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Name Change

Ben Nelson:

So – I can’t resist reposting Deb’s blog – today being the anniversary of my parents giving me this very name. – Thanks Deb

Originally posted on Deb's Blog:

label maker - wikipedia

label maker – wikipedia

“And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni*, but his father called him Benjamin.**”  Genesis 35:13 NKJV

*Literally Son of My Sorrow
**Literally Son of the Right Hand

Labels and names can begin to define us.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us new identities in You.  And here’s a simple poem . . .

The label
that they give you

and the things
that they say

can never
define you

only Jesus
may.

God bless the you He says you are today!

View original

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How Washed is Washed – SoS Saturday

How beautiful and pleasant you are,
O loved one, with all your delights!

Song of Songs 7:6 ESV

Did you hear that?

Oh but wait – He can’t be talking to you? Can He?
You’re a wretched sinner, right?
You’re a luke-warm, compromised, barely saved worm, aren’t you?

Who is He talking to?

This is the girl who decided to follow Him,
the girl who turned her life over to Him,
the girl who said “draw me and we will run together,”
the girl who said, “I am dark but lovely.”

Wait – that is you?

O Church, O Christian, O brothers and sisters, you must understand this:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:

neither the sexually immoral,
nor idolaters,
nor adulterers,
nor men who practice homosexuality,
nor thieves,
nor the greedy,
nor drunkards,
nor revilers,
nor swindlers

will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.

But you were washed,
you were sanctified,
you were justified

in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV

Of the twelve times the Shepherd King speaks of His beloved in the Song, in six of them begin with a recognition of her beauty. All that stuff – that list above – and that list in your heart that keeps taking the legs out from underneath you and halting your progress – that’s gone if you are in Christ.

GONE

You are delightful to Him.
You turn His head.
He loves to look at you.

David said:

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11 ESV

Don’t you know that for Him, you are one of those pleasures? He delights in you!

One of the main reasons Christians continue to live in rebellion and compromise is that don’t see ourselves as Christ sees us. If you could see what He has done in you and want to do through you, it would change your outlook. A new outlook would give you the courage to step out, to walk in His path.

You can’t walk when you’re crippled with fear of offending Him.

You can’t step into the present when the past imprisons you.

Look – if you are living in compromise and rebellion, stop it. That’s not who you are! If you are in Christ, that’s not you. You are no longer a slave of sin.

Ok – there – I said it.

Ben NelsonWalk in the light.

See you again soon.

Ben

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Friday Road Trip

The Love Bug

You might argue that loving God means protecting His truth with a ferocious zeal.

What if our love for Jesus drew us to protect His body with a ferocious zeal.

You see – knowledge should lead us to “obey the truth we know” – wouldn’t you agree?

Peter tells us that the next step in our walk of faith – once we have obeyed the truth is to love the body – check it out:

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, – 1 Peter 1:22 NASB

I still remember the day my dear brother Kim who led me to the Lord and discipled me looked me in the eye and said it’s time to take your discipleship to the next level. We have talked much about what to believe, and what to think about truth, even how to live, but now we must learn to walk in love.

I love this verse in the KJV.

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: – 1 Peter 1:22 KJV

Let’s just soak in this for a minute:

The result of obeying the truth is a purified soul – clearly the work of the Spirit in our lives.

This leads to love that is unfeigned – genuine – authentic.

And as your life demonstrates this love for the Body of Christ, Peter exhorts us to turn up the heart (turn up the heat?)

Our love for the brethren is to be

1) unfeigned
2) pure
3) fervent

Let’s road map this.

Here is a route for a journey of faith.

We start at the beginning – obey the truth.

As we travel the road of obedience, the Spirit purifies our soul.

The waypoint we reach is unfeigned (genuine-authentic) love of the brethren (and sisteren too.)

Ok – this is a comfy rest stop – we huddle here in a warm place with a cup-o-joe – but the road is calling us. I’m gettin’ in a travelin’ mood.

As we live lives of obedience, purity and love for the body of Christ – we must press on, do not stop short of the destination.

But our method of transportation has changed – we were driving in a vehicle called obedience.

When we leave this rest area, we must get into a new conveyance – a vessel called love. Obedience only gets us so far. We must travel the rest of the way by pure and fervent love for one another.

Are you gettin’ in a travelin’ mood?

Join me in this great adventure called love – won’t you?

Ben

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The Simplicity of Love

Muth and Fath on their wedding day.

Muth and Fath on their wedding day.

This one thought makes its way into my mind almost every day. Love is simple.

I didn’t say it was easy, but it’s simple.

I see all around me very complex problems with no apparent solution. I see families so torn by conflict with no hope in sight. I see people’s lives crushed by the weight of their bad circumstances.

Wives broken and crushed by broken vows.

Husbands drowning in discontent caused by the lies of pornography.

Mothers with hollow hearts wishing they could get their babies back.

Fathers weeping at the graves of their sons and daughters killed by random violence.

Teens unsure of their identity having never known their fathers.

Daughters afraid to come home and face their own parents.

Sons forced to be the only adult in the home.

Children taken away from good parents by a state with an ax to grind against discipline.

The man asked Jesus:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

When I take a step back, it’s clear to me that if I insert love into each and every relationship the problems become simple.

Hey – I get that there are still troubles – still crisis strikes – still tragedy may come.

But what if we didn’t add a broken marriage to the loss of employment? What if we didn’t add angry violence to disappointment?

I’m not talking about some kind of mushy smoochy kind of Hallmark love though.

I said love is not easy.

Love is work. Love often means saying ‘no’ to yourself. (That’s hard.)

I know that everyone says we must love our selves so that we can love others, and I really do get what they’re saying. But as with any truth, this one often gets blown out of proportion.

Jesus had no problem with self-esteem, He had a good self-image. (The very image of God – that is a good self-image.) But He demonstrated love as He laid down His life for those who hated Him – those who rejected Him – those who would take His life by force.

He counted His life, His entitlements, His priorities, His privilege, of less importance than the lives of those He came to save: the pharisees, the Romans, the lost sheep of Israel, those in Palestine, those in Asia Minor, the inhabitants of continents yet undiscovered and unknown to the writers of holy scripture. (As He put it – Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. – Acts 1:8)

Love is the simple answer to all the world’s problems. But it must be applied liberally and without reserve.

That’s what I’m thinking.

What do you think? Have I over simplified?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

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Spurgeon – What we have in Christ

What follows is the morning reading from January 3rd in Spurgeon’s classic devotional Morning and Evening. I have added some line breaks for ease of reading, but otherwise I am taking it directly from the BlueLetterBible website. Well – I did highlight some stuff that blew my mind too.

Be encouraged,

Ben

===

January 3rdMorning Reading

“I will give thee for a covenant of the people.” —Isaiah 49:8

Jesus Christ is Himself the sum and substance of the covenant, and as one of its gifts, He is the property of every believer. Believer, canst thou estimate what thou hast gotten in Christ? “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Consider that word “God” and its infinity, and then meditate upon “perfect man” and all his beauty; for all that Christ, as God and man, ever had, or can have, is thine-out of pure free favour, passed over to thee to be thine entailed property forever.

Our blessed Jesus, as God, is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Will it not console you to know that all these great and glorious attributes are altogether yours?

Has he power? That power is yours to support and strengthen you, to overcome your enemies, and to preserve you even to the end.

Has He love? Well, there is not a drop of love in His heart which is not yours; you may dive into the immense ocean of His love, and you may say of it all, “It is mine.”

Hath He justice? It may seem a stern attribute, but even that is yours, for He will by His justice see to it that all which is promised to you in the covenant of grace shall be most certainly secured to you.

And all that He has as perfect man is yours. As a perfect man the Father’s delight was upon Him. He stood accepted by the Most High. O believer, God’s acceptance of Christ is thine acceptance; for knowest thou not that the love which the Father set on a perfect Christ, He sets on thee now?

For all that Christ did is thine. That perfect righteousness which Jesus wrought out, when through His stainless life He kept the law and made it honourable, is thine, and is imputed to thee. Christ is in the covenant.

“My God, I am thine-what a comfort divine!
What a blessing to know that the Saviour is mine!
In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,
And my heart it doth dance at the sound of His name.”

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Remember Me

Bread!As I stand here, unleavened bread in hand, ready to offer it to my family and friends on this Sabbath evening, I remember that night.

It was the last night; the night I thought would never end; the night I thought would end it all; the night that lasted days; the night He was betrayed.

Before all that, the betrayal, the trial, the torture, the blood, before that horrible end, we had super. It was His last super, I see now.

After He washed our feet, after Judas ran out — we had no idea why at the time —He took the bread. We were all talking at once. Peter and John were still trying to figure out who was going to betray Him. Thomas tried to explain to Andrew why He should never have washed their feet. Barth just talked to no one in particular about the woman with the perfume.

He stood there in silence, with one piece of unleavened bread in His hands. He waited until all were quiet. He didn’t interrupt us. I really think He was just enjoying the sound of our conversation. You know that sound – the sound of family – the sound of love.

We have learned so much at His side these past few years, but perhaps the most significant lesson was one of community. Many times He demanded our attention, or directed our activities. Often He taught us. But just as often He brought us together just to be together. We’d laugh and argue and jest.

He seemed in no hurry that night. He waited. After a few minutes the Master drew our attention as He held up the bread.

“This is my body,” He began. Now there was silence. He began again, “This is my body, broken for you.” As He said the word “broken” He snapped the flat bread in half. There was something in that cracking sound that gave me a chill, something foreboding.

When He said it I immediately thought back to that day in the wilderness, when He said, “I am the bread of life.” That was the day I wondered if He had lost His mind. I’ll never forget His words:

“…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. … For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

The crowds died down after that.

After He had given His Father thanks for the bread, He broke it and passed it to each of us saying,

“This is my body broken for you, every time you do this, remember Me.”

Then He took the cup of wine and held it up. He first looked to heaven, then at each of us. He passed the cup around saying,

“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Sitting there we had no idea that in a few short hours, His blood would be poured out, spent without reserve. But as I watched them whip Him with a cat and nine, I remembered the bread. When they pressed that crown on His head I remembered the cup. When the nails burst through His palms and the blood flowed, I remembered the wine. When I saw them pierce His side and all that remained of His blood flowed out, I knew.

I knew that He had taken the cup from the hand of the Father. That cup of wrath that the prophet spoke of.

“Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: ‘Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.’

I knew that He drank every drop of that wrath. This new covenant He spoke of began with Him taking the punishment for my rebellion. My sin no longer stood as a barrier between the Lord God and me. The Father, the Creator was offering me His hand in relationship, and He paid the blood price Himself.

So today, as we eat this bread and drink this wine, I remember.

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How to Capture the Almighty – SoS Saturday (is it still Saturday anywhere?)

Many Waters - SoS header

Your head crowns you like Carmel,
And the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads;
The king is captivated by your tresses.

Song of Songs 7:5

How do you take captive One who is omnipotent?

It’s like one of those riddles, Can God make a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it?

Turns out the answer to my riddle is: long flowing hair. There is a fascinating correlation here linking our Song to Samson.

Samson, who we meet in Judges 13-17, lived the life of a Nazarite. Like John the Baptist, he was supernaturally born, a gift from the Giver of Life to a barren woman. Also like John, his parents were told to raise him as a Nazarite from birth.

These two are unique in this way. Most who took a Nazarite vow were constrained for a voluntary period of time. God gave these two men to Israel, and asked of them a life time of commitment.

The Nazarite Vow – some background:

A man or woman in Israel could set aside a period of time in which he or she would dedicate himself (herself) to the Lord. You can read more about it in Numbers 6.

Three things are prohibited to those who take such a vow. First they are never allowed wine or strong drink, and must abstain from anything grape related. No PB&(grape)J for the Nazarite. They must also keep themselves from anything that would make unclean, in the ceremonial sense – they were not to come in contact with blood, or anything dead during the time of their separation.

There’s one more restriction:

All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. – Numbers 6:5

Captivated

The king is captivated by your tresses. – Song of Songs 7:5

This word “captivated” captured my attention. In Hebrew it is ‘aser’ pronounced with ‘ah’ as in almond and ’sare’ as in Sarah. It means to bind, to imprison, to harness.

This long hair and unshaven aspect is the only outward sign of the Nazarite. Today you see many Orthodox or Hasidic Jews with long curling locks on the side burns, and full beards. This is a display of their devotion to the Almighty. Their interpretation of the word head in Numbers 6:5 is more like face. So they don’t shave their beards, and the let their side burns grow unhindered, as an outward sign of their devotion.

When a man or woman took the Nazarite vow, they were binding themselves to the Lord. Of course when you tie yourself to anything you are bound together. If I were to tie myself to a tree, the tree is also tied to me.

Back to the Song

So it is with the Lord. The maiden’s hair has not imprisoned her Lover, it has bound them together. Like Samson, as long as he did not cut his hair, the Lord empowered him to do mighty acts. So the long locks of the maiden’s devotion bind them together.

He looks at the flowing locks of her hair, the single-hearted devotion to Him as her Husband and King, and it binds Him to her.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:7-8 ESV

As we give ourselves to the Lord with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, He commits Himself to us.

The best part is that once He is bound to us, it’s not the strength of our devotion to Him that holds us. It’s the formidable strength of His love that keeps us bound to Him.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39 ESV

In the end – like Samson, as long as we are bound to Him we are victorious. The strength of His love is so much stronger than that of Samson’s resolve, we need not fear any foe.

Lord, I devote myself to you, and I thank you that you have bound Yourself to me by the indestructible cords of your Love.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

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