Posts tagged ‘Song of Solomon’

August 21, 2012

843 Acres Reader’s Choice: His Unrequited Love Never Stops

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice | This week and next, we’re featuring “Reader’s Choice” to promote our 843 new readers campaign. Different readers will share their favorite posts and why they liked them. We hope this blesses you … and perhaps encourages you to help us reach our goal!

Reader: Daniel Lee | Why I like this post: When someone loves you even when you refuse to love them back, you know they’ll love you no matter what. “[You're] a fool to love someone like me, a fool to suffer silently, but sometimes through your eyes I see ‘I’d rather be a fool’…And though time and time again I flee, I’m always glad to see you coming after me.” Song of Gomer, Michael Card.

843 Acres Reader’s Choice: His Unrequited Love Never Stops
Highlighted Text: Heb. 6:17-18
Full Text: Song 6Heb. 6

Rejecting | “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter,” said Charlie Brown, “quite like unrequited love” [1]. Sylvia Plath mourned it as a loss: “When you give someone your whole heart and he doesn’t want it, you cannot take it back. It’s gone forever” [2]. Goethe’s young Werther became seriously depressed when Charlotte didn’t love him back: “I have so much, and without her it all comes to nothing” [3]. Miss Piggy advises patience: “Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs” [4].

Continuing | Although most of us know the feeling of unrequited love, we often forget that the Lord knows it, too. Under the old covenant, His people constantly rejected Him. As He lamented, “When Israel was a child, I loved him; out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away … I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love … My people are bent on turning away from me” [5]. Then, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son … so that we might receive adoption as sons” [6]. But we betrayed and murdered him, too [7].

Convincing | Yet we do not worship a God who says, “I love you,” only when He knows that He’ll hear it back. He doesn’t shy away from expressing His love for His beloved. Instead, He speaks again and again – “in many times and in many ways” [8] – so that we will know and believe. His constant goal is to make sure that we know that we are co-heirs with Christ. As the writer of Hebrews put it, “When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things [the promise and the oath], in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” [9].

Prayer | Lord, You have demonstrated your love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us [10]. Thank you for not withholding your love from us and, instead, working to convince us that we are heirs of the promise and beneficiaries of the oath. Help us hold fast to our hope in Christ. Amen.

____________________________________

More about Daniel:  Daniel Lee has lived in New York City for six years and works at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.  He has been reading the Park Forum blog for one year. In his free time, he enjoys reading and playing sports.

____________________________________

Help us reach 843 NEW READERS by Labor Day, SEPTEMBER 3! We now offer two ways to receive 843 ACRES by email: five times weekly – Monday through Friday (your friends can sign up HERE), and two times weekly – Monday and Thursday (your friends can sign up HERE). For more information on this campaign, click HERE.

____________________________________

On the M’Cheyne reading plan, our reading today is Jeremiah 50 and Psalm 28-29.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

___________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Charles Schultz, Peanuts. Image: here.  |  [2] Elizabeth Sigmund, “Sylvia in Devon: 1962,” in Sylvia Plath: the Woman and the Work, edited by Edward Butscher (Dodd, Mead, 1977), p. 108.  |  [3] Goethe, Jjohann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. New York: Random House, Inc., 1971.   |  [4] Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life. Seehere.  |  [5] Hosea 11:1-2, 4, 7 ESV |  [6] Gal. 4:4, 5 ESV  |  [7] See Acts 7:51-52Acts 2:23.  |  [8] Heb. 1:1 ESV  |  [9] Heb. 6:17-18 ESV  |  [10] Rom. 5:8 ESV

May 3, 2012

Being Enticed by the Love of God

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Song. 8:6-7
Full Text: Song. 8; Heb. 8

Happiness | Christopher Hitchens asked, “Why does such a belief [in an infinitely all-powerful and all-loving creator who saves and sustains his people] not make its adherents happy?” [1]. Those statements don’t annoy me; they challenge me. Every day, when I write these short reflections, I’m trying to fight for joy in our hearts. That’s why the tagline of The Park Forum is, “As the Park is to the City, so the Word is to Life,” and why our daily devotional blog is called, “843 Acres,” which is the size of Central Park. I agree with Hitchens – that Christians should have great joy. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, “It is a Christian duty … for everyone to be as happy as he can” [2].

Passion | In the Song of Songs, the love of God for His people is almost embarrassing in its passion [3]. Then, it concludes, “Love is as strong as death … Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” [4]. In his sermon on Song of Songs 5:1, which reads, “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love,” Jonathan Edwards preached about the love of God and our response to it. He said, “God has given every man a necessary desire for happiness; he unavoidably seeks it … and ‘tis in satisfying those gracious appetites wherein consists the happiness God designed him for” [5]. Yet he cautioned, “In this world, we all fall shamefully short; our appetites, our desires are miserably cold and languid in comparison of what they deserve of us. We ought therefore to our utmost to promote and increase them” [6]. How do we do that? Edwards recommended, “We ought to take all opportunities to lay ourselves in the way of enticement with respect to our gracious inclinations” [7]. In other words, we awaken our passion for God by hearing and reading the gospel. In this, we should never be moderate [8]. As Edwards wrote elsewhere, “There is no excess in our taking in this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting” [9].

Prayer | Lord, You find our appetites for you too weak, not too strong. Forgive our languid desires. Lay us in the way of spiritual allurement, as we hear and read your Word. Make our desires unquenchable apart from your love alone. Awaken our souls so that, as the park is to the city, so the Word is to life. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Christopher Hitchens. God Is Not Great: How Religions Poisons Everything. Hachette Book Group, 2007. Chapter 2: Religion Kills.  |  [2] C.S. Lewis. A Severe Mercy.  |  [3] Song of Songs is about the love between a man and a woman, but it ultimately points to the love of God for His people. See Eph. 5:32.  |  [4] Song. 8:6-7 ESV. Why is His love so great? Here are some reasons: It is everlasting and faithful (See Jer. 31:3; Hos. 2:16-20; Is. 54:8. Ex. 34:10). Even when we are scared to obey Him because we’re not sure what might happen if we do, He lovingly reminds us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 ESV. See also Deut. 31:6). When He leads us through challenging circumstances, His motivation always is love (See Prov. 3:12; 2 Kings 18:9, 10; 2 Kings 25:8-11; Rom. 11). His love is righteous and just (Ps. 11:7; 33:5; 37:28; 45:7; 99:4; Is. 61:8). His love is free and gracious and merciful (Ex. 33:18, 19; Deut. 4:37; 10:15; Ez. 23: 16:15; Hos. 3:1). He gives us the desires of our hearts when we delight in Him (Ps. 37:4). We find exceeding joy and unending pleasure in Him (Ps. 43:4; 16:11). He forgives our sin, offers us salvation and access to Him through Jesus, gives us new hearts that incline toward Him and leads us into eternal life (Eph. 2:10 and Tit. 2:14). Truly, He is greater than the greatest treasure (Job. 22:25).  |  [5] The Puritan Pulpit: Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758. Sermon 13: “Spiritual Appetites Need No Bounds.” pp. 230-231.  |  [6] Id. 231. If you’re familiar with C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses, he wrote similarly, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”   |  [7] Id. at 234  |  [8] The old saying, “Everything in moderation,” is untrue when applies to our pursuit of God.  |  [9] Jonathan Edwards, “The Spiritual Blessings of the Gospel Represented by a Feast,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 14, Sermons and Discourses, 1723-1729, ed. Kenneth Minkema (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997), 286.

May 1, 2012

His Unrequited Love Never Stops

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Heb. 6:17-18
Full Text: Song 6; Heb. 6

Rejecting | “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter,” said Charlie Brown, “quite like unrequited love” [1]. Sylvia Plath mourned it as a loss: “When you give someone your whole heart and he doesn’t want it, you cannot take it back. It’s gone forever” [2]. Goethe’s young Werther became seriously depressed when Charlotte didn’t love him back: “I have so much, and without her it all comes to nothing” [3]. Miss Piggy advises patience: “Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs” [4].

Continuing | Although most of us know the feeling of unrequited love, we often forget that the Lord knows it, too. Under the old covenant, His people constantly rejected Him. As He lamented, “When Israel was a child, I loved him; out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away … I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love … My people are bent on turning away from me” [5]. Then, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son … so that we might receive adoption as sons” [6]. But we betrayed and murdered him, too [7].

Convincing | Yet we do not worship a God who says, “I love you,” only when He knows that He’ll hear it back. He doesn’t shy away from expressing His love for His beloved. Instead, He speaks again and again – “in many times and in many ways” [8] – so that we will know and believe. His constant goal is to make sure that we know that we are co-heirs with Christ. As the writer of Hebrews put it, “When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things [the promise and the oath], in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” [9].

Prayer | Lord, You have demonstrated your love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us [10]. Thank you for not withholding your love from us and, instead, working to convince us that we are heirs of the promise and beneficiaries of the oath. Help us hold fast to our hope in Christ. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Charles Schultz, Peanuts. Image: here.  |  [2] Elizabeth Sigmund, “Sylvia in Devon: 1962,” in Sylvia Plath: the Woman and the Work, edited by Edward Butscher (Dodd, Mead, 1977), p. 108.  |  [3] Goethe, Jjohann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. New York: Random House, Inc., 1971.   |  [4] Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life. See: here.  |  [5] Hosea 11:1-2, 4, 7 ESV |  [6] Gal. 4:4, 5 ESV  |  [7] See Acts 7:51-52; Acts 2:23.  |  [8] Heb. 1:1 ESV  |  [9] Heb. 6:17-18 ESV  |  [10] Rom. 5:8 ESV

April 30, 2012

Why should we take care how we hear?

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Heb. 5:11
Full Text: Song. 5; Heb. 5

Noises | Horns honking, people yelling, jackhammers pounding, ambulances screaming – these are the sounds of New York … and usually right outside our windows at 7:00 am! According to the New York Academy of Medicine, the noise of Manhattan is putting New Yorkers at risk of hearing loss. Most of us, however, hardly notice the crowds and chaos anymore. Yet Columbia Professor Robyn Gershon cautions, “That’s the problem with noise. It sneaks up on you. It’s a hidden hazard and a hidden health outcome” [1].

Ears | This was a problem in the early church. Although God had spoken by the prophets “at many times and in many ways” and by the Son “in these last days” [2], the new believers were already letting the gospel go in one ear and out the other. They were satisfied with a superficial knowledge of the gospel and were failing to work out its truths into their lives. As the writer of Hebrews lamented, “We have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” [3].

Growth | As a result of their dull hearing, even though they had been Christians for years, they were acting like babies. They were still eating baby food and living “unskilled in the word of righteousness” [4]. Their spiritual growth was stunted because they weren’t receiving the nutrition they needed. What was that nutrition? The daily practice of applying the gospel to their lives: “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” [5].

Prayer | Lord, Forgive our dull hearing. Some of us have become so accustomed to hearing your word that the joy of living it out has lost its hold on our hearts. As a result, our love and faith have grown stunted. O Lord, knowing that Jesus told us to “take care” [6] how we hear, we pray that you would help us to receive the word actively, not passively, so that your word does not become ineffective in our lives and so that we can grow in discernment and obedience in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Samantha Gross. “New York City noise may be deafening.” 26 October 2010.  |  [2] See Heb. 1:1-2. See also 843 Acres, “Have you ever longed for God to speak?” 26 April 2012.  |  [3] Heb. 5:11 ESV (italicized because it is the Highlighted Text of the day)  |  [4] Heb. 5:13 ESV  |  [5] Heb. 5:14 ESV  |  [6] In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus emphasized the importance of paying attention to how we hear.  He told of a sower who dropped seed in four different soils, each resulting in different yields.  Jesus explained that the seed was the Word of God and the different soils were the people who heard it.  What accounted for the different yields was not whether they heard the Word, but how they heard it:“Take care then how you hear …” (Luke 8:18, ESV).

April 27, 2012

Why Enduring in Love Is Worth It

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Heb. 2:1
Full Text: Song 2; Heb. 2

Virtue | A persistent theme in Paul’s letters is love. Yet he doesn’t speak of love as a feeling that comes naturally; he speaks of it as a virtue to be pursued. N.T. Wright observes, “At every single point in Paul’s catalogue of what love does, and what love doesn’t do, we want to say, ‘Yes, I see what you mean. However, left to my own inclinations, I would be small-minded, unkind, jealous, fussy, puffed up, shameless … there are some things I wouldn’t bear, many things I wouldn’t believe, several things I wouldn’t be able to hope for, and a whole multitude that I wouldn’t endure. Left to myself, doing what comes naturally, I would fail.’ But the point of love is that it doesn’t. That is why love is a virtue” [1].

Endure | Hebrews was written to believers who had been Christians for several years and needed encouragement to persevere in love and faith. The writer exhorts, “Therefore” – since God has spoken decisively and completely through Jesus[2]“we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” [3]. In other words, “Do not neglect your great salvation! Pay attention to Jesus! Do not stop loving God and others!” [4]

Learn | Those of us who are not naturally loving people can be encouraged to know that love is a virtue to be pursued. Wright reflects, “[Love] is a language to be learned, a musical instrument to be practiced, a mountain to be climbed via some steep and tricky cliff paths” [5]. Yet, he argues, pursuing love is worth it: “It is one of the things that will last; one of the traits of character which provides a genuine anticipation of that complete humanness we are promised at the end. And it is one of the things, therefore, which can be anticipated in the present on the basis of the future goal, the telos, which is already given in Jesus Christ. It is part of the future which can be drawn down into the present” [6].

Prayer | Lord, You are love [7] and, in Christ, you are making us to be loving people by your Spirit. Thank you for promising to continue working in us until the day of Christ because, honestly, that’s how long it will take! As we confess that we are prone to wander, we ask you to give us endurance in our love and faith [8]. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Wright, N. T. (2010-02-14). After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters (pp. 182-183). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. For more information on N.T. Wright, see: here.  |  [2] See Heb. 1. See also 843 Acres, “Have you ever longed for God to speak?” 26 April 2012; John Piper, “In These Last Days, God Has Spoken by a Son.” 31 March 1996.  |  [3] Heb. 2:1 ESV |  [4] See Heb. 2:3  |  [5] Id. at 1.  |  [6] Id. at 1.  |  [7] See 1 John 4:8.  |  [8] There is a great verse in Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (1758) that encourages endurance: “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”

April 26, 2012

Have you ever longed for God to speak?

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Heb. 1:1-2
Full Text: Song. 1; Heb. 1

Speak! | Have you ever longed for God to speak? Have you ever said, “O God, do not keep silent! Do not hold your peace or be still! O Lord, be not far from me! How I long to hear your voice! If only you would talk with me and not be silent!” [1]

Past | God has always longed for His people to know Him and, therefore, has always been generous in His communications. As the writer in Hebrews taught, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” [2]. He didn’t just speak in one way; He spoke through history, poetry and imagery. He didn’t just speak by one person; He spoke through people like Moses, Isaiah and David.

Jesus | Then Jesus Christ came into the world as God’s final and best communication. As the writer of Hebrews continued, “ … but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” [3]. Jesus was not, however, a mere way or prophet; he is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” [4]. Everything he was and said and did – including his death and resurrection – is God’s ultimate word to us.

Inexhaustible | What are we really saying, therefore, when we get frustrated that God doesn’t seem to be speaking in ways that we want? Are we saying that we’ve exhausted the life and teaching of Jesus Christ so much that we need something different and more than him? Has he become not enough for us? [5]

Prayer | Lord, What people is there that has a god so near to them as you are to us? [6] Thank you for being so generous in your communications with us over the years. When we long to hear your voice, let us open and read and meditate on your word so that the person of Jesus Christ becomes alive in our hearts. Open our ears and eyes to be sensitive to your Spirit, who focuses our thoughts and hearts on the inexhaustible fountain of your word. Amen.

____________________________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] See Ps. 83:1; 35:22; 28:1; 29:3-9; 68:33; 95:7  |  [2] Heb. 1:1 ESV  |  [3] Heb. 1:1-4 ESV  |  [4] Heb. 1:3 ESV  |  [5] For an extended sermon on this topic, see John Piper. “In These Last Days, God Has Spoken by a Son.” 31 March 1996.  |  [6] Deut. 4:7

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 147 other followers