Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Skip Moen ~ Sharing the Secret of the Song of Solomon...

In one of the finest love poems from the ancient past, Song of Solomon places sexual intimacy, passion, desire and fulfillment under the authority of the “seal.” At the conclusion of this great love poem, the woman instructs the man to “put me like a seal” over your heart and on your arm. Once we know the cultural background of this word, we see God’s view of sexual intimacy also reverses the cultural expectation.

The word translated “seal” is hotham.It describes a cylindrical piece of stone with an external carved inscription.When this cylinder is rolled over a soft material, it leaves a raised impression that establishes legal ownership over the object. Like a signet ring, the seal permanently establishes an unbreakable legal and moral bond.

There are interesting, and powerful, nuances associated with this word. First, the Hebrew word hotham is most likely a loanword from Egyptian. Hebrew has another word for “seal” that is used exclusively in religious rituals. But this loanword is associated with magic, not ritual, in its Egyptian heritage. How appropriate that it should be chosen to describe the bond of intimacy between a man and a woman. Secondly, while there are numerous occurrences of seals establishing male ownership in the archeological record, the occasions of female ownership are very rare. But that is precisely the intention of this verse.

The woman asks the man to roll her seal on to his heart and over his arm, branding him as owned by her. In perfect harmony with the context of Genesis 2:24, the man leaves behind his old life and becomes the property of the woman who loves him. He submits to her ownership. This is in alignment with Proverbs 31:11. The man places his life in the hands of the woman. He is hers exclusively, just as he is his Lord’s exclusive property.

This all sounds really great.  A wife might think that as owner she can do what she wants with her property – the husband.  Husbands might rebel, saying that if their wives are going to act like typical domineering owners they want nothing to do with this “redeemed” marriage.  Both would be wrong.  The standard is God’s ownership.  The ‘ezer must act as the substitute owner in God’s place.  What does that mean?  It means that wives are to act toward their husbands as God acted toward His people.

Yes, He protects.  Yes, He provides.  But He is also long-suffering, merciful, forgiving, gracious, loving and full of compassion.  He never gives up on Israel.  He never acts in ways that are not in the best interests of Israel.  He is eternally committed to doing everything He can to bring Israel to the place where Israel fulfills its divine mission.

Is that the way you, as ‘ezer, act toward your husband?  Are you so much for him that you will never give up on helping him become all that God has called him to be?  Or do you have your own agenda for ownership? Is your position as ‘ezer governed by holiness and compassion, or is it practiced with personal demands and desires?  When you look at your behavior toward your husband, no matter how he behaves, are you faithfully committed to God’s best for him?  Even if you have to put your agenda on the back shelf?

The role of the ‘ezer is a dangerous one.  That’s why God put it in the capable hands of the woman.  It is dangerous because it walks the knife edge of managing obedience or obedient management.  On the one hand, most wives know that with enough prodding, persuasion and persistence, they can get their husbands to do what they want.  But that is managing obedience.  God calls the ‘ezer to obedient management – being the living proof of holiness in the presence of the husband, calling him to greater self-sacrifice for his God.

The ‘ezer does not sin in her weakness.  Her sins are not due to defects.  The ‘ezer sins in her strength.  She takes her God-given capacity and power and uses it for her own purposes.  She defeats her husband.  The result is tragic – as a great many of us know.

“Lord, help me to live as the obedient manager, putting his relationship with You ahead of my agendas.  Let me bring him to the place where he is used completely by You, and I will glory in my role in making him Yours.”

*Source ~  https://www.skipmoen.com/2009/02/ownership/

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Today's Fruit Slow to and or Unwilling to Mature!

We see a growing concern for young Americans when it comes to maturity. And, even for older people who want to hang on to their fading youth. What kind of example is that in respect of maturity? Its seems more and more than fruit does not want to mature.

All ages/ levels of life require amounts of maturity. There is a point though where a higher level or kind of maturity ( knowing what is expected and being able to fulfill that expectation) is necessary in young adult and all adult relationships: marriage, family and society. More young people are waiting until they are in their late 20's or even early 30s. 

Years ago, young people matured earlier. Why? Was it because they were expected more of at earlier ages? When expectation is low in society maturity drops and relationships begin to fail and thus society itself is not far behind. Society has historically placed limits on behaviors based on chronological age (such as voting and driving restrictions) because age is typically a measure of maturity. Yes, today, we can hear that age and maturity are not necessarily synonymous, especially when it comes to relationships. 

Yet, we can certainly observe that maturity plays a major role in the success or demise of relationships in the young and old. Therefore, it is essential to understand how maturity affects a person’s ability to not only reason effectively but also to understand the concepts and implement the skills needed to form and maintain healthy relationships so that society is stable.

 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature ~ Luke 8:14

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Romans 14: 1-23. Dangers of Criticism

A lot of people don't know that they are making others feel bad when they say something about a certain practice/behavior (use of money or credit, liking certain clothes, wearing of makeup or jewelry/hair styles etc.) or serve something that someone does not like to eat or drink or engage in (pop music/dancing) that would seem to be disrespectful or degrading to the mind, body, spirit or soul. 

And, some have a tendency to proclaim regularly that they don't do this/that or think a certain way, behave a certain way, wear certain clothes, and eat or drink certain foods/beverages including alcohol etc. They like to go on about how they never did that and that they weren't raised that way and that they come from a line of generations that never did. Whether you criticize directly or indirectly by proclaiming your righteousness; please, be mindful of Romans 14. You don't want to make a fellow Christian stumble. 

And, yet how to point them in the right direction if you think that they are really in danger of losing their salvation. In a friendly manner, use the Word! Find scripture that they would benefit from. Let them discover for themselves the better path. They will likely see it and repent and move forward. The next time you see them and you see a change, you can say "Wow, I like that dress on you" or "you look so happy lately or well, maybe I should try that diet or cut back/take your advice."

Romans 14: 1-23 
Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say,“As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God."

Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Forgive us our debts!

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors ~ Matthew 6:12.

 Some say we should not incur any debt but how is that possible in a nation of capitalism where debt is part of the system. Many people would be homeless if they could not take a mortgage. In America, there is not the common practice to live with parents until one saves enough money to buy a house and that could take some people a lifetime given the cost of buying a home. Are Christians at risk because they have debt? It depends on the kind of debt they/you have. We know that in Christ there is no debt too great. “Two men were debtors to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay him, he forgave both of them. Which one, then, will love him more?” “I suppose the one who was forgiven more,” Simon replied. “You have judged correctly.” Jesus said.…Luke 7:41-43.

Should we run like crazy when a sale hits the stores and put our purchases on credit just to have that handbag that matches our shoes? No, but it doesn't mean that we should avoid a good deal on clothes and shoes when they are needed.  Does it mean we should not buy a home until we can pay for it? No, if we see a good investment, we should take advantage of it and buy a home and feel blessed to have it at a good price. 

We take what we are given to use for His Kingdom. We don't bury our money so that we don't spend it or use wisely. And, at the same time, we don't take on more than we can manage either and go into debt for that which we cannot nor ever repay to a man. And, in saying that we come to realize that being frugal is wise but never taking a risk for His Kingdom is also not wise especially when we are given money to spend on His Kingdom... as when a good investment comes our way or a blessing is given and we hide it from sight. 

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
 
“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
“ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30.

Friday, June 23, 2017

To God Be the Glory!

Many Christians mistakenly think that they are not sinners; because in their mind, they have not broken one of the Ten Commandments. They think that they are not committing a sin because they don't find themselves on that list. Yes, within those ten known listed sins there are more than that as many others fall under those listed.

For example, the first commandment states that we do not worship nor put any other god before us ~ Exodus 20:3. But, look around and see the worship of goodies, things/places and the self. Yes, there are those that will argue that such scripture does not apply as it is from the Old Testament; and, since Jesus died for our sins so we don't have to worry. Let us remember what Jesus said, " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" ~ Mark 12:30.  Know that it is the same commandment from the Old Testament and the greatest commandment.

Examine your heart first. Do you seek the praise of others? Do you need/want and love to be complimented? Do you love for your children to be complimented? Do you show yourself to others in order to be complimented and do you compliment others to gain their admiration? Do you compliment others to gain their friendship, you want to be liked... right? All of this is a form of pride of life and idolatry of self and things - the world. Sadly, many seek the glory and glorification of this world and not His.

Remember, whenever you help someone, whether it is with monetary donation/gift or scripture, You do it for Him and His Kingdom.  Because, if you find yourself helping others and putting your 'label' on it... "Here, I am blessing you", then you are usurping the Lord. You are not leading people to the Lord but to you or to money/things. The Lord God alone blesses and He blesses who He wants to bless. If you offer scripture, or reach into your pocket to give it is the Lord's doing and to Him be the Glory! Let people know who you love first and foremost!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Good Order in Worship ~ 1 COR 14:26-40. NIV

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

God's hierarchy demands good order in worship. Why? It certainly does not seem to fit today's popular political culture. We can observe God's hierarchy for good order in worship being deconstructed in churches across the country. His hierarchy is to provide order in a fallen world so that peace 'His Peace' can overcome this world.

Monday, June 12, 2017

When good is called evil and evil good...

Many Christian people think they can tell the difference; and, when that situation appears they will know it/see it. But, many will be and have already been deceived. How so? Satan plays on the darkness of emotions: doubt, sympathy, desires, and needs. Sadly, those dwelling in such darkness will and do invent new forms of evil; they disobey their parents (not just the young). They are senseless, faithless, heartless, merciless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things are worthy of death, they not only continue to do these things, but also approve of those who practice them ~ Romans 1:30-32. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter ~ Isaiah 5:20.

How could it be that new forms of evil are invented? We imagine that they must be really horrible. But, they are simple, catchy, tasty, prideful, and just shy of horribly arrogant; invented out of sympathy due to wanting to love and be loved by the world. We see outrageous sympathy for someone or something that used to be immoral and or frowned on and considered abnormal behavior. Yes, Christians more and more are falling into the darkness of such sympathies - treacherous emotions in their lives: workplace, community and in their homes. New forms of evil look like tolerance/acceptance for misunderstood gender identity, misguided social justice quests, and love/lust for nature and animals over human beings, lack of or no forgiveness for human error and encouraged repentance. New forms of evil come to us as righteous slogans/ labels/laws, brands and icon (ed) entertainers as well as politicians and institutions, organizations, and just about every other worldly band wagon 'agenda/philsophy' you can think of.

How can you know if you are being led to invent or join in on newly invented evils? If you find yourself thinking or saying, "Oh, you poor thing, no one loves/likes, but I do and I understand you." Sounds, like the 'right' approach for some of you. But, you are only calling evil good and good evil. If you see or know someone that is struggling with gender identity or with pride and entitlement, or with isolation... you only encourage that even more with such a response. Our reaction as Christians should be, "God loves you and He knows you (even before you were born) and He forgives you". When you accept Him, His forgiveness and most of all His love all of this uncertainty you feel, all this loneliness you feel, all this false identity you feel will be overcome by Him Jesus Christ. His Love will be make you whole, healed and a child of God.

*Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter ~ Isaiah 5:20.