2

For your love is better than wine. - Song of Songs 1:2b NASB

How so?

How is the love of the this Shepard King better than wine?

Wine pretends to be a provider. It offers to provide joy, peace, comfort, hope, escape. But it’s provision is brief and fleeting. Its refreshing doesn’t last past the night, and in the morning what it supplied is gone, and what’s left is deeper need.

By contrast, the Lord’s love is enduring, His provision is real and lasting. The provision we receive from Jehovah Jireh supplies felt needs as well as real needs we may not even know we have, with an everlasting supply.

The joy that comes through relationship with the Lord is not dependent on circumstances.

The peace given by the Prince of Peace is incomprehensible, a peace that passes understanding.

The comfort of the Lord is not a pat on the hand and a sympathetic hug. The Lord’s comfort comes to us in the form of the Holy Spirit. He comes beside us and brings us strength for the day and wisdom to choose for tomorrow. Where wine may calm us with a false peace and comfort, that is gone in the morning, the Spirit, the Comforter, walks with us through the valley of death and provides peace and hope each step of the way.

The escape wine offers simply delays or masks the circumstances we want to flee. In the Spirit, there is a courage that faces trouble with hope based on the sure knowledge that the Lord has a plan for us and a way has been made.

Think of Jesus getting on a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of a life-threatening storm, he sleeps, knowing His Father’s will awaited on the other side of the lake. The assurance we have as we follow Him tells us our end is in His hands, and so, is sure.

By His love, we learn to love in like manner. His love restores our relationships and gives us the ability to love even our enemies.

His love is better than wine at every turn.

Thanks for coming by,

See you again soon,

Ben

1

Our maiden’s pursuit of the Shepherd King culminates in this:

Then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace.

Song of Songs 8:10 NASB

Shalom

This word shows up 242 times in the Old Testament, and it’s way bigger than our word peace.

Here’s what you’ll find over at BlueLetterBible.org

Hebrew_Lexicon____H7965__NASB_

Charles Stock, pastor of Life Center in Harrisburg, PA, sums it up this way:

“Nothing missing, nothing broken.”

I love that!

In the Song this word only shows up one time.

Our dear Shulamite was looking for romance.

May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. - Song of Songs 1:2

She sought adventure.

Draw me after you and let us run together!

In the end, what she finds is peace.

Like may of us, in her youth, she thought she knew what she wanted. Her pursuit was not unwise. After all, the object of her love turned out to be the Prince of Peace. The adventure she ran after brought her to the place where she appeared to be an army with banners. She is the victorious bride—vanquisher (far more than a conqueror) of the realm. The life she was pursuing was so filled with adventure, she shied away at first. And still, when she set aside her fear and followed Him with all her heart—into the hills and mountains—out of the comfort of the quiet place—she found shalom—peace.

Her life is quite a contrast to my generation who cried out, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

In fact, just as Jesus promised in the Beatitudes,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be [completely] satisfied. - Matthew 5:6 NASB [AMP]

Some of us seek peace by shrinking back, by pulling away from conflict, by sitting on the sidelines.

Our maiden learned that the only way to find true peace is to follow Him—Jesus—with your whole heart—to go all in on life in the Spirit. There’s no other path to peace.

Ben NelsonJoin me—Let’s run after Him.

Blessings,

Ben

7

How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince's daughter! 

Song of Songs 7:1

The first thing catches her followers attention about the bride of Christ is her feet. This idea of beautiful or lovely feet is not unique to the Song, but it’s actually the first time it comes up in the Word.

We find two other references to lovely feet in the prophets:

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"

Isaiah 52:7

Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O Judah;
Pay your vows.
For never again will the wicked one pass through you;
He is cut off completely.

Nahum 1:15

In both cases the prophets Isaiah and Nahum speak of a messenger of peace, and bringing good news.

Paul uses the glue gun of New Covenant revelation to firmly attach this to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Romans 10, as he describes preaching as the delivery system for the message of salvation.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" - Romans 10:14-15

It’s a sure mark of maturity that as we go we are brining the Good News of the gospel, and where we go we are leaving a wake of peace.

Paul even gives us this picture as part of our equipment, when he dresses us in the full armor of God.

and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; - Ephesians 6:15

The fact that she is wearing sandals tells me she is no longer living only the in secret place, but she is, in fact, running with her Groom in the hills and mountains - out in the highways and byways of life.

She has given her feet to the gospel.

Paul exhorts us in Romans 6

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. - Romans 6:13

He calls us not just to say “Yes Lord” I will follow you, but to present our members - let’s say body parts - to God as instruments of righteousness.

The call I hear today, in this beautiful song - is present your feet to God as agents of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Strap on your sandals and get out there and make some disciples. [Tweet This] Let the wave of peace that resided in you, in the person of the Prince of Peace, cause a change in the atmosphere everywhere your sandals take you.

You have beautiful feet!

Walk your faith out into the world today.

Ben NelsonBlessings,

Ben

2

 

Friday I said you have to drive out the Philistines if you want to dwell in the Land of Promise.

Yes the battle is the Lords, and He supplies the weaponry, but still you have to set your self to do battle to take, and keep, the promises of God.

Let me tell you, there were philistines everywhere on Friday.

They were trying to steal my peace, kill my joy and destroy my faith.

That’s what the thief does, you know – steal, kill and destroy.

When I noticed my joy walking toward the back door, seemingly all by itself, the AH HA buzzer sounded, and I pulled out one of the weapons I was carrying.

Sometimes I carry right out in the open, but Friday, I had this weapon concealed.

I often use this weapon in the shooting range of a Sunday worship service at church, but today I needed to pull it out right in my office.

I pointed that weapon of Praise right at my Father and pulled the trigger. With the other hand (that’s right – I dual wield these babies!) I began to pray in the Spirit.

That peace did a 180 and headed back, lickity split, and the philistine ran for the hills. His two brothers dropped my joy and faith where they were standing, and followed on that little rascal’s heals.

It was a good day at the office.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Get some target practice in this weekend!

See you soon.

Ben

Rembrandt: Christ in the Storm

So tell me the truth. When the hater of your soul throws storms at you…

And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep. ~ Matthew 8:24

… how well do you sleep?

There is something about Jesus’ inner peace that allowed Him to sleep in the storm.

You know what, this peace is supernatural.

Paul tells us:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, ~ Colossians 3:15

You see:

1)    There is no apparent reason for this peace

2)    It comes from the inside, from the Spirit of the living God who…

My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. ~ John 14:23

3)    It stands guard, protecting your heart, keeping fear at bay.

4)    It protects your mind, keeping worry and fretting from dominating every thought. Worry and fretting is what your mind busies itself with when your heart is ruled by fear.

5)    This treasure of unaccountable peace is locked in the safest of all safes – “in Christ.”

Picture it with me.

There is this fabulous treasure chest. Do you reckon your heart and mind a treasure worth guarding? Well it is! [Tweet this]

It is hidden away in an impenetrable fortress. They used to call Alcatraz “the Rock,” but that’s a leaky bucket compared to Christ!

Standing guard is a legion of heavenly armed and seriously beefy soldiers. We could call them Peace Keepers if you like.

That is how Jesus sleeps in a storm. He does not let His heart and mind entertain fear and worry.

He has heard the voice of His Father, and knows they are headed across the sea.

I hope you can see this today.

Ben NelsonI hope you will join me then.

Ben

Today’s Saturday special diverts from the red letters a bit to an exhortation from James. This word has had an impact on me this week, and I wanted to share it with you

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)

My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.

As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.

Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.

Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]

The GOOD:

  • Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
  • Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)

The BAD:

  • Bitter Jealousy
  • Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
  • Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)

Bad Wisdom is:

  • Earthly
  • Demonic (Wow)

Bad Wisdom leads to:

  • Disorder
  • EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)

The Character of the GOOD wisdom:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
  • Unwavering
  • Without Hypocrisy
  • Sown in Peace by Peacemakers

So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.

Can you bring wisdom in this way?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

Peaceable Kingdom - Edward Hicks

Deborah asks:

I have a question for tomorrow studying Hosea 2. Do you think that verse 18 is not only referring to the natural but also the spiritual realm of warfare?

shalom, shalom

Deborah

Wow Deborah!

What a great question.

I have to say, as I have said before, I am not a scholar by any means.

Here is the text Deborah is asking about – with a little bit extra on either side.

And it will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky, And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, ~ Hosea 2:16-19

When I read this, I am thinking we are talking as yet unfulfilled prophecy. This is not something that I believe has come to pass as yet.

The Lord is pointing to a day in the future. What is sometimes called the Peaceable kingdom.

So Deborah’s question is does this mean actual animals at peace with one another, some cessation of spiritual warfare, or I might add a third choice – both.

Generally speaking I don’t hold strongly to any one view of end times at this point. I have just not studied it enough to be convinced one way or another. Actually, my problem may be the opposite of that. I was convinced, and then I studied from a different point of view and was convinced again – and then --- well you get the idea. There are many ways to read these scriptures.

So will there be a time in heaven or on earth when wars will cease and animals will get along.

Yep, I believe so.

I get the sense that was the case in the garden with Adam and Eve, which was an expression of a time with men and no sin. There was however that old serpent even then, stirring things up.

There are other accounts (2 in Isaiah – Ch 11 and 65) where the animals are getting along.

I love that this talk of peace is sandwiched in bridal language – Vs 16 – you will call me man not master – or perhaps  - husband not master. And in vs 19 – I will betroth you to me forever.

One more thing for you all to ponder. I am a firm believer in breaking through dispensations.

What I mean by breaking through dispensations is doing like the Syrophonecian woman did with Jesus, where He said, "I can’t heal the gentile dog because at this time I am here for the Jews." (really loose paraphrase therefore not in red)

She was like – I want it now – I can’t wait for the cross – my daughter is going to kill herself before that – and she would not take no for an answer.

How is it with you. Are you hoping for a day of peace? Spiritual – Natural – Political? Pull it forward – press in – Ask Seek Knock and not just a little. Knock for all our are worth.

Ben NelsonHappy Friday

Have a great day

Ben

I wanted to share with you a blog from Helen at Are we nearly there yet? What a great insight!

Enjoy:

Are we nearly there yet? : The Lord is near

The Lord is Near

The Lordis near

Afternoon, God.

Did you know, one of my favourite bits of the Bible is the book of Philippians. Upbeat, encouraging, reassuring, even though Paul was languishing in prison when he wrote it. How amazing is that?

The other day I was moseying through Philippians and I had one of those moments where the penny dropped. One of those moments that must make the angels giggle where I stop in my tracks and stare into space for a while until the new idea finds a place to live in my head.

It's all about living as a Christian in a non-Christian world. I like that Paul isn't very deep or theological in this book, but Paul knows that the Philippians are finding things hard and he wants to lift them up. One of my favourite bits is the bit about not worrying. As you are well aware, Lord, this bit could have been written just for me; indeed I think it probably was.

You had me in mind when you had Paul write it down.

'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.'Philippians 4: 6-7

I like it. I'm not very good at it, but I think that because of you, I'm better at it than I was. Not as good as I will be - with your help I'm getting better and better. Maybe. But that's not the point.

The point is that I need not be anxious because you are for me.  On my side. You are looking after me. You know what I need, and you want me to trust you with all my anxieties. You want me to come to you and talk to you. Offload, if necessary. Communicate. And in exchange for me dumping my worries on you, you'll give me peace; a peace that the world doesn't know about, something that we can't imagine or understand.

You will wrap me in this peace and keep me safe.Sounds like I get the best of that deal. I give you the rubbish, you give me peace. Why don't I have peace? Because I don't give you the rubbish? I just cart it round myself, now and again show it to you, maybe even push it your way, but I fail to leave it with you. As a result, I am not particularly peaceful.via Are we nearly there yet? : The Lord is near.

Forever… (Matt 6:13)

Ever Increasing Peace!

So I have been pondering this verse since I dug it out for yesterday’s post. Here are two verses together to get us some context. Many would be pretty familiar with Verse 6.

6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB – emphasis mine)

One of the biggest mistakes the average Pharisee made in Jesus day was in confusing scriptures of the 1st and 2nd coming of Christ. They had been given the job of holding the truth of scripture and pointing to the Messiah. But they (most of them) blew it during His earthly ministry. Not a mistake I want to repeat!

So I am looking at time frame in these 2 verses.

I am pretty sure the “child will be born” portion is pointing at the birth of Christ. What I am trying to get my arms around is verse 7. Do we write this off to the millennium? –or- Do we pull it forward?

Clearly He is not physically reigning on the throne of David right now, nor has He. That must be some future time.

But the phrase I want to press in on today is “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.” And I want to tell you today, that this is intended to be true in your heart. From the day He is “born” in you, the day you surrender the throne of your heart to Jesus, His reign begins to take hold of you. From that day forward, the normal Christian life should see more and more of Christ reign and dominion in every area of their world.

As you turn over more and more of your life, rather than feeling like a slave, what actually happens is that peace increases. He is the Prince of Peace, and so wherever He reigns, peace reigns.

Peace is the thermometer of surrender. Where turmoil reigns you’re in charge. Where peace reigns He is. [click to tweet] Life turmoil is pointing you to Christ.

Is there some area in your life that you need to turn over to Him today? This is your path to peace. As the reign of Christ increases, so does peace.

Can you share a way in which peace has increased in your life, as you turned areas in your life over to Christ?

Thanks for reading today. Come back soon.

Ben

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photo pin cc

Today’s Saturday special diverts from the red letters a bit to an exhortation from James. This word has had an impact on me this week, and I wanted to share it with you

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)

My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.

As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.

Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.

Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]

The GOOD:

  • Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
  • Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)

The BAD:

  • Bitter Jealousy
  • Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
  • Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)

Bad Wisdom is:

  • Earthly
  • Demonic (Wow)

Bad Wisdom leads to:

  • Disorder
  • EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)

The Character of the GOOD wisdom:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
  • Unwavering
  • Without Hypocrisy
  • Sown in Peace by Peacemakers

So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.

Can you bring wisdom in this way?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben