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A garden enclosed
Is my sister, my spouse,
A spring shut up,
A fountain sealed.

...

A fountain of gardens,
A well of living waters,
And streams from Lebanon.

Song of Songs 4:12, 15 NKJV

Jesus said:

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." - John 4:10

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" - John 7:38

Jesus gives gifts that are made for re-gifting!

His two step process is simple –

1)    Ask
2)    Give

When we come to Him and ask Him for something to drink, He does not simply hand us a glass, nor does He teach us to get it for ourselves (as in ‘teach a man to fish.’)

These would both be wonderful responses on their own, but that is not God’s economy.

God’s brilliant plan is to place within each of us a source. [Tweet This]

Ask me for water and I will set in you a river that will flow to the nations.

Ask me for light and I will set you on a hill and cause you to shine.

Remember the old Chorus?

I've got a river of life flowing out of me,
Make the lame to walk and the blind to see,
Opens prison doors, set’s the captives free,
There’s a river of life flowing out of me,

Spring up O well, within my soul,
Spring up O well, and make me whole,
Spring up O well, and give to me,
New life, abundantly.

L. Casebolt

Ben NelsonGet out there and flow today!

See you again soon,

But for now, I remain,

Your brother Ben

If you enjoy these posts, would you do me a favor and like my Facebook page? - Thanks!

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Many Waters - SoS header

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
May you come with me from Lebanon.
Journey down from the summit of Amana,
From the summit of Senir and Hermon, |
From the dens of lions,
From the mountains of leopards.

Song of Songs 4:8

From the very start, the maiden’s deepest longing was to run with her heart-throb. At first she asked from a distance in 1:4:

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

Then she saw Him from afar and longed to an active passionate relationship with Him.

There were then attempts to follow Him into ministry, into the dangerous regions.

She tried on her own and burned out.

He invited her to come with Him and she chickened out.

He has now addressed her burnout with intimacy and her fears with an overwhelming display of strength.

The great thing here is that rather than let her dream die, and leave her feeling like a failure, He keeps coming back and asking her, in each new season, “will you come with Me now?”

Jesus is calling today!

He reiterates His call to her. Come! This call is throughout the Song – Come.

Often we sit in the Church and call on Jesus to come. We invite our friends to church and hope they will come, and when they do, we hope Jesus will come, but the real fact is Jesus has called us from outside the Church and He is calling us to come to Him.

Will you Come?

Today Jesus is calling us into the dangerous world of ministry, with the dangerous task of rescuing the perishing. [Tweet This]

He invites us to run and leap in the mountains and hills with Him. He is calling us to go come out in the face of the roaring liar lion and the stalking demons leopards

This love affair I have been writing about for over a year now is not about the comfort of a love nest, but rather it is a call to partnership with a fearless Savior, one who is willing to lay down everything to rescue those under the spell of our great enemy.

Will you come?

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today

Let’s join Him today.

Ben

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Many Waters - SoS header

The Shepherd King has been silent in the Song for quite a while. We have not heard His voice in the Song since the middle of chapter two when He was wooing her to come with Him, out into the hills and mountains, out of the cocoon and into ministry, out into the fulfilling of her initial prayer, “Draw me, and we will run.”

Now that He has demonstrated in no uncertain terms His incomparable ability to protect and defend her, and care for her needs, He is going to speak into her life.

So I ask Jesus today, what do you see in me? He steps closer and replies:

How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.

Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes
Which have come up from their washing,
All of which bear twins,
And not one among them has lost her young.

Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate
Behind your veil.

Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of stones
On which are hung a thousand shields,
All the round shields of the mighty men.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle
Which feed among the lilies.

Song of Songs 4:1-5 NASB

His answer rocks me, because He sees in me, what I can’t even see myself, and more than that, He sees in me the design of my Maker. When Jesus looks at me He sees what I am created for, He sees my potential! He sees how the Father knit me together from various skeins, with strands of talent, and various colors of passions and desires.

He speaks into my life what it can look like. He sees my love for Him and my care for what pleases Him as mature, not as they are today.

So what does He see in me? What does He see in you?

You are beautiful!

We understand that because of the cross of Christ, we have been washed, we are clean. That which was so ugly in us, that which pursued Christ to His horrible death, is gone. Your sin is not what Jesus sees when He looks at you. Your sin is not your defining character trait. Your sin does not even enter into the conversation, when Jesus is describing you.

As Solomon’s Song describes eyes, hair, teeth, lips, mouth temples, neck and breasts, those things that create a vision of great physical beauty, Jesus is looking at seven areas of inner beauty, and draws us to Himself, and to our own potential.

So what does He see in me? What does He see in you?

Dove’s eyes:

What Jesus sees in our eyes is faithfulness. One thing that sets the dove apart from many other birds is it’s monogamy, it mates for life, it is uniquely faithful.

The other aspect of a dove’s eyes that is significant is that that dove has a sort of tunnel vision. It can only focus on one thing, and has virtually no peripheral vision.

So the Lord looks at us, and counts us faithful to Him, to have eyes only for Him. The call to the maiden is to fix your eyes on Jesus.

If you are new to Song of Songs Saturday, you might want to check out the post from earlier this year that goes into much more depth about dove’s eyes here.

Long Flowing Hair:

Aside from bringing attention to her youth and vigor, this reference to her long flowing hair harkens back to the Nasserites of the Old Testament. These men would completely dedicate themselves to the Lord for a period of time. During the time of their vow, they would not cut their hair or shave. They would also stay away from the fruit of the vine, and keep away from anything that could make them unclean. They were considered holy unto the Lord for that season.

Jesus is seeing in the maiden a dedication to Him and the life and ministry that He had created for her/them to walk in together.

Teeth:

It interests me how focused He is on her mouth. There are actually three features of her mouth that attract Jesus, and draw out His comments.

The first is her teeth. I am pretty sure, though I have not done primary research on this fact, that in the day of Solomon, the better part of a millennium before Christ, dentistry was not what it is today. To find a woman with a full mouth of bright white teeth, each one with its match on the bottom, and its companions on each side would be fairly remarkable all by itself.

But the real point here is the function of teeth. Her teeth speak of her ability to eat. It sounds funny as a romantic comment this way, but the idea is that it is beautiful to the Lord when we chew on, or meditate on His Word. The word used for meditate in the Old Testament give the idea of the cow chewing it’s cud. In Psalm 1, David contrasts the blessed man to the one who does not embrace the Word. He says of the one who is blessed, that he meditates, or chews on, the law of the Lord day and night.

Lips:

Lips speak of her speech, and the strand of scarlet points to the fact that her speech is redemptive. It is said that there is a scarlet thread that runs through the Bible from front to back. This gospel thread is God’s redemptive plan devised from before the Father breathed the breath of life into Adam.

This scarlet thread is first seen when the blood of an animal was shed to cover the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve in the garden. Notably, when Israel attacked Jericho, Rahab was instructed to hang a scarlet threat out her window as a sign that she and her household were chosen, and so they were saved. So these scarlet lips are lips that constantly speak the gospel and share the redemptive message of life.

Mouth:

Here we look at another use for the mouth. One character trait that distinguishes a Christian is his vocabulary of praise. The praises of our mouth are so attractive to the Lord that it beckons His presence in our lives. Consider:

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. - Psalms 147:1 NKJV

and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself'?" - Matthew 21:16 NASB

And thou art holy, thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel. - Psalms 22:3 DBY

As you can see from these passages, praise is beautiful, attractive to the Lord. He is drawn to it, dwells in the midst of it. Psalm 100 tell us that it is our method of entry into the presence of the Lord.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise. - Psalms 100:4 NASB

Temples:

Her temples or cheeks display our emotion, or passion for Him. There is still an excitement, a thrill in our heart when we see Him.

There is a convicting passage in Jeremiah that speaks of Israel’s spiritual leadership, and how they were not helping the flock, but rather placating them with empty words. In the midst of this rebuke is this declaration:

Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush. –

Jeremiah 6:15 NASB

This may be the other side of the equation, but the heart of the Lord for us is that we would be able to feel – feel passion for Him – feel the hurt and need of those around us – and feel our own need for Him when we fall, so we would run back to Jesus for restoration.

Neck:

Our neck speaks of our will. The neck turns our head, and so sets our direction. The inclination of our neck toward the face of our Savior, demonstrates our will to follow Him.

In the writing of the prophets, Israel is spoken of as having a stiff neck, meaning it’s will was set against Him. Here we see just the opposite, She has strength of will, but it is turned toward Him. Even when she was resistant to obedience, her desire was toward him

Solomon says of her neck that it is built as an armory (NKJV) and set about with the shields of a thousand men. Her resolve is set toward Him. There is no shadow of turning in her will.

I love that He speaks this prophetically into her life right on the heals of a fall and a failing of her will. If you will remember with me:

  • She wanted to follow Him
  • He invited her to follow Him
  • She was fearful and pulled back

But here what He sees in her is a will that is set only on Him. I love that the Lord looks at us and sees His design for us, and His character in us, as we walk out a life that ebbs and flows.

Breasts:

Ok – honestly – the fact that Solomon mentions breasts in the Song is why a huge chunk of the church does not look at the Song. But let’s not be shy here.

There are two senses in which Solomon speaks of her breasts. Sometimes he speaks of her ability and desire to nurture, but here he is speaking of pure beauty. Jesus highlights the beauty of the Christian life, when grace and truth are in equal measure. John 1:14 says of Jesus.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

This marriage of grace and truth, of mercy and judgment, create a tension through out the Word, and when they are in equal measure they are beautiful.

Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. - Psalms 85:10

It is a beautiful picture of our Lord. And this is what He is looking for, and sees, in us. He wants His people to be a people in whom Mercy and Truth dwell in equal measures, neither one trumping the other. When truth rules without mercy, we miss the Spirit of the law, and when mercy reigns without the restraint of the truth, we have lawlessness, and lasciviousness.

Another beautiful paring in the Christian life would be faith and love. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, it does not matter how great our faith it, without love we are just noise. The writer to the Hebrew Christians tells us, right on the other hand, that without faith it is impossible to please God.

These marks of the blending of seeming opposites are what bring true beauty into the life of a Christian.

I know there is a lot to chew on here, but I hope you will here the Lord’s voice calling out in you the beauty that He has given you, and called you to. He sees you as you will be, not as you are today, and there is great hope in that calling.

You are beautiful! Take a step back today, and see yourself the way that Jesus sees you.

  • Faithful
  • Devoted
  • Given to His word
  • Ministering life
  • Full of Praise
  • Full of Passion
  • Will set on Him
  • Full of grace and truth – faith and love

Can you see it? He does!

Sorry for the length of this post. I know it is way more than usual. I hated to break this passage us, though I suppose many more people would have been likely to read smaller pieces. Thank you for reading all of it.

Ben NelsonHave a great weekend.

Stay Calm and Keep Shining!

Ben

 

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For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,

And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
The fig tree has ripened its figs,

And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. ~ Song of Songs 2:11-13

I owe you two more signs of life – The figs and vine blossoms.

We have been looking at season change now for a few weeks here on the SoS Saturday blog, and I hope it is doing you some good, I know it is helping me.

Today we start with the fig. I learned what I am about to share from  preacher and author Winkie Pratney in a sermon I had on cassette tape (that’s a audio medium about the size of an iPod which held between 45 minutes to 2 hours of audio only info) which I just about wore out, I listened to it so often. It was his sermon, “True or False Conversion,” or at least I think that was the name of the sermon.

In it he related the fact that as a child growing up in Australia, they had a fig tree in his yard, and what was unique about a fig tree was that the fruit shows up before the leaves. There would be fruit on the branches and as the fruit matured the leaves would come to protect the figs from the heat of the sun.

This opened my eyes to that story when Jesus cursed the fig tree. You remember? It was during His last week in ministry after the triumphal entry during His commute between Bethany where He was staying and Jerusalem where He was headed to turn over some tables. He came upon a fig tree with leaves. Though it was not yet fig season, He cursed the fig tree because it had no fruit.

I always wondered why curse a fig tree that does not have fruit out of season. Well, here’s the thing – it had leaves which were an indication that fruit was there. It had all the trappings of fruit, but could not satisfy.

Here is why this is so damnable.  As a fruit tree in His garden, to walk around with the trappings of fruit – with the air of spiritual life – and bear no fruit is the height of hypocrisy.

If you have no fruit in your life (and I don’t really care how you measure it, fruit of the spirit, or fruit of followers – whatever) and yet carry an air of spiritual life, you are in a very (VERY) precarious place.

Way better to own your fruit poverty, and pursue Him for the solution, than to look like you are doing great and it all be a sham.

Lord, today I need You to bring fruit to my vines, and help me to be honest with those around me, and moreover with myself about where I am.

Dang – I have gone too long already – well – one more week for signs of life. I know today was more of an anti-life sign blog. I do hope your tracking with me though.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you next week

Ben

His banner over me is love. ~ Song of Songs 2:4 NASB

I can’t read this without having the song we sang as kids run through my head. I guess when, as a child, I sang the song,

He lifts me up to His banqueting table, His banner over me is love.

I was picturing a big party with a long sign hanging across the wall “LOVE” and me sitting as the guest of honor.

But as I do a little digging, I find that everywhere else this word banner is used it is translated “standard.” This is not standard in the sense of a measure of conduct, but this standard is the flag or banner an army uses to rally the troops.

Raising the flag at Iwo Jima

This banner or flag is what calls the troops together, it unites them, it reminds them of what they are fighting for, it swells their chest with pride, and unifies them toward one purpose. It actually stirs such great commitment, that those who rally to this standard or banner would lay down their life in it's service.

In fact – the root word from which this is derived shows up twice in the Song, and both times the phrase is

As awesome [terrible – KJV] as an army with banners. ~ Song of Songs 6:4

So here is what I am taking away today as I picture myself in that House of Wine, just outside the door of my hideaway with my Lover, is His army (that would be the army of the Lord of Hosts) standing guard carrying a banner. This banner, perhaps with a cross, or an open grave, or a dove, or a flame of fire – all good images, states in no uncertain terms that all of my Lord’s considerable forces stand in my service at the ready to defend and protect me from all the power of the enemy.

Consider this:

And the seventy returned with joy, saying,

“Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

And He said to them,

I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” ~ Luke 10:17-20 NASB

And this:

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. ~ Psalm 34:7

There is no safer place that in the arms of our Beautiful Savior under His banner of love and protection!

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you next week.

Ben

We will make for you ornaments of gold with beads of silver. (Song of Songs 1:11 NASB)

The two most precious materials of ancient times – Gold and Silver.

This is how the Shepherd king intends to deck out his maiden fair.

Can you imagine how our maiden feels when she hears this from the mouth of the one she adores? Remember we are still looking at her recovery from feeling dark and frustrated by her inability to keep her affairs in order.

When her Man sees her, He sees a fashion model, who should be wearing the finest jewelry.

But what does the silver and gold represent?  Are they simply a sign that the Lord wants to lavish us with good things, wants to deck us out in splendor and majesty?

Perhaps.

Mike Bickle says the gold represents divinity and the silver salvation and I like that. Peter tells us in one of my top 10 favorite verses:

…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB)

We are adorned in gold – partakers of the divine nature – and sparkling with silver – rescued from the corruption of the world though His marvelous salvation.

So I am good with that.

Then as I was getting ready to write this I was doing a bit of a search and found this little passage in Zechariah.

Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ (Zechariah 13:7-9 NASB)

In this little parable the Father allows the sword (the Cross) to destroy the Shepherd (Jesus) and those who lightly follow Him are scattered.

The gold is tested and the silver refined.

Gold is your faithfulness when tested by adversity. As in the Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13 where the sun come and scorches the seedlings with no root – so it is with the fire used to test the believer. We will go through the fire, and your faithfulness will be tested.

As this happens, silver is refined. Your purity of character is enhanced by the testing you walk through.

Back to the Song – so it is with our maiden. Her initial encounters with adversity have not shaken her love for the Shepherd a bit, but intensified them. This demonstrates that she is worthy of adornment in gold.

These trials of her faith have purified her, and so she is worthy to be decked out in silver.

So it is with you, beloved. Remain faithful as circumstances and people attempt to separate you from the Lover of your soul, and He will adorn you with silver and gold. And this is a good place to start with Jesus.

Paul uses the same metaphor in 2 places:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NASB)

And again

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. (2 Timothy 2:20 NASB)

So you see, though we start our walk with Christ in crisis over our own failure, and our inability to keep our spiritual house in order (our unkempt vineyards) He sees our faithfulness and adorns us with the most precious of goods.

God is so good! What a wonderful salvation!

BenThanks for coming by

See you next week!

Ben

“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.” (Song of Songs 1:10 NASB)

We are eaves dropping on a bit of romance these days on SoS Saturday. We are listening in as the Shepherd King describes maiden fair. Last week we heard Him tell her of how He loved her cheeks as they expressed the depth of her emotion and passion for Him.

Today we overhear His musings about her neck.

So how is it with our maiden? Anytime He is in the room, she turns to see Him, to look Him over, to see what He is doing and with whom He is talking.

Her neck is like a compass turning her head ever to the North.

Additionally, a neck is the most vulnerable feature. Exposing your neck to another is a sign of trust and submission. I trust you not to exploit this weakness, and submit to your will and ability to rule me.

There is a phrase used in the older translations of the Bible, which means obstinate - stiff-necked. It is a neck that is unbending, immovable, unyielding.

So, you see, the neck speaks of your will and submission.

When Jesus looks at us, He considers our neck.

How is your neck? Are you quick to turn toward the sound of His voice? Are you moved by His call on your life? Do you drop those things that would offend Him when your conscience whispers “No”?

Or does Jesus have to battle to get your attention? Are you slow to turn from your own way? Does your heart cry out the anti-Gethsemane prayer – Not Your will but mine!

There is another lesson in the neck though.

Victory is in the turning.

Often, when we Christians do our spiritual accounting, we only count victory as having complete dominance over our sin. I am only victorious in a battle with sin when I no longer even think of committing it.

This could not be further from the truth.

God is pleased with the turn of our neck toward Him. He knows it is a process we must walk through. He understands the weakness of our flesh.

Hey – He throws a party the day you decide to follow Him, at your very first turning. And every turn you make in submission to Him, even a small turn, pleases Him. [Tweet This]

He knows you are struggling with that something today, and sees your desire to be free and follow Him in that area, and He is cheering for you! He hurts with you when you fall and fail, and is there to draw you once again.

Don’t give up in your struggles to live a godly life. I promise He has not given up on you.

BenHope that helps

See you next week.

Ben