Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pursued By His Love- Part 2 of 2

***SONG OF SOLOMON 2:1-6 (AMP)- She said I am only a little rose or autumn crocus of the plain of Sharon, or a humble lily of the valley that grows in deep and difficult places. 2) But Solomon replied, Like the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters. 3) Like an apple tree among the trees of wood, so is my beloved shepherd among the sons cried the girl! Under his shadow I delighted to sit, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 3) He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love (for love waved as a protecting and comforting banner over my head when I was near him!) 5) Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love. 6) I can feel his left hand under my head and his right hand embraces me!

In this passage of scripture we can see that Solomon continues to lift up the Shulamite woman with his words-“Like a lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters.” He lets her know that she is very special to him. He favors her over the daughters of Jerusalem.

YOU are special to God. YOU stand out from among the rest! I know that God is no respecter of persons, but have you ever felt like His favorite? You should! God is so awesome. In His awesomeness, He has a way of loving all of us equally, but each one of us stands out as His special, favorite child. God loves us in a miraculous way that can never be measured, and can hardly be described! Your relationship with God is special, intimate, and your very own. Nobody else has a relationship with God that is exactly like yours.

Just as the Shulamite woman was delighted to sit under Solomon’s shadow for protection (v.3), The Lord is our protector. He is our Hero, the one who fights our battles. As children who desire to please the Father, we abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). Submitting to His authority in our lives is a covering of protection. His banner over us is love (v.4). This means that His love actually moves as protection around us as we draw near to him. Have you ever gone into your prayer closet with a load of troubles? Sure, we all have. In that prayer closet, have you ever reached God in such a way that you find yourself lifted above your circumstances, full of peace that passes understanding, knowing that everything will be alright? If so, you were experiencing His banner of love! The Lord has a firm hold on us at all times, with his left hand under our head, while his right hand embraces us (v.6) Hebrews 13:5 in the amplified translation tell us that …’God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down or relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!’ Yes, he stresses ‘I will not’ three times, and I love that. Are you convinced that you are secure in Christ? If not, I have more proof.

Deuteronomy 33:27- The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

A good shepherd will give his life for his sheep. Although the wolves may be ferocious, the shepherd will stand in front of the sheep to confront the enemy’s attack to the point of death. To put it simply, we are the sheep. Satan is the wolf. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. JESUS DIED TO SAVE US FROM THE ENEMY! What makes you think that God would allow you to be overtaken now? As we abide in him, he scatters our enemies before us. YOU ARE SAFE.

***SONG OF SOLOMON 2:10;14-16 (AMP)- My beloved speaks and says to me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. 14) So I went with Him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me, O, my dove, while you are here in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. 15) My heart was touched and I fervently sang to Him my desire. Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards of our love, for our vineyards are in blossom. 16) She said distinctly, my beloved is mine and I am his! He pastures his flocks among the lilies.

The Lord has restored us and made us whole. He has destroyed and scattered our enemies. He has given us beauty for ashes. What is our part in this love relationship?

1. The Lord wants us to spend quality time with him. To keep any relationship alive, requires time and communication. The Lord desires to spend time with us. He wants hear from us. ‘…in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice. (v.14)’

Regardless of what you may think of yourself, despite the scars of this world, The Lord loves the look of your face and the sound of your voice. He loves when we pray. Find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed, and talk to the Lord…OUTLOUD. He passionately loves you and is pursuing you.

Read your Bible. It is the best way to get to know the nature of God. Scripture is literally God speaking to us! His words are life and His promises are real. The Bible is also our best weapon against the enemy.

2. We should desire to remove the little foxes that spoil the vineyard. Little foxes represent small, hidden, or seemingly unimportant sins. Just as small fox puppies look cute and harmless, but can destroy an entire vineyard; small sins are often overlooked, but can lead to much damage in our lives. The Shulamite woman asked Solomon to take away all of the little foxes. (v.15) She knew the consequences of having an un-kept vineyard. She did not want anything to hinder the growth of her relationship with Solomon.

3. Another way we express our love for the Lord is to declare Him before men. The Shulamite woman openly declared that Solomon belonged to her and she belonged to him. Declare to others that you belong to Jesus!!! He is yours and you are His!

Matthew 10:32-33-(Jesus said) Everyone who acknowledges Me before men and confesses Me, I will also acknowledge him before my Father Who is in heaven and confess him. 33) But whoever denies and disowns Me before men, I also will deny and disown before My Father which is in heaven.

***SONG OF SOLOMON 4:9-10 (amp)- You have ravished my heart and given me courage, my sister, my promised bride; you have ravished my heart and given me courage with one look from your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. 10) How beautiful is your love, my sister, my promised bride! How much better is your love than wine! And the fragrance of your ointments than all spices!

JESUS IS REAL, ALIVE, AND HAS POWERFUL FEELINGS FOR US! Like the songs says ‘When He was on the cross, we were on his mind’. Think about the reality of that night. Take a moment to consider what Jesus must have felt the night He agonized in the Garden of Gethsemene. Think about the extreme suffering he endured…the brutality of the scourging and His death on the cross. Now realize that it was his love for you and me that moved him forward, giving him the endurance to proceed. ‘You have ravished my heart and given me courage, my sister, my promised bride…(v.9)’ The persecution and ridicule of the San Hedrin could not keep him from loving us. The severity of the scourging could not keep him from loving us. The weight of the cross could not keep him from loving us. THERE IS NO TRIAL IN OUR LIVES TODAY THAT CAN KEEP HIM FROM LOVING US- HIS PROMISED BRIDE!

Romans 8:35- Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?

***SONG OF SOLOMON 6:1 (amp)- Where has your beloved gone, O you fairest among women? (Again the ladies showed their interest in the remarkable person whom the Shulamite had championed with such unstinted praise; they too wanted to know him, they insisted.) Where is your beloved hiding himself? For we would seek him with you.

This wonderful verse of scripture is so meaningful to us as believers. Notice how the Shulamite woman is addressed as ‘the fairest among women’. She has been restored and changed. Just as Christ has transformed us from sinner to saint, she has been transformed from the lowliest of women to the most fair among women. Just as we openly testify of Christ to the world, She openly praised Solomon for his goodness. The words of her testimony were supported by the obvious change in her life. Just as we draw others to Jesus with our witness and testimony, others were drawn to this remarkable person, Solomon, and wanted to seek after him. (v.1)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Thanksgiving is not the only time to realize that we have everything to be joyful about. The Lord has saved us and redeemed us. The Lord is our Shepherd and King who cares for us and puts us in a place of honor as His bride! The Lord has taken us out of the stench and mire of our old lives. He has elevated us to a place of dignity, purity, and authority in Christ! JESUS LOVES US!

The Song of Solomon gives us a clear illustration of Christ's love for us. When reading The Song of Solomon keep in mind that Solomon represents Christ, and the Shulamite woman represents the church…and the individual Christian. Through this book we see how the love of the Lord pursues us and changes us. We, in turn, begin to pursue Him to know Him more intimately.

***SONG OF SOLOMON 1:1-4 (amp)- The Song of songs [the most excellent of them all] which is Solomon’s. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! [She cries. Then, realizing that Solomon has arrived and has heard her speech, she turns to him and adds] For your love is better than wine! [And she continues] The odor of your ointments is fragrant; your name is like perfume poured out. Therefore do the maidens love you. Draw me! We will run after you! The king brings me into his apartments! We will be glad and rejoice in you! We will recall [when we were favored with] your love, more fragrant than wine. The upright [are not offended at your choice, but sincerely] love you.

For the Shulamite woman, nothing compared to being in his presence. Solomon was her first priority. She desired to feel closer to him. (Draw me! We will run after you. V. 4)

Much like the Shulamite woman, the sincere Christian has a desire…a hunger… to be closer and closer to the heart of the Lord. God is so awesome. He wants to reveal his will and nature to us. Everyday He reveals His love to us in very specific ways. God’s love for us surpasses any earthly pleasure. (…your love is better than wine. V.2) When we truly enter into a relationship with the Lord we cease to long for the things of this world. He becomes the desire of our heart.

The Shulamite woman honors Solomon’s name. (…your name is like perfume poured out. V.3) Have you ever noticed that you talk about what you think about? Someone in love talks about their beloved all of the time. Why? Because they are constantly thinking of the one they love. They can actually wear out their listeners, but in their excitement, they don’t notice. Our passionate love for Christ should stir us to tell others about Him. The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more he is on our mind and on our lips.

***SONG OF SOLOMON 1:5-6- I am so black; but [you are] lovely and pleasant [the ladies assured her]. O you daughters of Jerusalem, [I am as dark] as the tents of [the Bedouin tribe] Kedar, like the [beautiful] curtains of Solomon! [Please] do not look at me [she said, for] I am swarthy. [I have worked out] in the sun and it has left its mark upon me. My stepbrothers were angry with me, and they made me keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard [my complexion] I have not kept.

The Shulamite woman felt insecure and ashamed (V.5). She saw herself as being unworthy of Solomon’s love. She compared herself to the daughters of Jerusalem. She noticed their fairness, and felt that her faults stood out. Why would Solomon want her? She didn’t look like them…She hadn’t lived like they had lived…And it was revealed in her countenance.

Comparing ourselves with others is a sure way to take our focus off of our calling and our Lord. God created us as unique individuals. We should feel free to live in the custom-made plan that God has designed for our lives. Just as the daughters of Jerusalem encouraged the Shulamite woman (V. 5), we must also encourage one another in the Lord.

The Shulamite woman realized that she had not kept her vineyard (V.6). She knew her mistakes were obvious to those around her. She was repentant. She now desired to live Solomon’s way, and she hoped that he would receive her.

Each of us has been given the responsibility of tending to a vineyard. It is our life… the way we are living. The Lord wants us to tend to our vineyard by making Godly decisions…Decisions based on honesty, morality, and purity. When we commit sin, we are destroying our vineyard. Thus, we cannot produce good fruit in our lives.

What do we do when we find ourselves in a situation like that of the Shulamite woman? An outcast. Burdened with guilt. Alienated by shame. How does the love of the Lord restore us, take away shame, and bring us to a place of honor? By making us a new creation in Him!!! The old person is passed away, and all is new. I am so glad that Jesus did not see me for what I was. Instead, He saw what I could be through Him. The Lord always sees the potential in a person. YOU are full of God-given potential.

***SONG OF SOLOMON 1:9-11;15-16- O my love [he said as he saw her], you remind me of my [favorite] mare in the chariot spans of Pharaoh. Your cheeks are comely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make for you chains and ornaments of gold, studded with silver. Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold you are beautiful! You have doves’ eyes. [She cried] Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved [shepherd], yes, delightful! Our arbor and couch are green and leafy.

Solomon begins to restore the Shulamite woman. Through his words and actions, he builds up this lowly woman to bring her to a place of honor. He tells her that she is his favorite (V.9). He dresses her in a beautiful garment that he made for her (V. 10-11). He affirms her over and over again with his words. He builds her confidence and trust in him. The Shulamite woman knows that without Soloman she would be nothing. However, because of him, she is now in a position of worthiness, honor, and value.

JESUS SEES YOU AS BEAUTIFUL. It doesn’t matter what you have done, or where you came from. It doesn’t matter what you think about yourself, or what you see when you look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter what other people think about you, their opinions, negative words, and fault-finding. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. He has dressed you in a royal robe. He has put you in a position of honor. Walk with confidence in Him.

Just as Solomon built up the Shulamite woman with his words, God wants to build us up through His Word. The Bible reveals who we are in Christ. We have been made perfect through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 13:20-21). We can do all things through Christ’s strength (Phil.4:13). We are precious enough to die for (John 3:16). We have the power to be more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Grace Goes the Extra Mile

Matthew 5:41- And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two.

During the time of the Roman Empire, Roman soldiers could force those subjugated to them to carry their armor, gear, and belongings for a mile. If you were a Jew during that time, you could be required by a Roman to carry his baggage. Jesus tells His listeners to not only carry the baggage for one mile, but with a pure and loving heart, be willing to go two miles.

As Christians, we are called to be a people of excellence and not of mediocrity. I once heard a great preacher say, "Grace does more than the law." How true that is! To be obedient merely out of obligation, causes us to complain, do the minimum, and not give our best. Jesus instructs us to follow His example, and do all things in love, with a pure heart before God and man.

When love is our motivator, we will find ourselves joyfully putting forth the extra effort to help others, forgive our enemies, and be excellent.

Grace does not give us a license to disobey God's commands.

Matthew 5:19-Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men to do so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

As we grow in our love for God, obedience follows. Jesus said that those who love him are to keep his commandments. (John 14:15)

Notice that obedience flows from a heart condition- love for the Lord. This does not mean that we will not ever make a mistake. However, a pure heart will not purpose to sin against God, nor try to manipulate Him.

Most Pharisees tried their best to follow the laws, but they did not have a heart of love toward God. The result was self-righteousness. They looked righteous, talked righteous, and seemed righteous to the public, but their hearts were hard and wicked.

Matthew 5:20-For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

In this scripture, Jesus shows the necessity of going the extra mile. He lets us know that it is not enough to merely act righteous, talk righteous, and appear righteous to others. Our inner attitude of the heart must be dealt with first.

We cannot "make" ourselves righteous by works or obedience. Christ's righteousness is imputed to the believer by the power of His blood. Jesus' sacrifice allows us to be seen as righteous before the Father. After a heart has been surrendered to the Lord, righteous conduct, pure speech, and modesty will follow. As our love and hunger for God grows, we will begin to change. Because we love the Lord, we will despise sin and grow in faith and obedience.

Here are some examples of how grace requires the inner purity of our hearts and exceeds the demands of the law:

Matthew 5:21-22-Ye have
heard that it was said...THOU SHALT NOT KILL... But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

Matthew 5:27-28- Ye have heard that it was said...THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already with her in his heart.

With hearts of love, we want to bless God and be a blessing to others. Here is a practical example: Rather than merely tithing ten percent like the Pharisees, love tithes and then gives, and gives, and gives. We can become cheerful in all that we do for the Lord. We can expect God to do great things through us.

God sees our hearts. (1 Sam. 16:7) It is His plan to make us vessels of honor. He wants to beautify and restore us for His use. If our hearts are pure and willing before God, He will make us excellent by His power and might.

2 Timothy 2:21-22- If a man therefore cleanse himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, set apart, and useful for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sin and Salvation

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

What is sin? In a word, sin is disobedience to God. Sin is our failure to live up to God's perfect will and to acknowledge God in the way He deserves to be acknowledged. Sin is the result of not living up to God's perfect standard; either by actively rebelling against the will of God or by passively ignoring him. WE ALL NEED THE GRACE THAT COMES THROUGH JESUS BECAUSE NONE ARE PERFECT.

Romans 3:23- For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Sin is more than breaking the 10 commandments. Many Pharisees tried to live their entire lives in obedience to the law, but the hidden man of the heart was not pure and perfect before God. The only way God sees us as perfect and pure is through the shed blood of Jesus. To put it simply... Good people are not saved because they are good...Blood-washed people are saved.

Why were we born sinners? Sin has been inherited and imputed upon all mankind. Since Adam was the first man, the seed of all mankind was in the body of Adam at the time of the fall of man. Since Adam is our forefather, we have inherited a sinful nature.

Romans 5:12, 18 (AMP)- Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as a result of sin, so death spread to all men, (no one being able to stop it or escape it's power) because all men sinned. 18) Well then, as one man's trespass (one man's false step and falling away led) to condemnation to all men, so one man's act of righteousness (leads) to aquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.

Why are many souls destined for an eternity in hell? Sin separated us from God. God is holy and perfect. Sin cannot stand in the presence of a holy God. Unless a soul is cleansed from sin, he cannot enter into heaven. Accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior with a repentant heart is the only way to be cleansed from sin.

2 Peter 3:9- The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

What is repentance? Repentance is "turning away" from sin, or "to change one's mind". Repentance is leaving our ways behind to live in the ways of the Lord. Repentance begins with having a Godly sorrow over our sins.

2 Corinthians 7:10- For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be regretted of: but sorrow of the world worketh death.

Acts 2:38- Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Repentance is necessary to prepare our hearts for our Lord. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. He preached repentance to the multitudes to prepare their hearts for the ministry of Christ. Repentance is required of all of us. It takes more than just believing Jesus is the Son of God to receive salvation. Even the devil believes the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, and we all know he is not saved.

James 2:19- Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Unfortunately, the idea of repentance frustrates many. Many like the idea of a joining a nice church and making good friends. Some try to follow steps in a religious formula to please God. Others want the blessings of God but continue to make sinful decisions in their daily lives. The bottom line is that Jesus requires surrender... Turning away from our will... Turning away from our plan... and a SURRENDER of our lives...to His will and His plan.

We should often examine ourselves by asking ourselves this simple question... Who is the Lord of my life? Is it Jesus, or is it me? Who am I serving? Who am I benefiting with my actions- My cause or the cause of Christ?

Upon confession of our sinful nature and having a repentant heart, we can freely receive forgiveness of all of our sins. We receive salvation as a free gift which comes by GRACE received through FAITH alone. Faith is more than the mere mental aknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God. Saving faith is trusting in, relying on, and clinging to Jesus. With salvation, Jesus covers us with his blood and cleanses us of all unrighteousness. Our old sinful self is dead. We are born again and alive with Christ. Our sins are gone forever and God remembers them no more! The burden of guilt and shame that we once carried like a heavy load is removed. We are set free, made whole, and redeemed. We are set apart, a chosen people, to live eternally with our Lord.

1John 1:9- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness.

John 3:16 (AMP)- For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world the he gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on,) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) be have eternal (everlasting) life.

Ephesians 2:8- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Galatians 2:20- I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Psalm 103:12- As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

1 Peter 2:9- But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.