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.