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Exposed

 

How has it come to this? I’m standing here with a rock in my hand in the middle of all this anger. The anger is not mine, but I can feel it. It’s all around.

I didn’t see this coming as I sat at breakfast with my wife Anna and my two little ones. I think of myself as a good father, a good husband. I have a good job working with the dairyman. We sell our milk from a cart near the sheep gate. I almost have enough saved to buy a few cows of my own.

But at noontime, as I sat in the square eating the lunch my Anna had packed for me, I saw her. I have known her for a few months. I say known – not really – but our eyes often meet. The few words we have traded have been slightly suggestive and flirtatious, but it meant nothing.

When I first saw her, the words of my father rang in my ears. On my wedding day he told me that I must be like Job and make a covenant with my eyes if I wanted to be faithful to my Anna. But that day, my wedding day, my eyes saw only my sweet bride, and I can remember thinking I could never be tempted with such evil.

The day I first saw this woman in the market, she caught me staring. I looked away immediately, but I’d been caught, and perhaps captured. The next time, I let my eyes linger a bit longer.

Once I saw her walking through the temple gate with a man who I took to be her father. I later learned it was her husband. Not a great match for her.

Today, she walked right up where I was eating, and sat down beside me. I told her she should not sit beside me right there in the square because people would whisper.

“I just need someone to talk to,” she said, right on the edge of tears. “Where can I talk with you?”

I took her to a place I knew would be quiet – empty – at this time of day, and she began to cry in earnest. She began to tell me of her life, and I was just listening – at first. I told myself she needed me to listen. She needed a friend. She just needed to talk about it. I needed to be compassionate. I needed to listen like a friend.

Soon I was holding her as she sobbed and shook.

The rest is a blur. What started as a comforting touch became an embrace, and soon I found myself overwhelmed. Compassion became passion and the next thing I knew the door burst open.

A group of men broke in, some in religious robes, including my own rabbi, the one who had married Anna and me, the rabbi who had circumcised my little Yacob. They grabbed us and started dragging us out into the square, but my rabbi called out, “let the boy go, I know him.” Her husband was among our intruders. He was screaming, “you Jezebel, you harlot.”

I followed this angry group out into the square where they had gathered up stones. I’ve lived in Jerusalem my whole life, and many people have done lots of things, but no one has ever been stoned in the streets. We read about it in the law of Moses, but we never actually did it. My rabbi stood beside me. He bent down and picked up two stones. They were bigger than a man’s fist. He took my right hand and forced me to take that cold, hard lump of hate.

I dropped it, but he reached down, picked it up, and gave it back to me. He said to me, “if you will not do this thing, you will be up there with her.” I could hardly breath.

Then the crowd started moving again. One of the rabbis called out, “Yeshua is in the outer courts, follow me and let’s hear what that upstart will have us do with her.”

Soon the woman lay face down in the dust. I could still hear her sobs. Before her stood a man dressed in common robes. There was already a good size crowd with Him before we pushed our way through.

“Rabbi, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”

I saw then that this was not about this woman, or about her sin, or about the law. It was a test for this preacher. It was not the woman in the dirt who was on trial here. It was this Yeshua, He was the one being tested. They wanted to see what He would do.

Would this ‘Son of Man’ side with the sinner or would He side with the religious leaders? They hated that title He had taken, ‘Son of Man.’ They worked so hard not to be seen as mere men. These priests and scribes, these Pharisees craved the esteem of men, they were anything but common.

But this Yeshua, He would eat with sinners, not ashamed to be with them in their homes and in the streets. How would He deal with this woman? Would He take her part and defy the Lord God’s own law? Would He take up a stone with us and break faith with the people?

This had me nervous. If He took up the law, I might just be next.

As I stood, stone in hand, and waited for His judgment, I thought back to those glances that brought me to this place. It really wasn’t so innocent. There was a place in my heart that I had sought out this adultery. I allowed my eyes to draw me into dissatisfaction with a life full of blessing.

Yeshua positioned himself between those of us with stones and the woman. She was still weeping with her face in the dirt. He knelt down and started writing in the dust.

I could not see what He was writing, but in the silence my guilt and shame were mounting. Again I heard my father’s words. “Remember son,” he would say, “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

How had I fallen so far? How could this Man without speaking one word expose my heart?

Then He stood, and looked at us – me – and He did speak,

He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

After a moment, He got back down with her in the dirt and started writing again. As He wrote in the dust, His finger was tracing the law in my heart, and I saw for the first time the wickedness of my actions.

I was not the only one either. First the elders began to back off, some dropping their stones, others taking them away as they quietly pulled back from the crowd.

As I stood there, I could hear my own voice speaking my vows to my Anna those eight years ago.

What I wanted to do was fall down and beg Him to forgive me. That’s when I had to leave. I wanted to run, but I just dropped the stone and backed away. My sin, my unfaithfulness, filled my heart. I had to be rid of it. But I didn’t know how. How can I be free of this guilt? I never knew this darkness of guilt and shame until I stood in the presence of such holiness, such wisdom, such purity.

Who is this man?

What must I do to be saved from this condemnation that fills my heart?

===

If you find yourself asking these same questions check out this post – What Peace? – where I lay out God’s plan in simple terms.

If you like this, you might enjoy “What am I lacking

This encounter with Jesus is fictionalized from John 8:1-11

Copyright – 2014 –  Benjamin Nelson

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My Perfect One – SoS Saturday 

But my dove, my perfect one, is unique:
She is her mother’s only daughter;
She is the pure child of the one who bore her.

Song of Songs 6:9 NASB

The Shepherd King calls His maiden, His bride, My perfect one.

Jesus our good Shepherd, the King of Kings calls His bride, My perfect one.

You look in the mirror and say,

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, to save a wretch like me.”
He says, “Look again!”

You say, “I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.”
He says, “Look again!”

You say, “I’m not worthy to tie the laces of His sandals.”
He says, “Look again!

You are my dove, My perfect one.

He says:

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement – Colossians 2:18 NASB

(yep – that’s what it says)

Perfect: Hebrew – ‘tam’

  • Complete
  • Perfect
  • One who lacks nothing in physical strength, beauty, etc
  • Sound, wholesome
  • Complete, morally innocent, having integrity
  • One who is morally and ethically pure

Perfect:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. – Colossians 2:13-14 NASB

[I have to say – that verse takes my breath away!]

Perfect:

Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Savior,
be glory and majesty, dominion and power,
both now and ever.
Amen.

Jude 1:24-25 KJV

My dove, My perfect one…

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

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But That’s Impossible!

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The Word of God tells us we serve a God for whom nothing is impossible.

‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, – Jeremiah 32:17

In three of the gospels Jesus says similar things:

And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:27

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37

But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

Notice, in each of these instances the phrase the translators chose is “with God” rather than the Jeremiah passage where it’s translated “for You (God)”

I often hear folks pray for the impossible in a more or less resigned manner. It’s almost as if we pray for the impossible, but really don’t expect God is in the mood to stir up all that – what – Godness? – power to pull off this amazing feat.

Our perception of God’s ability to do the impossible seems grounded in the mythology of Greek and Roman God’s who were moody, and mostly just humans with super powers.

So we pray (ok this may be a little exaggerated – but it’s just for emphasis.)

“Lord, I know you are the God of the impossible, and nothing is too difficult for you, so will you please ___________________.”

Yesterday, I was reading Mark Shields blog, “Nothing will be Impossible,” and the verse he quotes at the end really struck me.

And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” – Matthew 17:20

Do you see the difference?

It’s really not different. Remember, Jesus told us in each of those other verses that nothing is impossible WITH God, only this time He switched it up.

Let’s just mash it all together and say

Nothing is impossible for YOU with GOD.

In this Matthew 17 passage, Jesus is talking about the power of faith.

Let me take you one step further – do you have 2 more minutes?

In Hebrews 11, God’s wonderful “Hall of Faith” the writer lists the heroes of faith and their faith exploits, the impossible stuff they did because they had that mustard seed sized faith.

Most of our heroes of faith gain that distinction because of the impossible obedience they walked in, not because of their amazing exploits.

  • Able offered a sacrifice
  • Enoch walked with God
  • Noah built and Ark
  • Abraham obeyed God
  • Sarah conceived a son in her old age (ok – there’s a miracle)
  • Moses refused nobility, took the reproach of His people, left Egypt, kept the Passover, passed through the Red Sea (ok – there’s another one)
  • Do you see where I am going with this.

The most impossible thing we are called to do is live a life filled “WITH God.”

What impossible thing is God asking you to do today?

Perhaps the impossible for you is loving your kid today.

Maybe God is asking you to serve your spouse.

Is God asking you to tell the truth, take responsibility, for something you did or something you should have done?

Or maybe it’s just telling someone about Jesus, and what He’s done in your life.

OK – get ready for the main point:

Nothing will be impossible for YOU (with God.) [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by,

Go and do that impossible thing.

Ben

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Christian Nation?

Originally posted on Comments on Christianity:

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By Benjamin Nelson

Every once in a while I get an email, or see a post on social media bemoaning the fact that our Christian nation is losing its moral compass. Christian America is being over run by this religion or that. I have heard it said dozens – hundreds of times – that our founding fathers envisioned a Christian nation.

I have two problems with this train of thought.

Christian is a Noun

First, I dislike the word Christian when used as an adjective. The NOUN Christian describes a person in whom the Spirit of the Living God has taken up residence. To be a Christian, means that the very God who spoke the universe into being, has breathed the breath of life into your spiritually dead soul. That Breath – that Spirit that entered you is His Spirit. A Christian is a creature much like any other man…

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Caught in the Act!

John 8 has my attention again:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him,

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”

John 8:3-5 NASB

Let’s look at what the Law of Moses says:

‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. – Leviticus 20:10 NASB

And again:

“If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. – Deuteronomy 22:22 NASB

Interesting to me that both of the above references begin with “If … a man…”

Oh yes – they both are guilty – they both must die.

Caught in the act?

Where’s the man?

Coward!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon

Ben

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The Striking Beauty of Mature Christianity ~ SoS Saturday

Many Waters - SoS header

So ladies – you just spent the last hour and a half getting ready to head out on a date with your honey, and when he feasts his eyes on you the first words out of his mouth are:

Your hair reminds me of a herd of goats.

But that’s where the Shepherd King goes with our maiden, and not for the first time. As I mentioned last week, these same declarations of her beauty (yes – goat hair is beautiful – you’ll see) are a repeat from Chapter 4, then in anticipation, now in realization.

Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.

Song of Songs 6:5 NASB

Hair

What is the Lord saying of His bride?

Long flowing hair speaks of dedication or devotion. We gather this from both Old and New Testament. In the Old we read of the Nazarites who would not cut their hair during their times of dedication to the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul, talking about coverings, says that the woman’s long hair indicates that she has a covering in her husband. So it is with our Shulamite. Her long flowing hair points to the covering she has in her Groom.

But Ben, what about the goats.

Well, I wonder if you knew that the Bible says they are:

There are three things which are stately in their march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
The lion which is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king when his army is with him.

Proverbs 30:29-31 NASB

Now, I personally might have gone with the lion, but in any case this devotion we see in her hair is not just beautiful, but it is orderly and disciplined – stately!

Why Gilead? Gilead was a place of plenty, and great place to raise your herds. (See Numbers 32) Beauty was not seen, as it often is depicted today, in the gaunt and emaciated. Rather beauty was well fed at the table or her Lord and under His banner of love.

Teeth

Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

Song of Songs 6:6 NASB

My dear, what big teeth you have… The better to … feed on your word.

Much is said about her mouth in the Song, mouth, lips, tongue and teeth. Some of it relates to her words, her praise, her testimony. But when He speaks of her teeth, it is her ability to eat what is put before her.

If we are honest, we would say, not everything the Lord speaks strikes us as honey to our souls at first bite.

Remember how one minute Peter was on top of the world with Jesus patting him on the back and saying He was getting ready to build His church on the very idea Peter just opened up. The next thing Peter knew he was rebuking the Lord, and Jesus was calling him satan (or at least it must have felt that way to him.)

Perhaps he was a maiden with out twin teeth – top one was right in place, but it had no twin to meet it on the bottom.

She has demonstrated great maturity by coming through the valley time with praise on her lips, and desire for only Him. She said “yes Lord” to the good stuff and the hard stuff.

Temples

Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

Song of Songs 6:7 NASB

Finally, He remarks about her temples or cheeks. She is flushed in His presence. She is passionate for Him. Her desire for Him reddens her countenance.

Jesus loves passion in His bride. In fact he would rather have you completely cold to Him than for you declare yourself for Him and then live half-heartedly toward Him.

Welcome to Spewsville, population … (oh my)

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.Revelation 3:15-16 NASB

And notice one final thing today.

Behind your veil.

Her beauty, her devotion, her hunger, her passion, flow from the secret place, behind the veil.

Oh Saints. (oh Ben) will you give yourself to Him in the secret place today? Tomorrow? All your (my) tomorrows?

BenThanks for stopping by today.

You’re a blessing.

Ben

 

 

 

 

 

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My prayer today…

And even when I am old and gray,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to all who are to come.

Amen

Psalms 71:18 NASB

Ben NelsonThanks for looking in,

See you again soon

Ben

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