2

 

There are sixty queens and eighty concubines,
And maidens without number; 

Song of Songs 6:8 

Confession time:

The temptation to skip this verse was strong because - well – queens, concubines and maidens?

I've read a few other people's comments on it, and thought about outright plagiarism – not a good choice.

So I went into that solemn place of prayer with my Father and said “What in the world?” (this is prayer number 42 in Ben's common book of prayer)

And my mind went back to community (as it is want to do.)

Look around you – who do you see in your community of faith?

See any queens?

Any like the Shulamite who have given themselves completely to the Shepherd King? Any who have taken the garden of their souls and turned them lock, stock and barrel over to the one who bought them.

Any who can say with her:

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine,
He who pastures his flock among the lilies.

Song of Songs 6:3 

These are the queens. These are those who have married their Beloved and know Him in His chambers. These are those who know Him, and allow themselves to be known of Him. To the queens, creeds are not words but passions. To the queens, worship goes on when the music stops, when the words stop, when the sun goes down and when it comes back up again.

Notice – these are few among the multitudes.

Next we see eighty concubines.

Who are these concubines? Their relationship with the Lord is much less formal. The know His deeds, but not His ways.

Psalm 103 says:

He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.

Psalms 103:7 

Moses KNEW God, Israel knew His deeds.

Jesus says to His disciples in John 15

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. - John 15:15 

Do you see the difference?

I am not here going to try to determine who is in the faith and who is out, who is saved and who is lost. I simply say, in the congregation of the righteous there are queens and there are concubines.

Finally we hear of maidens without number.

These are folks who perhaps have seen Him and loved Him after their own fashion, and from afar.

This is where our Shulamite started if you remember all the way back to the beginning.

She looked on Him from afar as a maiden without any knowledge of who He was. Then she thought Him a simple shepherd, and she knew not that He was the King. Her heart beat for Him, but He was not Her Master, Lord, King, Husband. He was simply a beautiful thought, a wish as yet unfulfilled.

The most wonderful news is that there is a path from maiden to queen! Her declaration then was: "May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.” (1:2) and her greatest two-fold wish was: "Draw me after you and let us run together!” (1:4)

Are you on the path?

Men – I get that it is uncomfortable to head toward queenship – don’t let the language keep you from the point.

As children of God we must be walking this path from acquaintance to intimacy. [Tweet This]

As the princes said in the Muppet Frog Prince “I want to quee the bean!” (translated – I want to be the queen!)

So who is in your community? Are there queens? Are there concubines? Are there maidens? Last question: Are they (we) progressing?

Ben NelsonThanks for checking in today.

Have a great weekend.

Ben

2

Stack of Bibles

It’s another red letter day, and that means Jesus is speaking today.

Jesus speaking to the “Jews” [aka – the religious leaders in Jerusalem] and He says:

You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. - John 5:38 NASB

These are men who live in the Old Testament Scriptures.

The Pharisees, as I understand it, memorized vast amounts of scripture. They would have considered themselves to be full of the words of God. They were the ones who “kept” the law in more than one sense. The likely oversaw the work of the scribes, ensuring accuracy. They committed it to memory. They strove to follow every dictate of the law, and, in fact, took the basic teachings of the law and broke it down for all to understand.

They took, for example, the law of the tithe…

Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S; it is holy to the LORD. - Leviticus 27:30 NASB

…and when their wives went into the garden and gathered up a fist full of mint, they stopped and separated a tenth for their offering to the temple.

They took the words of the Lord seriously, holding to every letter of the law.

But when they came face to face with the embodiment of God’s holy Word, they hated Him.

They were so focused on the letter of the law – how can we manage to keep every single precept – they missed the point of the law – Love the Father with everything you are and love your neighbor in the same way you care for yourself.

They were so used to looking at the back of the tapestry, they didn’t recognize the finished work of art when He walked right into their temple and began to heal and teach.

When Jesus says this – “you don’t have His word abiding in you” – He harkens back to the prophecies about the New Covenant.

"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. - Jeremiah 31:33 NASB

"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

There’s a place where I start shouting – Hallelujah!

So – what about you?

Are you a home for the Word? Does God’s Word [aka Jesus] find an abiding place – living space – in you?

BN Writers Page 150I’m glad you stopped by today.

Thanks for coming.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

I have been talking about the garden of our maiden’s soul since early January in my SoS Saturday posts. Today, I want to make mention of another bible garden. There are a few. There is of course that heaven on earth, Eden, and that hell on earth, Gethsemane. But the garden I want to speak of today is found in the book of Isaiah.

Image Credit - graphicstock.com - licensed for use
Image Credit - graphicstock.com - licensed for use

Through the prophet Isaiah, God paints a picture of a garden, a vineyard to be more precise.

Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.
He dug it (fenced it - KJV) all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;

Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.

What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?

Isaiah 5:1-4 NASB

It’s such a sad picture. When you read this, do you see an angry God, or do you see a wounded God.

I see the later. I can almost hear the Father say “why have you forsaken Me?”

I have loved you well.
I have placed you in nutrient rich soil.
I have hedged you about - surrounding you with angelic protection.
I have turned the soil and taken out anything that would impede or hinder your growth.
I planted within you the imperishable seed of the gospel.
I have grafted you into the true vine.
I have erected in the center of all history, a tower – a cross.
To this tower any man can run for safety – for salvation.
The vat around the foot of this tower is full of the wine – wine pressed from the very Son of God. In this wine is everything you need for life and godliness.

Judge between yourself and this Vinedresser.

Lord help me to bear fruit that is pleasing to you. I know this fruit does not come from my own effort, but by abiding in You. Please cut away – prune – the branches in me that are fruitless, or worse, those that would bear wild grapes – sour grapes – rotten fruit. Help me keep my eyes on the tower – the fountain – You have placed in the middle of Your garden.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Ben

4

Oh man – Oh man – Oh man

Check this out!

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. - John 14:20 NASB

WHAT!

Can this be true?

I mean – I get the first one. I get  the last one. But that one in the middle is kind of blowing my mind right now.

Jesus in the Father – ok I get that.

Jesus in me – well – I have heard about that since I was a little one in Sunday School.

But Me in Jesus –

The little one in there - that' s me.

Me in Jesus?

Why would He even want that?

Later Jesus says:

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; - John 14 30 NASB

So then

I am in Jesus.

And satan has nothing in Jesus.

How then could satan have anything in me?

If I am in Jesus, and Jesus is in me, and we are both in the Father

I could not be safer in Ft. Knox (is that safe?)

So here I sit, deep inside the Father and Son with the Son and the Spirit inside me and I look out at satan and declare – "you have nothing in me! Run along!" [Tweet This]

It’s a great day.

Ben NelsonIn Jesus

Ben

Photo thanks to Wikimedia.org

10

Wheat

I had this crazy thought yesterday.

I work in a printing plant, and I was walking through the shop with machines running and folks driving forklifts around, the general buzz of business.

I found myself singing to myself –

Here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down…

And it clicked – yep – that’s what I’m here for!

Right in the middle of life – I am here to worship. [Tweet This]

Where has God placed you?

What are you there for?

You guessed it – you are there to worship!

Ben NelsonHey – see you again soon.

Ben

9

 

The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. - Matthew 12:42

It strikes me this morning that Jesus is a big deal.

I am sitting here, honestly in a bit of a funk, and I hear the voice of my Wonderful Savior whisper sweetly in my ear:

It’s not about you.”

Jesus speaks of a judgment in this scripture that I have not considered before.

We know that every man will stand, on his own before the throne of God and his deeds will be judged – your life reduced to a crazy heap of wood, hay, stubble, gold silver and precious stones, and the Word of the Lord which is like fire (Jeremiah 23:29) will consume all the combustibles and purify (Malachi 3:3) all that remains.

But Jesus speaks of a couple other judgments.

Matthew 25 describes nations or people groups being separated like sheep and goats. Apparently we have a responsibility to be an influence of righteousness in our nation.

But here Jesus speaks of the judgment of a generation.

I have not really thought too much about this before, but Jesus tells us here that the age when He walked the earth would be judged, and those who worshiped Him in the past would testify against them.

How is it with our generation?

Does our age stand in danger of condemnation from the Queen of Sheba? Will Rahab who turned against her own nation and generation and chose Christ, will she stand in judgment against our nation and our generation for making it all about us and not considering it all about Jesus?

I hear the voice of the Lord calling me to re-focus on Him.

Will you turn your eyes upon Jesus today?

Lord, forgive my selfishness, forgive me for making it about me, forgive my self-pity, and help me see Jesus today.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

I’m gonna’ follow Jesus. You coming?

Ben

3

Today I listened to one of the best podcasts I have ever heard. Steve Bremner, the host of "Fire on Your Head" podcast interviewed Author and Speaker Eric W. Gilmour who really rocked my world. There are a few minutes of podcast business and personal stuff from Steve, at the beginning which are good, but then once the interview starts, a few minutes in, you will be blessed and challenged by what God speaks through Eric and Steve.

I am praying that you will either listen on line, or download the podcast and give it a listen. Near the end Eric gives some really practical "how to" type info that I am going to put into practice tomorrow morning.

Steve's podcasts are always worth listening to.

Click the link below to get to Steve's sight and the podcast that will change your life.

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Experiencing God’s Presence with Eric Gilmour | Podcast | Fire Press.

EXPERIENCING GOD’S PRESENCE | PODCAST

POSTED BY  IN THE PODCAST | 0 COMMENTS

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:01:14 — 28.1MB)

288422_469115886434935_68238727_o

There is no Christianity without experiencing God. Yet so many people admit that they have a difficult time experiencing God’s presence or hearing God’s voice. Why is this and how can we fix that in our own lives?

This week we have Eric William Gilmour on the podcast and he passionately shares about cultivating a union with Christ and walking in intimacy with Him.

Eric is a graduate of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry. Thousands have been touched by his audio compilations and writings around the world thanks to Fire On The Altar site that used to house them and now can be found at AgonyPress. He seeks to stir the church to fall back in love with Jesus through provocative preaching, writing and audio video materials. He currently ministers full time with the ministry he founded called Sonship International.

Experiencing God’s Presence with Eric Gilmour | Podcast | Fire Press.

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Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

2

question-mark

I know I said I was done, but I never did answer the question I asked the very first day.

I said in the first post about the Sabbath that when God blesses something He give is a assignment, He confers upon it the authority to carry out that assignment, and He equips it to complete what it was given to do.

For me this begs the question: When God blessed the Sabbath, what did He assign it, and what are the implications for those of us in the faith?

This Sabbath rest we have been given, this one day off in seven, so often ignored by those hoping to increase achievement, and squandered by those who simply swap work for amusement, is intended to refresh and rejuvenate us.

When God rested, He did not withdraw from creation. When Jesus finished His work on the cross, He sat down at the right hand of God the Father, but He did not disengage from that which He labored so hard to win.

Sabbath was the day, in the life of Creation, intended for worship, for reflection, for fellowship, for enjoying that which our labors have produced.

Jesus asked a question that might hold the answer for us.

And He said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent. - Mark 3:4

Clearly the answer that the Pharisees could not come up with is that it is lawful to do good, and it is lawful to save a life.

I would encourage you to let neither sloth nor religion dictate your Sabbath activities, but I would exhort you to give a Sabbath day to the Lord. Let Him guide your activities. I don’t really care if you celebrate Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday, or if your life currently does not allow a weekend based Sabbath, fit one in somewhere.

Some might say, I can’t afford to live if I don’t work seven days a week. That may be true on paper, but I will tell you that I believe the Sabbath day’s blessing in the very beginning of time, gave it the power and authority to provide for those who honor it.

There is no quicker way to “burn out” than to skip the Sabbath.

One last thing: Pastors

You pastors, you’re included. I know many of you work on Sunday from sun up to sun down. You must take a day. And you Christians – make sure you honor your pastor’s day off. We Christians can be the worst bosses in the world. We feel like since it is the money we are “giving” that supports the pastor, that he is at our beck and call.

He is worthy of double honor, and needs to be given that day to refresh and let God stir up that wonderful gift you saw in him the day you hired him.

And that goes double for youth pastors!

Ok – I better not rant on here, or I will hurt some feelings.

Have a blessed weekend. Give your time to the Lord this week, and He will press it down, shake it together and run it over back into your life.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

I would love it if you would “like” my Facebook page here.

See you again soon.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.

Song of Songs 4:1

Before we dig into this amazing description of the Shulamite through the eyes of the Lover of her soul, I want to step and look at the birds eye view of what’s going on.

The Journey into the Image of Christ

At the end of Chapter 2, you may remember, our maiden demonstrated here own failure, her fear of walking out into that to which the Lord was calling her. Though it was the desire of her heart to run with Him, to follow Him with abandon, in the day of her first calling she held back, she hesitated.

How does the Lord correct His beloved? How does He draw her further? How does He help a Christian grow?

We see a three step plan which not only restores her, but creates a platform for growth in the very area of her weakness.

I want to remind you here. None of us come to the Lord without shortcomings and places we must grow. In fact Christianity is the only club you can join where the only entrance requirement is your lack of qualification.

In some circles the pressure to perform in a Christ-like manner beyond our actual growth creates groups of Pharisee-hearted followers to whom the Lord would say,

"But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." - Matthew 9:13

The very fact that we are growing in Christ likeness, growing in godliness, says that we have weakness. This growth process is the Christian life. This is, in effect, one of the major patterns of the vibrant Christian life.

Three Step Plan

First, the Lord goes on without her. He let’s her feel His absence. He lets her feel the impact of her choice, the cost of her weakness. God is so good. He draws us forward into areas He know we struggle with, specifically so we can gain personal understanding of why we need to grow out of that weakness.

The next step in her (our) restoration and growth is that Christ shows up and demonstrates His overwhelming strength in that very area of weakness.

She was afraid to go out into the wilderness, so He shows up with sixty armed guards. That is quite a show of force.

Chapter four of the song we find the final step in her restoration, and we will see that she takes a HUGE step of growth in faith when it is all said and done.

Step three consists of affirmation. The Shepherd King now speaks to her for the first time since her failing manifested.

His words are not correction.
He does not speak of disappointment.
He does not speak of any weakness at all.

He affirms her, and declared into her life the beauty and character that He sees.

It is a prophetic declaration, because the Lord sees our potential, and speaks into that potential, so that we can see it too.

As with Peter on the beach after the resurrection, there is no mention of the failure here, only affirmation of who we are called to be, and who He is growing us into.

As we look at these affirmations over the next couple weeks, let them stir up faith in the Lord how is growing you into the image of His Dear Son.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Have an awesome Lord’s day.

See you again soon.

Ben

a Roman Legion

Yesterday in my narrative stemming from the encounter Jesus had with the centurion actually focuses more on Luke's account of the meeting in Luke 7 starting in verse 2 than from the Matthew 8 account.

The big difference in the accounts is that in Matthew’s telling Jesus meets the centurion, and in Luke, He meets the centurions friends.

You know what – I really don’t let that kind of stuff bug me. I don’t try to hide it, but by the same token it just does not bug me. I guess it could, but it doesn’t. So, blatantly ignoring that fact, I move on.

Let’s take a little time contrasting these three types of relationships the centurion is maintaining.

He has soldiers under his command.

He has servants or slaves (at least one) at his beck and call.

He has friends who will drop their agenda and help when he is in need.

It is interesting to me that these are all types of the Christian in relation to Christ as well.

I know I get over on this a bunch, but our identity in Christ is really important. If we see ourselves in an unhealthy light, we can not help but get our signals crossed in how we relate to our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Some believe it can only be one way – for example, there are many in Christ who believe the only way we can ever relate to Jesus is as slave to master. If you have followed me for any length of time, you may have picked up the fact that I endorse the idea of walking as the servant of Christ. This is an identity carried by almost every writer in the New Testament. I have written extensively about this, so I won’t take the time to elaborate further today – though you might like to check out one of these articles:

Servanthood

Jesus, What Are You Doing?

By the same token there are those who demand that we leave the life of the servant behind and live the life of friend, or better bride! I take up, on a weekly basis, in my Song of Songs teaching series this part.

I don't believe that we must leave one to have the other.

I believe Jesus chooses to reveal our identity to us line upon line, precept upon precept.

We enter the kingdom as servants, but we are not supposed to stay there. The life of the growing Christian is one that progresses from the fundamentals of servant hood, becoming a soldier of the cross, to friend, then son, and even bride. But these are not total transformations like caterpillar to butterfly, but rather greater levels of intimacy and proficiency.

Think of any sport, or any activity you might apprentice for. You start with the most basic practices. In baseball for example, it is throwing and catching. Long before you learn strategy, you learn how to throw with accuracy and catch anything close.

You progress to the basic rules of the game. Next, how to react in situations so as to best use the rules to your advantage. The rules protect you from unfair play, and limit you from taking unfair advantage.

Soon you’re learning “plays.” These plays combine the fundamentals of throwing and catching with logical application of the rules.

You learn to throw a double play because 1) you know how to throw and catch,  2) you know the rules and what must happen in case of a hit with a runner on first base.

Later in your career you may come to a time when you can coach or manage a team. You begin to use strategy to choose which players should play which positions. You are having a huge impact on the game with out even stepping on the field.

This does not mean you no longer can throw or catch.

So it is with us. We never leave off servant hood, but we grow in trust and intimacy.

Back to our centurion. I love that he is so devoted to his servant that he involves his friends to rescue this one.

In this encounter, I find the centurion is actually acting as a type of Christ. Christ leaving his 99 soldiers who are safe and warm in the barracks and recruiting His friends to help Him save the one slave that is in trouble.

Great picture isn’t it?

BenSee you tomorrow

Ben

 

Oh yeah, don't forget to leave your questions about the Bible or Christian life here:

Another Red Letter Day Q&A