Skip to content

3

"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." - Luke 1:45 NASB

Mary was pregnant. She was not yet married. The baby was not the product of her relationship with her betrothed.

That’s the world’s take.

Elizabeth, who now knew first hand what God could do, saw it differently.

"You are blessed, my dear cousin."

Blessed!

We have, out of the mouth of Elizabeth and 9th Beatitude.

Blessed are you when you believe that God will do what He said He would.

Earlier in Luke 1, the angel told Mary,

"For nothing will be impossible with God." - Luke 1:37 NASB

Mary believed.

Mary received this massive blessing.

Note-The blessing probably didn’t feel like such a blessing at times. But we step back now and see what a huge privilege it was for her to carry and care for God’s own Son.

Can you believe that God will do what He said He would?

Your Blessed in believing, and you will be blessed, carrying whatever seeming burden comes with the blessing because God is in it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Come back soon.

Ben

1

Check out this great post about the power of our words by my friend Ginny Wilcox.

 

Speak the word only

ROMANS 4:17

‘…even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”

Words have impact and power in our lives…

We all confess this to be true, but do we really believe it, do our lives reflect it? What about our prayers; are they prayers filled with item after item of what is wrong with a situation, begging God to hear our prayers and fix everything?

What about those words we choose when we speak to God, do they not have impact and power? (Positively or negatively) ... (Read more here.)

3

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? - Matthew 7:9 ESV

There was a day when if you wanted to relate to the Lord God, your only choice was the law written in stone, but that was not God’s original intent. God was looking for relationship—friendship.

In Exodus, God hands His chosen people His Word—laws written in stone. The people send word to Him (because they would not—could not—address Him directly) that they would obey everything He told them to do.

All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. - Exodus 19:8 ESV

But from the beginning, it was not so.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" - Genesis 3:8-9 ESV

I infer from this it was the norm for YHWH (in the form of a man, that would be Jesus—see Philippians 2:7-8,) Adam, and Eve to walk together in the cool of the day and commune—like friends.

But by the time we get to Israel and their exodus from Egypt, man is too awed by this miracle working God of wonders to think in terms of friendship. They can only imagine a Master/slave relationship with this God of plagues and miracles.

Master/slave works okay, but it’s not God’s best. His idea was a walk in the garden. Jesus demonstrates this as He often heads to a garden or other quiet place to be this His Father. Solomon wrote about it in the Song of Songs. (4:16-5:1)

God’s original plan is not the law of stone, an external law imposed upon us. He desires an internal relationship with His people. Bread, eaten by His beloved children, becoming part of us. The Word of God made flesh—the Bread of Life, broken for us, and eaten as a simple demonstration that God has come into us, He longs to be part of us, one with us.

The law God wants for us is not an external, hard, cold lump of stone. His holy law of love has to become part of us—written on our hearts—energized by His Spirit. A law that is so ingrained in us that our greatest desire is to walk in that simple law of love.

"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. - Ezekiel 36:26-27 NASB

Do you see it?

Lord, today, I ask you for bread, and for a heart of flesh where you can write Your law—Your love—with Your finger, Your love for me and for those I touch today.

Thanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon,

Ben

6

I want to see with God’s eyes.
 
This is especially true when it comes to how He views the people around me. In God’s economy, people comprise the main treasure. All the stuff we find ourselves running after amounts to so much flotsam and jetsam.
 
Perhaps you, like me, forget this from time to time. We shift our focus from seeking and saving the lost, like Jesus, to using people to gain those things we yearn for. The fame or fortune we grasp for, in the end, mean nothing, while the people we used or ignored to get there, were the ones we were sent to touch.
 
They need an encounter with Jesus, and we use them for our own advancement.
 
They have broken hearts and crushed dreams and we see only how they can be part of our plan for profit.
 
We like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day hate people unless we can use them to build their own kingdoms.
 
Luke 15 contains three of the most well-known parables Jesus ever told; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost (prodigal) son. But the context is set with these two quick verses.
 
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them. - Luke 15:1-2
 
Though there is a ton of meat we could glean from these three parables, and there are plenty of life applications we can draw from each. But today, I find it interesting that they each end, in the same way, with Rejoicing.
 
[7] I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
 
[10] In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
 
[32] But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found. - Luke 15:7, 10, 32
 
When Jesus looked at the lowest of the low, He saw His Father’s business, God’s highest priority.
 
In the context of the whole teaching, He looked past the current life of these tax collectors, these “sinners.” He saw rejoicing in heaven over their repentance. He found no pleasure in where they were but looked at the potential party in heaven.
 
Some preaching today finds these their place in flames and wrath. Jesus looked at their potential for heaven. He saw what the Father created them for. That is what He spoke into.
 
The writer of the book of Hebrews says this:
 
… who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, … Hebrews 12:2
 
His entire life was given to this one task.
 
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. - Luke 19:10
 
He chose every word for its value in drawing prodigals home.
 
He looked at every person He met and envisioned the party in heaven. He saw the potential for a life filled with joy in the kingdom of heaven for each sinner He engaged.
 
Not so much for me.
 
I curse bad drivers, hang up on telemarketers, manipulate those I’m buying from, and pressure those I’m selling to. I walk past the homeless as if they don’t exist. I fear those I don’t understand. I think the worst of a man or woman based on his or her appearance, clothing, style choices or mannerisms. I do what I can to curry favor with those who can offer me advancement. I do it in business with those who can make me look good.
 
I even do this in the church. I live in ways that will make me look more spiritual. I choose my words and topics so that I seem to be the most godly, while at the same time ignoring the person obviously hurting in the pew beside me. I rub shoulders with those who can promote my agenda, while letting the visitors, seeking a touch from God, slip away unnoticed, and untouched.
 
Lord, I DO want to see with your eyes. I pray that your priorities would become mine and I would appraise with your value system. God forgive my indifference to those you treasure and give me a heart that loves without worrying about my reward.
Glad you stopped by.
See you again soon,
Ben

“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.” (Song of Songs 1:10 NASB)

We are eaves dropping on a bit of romance these days on SoS Saturday. We are listening in as the Shepherd King describes His maiden fair. Last week we heard Him tell her of how He loved her cheeks as they expressed the depth of her emotion and passion for Him.

Today we overhear His musings about her neck.

So how is it with our maiden? Anytime He is in the room, she turns to see Him, to look Him over, to see what He is doing and with whom He is talking.

Her neck is a compass turning her head—her attention—ever northward—toward her King.

The neck is our most vulnerable feature. Exposing your neck to another is a sign of trust and submission. I trust you not to exploit this weakness, and I submit to your will and ability to rule me.

There is a phrase used in the older translations of the Bible, which means obstinate—stiff-necked. It is a neck that is unbending, immovable, unyielding.

So, you see, when the Shepherd King speaks of the maiden's neck He speaks of her will and submission.

When Jesus looks at us, He considers our neck.

How is your neck? Are you quick to turn toward the sound of His voice? Are you moved by His call on your life? Do you drop those things that would offend Him when your conscience whispers “No”?

Or does Jesus have to battle to get your attention? Are you slow to turn from your own way? Does your heart cry out the anti-Gethsemane prayer – Not Your will but mine!

There is another lesson in the neck though.

Victory is in the turning.

Often, when we Christians do our spiritual accounting, we only count victory as having complete dominance over our sin. I am only victorious in a battle with sin when I no longer even think of committing it.

This could not be further from the truth.

God is pleased with the turn of our neck toward Him. He knows it is a process we must walk through. He understands the weakness of our flesh.

Hey—He throws a party the day you decide to follow Him, at your very first turning. And every turn you make in submission to Him, even a small turn, pleases Him.

He knows your current struggle and sees your desire to be free and follow Him in that area. He is cheering for you! He hurts with you when you fall and fail. He is there to draw you once again.

Don’t give up in your struggles to live a godly life. I promise He has not given up on you.

Hope that helps

See you next week.

Ben

In my ponderings, I ran across six of the saddest words I’ve ever read.

I found them right in the opening to the book of John.

…His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 NASB

The “Him” here, thus far, has only been identified as “The Word” and “the Light.” We’ll learn later in the first chapter that the old apostle is talking about Jesus Christ.

John establishes first that Jesus and the God of the Jews are One in the same.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. - John 1:1-2 NASB

Next, He tells us that this same Jesus, the Word, is the agency through which all things came into being, He’s the creator.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. - John 1:3 NASB

But the heartbreak comes down in verse 11.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 NASB

This creator of all things actually made a covenant with a people. He chose to reveal Himself to the Children of Israel.

He chose them

He brought them out of slavery

He established them in the land of promise

He protected them

He gave them a land and made them a people

But when He came to reveal Himself to His people

they rejected Him

they hated Him

they mocked Him

they scourged Him

they crucified Him.

There have been times when I’ve been unwilling to receive Him. Even as a child of God, even after He saved me and I received His free gift of salvation, there have been times when my heart closed up to Him. Has this ever happened to you?

He chose me

He revealed Himself to me

He delivered me from the power of sin

He blessed me with all spiritual blessings

He protected me from the punishment of sin

He joined me to a people who were not my people

And yet there are times when I don’t receive Him

When I set Him aside

When I don’t pursue Him

It is sad, isn’t it?

Lord Jesus. I am so thankful that you came, lived, and loved me/us. Forgive me and help me walk with my heart open to you today, moment by moment. I don’t want to be remembered like these you record in your Word who did not receive you, though you came to them.

You are a good, good Father, and I thank you for speaking through Your Word.

Don’t leave feeling guilty. Conviction comes from time to time to call us back to a place from which we’ve stepped away. Today is a good day to step back into the arms of the Father. He’s right there at the end of the lane, waiting with open arms. Every time we open our hearts to receive Him, He opens His arms to receive us…

…And great rejoicing ensues!!

Hallelujah!

Thanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

2

“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.” (Song of Songs 1:10 NASB)

As we look at the Shepherd King’s[i] words toward our maiden fair we are going to see Him use dozens of word pictures. Last week we looked at an example of an image from nature, this week we see Him muse about her appearance.

He will get pretty explicit as the song goes on, and I will attempt to make some sense of how it applies to the believer’s life.

Today we start with cheeks.

What good are cheeks?

Read the Cheeks!
Read the Cheeks!

They are like the emotional thermometer God has installed in each one of us. They rise and fall with our moods, and flush and pale with our passions.

Emotions are a funny thing in the church. For many years, centuries perhaps the church has frowned upon any display of emotion. I can remember as a 20 something singing a song in church where the lyrics said “I lift my hands up, unto Thy name” and looking around to see 8 hands in the air, in a room of 150 people.

We, the Church, have a limited view of God’s emotions as well. We have a God who is happy and smiling the day we repent and come to Him, and then angry with us every day after that, because we are not walking in complete submission to His will.

This is messed up.

God created us with a broad range of emotions and passions, and they are intended to bring the most out of our lives. There are ways to experience each of our God-given emotions in a way that pleases Him.

When He looks at us, our cheeks bring Him pleasure. He sees them flushed with the thrill of His presence and raised in joy and anticipation. Our passion for Him can't be hidden.

What about these ornaments?

Ornaments are adornments made for us by skilled artisans to bring out the beauty in our cheeks.

This may sound crazy, but I believe one adornment is worship. When we worship the Lord we engage our emotions, and take the skillful work of others—Poets, Songwriters, Musicians, Artists—and let it bring out the beauty in our emotion. We let our emotions do that for which they were created – bring Glory to Jesus.

Does that make sense?

I know it helps me.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you next week.

Ben


[i] For the purposes of this series the Shepherd King represents Jesus in our reading of the Song, and the maiden is the individual believer. You can see the discussion on this in my earlier post – “Interpretation - #SoS Saturdays

2

If you yourself do not know, Most beautiful among women, Go forth on the trail of the flock, And pasture your young goats By the tents of the shepherds. (Song of Songs 1:8 NASB)

When our maiden asks how to get back into a good place with Jesus, He gives a three part answer.

Last week we looked two of the 3 – the bookends.

The first is to live in community—"go forth on the trail of the flock."

The last is to have leadership in your life—"By the tents of the shepherds."

Today I want to talk about the one in the middle. I kind of stepped over it last week.

“And feed your little goats” (Song of Songs 1:8 NKJV)

medium_2470532891

As you'll remember, she got into this mess by taking on everything anyone suggested for her. Too much responsibility before she had matured enough to hold on to Jesus in the midst of it. Believe me, if you hang around the church for a bit, you will find plenty to do.

But get this, the solution is not complete abstinence from participation, not pulling back out of fellowship and ministry altogether. Not at all.

The solution is found in walking in community, submitting to godly leadership, and taking on the care and feeding of YOUR little goats.

Let’s unpack that a bit.

Where the NKJV uses the word feed, the NASB says pasture and the NIV says graze. This young Jesus Lover is not told to come up with an amazing revelation for a mature flock, but to lead the ones that the Lord has drawn to her into safe and nurturing fields where they can graze in safety.

At one time in my life, there was a brand new Christian in my workplace. She was like a wonderful sponge and would eat up anything put before her. The biggest challenge was to keep her from listening to some of the crazies on the radio and TV and get her hooked up with some good safe Bible basics.

This is exactly the method Jesus used when restoring Peter. Do you remember? Peter had failed the Lord and really felt like he had no right to be taking up any more of Jesus time. He was ashamed because he totally blew it when he denied the Lord three times at the very moment that Jesus was in big trouble.

But Jesus came to him and asked him 3 times (once for each denial?) “Do you love Me?”

Each time Peter affirmed “You know I love you”

And each time Jesus said “feed my sheep,” with slight variations.

Jesus had the same restoration advice for Peter as he did for our maiden

But here is the important thing. He does not say, “get involved, do whatever they ask of you, ” He say to care for the ones I put in your care. Our involvement must be Spirit led and directed or it will crush us every time.

We were created for works that God designed for us and designed us for. These are the only works you will be able to do well long term. [Tweet This]

So today, start saying “No” when the Spirit is not giving you a “Yes” and start feeding the little goats that the Lord has drawn to your side.

Thanks for stopping by today!

See you next week

Ben

photo credit: zaser via photopin cc

…O fairest among women... (Song of Songs 1:8 NKJV)

He speaks! Verse 8 contains the Shepherd’s first words in the Song.

MagicmirrorFairest of them all!

With all our girl is stressing over:

  • The conflict of inner and outer cleanliness
  • The abuse of her mother’s sons
  • The disrepair of her vineyard
  • Her feeling of separation

See how He addresses her.

Most beautiful among women (NASB)

He sees her as beautiful—most beautiful—the fairest of them all!

The common meaning of the word fair does not do this verse justice. If it weren’t for Snow White’s evil witch and her mirror query, most of us wouldn't even know that fair can mean beautiful.

Let me explain something amazing about Jesus here.

Heb 12:2 says that Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross. The reason Jesus went to the cross, is that He could see something about you and me that we, even today, are not seeing clearly.

You say, I am dark and beautiful, but Jesus says, I see the one My Father created unto good works. I see a completely successful, with fully realized potential, son or daughter. I saw you while you were still my enemy. I saw you when you were actively hostile toward Me. You are why I laid down my life.

Now you may not walk in your full potential, but God sees you that way. You are beautiful to Him.

raw diamondThink of the diamond cutter who sees the finished gem in the dirty rock. God can see what He created you for.

Don’t get me wrong, you will answer for what you do with all that potential, but when you turn your faces toward the Shepherd, He sees what you can be, and loves you and puts all His unlimited resources into action to get you moving toward that amazing ‘you’ that He envisions.

Turn your attention toward the Shepherd today and walk toward the ‘you’ He sees!

Remember:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NASB

There is much more to say – so come back next week.

BenDirector3CroppedYou’re beautiful

Ben

2

Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, Where do You pasture Your flock, Where do You make it lie down at noon? (Song of Songs 1:7 NASB)

Three major detractors pulled our maiden away from spiritual vitality into a kind of religious funk. She didn't like what she saw in the mirror, her elder brothers and sisters were dousing her enthusiasm and finally, her own relationship with the Lord suffered neglect. The intimacy she brushed up against in her first encounter with the Lord faded in her memory. The pull of ministry stirred by her early passion, under the pressure of her peers, caused her to step away from her first love.

Like the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, she was getting the good stuff done, but leaving ‘One Thing’ undone.

Today, she get’s it. It drives her to prayer. And check the focus of her prayer

Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, Where do You pasture Your flock, Where do You make it lie down at noon?

The fastest way to bring life back to a withering vine is to reconnect to The True Vine.

Above the din of her distress, her heart cry makes itself audible once again—I just want to know Your tender care.

Let’s walk right through it.

First – You Lord are the ONE my soul loves – she identifies herself as a Jesus Lover. She knows her life has been out of balance. But her desire for intimacy with the Lord takes back the ground her distresses gave up. Her vineyard succumbed to the chaos of nature—the old nature.

Next – Where do You pasture Your flock? I want to be where You are. I know you will care for me. I know you will help me prune my vineyard. I know time in your presence will recenter my heart and life.

Finally – Where do You make it lie down at noon? I understand a sheep will only lie down and rest in the heat of the day after it has been thoroughly fed and watered. For the sheep to lie down it must be completely satisfied!

Here Solomon inserts into this Song of Songs a throwback to his father's wonderful Psalm, the Psalm of the Shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3 NASB)

Her heart cries out for His tender and loving care.

If you're like me, the business of life and ministry can get you running so hard, you edge away from time spent with the Lord in the secret place. You see that Jesus, who faced every temptation we do, faced this pull too. When He learned of the death of John the Baptist, He longed to be alone with His Father, but the press of the crowd kept Him from immediate retreat. He pushed through ministry, not brushing anyone off, but still focussed on getting into the quiet place. (Mark 6:17-46)

Don’t let life and ministry be the undoing of your vineyard.

Call out today and tell Jesus, the Great Shepherd, that you want to be fed in the green pastures, and drink from the still waters.

BenSee you next week!

Ben

%d bloggers like this: