"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 13, 2019
This week I would like to once again write from Song of Solomon. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we have been studying this book verse by verse in our mid-week Bible study at our church. It has been quite fascinating and all of us have learned so much about the great love that Jesus, our Beloved, has for us.
In chapter two, the king takes his bride to the wine house and he looks at her with his unrelenting love divine. The woman says, "Help me and hold me, for I am lovesick. I am longing for more -- yet how could I take more?" His left hand cradles her head while his right hand holds her close. The bride says that she is at rest in this love.
What does it mean to be "at rest in this love"? In our culture, rest is often seen as doing nothing and being lazy. We feel guilty for being at rest, because we feel as if we constantly have to be doing something. We don't really know how to be at rest.
Hebrews 4:9-11 (TPT) says, "So we conclude that there is still a full and complete rest waiting for believers to experience. As we enter into God's faith-rest life we cease from our own works, just as God celebrates his finished works and rests in them. So then we must give our all and be eager to experience this faith-rest life, so that no one falls short by following the same pattern of doubt and unbelief."
I read this description of rest by Christine Caine: "Rest does not mean we cease from activity. Rest means that we trust in the promises of God. We find our rest when we are no longer striving to please God with our own efforts, but trust in Jesus and His finished work on the cross."
Psalm 23:2-3a says, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul."
The Passion Translation says it like this: "He offers a resting place for me in His luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That's where He restores and revives my life."
Resting is finding that place where we can fully trust in God and place our our faith in Him, with confidence, regardless of what is happening in our life or around us. We are confident that God's love is unfailing and He will never leave or forsake us. We stop trying to do things on our own and stop trying to figure out how or what or why; we rest in the promises of God and joyfully put our faith in Him. We are consistently in a place of rest, because we are secure in His love.
The king makes this request of the bystanders, "Promise me that you'll not disturb my love until she is ready to arise." Then he leaves her there. Even though he is out of her sight, he is within hearing distance and runs to her when she calls out to him.
Jesus, our Beloved, may not always be in our sight where we can see Him, but He is always nearby and hears us when we call. When we call out to Him, He comes running to us and readily responds.
In the next stanza, the bride awakens and says these words, "Listen! I hear my lover's voice. I know it's him coming to me -- leaping with joy over mountains, skipping in love over the hills that separate us, to come to me."
I cannot tell you how much I love the imagery this verse puts in my mind!! As soon as I read this verse during Bible study last week, I immediate got a picture of me being still and waiting in that place where He last placed me. Not me running around trying to "move" destinations, or trying to change my situation, or questioning if I'm in the right place; but of me resting, with confidence and peace in the place where I am at right now in my life; confidently trusting that I'm where Jesus has brought me to.
But what I then saw in my mind got me so excited that I was bouncing in my seat, and Jon asked me what was going on. I saw an image of Jesus, my Beloved, leaping with joy and skipping in love as He came to me. Can you picture that? I think too often we think of Jesus as being very serious and so holy that He's unapproachable. But I truly believe that Jesus is filled with joy! I believe that He laughs! And after reading this verse, I believe that Jesus leaps with joy and skips with love when He comes to His bride!!
He loves me so much and gets so excited when I want to spend time with Him, that He leaps and skips with joy to get to me!! I wish I had the artistic talent to paint that.
Here is the flip side of that: I also believe that Jesus desires for us to show that same type of joy when we come to Him. We are so excited to get to spend time in His presence and have a conversation with Him, that our hearts leap with joy and skip in love!
Prayer should not be a drudgery, a religious duty. It shouldn't be a task that we see as something all good christians need to do; something to mark off our "to do" list each day. Then when we do pray, we become bored. We have a hard time keeping our mind on prayer; but get distracted thinking about what all we need to do that day; or find ourself dozing off in the middle of prayer; or sometime during praying we find that our mind has wandered off to thinking about someone or something else.
Honestly, I can think of the most things to do when I pray at home. "I'll just put a load of laundry in to wash while I pray." "I need to get a package of meat out of the freezer to thaw for supper tonight." "I need to pay bills." "I need to run errands." "I should mow the yard before it gets too hot." "I should load the dishwasher and clean the kitchen." "I need to send just a couple quick emails." I can find so many distractions when I begin to pray!
I realize that; so I set myself up a prayer space in my sewing room. I have a rocker and have set up a table with a lamp and my Bible on it. I don't take any electronics upstairs with me, so that I can't be distracted by email, texts, Facebook, or calls. I enjoy sewing sometimes, but have to be in the right mood, so being there is really not a distraction to get sidetracked with making a quilt. I am intentional about spending time with Jesus and being in His presence. It has worked wonderful, and I look forward to my time with Him.
I told Jesus that I want to daily experience the pure joy and excitement and love for spending time with Him. The more time I spend with Him and being in His presence, the more I find myself looking forward to it. Taking time to listen to what He wants to say to me, instead of me always doing all of the talking, has become a very special time to hear what He has to say to me.
I anticipate the day when each and every time I get to spend time with Jesus, we both leap with joy and skip with love in excitement of being together!
I get easily distracted, too, even while I'm in prayer time, and sometimes even while reading. On the other hand, I don't usually get distracted while I'm speaking aloud. So, I sometimes pray while I'm driving. I can pray aloud, pray whatever is on my heart, without bothering anyone. And it helps me to keep a level head while some dope stops to turn at a no-turn lane without signaling.
I can also pray at home, when I'm alone. But our puppy gets confused when I do.
Crockpot Little Smokies
28 ounces (two 14-oz pkg) little smokie sausages
12 ounce jar chili sauce
1 cup grape jelly
Place all ingredients in the crockpot. Cook until all ingredients are hot: 4-5 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high. Stir to incorporate all ingredients and serve.
**You can also use a can of chili without beans instead of the chili sauce.
Wow! This week marks the 12th year anniversary of publishing this weekly devotional newsletter!! Our first edition was March 12th, 2007. This weeks newsletter is number 627. We have never missed a week in these past 12 years. Even when traveling or when we were sick or there was a death in the family, we always have managed to faithfully publish a new devotional each and every week. Our prayer has always been that God would take our message and use it to encourage and bless someone each week.
The simplest way to stay encouraged is to feed your heart on what God is doing. - Bill Johnson
We love you!
Loretta & Jon