In my ponderings, I ran across six of the saddest words I’ve ever read.

I found them right in the opening to the book of John.

…His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 NASB

The “Him” here, thus far, has only been identified as “The Word” and “the Light.” We’ll learn later in the first chapter that the old apostle is talking about Jesus Christ.

John establishes first that Jesus and the God of the Jews are One in the same.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. - John 1:1-2 NASB

Next, He tells us that this same Jesus, the Word, is the agency through which all things came into being, He’s the creator.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. - John 1:3 NASB

But the heartbreak comes down in verse 11.

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. - John 1:11 NASB

This creator of all things actually made a covenant with a people. He chose to reveal Himself to the Children of Israel.

He chose them

He brought them out of slavery

He established them in the land of promise

He protected them

He gave them a land and made them a people

But when He came to reveal Himself to His people

they rejected Him

they hated Him

they mocked Him

they scourged Him

they crucified Him.

There have been times when I’ve been unwilling to receive Him. Even as a child of God, even after He saved me and I received His free gift of salvation, there have been times when my heart closed up to Him. Has this ever happened to you?

He chose me

He revealed Himself to me

He delivered me from the power of sin

He blessed me with all spiritual blessings

He protected me from the punishment of sin

He joined me to a people who were not my people

And yet there are times when I don’t receive Him

When I set Him aside

When I don’t pursue Him

It is sad, isn’t it?

Lord Jesus. I am so thankful that you came, lived, and loved me/us. Forgive me and help me walk with my heart open to you today, moment by moment. I don’t want to be remembered like these you record in your Word who did not receive you, though you came to them.

You are a good, good Father, and I thank you for speaking through Your Word.

Don’t leave feeling guilty. Conviction comes from time to time to call us back to a place from which we’ve stepped away. Today is a good day to step back into the arms of the Father. He’s right there at the end of the lane, waiting with open arms. Every time we open our hearts to receive Him, He opens His arms to receive us…

…And great rejoicing ensues!!

Hallelujah!

Thanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

I have compared you, my love,
To my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots.
(Song of Songs 1:9 NKJV)

This always reminds me of the scene in the movie A Knights Tale where William Thatcher is trying to woo the maiden Jocelyn and well sticks his hoof in his mouth.

She asks him to speak beautiful words to her, and this is what ensues.


William: "I will win this tournament for you."

Jocelyn: "Excuse me?"

William: "I'll win this tournament in your name. I'll defeat each knight for you. Your beauty will be reflected in the power of my arm and my horse's flanks."

Jocelyn: "Wow—Really?—Really?—lts flanks?"


Not his finest hour.

But the real issue here is that we don’t understand life in a completely agrarian society. Livestock and crops were the currency and wealth of the day. So much of what we will read in these pages relates to life in that society.

So what is our Shepherd King thinking when He compares the Shulamite to a filly among Pharaoh’s chariots?

There are a couple interesting things going on in this comment.

First off, this is the only time this Hebrew word is found in the Bible. Its root comes up more often, but this word specifically pointing to a filly or mare, some even think it should be a group of fillies, is unique to this verse.

Next, He speaks of Pharaoh’s chariots, not the chariots of Israel. He does not say “the Kings Chariots,” but rather points to the world famous fleet of chariots of His most impressive adversary.

Here is the thing.

She is feeling like a newcomer, one who is barely capable of caring for her own presentation. She looks in the mirror and sees dark and worldly. She looks around her in the community, and everyone is doing better than she is. She is totally frustrated at her inability to look like everyone else in the Church.

Then He likens her to one of the most prestigious, well-trained, talented, and impressive beasts known to man.

 

He is saying to her when I look at you, I do not see the dark and dusty woman of the world, stumbling at every turn. I see your potential as a one who is ready to lead an army into battle, one trained and well disciplined. I see what you are created to be, not where you are in your journey.

This helps me. I know when I fail or fall short, He sees me not lying on the ground in a heap, but victorious, then he helps me up, brushes me off, and sets me back on my path toward maturity.

Yay God. Thank you, Jesus.

This makes me happy.

Thanks for coming by.

Stop in next week and get a look at what else He sees in you.

Ben

2

If you yourself do not know, Most beautiful among women, Go forth on the trail of the flock, And pasture your young goats By the tents of the shepherds. (Song of Songs 1:8 NASB)

When our maiden asks how to get back into a good place with Jesus, He gives a three part answer.

Last week we looked two of the 3 – the bookends.

The first is to live in community—"go forth on the trail of the flock."

The last is to have leadership in your life—"By the tents of the shepherds."

Today I want to talk about the one in the middle. I kind of stepped over it last week.

“And feed your little goats” (Song of Songs 1:8 NKJV)

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As you'll remember, she got into this mess by taking on everything anyone suggested for her. Too much responsibility before she had matured enough to hold on to Jesus in the midst of it. Believe me, if you hang around the church for a bit, you will find plenty to do.

But get this, the solution is not complete abstinence from participation, not pulling back out of fellowship and ministry altogether. Not at all.

The solution is found in walking in community, submitting to godly leadership, and taking on the care and feeding of YOUR little goats.

Let’s unpack that a bit.

Where the NKJV uses the word feed, the NASB says pasture and the NIV says graze. This young Jesus Lover is not told to come up with an amazing revelation for a mature flock, but to lead the ones that the Lord has drawn to her into safe and nurturing fields where they can graze in safety.

At one time in my life, there was a brand new Christian in my workplace. She was like a wonderful sponge and would eat up anything put before her. The biggest challenge was to keep her from listening to some of the crazies on the radio and TV and get her hooked up with some good safe Bible basics.

This is exactly the method Jesus used when restoring Peter. Do you remember? Peter had failed the Lord and really felt like he had no right to be taking up any more of Jesus time. He was ashamed because he totally blew it when he denied the Lord three times at the very moment that Jesus was in big trouble.

But Jesus came to him and asked him 3 times (once for each denial?) “Do you love Me?”

Each time Peter affirmed “You know I love you”

And each time Jesus said “feed my sheep,” with slight variations.

Jesus had the same restoration advice for Peter as he did for our maiden

But here is the important thing. He does not say, “get involved, do whatever they ask of you, ” He say to care for the ones I put in your care. Our involvement must be Spirit led and directed or it will crush us every time.

We were created for works that God designed for us and designed us for. These are the only works you will be able to do well long term. [Tweet This]

So today, start saying “No” when the Spirit is not giving you a “Yes” and start feeding the little goats that the Lord has drawn to your side.

Thanks for stopping by today!

See you next week

Ben

photo credit: zaser via photopin cc

2

Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, Where do You pasture Your flock, Where do You make it lie down at noon? (Song of Songs 1:7 NASB)

Three major detractors pulled our maiden away from spiritual vitality into a kind of religious funk. She didn't like what she saw in the mirror, her elder brothers and sisters were dousing her enthusiasm and finally, her own relationship with the Lord suffered neglect. The intimacy she brushed up against in her first encounter with the Lord faded in her memory. The pull of ministry stirred by her early passion, under the pressure of her peers, caused her to step away from her first love.

Like the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, she was getting the good stuff done, but leaving ‘One Thing’ undone.

Today, she get’s it. It drives her to prayer. And check the focus of her prayer

Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, Where do You pasture Your flock, Where do You make it lie down at noon?

The fastest way to bring life back to a withering vine is to reconnect to The True Vine.

Above the din of her distress, her heart cry makes itself audible once again—I just want to know Your tender care.

Let’s walk right through it.

First – You Lord are the ONE my soul loves – she identifies herself as a Jesus Lover. She knows her life has been out of balance. But her desire for intimacy with the Lord takes back the ground her distresses gave up. Her vineyard succumbed to the chaos of nature—the old nature.

Next – Where do You pasture Your flock? I want to be where You are. I know you will care for me. I know you will help me prune my vineyard. I know time in your presence will recenter my heart and life.

Finally – Where do You make it lie down at noon? I understand a sheep will only lie down and rest in the heat of the day after it has been thoroughly fed and watered. For the sheep to lie down it must be completely satisfied!

Here Solomon inserts into this Song of Songs a throwback to his father's wonderful Psalm, the Psalm of the Shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3 NASB)

Her heart cries out for His tender and loving care.

If you're like me, the business of life and ministry can get you running so hard, you edge away from time spent with the Lord in the secret place. You see that Jesus, who faced every temptation we do, faced this pull too. When He learned of the death of John the Baptist, He longed to be alone with His Father, but the press of the crowd kept Him from immediate retreat. He pushed through ministry, not brushing anyone off, but still focussed on getting into the quiet place. (Mark 6:17-46)

Don’t let life and ministry be the undoing of your vineyard.

Call out today and tell Jesus, the Great Shepherd, that you want to be fed in the green pastures, and drink from the still waters.

BenSee you next week!

Ben

3

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

Let me worship like the woman who
Wept upon the Savior’s feet
Washed them with her tears of sorrow,
Tears of love washed Jesus' feet.

Then she took her hair and wiped them
Cleaned the dirt from the long dry path
Feet that just a few days later
Would feel nails of God’s own wrath
 
Help me love you with abandon
Like the woman, fragrant, sweet
Help me break the box of my life
Pour its contents at your feet

Now the box of ointment broken
Poured upon the Savior’s head
Sacred head that soon would carry
The crown of thorns, blood flowing red

Her sins though many, now forgiven
Her love displayed for all to see
Her love was given with abandon
Written for all eternity

Help me love you with abandon
Like the woman, fragrant, sweet
Help me break the box of my life
Pour its contents at your feet 

Now she shares with Him the fragrance
The scent of spikenard they both wore
Prepared for burial was the Savior
Mary, born to die no more

Help me love you with abandon
Like the woman, fragrant, sweet
Help me break the box of my life
Pour its contents at your feet

Jesus grant me true repentance
Fill me with your Spirit sweet
Let the fire of your Spirit
Burn the chaff and purge the wheat

Help me worship with abandon
Help me give my life to You
Help me live to serve you always
Let my life smell just like You.

Copyright Ben Nelson 2006 - All rights reserved

photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh via photo pin cc

 

It's been out there a few years now, but it still is one of the most impactful worship songs I know. Here's Kim Walker-Smith and Jesus Culture leading Revelation Song.

Join me in the throne room.

Have a great day!

See you again soon,

Ben

4

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

I have been pondering last week's post for the last few days, and it is really rocking my world. The whole concept that “As His name is declared, His passion is revealed.” WOW

I have to tell you, that was a fresh revelation to me.

This phrase “His name poured forth” has been rumbling around my brain for days now.

I picture Mary breaking open an alabaster box and its contents (worth a year's wages) poured forth– wasting it – on Jesus’ feet. The perfect picture our lives poured forth, many would say wasted, living for Jesus and leaving the outcome in His hands. Some will say you waste your life on Jesus, others will notice that you smell just like Him as He pours forth His life as a lamb to the slaughter.

Mary (Maia Morgenstern ) and Mary Magdalene (Monika Bellucci) from The Passion of The Christ

I picture that gruesome image from The Passion of the Christ of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalen sopping up Christ’s blood poured forth while He received those 39 lashes.

I picture blood and water poured forth from His side when they pierced Him.

I picture Jesus baptizing His Church, as He promised He would, in that little upper room as He poured forth His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Finally, I picture Jesus pouring forth His Church, shining with the light of His glory, over a dark and listless world. That light spreading far and wide as the world gets a deep breath of that wonderful fragrance.

I know there is more pouring forth to come – there are seals to be broken and bowls to overturn. But that is for then.

This is for now!

Let’s review

Ointment poured forth in Bethany

Blood and water poured forth at Calvary

Spirit poured forth at Pentecost

The Church poured forth globally

Each without reserve,

Each without stumbling over the cost

All with one aim

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NASB)

You are that joy that was set before Him, and so is your neighbor!

Have you taken His name?

Will you bear the name of your Husband the Bridegroom-Shepherd-King?

Will you be His name poured forth on your circle of influence?

Will you be that sweet savor of life to them that are saved, and are you willing to bear the stench of death, and you die to yourself so others can get a whiff of the aroma of Christ?

Say yes today!

Thanks for stopping by today. I trust this helps you. I know it stirs me up.

See you next week.

Ben

If you did not read last weeks post Fragrance and Ointment it is worth the few minutes it would take.

2

Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

What is fragrance?

What does it do?

Here’s the thing. When our Song speaks of fragrance it is not talking actions. Not the visible actions of a Shepherd King, but rather the invisible features of thoughts and emotions – His passions.

When we talk about God and emotions we (the Church) have a strange box for God. We feel like God has this amazing joy when we are born again, and He spends the rest of our lives angry with us.

There is even a theological argument out there that says that God does not change so He cannot have emotions.

This is all so messed up. We are created in the image of God, emotions and all. If we learn nothing else from the Song of Songs, it is that we have an emotional Father.

There is, however, action in this verse and we don’t want to miss it. The fragrant ointment is poured forth.

Here we see the internal essence of Jesus, His thought life, His emotion, His passion, poured out by the declaration of His name. Last week we looked at His name, but today I want to draw your attention to this idea.

As His name is declared, His passion is revealed. [Tweet This]

Observe:

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-TSID-KENU  "The Lord is our righteousness" He was demonstrating His passion for transforming you into the righteousness of God in Him.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-SHALOM  - Our perfect peace - He was demonstrating His passion for creating peace between you and God as the Prince of Peace.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH RAPHA  - I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer – He was demonstrating His passion for healing you to the uttermost.

Interestingly enough Paul talks about fragrance too.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

The fact is, as our life declares by word and deed the name of Jesus, His passion is poured forth on our circle of influence, and it has an impact. It may draw some to Christ, and it may push some away. In any case, when you stand for Christ your life will no longer be neutral.

Do you need that ointment poured forth in your life today?

Do you need that healing balm, that peace that defies understanding?

Let the name of Jesus wash over you even now. Declare His name out loud over your circumstances today.

If you are sick say out loud something like “I am yours, Jehovah Rapha – the Lord who heals me”

If you are stressed instead of blessed – declare “I am yours, Jehovah Shalom”

Hey – we are not talking magic words, or secret formulae here. But there is power in the name of Jesus.

That’s good, isn’t it? Share what you learned, or what fresh revelation you received, or even what made you mad here today. Has His name poured out in your life changed your reality? Share!

Come back next week for more of the Song. Believe me, we are just scratching the surface here.

Ben

4

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14 ESV

None of us have reached the full measure of Christ as yet, agreed?

That said - Jesus was FULL of Grace and Truth.

That leaves us in one of two conditions.

Either we operate out of a graceless truth, or a truthless grace.

OK - that’s probably extreme - perhaps you’re not graceless, simply grace-challenged. Maybe you ace grace, but go easy on truth.

Much is said today about having a balanced life. But the Word does not say Jesus walked in a balance of grace and truth. It doesn’t even say he operated out of a tension between grace and truth.

He was FULL of grace and truth.

He is the greatest expression of God’s grace in history, yet His own confession was “I am the Truth.”

My simple prayer today is:

Lord, teach me to walk full of grace and truth. Fill me with Your grace. Overwhelm me with Your truth.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Keep the light on.

Ben

6

Birth of Jesus by Bradly Parish - www.parishfineart.com
Birth of Jesus by Bradley J. Parish - www.parishfineart.com

 

 

As a followup to the story of David I posted yesterday, 'Small Beginnings,' I thought I would re-post some comments from last Christmas. We look at Joseph, Mary's husband, and his relationship to David.

Here's the post from last year:

Have you ever wondered why Joseph lineage traced back to David? I mean, after all, he had no “blood in the game” so to speak. Jesus was "seed of the woman." Joseph was Jesus’ step-father.

I’ve heard it taught that Joseph’s lineage was what give Jesus right to the throne, but wouldn’t there have to be blood for that to be true?

His kingly blood came from momma Mary.

Joseph’s part was not one of blood.

Joseph had one very important part of the puzzle. His lineage took them back to that little town of Bethlehem.

Micah foretold an eternal ruler’s beginning.

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,Too little to be among the clans of Judah,From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.His goings forth are from long ago,From the days of eternity." - Micah 5:2 NASB

The census decreed by Caesar in the fullness of Mary’s pregnancy required them to go to her husband’s ancestral home town for the counting.

It amazes me. Decade upon decade I’ve read these accounts of our Lord’s birth, and yet every reading exposes another layer. How complex and complete is our Lord’s mastery of time and events! I do so love You Lord.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Merry Christmas.

Ben