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

My very own vineyard is at my disposal;
The thousand shekels are for you, Solomon,
And two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit. 

Song of Songs 8:11-12

There is a shift in speakers between verse 11 and 12. We were hearing the voice of the narrator telling us about the arrangement the King has with those who steward His vineyards.

Last week we talked about the fact that the Lord expects us to be fruitful. In verse 12 the bride is speaking and we’ll learn how she feels about the king’s demands.

If you remember the center piece of this Song, right at the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5 the Shulamite gave her garden over to the Shepherd King.

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 (emphasis mine)

This is the point where she goes from thinking in terms of her garden to understanding that all she has belongs His. [You might like this post.]

Today, in similar fashion, she still thinks of it as her garden because it is her charge. But she doesn’t begrudge the King his payment. Not only that she pays others to come and harvest in her garden.

You see, working in the Lord’s harvest pays well.

Now you’re thinking I’m really crazy. How many missionaries, itinerant ministers, pastors and other full-time christian workers can live on what they are paid.

OK - I don’t want to discuss who should get paid for what in the church structure—let’s not jump in that puddle today.

What I want to consider is how abundant the harvest is.

If she was just trying to get by, and pay the taxes—the thousand shekels—due, she certainly would not have labor’s working in the field with her. She would find a way to get by through her own sweat and blood.

But that’s not the case here.

She has enough to meet her own needs.

She can give that which is required of her, and does so gladly.

She has abundance to the extent that she has to hire help to bring in the harvest.

Why such success?

When you give yourself to kingdom living—kingdom occupation—you’ll find the fruit of the kingdom abounds. [Tweet This]

I know that at the top of the page I talked about jobs that are commonly considered “full time christian work.” But any work done by a citizen of the kingdom is kingdom work. There is no such thing as secular in the life of a subject of King Jesus. If He is your Savior, then He is your King, your Boss, your Master, your Lord. Oh, and He is also you Husband, the Lover of your soul, your Friend, and your Brother.

As to the abundance the bride finds in her/His vineyard, David puts it this way:

How blessed is the man who
does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 (again, emphasis mine)

Do you see it? When you give yourself to the kingdom—yoke yourself to the Lord—you’ll find you work fruitful.

We serve a Great King!

Since our prosperity does not always fit the world’s scale of success, we often don’t recognize the abundance. If we keep our eyes on their prize, we’ll likely miss ours.

The simple solution is to keep our eyes on Jesus.

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by today.

Don’t tire of the good work He has called you to and created you for.

Ben

4

Beneath the apple tree I awakened you;
There your mother was in labor with you,
There she was in labor and gave you birth.

Song of Songs 8:5 NASB

In the Song, the mother figure points to the role of the Church in the life of a believer. Here we have the Shepherd King saying to the maiden, this is where your mother gave birth to you.

In these three short lines there is a wealth of wisdom for church leaders.

1) The church is first likened to an apple tree. The apple tree has many uses, but the two main assets I’m seeing are it’s protection and provision. The branches and leaves provide shelter from the sun and other elements.

Why protection from the sun?

Remember the parable of the soils? In stony ground, the seeds route system is weekend or nonexistent. The little ones coming up in the church need some help taking hold, digging their roots down deep in the soil. The apple tree—church—should be protecting it’s seedlings and saplings from the strong persecution—standing with them as they face the trials that come along with a new life in Christ.

2) Next we see that mother—the church—was in labor with her. Not everyone in church is in the same place. There are those who are on the road to salvation; There are those who have no idea or connection to Christ at all; There are those who are set in the church to mentor—to disciple—the young up and comers; There are shepherds and warriors in place to protect and defend the little ones of the flock, to ensure they are not devoured by wolves, or choked by weeds, or simply wander off.

3) The path to life in Christ is a path—a way. We must realize that everyone who walks through our doors is in a different place, and there may be labor involved in bringing them to life. Seeds have been sown; Promises have been made; Signs of life are evident. But there still may be labor pains, and we must see it through. We must push and breath and push and breath. It may get messy, and noisy, but we must not relent.

It is far to easy for church leadership to be content with the status quo and resist the work—labor—involved in bringing babies to the Lord. We must do it anyway. It’s why we are here. It’s why God has assembled you.

Maybe church doesn’t look like church to you, and maybe I should use the word community rather than church, but I think you can see what I’m talking about.

God wants you to be in community, and for the community of Christ to labor and bring forth life where before there was only death.

Lord, help me find my place in the process of bring many sons to glory—many men and women to worship at your feet.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.

Blessings

Ben

===

And now for a small celebration - did you bring a party hat?

This is my 1,000th post on Another Red Letter Day.

Wooo Hooo

OK - Party's over - please cleanup after yourselves.

Today, I want to take one more giant step in processing this wonderful offer.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. - Matthew 11:28-29

As I said yesterday any work God has for us, He will do the heavy lifting, and bear all the stress. We, in peace, abide in and follow walk beside (yoked to) Jesus while the Father gives us the plan, the power, and the peace to carry out what is going on.

This may explain the oft misunderstood comment from Jesus in John 14:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. - John 14:12

The greater works that we do, we do not do because of some crazy new abilities that we have. We are able to do these awesome, wonderful, “finger of God” type works, because we are connected to the Father through Jesus and He is doing the work, as He did for Jesus.

And the WHO behind the HE is – well – WOW – the One who created the heavens and the Earth. The One who breathed breath into the dust and up stood a living, breathing, thinking Adam. The One who sent His only Son to reconcile Adam’s lost kids to their Creator, and Father.

Lord, I am willing to do greater works as long as you are the One doing the doing.

Thanks Father!

Ben NelsonAnd thank you for stopping by.

See you again soon

Ben

By the way - check out the artist page for the photo used above.

Sell Art Online

4

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. - Matthew 11:28-29

Here is a paradox.

If you are weary … I will give you rest … take my yoke.

Doesn’t a yoke mean work?

Isn’t Jesus asking us here to quit our work and help Him with His?

In fact – wouldn’t the yoke be like the international symbol for work at the time.

You would yoke your oxen so they could do the HARD part of the plowing, dragging, pulling.

Hmmmm.

How do we reconcile rest and doing the works of Christ with Him?

We must understand the labor to which Jesus is calling us.

I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. - John 5:30

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner." - John 5:19

All that Jesus does is the Father’s work, which the Father initiates, and facilitates.

Jesus responsibility was simply to stay connected to the Father to the extent that He could see and hear.

The Father does all the heavy lifting.

And that is the Father’s plan for us as well.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. - John 15:5

Anything we do apart from Jesus = nothing.

Anything we do IN Jesus, the Father is doing the work, so it will not be a matter of effort, it will be a matter of listening and following.

If there is stress about what you are doing, if it is causing turmoil in your life, you need to stop and listen. Let the Father tell you what to do, and let Him deal with the consequences.

Don’t get me wrong, it will not necessarily be pleasant or easy, but if it is not at least marked by peace it is likely not the Fathers will.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. - Colossians 3:15

I know this is a bit of a ramble today, but I think you can understand what I am saying.

Rest in Him and do what He puts before you.

The most important work of your day is to connect with Him.

Stop – Look – Listen

That is the yoke Jesus wants to share with you.

Speak Lord. I am listening.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Ben

 

By the way - check out the artist page for the photo used above.

 

Sell Art Online

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