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Your head crowns you like Carmel,
And the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads;
The king is captivated by your tresses.

Song of Songs 7:5

nt_israel-flat_jpg__1001×1418_Carmel, also called Mount Carmel is a mountain on the Mediterranean Sea noted for it lush vegetation. The word ‘karmel’ means fruitful or fertile garden, a cultivated place. It’s often used to contrast desert or wilderness, like this:

Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fertile field,
And the fertile field is considered as a forest.

Isaiah 32:15

Here “fertile field” is the Hebrew word ‘karmel.’

The region of Carmel is first mentioned in a list of the kings that Joshua and Israel conquered after they crossed the Jordan

Now these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the sons of Israel defeated beyond the Jordan toward the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even as far as Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir; and Joshua gave it to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions, ... the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one; - Joshua 12:7, 22

It was a nation that was turned from the kingdom of darkness, to a realm ruled under God’s Theocracy.

The next time we see Carmel, we find that it was a possession of the tribe of Judah. The name Judah means praise, and so we see that Carmel was a possession the sons of Praise.

Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur, ... Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah, - Joshua 15:21, 55

After Saul defeats the Amelakites (sparing King Agag, leading to his own undoing as King in Israel) he built a monument to himself on Mt. Carmel.

Carmel is where David came across wicked Nabal and his gracious wife Abigail.

Mt Carmel (many years after Solomon wrote this Song of Songs) becomes the place that Elijah calls for a decision from Israel. “How long will you stumble between two opinions?” he asks God’s chosen. Then he challenges the prophets of Ba’al to the showdown of the ages.

You probably remember the story, but either way, it’s a great read - you can check it out in 1 Kings 18.

After the prophets of Baal can’t seem to get their God to come out and play, Elijah calls the people near and assembles his offering for the Lord. Then he has it doused with water repeatedly.

Next - well - here:

At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again."

Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. - 1 Kings 18:36-38

And here is the place for decision:

When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God." - 1 Kings 18:39

Then Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal.

Carmel is a fitting picture of the head of the lover of God.

It is where the initial battle for allegiance took place, the place possessed by praise, and the place idolatry meets it’s doom.

Once it is under the headship of Jesus Christ it is a beautiful and fruitful garden cared for by the Master Garden builder Himself. The One who placed the first Adam in a wonderful garden, and the one who walks with us in our own garden in the cool of the day.

Perhaps today you find that your mind is a battle ground for your affections. Today may be the day you need to stand like Elijah and call down fire from heaven to consume your offering of praise. That passion fire from the Father will give you the courage you need to slay the prophets of Baal in your life, to destroy the detractors that keep dragging you back into compromise, or complacency.

Are you sick of living a mediocre Christian-ish life? Come with me to Mt. Carmel, and let’s call down some fire.

The result will be a beauty that the Lord can not resist.

Come Lord Jesus - set fire to our sacrifice of praise.

Ben NelsonWalk in the light.

Come back soon.

Ben

4

I went down to the garden of nuts
To see the verdure of the valley,
To see whether the vine had budded
And the pomegranates had bloomed.

Song of Songs 6:11 NKJV

OK – I confess – I laughed when I read that –

I went down to the garden of nuts.

But what is she talking about now?

These nut trees are good:

Good for food

Good for shade

Good for oil

Good for wood

Very good

Next we see when she comes to the garden what she observes is that which is blooming.

The vines are blooming.

The pomegranates are blooming.

The garden given to the Lord has become fruitful.

She took her garden and turned it over to Him, and now it is flourishing.

Not only that, she, now mature, is a partner in its tending. She is the one coming and caring for the blossoming vines and growth.

Her garden was once over run foxes and vermin, but now in His hands she is entrusted once again with the garden, and she tends it well.

This garden is His body – the brothers and sisters she touches, and she is instrumental in their growth and tending.

But she had to give it to Him to ever see it truly flourish.

When she held it, it was …meh

But when the work of our hands is left in His control, we look like geniuses – LOL! What a crazy plan. In the end, He gets the glory and we get to do what we love, and have it blossom.

I love you Jesus!

nora and papa at the table, benThanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

4

photo credit: robynejay via photopin cc
photo credit: robynejay via photopin cc

 

My beloved went down to his garden,
To the beds of the spice,
To delight himself in the gardens,
and to gather lilies.

Song of Songs 6:2 YLT

When the Lord comes into His gardens (yes, He has many) we see Him engaged in two activities.

We have seen in the Song of Songs that the Lord’s gardens are the inner lives of those who have given themselves to Him. A few weeks ago we observed that the maiden in the Song gave her garden to Him to do with as He pleased.

Tending

The way I see this, is that the Lord comes to us (so glad He makes house calls) and ministers to us in our (well His) garden, our secret place. He comes to His garden to tend to it. That ministry looks a lot like a shepherd’s care. He feeds us, cleans us, keeps us near the good drinking water. In danger, He is present with His rod and staff to protect. In our moments of folly (oh yes we do) He is present with His rod and staff to correct and collect us.

Gathering

If you remember the Shepherd King called His maiden the lily of the valley and again a lily among thorns. And so He gather’s the lilies. Part of His care for us is to join us to the gathering of lilies – a.k.a. the church – His body. I challenge you with this idea. Next time you walk into your church gathering (whether you meet in a living room or in a cathedral) take a look around and see if you can see the beauty of a field of lilies.

Here in the North East US it is lily season. I love to walk past a garden with a pack of Tiger Lilies reaching up toward the sun. Or flocks of that shorter variety that look like a parade of trumpeters announcing the coming of their king.

Jesus, our Great Shepherd delights to shepherd us and gather us. His heart is toward His gardens, their cultivation and care. Do you share His heart for His people?

Lord, help me to appreciate the others You have gathered. Will You share Your heart for them with me. Can You help me see them as You do?

ben rin and nora

Thanks for stopping by today.

Don’t forget to shine.

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

1

Many Waters - SoS header

We have come to the exact midpoint of the Song, and today I am struggling with words, because the few lines in this Song of all Songs that I want to share with you to day are a BIG DEAL.

From the beginning, I have taken the approach with this Song of Songs, that the Shepherd King represents Jesus, and the maiden is an individual believer.

The Song chronicles the progression of a life given to the following of the Shepherd and the pursuit of the King.

I don't care what label you wear.
I don't care what label you wear.

I don’t care too much how you refer to your relationship with Jesus, Christian, Follower, Servant, they all point to the same thing. If you are in Christ, you are in a relationship.

Let me be clear. A relationship is not a point in time. It is not a historical event. If, when pressed, your think of your Christianity as a that day as a child you repeated a prayer in Sunday School class, or the day you went forward at a Billy Graham crusade, well frankly, that’s like saying that your marriage is all about an “I do” and a big party.

Christianity, like marriage, is about a life together.

It started before you were even married, didn’t it?

We have seen in this Song of Songs, the maiden go from a distant admirer, to a dinner guest, to friend and confidant. We have seen a wedding. Assurances have been made, compliments paid. The groom has been doing some wooing. The Bride has been overwhelmed by the goodness and greatness of this Wonderful Man who wants to be hers.

But today our girl takes a huge step.

Right here – the exact center of the song – Center by chapter count – even center by verse count.

This is the day when everything changes.

In verse 12 through 15 her new Husband calls her a garden, and uses this language of a paradise prepared for Him – a wonderful place with all that water – fragrance in the air – fruit on the trees – berries in the bushes – savory spices and sweet perfumes – even healing balms.

Today however we see a turning point:

Awake, O north wind,
And come, wind of the south;
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my Beloved come into His garden
And eat its choice fruits!

Song of Songs 4:16 NASB

We find a striking change of ownership here.

“Make my garden” … “May my Beloved come into His garden”

She has come to a day when she gives her garden, her inner life, over to Him lock stock and barrel.

It’s not that she was not committed before this. It’s not that she didn’t trust Him before this. It’s not that they were not married before this.

She has simply come to a place in her relationship with Her Lover where she can say – I am Your’s completely, I hold nothing back.

The make up of the garden spans the fullness of inner life.

Wells and springs, fountains and streams, fruit and flowers, fragrances and flavors, even the dark places of the heart, her thoughts of death (myrrh), her innermost concerns (frankincense).

She turns over the ownership of her life completely to Him.

Any of you who are married know that this is not the same thing as standing up and reciting your vows. Your vows may cover this ‘giving of yourself’ in language, but even in a western marriage where there has been courting and friendship before that day, and far more so in an eastern or arranged marriage where the children were promised without their consent, this change of ownership does not happen in any real way until there is some life together, and trust has a chance to grow.

And so it is with our faith walk. You may have ‘given your life to the Lord’ a dozen years ago, but there is a day, when you have been walking in covenant with the Lord, walking in a community of believers, and you are taken by His great faithfulness, you are overwhelmed by His great love, and your souls cries out

Lord, I give you my heart,
I give you my soul,
I live for you alone.
Every breath that I take,
Every moment I’m awake,
Lord, Have your way in me.

Ruben Morgan

There are those who argue in the Church about whether I get everything Christ has to offer when I become a believer, or whether there is a Second blessing. That is not what I am talking about today. That whole argument seems a little man centric.

Rather than worry about what you get out of your relationship with God today, I want you to think about what He gets.

He bought us with His blood, yet we are consumed with what WE get. He paid the price, what are you willing to give Him? [Tweet This]

Today is His day. It’s His day to receive His miracle! Today is the day that He wants to see you turn over the keys to your garden and hang His name on the gate.

This garden belongs to Jesus.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Until then, I remain,

your brother Ben

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