7

photo credit: via photopin (license)
photo credit: via photopin (license)

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon;
He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers.
Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit.

Song of Songs 8:11 NASB

Is what you’re doing fruitful?

I know—I’m meddling. My dad used to say to the pastor, after a particularly pointed sermon, you’ve gone from preaching to meddling.

So here I am today - meddling.

Jesus expects fruit. He expects a harvest.

Think of the parables Jesus tells of the master who gave his servants talents according to their abilities.

We know about the man with five who doubled his money, and the one with two who did the same. They hear the words every christian hopes to hear when reckoning with the Lord.

His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' - Matthew 25:23

But what of the one who hid his talent? Listen to the rebuke he receives.

But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. - Matthew 25:26

Not words I want to hear when I settle accounts with the Lord.

Most preachers today will tell you that because of the blood of Jesus, we will all hear those words - ‘Well done.’ This implies that we can continue to be 'wicked and lazy,' after Christ bought and paid for us with His own blood. His precious blood will hide the fact that we have buried our talents and gone on with life as usual. I’m not sure that’s so. It sounds a lot like hiding our lights under a bushel.

The point of being light is to shine.

The point of having seed is to reap a harvest.

The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is ministry. There is a lost and dying world that desperately longs for a touch from the Spirit of God. [Tweet this]

There is good news. Notice in this parable of the talents when He gave the talents—this spiritual currency—He gave according to ability. God does not expect anything from you that is beyond your reach. He has equipped you—predestined you—to manage what He has given you.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10

You can do this!

You can bear fruit.

You can please the Father.

Simply put what God has given you to work—your gift—your talents—your abilities.

Get them out in the field.

He will bring the increase. He loves to breathe life on the things we do in His name.

BenHeadshotOK - enough meddling for today.

Get out there and shine, beloved.

Ben

4

Many Waters - SoS header

I long to bring you to my innermost chamber—
This holy sanctuary you have formed within me.
O that I might carry you within me.
I would give you the spiced wine of my love,
This full cup of bliss that we share.
We would drink our fill until…

Song 8:1-2 ~ The Passion Translation

Have you had a chance to check out ‘The Passion Translation?’

I just love it! It’s brand new, and only coming out one book at a time. One of the first books translated by Dr. Brian Simmons was the Song of Songs ~ Divine Romance.

These verses are so clear in their description of the bride and her Lover, Jesus. He so clearly reveals the heart of the redeemed as he translates these first couple verses of Chapter 8.

Innermost Chamber

This verse takes me to the last discourse again. Where Jesus spent the evening of His betrayal with the disciples. This is where we learn of his intention to form this sanctuary, this innermost chamber within us.

Jesus tells us that His Father’s house has many dwelling places. We are the temple of the living God, we are His dwelling place. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” That place is this innermost chamber.

Jesus answered 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 home with him. - John 14:23 ESV

God on the inside!

This is not only our hope, it’s the hope of Glory!

The Father has formed in you a holy sanctuary made to His exact specification so that Father, Son and Holy Spirit can take up residence in you.

Hope you brought your shoutin’ shoes today, cuz that’s a place for a Hallelujah!

I urge you (Ben) to press in to that innermost place this day. Seek the one who formed it within you for the purpose of intimacy.

All life flows from intimacy.

If anything is going to be born, it will be from intimacy.

If there be any fruit, it’s the result of intimacy.

Ben NelsonPress in today.

Ben

I have a favor to ask of you. If you've read my book, 'Encounters With Jesus' would you leave an honest review on Amazon. It would be so appreciated. If you haven't got yours, grab the paperback here, or the kindle here.

Thanks!

2

photo credit: produce for the week via photopin (license)
photo credit: produce for the week via photopin (license)

And at our gates are pleasant fruits,
All manner, new and old,
Which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

Song of Songs 7:13 NKJV

As we see life through the eyes of this beautiful bride, we find she welcomes her Husband, the Shepherd King, with pleasant fruit at the gate - both old fruit and new, laid up for her beloved. What a ripe (I couldn’t resist) image this paints.

As they live their life together, and they labor in the fields and gardens before them, she offers fruit to the Lover of her soul. And right there at the gate.

There was a day when her garden was locked. (Song 4:12)

There was a day when the door of her chamber was closed to Him and He bid her open. (Song 5:2)

Today He is welcomed with pleasant fruit, both new and old.

What does this offering of fruit say? How does she welcome the Lord as He returns - or perhaps as they return together. I like that image. She has prepared for their return, and then joined Him in His labor. When they return together, He is welcomed. Notice it is fruit she has laid up for Him. She isn’t scrambling to find something to offer her Lover. She does not have to stir up her devotion in order to draw Him to her worship service. She has an overflow of fruit.

Let’s unpack a bit.

Whats fruit does she offer her beloved?

Let’s start with Isaiah’s prophecy. In Isaiah 5 we read that the Lord planted a vineyard and expected fruit—grapes—and returned to find nothing but wild grapes. He says in explanation:

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! - Isaiah 5:7 ESV

Two forms of fruit that please the Lord are justice and righteousness.

We, on our own, will never walk in either, but through the blood of Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit, He has given a heart that beats for justice, He has given us an appetite for righteousness.

Paul tells us of the fruit of the Spirit—love characterized by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—fulfilling the Lord’s desire for a people who walk in justice and righteousness. (Galatians 5:22-23)

It’s intrigues me—this call for justice and righteousness—justice would be an outward display of goodness while righteousness would imply an adherence to that which is right in oneself. So in this simple two-fold call, He looks for inner holiness and outward demonstration of love.

He was disappointed with Israel’s fruit offerings. He called them wild grapes. But the fruit the maiden lays up for Him is pleasant.

Another aspect of fruit borne in the life of a believer is the fruit of our lips.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. - Hebrews 13:15 ESV

I’ve heard someone say they didn’t understand how people can walk into church of a Sunday morning and vault right into full praise and worship mode. This person didn’t get how anyone could immediately be caught up in the presence of the Lord.

And yet the writer to the Hebrews makes it plain that we are exhorted to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to our God - the fruit of our lips acknowledging His name. If our mouth is constantly offering up praise, we will have an abundance to offer at the gate.

It’s Psalm 100 that tells us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! - Psalm 100:4 ESV

Praise and Thanksgiving are in fact the gateway to His presence.

Finally, one more area of fruitfulness in the believer is in those we have brought with us to follow the Shepherd King. Like Philip to Nathanael—there are those to whom we say “I have found the Messiah, come and worship Him with me.”

What offerings of pleasant fruits have you laid up for the Lord? What have you left at the gate of your dwelling to greet Him as He comes?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Shine where you’re screwed in.

Ben

9

Many Waters - SoS header

Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Gilead.

Your teeth are like a flock of ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

Song of Songs 6:5-7 NASB

Today we find the Shepherd King once again describing His maiden. In fact this description is one He has used before. You can find the exact words mingled with another description from Song of Songs 4:1-3

The last time He spoke these words was directly after their wedding. We saw the wedding procession in the end of chapter 3, then chapter 4 begins with the Grooms enthralling description of His beautiful bride.

It was also before the testing she walked through in chapter 5.

At their wedding, He was affirming what He knew was within her, even though it had not been tested by fire, it had not been given a chance to grow. He gave her credit for these marks of maturity (as we will see) before they were visible, even to her.

What this means to us is that God calls those things that are not, as though they are.

He speaks into our future.

And not only into our future circumstance (because that is what consumes our attention)

but

He speaks into our future character (because that is what consumes His attention.) [Tweet This]

The day that He breathes the breath of life into our spirit
The day He calls us His own
The day He adorns us in His wedding garment
The day He burns the filthy clothes we arrived in
The day He chooses us out of the liar’s orphanage
The day He gives us His own name

That is the day He plants His character in us.
That is the day He grafts us into the tree of life.
That is the day He clothes us in Christ.

And that is the day His view of us is 100% Christ and 0% us.

But now we find our maiden, our bride, (ourselves) having come through the fires of trial and what was...

germ
seed
vision
prophecy

...on our wedding day, now is blooming and bearing fruit.

She is (your are) no longer a dark but lovely stranger to grace

Not simply in possession of a promise and a future

She is becoming the image of Christ, being fashioned by the hands of the Potter into something beautiful.

Next time we will look at the specifics of this declaration of Christian maturity Christ sees in His bride, but for today know this.

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

IMG_2337Thanks for coming by today.

Walk in the light.

Ben

 

 

5

Irises from Presby Memorial Iris Garden
Irises from Presby Memorial Iris Garden

When Jesus take ownership of His garden (formerly your life) what does He do?

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.

Song of Songs 5:1 NASB

This garden in the Song of Songs is the soul of the believer, prepared for the Master, and then given to Him. We have seen the Shulamite mature to the place where she gives her life to Him and holds nothing back.

Once He takes ownership of her life, what does He do?

Comes

Jesus comes into His garden.
He takes up residence.
He makes her His dwelling place.

One thing about giving your life to the Lord, you will never be alone again. As Jesus came to the Garden of Eden and walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, so Jesus comes to us as we give ourselves 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

Gathers

That which pleases the Father is the fruit we bear. As we begin to display the fruit of the Spirit, it demonstrates more and more our likeness to Christ. As our garden flourishes with godly character the Father is glorified more and more.

The common knowledge of our day is that ‘people don’t change.’ That’s why when a man or woman is born again, when the Spirit of God begins to change a man from the inside out, the world takes notice. God is glorified since the world cannot deny the hand of God in this great work.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. ... My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. - John 15:2, 8 NASB

Eats and Drinks

The Lord said to the multitudes,

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. - John 6:56 NASB

The fact that the Lord partakes of the sustenance and in fact the sweetness that the garden offers, demonstrates that He has become one with the believer. Life in Christ is not a one-way street. It is intended to be a partnership. We eat the bread and drink the wine of His blood and He eats of the honeycomb and drinks of the fruit of our vine and the milk from our herd.

The Father’s intention is that we become one with Christ, and He becomes one with us. We hear this and say it all the time, but do you understand what is offered here. If we are one with Christ, and He is one with the Father, it is God’s will and intention that we become indistinguishable.

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. - John 17:23 NASB

As we grow, the world’s ability to distinguish between Christ and the Christian grows ever smaller.

John the Baptist prayed that Jesus would increase and He would decrease. How does that work? The difference between Jesus and His bride grows ever smaller.

Invites

Though our relationship with the Lord, to a great extent, is carried out in private, He shares us with His Body. The body of Christ is the household of faith. We cannot have Him without Him sharing us with His Church.

In Ephesians 4 we see that Christ’s gifts to the Church are people. The Spirit gives the believer abilities and fills them with power as described in 1 Corinthians 12. Jesus Himself gives people. You are a gift to the body of Christ.

Life Wasted?

As we give ourselves fully to the Lord, He will have more and more to do with our lives. Perhaps we should call it active intimacy.

I have heard folks contrast a life of worship or intimacy, with that of working in the kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we press it, as we give ourselves fully over to the Lord, He is going to make full use of our life. You were created unto good works, which the Father designed for you.

My prayer today: Lord,

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Frances R. Havergal, 1874

 

Ben NelsonBlessings,

Ben

2

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? - Matthew 7:15-16 NASB

Is Jesus confused?

Didn’t He mean to say, judge him by his creed? …his denomination? … his credentials? 

Fruit? 

[Tweet This]

We are talking false prophets here!

Shouldn’t we examine every word and try to catch him (or her) in a mistake, and error, and foul heresy?

Don’t get me wrong. I hate it when folks twist scriptures. I hate it when people spew false doctrines.

That’s what makes me crazy about this scripture.

Jesus says, “you will know them by their fruit.”

Well then…

Hey – thanks for coming by.

It is a red letter day – let’s listen to the red letters today.

Ben NelsonShine in the darkness in which God placed you.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,

And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
The fig tree has ripened its figs,

And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. ~ Song of Songs 2:11-13

I owe you two more signs of life – The figs and vine blossoms.

We have been looking at season change now for a few weeks here on the SoS Saturday blog, and I hope it is doing you some good, I know it is helping me.

Today we start with the fig. I learned what I am about to share from  preacher and author Winkie Pratney in a sermon I had on cassette tape (that’s a audio medium about the size of an iPod which held between 45 minutes to 2 hours of audio only info) which I just about wore out, I listened to it so often. It was his sermon, “True or False Conversion,” or at least I think that was the name of the sermon.

In it he related the fact that as a child growing up in Australia, they had a fig tree in his yard, and what was unique about a fig tree was that the fruit shows up before the leaves. There would be fruit on the branches and as the fruit matured the leaves would come to protect the figs from the heat of the sun.

This opened my eyes to that story when Jesus cursed the fig tree. You remember? It was during His last week in ministry after the triumphal entry during His commute between Bethany where He was staying and Jerusalem where He was headed to turn over some tables. He came upon a fig tree with leaves. Though it was not yet fig season, He cursed the fig tree because it had no fruit.

I always wondered why curse a fig tree that does not have fruit out of season. Well, here’s the thing – it had leaves which were an indication that fruit was there. It had all the trappings of fruit, but could not satisfy.

Here is why this is so damnable.  As a fruit tree in His garden, to walk around with the trappings of fruit – with the air of spiritual life – and bear no fruit is the height of hypocrisy.

If you have no fruit in your life (and I don’t really care how you measure it, fruit of the spirit, or fruit of followers – whatever) and yet carry an air of spiritual life, you are in a very (VERY) precarious place.

Way better to own your fruit poverty, and pursue Him for the solution, than to look like you are doing great and it all be a sham.

Lord, today I need You to bring fruit to my vines, and help me to be honest with those around me, and moreover with myself about where I am.

Dang – I have gone too long already – well – one more week for signs of life. I know today was more of an anti-life sign blog. I do hope your tracking with me though.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you next week

Ben