QT – Song of Songs 6

Here we have the Shulamite woman approached by the daughters of Jerusalem asking where is this man you have described (vs. 1).  She tells them where he may be, and the women go search for him.  In the meantime, the Shulamite woman is brought before Solomon and his many women in the palace.  Once again, I believe the way Solomon is speaking to her supports the fact that this true love of this woman is the Shepherd and not Solomon (vs. 4-9).  Also, why would the women inquire about where this man is, when everyone would know where King Solomon is?  Anyways…The women of Solomon’s recognize and acknowledge the Shulamite’s beauty (vs. 10).  Solomon then shares how he came upon this Shulamite woman in vs. 11-12. 

QT – Song of Songs 5

Here we see another dream that our young woman is having.  Some time has passed and we see her at home dressed for the evening when her love comes to visit her.  There is a knock on the door and he tells her who it is.  But she hesitates to get it, because she is already comfortable.  But, she finally gets up to open the door to him only to find he is gone now.  She once again braves the night to go searching for her love, but this time the watchmen beat her.  Special note: If she were Solomon’s wife, they would not have beaten her or she would not have dreamed such a thing…that’s why I believe Solomon and the Bridegroom are not the same.  As she pleads to the daughters of Jerusalem (who are not being very nice)…again it doesn’t make sense that she would go so elaborately in describing her bridegroom’s physical features when she simply could have said her love is the King himself.

Regarding application…Jesus Knocks.  Vs. 16, “…he is desirable in every way…”  Did she realize this at the beginnig of her dream?  Yes, but she was comfortable in her night clothes.  Obviously, she regrets not responding right away to her bridegroom’s plea outside the door.  But, through the loss of not having him and seraching for him…even being beaten & ridiculed…she realizes that nothing compares to Him!  Perhaps it would take tribulation for her to appreciate the relationship she had with the love of her life.  I wonder how many times Jesus has knocked and we have given excuses.  Revelations 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  It would have been much better for her to respond sooner…and it would be much better for us to respond sooner.  Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it is seemingly taken from us.  We complain about our family at times…we complain about our church at times…we complain about our friendships at times…but imagine if they were taken from you.  Let’s us not be people who don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone.

QT – Song of Song 4

Vs. 1, “How beautiful you are, my darling!  Oh, how beautiful!”  Once again…this is either the young man or King Solomon himself.  Either way…this is most eloquent & beautiful song of the bridegroom.  Think of Jesus (our Bridegroom) saying things to the church (us) as you read this too.  Of course, we read on to see in detail how beautiful the young Shulamite woman is to her love.  While it seems a bit too frank…it is not meant to embarass, but to show the bridegroom loves evey aspect of his soon to be bride.  The sister allusion is simply because once a couple was married, they became like family.
Regarding application…Captured Hearts.  Vs. 9, “You have captured my heart…” (NLT).  Often we talk about preparing our hearts, giving our hearts, using our hearts, softening our hearts to God…But here we see the bridegroom (Jesus) tell us that we have captured his heart!  Think about it…we have captured God’s heart.  So much that He would send His own Son to save us.  It’s crazy to think that we captured Jesus’ heart.  Who me?  I’m a sinner.  I’ve done nothing but cause grief to God.  How could I have captured His heart?  Perhaps one day we will know…but to explain that would be to know God’s heart fully.  It’s one of those mysteries that will go unsolved this side of Heaven.  It’s kind of like a parent who has an unplanned child.  Though they didn’t plan this…their child captured their heart!

QT – Song of Songs 3

Note: Most scholars believe that this is a recollection of a dream she had.  Vs. 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.”  The young woman longs for her love, so she leaves the safety of her bedroom and goes into the dangers of the night.  Her love propels her to search till she finds.  When she finds him, they consummate their love (remember this is a dream) and she reinforces the fact that the daughters of Jerusalem should not engage in such a thing until marriage.  Then Solomon comes into the scene…with all his glory & splendor.  Those who believe Solomon is the Love of her life…they look at this as the Wedding procession.  Those who believe the woman’s love is someone else, look at this as Solomon’s attempt to win her over.
Regarding application…Never Let Go.  Vs. 4, “Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go…”  She was the picture of persistence and perseverance.  Sometimes we hear about love stories where the man (or woman) travels over mountains, lakes & rivers searching for the woman he loves (very romantic).  Of course, the love for that person and he desire to be with that person is overwhelming.  I’ve never been in a war, but I remember my father’s father (grandpa) who told me about some of his experiences during WWII as a young American soldier.  His desire to get back to Jasper & see Lucille was so strong that he helped him get through the war.  Brother & Sisters in Christ…that same desire that spurs on such action…is the same desire we should have when we seek out Jesus.  I held him and would not let him go…”  Wow..that’s actually very touching and powerful if you think about it.  An interesting phenomenon happens at retreats…sometimes we see the sad faces of those who don’t want to leave.  Why is that?  Because retreats help us see Jesus in a real way…in a way where the world doesn’t distort our minds and distracts us.  But our goal is to feel that not just at climatic moments (retreats, etc.)…but the everyday moments of our lives.  The Kry sings one of my favorite songs, “He Won’t Let You Go”….well perhaps, we should not let him go!  Let us search Jesus until we find him and then when we find Him…let us never let go!

QT – Song of Songs 2

Vs. 1, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”  In order not to lose you…I will try to explain the details of the verses.  The Plain of Sharon was famous for its flowers. The young maiden is saying, I am merely a flower of the plain. I am only one among a host of others.  But the young shepherd tells her no…you are a lily among thorns (the other girls do not compare).  The allusision to the apple is of a more physical desire.  The banquet hall is speaking of a celebration of love (wedding) and his banner is his protection & acknowledgement of his love for her.  The raisins & apples are once again referring to the physical union of a man & woman in love and in marriage.  She desires intimacy and to be close to her love.  She admonishes the women to not engage in such a relationship until marriage.  She envisions her love coming in a grand fashion over the mountains & over the hills to her with excitement.  Spring is near and the harsh winter is almost over.  She is excited to see the promise of a beautiful new year.  The foxes are speaking of those tough times or people who have caused grief.  Interesting that we are reading a love as Valentines Day is right around the corner.
Regarding application…New Hope.  Vs. 11-12, “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”  In Bette Midler‘s song, The Rose….”Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow…lies the seed that with the Son’s love in the spring becomes a rose.”  This reminds me of how not everything is going to be given to us on silver platter.  Her love for her future husband was not an easy one.  There were times of seperation and tribulation.  But she was able to see the promise of a new spring.  The promise that though it has been tough, her love will keep her enduring.  Once again, we see the picture of Christ & His love to the church.  There are times when the season of singing and peace has come even in our own lives.  Our retreat is in exactly one week from now and it will be time for the new budding of hope and love!

QT – Song of Songs 1

The title “Song of Songs” means the “Finest of all songs”.  Solomon composed over 1000 songs, and this is the very best!  It is a book full of symbols and images, a book that requires maturity and spiritual discernment to appreciate and enjoy.  From a quick glance, the immature could distort the meaning of this book.  There has been much debate over the meaning of this song.  It will be very easy to look at this song from a human perspective.  Some like to avoid this book all together, thinking it is not appropriate.  However, we must remember II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  This book is about true love within a marriage, it shows the love God has for His people, it is a picture of Christ the bridegroom and his bride the church, and it also portrays Jesus and the individual believer.  But most importantly it is a beautiful story of faithful love!!!!

In order for you to not be completely lost in translation…I’ll give a bit of overview =)   We have here a precious love story. It involves three characters: a lovely maiden, forced to work by her family, her beloved young man who has won her heart, who is also a shepherd, and King Solomon, who is known for his attraction to beautiful women.  While on one of his trips to examine his lands, Solomon meets the lovely maiden and takes her to his palace. There she can think only of her beloved back home.  She tells the women of the harem not to try to persuade her to forsake her true love.  She recalls her beloved and even has a dream about him. Solomon visits her to try to win her love, but she cannot forget her beloved back home. Her beloved sees her in a dream.  Again, the king tries to win her but the maiden refuses.  She is not impressed with the king’s wealth, spices, lands, or flattery. Finally, true love wins out and the maiden is set free. She flees to her beloved and is restored to her family again =)

Of course, this interpretation does not put Solomon in a very good light. But we already know he was not faithful when it came to marriage, and certainly it is not wrong to see him as a type of the world, trying to woo the believer away from her true love.  Keep in mind…Solomon could also be the lover.  Although I don’t agree with that interpretation.  Though is really is a minor point in the overall purpose of this book.

Song of Songs 1
In this chapter, we see Solomon has brought the young woman into his palace.  But she is only thinking of her love back home.  The other maidens in the palace (vs. 4) are amazed at such a love.  She looks at the fair skin maidens who lived a luxurious life and then at her blue collar life in the fields…she is dark from the sun.  She feels they are staring at her because she is so different than their background…her brothers forced her to work hard (kind of reminds me of Cinderella).  She thinks of her love back home & where he may be..and wishes she could be with him.  Then we see a dialogue that she perhaps is envisioning between her and her love back home. 

Regarding application…Vs. 2, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for your love is more delightful than wine.”  Wine was a symbol of celebration and interestingly enough Jesus’ first miracle was turing water into wine at a wedding feast!  Jesus’ love for us more delightful than wine is basically saying His love for us should be something we are intoxicated with…better than money, alcohol, fame, fortune.  For example…some of the youth members recently went to a concert and the girls were gushing about how cute the boys in the band were.  But our reaction to Jesus every day should be so extravagant,  Do you have an extravagant love for Jesus?  Like the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus….we should pour out our own lives & responses to Jesus that lets him know He is our true lover who sparks the deepest emotions in our lives!

QT – Philippians 4

Note: We will be moving on to the Old Testament to Song of Solomon tomorrow! 

Vs. 1, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!”  Even in the midst of all of our trials, Paul exhorts us to stand firm and be confident in the Lord.  It’s all about looking at the cup as half-full rather than half-empty.  We can throw pity parties for ourselves all we want, but what will that accomplish?  When we are not rejoicing and trusting…we are like little child who is worried that their father will drop them when He carries them in His arms.  We of little faith.  Let us stand firm in the Word of the Lord this week and in prayer!

Regarding application…Secret to Life.  Vs. 12, “...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…”  In this world of sorrow, tribulation & struggles…Paul is about to share a very important secret to life!  He’s not doing a Biblical Infomercial and selling it for $29.99…it’s a secret that we all could apply so that we can have the strength to live this life.  Question: What is that Secret?  It is found in the very next verse.  Vs. 13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Huh???  But…that is such a simple answer?!?!  But that is exactly the reason why it is so profound!  It isn’t about how well versed you are in His Word (though it is good to be)…it isn’t about how long you pray every day….it isn’t about serving faithfully every Sunday….  It’s about realizing that the only way you can be content…the only way you can find success is allow Him (Jesus) to strengthen you!  Isn’t that great?  We don’t have to go spiritually do some crazy exercise or go through a bunch of hoops.  We simply have to let go and let God do his amazing spiritual transformation in our lives!  And when that happens, the reading of His Word, prayer and service will follow.  That is one very powerful secret to live this life for Jesus!

QT – Philippians 3

Vs. 7, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”  Perspective…Paul had the advantage of seeing both sides of life.  Seemingly having it all…the reputation, the education, the righteousness, the citizenship, etc.  But all those gains…all those things were nothing compared to what he now has in Christ.  Paul had to lose that which he had to gain that which Christ has.  But he didn’t rest on his laurels…he pressed on and realized there is always more to gain and learn (vs. 12-14).  We need to stop looking at the world as our example and start remembering who we belong to for we are citizens of Heaven!

Regarding application…Your Role Model.  Vs. 17, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” Question: Who are your role model’s?  Growing up, I looked up to Michael Jordan.  I wanted to be “like Mike”.  We look at successful people whether athletes, movie stars, singers, etc. and envy their life.  But, Paul reminds us that we are to not be that way.  We must look to those who set the example and model for Christ.  It could be your parents, Pastor’s, friends at school…these are the people we look up to.  These are your role models.

QT – Philippians 2

Vs. 2, “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”  In a world where we can so easily lose our joy because of the hardships of life, we are reminded to join together!  What reason would spur us to do this?  The example of our Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 5-11).  The best motivator is someone who has shown it through their own life.  Jesus could have attempted to rule with power and strength, but rather…he came and humbled himself so that we could see how we too should live.  Paul tried to do his best to set the example as he was in prison, but still found ways to rejoice and encourage (vs. 12-18).  He also points to two others in Timothy & Epaphroditus who were leaders in the church to take up the torch!
Regarding application…Attitude of Christ.  Vs. 5, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  When we choose to be humble, we shine like stars in a dark night to this world (vs. 15).  Don’t we make it more confusing than we should?  Simply have the attitude of Christ.  He loved unconditionally, had incredible patience, served wholeheartedly, looked to others with compassion, sacrificed completely, etc.  So many of us know what Jesus did and the life He lived…but we believe it is impossible to live in such a way.  We can’t be Jesus, but we sure can adopt the attitude in our lives.  Little by little bit everyday…my Jesus is changing me~~~.

QT – Philippians 1

Introduction to Philippians:
This was to be the first European city that Paul planted a church in.  Philippi was a Roman city that Paul was able to plant on his second journey and visited it 5 years later on his third missionary journey.  Paul had a deep love for this church and they were concerned for him while he was in house arrest in Rome.  Paul wrote this letter to them while he was in house arrest.  The theme of Philippians is about joy and it is mentioned some 19 times in this short letter.  When we have the mind of Christ, we can have the joy….and that is what Paul is really trying to remind them…despite the sad times of the day.  This is all about encouragement and not once is sin mentioned in this letter.
Vs. 6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  What a great verse!  Paul didn’t have much to be joyful for from a human perspective.  He had been illegaly arrested, taken to Rome and was awaiting trial.  To make matters worse, there was some division in the church at Philippi.  But he remained focused and selfless…and his message was one of a person who had a single mind to do the right thing.  His encouragement was the same to others.  The church will always have its detractors & naysayers, that is why Paul all the more exhorted them to not be frightened (vs. 28) of consequences or the enemy.  And of course you can’t help but see the emphasis that Paul had on the preaching & sharing of the Gospel!

Regarding application…Suffering to Encouraging.  Vs. 14, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”  What a awesome reminder & perspective Paul had!  Rather than feel sorry for himself & his bondage…Paul would use that as a means to encourage all the more.  If Paul had sulked, complained & given up…imagine how all the churches in the Roman provinces would have reacted.  They too would have been dismayed and live in fear of their own life.  But because Paul was so confident & caring of others, that would and did, encourage others that might not have had the strength to do it.

I think we underestimate the power of one person.  Yet, time and time again…You, I, each of us individually can make such a powerful witness!  It’s easy to doubt the power of one small human being, but when you put Christ at the helm…anything can be done.  It’s not just about those “feel good” extraordinary stories of amazing people who did wondrous things (Mother TeresaJim Elliot, Billy Grahm, etc…) But there are so many untold stories of people like you & I that can make such a difference when we go through struggles.  Rather than feel sorry for us or try to hide them out of shame or embarrassment…we stand up over them and let Christ heal & take control.  When others see the faith & trust we have despite our circumstances, that indeed is a powerful things.  So the next time you go through a specific trial…remember that how you deal with it can directly affect not only yourself, but also be a very opportune moment to let Christ shine brighter than the trial!