Monday, 31 August 2015

Song of Solomon 8:9-14 ♥ " that found favour." ♥

Good morning, girls! Today is our last day in the book of Song of Solomon. I feel happy that I've read it through and actually studied it and gleaned important lessons from it for the first time! I feel a bit sad to be leaving it now, but I'm also excited to be starting into ACTS next week. After today's study we will take a break until next Monday (7th Sept) when we will start the book of Acts. You know the importance of keeping reading your Bible every day, so we shouldn't slack off from reading this week. Instead, why not take this opportunity to read over the beautiful words in the book of Song of Solomon again, this time with a better idea of the story behind the book, with the fresh insight you have into who the characters are, and you never may find other treasures you didn't see the first time around!

In verse 10, we read words that apply to every one who is truly saved and born again..."then was I in his eyes as one that found favour". This means that the groom saw his loved one and she became special to him and he had a deep love for her. Do you remember the day you were saved, when you felt the drawing of the Holy Spirit to come to Christ? Maybe you'd known for a long time that God loved you but it hadn't yet touched your heart personally. Or maybe, like me, you had never really known about God's great mercy and salvation until the day He called you to Himself.

Whatever way you came to Christ, the whole truth is that He loved you even before you were born. While you were still forming in your mother's womb, God had set His love and favour upon you. Isn't that amazing...and also very humbling? Why? Because we were born in sin, there was never anything lovely about us to even deserve God's love or mercy, we spent our lives in disobedience and rebellion against a holy God, BUT YET we found favour in His eyes. This is something we will never understand until we get to heaven, so it's best not to try to figure it out, but what we can do is rejoice in God's goodness, grace and mercy towards us. It's not something that we should feel proud about or something that should cause us to boast. But rather it is something that should humble our hearts and cause us to rejoice in His goodness towards hell-deserving sinners. Those of us who are saved now, should be praying for our friends and family who still have not accepted God's tender mercy towards them; we need to pray that He will open their eyes of understanding and accept His offer of mercy and salvation. Let's share the good news of His grace and love for sinners today with those we come into contact with!

Hugs, Karen x

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Song of Solomon 7:10 - 8:8 ♥ "Who is this...leaning upon her beloved?" ♥

Hi girls! I do hope that this is a good weekend for you all and that you are able to have some rest, especially if you have had a busy work week. I was away for a couple of days at the beginning of the week and then back to work on Wednesday so I'm posting my thoughts on Thursday's and Friday's readings this morning.

Image result for leaning on someone's arm

Chapter 7 verses 10 - 13 reveals a lovely picture of unity between the two lovers. The bride knows that she is in a very special situation. She is well and truly blessed and she is aware of it and wants to tell others. She tells the daughters of Jerusalem that she belongs to her beloved, that they have a really close bond and are truly special to each other; and not only that, but she is the centre desire of his heart. Everything he does, is with her in mind. This is a wonderful picture of our relationship with Christ! As His blood-bought people, we know that we belong to Him, we are special to Him and the very desire of His heart is towards us. Isn't this amazing? To think that the God of heaven loves each one of us individually and wants to have that very special relationship with us is just astounding. And even more, everything that God does, or even allows to happen, is with our best interests at heart. Whatever your individual situation may be this weekend, the Lord God Jehovah loves you with a special and tender love and His desire is towards YOU! He wants you to know that He loves you, that you mean everything to Him and He only wants the best for you, even if that doesn't seem clear to you at this moment in time.

Chapter 8 verse 5 looks to me like the daughters of Jerusalem are speaking to each other here. They see someone in the distance coming out of the wilderness, leaning upon the arm of her beloved. Soon they realise that it is the young woman they have known since she was born, who they helped to look after. They see her looking confident and happy as she walks with her beloved. Before salvation, we travelled through the wilderness of sin, wandering about in a lost condition, with no hope for the future. But when the Lord Jesus Christ met and saved us, we were changed and we journeyed out of the wilderness into fruitful vineyards with Him. We could not have made this journey by ourselves, but only by leaning on His strong arm of salvation. He is our strength and our confidence and now we have a purpose as His beloved people that we would never have had if we had tried to make our way through life on our own. Can people see the change in you? Perhaps there are people who knew you when you were in the wilderness of sin, wandering lost and alone. But now that you are saved and leaning on your Beloved, can they see the change for the better in your life? Can they see that strength and confidence that comes from being the desire of Christ's heart? Is it something that would make others want to know and trust Him too?

Hugs, Karen x

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Song of Solomon 7:1-9

Good evening, girls! I trust you are well and enjoying the nearness of Christ in your life today.

I don't know about you, but these verses were quite difficult, I thought. Yes, I can see that the bridegroom is talking about his love and is praising her affectionately for all her good points. I did notice that he doesn't say anything negative about her; it's all good. Quite unlike us, don't you think? We are often quick to be negative about others, to point out their faults. We often emphasize the things we don't like about someone, even though their good points may outweigh the bad; it always seems to be the bad things we focus on and minimize the good. What a strange bunch people are! I'm so glad our heavenly Father is quite the opposite to us! He sees us in His Son and therefore He sees us as wonderful, cleansed, holy. How amazing is that?! I'm thrilled that God looks at me and judges me by His own standards, not by the same ones I may apply to others or by the ones other people judge me by.

When you look back over your life, before salvation and after, you will probably feel overwhelmed at times by the sinful things you have thought, done and said. We could let ourselves get down as we ponder these things but this is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be strong in Him, to know how much He absolutely adores us and to walk straight and tall in our Christian life for Him. We have nothing to be afraid of, past, present or future. Our sins are under the blood and we belong completely to Christ. What an amazing relationship we have with the Creator of the universe. Isn't it just so wonderful to be loved as we are, blessed beyond measure, seen as holy - all because of Christ. I trust that you will know the blessedness of that love and relationship this very night. Draw close to a God who sees us, not as we once were, but as we are now, redeemed and forgiven!

Hugs, Karen x

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Last six days of Song of Solomon

Good afternoon, girls! Today's post will be VERY short and sweet as time is running away from me at the minute! I'm just posting the reading plan for Mon - Fri of next week and the Mon of the following week, which brings us right to the end of August and the end of another book in God's precious Word!

Well done to you if you managed to stay with us for this very difficult but beautiful part of the Word of the living God. I do hope you were able to glean special treasures from it. I would also like to thank those of you who have been with me for many months now, studying the Word together and encouraging me with your words of friendship and telling me what you have learned. These comments are always very much appreciated.

Here is Courtney's plan for our next readings up until Christmas DV.

September 7th- October 14th
The Book of Actsone chapter a day
October 15th – 25th:
October 26th – December 14th:
The Book of Numbersone chapter a day
If you are interested, I see that Courtney has published her very own Journal for the upcoming studies in the book of Acts, which you can buy here at Amazon

Looking forward to getting into God's Word with you again next week. Have a great weekend!
Hugs, Karen x 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Song of Solomon 5:8,9 ♥ What's so special about your beloved? ♥

Good afternoon girls! The weather has been lovely here today in Northern Ireland, warm and sunny. A great opportunity to get sheets and curtains washed and dried!

Today's reading is very short and sweet, just two verses, but they say a lot.

In verse 8, the bride has been searching everywhere for her beloved, after he left when she wouldn't open the door to his knocking and calling. She speaks to the other young women and begs them to speak to her beloved on her behalf if they should find him. She told them to tell him that she was 'sick of love'. This does not mean that she was fed up with being in love and didn't want to be in love anymore; no, it simply means that she was overwhelmed with love for him and was in distress at missing him so much. She knows the fault is hers and she feels grieved with herself that she was selfish about putting her own needs first by staying in bed. 'Lovesick' is a word that was used when I was a teenager to describe this feeling. Maybe not being able to eat, unhappy, tearful, could think about nothing else - this is all a description of the bride being 'sick of love'. The word 'of' could be replaced with the word 'with'.
Surely this is how we feel when we are not in close communion with our Lord. Maybe we are feeling out of sorts, just not at ourselves, perhaps feeling down but we just can't put a finger on what's wrong. We should take stock and think 'when was the last time we talked to our Beloved?' Maybe we are missing Him (and if we are truly saved this is definitely the case) and we need to spend more time with Him. Do you ever get dehydrated? I never drink enough water although I'm trying to do better. But I can tell now when I'm dehydrated because my mouth goes dry and I get terrible headaches. I even feel like my brain is shrivelling up! Well, this is the same for our soul when we allow ourselves to drift away from the Lord. we are not drinking fully from the Water of life and we feel as though there is a drought in our soul. Things aren't right and our heart and soul can feel dried up.  

In verse 9, the daughters of Jerusalem ask her, 'What is so special about your beloved? What has he done that makes him better than anybody else's loved one?' What a wonderful opportunity to talk about her beloved. Where would she even begin to start in mentioning all the lovely things about him?
What do you do when someone asks you 'what's so special about your God?'. Do you panic and shy away from answering them, perhaps embarrassed or ashamed of Him? Or do you praise the Lord for the chance to talk about all His wonderful attributes...His mercy, love, grace, longsuffering, goodness, perfection, salvation...we could go on and on for eternity! We should be asking the Lord to give us opportunities to witness for Him and when they come, we should jump straight in and give our testimony of what the Lord has done for us! This is news that we should definitely not be keeping to ourselves. That's being selfish. Why should we have news like this and not want to share it with the unsaved? Take every opportunity He gives you to glorify and honour His lovely name.

Hugs, Karen x

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Song of Solomon 5:4-7 ♥ "My beloved had withdrawn himself" ♥

Good morning girls! Good to have you here today. I hope your reading has been a blessing to your own heart.

Yesterday, we discovered that the Lord was calling us to prayer and fellowship but also that we often make up feeble excuses as to why we don't pray.

In today's reading we also discover that there is now a door of separation between the two lovers. Isn't this what happens when we close down the lines of communication between us and the Lord? We feel distant from God, not able to see Him, unhappy within ourselves, closed off from Him. But remember, He is the one who always wants to have fellowship; but it is us who keeps the door closed and makes excuses. God will never force His way into our hearts; He will gently pursue us ("my beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door), call us and make it easy for us to come, but He leaves the choice of whether to open the door to us.

His gracious calls to us will hopefully win us over and we will 'rise to open up to our Beloved', but we can often be disappointed because our fellowship has been broken and the Lord withdraws Himself for a short time - simply to teach us the value of His presence. Of course the Lord does give us the choice of whether to fellowship with Him or not, but we can't just use Him when we feel like it, now and again to meet a particular need. Our fellowship with Him should be consistent, flowing smoothly along on an even keel, not an off-on relationship when we need Him. In good times and bad, He should be the one we run to. In good times, to praise and thank Him; in bad times, to seek His help and mercy. Sometimes we don't really appreciate what we have until we have it no longer. The Lord shouldn't have to withdraw Himself from us to make us appreciate what we have with Him; we should want to be with Him always, to have His sweet presence by our side and in our heart day by day.

Verse 7 teaches us that when we don't have the presence of the Lord in our heart and life, then we become vulnerable. We are open to all sorts of attacks and abuse from the world and we are not able to protect ourselves. We leave ourselves open to the attacks of the devil and his followers. When we leave off reading God's Word and praying, we don't have the same armour for times of need like this. We may think that we can go it alone at times, especially when things are going well; but when the attacks come, we are vulnerable and unable to withstand them alone. It isn't fair on our Saviour just to call for Him when we need help; He is our friend and wants to be with us through thick and thin. Imagine how your best friend would feel if you only ever contacted her when you were in trouble or needed help with something; I imagine she would feel used and the relationship would eventually wither away. Our friends like to be with us in the good times too, sharing in our happiness and us in theirs.

Let's not treat the Lord like a genie in a bottle who we just call on when we need His assistance. Let us love Him with all of our hearts, and when He calls us to prayer and fellowship, let us run to Him with joy and eagerness. This is not a one-sided relationship where God gives and we do all the taking. We must give to Him and His service - with our WHOLE heart!

Hugs, Karen x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Song of Solomon 4:16 - 5:3 ♥ Weary in well-doing? ♥

Good evening girls! Hope you are all well. First up, is this week's Bible reading plan (sorry it's late).

I particularly want to look at chapter 5 verses 2 and 3.
In verse 2, the bride is fast asleep, but something awakens her. She hears the voice of her beloved calling to her and knocking at her door. He refers to her as his 'love', 'dove' and 'undefiled' one. She is clean, pure and innocent in his sight. He loves her, he sees her gentle qualities and he knows that she has never been with another man; her heart belongs to him alone. Let's think about this in the context of our own life and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. 
Isn't it wonderful to know that we are His 'love'? We are the object of His grace and mercy. As has been said in a gospel song, "When He was on the cross, I was on His mind." His love for us is the reason He came to this earth to live and die. How privileged and blessed we are indeed.
We are also His 'dove'. He protects us and cares for us, because He sees we are vulnerable. We are in need of His gentle guidance.
As far as God the Father is concerned, in spite of all of our sins and mistakes of the past (and even those of this very day), we are 'undefiled' in His eyes. We are no longer under His wrath or condemnation because of our awful sin; instead, we are redeemed by the blood of His dear Son; we stand pure and righteous in His sight. It's as if we had never sinned at all. Amazing love and grace!

So now the beloved is calling his bride to open the door to him, to have fellowship with him. She is just waking out of a deep sleep and should be able to get to the door fairly quickly but...we discover that she makes excuses for not opening the door to him! This is the man she claims to love and adore above all others, the one she cannot wait to be with, the one she searched throughout the streets for. And what is she doing? Making up silly reasons why she can't open the door to him. She says she has already put on her nightclothes and is in bed. She has washed the dirt from her feet for the day and is curled up in bed, comfy and cozy. She is enjoying her comforts too much to be bothered making the effort to get up in the cold to greet her loved one. Oh dear, I don't know about you but this certainly struck an 'off' chord with me. How many times have I heard the Lord calling me to prayer and fellowship with Him, the One I claim to love above all others, and yet, I make all sorts of excuses as to why I can't pray 'just then'. I have to make the dinner, I'm tired, I'm busy with other important things, maybe just plain 'I can't be bothered'. I feel disappointed with myself many times because I can indeed feel the Spirit's nudging me to open my heart's door to the Lord, but I make silly excuses. Shame on me! 

Image result for sleeping

Do you ever feel weary in well-doing? You really and truly do love the Lord but sometimes it seems like such an effort to serve Him. We get so caught up in our comforts and safety zone that we'd rather not have to get up and move out into the unknown to serve the Lord. How many times have you been asked to give your testimony and you've declined? Have you been asked to speak at a children's meeting, but you've made excuses as to why you couldn't do it? Have you felt that disappointing shame deep down in your soul for letting the Lord down?

If so, ask Him for a fresh cleansing in the blood of the Lamb and pray that He will give you another opportunity to serve Him. Ask Him for the grace and strength to be given to you to carry out whatever task He gives you. Pray that He will give you the physical, emotional and spiritual strength to be the Christian that you should be for Him. If Christ is your beloved, then nothing should be too much of an effort when it's for Him.

Hugs, Karen x

Friday, 14 August 2015

Song of Solomon 4:6-10 ♥ There is no spot in thee ♥

Good morning girls!

Wow! What a fabulous way to start the day, knowing that "there is no spot in thee". How do you feel about that?! And it's true. If you are saved, born again, washed in the blood of the Lamb, then all of your sins...past, present and future, are under the blood. The devil may throw whatever accusations he likes against you, but nothing can change the fact that you stand before the Lord in the sinless purity that comes only from being a child of God. And the only way that this could happen is because the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, completely sinless and pure, took upon Himself all of our sin and died in our place. We could never have washed ourselves clean of our sin. Impossible! But we are accepted in Christ because He took our place. We are free, cleansed and redeemed and that can never change. You cannot be saved one minute and lost the next. We have so much to be thankful for.

God calls us into His presence because of this purity. We could never stand before a holy God in our own natural sinful state. But now we can come before Him, cleansed in the righteousness of Christ.

And look how much He loves us! He loves us so much and blesses us. We are indeed a very privileged and honoured people, even though we do not deserve any of this.

Thank the Lord for His abundant blessings to you this day!!

Hugs, Karen x

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Song of Solomon 4:1-5 ♥ The bride is praised ♥

Good morning girls!
Today's thoughts are a bit shorter.

Here we read about how the beloved feels about the bride. He praises her for her:

  • gentleness - "thou hast doves' eyes". As we said before, the dove is described in Scripture as a gentle bird. Matthew 10:16 tells the Christian to be as wise as serpents but harmless as a dove. There is no malice in the dove like there is in a bird like a vulture. We are to be gentle Christians.
  • purity - he describes her teeth as sheep that have just come through a process of cleansing. As Christians we are to be pure and spotless, living clean and godly lives. Our hearts and souls have been washed and cleansed white as snow in the blood of the Lamb, and so must our lives show this cleanness on the outside too. We are not to be like the Pharisees who were white on the outside but rotten on the inside. It is a matter of having our hearts right first.
  • fruitfulness - "none is barren among them". As Christians we are to live fruitful lives for the Lord. Whatever we can do to serve Him and bring forth fruits of righteousness, we should do.
  • kindness - "thy speech is comely". Comely means pleasant, good, attractive. Can this be said of your speech? Be honest. If this is not you, then ask the Lord to give you a 'comely' talk and use it to praise His holy name and do good for Him.
  • strength - verse 4 talks about her stately and strong neck. Our strength is in the Lord and we can hold our heads high in the face of persecution from the devil when we name the name of Christ.
  • vitality - "two young roes" speaks of health, vigour and life. Oh that our service for Christ would be full of life, doing what we can to honour His name with joy and eagerness.
I hope these few thoughts encourage your heart today.

Hugs, Karen x

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Song of Solomon 3:6-11 ♥ A majestic entrance ♥

Good morning girls! Here we are, half way through another week already! Where does the time go?

Today our reading is all about the majestic and wealthy entrance of Solomon, as he comes to seek a bride. Verse 10 says that the midst of his bed is "paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem". Not knowing the customs of those times, it is hard to know what this means, but in my mind I have the idea that it might have been like the children's story of Cinderella, where the prince came to town, held a ball with the intention of finding the perfect bride. It's also a bit like Ahasuerus when he sought out a new wife. All the young virgins had to be brought into the palace, pampered and preened for a very long time until they were at their very best and then brought into his presence for him to choose who he liked the best.

In verse 11, the shepherdess seems to be totally disinterested in king Solomon and she tells the daughters of Jerusalem, the other eligible young ladies, to go and see him and see if perhaps they were to be the next queen. We haven't read this yet but a few chapters ahead (6:9) we discover that Solomon already had 60 queens, 80 concubines and countless other young virgins and we know that in later times these numbers go into the hundreds. So this shepherdess was not that special to him. Perhaps it was a case of him only wanting her because he couldn't really have her. Anyway, she wasn't in the slightest bothered about him because she already had the love of her life who loved her in the exact same way. She had eyes for no one but her beloved.

When we look around us at the wealth and riches and (temporal) beauty of this world, do we feel drawn away from Christ towards these things? Are we tempted to love 'things' more than Christ? Or is there nothing that could take us away from Him and His love? If the latter is the case, rejoice, for that is wonderful...and rare! We need to keep so close to the Lord Jesus Christ that He is all we could ever need. Once we let our hearts be drawn away towards other things, we lose that close intimacy with Him and then we begin to think that perhaps we could live easily without Him. But this would be a fatal error on our part. No one and nothing can satisfy the way that the Lord can. He should be our all in all. Pray that this remains the case and if it isn't like this for you just now, ask the Lord to draw you into a closer and deeper relationship with Himself.

Hugs, Karen x

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Song of Solomon 3:1-5 ♥ I held Him and would not let Him go ♥

Good morning girls! Do you feel that you are getting to grips better with this book now? I think it definitely helps to see who the characters are, when they speak and who they're speaking about.

Thinking about these verses it seems clear to me that the beloved cannot be Solomon the king because the bride goes out into the city streets and further afield in her search of her beloved. If the beloved was indeed Solomon, surely the watchmen would've sent her in the direction of the palace where the king lived. He would not have been in the streets or further outside the city, in the fields and mountains.

The bride is pretty desperate here, isn't she? I think she has either been thinking about her beloved or dreaming about him and he has been much on her mind and she feels desperate to see him. But he is nowhere to be found. So she gets up out of bed to go and look for him. Can't you just imagine the scene of this young woman running through the streets of the city, calling out her beloved's name but not being able to find him? How awful for her. I think it would be a similar situation if you were out somewhere and your child got lost from you. You would run all around the place, searching, calling, probably even crying. At first it seems as if the child is completely lost, but then you see him in the distance and you run to him, calling his name the whole time and you grab a hold of him and cuddle him and hug him as if you're afraid to ever let him go again. I think this is what it was quite like for the shepherdess. In a spiritual way, is this how you feel about the Lord? Do you miss Him when you're not in communion with Him? Do you wish you could just sit down, read His Word and talk to Him? Or are you indifferent? Maybe you don't even realise that you haven't been talking to Him for a while and His presence is not near to you?

Pray that the Lord will always be the one your heart yearns for and needs, above everything else. Ask Him to keep you close to Him at all times. Seek Him with all of your heart and He promises in His Word that He will be found.

Hugs, Karen x

Monday, 10 August 2015

Song of Solomon 2:14-17 ♥ My Beloved is mine, and I am His ♥

Good morning girls! I'll be praying for you today that you will know the love and joy of Christ in your hearts and souls. I have to say today's reading has been one of my favourites so far. It was a lot easier to understand than some of the others and it was just the blessing from the Lord that I needed.

Verses 14 & 15. This seems to be the bridegroom speaking in these two verses. Therefore this is Christ speaking to His Church, you and me who are saved and who belong to Him. We are described as His "dove", hidden in Christ ("in the clefts of the rock"). He alone is our Rock, in times of trial and trouble. There is no one more steady and reliable and unchangeable as Christ our Rock. Isn't it wonderful that when we are feeling the threats of the enemies around about us, we can fly to Him and be safe?
God calls us to come and speak to Him in prayer; our voice in supplication is sweet to His ear. He loves us and we are beautiful in His sight, no matter how we feel about ourselves. Very often the devil would make us feel inadequate to even come into God's presence and would accuse us of not being a good enough Christian, but when we are bought by the blood of Christ, we are worth more to God than we will ever know. Don't listen to the accusations that the devil whispers into your ear. Open the Word of God and believe the truth that God loves you.

"The little foxes that spoil the vines" are all the sins that would overwhelm us at times. We sin against God in thought, word and deed on a daily basis and we must come to Him for a fresh cleansing in the blood of the Lamb. These little foxes do harm in the vineyards; our sins will do harm to the work of God in whatever place we serve Him, so they must be dealt with. Big sins, little sins, ALL sin...they spoil our communion and fellowship with a holy God, especially those that we are well aware of and do not confess to God. Bring your sins to the Lord just now and ask Him to cleanse you afresh this day in the blood of His dear Son. Don't let the devil have the victory in your life. Don't let him come between you and a loving heavenly Father.

Verse 16. A wonderful and amazing verse! Regardless of sins that separate and spoil our fellowship with God for a time, how joyful to know that our union with Christ will never be broken. No man can pluck us out of His hands. We are as one, united by redemption for ever. What joy and peace this brings to the saved sinner's heart!

Verse 17. There are times in the Christian's life when darkness hinders us from viewing our blessed Saviour's face. But it's the same as when we have cloudy skies above; the sky is always blue beyond the clouds, we just can't see them. When we are going through times of trouble and darkness, we maybe cannot see God's hand in it, but we can know that He is there. The day will soon break, the shadows will flee away and we will see God's face once again and know that His hand has been leading us all the way.

Hugs, Karen x

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 ♥ The voice of my beloved ♥

Good afternoon girls! Just popping in with my thoughts from yesterday's reading. Here is your reading plan for next week. Can you let me know how you are getting on with this?

Verse 8. "The voice of my Beloved!" The young woman suddenly hears the voice of the one she loves calling to her from a distance as he makes his way in her direction. He is full of life and joy at the prospect of meeting with her again. It does seem from verses 11 and 12 that they may have been separated for quite a while, perhaps throughout the whole of the winter time.
In the late autumn or winter months, there are times when the shepherd can find no pasturage that is available for his flock, and then he must become responsible for feeding the animals himself. If the flock is small there may be times when it is stabled within the peasant house, and the family lives on a sort of mezzanine floor above it. At such seasons of the year the shepherd must provide the food. This is what Isaiah meant when he said: "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd" (Isaiah 40:11). In some sections of Syria, flocks are taken at this season to places in the mountain country, where the shepherd busies himself with the bushy trees, cutting down branches that have green leaves or tender twigs, that the sheep and goats can eat. Micah was probably speaking of this custom of providing food for the sheep, when he said: "Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage" (Micah 7:14).
Taken from 
 When someone we love is far from us we miss their voice, don't we? Thankfully in this day and age of advanced technology, we are able to talk to our friends and family via Skype, What's App and all sorts of other media. But in Bible times this was not the case and the shepherdess would have missed hearing the voice of her loved one. He has had to be away working with and looking after his flock during the winter, but now those days are past. Spring has arrived, flowers are starting to bud and bloom and give off their sweet fragrances, birds are singing and everything is beginning to come alive!

These words make me think of the dark winter months of life that we often face here on earth while we await the return of our Saviour and King to the earth to take us home. Of course, we have the blessing of prayer and also the Comforter, the holy Spirit, who takes care of us until Christ returns. It is truly wonderful to be able to have communion and fellowship with God through prayer but we are still distant from Him. At the minute when we read His Word, we are blessed to hear His speaking voice through the pages of Scripture; and He hears our voice when we pray to Him. But we cannot hear His voice in all its fulness while we are separated from each other. But can you imagine the joy and wonder when Christ returns to reclaim us and we hear His lovely voice calling us home? Weren't the people who lived on earth during Christ's lifetime a blessed people? They were able to sit at the Saviour's feet and hear His message of love to them. It will be a brand new day when Christ returns and the winter will be past, as we know it now. The times of darkness, trouble and sorrow will be gone when Christ returns in all His glory to take us forever to be with Him. Then we will hear Him say the wonderful words "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away"! If you are feeling dejected today or downcast, comfort yourself with these words. The winter WILL pass and then our eternal rest will come at last. We have so much to look forward to!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Song of Solomon 2:1-7

Hi girls! Hope you are well today.

I think I'm getting into the swing of this book a bit more easily now (although there are quite a few times when I'm not sure who is speaking). But as long as we continue to see Christ as the beloved Bridegroom who loves and adores His Bride, the Church, which in fact includes you and me!!!

Verse 2. The lily is a flower that is generally thought of as white and beautiful. In this verse the lily is described by the bridegroom as being "among thorns". Isn't this so true? As Christians, we have been washed and cleansed in the blood of Christ and now we stand before our heavenly Father, white and beautiful, redeemed by His dear Son. But we are still in the world, even though we are no longer "of the world", and we live among thorns. Thorns are sharp and piercing and can hurt us. Have you ever seen the thorns that were used in Israel to create the crown that was placed on Jesus' head at the crucifixion? They are huge. So, yes we are indeed saved and serving the Lord, but very often we are hurt and scarred by the piercings that come from those around us.

Verse 3. This is a lovely picture of Christ as He protects, provides for and pleases His people.

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In this verse, the bride takes her rest under the apple tree (imagine that's you, sitting down in the presence of the Lord with your Bible and journal!) and she is blessed abundantly "with great delight". Is it your delight and joy to come into God's presence? The branches of these apple trees can stretch out quite far and they can protect the person underneath from the sun. As well as that, there is fruit for the taking. God provides us with His blessed Holy Spirit, who sustains us and gives us fruit to help us grow in grace day by day. Do you ask the Lord to give you the fruit of His Spirit so that you can be a daily witness for Him? Does your life (and mine) reveal "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..."? In verse 3, the bride says that "his fruit was sweet to my taste." When we read God's Word, it should be sweet to our taste. We should find everything to satisfy us within its holy pages. Psalm 34:8 reminds us to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Has it been a while since you have sat down with God and His Word and prayed in the Spirit to be blessed? If so, come back to Him now and renew your fellowship with Him once again. And when you do, when any of us come into God's banqueting house, we will know His love surrounding us; we will be assured of His deep love and tenderness towards us.
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Verse 6. This verse speaks to me of 'support' and 'tenderness'. Can't you just imagine the Lord holding you up, particularly if you are feeling weary and in need of reviving? Remember the time when John, the beloved disciple, was at the last supper with Christ and the other disciples, and he lay on Jesus' breast. He obviously wanted to be close to Christ but perhaps he was also weary. In times of weariness we need to draw close to Christ and He will support us and hold us up. 
"His right hand doth embrace me". This speaks to me of our heavenly Father's tenderness towards us. He soothes us and makes us aware of His great love for us. He holds us close to Himself. We are safe in His gentle care. I pray tonight, that if you are feeling alone and un-cared for, you will run to His embrace. Read His Word, talk to Him, listen for His voice speaking to you and then you will see that His banner over you is LOVE!

Hugs, Karen x

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Song of Solomon 1:7-17

Good afternoon girls! Sorry I couldn't get blogging yesterday but we had a wedding.

These verses are quite complicated and I've done my best to bring to you what I have learned without reading other people's interpretations, now that I have settled in my heart that I agree with Dr Brian Green about there being three main characters, the Shulamite, the king and the shepherd. The main reason I have come to this conclusion is, and especially after reading today's verses, that there is a difference between the king who sits at his table in his palace with the chambers (1:4) surrounded by all his wealth and grandeur and the beloved shepherd (1:7) who feeds his flock in the fields. The shepherd whom the bride (to-be) loves, is usually mentioned as being in the outdoors, free and surrounded by the splendours of God's creation while the king is indoors in his man-made palace and his riches. It is not that we are putting Solomon down as being wicked, but in comparison to the shepherd, he is quite worldly and desirous of satisfying his own fleshly lusts by making the Shulamite his wife when he already has quite a number of wives and concubines (6:8). As we know, the wives and concubines of Solomon rises in number to hundred's but for the shepherd there is only one true love, the Shulamite shepherdess (6:9).

As we saw on Monday, the Shulamite shepherdess has been taken into the king's palace to be prepared to meet with the king in order to become a new bride to him (very similar to the goings on in Esther's time when she had to be pampered and prepared to spend a night with the king; remember this process took a very long time - months and months). But this young woman has an intense love for her beloved shepherd, who lives and works out in the hills.

Verse 7. The Shulamite seeks her beloved. She is desperate to find him. Are we this focused and desperate when it comes to seeking our beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He the most important person in our lives, the one we need to be in communion with and have fellowship with?

Verses 8-11. The wording in this verse also tells me that the Shulamite woman is a shepherdess too because it mentions feeding her kids beside the shepherds' tents. The shepherd gives her direction as to where she can go to find him. It seems to be that the shepherd is praising his love as being strong (like a company of horses) and beautiful. It may be that she has been adorned in jewels in preparation for meeting with the king. Christ, our great Shepherd, looks upon us, His redeemed people, and sees only beauty. We have been adorned with His grace and mercy and, even though we see ourselves as black (and sinful), He sees us as His blood-bought children.

Verses 12-14. 'Spikenard', 'myrrh' and 'camphire' are all types of plants used for ointments, perfumes and even medicinal (healing properties). Verse 13 refers to a time when people would hang little bouquets of fresh plants and flowers like these around their neck, so that the sweet smell would be close to their nose so that they could enjoy the fragrance, in much the same way as we do today when we spray ourselves with perfume. Do you have a special perfume that you love because it reminds you of someone or something pleasant? I think this is the meaning here. The Shulamite has a special fondness for myrrh because it reminds her of her well-beloved, and since she cannot have him with her in person, she wears the scent close to her heart to feel some nearness to him.  Anyone who would have been in close proximity to this girl would also have smelled the scent. Are we so close to our Saviour that when others are near us, they are aware of His presence too, because He has left a lingering fragrance after our time of fellowship with Him? Notice also that this closeness and fragrance gives her comfort in the long, lonely dark hours of night time.
En-gedi is near the Dead Sea and is an 'oasis in the desert'. This is what our time spent with Christ should be. Life can be hard, barren and dry at times, maybe even overwhelming at times but when we come into Christ's presence, we are revived , refreshed and nourished. He is our oasis in the desert of this life.

Verses 15 & 16. The Shulamite and her shepherd give compliments to each other. Do we praise our Saviour at all times for the blessing that He is to us and for what He means to us?

Verse 17. There are more references to the outdoors here, which emphasizes (in my eyes) the theory that this is a shepherd in the fields and not a king in a palace. The bride mentions the beams and the rafters of their home and this would infer the strength and durability that their lives are built upon. If this was in the palace, surely she would be talking about gold for the ceilings and richness everywhere, but no, it is the trees of creation that she refers to. When God saves us, He builds a home of protection for us. When we go to meet with Him in prayer and bible study, we can close ourselves in with Him and talk together in privacy, knowing that we are safe in His strength and protection.

I hope this study today has been of some benefit to you. It is quite difficult, as I've already said, but if there is something else you would like to add to help clarify things for us, feel free to contact me.

Hugs, Karen.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Song of Solomon 1:1-6

Good evening girls! Hope your day is going well so far and you are drawing closer to the Lord day by day.

If we take the interpretation, as we said yesterday, in the same way as Dr Brian Green then we will see in these verses that the bride cries out for her bridegroom in verse 2. No other love compares to theirs. She wants to be with him, be close to him and be safe in his embrace. I think the virgins referred to here in verse 3 are the same as the ones we read about on a previous occasion here when we studied the wise and foolish virgins. The bride's companions see the great worth of this bridegroom and are in awe of him.

It looks like verse 4 may reveal a hard time for this young woman. She is already engaged to be married to her bridegroom, the shepherd, but the king (Solomon) wants to have her as his own bride and he brings her into his palace with the hope of securing her as his wife. But this brave young woman is not in the least bit interested in him. Her heart belongs to another and she wants to be near to him. Her thoughts are settled upon him and nothing can change her mind about that.

I admit, I find verses 5 and 6 difficult. Since this is the love story between God and His church, it could well mean, as Matthew Henry comments, that, although the bride is black (with sin) she is still beautiful (comely) in God's eyes because He has such love for her and sees her in her blessed redeemed state.

Obviously this young woman is a hard worker. She doesn't sound as though she is used to the finery of palaces and being indoors and treated with pampering. She seems to be outside in the open air, under the hot sun of the day, toiling and working. She seems to have been punished by her siblings for some reason; they were angry with her and made her work in the vineyards but she didn't have time to look after her own. Is this a case of being so busy running about doing things for other people that we neglect to look after ourselves? Our health, our body, our mind and especially our soul?

Remember the words of verse 2, "Thy love is better than wine". Wine is something that the world loves and turns to for comfort in times of trouble. This woman seems to be in trouble right from the very start of this story, but she wisely knows that there isn't the comfort in wine that she would get from being loved and cared for by her beloved. Let us place our hearts and love upon the only One who can give us the love and satisfaction that we need. Nothing else in this world can compare to the love of our Saviour!

Hugs, Karen x

Sunday, 2 August 2015

New book - Song of Solomon

Good evening girls. I'm just popping in with an update of my plans for our Bible Study over the month of August. Over at Women Living Well (whose plan we follow), Courtney plans to study Song of Solomon a chapter a day for 8 days and then take a break for three weeks before starting into the book of Acts in September. But you know me, I don't let you off the hook that easily! I'd rather keep studying because it helps us to remain focused and committed to our Bible readings and I'd like us not to fall by the wayside by not studying. So hopefully you'll be able to continue along with me, even though we are still in the holiday months. So, to make it a bit easier, I think we'll just study a few verses a day, rather than a whole chapter. I am going to confess to you that I have never really studied this lovely book before, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I could never really understand its true meaning (and the world has made out that it is quite 'on the edge' because of the physical references to the bride and the love between her and the bridegroom). Secondly, I could never work out who was talking to who and about who. So, unfortunately, I kind of skipped over this book. But I feel that I have missed out on a beautiful love story, not so much between this Shulamite woman and her shepherd bridegroom, but the ultimate love story between the redeemed church of the Lord Jesus Christ (ie the bride, which is in fact, you and me) and our Saviour, Christ Himself.

Of course I am no expert in Bible commentary, so I had to look for a book that we could use to guide us through this mysterious Song and I think I have found it in one which was published in 1997 by Dr Brian Green, London. Some of you may already have it in your own home, "The Shepherd of the Hills". Dr Green makes certain comments right from the outset of his book which have already clarified some of my questions. He says that generally when the bride speaks, it is about the bridegroom. Usually she is referred to by him as "my love" and he is called "my beloved" by her. If your Bible is anything like mine, it will have little headings saying who is speaking but I feel that I will have to disregard those because, if I am to go by Dr Green's interpretation (and that of many other renowned authors such as CH Spurgeon), the most important thought that he has in my opinion is this one - there are not three main characters/groups (which is the line most authors take) but four! These are:

  • The Bride (also known as the Shulamite shepherdess)
  • The King (Solomon in all his wealth and majesty)
  • The Shepherd or bridegroom (living among his flock)
  • The daughters and watchmen of Jerusalem
Having read and agreed with his insight on this, I have been able to understand the book much more easily. It makes more sense to me now. Of course, you can make up your own mind on this but the most important thing of all is not to focus on the physical relationship between this betrothed or engaged couple (bear in mind, they are not yet married) but to focus on the fact that it is a picture of us, the redeemed Church, waiting in this world of trouble and trial and temptation for our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ to come for us for the final time to live with Him for ever in eternity.

Each week I will add the verses that we will be studying. So here are the readings for this week.

Wishing you a blessed time of studies as you draw closer to God through His love story to and about us, His redeemed and privileged people,

Hugs, Karen x