined with these apple-shaped street lights. It was an interesting sight much like the Hershey street lamps that are made to look like Hershey chocolate kisses.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Make Me A Blessing"  Video  The O'Neal Twins
"May The Words Of My Mouth"
 Video  Tim Hughes

"May The Words Of My Mouth"  Video  Christy Nockels  (same song as above)
"To Be Pleasing You"  Video  Maranatha Singers

The National Apple Harvest Festival runs the first two weekends in October each years.

National Apple Museum

Adams County apple orchards on Google map. Mile after mile of orchards, a beautiful sight.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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