Jesus said:

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:17-18 NASB)

Here is one that might not be obvious, but it is so powerful.

Daniel was one of God favorites.

In Daniel Chapter 9 he records an amazing prayer and the response he received.

So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

And he gave me instruction and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.” (Daniel 9:3,22-23 NASB)

I highly recommend you read the whole text. Daniel 9 - Blue Letter Bible

Two things strike me about this.

First, notice the intensity with which he is pursuing his request. This was no throw away prayer. He was pressing in with everything he had to obtain his answer.

Prayer

Supplications

Fasting

Sackcloth

Ashes

Daniel was seeking God for one thing with massive intensity.

So what was the object of all this passion? This blows my mind. He is not praying for a loved one’s (or even his own) healing from some life threatening disease. He is not praying for help with some financial crisis. He is not praying for the right political regime to take office.

He is asking for understanding – for clarification of scripture.

Get this now – He was reading the prophecies of Jeremiah, and he wanted to make sure he had it right. He wanted to make sure he was not misunderstanding what he was reading. He was looking for how this passage should impact how he was living.

He did not just accept the common understanding of the passage from the main stream. He pressed in to hear what the heart of the Father would speak directly to his heart.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you go out and create your own pet doctrines. But sometimes a verse jumps off the page at you – doesn’t it?

When it does, you need to be diligent and gain understanding that will impact your life.

When God calls your attention to a passage, you need to seek His face and learn from Him where He wants to apply it IN YOUR LIFE.

If the Word of God is not changing your life, you must change that.

Let me bring 2 more scriptures into this conversation.

Solomon said (and I love the old KJV for this one)

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7 KJV)

I might recommend all of Proverbs 4 here.

Solomon – the wisest man of all times - tells you with every ounce of “get” in you, you must get understanding. Don’t be satisfied if it is not making a change in your life.

The final text I want to bring to the table today is from James.

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:22 NASB)

When you hear the word, and do not find its intersection with your life, no transformation is possible. [Tweet This] You become deluded into believing that by simply reading the Word you are justified.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

So then when God puts a passage on your heart, you might consider skipping a meal or two and pressing in for understanding. He promises that if anyone asks for wisdom, He will gladly supply it.

Thanks for stopping in today.

Ben

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 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 to make you the righteousness of God in Him.

When He said His name was JEHOVAH-SHALOM  - Our perfect peace - He was demonstrating His passion to come as the Prince of Peace and demolish all that stands between you and peace with God.

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 to heal 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 declaration of His Name changed your reality?

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

Ben

My Beautiful Bride and I - circa 1979

and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. (Matt 5:42b NASB)

OK – time for a life story. In our 34 years of marriage, my wife and I managed to accumulate a huge amount of debt. Take it from me, this is not a good life plan.

My wonderful wife has always pressed for a budget, and would read me book after book on how to manage your money.

We tried naming it and claiming it, praying over it, speaking to it, and the ever popular whining about it.

Still in debt! Thankfully still in love (which is a huge miracle – she could have quit that after the first 32,423 times I didn’t follow the budget.

Anyway – recently we got hooked up with a Dave Ramsey FPU class and it has turned our finances around. Not because of new information, but because he motivated me to change my behaviors.

Dave Ramsey - Debt Killer

His radio show into includes the phrase “where Debt is Dumb.” One of his major tenets is do not borrow or lend money ever. He uses this verse to explain how all debt is bad.

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave. (Proverbs 22:7 NASB)

Debt changes our relationships. If you lend a friend money, you are no longer just friends, your are master and slave. Same with family – you can get so you begin to judge how they are spending their money because they are not paying you back with it.

This is working well for me until I get to Jesus’ word and see that He says if someone wants to borrow from you, don’t run the other way. Just jump on that.

Why does Jesus contradict the wisest man who ever lived? Was Solomon wrong, or is Jesus wrong – or is Dave Ramsey wrong.

Nope – none of the above.

Jesus, in the Luke version of the Sermon on the mount (perhaps a different day, perhaps the perspective of a doctor rather than a tax collector – who knows) give a bit more of Jesus’ instructions on lending.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:34-35 NASB)

OH – I GET IT – You can lend all you want, just don’t expect to get anything in return.

In other words – when you lend – you give – and forgive the debt immediately. Consider what you lend to be a gift, not an investment. [Tweet This]

By the way – that is actually what Dave Ramsey says too – Don’t lend – give help when you feel led, and if they pay you back – awesome, if not you still have a friend or family member.

Live with open hands today!

Thanks for stopping in. Come back soon.

Ben