The WORD Detective

Inspired Word of God

Song of Solomon


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Kisses Sweeter than Wine

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SONG OF SOLOMON:

Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon

I’m going to date myself a bit, but there was a song recorded by The Weavers in 1950, which later became a top Billboard hit in 1957 by Jimmie Rodgers:

“Sweeter Than Wine”

Well, when I was a young man and never been kissed

I got to think’in it over how much I had missed.

So I got me a girl and I kissed her and then, and then

Oh, lordy, well I kissed her again.

Because she had kisses sweeter than wine

She had, mmm, mmm, kisses

sweeter than wine.

(Sweeter than wine)

FIRST LOVE:

There are different interpretations Bible Scholars point to in the Song of Solomon–Song of Songs–The Canticle.

The three main theories: [i] See Footnotes

The Allegorical = Between God and Israel, or Jesus and His Bride the Church.

The Literal = A series of LOVE POEMS or SONGS between a husband and wife with God’s teaching on MARRIAGE.

The Typical = A POEM reflecting Solomons actual experiences of warm human emotions derived from devotion.

All three have significance when it comes to RELATIONSHIP.  However, with the Holy Spirit’s prompting… I’m going to stick to the Love between Jesus and His Church theory.

A Love Song…Literally Not Being Ignored!

Song of Solomon is a LOVE SONG between a man and a woman.

The Bible also provides a picture of intimate love between God and His people, between Christ and the Church.  In the literal meaning, we can learn much of our spiritual love walk (relationship) with our Lord.

Divine Romance…

The Bible is all about a Divine Romance – starting with the Marriage of Adam and Eve and ending with the Marriage of Christ and His Bride.

The BRIDE of CHRIST, the Church

The BRIDE of CHRIST, the Church

We, the church, are the Bride of Christ, He is the Bridegroom (1 Corinthians 11:1-3; Ephesians 5:22; Rev. 19:7, 8; 21:9, 22:7).

The LOVE LANGUAGE:

The Holy Love language used in Song of Solomon is communicated for every believer in Christ Jesus; a super natural connection directed to his/her heart from our Lord Jesus.  It displays the intensity of Christ’s LOVE for His Bride, the Church.  And by the way, His intensity…His passion, doesn’t diminish!

John Gill takes it a step further:  [ii]

The church expresses her strong desires and most ardent wishes, for some fresh discoveries of the Love of Christ to her, and therefore needs the strongest language to express it 

A MARRIAGE METAPHOR:

Isaiah 54:a, N.L.T. – “For your Creator will be your husband…”

Matthew 9:15, N.L.T. –  [Jesus speaking] “Do wedding guest mourn while celebrating with the groom?  Of course not.  But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Ephesians 5:25-26, N.L.T. –  [25] “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church!  He gave up His life for her.  [26] To make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

The Song of Solomon is a picture of a beautiful relationship between husband and wife, and also an allegory of our loving relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  BOTH!  God wants us to have a happy, holy, and passionate relationship in our marriages, at any age of our lives.

THE NAME OF JESUS LISTED IN THE SONG

1.  The King (1:4).

2.  You whom I love (1:7) – We LOVE because He first loved us. – Preach the Cross!

3.  The Shepherd (1:7).

4.  The Beloved (1:16) – Mentioned 38 times in this song.

5.  The Rose of Sharon (2:1) – Telling us He is precious.

6.  The Lily of the Valleys (2:1) – Telling us He is beautiful to look at.

7.  The One I love (3:1-3).

8.  The Chief among 10,000 (5:10).

9.  Altogether lovely (5:16).

10.  My Friend (5:16).

HIS KISS:

“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!”  (Song of solomon 1:2 AMP)

The kiss in that day was the pledge of peace, a token of peace.  Solomon’s very name means peace.  He was a prince of peace and he ruled in Jerusalem, the city of peace.  The Shulamite girl is the daughter of peace.

The kiss indicates the existence of a very personal, close relationship, such as the Lord Jesus has with His own.  He is able to communicate His message personally to you and me through the Word of God.  That is why there needs to be a return to a study of the Word of God–more than just learning the mechanics of the Bible, or even memorizing the Word, but a personal relationship with Him, so that He can speak through His Word to hearts.  “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!”  He has spoken peace the human heart.

A Sunday Testimony–My Best Friend!  [See Footnote iii]

One Sunday, our pastor had just returned from a short vacation to New York City.  So preparing for a morning message, with “jet lag” setting in, can sometimes be a challenge.  Pastor Kyle thinking ahead, decided this one Sunday would be a good time to have a church member give HIS TESTIMONY. [ http://myvalleychurch.net/04_06_2014_Sermon_Mark_Passe.mp3].

The man’s name was Mark Passe.  He had lost his wife to cancer nine months earlier.

They had been married for 33 years, and in that 33 years, they were the best of friends.  Mark mentioned he had never developed any close male friendships in his life before.  His one and only “best friend” was his wife.

For over an hour, Mark testified how difficult it was to lose his wife, mother of their children.  The questions that entered his spirit, such as… “Why her Lord?  She was too young to leave us all.”  Now I’m not a person who gets emotional very often, but after hearing his struggles in dealing with DEATH, there were tears all around the congregation, and sniffles from yours truly.  [See Footnote link.]

Why am I giving you Mark’s Testimony at this point?  Mark mentioned that someone had come up to he and his wife after church one Sunday, and said to them both:  “You are the only couple I’ve seen in church who KISS in front of everyone else gathered.”

Mark’s Challenge to the Body of Christ–

Mark asked those of us gathered in church that Sunday, to KISS your wife/husband right now!  And with his prompting, my wife and I didn’t hesitate to kiss one another.

DON’T MISS THE LORD’S PROMPTINGS IN OUR RELATIONSHIP.

That moment in time…it wouldn’t be the last time we would openly show our love for each other with a passionate KISS for others to see!  And certainly,  not forgetting demonstrating my passion towards Jesus for others around me to see!

THE GOOD SHEPHERD:

“Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon.  For why should I [as I think of you] be as a veiled one straying beside the flocks of your companions?  (S.O.S 1:7 AMP).

First of all, note the bride’s longing to be where her husband is.  In the same way as Christians, we should long to be where Jesus is.

JESUS is not only King, He is also Shepherd–Psalm 23:1-3 a

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.  He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.  He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in paths of righteousness…

A QUESTION IN RELATIONSHIP:

How can our RELATIONSHIP with JESUS be made stronger?

“Follow in the footsteps of the flock,  And feed your little goats  Beside the shepherds tents”-

Getting to know JESUS better becomes, e Church!“Following in the footsteps of the flock!” – The Church!

OUR HEART CRY–TO KNOW JESUS MORE!

Song of Solomon 2:4-5 AMP:

[4] 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.

JESUS refreshes us at His banqueting table.

The first thing we need to learn about God is that HE IS LOVE–“JESUS loves me, this I know”.

OUR CRY, “Sustain me and refresh me” and answered by the Shepherd who restores my soul.

Do we know what it is like to be “lovesick” for JESUS, longing to be with Him?

“O God, You are my God”…

That is a personal relationship!  You are “MY” God.

“O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is”  (Psalm 63:1).

“Romancing the Divine”

I wrote a brief Devotional [http://theworddetective.wordpress.com/true-love/], based on Mr. Don Nori’s book,  Romancing the Divine – A Story About True Love; [iv].  It is a fictional allegory, it is the story of one person’s struggle with his inadequacies and sense of failure on one side, and his longing to know the reason for his existence on the other.  Much to his surprise, he finds TRUE LOVE.

Songs 2:8-9:

The voice of my beloved [shepherd]!  Behold he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart.  Behold, he stands behind the wall of our house, he looks through the windows, he glances through the lattice.

Jesus Passionately Pursues Those He Loves–

“The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me”  (John 10:27).

This is the theme, the whole story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation–GOD longing for us.

But notice that He is a gentleman:  Standing outside, waiting to be invited in (Revelation 3:20).  Know this, JESUS IS CALLING and INVITING US into a personal relationship with Him.

He wants us to be OUR FIRST LOVE; to always remember–A LOVE THAT’S SWEETER THAN WINE!

A MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH–And we are the Church!

“But I have this [one charge to make] against you:  that you have left (abandoned) the LOVE that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]”  (Revelation 2:4).

Footnotes:

[1] Oxford Bible Church Commentary.

[ii] John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.

[iii] Mark Passe Sermon; April 6th, 2014@ Valley Church Assembly of God; Nooksack, Washington [See link].

[iv] Romancing the Divine – Don Nori author: Destiny Image Publisher – Copyright 2001–Don Nori.

 

TRUE LOVE


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True Love

I’ve been reading and studying God’s Word of late in the Old Testament.  Specifically, the Song of Solomon.  This book of the bible is one that is often overlooked, ignored, and put aside.  Why?  Well there seems to be some misunderstandings in the content.

Some have thought it to be a collection of songs, but it is more generally understood to be a sort of drama, the positive interpretation of which is impossible because the identity of the speakers and the length of the speeches are not disclosed.

Although there are three main theories (allegorical, literal, and the typical), what can’t be missed in the different interpretations, is the story that takes place is about True Love in relationship–between God and Israel, Jesus’ relationship with the Church, and the experience of Solomon and a Shulamite maiden–God’s teaching on marriage and sexual relationships.

TRUE LOVE

TRUE LOVE

Most of us over the years have experienced HUMAN LOVE.  Some remember their first romance with the opposite sex: overcoming shyness, overcoming rejection, dating, the first kiss.  We even remarked, “This is it! This feeling will last forever!”–later to find out that it was but an infatuation and not TRUE LOVE!

One of my favorite allegorical books ever, is a book written by Mr. Don Nori:  Romancing the Divine – A Story About True Love.   As an introduction to his story, he gives us a vivid pictorial of TRUE LOVE and I wanted to share it with you as a Devotional.

~True Love~

How noble true love is!  How invincible!  How pure!  How innocent!

Love simply comes, often undetected even by the one overtaken by 

its mysterious powers.

True love.  The lonely covet its reality.  The arrogant flaunt

its presence.  The ignorant snub its wonder.

It is illogical as anything can be.  It is hopeless to describe it

and folly to shun it.

The greatest philosophers have sought to define it.

Religion has tried to buy it.  Many have tried to elude it.

Love is as hopeless to understand as it is impossible

to deny.  Yet reason and logic are helpless against

love, for it is  a most formidable foe of the mundane and

the average.  True love, you see, dares to go places 

where reason cannot tread.  Love sees realities about which 

philosophy can only hope to dimly speculate.

True love knows what tradition can only distantly remember.

True love draws the least lovable.  It can make anyone

a hero.

True love is the sustaining power of the universe

itself, yet is so lovely that it abides fully in the hearts of

those foolish enough to respond to its rapturous invitation to come.

 

stock-photo-road-sign-metaphor-with-craving-ahead-47090209


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Becoming SATISFIED In Christ Alone!

SCRIPTURE READING:

1 John 2:15-17 [Amplified Bible]:

[15] Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

[16] For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].

[17] And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the list) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.

Pfsssssssst

Bible scholars have concluded that the content, style, and vocabulary  seem to warrant the conclusion that the three letters of John, the apostle, including the Gospel of John, were addressed to the same readers–Christian believers, and John’s message is timeless!

The Timeless Message–

The “timeless message” given, is one of contrast.  A COMPARISON of love for the world versus the love of our Father, that is, GOD.  As surely as we cannot SERVE both GOD and MAMMON– (*See footnote [i] )– neither can we LOVE both the world and GOD.

Every Person Is Tempted (James 1:14):

We ALL BATTLE with trials and temptations on a daily basis; with the things and people who influence us for wrong reasons and the wrong purpose.

The World–

Sometimes like a “magnet”,  the world tries to pull us in the wrong direction.

GOD calls His children [Christians] to live “in” this world but not be “of” this world.

A difficult balance…

ME:  “Should go tonight and show up; help out at my church’s Soup Kitchen and serve.  BUT…I’ll miss out on the Football Game on television during the LOVE FEAST down the road.”

WE:  Go to church, spend time with GOD and friends, yet there’s a FORCE trying to pull us away from the fellowship of believers.

It’s sort of like when I was back in school and didn’t want to get out of bed.  “Mom, I feel kind of ‘sick”.  My mom would ask me suspiciously, “What do you mean…’kind of sick’?”  She knew that I wanted to stay home and do what I wanted to do–watch TV, anything but go to school.  She would then inform me, “If you’re sick Mel, then you have to stay in bed ALL day!”  That stopped my plans in their tracks: “Mom, I think I’m feeling a bit better and will go to school after all.”

The Seemingly “Grey Areas”…

So many times we find ourselves tolerating certain things, but it feels good…we think it probably won’t hurt anybody…nobody will find out.

And then all of a sudden, we wake up one day and ask ourselves, “How in the world did I get here?”  Or, “What did I just do?”

IDENTIFYING 3 TYPES OF TEMPTATIONS:

1 John 2:15-17  (N.L.T.):

[15] Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

[16] For the world offers on a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

[17] And this world is fading away…

What else does the Bible have to say about the world we’re living in today?

“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4 AMP).

“We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one”  (1 John 5:19 AMP).

(Jesus talking) – “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own.  But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you”  (John 15:18-19 AMP).

“…Do you not know that being the worlds friend is being God’s enemy?  So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God”  (James 4:4).

The WORLD will always fool you and never fully satisfy you!

The New Living Translation calls it a “CRAVING” in verse 16.

3 -Types of Temptations:

stock-photo-road-sign-metaphor-with-craving-ahead-470902091.  CRAVING FOR PLEASURES…or, “The Lust of the Flesh.”

I’m sure you know what it is to “crave” for something: chocolate, creamed-filled donuts, sour pickles (pregnancy?), liquor, a ‘smoke’, etc.

In any dictionary that you look up the definition, “crav-ing” – A powerful desire for something! Synonyms: longing, yearning, desire, want, wish, hankering, hunger, thirst, appetite, greed, lust, ache, need, urge.

“ENOUGH…I get it!”  But let’s take the definition a little further to make a point:

Merriam-Webster:  “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.”

I think you’ve probably got the idea of what John is referring to in the above Scripture.

In Creflo Dollar’s Book, Winning in Troubled Times (Chapter 19), he mentions “Lust is the driving impulse behind addictive behaviors; trying to break habits formed through will-power fall prey to the same temptations over and over again.”

LUST HAS ONE PURPOSE, AND ONE PURPOSE ONLY…

 LUST OF THE FLESH has one purpose–to move us out of the will of God of our lives.  It will destroy marriages and relationships.

DESIRE in and of itself is NOT BAD…

GOD gave us natural, healthy DESIRES…desire for food and water, desire to be unconditionally loved and accepted.  But when the “craving” enters the picture….it leads to death.

“Seed Time and Harvest…”

“But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).    Then the evil desire, when it is conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings for death”  (James 1:14-15).

A CRAVING for everything we see (NLT) or Lust of the Eyes (Amplified)–

“Temptation to Have” – I see it and I want it.  I have to have it now!  Ever been in this state of mind?

Materialism - “Live for the acquisition of things”:

He with the most toys wins…what?  Debt?  Stress?

Examples:  Having the latest I-Phone (5-s; the 6 will be out in Sept. 2014)….Latest Model – Car…Houses – upgrades, newer model, keep up with the Jones…Latest Styles – clothes or shoes - “Impulse Buying”  (Ex: I can go to Van Wingerden Garden Center in Birch Bay, Washington…it’s like the angels are singing…).

PRIDE in our achievements and possessions (NLT) or Pride of Life (Amplified)–

“Temptation to Be” – I want to be worshipped.  I want to be envied.  I want to be “noticed”.

Climbing the “company ladder” – just for the “title” of President, CEO.

The MOTIVATION is wrong–want to get to the top–for the wrong reason.

STATUS can become an “IDOL”, and damage our relationship with GOD.

TEMPTATION BEGAN AT THE BEGINNING OF TIME:

** Adam and Eve **

FRUIT that was pleasing to the eye.

** Jesus **

“And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loves of] bread”  (Matt. 4:3 AMP).

JESUS faced temptation (Lust of Flesh).

“Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them.    And he said to Him,  These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me”  (Matt. 4:8-9).

Satan showed JESUS the kingdoms (Lust of the Eyes).

Pride of Life – kneel down and worship me …

“And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever”  (1 John 2:17 AMP).

So how can we CONQUER this?  How can we please God?

That’s what we really want to do as BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST!  To be Satisfied in Christ Alone!

Living “In Christ Alone”:

Keith and Kristyn Getty wrote a favorite hymn of mine a few years back. [www.gettymusic.com/hymns-inchristalone.aspx/.} 

In Christ alone my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song; this Cornerstone,

this SOLID GROUND,

from through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All,

here in the love of Christ I stand.

Conquering Our Cravings, Our Temptations, Our Lusts in Life--

HOW CAN WE PLEASE GOD?

Hopefully, as believers in JESUS, pleasing Him should be our only desire.  Participating in God's work in our lives is a beginning; to agree with God is our true identity found only in Him...not to place ourselves on the railroad tracks of "temptation."  We'll get hit by the train comng through every time!

In Creflo Dollar's book, Winning In Troubled Times, he entitles the chapter "Declaring War On Lust":  "The sin you fail to deal with will eventually end up dealing with you."

When our CRAVINGS, "lustful desires", are continually acted upon with no repentance or attempts to curb the behavior...a person can easily get into what is called "LASCIVIOUSNESS": "having no self-control of the works of the flesh."

Our OBEDIENCE To What We Sense Around Us...

What GOD is calling us to do in the world, should come out of a TRUST that God is our only source of life!  As we struggle, and we all do struggle; we are in the world and not of the world...especially in the "grey areas" that arise (society morality, movies, doctrine, relationships).

We can place our HOPE in God; to finish His work in us; to lovingly continue to show us the emptiness of all other "sources" available in life.  To learn to be SUFFICIENT in Christ alone.

Those thoughts reminded me of a quote by C.S. Lewis you may have read or heard before:

"When he said, 'Be perfect.'  He meant it!  He meant that we must go in for the full treatment.  It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder--in fact, it is impossible.  It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining in an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad..."  [Mere Christianity, bk4, Chs. 8, 9.]

I hope that I have given you an understanding of what GOD is able to give you in this world.  The HOPE and RENEWED TRUST in being Sufficient In Christ Alone– and not be satisfied in what the world is offering.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love of the Father is not in him”  (1 John 2:15).

 

 

FOOTNOTE:

[i]  MAMMON – New Testament – Riches or material wealth:  Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:9, 11, 13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Floating On A Lily Pad


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Kissing FROGS and Hugging PORCUPINES

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll, in his book Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, wrote the following regarding ourselves and other’s “frogness” in life:

Floating On A Lily Pad

Floating On A Lily Pad

“FROGS feel slow and low, ugly and putty, drooped and pooped.  I know, because one told me.  The FROG FEELING comes when you want to be bright but you’re dumb.  When you want to share, you are selfish.  When you want to be thankful, but filled with resentment.  When you want to be great…but you are small.  When you want to care, but you are indifferent; yes, at one time or another, each of us has found themselves floating down the great river of life, frightened and disgusted, but to frightened to budge.” 

Scripture Reading in John 15:12-17  [Amplified Version]:

[12] This is My commandment; that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.

[13] No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.

[14] You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.

[15] I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out).  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.  [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]

[16] You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.

[17] This is what I command you; that you love one another.

The Fairy Tale of Endo…

In this particular Fairy Tale (and others too), the FROG wasn’t really a frog.  He looked like one because…a wicked witch cast an evil spell on a prince.  Only a kiss from a beautiful young maiden could SAVE him.  Then one day, a beautiful young girl lays a big sloppy kiss on the frog’s slimy lips, and in a great puff of smoke…he changes back into a handsome prince.  They marry, have a ton of kids, and live happily ever after. The End.

Our Task In Our Churches Across the Land Isn’t A Fairy Tale…

“Kissing Frogs and Allowing Ourselves to Be Kissed!”

Faithful Christian LOVE has a way of rescuing kings and queens and their “frogness” [i].  I believe we must do more than “wishing” we were different in our communities.

I’ve learned by practical experience, I need to be more intentional about telling others that the church I’m a part of, is a loving community!  But it will take more than just telling…it will require me to be an active “lover”.

WHY SO?

Because of the reason for the Command of Jesus (John:12a, 17).  Not once, but twice within six short verses: “love one another”.

Our Selfishness Often Gets In the Way of Loving the Brethren…

My wife and I never told our kids when they were little how to be selfish.  And yet our youngest, even at the age of four, on any given day, would have no problem taking one of his older sister’s toys away.

Israel’s neighbors haven’t a problem finding ways to torment and mistreat them, because of their hatred.  Certain things come “naturally” to fallen man–sin and selfishness in the heart.

“Use it or Lose it!”

I believe we’re NOT intentional about creating a loving environment; an accepting community, a fellowship of mutual service and sacrifice and if we don’t use what God has made available, we might just lose it.

It often seems, too many churches leave “loving one another” to chance: “I’ll let my wife LOVE ON OTHERS. I’ll stay out-of-the-way of the crowds.”

The Apostle John’s Thinking On the Matter…

Jesus’ repeating command must have made a lasting impression.  Maybe more than any other disciple, John sought to obey these words of his Master.

How revealing then, a few years later, John would write in the Letter we call, 1 John, the following:

1 John 3:14:

We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians).  He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in [spiritual] death.

“NO ROOT, NO FRUIT” -

Wow!  When I meditated on that verse (read and re-read the words), God really spoke to my spirit.  John is saying, the sure sign of being “SAVED”, is a sure internal testimony of my outward profession of my faith.  If there isn’t any fruit, there isn’t an attachment to the “Vine” JESUS (John 15:1-11).

Is Loving Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus Easy?

If it were easy to LOVE those of us in the church, there would be no sign of a miraculous work of God happening in OUR midst.

If LOVE for the brethren were a natural occurrence, you wouldn’t know and have the Life of Holy Spirit permeating your souls in the loving process.

If LOVING each other was something we could do apart from prayer, humbleness, and dependence of God’s grace, then LOVE would prove nothing.

But John tells us:  “Here is a sure sermon for your own soul, a testimony that you are abiding in Christ, IF…you can love Christians!”  

Even knowing this, sometimes its hard to LOVE OTHERS in the Body of Christ:  Some are crusty, prickly and painful to be around.  It’s not simply “kissing frogs”, but “hugging porcupines.”

 JESUS COMMANDS such LOVE, otherwise, we would avoid it entirely.

Hugging Porcupines

Hugging Porcupines

GOD’S STANDARDS OF PERFECT LOVE FOR US:

“LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”  (John 15:12 b.).

JESUS loved us in giving His life.  Human relationships are strengthened when a man sacrifices for a close friend.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this LOVE in detail:

Romans 5:7-8:

[7] Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die.

[8] But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

The Family of God and their SACRIFICES:

If SACRIFICE doesn’t cost you something, then it isn’t a sacrifice.  It cost Jesus His life because of His LOVE for us.

Beginning the conversation…the Heart & Mouth Connection.

Every family has secrets–the special stories and nicknames, ways of communicating that are unique to the closest relationships you have.  In fact, one of the ways we have to bring other people into a closer relationship, is sharing with them a special aspect of our family life.  Looking for something you might have in common: family ancestry, where you’re from originally, etc.  But you are going to have to open up heart and mouth to find something in common.  Yep, we’re going to have to get off our “lily pads”.  It probably will be uncomfortable; might even feel insecure.

JESUS’ APPOINTMENT…CHOOSING US! 

“JESUS LOVES ME ["US"], THIS I KNOW.   FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.”  

Jesus loves us by choosing and appointing us to bring God the glory in the world and through the FRUIT that we are to bear.

Everyone with young children, or in my case, grandchildren, knows frustration comes in helping them to do something; we’re tempted to say, “It’s easier to do it myself.”

I’ve thought at times, out of frustration, regarding the need for evangelism in Whatcom County.  God could have found a much easier way to communicate the message other than the local churches.  But of course, that isn’t His plan.

God’s Plan for His Church…

But JESUS loves us, appointed us to bear fruit in this place…at this time.  With this LOVE STANDARD as our active goal…not another “church program”, but an individual goal, create opportunities to develop and demonstrate LOVE to one another.

Many conservative churches preach “LOVE YOUR WIFE AS CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH–and that’s a clear biblical command.  But rarely do we talk about loving “fellow believers” as Christ loved the church.  Yet here in this passage of Scripture, JESUS says, “THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT”–this is My PLAN!

There is POWER available for LOVING one another…

JESUS has made known to us the church, the Word of God is His will for our lives.  It’s not complicated.  It’s NOT a family secret.  It is a crystal clear commandment in the Bible.  And the Word of God is LIVING & ACTIVE; it doesn’t simply just urge us to do something (enjoin), it EMPOWERS US!

GOD’S WORD BECAME FLESH:

“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself” (John 1:1).

“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth”  (John 1:14).

JESUS HIMSELF chose us to bear fruit and Jesus is God in human flesh; He doesn’t fail.

When He commands LOVE, He also guarantees its fulfillment.

Sitting On A Lily Pad As It Floats Down the River…

With JESUS on our side, we must succeed in transforming our churches into a visibly loving and caring community.  We’re going to have to get off our “Lily Pads” ; show our community we care!

Being the peruvial LIGHTHOUSE…where the building with our name on a large out-front sign…where everyone who drives by will see and want to come in to worship is sitting on a LILY PAD.  They’re “wish-in and a hope-in” the surrounding community will see the Light.

If we want to be a LIGHTHOUSE to our community, we will need to be “moving Lighthouses”, not stationary structures.  People need to see how we LOVE one another; with FRUIT-BEARING branches and God’s Light shinning on the fruit.

Last but not least…

We have our words; our prayers.  Whatever we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, He gives.  When we pray for grace (favor)  to LOVE…even some other FROGS…God will show Himself strong and powerful answering that prayer.

Now go out and Kiss A FROG, maybe even Hug A PORCUPINE or two, and know that Holy Spirit will be there to comfort you:

John 15:26, 27 AMP.:

[26] When the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes,  Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth  Who comes (proceeds) from the Father,  He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.

[27] But you also will testify and be My witnesses,  because you have been with Me from the beginning.

 

Footnote: [i] Glenn Durham, Pastor at Church of the Covenant.

 

LOVE or HATRED Displayed


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The “PERFECT HATE” Point-of-View

Psalm 139:19-22 (AMP):

[19]  If You would [only] slay the wicked, O God, and the men of blood depart from me–

[20]  Who speak against You wickedly, Your enemies who take Your name in vain!

[21]  Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate you?  And am I not grieved and do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

[22]  I hate them with perfect hatred; they have become my enemies. 

To do a study on the theme of PERFECT HATE, I had to ask myself definitive questions before beginning:

1.  WHAT IS “PERFECT HATRED”?

2.  WHO AND WHAT SHOULD WE HATE AS TRUE BELIEVERS OF JESUS?

3.  WHY SHOULD WE HATE?

4.  WHAT IS THE NATURE OF WHOLESOME, PERFECT HATRED?

5.  DO WE HAVE IT?

6.  HOW CAN WE CULTIVATE IT?

IS “HATRED” ONLY FOUND IN THE PSALMIST?

God Himself claims He HATES the wicked:

“The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong”  (Psalm 5:5 NIV).

You might be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, but that OLD TESTAMENT!  How about Scripture from the NEW TESTAMENT?”  If that’s what you’re thinking, let me point to you what God says in The Book of Revelation:

[6] Yet you have this–in your favor and to your credit–you hate the works [the "deeds"] of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest (hate).  [15] You also have some who in a similar way are clinging to the teaching of the Nicolaitans [those corrupters of the people], which thing I hate.” ~ Revelation 2:6, 15 AMP.

GOD HATES SIN…the Doctrine promoted by the wicked!

Who are the “wicked” Nicolaitans?  According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, the Nicolaitans (ni-koh-lay’i-tahns), were a religious sect in Ephesus and Pergamum whose members made it a practice of eating food sacrificed to idols and for sexual license.  In other words, the idea to get across to other church members, was the perpetual...”It’s okay! Things are changing in the world and everybody has accepted these practices as a new standard in society.”  

BUT…does GOD HATE the “doer” of the deeds?  And what does the word HATE actually mean?

THE WORD “HATE”:

The word HATE is a strong word.  In the Greek language, the word is miseo, means to hate, abhor, or to find utterly repulsive.  It describes a person who has a deep-seated animosity, antagonistic to something or someone who he finds to be completely objectionable.  Not only does one loathe that object, but rejects it entirely.  This isn’t a case of DISLIKE; it’s a case of actual hatred.

“If GOD Hates something…then so do I” -

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow”  (James 1:17 NAS).

GOD also commands us to HATE the sinfulness of this world”:

“[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality”  (Jude 23 AMP).

EVERY TRACE of wickedness of this world should be an abomination to us.

WE ARE TO HATE…YET WE ARE TO HAVE A DEEP-SEATED LOVE:

“God So LOVED the World that…”

Does our sense of WRONG proceed from LOVE?  Does our disapproval of any evil express LOVE?  Is there a HATRED that we should avoid as Christians?

8432828-opened-magic-book-with-magic-lightLets go to the WORD of GOD for some answers:

Anyone who hates (abominate, detests) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him  (1 John 3:15 AMP).

Works or doings of the flesh (human nature without God), found in Galatians 5:19-21,  are not only listed by the apostle but he point-blank mentions “those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 21).

THERE IS “RIGHTEOUS LOVE”/”WICKED LOVE”:

We all know that bible verse found in John 3:16.  But does our sense of WRONG proceed from LOVE?  Does our disapproval of any evil express our inward LOVE?

The Perfect UNVALENTINE:

LOVE or HATRED Displayed

LOVE or HATRED Displayed

I can remember when I was in elementary school many years ago on Valentine’s Day, we were to exchange Valentine cards to every fellow student.  My mom would sit down with me at the kitchen table and asked me to decide which cards would go to each individual.

Now it became evident, that the heart cards…the ones that said “I LOVE YOU” would go to special individuals.  Okay, special girls in my classroom.  But when it came to certain individuals, my feelings were much different.  I would ask my mom, “Do I have to give them a Valentine’s card?  Can’t I just give a UN VALENTINE’s card?”  My mother’s explanation to a child, who based their entire life on feelings, good or bad, like or dislike, that everyone would receive a VALENTINE CARD!  There wasn’t such a thing as a UNVALENTINE CARD, so I went along with mom’s suggestion–love it or hate it!

“Love for God and Righteousness is godly, Love for the World is Ungodly” (Tim Hayes)–

“Do not LOVE or CHERISH the world or the things that are in the world.  If anyone LOVES THE WORLD, love for the Father is not in him”  (1 John 2:15).

“O you who LOVE the Lord, HATE evil; He preserves the lives of His saints (the children of God), He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked”  (Psalm 97:10).

“The reverent fear and worshipful awe of the Lord [includes] the HATRED of evil…”  (Proverbs *:13).

“The opposite then of LOVE is not HATE…the opposite of both HATE and LOVE is APATHY”  (Tim Hayes)–

“Caring intensely is both LOVE & HATE; the opposite of caring intensely is not caring at all”… and can be an apathetic heart.

GOD HATES THE NATURE OF SINNERS: 

God hates the nature of sinners because He cares about the obedience and the holiness on His creation.  He HATES the way they respond to the world; the very fabric of what they do, why they do it, and how they think.

The HEART ISSUE Comes Into play…

A SELFISH and WICKED HEART hates a man–seeks to destroy him in deed or with words.  Whereas a RIGHTEOUS HEART hates and man seeks his welfare.

What makes HATRED right or wrong is the heart that it springs from, not the hatred or love in and of itself.

THINGS WE SHOULD HATE WITH “Perfect Hate”:

I’m not going to look at what man says “perfect hatred” is or isn’t.  I’m going to search out then answers from God’s Word…the truth of the matter in what we should HATE:

Psalm 101:3 – “I will set no base or wicked thing before my eyes.  I hate the work of them who turn aside [from the right path]; it shall not grasp hold of me.”

Psalm 119:113 - I hate the thoughts of undecided [in religion], double-minded people, but Your law do I love.”

Psalm 119:163 - I hate and abhor falsehood, but Your law do I love.”

Psalm 139:21 - “Do I not hate them O Lord, who hate You?  And am I not grieved and do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

1.  LOVE others by sincerely seeking their welfare…as you LOVE, you HATE.

2.  HATE everything about the wicked…that comprises them, makes them tick, counting them your enemies while hating even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 23).

3.  SEEK NOT the lukewarm, “the middle ground” of sinfulness, for that is APATHY.  For GOD will spew (“throw-up”) you out (Revelation 3:16).

4.  RETURN to your FIRST LOVE…and your PERFECT HATRED, as Jesus speaks to the Church at Ephesus:

Revelation 2:4-6 Amplified Bible–

BUT I have this [one charge to make] against you; that you have left (abandoned) the LOVE that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].  REMEMBER then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove you lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.  Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you HATE the WORKS of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself detest.

Does Our HATRED Correspond from Our Hearts?

If we HATE without the LOVE grounded in our hearts, then it can’t be “perfect hate”.  

Our response to the HATE ISSUE in our theology, should underly God’s PERFECT HATE.  It should rest on two specific qualities:

1.  HOLINESS.

2.  JUSTICE.

So you and I…and all humanity, may choose to follow in God’s standards; hating anything that hates our Lord and Savior or His standards, set down in His Word–Scripture.

Our response?

As God’s children, we need to mirror our Father’s attitudes toward evil and evil doers (Psalm 26:5), idolaters (Psalm 31:6), the “false way” (Psalm 119:104), falsehood…double-minded people (Psalm 119:113).

Our prayer, when in doubt of showing HATRED in our life–”Is it really PERFECT HATE?”– should be as the psalmist:

Psalm 139:23, 24:

“Search me [throughly], O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there is any wicked or hurtful [*uncaring] way in me in the way everlasting.”  - *(my word).

 

Taste of HONEY


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Bon Appetit!

EATING FOOD WITH NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS:

“IS HONEY BAD FOR YOU, OR GOOD? The Sweet Truth Revealed [Facts from Authority Nutrition - January 16th, 2013 by Kris Gunnars.]

Taste of HONEY

Taste of HONEY 

According to nutritional data, a typical batch of HONEY supplies:

-  82% sugar, by weight.

-  Half of sugar (40% of total weight) is fructose.

-  Contains only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. 

-  HONEY contains various antioxidants (helps prevent diseases and sickness).

Well, we now have the nutritional evidence of HONEY,  but is there something else we can replace the TASTE OF HONEY to our palates?  Something that taste sweet, with an antioxidant benefit, but without the fructose sugar after taste.  I think I might have found the answer.

Eating Your Words…”Speak Sweetly!”

“Speak Sweetly!  So that, if ever you have to eat your words, they don’t taste bad”  [Quote from an unknown author.].

OH BOY…DESSERT IS ON THE TABLE AND IT CAN BE NUTRITIOUS:

After you’ve enjoyed a delicious meal, there is one more thing to look forward to–DESSERT!  Over the years of attending Church potlucks (I like the word “Pot-faith” better), I’ve enjoyed observing people going through the serve-yourself-line.

Some people must have eaten at home before they came, because they seem to take such small portions.  I’m sure that’s how they eat at home…like birds.

But in being kind, I’m not referring to these people as models.  It appears that their main interest for being there is simply…THE DESSERT TABLE!  As soon as they see the dessert table open for business…they are usually the first in line to grab the SWEET GOODIES.

“Dessert Is Now Being Served!”

In the BIBLE we read of the sweet taste of honey for the one who loves to dig deep into GOD’s Word–“grab the sweet goodies”.

Psalm 19:9-14 [Amplified Bible]:

[9 b.]  …the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous.  [10] More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.  [11] Moreover, by them is Your servant, warned (reminded, illuminated, and instructed); and in keeping them there is great reward.  [12] Who can discern his lapses and errors?  Clear me from hidden [and unconscious] faults.  [13] Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!  Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression.  [14] Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 119:101-105 [Amplified Bible]:

[101] I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your word [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it].  [102] I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me.  [103] How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.  [104] Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.  [105] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Ezekiel 3:1-4; 10 [Amplified Bible]:

[1] HE SAID to me, Son of man, eat what you find [in this book]; eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.  [2] So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat the scroll.  [3] And He said to me, Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.  Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.  [4] And He said to me, Son of man, go, get you to the house of Israel and speak to them with My words.  [10] Moreover, He said to me, Son of man, ALL My words that I shall speak to you, receive in your heart and hear with your ears.

PSALM 119 is the longest chapter found in Scripture and it is known for its teaching of GOD’s Law.  Not simply about what to do or not do, but how GOD’s Word leads us into a deeper relationship with Him.

VERSE 103 says, THE WORDS OF GOD are “sweeter than honey”.

I have already mentioned, that HONEY is known to have ANTIOXIDANTS; and antioxidants in our body, fights diseases and even heals wounds.

And like HONEY, the Word of God provides good nourishment and substance to our souls:

“As for you, son of man, hear what I say to you; be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you [His Word].  And when I looked, behold. a hand was stretched out to me and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.  And He spread it before me and it was written within and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe”  (Ezekiel  2:8-10).

JESUS SAID TO THE DEVIL…“It has been written,  Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone,  but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4).

Ephesians 6:17-18:

[17] And take the helmet of salvation…the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.  [18] Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty.  To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints.

To RECEIVE the Word is to EAT the Word, and the way we eat the Word is “by means of ALL prayer and petition,” as illustrated in the Christian Testimonies section found at www.prayready.org/eating-the-word-of-God/.

The BENEFITS Given of “Eating” versus “Finding” the Word…

James Gray says, “there’s a great difference between finding the Word of God in your Bible and eating it; and it is the man who eats that gets the benefit out of it!”  Of course, we have to know where the HONEY is found, but unless we eat it, the benefits won’t be enjoyed.

When you go to your doctor because you’re physically out of sorts, the doctor writes you a prescription to get rid of the sickness.  He mentions that you are to take the pills each day and after 30 days, return for an evaluation.

Get the Prescription Filled and Follow the Directions Given–

When you return to the doctor as instructed, he asks you, “How are you feeling now?”  You look at him with disgust and say, “I feel worse today than I did thirty days ago.”  “Did you get the prescription filled and take all the pills?” he asks.  After a long pause and a head hung low, you inform him “I decided that I didn’t really NEED any pills, and never had your prescription filled.”  You knew of the BENEFITS of the prescribed cure, but you chose to ignore the instructions of the doctor.

REMEMBER, GOD IS THE GREAT PHYSICIAN! ~ Matthew 13:15; John 12:40; Acts 28:27;Hebrews 12:13.

Our Taste Buds…

Since your taste buds are found on the tongue, and according to some foodies… sweetness is often the last sensitivity…the one that seems to hang on the longest as we get older [70+ years for me!].  I sometimes take a bite of Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream held on a fork…looking intently and with a smile…hold it in my mouth to savor the sweet taste, all before ingesting the dessert.  It takes me back to my early childhood…memories of family fun times…picking strawberries on farms and smelling the fragrance of the fruit in the air.  All these feelings from a look, a taste before I swallow the treat.

The Importance of Being A “Bible Bee” in Life…You Are Constantly Searching for the Nectar–

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty ~ Jeremiah 15:16.

Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit

GOD’s Word was welcomed as food to a hungry man and Jeremiah cheerfully RECEIVED them…treasured them up to his memory…digested them to his mind where he carefully retained them…the Word of God, not men.

Under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, FOOD FOR OUR SOULS IS:

- Sweeter than honey.

- Wholesome.

- Nourishing.

- Strengthening.

The words not merely HEARD EXTERNALLY, or SUPERFICIALLY TASTED OF, but when eaten, as Ezekiel’s roll was by him; which was done in FAITH, which receives, feeds and digests THE WORD; for, unless it is mixed with FAITH, the nutritional value is lost in translation.

GUT CHECK TIME: “We Are What We Eat…”

And what you eat…is what you daily read and study.  In his book – Your God Is Too Safe – Mark Buchanan describes STUDY this way:

“Study is ingesting and digesting, the chewing and swallowing and being filled with ideas, images, thoughts and attitudes.  To browse an idea, to skim it and dabble in it–that’s like getting a whiff of food, maybe a faint taste on the tongue.  BUT to study:  to really plunge in the depth of a thing, to interrogate it and allow it to interrogate you, to probe it and be probed by it–that’s STUDY…that’s EATING!

I don’t know about you, but I am willing and able to dive in to the HONEY! No artificial sweetener, no more ‘milk toast’ for me; milk toast is for babies not for spiritually mature adults.

Is there bad tastes in your mouth right now?  “Oh Yuk!”

Although I love Brussel Sprouts now, as a youngster…“Oh yuk!” But HONEY…loved as a child growing up and still love the taste!  I can almost taste the Sage Honey or Orange blossom Honey on the breakfast table before me, that was spread over my mother’s home-made Biscuits on Sunday mornings.  The smell of the food was one thing, but the taste…oh the taste of that HONEY…and now, the desire I have for God’s Word is something I look forward to every morning in eating.

Dripping from the HONEYCOMB

Dripping from the HONEYCOMB

So, Bon Appetit!

Start Enjoying and Devouring the WORD OF GOD!

A NEW SONG On A Old Piano


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“God Gave the Song”

I have been reading and meditating in the Book of Psalms for awhile now.  Now I’m sure you are familiar with several; maybe even committed The 23rd Psalm to memory.  But I haven’t heard from the pulpit with much in-depth teaching.  I’ve wondered why not?  Maybe it’s because of the dynamic nature–they’ve got all the ups and downs of life–the nitty-gritty.   But then, I’m just guessing.

The Singer–

My wife’s most favorite book in our library is The Singer Trilogy by Calvin Miller–the mystic retelling of the Story of the New Testament.  Let me quote exerts from Chapter 1, page 14:

“You, too, are higher than the earth!  You sang the higher music once, before the oceans ever crashed their craggy coasts…Earthmaker, tell me if I have the right to sing…”  But then his final word trailed off into the gales.  The gull screamed,  “No,” he thought, “only Earthmaker is everlasting.  His alone must be the theme from which sprung the world I stand upon.”  And so he only loved but never sang the song.”

[Page 15]

“And the song which dogged his aching steps and begged him pleadingly to sing it was completely unfamiliar.  Only stars and mountains knew it.  But they were old.  And man was new, and chained to simple, useless rhymes; thus he could not understand the majesty…But daily now it played upon his heart and swept his soul, until joy exploded his awareness–crying near the edge of sanity,  “Sing…sing…SING!”

A Psalm Sung In 4-Part Harmony.

OUR WORSHIP SONGS–

Sometimes, and I mean sometimes, our worship songs seem a bit to homogenized–nicefied.  

The Psalms Are the Hebrew Hymnal

The words are so raw–dynamic–life & death–the kind of thing we need to hear more of in these turbulent times.  There is so much CHANGE in the air–so much uncertainty.  And in the midst…in the valleys, the Psalmist begins to lead our PRAISES.

Psalm 96–Teaches Us A NEW SONG!

A NEW SONG On A Old Piano

A NEW SONG On A Old Piano

VERSE I:  “O SING to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, ALL THE EARTH!”

I think as we grow older (I’m 72 yrs. old), some of us don’t really like anything new–let alone MUSIC.  What happened to The Eagles, the Bee Gees, The Imperials, The Florida Boys…I could really dig that kind of music.  I knew the tune, the lyrics, the applications to my state-of-being…those were the good old days.

But have you listened to the new stuff on the radio lately?  Even on the local station PRAISE 106.5, I have to turn a deaf ear at times.  A NEW SONG! Blah h…  The new music of the day brings out the curmudgeon in me–the bellyacher–the whiner!  I begin to nitpick, and my wife will whisper in my ear, “You’re ruining my praise.”  It sometimes amazes me how the Holy Spirit can use our spouses to get His point across.

We’re really not different today from the Hebrews of old…

The Hebrews were set in their ways and patterns of life that made things a whole lot easier; they didn’t have to sing a NEW SONG–to change.  It’s easy being in a spiritual rut.  So, to all of us nostalgic people…it’s “time to sing a new song.”

“Okay, okay…if I’ve got to learn a new song–at least you should give us the music!”

And that’s exactly what Psalm 96 is about–teaching people to sing a NEW and different SONG.

A Psalm Sung in 4-Part Harmony:

My life has been involved with MUSIC since I was 4 years old.  I’ve sung in school choirs, church choirs, and a men’s gospel trio in Southern California from 1976 to 1980.  And my enjoyment in singing has been the HARMONY that the music has provided.  So much so, that I tend to forget the MELODY line–once a First Tenor, always a First Tenor!  In saying, I still need to be attentive to the melody line, or I’ll get lost!

As Christians, We ALL Have a part to sing…

When you start looking closely at the words, meditating on the Psalm, you realize that it’s full of four-part harmony–four parts, all of which we’re singing–at once.  But as Calvin Miller would say, “the Earthmaker is always singing the melody line–we join in harmony.”

The New Song Becomes Global…

It is a SONG you can’t miss, and as I discovered, maybe this is the MELODY.

Vs. 1:  “…sing to the Lord all the earth!”

Vs. 3:  “Declare His glory among the nations.”

Vs. 7:  “O you families of the peoples…”

Vs. 9:  “…tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth.  (10) Say among the nations that the Lord reigns.”

This IS World Music–

The OLD SONG is insulated; operates on the assumption that it all revolves around me and my issues.  A lot of “I” in the old song.

The NEW SONG becomes Global; it isn’t one that can or should be confined to church walls, or a single group of people.  It should challenge us and look beyond our own needs–our families–our own church–our own people–our own country.  It challenges us to look out and see the Big Picture, the world.

“I’d like to teach the world to sing in harmony…”

Do you have any friends or connections (real connections) with people outside of your circle?

The First Part to learn in harmony: Acts 1:8 describes the NEW SONG as a GLOBAL SONG.

Most of us probably know the tune, but do we hear the harmony?

“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might!) when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.”

Secondly, the Song to Learn is About the Wonder of it All!

I used to love to hear a song sung at almost every Billy Graham Crusade I ever attended.  It was written and sung by the late George Beverly Shea: The Wonder Of It All!

Psalm 96:2 —  “Sing to the Lord, bless (affectionately praise) His name; show forth His salvation from day to day.”

Psalm 96:6 —  “Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”

The NEW SONG is a WORSHIP SONG:

The New Song refocuses our lives so that they are responding to…WHO GOD IS! – “awesome”–and what He does!

God SAVES!

“His SALVATION is day to day”  (verse 2).

I find it easy sometimes to get sidetracked to start singing our own songs–or at least songs that are about ourselves.  We like to sing about ourselves–our issues–our struggles–our loves–and perhaps that’s okay–to some degree.  My wife once pointed out how she often changes the “we’s” & “our’s” to “I’.  Instead “we Love you Lord”, to “I love you Lord.”  And I think that’s a great idea to make worship songs more personal.

BUT, there’s a NEW SONG out there waiting to be sung–not about you and I but about the glory of GOD!

Thirdly, the New Song is Exclusive!

Verse 4:  For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all gods.

The Bible recognizes other spiritual beings–deities–gods–with a small “g”–deities that have been reduced to idols.  But they are important compared to the LORD who, BTW, is seen in the tag at the end of verse 5, saying “made the heavens.”

The other so-called gods of that day–and in much of our world today–attached to various forms of nature:  gods of thunder, gods of the sky, rivers, ocean, and of nature…but the Psalmist says–THE LORD MADE the heavens–all over these things.  THE LORD OVER ALL!

That now gives us direction and informs our reading of vss. 11-13:

"All the Trees Sing for Joy!"

“All the Trees Sing for Joy!”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all things which fill it.    Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it!  Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy.    Before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge and govern the earth!  He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth.  (Amplified Bible)

The heavens, earth, sea, fields, and crops, the trees–all had gods associated with them in mythology–but here, they are commanded to enter into PRAISE OF THE LORD!

VERSE 11:  LET THE HEAVENS BE GAD, AND LET THE EARTH REJOICE…LET THE SEA ROAR, AND ALL THE THINGS WHICH FILL IT.

UNCONVENTIONAL SINGING–this is not the usual kind of instruments you might expect to hear in worship.  The point the psalmist makes here, is they sing to the Lord!  He alone is WORTHY…ALL of our attention, our affection and our song.  It is the HEART OF WORSHIP!

The Fourth Part of the New Song…

Any great men’s quartet that you may be acquainted with, would sound incomplete without a Tenor, Second Tenor, Baritone,  Bass.  Or in a choir–Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass.  Psalm 96 teaches us the same “singing in 4-part harmonies” principles.

The NEW SONG is based in the future JUSTICE of the Lord:

VERSE 10:  “…He shall judge and rule the people righteously and with justice.”  [Refer to Revelation 11:15; 19:6.]

VERSES 12 & 13:  “Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it!  Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy  [13] Before the Lord, for He comes to judge and govern the earth! He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth.”  [See 1 Chronicles 16:23-33; Rev. 19:11.]

So much of what we sing today is grounded in the past–we certainly don’t want to forget the past–but it shouldn’t define who we are.  As frustrating as life gets, as much as the unfairness can eat at us, there is a day JUDGEMENT is on the way.  And so the notes and the lyrics of the NEW SONG we sing should be drawn from that future day.

What if you could see the future?

On August 19th, 2004, Google’s initial public stock offering were at the price of $85/share.  March 7th, 2014, the NASDAQ listed Google’s shares at $1213/share + or -.

If you could have only known this ahead, you might have rearranged your life–re-prioritized your spending habits so you could invest in the future–with Google.

That’s what the psalmist is doing with his NEW SONG.  He sees the future and is saying, the TUNE is getting really old–stale.  But, it doesn’t matter because…I’m singing a NEW SONG anyway!

The Day of Judgement in Psalm 96 Isn’t So Much A Threat…

It is not so much a threat as it is a PROMISE.

We can REJOICE…

We can live JOYFULLY….

We know the Lord’s FAIRNESS and TRUTH ultimately WINS OUT!

“AMUSIA” becomes part of the problem…why we’re not singing in harmony.

According to a Harvard Health Publication from the Harvard Medical School, September 2007, explains in detail, the explanation behind AMUSIA:

Do people cringe when you sing?  You’ve got company.  But researchers have found that only 1 in 20 people truly have AMUSIA, the technical term for TONE DEAFNESS.  Test have shown that some people with bad singing voices hear music just fine.  Amusics, a smaller group have a perceptual problem and can’t pick out differences in pitch or follow the simplest tune.  The Harvard Health Letter goes on to say, the white matter of the brain in Amusics was thinner, which suggests a weaker connection.  Moreover, the worse TONE DEAFNESS, the thinner the white matter.

We are all hopelessly “Tone Deaf” [Bradly Boydston--"Learning A New Song"]

But the GOOD NEWS IS…the Singer has come into the world and started a new song again–we just have to join in with Him–follow His lead. He has given each one of us an invitation to join in commitment to the Singer and His New Song.

GOD GAVE THE SONG TO US ALL! 

Several years ago, Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song that many well-known singers (Sandy Patty to name one) and choirs have been introduced to.  I sang this song in choirs on several different occasions in the 70′s, and got goose pimples each time I heard the music and the words.

NARRATION:  Yes, God gave the song.  It’s always been with us.  The song came into our world through a manger in Bethlehem.  It was a simple song–a simple lovely song for every man.  Right from the first, some tried to ignore it.  They said, “There’s no song!  It simply doesn’t exist.”  Others tried to change the tune.  They made laws to stop it.  Armies marched against it.  They killed some who sang the song.  They screamed at it in furry; they tried to drown it out.  Finally, they nailed that song to a tree.  They said to themselves, “There…that should take care of that.”  But it didn’t.

What’s that I hear, I still hear the music.

Day after day, that song goes on. For once you know that source of music,

You’ll always hear it, GOD GAVE THE SONG.

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