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3

Fence

If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Song of Songs 8:9 NASB

I’ve been thinking a bunch about walls and doors of late. Or more precisely as fences and gates. I’m replacing the fence in my backyard with some fence given to me by a brother. He’s in the fencing business, and was replacing a fence that was only a couple years old. When he learned that much of my fence as falling down, and deteriorating he offered to drop off this old fence to my home. What a huge blessing. Neighbors were starting to complain about my dilapidated (and altogether missing in some spots) 40-year-old fence. They are thrilled to see a new fence going up.

In the process, I have had to plan where the gates would go, and how I was going to lay it all out to make the best use of what I’ve been given. How do I  connect the gate, and ensure that it will open and close, let people in or out, and still enclose the yard properly.

Now back to the Song. The bride chats with the Shepherd King about the discipleship of her little sister. Their discussion comes around to how best to prepare her for ministry. She talks with her partner in ministry about those she is bringing along in the faith.

Before we get to doors and walls, think about this conversation. We’ve said the bride is a mature saint and her partner is the Lord Jesus Christ. They are partners in the making of disciples.

Before Jesus left for heaven, he gave some instructions to those who would follow Him.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:19-20 NASB

He did not command them to make converts.
He did not require them to create laws to demanding righteous living from those who did now know Him.
He did not ask them to build buildings, and create programs.

He commissioned them to make disciples, to take what He had taught them, and teach it to others.

As this plays out, they find that the Lord plants in different people, different gifting. They learn that some have a call on their lives to bring people into the kingdom - a gifting in evangelism. Others are bent more toward pastoring, nurture, and protection.

At times we can all do both, and in a sense as we make disciples, we are doing both. We are bringing those we win though the gates, and then helping to build walls for their protection.

Paul speaks to some of the “walls” of Emphasis, when he is leaving them for the last time.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. - Acts 20:28-30 NASB

One more observation.

The Great Commission, to make disciples of every nation, was not given to one person, but to the group of followers at His ascension. It was not meant to be carried out by one person, or by one local church, or by one denomination.

No - this commission was given to the whole Church, and the promise was that as we carry it out, He would be with us.

So here He is with the bride as she is making disciples.

It’s a beautiful picture of Christ and us together, raising up young christians in ministry. We look together at how they were formed, their giftings and callings, their bent. We help them to move into what God has formed them to be.

Are you a wall or a gate, or more of a combination?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping by today.

Have a great weekend.

Ben

1

What Shall We Do

We have a little sister,
And she has no breasts;
What shall we do for our sister
On the day when she is spoken for?

Song of Songs 8:8 NASB

Compassion

Have you ever been in a time of worship, basking in the presence of the Lord, enjoying His embrace and found yourself interceding for the body?

The Lord has been telling His bride of His love for her in verses six and seven. As she soaks in His love, something stirs in her heart.

Her heart goes to her little sister, her immature sister.

She is not impatient with this immature believer. She knows, from her own walk, the time before love for the Shepherd King had captivated her. She remembers the days past when  she knew not the sweet kisses of His word. She looks back at her life before she had the twin beauties of love and faith in operation, before her Lover had marked her with by His own twin virtures of grace and truth.

The maturity of her faith draws her into compassion for those who are too young for meat, those who need the milk of the word.

We

Do you remember her first prayer—her two part request of the Lord at the beginning of the song?

Draw me after you and let us run together! ~ Song of Songs 1:4 NASB

It’s striking to me that her prayer now is not just removed intersession. She is not saying, “Lord, help our sister grow; Teach her to walk in your ways; Lead her to the life you have given me.”

Her prayer includes her own involvement.

It reminds me of a principal from the book Rees Howells, Intercessor. He taught we should never expect God to answer our prayers unless we were willing to take part of the answer.

And so it is with our Bride. She prays, “What shall we do?

This is perhaps one of the most striking things about growing in Christ. Our God in all His Omni-ness (ok - I made that word up) is not content to save us and lead us, though He obviously is capable of such activity. His desire is to partner with us, to collaborate with us. He cares about our heart’s desires (once it's conformed to His character) and let’s us plan with Him. He gives us a huge measure of influence in the use of His powerful hand in our world.

I recommend you add this phrase to your prayer life today. “What shall we do?”

It’s not “What am I going to do about this?” where we wallow in self-pity or fretting. It’s not “What are You going to do about this?” where we shrug our shoulders and feel helpless and useless.

You see, Christ in us, the hope of glory is so much more than our hope of getting to heaven. It’s His hope that we will be christ (with a small 'c') to our generation, we will be that letter written by the hand of God on the new heart He placed in your soul.

What shall we do?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping in today.

See you again soon.

Ben

PS - I’d love it if you would pray with me for the placement of my new book Encounters With Jesus in Lifeway Stores across the country. I've applied to their new product placement department, and it would be a huge answer to prayer if they would carry Encounters in their 180 locations.

PPS - Have you read Encounters With Jesus? It would be a huge help and blessing to me if you would rate it on Amazon.com.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it in paperback or kindle.

8

“I Shall Be Whole” { The Woman with an Issue of Blood } Painted by Al Young http://alyoung.com/art/work-hem.html
“I Shall Be Whole”
{ The Woman with an Issue of Blood }
Painted by Al Young http://alyoung.com/art/work-hem.html

Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?" - Mark 5:30

Yesterday we looked at how the woman with the hemorrhage was able by faith to tap the power of God that was resident in Jesus. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

I think what Jesus did is super informative for us.

Jesus saw what the Father was doing and joined. There are times – maybe most of the time – that Jesus was way ahead of the crowd, but somehow, this time, Jesus was not aware ahead of time what the Father was going to do.

Does this seem like blasphemy to you? I promise I am not going for blasphemy. I believe Jesus is God, that He is the 2nd person of the Trinity. I believe He created all things, and that He is eternal.

Here is an important point of theology though. When Jesus walked the earth, He did not stop being God, but He limited His use of the supernatural to only what was possible for a human who was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Rather than Jesus being a magic man, doing miracles by His own creative and redemptive power as God, He did miracles by the Spirit using the power of God. He saw what the Father was doing, and joined Him. Jesus partnered with the Father to do every miracle He did as He walked the streets of Galilee.

And in the story we are pondering currently of the woman with the hemorrhage, the power had already flowed from Jesus into the woman when Jesus picked up on what the Father was doing.

He immediately saw what was happening, and joined it. He confirmed what He was with the Father in four ways

  1. He told her to have courage – “Daughter, take courage” (Matthew 9:22)
  2. He told her what happened – “your faith has made you well” (Luke 8:48)
  3. He spoke peace into her life – “go in peace” (Luke 8:48)
  4. He sent her away with the expectation that not only the bleeding, but the horror that had been her life for twelve years was now over. “be healed of your affliction.” (Mark 5:34)

Lord, I want to be so full of the Holy Spirit that others can tap into it. Let it be a river flowing out of my inner most being into a dry and thirsty land. Lord, I want to be attentive to what you are doing with that river, where it is flowing, so I can speak into the lives you are changing around me with Your words of life.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Cheryl at Bread for the Bride posted this article this week, and I wanted to share it with any of you who do not know Cheryl's blog.

gethsemane

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  Mark 1:40-41

The willingness of God to meet us just where He finds us is absolute.  There is no dark place He is not willing to enter with His light and His Life. There is no hidden corner His Love is not willing to penetrate.  There is no shame, no hurt, no brokenness He is not willing to heal, no secret sin He is not willing to forgive and no life destroyed He is not willing to restore.

The greatest test of God’s willingness towards man took place in Gethsemane.  There the Father proved His willingness to sacrifice His own Son so that humanity might escape the grip of sin and death.  There the Son, through blood, sweat and tears, surrendered His human will to agree with the divine will of His Father, for humanity’s sake.  There the Holy Spirit ministered unfathomable grace to the Son, enabling Him to emerge victorious from the greatest spiritual battle of His earthly ministry.  The battle was all about willingness. (Luke 22:42)

The dumbest question a person can ask is:  … Read More

The Real Coalition of the Willing | Bread for the Bride.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in

Ben

photo credit: reutC via photopin cc
photo credit: reutC via photopin cc

Jesus spends some time with this woman He meets at the well in Sychar of Samaria while the boys are out buying lunch. When they get back and find Him in conversation with this stranger they are a bit perplexed, but no one has the pluck to ask Him what He is up to.

I think it was Thaddeus, who was still working on his falafel, realized Jesus was not eating.

Disciples: “Rabbi, eat”
Jesus: “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
Disciples: “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
Jesus: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”

[Adapted from John 4:31-34]

I have heard it said that for a Christian, the Word of God is spiritual food. That we must feed daily on the Word and that will be what satisfies our souls. There is truth in this analogy, however, today, reading this again, I have a big thought.

Here, as you can plainly see, Jesus speaks of His food as doing the will of the Father.

This idea is not isolated to His conversation here in Sychar.

In the Beatitudes it sounds like this

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6 NASB)

The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians says it like this

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14 NASB)

In Paul’s first letter to Corinth it sounds like this

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB)

The Word of God is imperative to Christian living, whether you are talking about the written Word bound in the pages of Holy Scripture, or you are talking about the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking to His flock bringing explanation, exhortation, and application of that written word.

Jesus had this daily input from the Father, and could not live without it, but it was his food, His energy source. No. His food was acting on the Word spoken to His heart. His food – His meat – was found in obedience partnership with that word. Allowing what He heard in the secret place with the Father to become flesh.

This verse from Hebrews says the difference between milk and meat taking the word learned as a babe in Christ and acting on it – practicing it!

Do you ever wonder why so many can be part of a Church body for decades and still have little baby spiritual understanding. It is because they do not let the word become flesh. We don’t obey partner with the Word we hear so that it becomes flesh. We do not lay ourselves on the altar – living sacrifices – holy and acceptable to God, by conforming to the Word.

Check this last verse I shared in 1 Corinthians

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB)

Knowledge unapplied makes you proud, which is the essence of childishness.

Love (which is the application of the Word to our actions) builds you up edifies those you are practicing on. It is the Word made flesh.

I like that definition - Love is the application of the Word of God to your actions. [Tweet This]

As I have said before in this forum:

Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are?

My desire today is for you to be the Word made flesh in your town, your school, your work place, your church, your neighborhood.

Perhaps today, while you are sitting by a well, someone will walk up who desperately needs some living water.

BenThanks for coming by today.

Come back tomorrow, and we’ll talk.

Ben

 

Related Article:  The Good, the Bad and the Really Good!

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