4

I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon. (Song of Songs 1:5 NKJV)

Our girl spent the evening in the King's courts and experienced His personal care for the very first time. Now she knows what Isaiah learned in the year that King Uzziah died.

Leonard Ravenhill

Leonard Ravenhill, the revivalist from the last century, often preached a sermon from this text (Isaiah 6) using the outline, Woe, Lo, and Go. You can listen to it, or even download it, at SermonAudio.com. It's wonderful.

He outlines Isaiah chapter 6 like this:

"Woe is me! For I am undone." (vs 5) When I get into the presence of the Lord the first thing that strikes me is how I really don’t belong here. I am filthy, dirty, DARK and unfit for the Kings Presence.

"Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." (vs 7) The blood of Jesus purges opens the way for me to enter this place, and not be consumed.

"Go, and tell this people." (vs 9) Intimacy leads to productivity. When I see how consumed my Holy Savior is with His people, I am drawn into His vision and His mission. My only response can is, "Here am I, send me." (vs 8)

So let's look at our maiden. She spends the evening in the King's presence and when she gets home she begins to examine herself. One look in the mirror tells her the whole story. She is earthy, from working outside and from the years in the hot sun of the Middle East.

She is dirty from "everything under the sun." This is the phrase Solomon used in Ecclesiastes to talk about the world's influence. Jesus told Peter to sit still while He washed his feet. Peter did not need a bath—just the cleansing from the dust of the roads of life.

Then she remembers His words to her—He says I am lovely—I picture this like the scene in West Side Story. Maria dressing for the dance. “I feel pretty,” and our dark beauty dances about the dressing chamber remembering her evening with the King.

Tents and Curtains

The tents of Kedar she speaks of dot the white sands of the wilderness. Made from dark animal skins, they stand out in stark contrast to the white sands. She highlights the dramatic contrast of life in the sands and dust of these base tents, to the pristine curtains she observed in Solomon's courts. These spectacular curtains adorned what was possibly the most beautiful palace of all time.

Dark and dusty on the outside, beautifully adorned on the inside.

So it is with you and I. Any time spent in introspection, gazing into the mirror of the Word, will turn up dirt—things you know you need to change—places you know you need to do better—things that stir up shame.

It leads you to repentance—to a clearing of yourself.

Then you take the bread and cup of God’s love and see that He has made you lovely and perfectly acceptable in His sight—more than acceptable—desirable! You are the apple of God’s eye, the rose of Sharon, the lily among thorns. You are the object of His passion. In the bread and wine, you can see the immense value the Savior has placed upon you, and the love lavished without regard to cost.

Like the coal from the altar in Isaiah's vision, the bread and wine remind you of your purged state. You may have the outward appearance of filth, but you have been washed in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.

Hallelujah!

O the joys of the presence of the Lord!

Come back again next week, won’t you?

Ben

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

Here is a favorite post of mine from nearly two years ago - I think it will do us some good to take another look at the light!

Who is the Light of the World?

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Here Jesus proclaims that He is the light of the world. So it would appear that the standard Sunday School answer will work here - Who it the Light of the World? - Jesus!

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)

He repeats this proclamation here in John 9.

I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

And again in John 12.

But in the Sermon on the mount we get a different take.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:14)

When our question is posed to Jesus, we get another answer today. Who is the light of the world? You are! That's pretty empowering isn't it? Jesus said that you (yes, I'm talking to you!) are the light of the world.

Light of the World

So how is it that He is the Light of the World, and we are the light of the world. Check out this bit from the first chapter of John:

He [John the Baptist] was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There [in Jesus] was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:8-9)

You see, Jesus is not only the light, but he is the lighter. Check out this prophesy from Isaiah about our day. (my opinion)

Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

I have heard many folks say our job is to reflect the glory of the Lord before men, but I say Jesus is calling on us to be more than reflectors. When I read these passages (feel free to read more than what I have listed here, this is just a taste) I hear the Lord saying He is the source of all light, but He sets us aflame - like candles and lanterns, not mirrors or moons. We don't simply reflect His glory, we are set ablaze with His glory, and we shine the light He has given us in the darkness, gross darkness, He has trusted us to illuminate.

I love that! What a great job He has given us. My mother always used to tell me "Bloom where you're planted." Well today I say: "Shine where you're screwed in!" [Tweet This]

Can you shine the light into the darkness He has assigned to you today? Perhaps you can share your victories with us, to encourage us to shine in our own darkness.

Thanks for dropping in today.

Ben

All scriptures are quoted from the NASB.

Sunglasses photo credit: Easa Shamih (eEko) | P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y via photo pin cc

Light of the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lantern photo credit: ralphunden via photo pin cc

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

Lucifer, by William Blake, for Dante's Inferno...
Lucifer, by William Blake, for Dante's Inferno, canto 34 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My new friend Felicia from http://www.alifesanctified.com/ has asked another great question this week.

Q. Since God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent; why did He create Satan?

I love this question. And it even has some hooks to the question we played with this morning.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I have a feeling there is a fairly widely held belief that Angels were created with no free will.

We talk in Christian circles as though angels are heaven’s robots.

Or perhaps we have an upstairs – downstairs kind of impression of angels. Like they are the servant class creation, serving the needs of humans.

But I believe scriptures teach a different truth. I believe that angels are beings with a will, and with the freedom of choice much as man is. (ok – if you missed the first Q&A today, you might want to go back to it here, where I discussed the free will of man.)

You see, the way I see it, if angels did not have free will, they would not have been able to rebel in the first place – would they?

Remember God did not create an angry vengeful devil in a red suit who started his existence as an evil beast.

Lucifer was a wonderful angel of light – the head of all the angels.

How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit ~ Isaiah 14:12-15 (NKJV)

He exalted himself in pride and wanted to be like God. Hmmm – sounds familiar doesn’t it – pretty much the same temptation he threw at Adam and Eve.

So we come back to - Why did God create a being that  - if He knows everything, end from the beginning and all – He knew full well would make a mess of things?

Based on my assumption that angels are free beings with choice, and options, you can see that this is a lot like saying why create Hitler, or Bin Laden, or my crabby neighbor, or – well – me for that matter. Where do you draw the line?

Thank God that He did not draw the line. Instead He planted a cross, the plan where by all of the above could have relationship restored (with the exception of Lucifer, I am pretty sure it was too late for him by the time we get to the garden.)

So what do you think? How would you answer Felicia’s question?

Join in below, or blog about it and leave us a link!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

By the way, if you have questions of your own, click on the link on the right and let us toss them around a bit.

Stack of BiblesAfter telling of the healing and deliverance of all the sick in the town of Capernaum, Matthew gives us a tiny little Messianic Bible Study.

He takes the events of the day, and applies them to what we know as Isaiah 53:4.

And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted. ~ Isaiah 53:4

Allow me just a little bit of word study: (feel free to skip this part if you really don’t want the details.)

The Hebrew word that is translated griefs here in the NASB (khol·ē' – pretty much pronounced ‘holy’ only with that gruff throat noise at the beginning) shows up about 24 times in the bible, and 19 times it is translated either sickness or disease. In the lexicon used in BlueLetterBible.org the only offering for translation is ‘sickness.’

The Hebrew word that is translated sorrows here in the NASB (mak·ōve' – pronounced like mac, as in Big Mac or mac and cheese, and ov, as in over – only again you need that guttural kind of chuffing on the c in mac) (do you even care?) This one is most often translated sorrows, but all the definitions relate to pain, though this pain can be physical or mental.

Thanks – now back to the post:

What fascinates me, is that, in my evangelical upbringing, I was taught on a regular basis that what Jesus did on the cross, and what was prophesied here by Isaiah was about my spiritual well being.

And yet, when Matthew, the great pointer outer of fulfilled prophecies, points out this one, he is applying it to physical healings and the casting out of demons.

Why make a fuss about this? Well, I have to say that when my understanding of this scripture, and others, turned from a strictly spiritual interpretation, to a ‘whole man,’ spirit soul and body interpretations, my prayers changed, and the results changed.

When I began to believe that the price Jesus paid and the salvation Jesus purchased was for the whole man, was not simply a path to eventual restoration of health and wholeness someday when we die, but could be pursued here and now, it changed my life.

Hey – there is plenty I don’t understand, and many times I see saints suffer and die in sickness and disease, and please hear me, that is not a reflection on them, or on their community of faith. There is so much more to our world than what we currently see or perceive.

I do understand this – everyone they brought to Jesus, was healed. Every account recorded in scripture of people coming to Jesus while he walked the earth ended with a person made whole. [Tweet This] Not every sick person in all of Judea, but at least every sick person in Capernaum.

This story blows my mind. I really want to be like Jesus. Don’t you?

Lord, today I want to be more like You. I want to walk like You walked, and do the works that You did, and the greater works You promised.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

For next few posts, I want to look into the Light. So get out your Son glasses and join me, will you? (sorry about the bad pun)

My first area of thought is a simple question: Who is the Light of the World?

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Here Jesus proclaims that He is the light of the world. So it would appear that the standard Sunday School answer will work here - Who it the Light of the World? - Jesus!

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)

He repeats this proclamation here in John 9.

I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

And again in John 12.

But in the Sermon on the mount we get a different take.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:14)

When our question is posed to Jesus, we get another answer today. Who is the light of the world? You are! That's pretty empowering isn't it? Jesus said that you (yes, I'm talking to you!) are the light of the world.

Light of the World

So how is it that He is the Light of the World, and we are the light of the world. Check out this bit from the first chapter of John:

He [John the Baptist] was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There [in Jesus] was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:8-9)

You see, Jesus is not only the light, but he is the lighter. Check out this prophesy from Isaiah about our day. (my opinion)

Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

I have heard many folks say our job is to reflect the glory of the Lord before men, but I say Jesus is calling on us to be more than reflectors. When I read these passages (feel free to read more than what I have listed here, this is just a taste) I hear the Lord saying He is the source of all light, but He sets us aflame - like candles and lanterns, not mirrors or moons. We don't simply reflect His glory, we are set ablaze with His glory, and we shine the light He has given us in the darkness, gross darkness, He has trusted us to illuminate.

I love that! What a great job He has given us. My mother always used to tell me "Bloom where you're planted." Well today I say: "Shine where you're screwed in!" [Tweet This]

Can you shine the light into the darkness He has assigned to you today? Perhaps you can share your victories with us, to encourage us to shine in our own darkness.

Thanks for dropping in today.

Ben

All scriptures are quoted from the NASB.

Sunglasses photo credit: Easa Shamih (eEko) | P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y via photo pin cc

Light of the World (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lantern photo credit: ralphunden via photo pin cc