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"Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, For the sun has burned me."  - Song of Songs 1:6 NASB

There are three books in our Bible attributed to Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. We know the Song is a love story, but Ecclesiastes is the musings of a man frustrated by the futility of life. In it, he uses the phrase "under the sun" twenty-seven times, in the NASB.

Solomon uses "under the sun" to mean "in this life," and throughout the book, it's a look at the natural life.

Where Ecclesiastes comes across as a huge "why bother" toward life in the natural, Song of Songs demonstrates that life in the Spirit sets a purpose in our hearts and a love for life and ministry.

Paul echoes Solomon's disparity in Romans 7.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. - Romans 7:21-25 NASB

And this is where we find our Maiden this morning. Right at the end of Romans 7.

Don't look at me. I'm ashamed of what I have become in my life "under the sun." Life directed by my old man, my lower nature, has left its mark on me. If you stare at me, I'm afraid it's all you will see. I'm marred by the sun.

When Adam and Eve surrendered to the will of the evil one, their first move was to cover up, and next, to hide.

LIfe lived in the shadow of shame leaves us hiding from the Holy.

It takes courage, and the call of the Spirit on our lives to cry out with David,

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. - Psalm 139:23-24 NASB

We'll get there, but today, we're hiding in the bushes.

Lord, we need to hear Your voice today, reassuring us that You are willing and powerful enough to heal the damage done by a life lived "under the sun."

Thanks for stopping by today.

God is able!

Ben

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It all starts in creation. Sabbath starts when time starts. Before creation, no time, no Sabbath, with the beginning of counting days, we begin marking Sabbaths.

As I mentioned last week, I have been reading a book by Rabbi Daniel Lapin called “Thou Shall Prosper.” It is a business book, but he makes some fascinating observations about the way the orthodox Jew reads and understands scripture.

He makes this awesome point that God’s rest in creation was not a reaction to the hard work of creation, but the culmination of it. He had the Sabbath in mind before He began to create. In Rabbi Lapin’s words, Sabbath was last in creation, but first in thought. It was the goal of creation, not a reaction to it.

That said, what I want to do today is simply share some OT scriptures and briefly highlight some points.

By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. - Genesis 2:2-3

Completed:

I can hear God’s voice saying “It is finished.” But creation is not a painting that will hang on a wall, or sit in an attic. Rather, it is a living, breathing, spinning, glowing, growing, whirling, orbiting, procreating, extravaganza. And when God sits and rests, He is not folding arms across chest, He is interacting with, breathing life into, speaking to, and singing over it with all His considerable heart.

Rested:

This word “rested” is the root word for the Hebrew “Sabbath.” That is basically the topic for the week, so I won't dwell on this sub-point.

Blessed:

Then He blessed the Sabbath – oh how I love the word blessed! You can see just a few verses earlier that God’s blessing is more than a happy wish.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." - Genesis 1:27-28

As you can see God’s blessing, as I have said before carries with it assignment, authority and ability. God gave Adam and Eve something to do, He gave them the right, the dominion to carry out His instructions and He gave the ability to carry it out. To read more check out “The Three ‘A’s of Blessing.”

So what has He assigned, authorized, and enabled the Sabbath to accomplish? Think on that for a while! Perhaps we can tackle that one on Friday Q&A.

Sanctified:

Next thing to notice is that He sanctified it. He made it holy. He set it apart. He made it district from all other days. Again from the book “Thou Shall Prosper” Rabbi Daniel Lapin says (which I have confirmed here) that in Hebrew, week days do not have their own names with the exception of Sabbath. Just as in creation, they were, and are called the first day, the second day, and so on, with the exception of Sabbath, which is not call the seventh day, but is called REST.

God sanctified it, but He commanded us to keep it holy. As we will see further into the Old Testament, much of the judgment that Israel suffered was because they did not keep the Lord's Sabbath holy, but rather allowed them, these centuries of sabbaths, to be profaned. And how would one profane the Sabbath? Work. Work is the great pollution of this holy day.

Well, I guess I bit off more than I could chew. I was hoping to do the Old Testament in one day, but, in order to keep things from getting way out of control, I will come back to this tomorrow.

For today, let’s meditate on this question. What is the Sabbath commissioned to do in the life of a believer? [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonBlessings on you today

See you tomorrow.

Ben

Peaceable Kingdom - Edward Hicks

Deborah asks:

I have a question for tomorrow studying Hosea 2. Do you think that verse 18 is not only referring to the natural but also the spiritual realm of warfare?

shalom, shalom

Deborah

Wow Deborah!

What a great question.

I have to say, as I have said before, I am not a scholar by any means.

Here is the text Deborah is asking about – with a little bit extra on either side.

And it will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky, And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, ~ Hosea 2:16-19

When I read this, I am thinking we are talking as yet unfulfilled prophecy. This is not something that I believe has come to pass as yet.

The Lord is pointing to a day in the future. What is sometimes called the Peaceable kingdom.

So Deborah’s question is does this mean actual animals at peace with one another, some cessation of spiritual warfare, or I might add a third choice – both.

Generally speaking I don’t hold strongly to any one view of end times at this point. I have just not studied it enough to be convinced one way or another. Actually, my problem may be the opposite of that. I was convinced, and then I studied from a different point of view and was convinced again – and then --- well you get the idea. There are many ways to read these scriptures.

So will there be a time in heaven or on earth when wars will cease and animals will get along.

Yep, I believe so.

I get the sense that was the case in the garden with Adam and Eve, which was an expression of a time with men and no sin. There was however that old serpent even then, stirring things up.

There are other accounts (2 in Isaiah – Ch 11 and 65) where the animals are getting along.

I love that this talk of peace is sandwiched in bridal language – Vs 16 – you will call me man not master – or perhaps  - husband not master. And in vs 19 – I will betroth you to me forever.

One more thing for you all to ponder. I am a firm believer in breaking through dispensations.

What I mean by breaking through dispensations is doing like the Syrophonecian woman did with Jesus, where He said, "I can’t heal the gentile dog because at this time I am here for the Jews." (really loose paraphrase therefore not in red)

She was like – I want it now – I can’t wait for the cross – my daughter is going to kill herself before that – and she would not take no for an answer.

How is it with you. Are you hoping for a day of peace? Spiritual – Natural – Political? Pull it forward – press in – Ask Seek Knock and not just a little. Knock for all our are worth.

Ben NelsonHappy Friday

Have a great day

Ben

As the 3rd installment in my look at “Thy will be done” (Matt 6:10) I wanted to run one more idea past you. Many time I hear Christians talk as though the fact that you are in a circumstance means that it is God’s will for your life.

This is actually a form of fatalism that can actually disable your ability to get out of your current situation. How so you ask?

Well, think about this for a minute. If you think you are in your current place because God has for-ordained it, you are much less likely to fight for a way out.

We have to stop getting our theology from Doris Day! [Tweet This]
[Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – more accurately Ray Evans who wrote the lyrics to this song Doris Day was famous for singing in the late 50’s.]

Christianity is not a system of fatalism, where God orchestrates every detail, and everything that ever happens, happens for a reason, and is intended for your long-term benefit. That is not what Romans 8:28 says, nor does 1 Thessalonians say be thankful for everything. Let’s look at what these verses actually say:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

The promise above has to do with God’s ability to take every thing that life throws at you and mold those crazy ingredients into an amazing package. (like an amazing cosmic episode of “Chopped”)

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

Here again, the exhortation is not to be thankful for everything, but in everything.

I heard a preacher say once (I don’t know the name of the preacher, but what he said helped me a lot understanding God’s foreknowledge) that God knows the outcome of every possible choice you could ever make. This is why nothing ever takes Him by surprise, and yet you still have choice, and still have the ability to get outside of God’s will.

It is clear in scripture that not everything that happens is the will of God. Adam and Eve sinned – not God’s will – in fact it was exactly the opposite of God’s will. God had a plan in place, and solved the sin problem brilliantly. In fact, the outcome of the New Covenant is a better life for us than what Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. [Tweet This]

Let that sink in for a minute. Do you realize that God’s intention for a born again, blood bought child of God is actually better than that of Adam and Eve. God is no longer meeting us in the cool of the day, He is living inside! This new covenant ROCKS!!!!!

I am starting to ramble – Back to the point.

Don’t live and pray like the crappy circumstances you are in are God’s plan for your life. Here are 3 steps to a better life for you.

  1. Get up close to God through His word, Prayer and Worship
  2. Let Him set fresh desires in your heart
  3. Start doing everything in your power to coöperate with what God shows you.

That’s it. Don’t just live with the circumstance you are in. Cooperate with God and connect with His will for your life. You may not find your circumstances change, but it sure will be better with God engaged.

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

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