2

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

What is fragrance?

What does it do?

Here’s the thing. When our Song speaks of fragrance it is not talking actions. Not the visible actions of a Shepherd King, but rather the invisible features of thoughts and emotions – His passions.

When we talk about God and emotions we (the Church) have a strange box for God. We feel like God has this amazing joy when we are born again, and He spends the rest of our lives angry with us.

There is even a theological argument out there that says that God does not change so He cannot have emotions.

This is all so messed up. We are created in the image of God, emotions and all. If we learn nothing else from the Song of Songs, it is that we have an emotional Father.

There is, however, action in this verse and we don’t want to miss it. The fragrant ointment is poured forth.

Here we see the internal essence of Jesus, His thought life, His emotion, His passion, poured out by the declaration of His name. Last week we looked at His name, but today I want to draw your attention to this idea.

As His name is declared, His passion is revealed. [Tweet This]

Observe:

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-TSID-KENU  "The Lord is our righteousness" He was demonstrating His passion for transforming you into the righteousness of God in Him.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-SHALOM  - Our perfect peace - He was demonstrating His passion for creating peace between you and God as the Prince of Peace.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH RAPHA  - I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer – He was demonstrating His passion for healing you to the uttermost.

Interestingly enough Paul talks about fragrance too.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

The fact is, as our life declares by word and deed the name of Jesus, His passion is poured forth on our circle of influence, and it has an impact. It may draw some to Christ, and it may push some away. In any case, when you stand for Christ your life will no longer be neutral.

Do you need that ointment poured forth in your life today?

Do you need that healing balm, that peace that defies understanding?

Let the name of Jesus wash over you even now. Declare His name out loud over your circumstances today.

If you are sick say out loud something like “I am yours, Jehovah Rapha – the Lord who heals me”

If you are stressed instead of blessed – declare “I am yours, Jehovah Shalom”

Hey – we are not talking magic words, or secret formulae here. But there is power in the name of Jesus.

That’s good, isn’t it? Share what you learned, or what fresh revelation you received, or even what made you mad here today. Has His name poured out in your life changed your reality? Share!

Come back next week for more of the Song. Believe me, we are just scratching the surface here.

Ben

4

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14 ESV

None of us have reached the full measure of Christ as yet, agreed?

That said - Jesus was FULL of Grace and Truth.

That leaves us in one of two conditions.

Either we operate out of a graceless truth, or a truthless grace.

OK - that’s probably extreme - perhaps you’re not graceless, simply grace-challenged. Maybe you ace grace, but go easy on truth.

Much is said today about having a balanced life. But the Word does not say Jesus walked in a balance of grace and truth. It doesn’t even say he operated out of a tension between grace and truth.

He was FULL of grace and truth.

He is the greatest expression of God’s grace in history, yet His own confession was “I am the Truth.”

My simple prayer today is:

Lord, teach me to walk full of grace and truth. Fill me with Your grace. Overwhelm me with Your truth.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Keep the light on.

Ben

3

Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands. - Acts 14:3 NASB

Hmmm. What do you know about that? They Paul and Barnabas were hanging out in Iconium for an extended stay. This is one of those fun ‘therefores’ of the Word.

Why do folks do extended meetings today?

Well, sometimes it’s because the people demand more. They stay late into the night and are willing to listen to long nights of preaching, and will worship late into the night. So the organization ramps it up. Extend the meetings for another week, another month, maybe a year if the Lord continues to bless.

But if we chase this therefore back a couple verses, we’ll find the reason holding Paul and Barnabas in Iconium.

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. - Acts 14:1-2 ESV

There was fruit, and then there was opposition.

What does our enemy do when the harvest starts coming in?

He turns up the heat. He plants suspicion—lies—fear.

And was do Paul and Barnabas do?

Preach the Word and let God Himself testify!

I love  the way this verse reads:

“Therefore

they spent a long time there

speaking boldly

with reliance upon the Lord,

who was testifying

to the word of

granting that signs and wonders

be done by their hands.”

What did God do? He allowed them to do signs and wonders.

Funny. Today when I hear about God allowing something, it usually something bad.

You know. God allowed me to crash into that telephone pole so I would learn this or that.

God allowed my mother to die of cancer so…

God allowed the attack on the World Trade Center because…

God allowed…

But look what God allowed—granted—(yes - I know it’s not exactly the same word, but you see what I’m getting at here?) them signs and wonders.

Why?

It was to confirm the word they were preaching in the face of harsh opposition.

God loves to show up and take our part when the heat is on.

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

When the heat was on, God (Jesus) showed up in that furnace and granted them their freedom. The only thing that burned was their bondage—oh and their captors.

One more observation.

The signs and wonders were done by their hands. In other words. God didn’t blast a lightning bolt from the sky and do some magic. They laid their hands on the sick, or cast out demons, or multiplied the food, of shook off the snakes. They preached, then ministered the Kingdom of God in the midst of the opposition and God showed up.

And He’ll do it again today. You stand and preach and He’ll testify to your words by allowing you to do signs and wonders.

Awesome.

I’m stirring up my courage and looking for opportunities today. How ‘bout you?

Thanks for stopping by,

See you again soon.

Ben

4

Another striking passage from Handel's Messiah is this bit from Job.

"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; - Job 19:25-26 NASB

Job's book is thought to be the first scripture committed to writing, written even before Moses put down the Pentateuch. Job had lived through as much sorrow and hardship as any man before or since.

And yet...

In the end of his narrative, after all his friends have abused him and put him to shame, he makes this declaration. I know that my redeemer lives and that I will see Him.

It reminds me of David's understanding of death. When his infant son died, the product of his affair with Bathsheba, he ends his mourning, gets dress and returns to life. His time of morning was over, and his declarations was,

"But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." - 2 Samuel 12:23 NASB

These men both had a concept of a time after life when they would see their redeemer and their loved ones. They were ultimately headed to Him.

Job even understood the resurrection of the body. After my skin is gone, in my flesh I will see God.

Eternity was in their hearts, and they knew that this life of hardship and trial, is not all there was. There is more.

There is more.

This is on my mind, in part, because, this year, our Christmas celebration has two loved ones less around the table. Two dear saints have joined the cloud of witnesses and celebrate the incarnation from the other side of the veil. My mother and my father-in-law have been celebrating Jesus in person these past few months. What a glorious thought. They are not lost to me, to us. They simply stepped out of this mortal mess into a glorious life of communion with God.

And one day, when Christ returns, they will be given new bodies, functioning, fully healed and whole bodies, and renewed minds, with which to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And on that day, if not before, I will go to them, as David put it. Moreover, I will go to Him - I will see my living Redeemer face to face. In my flesh, I will see God.

Oh, Hallelujah. What a day that will be.

Do you have that assurance? You can. On Christmas we celebrate God's greatest gift to us, His Son Jesus. Let this Christmas be the day you give your life to Jesus, once and for all. It's simple, a simple act of your will. Own your own failure and surrender to Him. He says—well—here–I'll let Him tell it,

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. - John 14:23 NASB

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Blessings and Joy to all.

Ben

Psalm 100

[A Psalm of praise.]

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the LORD he is God:
it is he that hath made us,
and not we ourselves;
we are his people,
and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him,
and bless his name.

For the LORD is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:1-5 KJV

Psalm 100:1-5 KJV

I stuck with the good old KJV on this one because the words are so familiar and ignite in me worship from a deep place.

Take a minute to notice the active verbs in this psalm.

Make
Serve
Come
Know
Enter

Let's make our Thanksgiving an active and intentional demonstration of worship today and every day.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThank you for stopping by,

See you again soon,

Ben

5

When Israel found themselves in times of testing, the Lord would use those times to know the heart of His people, to see if they would keep His commands. (See Deuteronomy 8:2)

The Lord Jesus left us with one simple—not easy—command. Love.

Love the LORD your God.
Love one another.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your enemies.

We find ourselves in a time of testing today.

Our world is full of people for us to hate.

THEM, for instance.

It’s pretty standard practice to hate THEM. In fact, in the world’s eyes, you have the moral high ground if you hate THEM.

But who are THEY?

I guess it depends on where you’re standing, doesn’t it?

ISIS (ok - that’s an easy one)
The 1%
The protestors
The Donald
The Clintons
The under-educated white men of America
The Muslims
The immigrants
The police
The whites
The blacks
The browns
The gun owners

Yep - we sure can hate, especially THEM.

But the command doesn’t say don’t hate. It says love. And the love God calls us to is not some passive non-aggression. It active.

Check out the ultimate definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Love:
Is patient
Is kind
Is not jealous
Does not brag
Is not arrogant
Does not act unbecomingly
Does not seek its own
Is not provoked
Does not take into account a wrong suffered
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Rejoices with the truth
Bears all things
Believes all things
Hopes all things
Endures all things
Never fails

So let’s bring it closer to home.

What about your family? What about those closest to you, neighbors, co-workers, customers, vendors, class-mates?

Are you loving THEM?

Man, I thought that Jesus’ law was going to be easier than the Old Testament law where I had to be Kosher and do all that feasting and fasting and sacrificing.

But no. The love Jesus calls us to is a full contact sport. Unlike many of the Old Testament commands, it's not just a list of don'ts. In fact, Jesus said it this way,

"And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. - Luke 6:31 NKJV

The best definition I know for this kind of love—this agape love—is this.

Love actively seeks the best outcome for its object.

This LOVE command is a doozy!

Lord, again, I find myself in need of Your help to do Your will. Help me to be a lover, actively seeking the best for those you’ve put in my life. I can’t do it without You Lord. Help Lord.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Let’s walk in love today,

See you again soon,

Ben

4

Jesus does not save us from God!

Have you ever heard the “God of the Old Testament” pitted against the Jesus of the gospels?

It’s as if the God we learn of in the OT books is a cantankerous old man who destroys all things pleasant or happy.

It’s as if God wanted nothing more than to crush anyone who did not walk in every single statute perfectly.

It’s as if Jesus came to save us from God!

Or perhaps you think Jesus came to save us from hell. (That’s pretty much the same thing, in my book, since it’s not the devil’s hell, but God’s.)

But here is the gospel, the good news:

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21

Let’s be clear—Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. As it says in Hebrews opening gambit:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, - Hebrews 1:3

The Bible never tells us that God changed. In fact, it tells us that God is unchangeable. (1 Samuel 15:29)

It doesn’t tell us that God used to hate us, but now that Jesus came, He is OK with the human race. Nope—He’s the same today as He was yesterday and in the beginning.

What’s really awesome about this bit, is that when you look at Jesus and see the way He walked in life, you're seeing God’s heart in the flesh. There is nothing in Jesus’ ministry that is not in God the Father. And there is nothing in God the Father that Jesus didn’t carry.

When John tells us God is Love, (1 John 4:8) He’s not telling us God became love, but that the essence of God is, was and always will be love.

I know - this is all such basic stuff, but I want you to let it sink in a bit.

God the Father is a lover, who loves you with an unchanging, enduring love.

But Sin

On the other hand, sin is your enemy.

It’s sin that Jesus came to save us from.

It’s sin that breaks God the Father’s heart because it tears the object of His love away from Him.

It is sin that separates us from the one who made us and then gave His life to buy us back.

It’s sin that required a veil in the temple.

In the Garden of Eden, there was no veil. In the garden man and God walked together with no filter.

Then

Temptation entered the scene.

Sin entered.

Separation entered.

Death entered.

God the Father still wanted to walk with man, but there needed to be a veil—a barrier between us.

The bible calls Jesus that veil. The one mediator between God and man. (Hebrews 10:201 Timothy 2:5)

He came to break down that wall of separation—to save us from our sin.

Hallelujah

BenHeadshotI hope my little ramble did you good this morning (is it morning?)

Walk in the light and keep shining.

Ben

2

But they did not know that I healed them. Hosea 11:3 NASB

I was chasing down the cross reference from Matthews account of Jesus’ birth

"OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON." - Matthew 2:15 NASB

and it led me to Hosea 11.

There I found a heartbreaking story of how the Father led His children, Israel, out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt. The language is touching and tender:

I called My son.
I took them in My arms.
I taught them to walk.
I healed them.
I led them with bonds of love.
I lifted their yoke.

That last bit reminds me of the Psalm.

He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions. - Psalm 107:20 NASB

And yet, the sad truth is:

But they did not know that I healed them. - Hosea 11:3 NASB

Do we miss what God has done in our lives?

He called me His son—us His sons and daughters.

He stretched out His arms toward me.

He taught me to walk.

He saved (sozo - saved, healed, delivered, freed) me to the uttermost.

He led me with bonds of love so deep and strong it cost his very life.

He took my yoke upon Himself.

And there are days I forget that He healed me. I forget He lifted my yoke. I forget how to walk as He taught me.

Lord, heal me again. Let us walk together. May my heart and mind ring with your truth day and night. May I walk in all that you have given me and never again despise your gifts.

Esau despised his birthright.

Here's the passage:

Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. - Genesis 25:31-34 ESV

What is our birthright as born again children of the kingdom? What would it look like to despise it?

How does our heart swap expedient relief of natural needs for the eternal reward assigned to us at our second birth?

Ponder that and let's talk about it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts,

Ben

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. - 1 Samuel 16:13 ESV

Aside from a couple mentions in the book of Ruth, this is the first time we meet David in God’s Word. As I read the account in the ESV, the sentence in the middle of the verse really struck me.

“And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward.”

It got me wondering about the Hebrew word translated “rushed upon” and how it was used elsewhere.

First I looked at other translations of this same verse and found:

and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward- KJV

and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward - AMP

From that day on, the Spirit of Adonai would fall upon David with power - CJV

the Spirit of the Lord took control of David and stayed with him from then on - CEV

From that day on, the Lord’s Spirit entered David with power. - ICB

and the Spirit of the LORD prospered David from that day forward. - JUB

and the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him and gave him great power from that day onward. - TLB

The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life. MSG

and the Spirit of the Lord was directed into David from that day forth - WYC

and prosper over David doth the Spirit of Jehovah from that day and onwards - YLT

Next, I found that this word - tsalach  - is most often translated as “prospered” or “prosperous.” Often it’s translated “success” or some derivative thereof.

While we see times in the life of David when the Spirit comes upon him, like when he is playing the harp for the foul spirited King Saul, by and large, David’s life is marked by a general prosperity.

Don’t get me wrong—time and time again, he finds himself up against a wall (literally) or trapped in a cave, or besieged in his own palace. But as he sets his eyes to seeking the face of the Lord, the Lord brings success.

Sometimes, as with the lion and the bear and the giant, it does seem like mighty power. But there are times when it looks more like wisdom beyond his years, like when he spares his adversary’s life. Other times it looks like just plain courage.

Did you know that the anointing that was on David, King of Israel, is available to you? Do you realize that God wants to anoint you in such a way that the Spirit of the Lord will “rush on” you “from this day forward” too?

It may not mean that all your days will be peachy—far from it. But the Lord has promised that through all your circumstances He will take all the ugly and all the good and create your ultimate prosperity of body, soul, and spirit.

WOW - that’s good news.

If God is for us—who can be against us?

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

I hope this little word study blesses your day.

See you again soon,

Ben

Thanks to BibleGateway.com for the translations. You can see more and figure out what each translation is here.

And thanks to http://blb.sc/005F2OBlueLetterBible.org for the definitions and word count info.