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5

The King hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. (Song Of Songs 1:4 KJV)

Today we see our first brush with intimacy between our Maiden and the King.

Out of a nation of women, the Shulamite catches the eye of the King, and He invites her into His chambers. The courtship is ON!

Just to be clear, marriage is a few chapters off, but here she gets the first taste of one on one interaction with the King. Up till now, she gazed at him from afar, but today they make the first moves toward relationship.

Picture a boy who grew up in the faith. He knows the Sunday School stories, perhaps he walked through a confirmation process in his youth. Jesus holds the place of a far off hero, a long ago superstar. Suddenly he encounters Him, perhaps during worship, or his time in the Word—a poignant moment in a sermon. A phrase jumps off the page—a lyric stirs his heart. He gets a glimpse of the beauty of holiness and he's ruined for anything else.

How can we keep this from being a one-time infatuation?

How can we avoid the persistent press of time separating our hearts from His?

She, our Shulamite, faces this question and the Song gives us three ways to keep our relationship with the Lord fresh while we live life in the midst of a world tugging for our attention.

Be Glad – The satisfied soul carries you a long way through the times of separation from  King's chamber. Gladness—joy stands as one of the most powerful forces in life. The presence of the Lord—a visit to the chambers of the Lover of our Souls—stirs up joy. (In His presence is fullness of Joy! Ps 16:11.) Joy creates strength as we step out of the chamber. (The joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah 8:10.) We move from the place of intimacy into the chaos of life with renewed strength fortified by enduring joy.

Rejoice – A worshiping soul refreshes your spirit as the sense of fullness fades. Rejoicing—Praise and Worship—draws the presence of the Lord. When we do not feel or sense His nearness. Worship will call to the surface the resident Spirit of God in us. (God inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3)

Remember – A thankful remembrance of His words of love and acts of compassion in our lives will hold us for ages. In fact, as we rehearse our testimonies, it stirs up our faith and ignites our expectation for His next act on our behalf. The recounting of a testimony is the seedbed for our next miracle. [Tweet This]

These 3 postures can take us through the “dry” times and hasten the return of the springtime. They will hold us fast to our Savior, even when we are in the valley of apparent separation.

Thanks for coming by this week.

See you next week

Ben

2

Draw me after you and let us run together! (Song of Songs 1:4 NASB)

Today's verse gives us the outline of the Song of Songs. We'll find it is also a broad-stroke of God's plan for the Christian life and our walk with the Lord. We will come back to this idea over and over again as we study this wonderful Song.

What we have is our maiden's two-part heart cry.

"Draw me." I long to be with You in intimacy, Lord.

"Let us run." I desire to move in ministry with you, Lord.

But there are times when we mess this up in the church.

Have you ever seen this happen?

A young man or woman is wonderfully touched by the awesome love of the Savior and begins to come to church. They are so completely engrossed with worship and would do anything for the object of their love.

They so want to please the Lord that they “report for duty.” They volunteer for everything. They are there every time the church opens its doors.

We put them to work gladly and work they do, but soon the zeal begins to fade.

But WHY?

We have shut down a critical area of the Lord’s work in a life. We do this all too often.

Don’t get me wrong here. I've been in church leadership. I know too well that getting people involved can be a challenge. Getting folks to chip in and join the workforce is not easy.

By the same token, we are going to see in dramatic detail how this works itself out in the life of the Shulamite. We'll observe how this strategy fails in her life in the first part of the Song.

Here’s the thing.

In God’s economy Intimacy begets Productivity, but there is a gestation period. As in the natural, so in the spiritual. [tweet this]

Fruitful life is intended to flow as a matter of course out of intimacy.

  • Infatuation
  • Passion
  • Intimacy
  • Gestation
  • Birth
  • Productivity

And this is the pattern for a healthy, burnout proof, long life of ministry. We must not short-circuit the romance phase.

When we push people into ministry too soon, we can inhibit their ability to continue to return to intimacy, and they will face burnout. Intimacy refreshes, and when we elevate ministry over worship, we cripple the ability of our ministers to be refreshed and refueled.

We must also be careful not to judge others by the season we are in. We may be in a season of worship, and we can look at the worker bees and think – they just don’t get it, while at the same time the worker bees are thinking that the worshipers are no earthly good.

Both Wrong – God’s work in us takes time, and seasons are the way He works.

Perhaps you're feeling burnt out in ministry.  Maybe it's time to call out to the Lord, Draw me.

Are you sensing a restlessness in your soul to do more? Perhaps your cry needs to be, Let us run.

I hope this helps

See you next week

Ben

7

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

The great hymn writer Charles Wesley wrote these anointed words, first published in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1740. This is one of 19 stanzas to the work we now call O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing.

These lines flooded my mind the other day during prayer. These words pack so much truth—revelation—about the power of Christ's finished work on the cross.

Often we look at the cross and consider it a solution to one problem. We think that the one and only thing that happened on the cross was the forgiveness of our sin.

Jesus forgave our sins—Hallelujah!

There is more—much more!

He broke its power.

What power?

Sin’s power to immobilize us—to paralyze us in a fog of spiritual apathy—broken.

Sin’s power to keep us from prayer—broken.

Sin’s power to keep us from fellowship—isolation—broken.

Sin’s power to keep us from ministry—broken.

Sin’s power of addiction—broken.

Sin’s power to cause shame—broken.

All the lies satan would have us believe about ourselves, how we’ve been ruined for God’s use, stand exposed before us as we embrace the cross of Christ. [TweetThis]

And yet, though there is no longer power in sin’s lies, many believe them, standing forgiven yet disempowered for life in the Kingdom of God.

The cross bought us the freedom from every chain with which sin bound us. We are raised with Christ in newness of life, to walk as He walked:

Unhindered by guilt

Unshackled from shame

Unmoved by satan’s lies

Unashamed to take up the banner of Christ’s love and carry it to the world that lies captive still to the broken power of sin.

Let’s rise up this day and shake off the broken chains that hold us back, and go forward into battle.

As I write these words, I picture a World War II liberation force marching into Nazi death camps and flinging open the gates, with the wonderful news—the war is over and you are free.

Hallelujah!

Thanks for coming by,

Shine where you're screwed in,

Ben

4

be-strong-courageous

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.”[b] 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.  1 kings 18

 

We’ve got to get ready in the simple every day parts of our lives.  If you want fire in your life you don’t just go “boom here I am, I’m ready” – you prepare.

The amazing encounter with God, the fire falling on the altar came after the altar was rebuilt, after the trench was dug, after the wood was cut and after the ox was prepared.  All of these elements take work.  Digging.  Building.  Hard Labour.   Elijah had to prepare for the fire to come.

Paul puts it like this – fan into flame.  Press on.  Run the race.

Chop the wood.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Go to church.   Serve.  Give.  Worship.

Do the everyday things to make your life an altar for the fire to fall.

Chopping the wood takes time, effort, and consistency.  It is often done in the unseen places, in private preparation.  [To read the rest of the post head over to One Passion One Devotion]

4

Have you heard the song out of Bethel Music called Spirit Move? Written by Kalley Heiligenthal, Amanda Cook, and Brian Johnson, its words caught my attention.

The chorus goes like this.

We are fixed on this one thing

To know Your goodness and see Your glory

We’re transformed by this one thing

To know Your presence and see Your beauty

I found my spirit in love with this song, but my mind resisting it.

Do you know what I mean?

My spirit told my mind, it’s OK, but my mind kept saying, but… but… but…

You see, my mind went to Romans 12:2, a verse that took hold of me about a decade ago, and has not yet let go.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2 NASB

God spoke to me directly about this verse. He taught me that if did not look like Jesus it was because my mind needed to be enlightened. And more than that, if I wanted to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus, I would need to stop believing some lies. He showed me that, to the extent that I was not like Jesus, I would have to change what I believed and thought. That was the path to true transformation.

So my mind tripped over the second couplet in this chorus.

We’re transformed by this one thing

To know Your presence and see Your beauty

It kept shouting - we’re not transformed by the presence, we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds.

You see, my mind wanted control of all transformational activity. Ben, it told me, if you are going to be transformed, you’ll have to study and learn, and feed ME! I want INFORMATION and I’ll get you looking just like Jesus.

For the record, that is not how the revelation came a decade back. It was not a food fest for my brain. It was a sweet revelation that I didn’t—couldn’t be walking with perfect theology, because I didn’t look much like Christ.

Tonight I was reminded of a revelation that God blessed me with nearly three decades ago. I still remember it, because I was in the back yard raking leaves. God started to speak to me about this very well know passage in 1 John.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. - 1 John 3:2 NASB

The revelation that struck amidst the fall leaves was simple.

When we see Jesus, we become like Him.

There it is again. Transformation. But this time it’s not mind, it’s vision.

God spoke to my heart that day if you can see Me you’ll be transformed into my image.

Today, on my ride home from work, God spoke once again. These are not two separate means of growth. It the same thing.

Think again of Isaiah and his encounter in the throne room. (Isaiah 6) His mind was renewed as he saw the beauty and magnificence of the Lord. His vision of holiness completely renewed his mind. When He heard the voice of the Lord, his will was conformed to the Lord’s. When he pressed into the presence of the Father, he found himself acutely aware of his shortcomings and in complete agreement with His will.

He was transformed by this one thing - knowing His presence and seeing His beauty.

So my spirit was right, and my mind has relaxed, and now I can fully embrace this wonderful worship song.

With no further ado,

Spirit Move

Written by Kalley Heiligenthal, Amanda Cook, and Brian Johnson

Verse 1
I feel it in my bones You’re about to move
I feel it in the wind You’re about to ride in
You said that You would pour Your Spirit out
You said that You would fall on sons and daughters

Pre-Chorus
So like the rain come drench us in love
Let Your glory rush in like a flood

Chorus
We are fixed on this one thing
To know Your goodness and see Your glory
We’re transformed by this one thing
To know Your presence and see Your beauty

Verse 2
I can see it now Your kingdom come
I can hear it now the sounds of Heaven
You said that if we ask we’ll receive
We are asking for the greater measure

Pre-Chorus 2
So like the rain come drench us in love
Let Your power rush in like a flood

Bridge
So come and blow on through
Spirit move, we’re ready for You
To come and blow on through
Come and do what only You can do


Thanks to Bethel Music for these lyrics.

Thank you for stopping in today.

Shine where you're screwed in,

Ben

10

How do you define worship?

I know how I use the word most often. Usually, when I use worship in a sentence, I’m talking about the twenty minutes to an hour (depending on what church you attend) of singing at the beginning of the service. After all, the people who stand before us are called worship leaders, or worship pastors. So what they are leading us into must be worship.

Or perhaps it’s the entire Sunday morning event. Church. (Yes, we should talk about that word too, I suppose.)

But I have another idea.

But first a picture:

In Isaiah 6 we get a glimpse of the throne room of God.

We see the six-winged creatures.

We hear their fearful and wonderful voices calling,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” - Isaiah 6:3

We smell the smoke as it fills the temple.

We feel the floor beneath us tremble as they cry out.

Then, we see Isaiah, one of the LORD of host's own prophets, lying on his face on the trembling floor. He too is trembling.

Then he speaks,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." - Isaiah 6:5

Now, one of those terrifying six-winged creatures, reaches into the fire burning on the altar before the Lord, and, using tongs, selects a burning coal. He places it in his magnificent hand and touches it to the lips of the broken man lying on his face before the Lord.

Strangely neither the winged creature nor the prophet seem hurt by this burning coal. The truth is, this fire-brand is an agent of healing and restoration for the man. The fire consumes only the dross, the rubbish, and leaves the man with a vision, with a testimony. A man ready to serve.

The next thing we hear is the voice of the Father of Creation Himself. The coal given up by the altar broke through the silent ceiling of heaven, that veil of brass that makes us feel like we’re talking to ourselves. Now Isaiah can hear the voice of the Lord, the voice He longs to hear.

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" - Isaiah 6:8

Now—pay attention to what happens next. It is the answer to our question. The next moments from the life of Isaiah define worship. He answers the Lord’s question,

"Here am I. Send me!" - Isaiah 6:8 NASB

In my mind, he first whispers it, testing to see if his voice still works after the coal's effect on his lips. He then repeats it, a bit louder. And finally, he calls out in full voice,

“Here am I. Send me!”

There it is—worship. Did you see it?

Paul did.

He defines worship for us in opening lines of Romans 12. After eleven chapters of talking to us about deep spiritual truth, Paul turns his letter to the Roman church to practical matters. He begins to address how we should live in light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. - Romans 12:1

We like to separate what we do with our bodies in the physical world from what we do with our hearts in the spiritual realm.

Nope—Can’t do it.

Isaiah learned that his spiritual act of worship before the actual throne of God involved what he would do for the rest of his days. He would serve the Lord of hosts as His messenger.

“Here am I, send me,” is the greatest worship cry the world has ever known.

It is, after all, the response of Jesus, to the Father’s call, too.

Jesus, who embodies the fullness of the Godhead, stepped into time as an act of worship in response to the call of His Father.

So today, my prayer is,

Lord, touch my lips, burn the mess out of me, and send me.

Join me?

Thanks,

Ben

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

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