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What chu looking’ at? ~ SoS Saturday

The watchmen who beat our girl in the streets are back and they have this to say:

Why should you gaze at the Shulammite,

Song of Songs 6:13

Don’t they have a point?

Why is everyone so interested in seeing this one who is so over the top in her devotion to the Lord?

Shouldn’t we be looking at Jesus? Isn’t it supposed to be about Him?

This Song is so different that what we hear in Church sometimes.

Sometimes in church I hear that I am ugly and hopeless.

Sometimes in church I hear that in me there is no good thing – nothing good in me. I am filthy and wretched, worthless and unworthy.

Yet in this Song, time and time again we hear the voice of the Lord taken by His brides beauty.

Why should we look at this maiden?

Why should we look at this lover of God?

Why should we gaze on this Shulamite?

But then I hear my Father say

How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! 

Psalm 84:1

Much of this song has been given to the beauty of the bride. When the King of glory looks on His bride, He sees beauty. He sees a holy, perfect, lovely, beautiful godly bride. His delight!

Why should we gaze on this Shulamite?

As you gaze on the Shulamite, no doubt you will see the Christ in her.

God’s desire – God’s hope is Christ in you.
God’s work – God’s plan is Christ in you.
God’s will – God’s way is Christ in you.

The world is crying “We would see Jesus.

He says, “Look at my bride.”

nora and papa at the table, benBlessings,

Ben

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Anna

This is the One – the Promised Messiah. This babe is the one foretold. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to the Lord. The Lord let me see this in a vision when I first began to prophesy.

It was shortly after my husband died, almost sixty years ago now, and it’s the reason I serve here in the temple.

The rabbi married my husband and I just down these steps in the outer courts. I was just sixteen years old when we married. My Avram was approaching thirty. We lived in Jerusalem, not far from the sheep gate. We could not have children, but before we even went to the doctor to find out why, my Avram took a fever. After only seven years of marriage he was gone, and I was alone.

We were always devout. We prayed together, and he taught me every week. We would sit at every meal and discuss what the scriptures said. He would tell me what the men read in the temple.

When my husband died, I could no longer afford to live in my home outside the temple. I approached one of the priests and asked if there was something I could do within the gates. He allowed me to work in the outer courts. I would clean up every evening after the crowds headed to their homes or lodgings. He allowed me to live in a small room on the outer temple wall.

At first I felt ashamed, cleaning up after all those filthy animals. Picking up the litter scattered by the merchants and their customers in the temple market humbled me. But soon I realized that I could do it as an act of worship to the Lord God of Israel.

Shortly after Avram’s death, I began to see. I would have glimpses – flashes at first – of things to come. I remember the first time I realized what was happening.

A woman came into the courts days before the delivery of  her child. She looked tired and burdened. As I looked at her, she changed before me. No longer struggling to walk and bent from the weight of the child within, she was standing upright with babe in arms. A baby boy with a full head of hair. Her countenance expressed the joy in her heart. Even the color of her clothes had changed.

It was less than two months later when she walked past me with her boy, in the dress I saw. I didn’t say or do anything about it then, but it started happening more and more. Some things I would see, and then they would come to pass. Others, well, I don’t know if I missed it, or if I just didn’t understand what I was seeing.

There was one vision I had over and over and today I am standing right in the middle of it. In my vision, I see a young woman with an older man coming into the courts with a newborn. It reminded me of my Avram and me. This was our dream. To bring our own child to the temple for dedication, But there was something special about this couple. In my vision I saw the old man, that Simeon fellow who seems to start every conversation with “When Messiah comes,” taking the babe from this young girl. He holds Him up at eye level and begins to speak. I can never make out the words, but I can see tears in his eyes.

And it’s happening. This day I have seen for sixty years. Thanks be to the Almighty One. Right here and right now Messiah is in His temple dressed for His dedication.

I timidly approach the couple.

“May I hold the child?”

The young mother put Him in my arms.

“Do you know who He is?”

It’s a strange question to ask a mother about her own child, but she’s not surprised. She just nods and says,

“We know. His name is Jesus.”

They went on to see the priest, but I have can’t stop telling everyone I see that Messiah has come to His temple.

From Luke 2:36-38

Read of Simeon’s encounter here.

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A Dance of Two Armies – SoS Saturday

Why do you look upon the Shulammite
as at a dance of the two armies?

Song 6:13 – Lexham English Bible

I love this phrase – a dance of two armies. Isn’t that life?

We are in the center of a conflict of two worlds.

Peter cautions us:

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. – 1 Peter 2:11

And Paul tells us:

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, – Romans 8:6-7

So we know this war rages.

But what is our part in this conflict between two worlds?

Often we as Christians set our selves in a defensive stance. We know that flesh, and our worldly desires are strong and dangerous, so we hide ourselves in our cloisters and abstain not only from the lusts, but from all contact with the world.

That is where our maiden was in her early days. She didn’t want to go and run with the Bridegroom in the hills and mountains.

But now she has found her identity. She is an ambassador from heaven to earth, for the Spirit to speak to the souls of men.

No longer does she hide in the closet, but she dances the dance of heaven right in front of the enemy lines.

David put it this way:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Psalm 23:4-5 NASB

In his wonderful book “The Supernatural Power of the Transformed Mind,” Bill Johnson speaks about Jacob’s meeting with God.

In Genesis 28 we read

He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. … He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” – Genesis 28:12, 17 NASB

If you have been following my blog for any time, you know I am fascinated by anything to do with the dwelling place or the house of God. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, foretells of a day when we will be God’s dwelling place.

So grab hold of this idea -

The house of God is the gate of heaven! (Thanks Bill!)

The place where God dwells – in us – on earth – is an access point – an entry gate – for the Lord God to touch men.

As ambassadors of heaven, when we walk in a room, we give access to the King of heaven to touch the people trapped in the kingdom of darkness.

When we preach the gospel (really Good News!!!) men and women are touched by the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are the thoroufare by which heaven can touch earth and earth can reach heaven.

So then, my prayer today is:

Swing wide you heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Today is a great day to dance between two armies

Ben

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Simeon

My father always said I should have been born a Levite. Even as a young boy I loved the days we spent in the temple. I grew up just outside the holy city, and so on Sabbath we would all go to the temple to gather for prayers and the reading of the scrolls.

Though I am of the tribe of Judah, my name is Simeon. All my life my teachers and rabbis said I was well named. My name means ‘harkening.’ They would call me ‘the little listener.’ When I was a boy, every Sabbath day there was a Levite who would tell us, the children, stories of our history. Sometimes it seemed the scrolls were nothing but a roll book, name after name – he begat him begat her. But many days he read us stories of the great deliverers of Israel.

We learned that the Lord Almighty had chosen us, the Jews, above all nations, When we would cry out to Him, He would rescue us. He used men and women from all kinds of backgrounds to liberate us from our enemies. I loved those days, those stories, of faith filled heroes like Gideon and Samson, Deborah and Ester, Joshua and Elijah.

These stories would stir up a hope deep in my being to see the Lord’s hand of deliverance once again. In those days it was the Philistines, or the Babylonians, or the Assyrians. Today Rome occupies the holy city, and all of our lands.

Some say the Lord has abandon us, that we are a God forsaken nation because of our repeated rebellions. But they forget the promise God made to our people. He would send Messiah. The scrolls speak of One who would be born not far from here, in Bethlehem, born of the root of Jesse, the tribe of Judah, the son of David. He would be a deliverer. He would set us free once and for all from the hand of our oppressors. He would reign on the throne of David. The kingdom He would  established in Israel would have no end.

O how I longed to see this Messiah.

When I was a boy I didn’t understand the need. My parents protected us from indignities and persecutions we suffered as an occupied people. As I became a man, and began to raise my own family, I felt the oppression first hand. They let us worship after a fashion, but they demanded our money, tribute to their Ceasers. They required us to give our children into their service, to do their menial tasks, all the heavy lifting. It’s hardly any different than what our forefathers suffered in Egypt.

I said I was a good listener. Sometimes I would hear things – hear things in my spirit. It’s hard to explain what I mean. In the scrolls we read of seers, those who had visions, even those who encountered angels. But I hear the voice of the Lord. At first I would tell everyone what I had heard, but they started looking at me like I needed special help. So I stopped sharing what I was hearing.

Early on I wasn’t sure if it was the voice of the Lord, but the things I heard always could be found in the scrolls. I would write out what I had heard and read it to the rabbi.  He would go and open the scrolls and show me a prophecy that said the same thing – that confirmed what I had heard.

About twenty years ago now, I think I was in my sixtieth year, I heard something that has thrilled my soul for these two decades. The Holy Spirit of the Almighty told me I would see this Messiah with my own eyes before I tasted death.

This I never shared with anyone. It’s one thing to compare what you hear in your meditations to the scrolls, but this was so personal. But I knew what I had heard. There was no question in my mind. Because I had tested this voice so many times, I knew the voice of my Lord.

It has been twenty years, and there have been days when I thought I missed it, and days when I thought I was crazy. But somewhere inside, I knew that I knew I would see this Long Expected One, the Lord’s Anointed.

It was eight days ago that I heard once again.

“The time is near.”

I began to fast and pray. I would head to the temple every day and worship before the Lord.

Today when I awoke, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, that’s the only way I can describe it. It was not like in the past when I ‘heard’ things. This was the presence of Holiness. I knew this must be the day, so I dressed and headed to the temple. I didn’t break my fast.

As I stood in the temple and ministered to the Lord, a couple came in with an infant. I could see they were here to dedicate Him to the Lord. As they stepped into the court where I was worshiping, my spirit leapt for joy. This child, this infant was the One, the Promised Messiah.

As they approached, I went to them and fell to my knees before this One born King of the Jews. The young mother handed the child to me, and I wept for joy.

I cried out:

God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.

With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:

A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel.

As I looked into the eyes of my Lord the Spirit of the Lord rose up in me and I began to speak what I was hearing.

This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,

A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—

But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.

My heart can barely contain the joy and peace I feel. I have been old but today all things are new. Though our oppression has not changed, today I am free. Though my joints ache and my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am leaping for joy and I have seen the Lord’s Salvation.

I am ready to go to the bosom of Abraham today, where I can tell my story to those who have gone before.

The day of deliverance is here.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

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Things to Come

Christmas Light

For the next few weeks – through the holidays – Friday is for fiction. I have been working for the past couple months on some narratives of wondrous encounters folks had surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus. I think you will enjoy them, and perhaps you’ll glean something new hidden in their telling.

So stop in on Fridays and see what’s up.

Walk in the light.

Ben

PS – If you would like to use any of these to punctuate your Christmas or Advent services let me know and I can get you the whole set ahead of time.

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Drink All Of It

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” – Luke 22:20 NASB

I’m on a journey to understand and experience to its fullest extent the New Covenant the Lord has given to us in His blood.

On one hand – I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what our life is intended to look like. After decades in Christ, and decades of pondering His Word, there is so much I see that I have not attained, so much I don’t walk in as yet.

There are those who when they hear my opening statement will be tempted to think that I am looking to milk my relationship with God for everything I can get out of it. As though I am standing at the foot of the cross, watching my Lord and Savior as He is tortured to death and saying, what’s in it for me.

God forbid – GOD FORBID!

I have heard some of my more conservative friends talk about my more charismatic friends with this idea. Somehow going after God for all that He has for us in the New Covenant is greedy or worse. Somehow the prayer “more Lord” made famous in Toronto is self-centered and offensive to the Lord.

That’s not it.

It’s that very thing – Jesus on the Cross – that makes me want to pursue all that He has for me.

I see Him standing there, on the night that He was betrayed with a cup of blood in His hand, raised up as though He were going to make a toast. Then He hands it to me and says:

This is the New Covenant in my blood – DRINK ALL OF IT. If you will not drink this New Covenant, My Blood, you have no part in me.

Every time I drink from this cup, every time I take a step further into His kingdom, further devoted to His reign in my life, I look back into the cup and see it is still full – THERE IS MORE.

There is more to surrender.

There is more to experience.

There are more prisoners to set free.

There are more blind eyes to open.

There are more dead who need life.

There are more in turmoil who need peace.

So today pray with me:

More Lord

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Drink deeply.

Ben

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What Death

Ben Nelson:

I love this poem by my dear sister Deb Feller. I hope you will too.

Originally posted on Deb's Blog:

“This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me’.”  John 21:19. NKJV

Even our deaths can bring Him glory.

Thank You, Lord, for making a way for us to glorify You, no matter what. And here is a simple poem . . .

Lord, You know I love You
as best as I can

am trying to feed Your sheep
and take care of your lambs

so oh what a comfort
that my death will have no sting

but be another opportunity
to glorify my King.

God bless you as you love Him and follow Him today!

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