707. 2 Peter 2

January 17, 2012

DANGER to growing Christians!

2 Peter 2 (English Standard Version)

False Prophets and Teachers

1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Even as there were holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), so also there were false prophets – and false teachers today. Peter stated this as a fact and not as a possibility; and he said they were among you, not only on the outside of the church.

“There were not only holy men of God among the Jews, who prophesied by divine inspiration, but there were also false prophets, whose prophecies were from their own imagination, and perverted many.”   — Adam Clarke

 False teachers work secretly. It isn’t that their teaching is secret, but the deceptive nature of their teaching is hidden. No false teacher ever announces himself as a false teacher.

 False teachers bring in destructive heresies that destroy by telling lies about Jesus Christ and His work for us and in us. By these heresies people are hurt and destroyed. Heresy isn’t harmless.

— David Guzik

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2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

These three examples of judgment show us the important principle that Peter wants to highlight.

  • God judged the angels who sinned, so no one is too high to be judged.
  • God judged the ancient world before the flood, so God doesn’t grade on a curve.
  • God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, so even the prosperous can be judged.

Therefore, what makes the ungodly think they can escape God’s judgment? Their coming judgment is certain. As Jesus said in Luke 10:10-12, for those who reject the truth it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom.

 — David Guzik

7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8(for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,

"St. Peter freed by an angel" -by Jusepe de Ribera (1639)

Peter, as much as anyone, knew how true it is that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,” because the Lord had sent an angel to jail to bring Peter out (Acts 12).

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and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

Let’s talk about sin.

He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.
–Thomas Fuller

I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin, or to be against God’s will.
–Joan of Arc

You sin in thinking bad about people — but, often, you guess right.
–Giulio Andreotti

Sorrow is held the eldest child of sin.
–John Webster

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15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

Balaam was hired by a pagan king to curse the people of Israel.  For a while he refused, out of obedience to God — but eventually his greed overpowered him:  “he loved gain from wrongdoing.”  His donkey had to try to talk sense into him!

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17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

Jude 1:12 (New International Version)

These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.

18For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Christians warmly debate the issue of whether or not it is possible for a true Christian to ever lose their status as a true Christian and fall away to damnation. Perhaps the best way of understanding the issue is to say that it is certainly true that those who appear saved – those who fit the description of Peter here – can end up in a place where it would have been better for them not have known the way of righteousness.

Regarding these, those with a Reformed perspective will say that they were actually never saved; those with an Arminian perspective will say that they were actually saved and lost their salvation. To divide along the lines of this debate – which focuses on things that are unknowable to outside observation – seems to fall into the category of being obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, as in 1 Timothy 6:4.

–David Guzik

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22What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

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Music:

Ick — I don’t want to return to my vomit!  Leave the past and all its sin alone!  Instead, “Take me to the cross again,” for there is where I see most clearly your redeeming love and find my new life.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
heresy stamp.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lNVAGrPs7uU/TcfLSheAMcI/AAAAAAAALgk/oeV37byMGjI/s1600/HeresyStamp.png
de Ribera.   http://endtimesrevelations.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/st-peter-freed-by-an-angel-1639-jusepe-de-riberaedited.jpg
apple.  http://school.discoveryeducation.com/clipart/images/apl-bite.gif
Balaam and his donkey.   http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/248/f/5/balaam_and_talking_donkey_by_miguel0100-d2y3rmu.jpg
eternal security.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A8NKQbSnkgQ/SqR8EFJzZII/AAAAAAAAAYA/nSYPLmkkoPI/s400/eternal+security.jpg

706.) 2 Peter 1

January 16, 2012

GUIDANCE for growing Christians!

2 Peter 1 (English Standard Version)

The date and destination of this letter are uncertain, and the authorship has been disputed.  Because of this, 2 Peter was the last book admitted to the canon of the New Testament Scripture.

In an culture that places decreasing value on God’s Word as “the” single authority of truth, Peter’s second letter is a timely series of reminders to help followers of Jesus guard against false teaching that proliferates in a truthless society.

Greeting

1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Make Your Calling and Election Sure

3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises,

“He tells us too, that faith is ‘precious;’ and is it not precious? For it deals with precious things, with precious promises, with precious blood, with a precious redemption, with all the preciousness of the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Exceeding great and precious promises. — 2 Peter 1:4

“Promises precious and supreme,” “precious and wondrous,” “precious and very great.”  To read the different translations is like turning a jewel in the light.  Each turn shows some new beauty.

In the end we shall find every promise perfectly fulfilled.  Then why should we not let our hearts rest in peace about everything that happens?  For nothing can happen that can break a single one of these precious and exceeding great, supreme, and wondrous promises.

What depth it gives to Peter’s words when we remember that he was to die by crucifixion, and knew it.  There is no promise of an easy passage, but there are countless promises for every day of the voyage, and for a welcome when He brings us to our desired haven (as Psalm 107:30 puts it).

Let us take one promise for our own today, live on it it, test it and prove it — and thank Him for it.

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so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Galatians 4:4-7 (New International Version)

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

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5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“There are two ways of entering a port. A ship may come in, waterlogged and crazy, just kept afloat by continual working at the pumps; or it may enter with every sail set, her pennon floating at the mast-head. The latter is what the apostle desires for himself and those who he addresses. He desired that an entrance abundant should be ministered unto them.

“An ‘abundant entrance’ was really a choral entrance. The idea was of a Roman conqueror coming into his city, welcomed by singers and musicians who would join him in a glorious, happy procession into the city.

“Will your entrance into heaven be like that? Will you enter it, saved so as by fire, or to receive a reward? Will you come unrecognized and unknown, or be welcomed by scores and hundreds to whom you have been the means of blessing, and who will wait you?”

— F. B. Meyer

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12Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Established is the same word translated strengthen in Luke 22:32, when Jesus told Peter “when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  Here, Peter fulfilled that command of Jesus.  He would establish and strengthen us by reminding us of the basics of the Christian life.

–David Guzik

Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Mark 9:2-8 (New Living Translation)

The Transfiguration

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed,  and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”  Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.

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19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

Morning Star so radiant and holy
Shine on me in my great hour of need
Jesus Christ so beautiful and lovely
Shine over me

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20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

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Music:

How grateful I am for Scripture, a love letter from God which illuminates my way through all of life’s vicissitudes and helps guide me to eternal life (Thanks, Pastor Dave Mattson!).   “Thy Word”  is sung by the Maranatha Singers.

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
2 Peter title.  http://calvarychapelsavinggrace.com/teachings/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/2_peter_title.jpg
precious promises.  http://the160acrewoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/2peter1-4-precious-sm.jpg
pyramid.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__oZfD0cT2ts/TA0YWjUbKPI/AAAAAAAADM0/v5EH-C9QqNE/s1600/MarriageMountain.gif
sailing into port (Cleveland Tall Ships Festival 2010).    http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/replicate/EXID37922/images/575-100707_3CS8090.jpg
Transfiguration.   http://www.gerhardy.id.au/images/transfiguration2.jpg
morning star.   http://www.torchleader.com/tl/3975199949_668c3575ff.jpg

705.) Psalm 84

January 13, 2012

Psalm 84 (New International Version)

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
   LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
   they are ever praising you.

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Music:

Brahms’ “How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place” (Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen) from Ein deutsches Requiem, op. 45, performed by the Holden Consort Orchestra and Choir.  Take your time to listen and watch — breathe deeply.

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5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

From all the corners of the earth, from all the nations of the world, we come as pilgrims to Jerusalem.

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6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

8 Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
9 Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

TO BE IN HIS PRESENCE

Meeting God profoundly affects our confidence and our expectations.  When we find him, it is always a shock to realize how much he cares about us.  Instead of confronting a vindictive judge who waits for a chance to deal with us about our shortcomings, we find a God of grace who looks for the chance to forgive our sins, establish us in his favor, and pour on us his blessings.  To our surprise, we learn that he will withhold nothing good from those who walk in sincerity and uprightness before him.  He is the source of all good, and his will toward us is loving concern.  He is our sun who gives us light and our shield who surrounds us with protection.

The most important consequence of meeting God is what it does to our sense of priorities.  We come to realize that we need him more than anything else.  In fact, we need him even more than we need his gifts.  It is for God himself that our soul cries out.  The association with God will leave in us the hallowing impact of place and people and seasons, but our hearts will hunger for his presence.  He is the source of all good, but he is better than all good.  There is no justification needed for our searching for him.  Although some do not know it, to be near God is the deepest desire of every human heart.

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12 LORD Almighty,
blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Matthew 5:3-10 (English Standard Version)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Psalm 84:10.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-stJ28-iVJv4/TWBn5x8eBXI/AAAAAAAABRI/qRyidgJI40Q/s1600/Psalm+84+10.jpg
Welcome to Jerusalem.  http://www.tamilbiblestudy.com/thewayofsalvation/images/Welcome%20to%20Jerusalem.JPG
Golden Gate, Temple Mount, Jerusalem.     http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HEJOSY8VS8U/TjzYBzx2sII/AAAAAAAAAQ8/YRoxh7CE74w/s1600/HananIsacharCORBIS_GoldenGateTempleMount.jpg
God bless you.  http://ilovemydarling.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/may-god-bless-you-my-darling.jpg

704.) Psalms 82 and 83

January 12, 2012

Psalm 82 (New International Version)

A psalm of Asaph.

1 God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:

The gods — Judges and magistrates are called gods, because they have their commission from God, and act as his deputies.

–John Wesley

2 “How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?

How long — The psalmist speaks to them in God’s name.

–John Wesley

3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

5 “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

The foundations — This corruption of the supreme rulers, flows from them to their inferior officers and members.

–John Wesley

6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”

8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.

Arise — Take the sword of justice into thine own hand.

–John Wesley

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Music:

A great hymn of the faith — “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise.”

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Psalm 83 (New International Version)

A song. A psalm of Asaph.

Study the psalm in two parts:

   ·    Verses 1 – 8:  what the enemies of God and Israel are doing

   ·    Verses 9 – 18: what the psalmist wants and prays that God will do

1 O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
2 See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—

— and there are lots of these enemies, surrounding God’s people:

6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants.

9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
of the pasturelands of God.”

These are all people who were destroyed.  Here is the body count:  Gideon destroyed Midian; the story is in Judges 6-8.  Oreb and Zeeb were princes of Midian. People from the tribe of Ephraim killed them; the story is in Judges 7:24-25.  Gideon killed Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian, in Judges 8:21.  Sisera and Jabin come from another story, in Judges 4:1-24.  Jabin was king of Hazor, and Sisera was the leader of his army. A woman, Jael, killed Sisera as he hid in her tent. Two judges of Israel destroyed Jabin’s army at the River Kishon.

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, LORD,
so that they will seek your name.
17
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.

Luke 6:27-36 (New Living Translation)

Love for Enemies

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.  You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

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18 Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Defend the poor . . .   http://i52.tinypic.com/sq79cn.jpg
Lincoln quote.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7p0Y1PPIDJY/S4EwZvVKW0I/AAAAAAAADKM/tbSEDIU53os/s400/Destroying_My_Enemies_by_hellhoundp2k.jpg

703.) Song of Solomon 8

January 11, 2012

Song of Solomon 8

(New International Version)

   She

1 If only you were to me like a brother,
who was nursed at my mother’s breasts!
Then, if I found you outside,
I would kiss you,
and no one would despise me.
2 I would lead you
and bring you to my mother’s house—
she who has taught me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
the nectar of my pomegranates.
3 His left arm is under my head
and his right arm embraces me.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind,
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple
we should take him at his word,
and our lives would be all sunshine
in the sweetness of our Lord.

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4 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

Friends

5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
leaning on her beloved?

She

Under the apple tree I roused you;
there your mother conceived you,
there she who was in labor gave you birth.
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

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LOVE IS . . . faithful.

True love is naturally true.  Love wants to be faithful.  It wants to give all of itself to one, not to disperse and divide itself upon many. 

Thus, “my bride is a garden locked, a fountain sealed” (Song 4:12).  Love is sealed against intruders:  “Set me as a seal upon your heart” (Song 8:6).

It is impossible to give the whole of your self to more than one person.  You cannot give the whole of yourself to a group of two or more.  If you multiply the recipient, you divide the gift — and the giver.  And a divided giver, a divided self, is a terrible thing, like a split personality.  Only God can give the whole of himself to more than one, to each one of us, because God is in eternity in full perfection, and his love is without limits.

–from Three Philosophies of Life,  by Peter Kreeft

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Music:

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.

Dr. Rene Clausen’s timeless composition, “Set Me as a Seal,” performed by The National Lutheran Choir on February 14, 2009 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  There is a story behind this particular piece of music:  Dr. Clausen and his wife had been trying for a child over five years’ time and had had four miscarriages.  The fifth pregnancy was a success. At around six months a procedure called amniocentesis was done, where amniotic fluid is tested to make sure the child is healthy in a risky pregnancy. The doctor mistakenly hit the umbilical cord, resulting in the death of the baby. His wife had to birth the child — and after the intense labor of their lifeless child, Dr. Clausen wrote this piece. He said it took him only forty-five minutes to write it and he never made a change to it.  “Love is strong as death.”

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Friends

8 We have a little sister,
and her breasts are not yet grown.
What shall we do for our sister
on the day she is spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build towers of silver on her.
If she is a door,
we will enclose her with panels of cedar.

She

10 I am a wall,
and my breasts are like towers.
Thus I have become in his eyes
like one bringing contentment.
11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal Hamon;
he let out his vineyard to tenants.
Each was to bring for its fruit
a thousand shekels of silver.
12 But my own vineyard is mine to give;
the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon,
and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit.

He

13 You who dwell in the gardens
with friends in attendance,
let me hear your voice!

She

14 Come away, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the spice-laden mountains.

SONNET 116
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

_________________________

Do you want to hear the end of this Song?

Revelation 21:1-7 (New Living Translation)

The New Jerusalem

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
butterfly.    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3046/2932832001_0d5c08d3c1.jpg
Jesus loves you.  http://powerofamoment.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/jesus-loves-you.jpg
50th wedding anniversary cake.    http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_DYYJvE60SI4/TOMbxRmo54I/AAAAAAAAAdU/0Q7gszsGciM/th_wedding_anniversary_cakes.jpg
New Jerusalem.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oDCxVyLBuD4/TegdnGKdOSI/AAAAAAAAAO8/BrIFdFUhzv4/s1600/new_jerusalem.jpg

702.) Song of Solomon 7

January 10, 2012

Please don’t imagine the metaphors literally!

Song of Solomon 7

(New International Version)

He

1 How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince’s daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of an artist’s hands.
2 Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.
3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.
6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
my love, with your delights!
7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.

She

May the wine go straight to my beloved,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10 I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.

LOVE IS . . . exchange of selves.

Something extremely simple yet incredibly mysterious is said in Song of Songs 2:16 and again at 7:10:  “My beloved is mine and I am his.”  Love exchanges selves.  When I love you, I no longer possess myself; you do.  I have given it away.  But I possess your self.  How can this be?  How can the gift of the giver be the very giver? How can the hand that gives hold itself in itself as its own gift?  The ordinary relationship between giver and gift, subject and object, is overcome here.  The simple-sounding truism that in love you give your very self to your beloved is a high and holy mystery.

Its ultimate explanation is an even higher and holier mystery, the Trinity itself.  Lovers belong to each other because love is the nature of God, and the Persons in the Divine Trinity give themselves to each other.  The Son is the very Word, or thought or mind of the Father given so totally that he is another Person; and the Spirit is the very love between Father and Son given so totally that he too eternally becomes a third Person.

The image of this ultimate Fact in human love is that lovers can really give themselves to each other, so that “the two become one” without ceasing to be two. 

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.
12 Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom—
there I will give you my love.

LOVE IS . . . alive.

All the images for love in this poem, as in most love poems, are images of living, growing things:  a garden (Song 4:12, 16), a vineyard (Song 7:12, 8:11-12), a well of living water (Song 4:15).  Love grows like a plant.  It does not merely grow in us, with us, as a function of us; we grow in it, with it, as a function of it.  It has a life of its own — ultimately because it is a seed of God planted in our lives.  “He who lives in love, lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved.

cowslips

Sonnet XI
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Not in a silver casket cool with pearls
Or rich with red corundum or with blue
Locked, and the key withheld, as other girls
Have given their loves, I give my love to you.
Not in a lovers’-knot, not in a ring
Worked in such fashion and the legend plain-
Semper fidelis,
where a secret spring

Kennels a drop of mischief for the brain:
Love in the open hand, no thing but that,
Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,
As one should bring you cowslips in a hat
Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,
I bring you, calling out as children do:
“Look what I have! – And these are all for you.”

_________________________

Music:

This is hot!  Celine Dion sings “The Power of Love,” which I think is a pretty good match for the Song we have been reading!

The whispers in the morning
Of lovers sleeping tight
Are rolling like thunder now
As I look in your eyes
I hold on to your body
And feel each move you make
Your voice is warm and tender
A love that I could not forsake

‘Cause I am your lady
And you are my man
Whenever you reach for me
I’ll do all that I can

Lost is how I’m feeling, lying in your arms
When the world outside’s too
Much to take
That all ends when I’m with you
Even though there may be times
It seems I’m far away
Never wonder where I am
‘Cause I am always by your side

‘Cause I am your lady
And you are my man
Whenever you reach for me
I’ll do all that I can

We’re heading for something
Somewhere I’ve never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I’m ready to learn
Of the power of love

The sound of your heart beating
Made it clear suddenly
The feeling that I can’t go on
Is light years away

‘Cause I am your lady
And you are my man
Whenever you reach for me
I’ll do all that I can

We’re heading for something
Somewhere I’ve never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I’m ready to learn
Of the power of love

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
literal metaphors.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UAkIDtIWOWM/Tg656gjeoXI/AAAAAAAAAG8/kiJqjeCCgSM/s1600/song+solomon.jpg
cowslips.   http://www.yourlocalweb.co.uk/images/pictures/16/20/cowslips-159603.jpg

701.) Song of Solomon 6

January 9, 2012

Song of Solomon 6

(New International Version)

   Friends

1 Where has your beloved gone,
most beautiful of women?
Which way did your beloved turn,
that we may look for him with you?

She

2 My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the beds of spices,
to browse in the gardens
and to gather lilies.
3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he browses among the lilies.

My True Love Hath My Heart
by Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given;
I hold his dear and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his.

His heart in me keeps him and me in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his.

_________________________
He4 You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
as lovely as Jerusalem,
as majestic as troops with banners.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Beautiful art thou, my fair one, majestic as bannered hosts.
— Song of Solomon 6:4

Just now a tree on the very top of the hill is all tipped with the crimson of young leaves.  Through the field glasses it is like an army with banners, and every single little crimson banner is held out and waves in the wind.

Beautiful art thou, my fair one, majestic as bannered hosts.  That is what our Lord calls us, thinking of us as so much better than we really are, for that is His loving custom.  If we truly love Him it is impossible to hear such words without wanting to rise to them.

Are we like an army with banners?  Or are we slouching along anyhow?  It would spoil a bannered host if a single banner-bearer trailed his banner in the dust, and marched out of step, and slacked.  Don’t let any one of us think, “It doesn’t matter about me.”  It does matter about you.

_________________________

5 Turn your eyes from me;
they overwhelm me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Gilead.
6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin,
not one of them is missing.
7 Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
8 Sixty queens there may be,
and eighty concubines,
and virgins beyond number;
9 but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
the only daughter of her mother,
the favorite of the one who bore her.
The young women saw her and called her blessed;
the queens and concubines praised her.

Friends

10 Who is this that appears like the dawn,
fair as the moon, bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?

LOVE IS . . . power.

The imagery in Song of Songs is startling.  It is never weak and wimpy, sweet and swoony.  The imagery is so strong and active that it is military.  What woman has even been flattered by her beloved’s comparing her to an army and a fortress?  There is no chauvinistic passivity here.  The bride is not a shrinking violet, nor does the groom want her to be.  She is as active as he is but in a totally feminine way.  She is the dawn, and the dawn “comes up like thunder” here.  When God our groom comes to us with his love, we are not flattened but straightened, not turned off but turned on, not made passive but made active. 

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

He

11 I went down to the grove of nut trees
to look at the new growth in the valley,
to see if the vines had budded
or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 Before I realized it,
my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people.

Friends

13 Come back, come back, O Shulammite;
come back, come back, that we may gaze on you!

He

Why would you gaze on the Shulammite
as on the dance of Mahanaim?

_________________________

Music:

“If Ever I Would Leave You”  —  from Camelot, sung by Robert Goulet.  I had the privilege years ago of seeing Goulet (as King Arthur) in a Camelot production at the Fox in Atlanta.  It remains an enchanted memory.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
I am my beloved’s . . .    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_qn6qPT-4d1A/S29XEkqQ5CI/AAAAAAAAAik/skXyAe3tKs8/s640/i+am+my+beloved%27s.png
two hearts.   http://www.clker.com/cliparts/4/d/5/d/12065573741668753765egore911_2_hearts.svg.hi.png
red tree.    http://staytondailyphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/dennyb_redtree.jpg

700.) Song of Solomon 5

January 6, 2012

“Song of Solomon” by Darlene Slavujak, 1994.

Song of Solomon 5

(New International Version)

   He

1 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.

    Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
    Were I with thee
    Wild Nights should be
    Our luxury!

    Futile – the Winds –
    To a Heart in port –
    Done with the Compass –
    Done with the Chart!

    Rowing in Eden –
    Ah, the Sea!
    Might I but moor – Tonight –
    In Thee!

    –Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

_________________________

Friends

Eat, friends, and drink;
drink your fill of love.

She

2 I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3 I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?
4 My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.
5 I arose to open for my beloved,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the bolt.
6 I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.
7 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!
8 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love.

LOVE IS . . . ready.

When the angel appeared to Mary, she was ready with her response:  Yes, let it be, “Be it done to me according to your word.”  That is why Mary is considered by some to be a perfect saint:  a perfect saint has perfect love, and perfect love is perfectly ready with its simple Yes.

But the bride in the Song of Solomon, like our own soul, is not perfectly ready.  She makes excuses, and because of this fear, withdrawal, or double-mindedness, the longed-for consummation of their love is postponed, and she suffers immeasurably, as the verses above show.

We are always doing that with God.  The divinely whispered invitation to turn immediately to him, to follow the first breath of his Spirit, is seldom heeded.  When we have more time, when we are in a better mood, when these Martha-like many things are taken care of, then we can attend to the Mary thing, the “one thing needful.”  But tomorrow never comes, and if we do not turn today we simply do not turn, for today is the only time there is.  “Now is the time of salvation.”  Be ready for all the joy of Now.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

Friends

9 How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you so charge us?

She

10 My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.

LOVE IS . . . individual.

The object of love is a person, and every person is an individual.  No person is a class, a species, or a collection.  There is no such thing as the love of humanity because there is no such thing as humanity.  If your preachers or teachers have told you that the Bible teaches you to love humanity, they have told you a lie.  Not once does the Bible say that; not once does it even mention the word humanity.  Jesus always commands us to love God and our neighbor instead.

How comfortable “humanity” is!  “Humanity” never shows up at your door at the most inconvenient time.  “Humanity” is not quarrelsome, alcoholic, or fanatical.  “Humanity” is never slimy, swarmy, smarmy, smelly, or smutty.  “Humanity” is so ideal that one could easily die for it.  But to die for your neighbor, to die for Sam Slug or Mehitabel Crotchit — unthinkable.  Except for love.

One of the saints said that if you had been the only person God ever created, he would have gone to all the trouble he went to just to save you alone.  When he died on the cross, he did not die for humanity; he died for you.  “Behold, I have called you by name,” he says.  “I have engraved your name upon my palm.”  When he welcomes you into your heavenly mansion, he will not address you as “comrade.”  Lovers love to whisper each other’s names because the name stands for the person, the individual.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________
11 His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.
12 His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.
13 His cheeks are like beds of spice
yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh.
14 His arms are rods of gold
set with topaz.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with lapis lazuli.
15 His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.
16 His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.

“There is nothing that can surprise our Lord in our unworthiness; He knows us through and through.  But it must surprise Him sometimes that we ever stay even for one minute in the dark and cold, when we have such a Beloved and such a Friend that we have only to think of Him (instead of ourselves) to find ourselves with Him, embraced by His warm love on every side.”

–Amy Carmichael

_________________________

Music:

“All I Ask of You”  by Sarah Brightman and Michael Ball — Phantom of the Opera.  So beautiful.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Slavujak.   http://www.heqigallery.com/GALLERY%20OT%20A/images/09_the_song_of_solomon.jpg
compass rose.   http://www.clker.com/cliparts/0/1/5/b/1197094386315373472freedo_Compass_rose.svg.hi.png

699.) Song of Solomon 4

January 5, 2012

Aishwarya Rai, a star of Indian Bollywood films, is considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the world today.

Song of Solomon 4

(New International Version)

   He

1 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.

Jenny Kissed Me
by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

_________________________
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.

LOVE IS . . . natural.

Love is supernatural, but love is also natural — like Christ, who is both fully God and fully man.  Love “moves the sun and all the stars,” as Dante and the ancients knew.  Love is the theme of nature’s song.

That is why the poet of this song, like all traditional love poets, finds and uses analogies throughout nature for human love.  But modern sensibilities are more materialistic than those of the ancients, and so we need to be reeducated into at least one crucial feature of traditional imagery.  These images are often based not on an empirical, visible likeness but on an emotional one.  Consider the passage we have just read, for instance.  Not one of the seven natural images is one of visible resemblance, except very remotely.  If the reader thinks the writer is attempting that, the spell of the poetry not only will not work but also will work a counterspell of scorn and laughter.  But if the reader understands the emotional equivalence, he will be able to enter into the poet’s secret world of fittingness.

Everything in nature can symbolize love because everything in nature was designed and created to manifest the God of love.  “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).  Every blade of grass is a blade of grace, a grace note in God’s Song.

–from Three Philosophies of Life,  by Peter Kreeft

_________________________

6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.
7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

_________________________

Music:

“You are so beautiful (to me)”  by Joe Cocker.

_________________________

8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the crest of Amana,
from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,
from the lions’ dens
and the mountain haunts of leopards.
9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.

13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
14 nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.

“When a spice is used raw, as is, you get one flavor,” says Raghavan Iyer, eminent Indian food writer and chef, who speaks with the precision and clarity of a veteran instructor. “When it’s ground, you get a second flavor. When it’s toasted, you get a third flavor. When it’s ground after it has been dry toasted, you get a fourth flavor.”

He pauses for a moment, and then presents the remaining options.

“When it’s sauteed in some kind of a fat, you get flavor number five,” he says. “If it’s ground after it’s sauteed, you get flavor number six. If it’s soaked in some liquid while it’s in the seed form, you get flavor number seven. If it’s ground after it has been soaked in liquid, you get flavor number eight.

“These are not subtleties, these are very distinct flavors,” he adds, emphatically. “All of a sudden… you take that and multiply it by the hundreds of different spices out there, and you’ve peeked into the world of Indian cooking. It’s that sophistication of flavors that come through from using the same ingredient in different ways.”

One spice — yet many delicious flavors.  One friend, one spouse — yet many shining facets.  One marriage — yet many glorious qualities.

_________________________

15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.

She

16 Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

There are two pots of lilies in my room.  In one the flowers are large and perfect; in the other the bloom has missed something,  It does not reach perfection.

A glance discovers the reason.  Its leaves are dusty.

Awake O north wind — sharp, cold, unwelcome — and come, thou south — welcome by all — blow upon my garden.  Round about us day by day these winds blow.  They breathe the very breath of life upon us, for they come at the call of Him who is our Breath of Life.

Are we receiving all that they carry to us?  Are we missing the blessed good of either the sharpness or sweetness, the desired or the undesired?  Are those secret doors of the spirit, hidden from all eyes like the stomata on the underside of the leaf, wide open, clean, free from the dust of earth?

O Breath of Life whose winds blow about me now, let me be all open to Thee today.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Rai.   http://www.moviespad.com/photos/aishwarya-rai-bachchan-aims-to-get-sexy-4a6ba.jpg
a kiss in the boat.    http://lc.totfarm.com/pics/pic_123074879875830.jpg
spices.   https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-raMWEoTUipg/TkIZOpaxeTI/AAAAAAAAcF0/YrufD_mAaU4/spices.jpg
lilies of the valley.  http://ddeventdesign.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/lily-of-the-valley1.jpg

698.) Song of Solomon 3

January 4, 2012

I will get up now and go about the city; I will search for the one my heart loves.

Song of Solomon 3

(New International Version)

She

1 All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
2 I will get up now and go about the city,
through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.

LOVE IS . . . work.

Love is not passive.  Love is singing a duet, and that is work.  Joyful work, but work nonetheless.  Young lovers first fall in love passively, but if they are to stay in love they must actively work to keep it and grow it, like a seed that is first received into the ground but must then be tended and fertilized or it will die.  So the bride sings, “I sought him . . . I will rise now and go about the city . . . I will seek him whom my soul loves.”  Life is a quest for love and a quest for God.

Freud says that the two most basic needs everyone has are “love and work.”  That is a wise saying.  And these two are one, for if work is to be fulfilling, it must be a work of love, and if love is to live, it must be a work.  As Kierkegaard points out, love in Christianity is not a feeling, as it is for Romanticism; rather, “love is the works of love.”  That is why Christ can command love.  Only a fool tries to command a feeling.

The strangest thing about our work of love is that it is both work and rest, both weekday and sabbath.  Jesus made this clear when the Pharisees got angry at him for his work of healing on the sabbath.  His answer told them, in effect, that you could no more stop this work than you could stop the sun from shining, for it is the very life of the Father, which eternally reaches out from the sabbath of eternity into the work week of time, as he did at the Creation.  Jesus’ answer to them was:  “My Father is working still, and I am working” (John 5:17).  What has this to do with us human lovers?  Like Father, like Son; like Christ, like Christian.  Our work of love participates in the dual nature of Christ:  divine and human, eternal and temporal, sabbath rest and weekday work, Easter Sunday and Good Friday.

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

_________________________
So I looked for him but did not find him.
3 The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
“Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room of the one who conceived me.
5 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d a way!

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life’s busy throng, —
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
Mermaids are chanting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E’en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart, —
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

– by Stephen Foster

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Music:

Looking for love?  This is one of my favorite love songs.  “Some Enchanted Evening,” from a concert from Carnegie Hall in 2005 — Reba McEntire & Brian Stokes Mitchell.  “Once you have found him, never let him go . . .”

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6 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and incense
made from all the spices of the merchant?
7 Look! It is Solomon’s carriage,
escorted by sixty warriors,
the noblest of Israel,
8 all of them wearing the sword,
all experienced in battle,
each with his sword at his side,
prepared for the terrors of the night.
9 King Solomon made for himself the carriage;
he made it of wood from Lebanon.
10 Its posts he made of silver,
its base of gold.
Its seat was upholstered with purple,
its interior inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem, 11 come out,
and look, you daughters of Zion.
Look on King Solomon wearing a crown,
the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
the day his heart rejoiced.

LOVE IS . . . triumphalistic.

Love is, simply, superior.  It belongs on a throne.  It rightly brags, praises, exults, celebrates, sings its Song of Songs.  It deserves silver and gold and robes and crown.  Heaven will be full of it (if the symbolism of Revelation means anything at all); had we not better practice living with it?

–from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
woman alone.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_IR2h_NgzU-Y/THzJKM8t3ZI/AAAAAAAAATo/7fJZfT9BihY/s1600/alone460.jpg
dreamer of the sea.   http://deemusic.homestead.com/files/dreamersleep.jpg