April 19, 2009

AP: Song of Solomon-Introduction

Hey everyone,

I hope y'all are doing well. I have been trying to decide what to write about the last couple of weeks in the prayer room and nothing has really struck me so I didn't write and I apologize. But yesterday I was in one of my favorite books and I was reading and got stuck in a passage describing Jesus. My two favorite books in the Bible are Song of Solomon and Revelation. They actually describe the same person and must be used together to fully understand Jesus. Most people make fun of Song of Solomon and say that it is just full of weird funny phrases. But it is actually a journey of Jesus and us maturing as the Bride of Christ. It is also a picture of the End Times. So I decided to take what I have learned and give it to you. Katty Wood, one of the staff members here, taught Song of Solomon to us so I will be using a few ideas from her as well as Mike Bickle.

Song of Solomon is an eight chapter love story of Jesus, the Bridegroom, pursuing the one he loves, us as the Bride. It shows us the greatness of Jesus' leadership. Under his leadership he brings an immature Bride into maturity in him. The first four chapters of the Song focus on the Bride understanding and enjoying her inheritance in Christ. These chapters emphasize how God views and desires her. The last four chapters focus on Jesus’ inheritance in the Bride. We seek something from Him, but He also seeks something from us. He wants us to love Him with all our heart. This Song reveals God’s pattern in how we grow in passion for Jesus. It helps is understand the realities needed to develop mature love for God.

There are two ways you can interpret this book. The natural view depicts a love story between King Solomon and his bride, the Shulamite maiden. It emphasizes biblical principles that honor the beauty of love within marriage. This view has grown in popularity in the last 100 years. There are two basic story lines when interpreting the Song as a natural love story. The first tells of a Shulamite maiden who was wooed by the handsome and wealthy King Solomon who slowly wins her heart as the storyline unfolds. The second way is the story of a godly Shulamite maiden who deeply loves a poor shepherd in her hometown (Shunem). King Solomon passed through her town and noticed her working in a vineyard. He was struck by her extraordinary beauty. Thus, he sought to steal her heart away from the poor shepherd that she loved. She remained loyal to the poor shepherd in the midst of the temptations of King Solomon’s wealth and power.

The second way is the symbolic interpretation. In this way we see the spiritual truths in our relationship with Jesus behind the natural love story. This is the approach I will use in these notes. We study the Song to gain deeper understanding of our relationship with Jesus. This is the most common interpretation over the last 3000 years (since Solomon wrote this Song). Jesus is exalted in the Song. Most people say that this book doesn’t mention Jesus at all. But it does because the Spirit inspired all Scripture and exalts Jesus in all that He does. So why would the Spirit inspire a book in the Bible without Jesus being the predominant theme?

There are three different ways to interpret this book spiritually. First there is the relationship between Jesus and the individual believer. This way gives spiritual principles that help us in our progression of holy passion. This is my favorite way to approach this book as I study it. The second way is the relationship between Jesus and His corporate Church throughout history. The third way is the relationship between God as the Bridegroom and ethnic Israel as His Bride This was the primary approach of the scribes in Old Testament times as well as Jewish rabbis today. All interpretations are okay as long as they exhort others to grow in love for Jesus. The maturity of the Bride is based primarily upon Jesus’ work on the cross, His intercession for us, the revelation of His glory and His ravished heart for us. Song of Solomon speaks of the spiritual pleasure of pursuing the best things found in heavenly life.

The characters in this story represent different people.
Beloved/Shulamite maiden-us as the Bride of Christ
Lover/King Solomon-Jesus as the Bridegroom
Friends-people in our lives who don't quite know who Jesus is
Daughters of Jerusalem-immature believers
Sons-Church's leadership

There are four important facts that Song of Solomon concentrates on. First is the revelation of Jesus’ passionate affections and enjoyment of His people. Second is the revelation of the beauty of Jesus, especially as a Bridegroom King. Third is the revelation of the beauty of the individual believer to Jesus, even in our weakness. If you want to know what you look like to God, then you should study Song of Solomon. Fourth are the principles needed to grow in love and mature partnership with Jesus.

Here is a basic outline of the Song of Solomon to make you hungry for more J First it starts out where she realizes the kisses of God’s word, or the revelation of the word, on her heart. She then understands the paradox of God’s grace. After that she understands her identity in God’s beauty. Her comfort zone is then challenged and she experiences God’s loving discipline. She has a fresh revelation of Jesus as being a safe savior and then she sees the prophetic heart of the Bridegroom God. After she finds out that she has ravished the heart of God she goes through 2-fold testing of maturity. She comes out victorious in the testing and Jesus praises her. Then comes the vindication of the persecuted bride. She then begins to walk in mature partnership with Jesus which is sealed by mature love. Then we see her final intercession and revelation.

Well I guess I’ll write more later. I’ll be doing a chapter a time so watch for all eight chapters!

Love ya!


April 7, 2009

JP: The Masters

Jeff writes:

The Masters golf tournament is played this week and for the first time in 12 years I won't be going. Bummer. CBS is right when they say it is "a tradition unlike any other". For twelve years I was blessed that part of my job involved taking people to Augusta National for the Masters. What a perk! However, there are a lot of people who don't share that sentiment. They want to know what's the excitement of watching grown men hit and chase a little white ball. To an extent, I would have to agree. But Augusta National is a special place. Only those who have secured a badge (pass) are allowed to pass through the gates onto the hallowed grounds, and the number who enter in is unknown. To be honest, I really didn't enjoy watching the golf that much. I would have rather been playing.

What really made the trip for me was taking someone who had never been before and experiencing the Masters with them. As a company, our painstaking preparation practically began the day after the previous tournament was finished. Months of preparation occurred in order to make our guest's experience the fullest. To share in the awe and joy that they experienced in respect to the gift shop, course, up close action, beautiful grounds, and crowds was what it was all about for me.

Typically, our game plan once inside the gates was for one of us to take our guests to the gift shop while the others usually would race to the 18th green to secure seats for the dramatic finish. The game plan for the rest of the day was to wander the course enjoying the beauty of the azaleas and landscape, sometimes becoming part of the mob following Tiger or Phil. Often it was sitting behind a tee box amazed at the power of the player's drives and their skill. Whatever the plan we were thankful to be in the presence of these great golfers rather than spending a typical day at the office.

As I thought about The Masters this year, I was struck with the reality that God was trying to get my attention every year and I missed Him. He was as obvious as the crowd control dudes in the Green Hats, but I missed Him. In the gift shop, He was whispering "I have good gifts to give, too". Matt 7:11 "If you being evil know how to give good gifts...., how much more shall your Heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask Him." As we wandered the course the azaleas, the trees, and the rest of nature were shouting of His existence. Rom 1:20 "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." The crowds were a picture of the multitudes pressing in to touch or be touched by Jesus or just wanting to catch a glimpse of the release of His power. And never once as I sat at the green on number 18 watching golfers make their victorious march up the fairway did I ever think about Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the Second Coming. Will the crowds react the same when that happens as they will for this year's Masters champion as he wins his battle?

Just something to think about as we watch the tournament.

April 2, 2009

Strength is Found in the Laying Down

KP writes:

As believers we have chosen to live in an upside down, inside out kingdom. The Kingdom of God does not make sense to our natural mind and it is definitely contrary to the ways of the world. (Even good things, not just bad things)

So today I am thinking particularly about ability, strength....you know, what you can do with the gifts and talents you have been given or have developed, connections you have made with people, resources you have secured or can acquire. I don't know if you have noticed it or not but the Lord has a way of emptying us of ourselves so that we are at a place of humility and utter dependence upon Him. Like if He doesn't show up, I am doomed kind of dependence and humility!

We were singing in worship today the phrase, "
There's only one way to rely on God's strength. It's by laying down My own". This really struck me!!! Psalms 84:5 even states, "How BLESSED is the man whose strength is in Thee..." Our culture teaches us contrary to this concept! The western mindset is that weakness is to be avoided in every area of our lives at all cost.(and if there is weakness, cover it up, hide it, put on a facade....don't even get me started on that one....a topic for another time) Bottom line, weakness is a disgrace in our culture.

However, the truth is that if we are to be used of God, and BLESSED by God, and even be intimately in love with Him, our strength must be in Him. No wonder we see so much failure and burn out in the world and in the church.

Life is found in the letting go. Strength is found in the laying down.
When we find ourselves at that humble place, we run to Him. We seek Him. We intimately pursue Him, which is what He wanted all along. And, to be perfectly honest it is the only thing that will truly satisfy! Once we have laid down the performance 'thing' and pride is dealt with (for this trip around the ole mountain!) then we are at a place where we can love Him and be used by Him, in His strength.

So, here I am laying down my own...yet again.

Love ya,