One of my favorite books of the Bible is Song of Solomon (aka as Song of Songs). There is no other book that so closely resembles my relationship with Christ than this one because it is based on an intense love relationship. Many have sought to determine some kind of symbolism between Christ and his bride–the church in this book, and I can see it. Yet, that is the beauty of Scripture. We can discern different things from it as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. For me, the professions of love in Song of Solomon speak my heart for Christ.
It is easy to see Christ in the first chapter of Song of Solomon. We have some major clues with key words from Jesus’ life. In verse 8, we encounter shepherds. Not only was Jesus considered a Shepherd (John 10), but shepherds visited Him in His manger (Luke 2:8-9). In verses 11 and 13, two of the three gifts brought to Jesus by the magi are mentioned–gold and myrrh. In verse 12, nard is mentioned. Nard is the fragrance Mary poured on Jesus’ feet (John 12). Verse 11 also makes mention of silver–the precious metal that served as payment to Judas for his betrayal (Matthew 26:15).
For me, the clues in Song of Solomon add up to yet another prophecy of Christ’s life. All of this in addition to simply being a beautiful song that captures the heart of believers everywhere. Read Song of Solomon chapter one for yourself, and tell me what from your own heart do you see the Holy Spirit showing you in the Scripture?
“How is your walk?” It’s a question that Christian friends have asked me at times over the years that caused me to reflect on my spiritual walk with the Lord. At times, I might have answered like this: Horrible! I can’t hear from God. I’m stuck in some spiritual traps of sin that I can’t get myself out of no matter how much I pray, and I have no idea what to do. Other times, I might have answered like this: Great! I’ve been going to church and reading my Bible. I still have some sins, but everybody sins, right?
In retrospect, I was far from God in both circumstances. In fact, I had walked with the Lord for many years before I even saw what a close walk looked like. How can you tell if you are walking closely with the Lord? Here are three elements:
- Loneliness is not a huge issue. Sure, you may feel lonely from time to time especially if you recently experienced the loss of someone close to you. Your kids may have recently moved out of the house, or you might have been through a divorce. However, there is a distinct and unexplained loneliness that comes from being far from God that haunts individuals even when they are with other people. When you are close to God, that loneliness is lifted because your spirit is always communing with Him. This time together satiates the soul’s need for intimate soul fellowship that can only be filled by God’s holy presence.
2. Prayers are answered often. No, answered prayers does not imply you get everything you want. On the contrary, it is the nature of your very prayer that changes. You stop praying for everything you want, but you start praying according to God’s will. Your will and God’s will become so closely intertwined that they are one and the same. Hence, God answers all kinds of your prayers from healing to finding lost keys quickly.
3. Opportunities are employed. When you are close to God and feel eager to serve His people out of gratitude for His mercy on your life, He opens doors for you to serve in the kingdom. God frees up time in your schedule, gives you the ability to carry it out, and the confidence to accept new challenges.
So then, I ask you today, “How is your walk?” If your walk with God is not as close as you would like, there are a few steps you can take. Get free from spiritual traps of sin by confession and prayer. Study the Word of God daily, and remain consistent at going to church and remaining in close relationship with other serious Christians. Finally, tell God your heart. Do you desperately want a close relationship with God? Let’s ask for it together: Lord, forgive me my sins and help me to get free from them. Deliver me from the small sins that are no big deal to me but are a big deal to me. Release me from the chains of the big sins that are impossible for me to lift off. Help me to draw near to You so that we can have the close relationship I desperately want to have with You, my good Father in heaven. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
I am the Samaritan woman at the well,
Jesus shared info about me no one else knows,
Amazed, I scrambled back to my hometown to tell,
We left all follow to Him wherever He goes.
I suffered much and touched the hem of His garment,
His all-consuming power healed my soul’s deep wounds,
No, death in this life of flesh is not permanent,
He’ll raise each one of us from our transient tombs.
I have wept at His feet and poured out costly oil,
He has forgiven even the most dire of sins,
He gave us brand new hearts, ones made of fertile soil,
A mustard seed of faith is how it all begins.
If you have read these words and truly understood,
Then you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
Pastors are having affairs. People in the church are lying and gossiping. Christians tell others not to sin, but they are guilty of sin themselves. It’s enough to make you sick, but don’t let it keep you from getting to know Christ. He did not die on the cross to gather up a kingdom of perfect people. He came for sinners, and they do not become sinless the moment they trust in Christ. In His own words in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
If you are tempted to fall into a trap of rejecting the truth because of hypocritical Christians, I have a message for you: Jesus says to look to Him and not to His people. His people will stumble a million times, but Jesus lived a perfect life. He is not guilty of hypocrisy. Your first step to living a life washed clean in the sight of God is accepting Christ as your Savior. Then you will begin the slow process of being refined. You too may stumble, but He will leave the rest of His flock to come after You. Jesus died to pay for Your sins. What a waste it would be for His precious blood to be spilled and for you to miss out on eternal life because you did not accept His invitation! Forget other people and your perception of the Lord that has been built on sinful Christians for a moment and just focus on just Jesus. Do you see a loving Friend with an outstretched hand? Are you ready to take it?
Pray with me. “Father, I confess I have not been open to getting to know You because of my perception of the church and Christians. The truth is my relationship with You has nothing to do with them. It is between You and me. I believe You are the Son of God who died on the cross to pay for my sins. You will raise me to eternal life in heaven with You because I trust You. Thank You for being a loving God. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”
Jesus’ miracles caused Him to gain a large number of followers besides the twelve apostles. Many gathered to listen to Him preach. One day, He taught they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life (see John 6:53-60). Upon hearing this, many were offended and turned away from following Christ. The disciples who stuck by His side learned Jesus was talking in the spiritual sense and not the literal sense, but those who turned away lost the opportunity to learn from the living God!
Have you been offended by God? Is there a Scripture that causes you to question the authenticity of the Word? Don’t turn from the living God or His Word. Taking offense is simply a spiritual trap set by the enemy to get us out of relationship with God. Choose to trust in Christ today and stand by His side. Ask for a clearer understanding. Let’s pray together, “Lord, forgive me for taking offense to You and Your Word. Help my attitude and mindset toward these offenses to match Yours. I trust You and know that You are more righteous than I am. I praise You and thank You for being a loving God who wants what is best for us. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
The Pharisees and chief priests of Jesus’ time were familiar with Scripture, but they denied the true spirit of the law. Since they had no relationship with God, they were unable to recognize Him when He appeared right before their eyes in the man of Jesus. They were caught in a trap of a religious spirit.
Someone caught up in the spiritual trap of a religious spirit is more concerned with following the rules than following Christ. He or she is quick to criticize anyone who fails to follow their own moral code, but they fail to fulfill the greatest commandments to love God and love others (see Matthew 22:36-40). Sadly, this spiritual trap fills the one caught in it with pride and blocks a genuine relationship with the Lord.
For the most part, I am painfully aware of my inability to live up to God’s standard. However, I have with much effort been somewhat successful at living up to my own set of rules at certain times in my life. It is then that I feel a self-satisfying pride that is particularly ugly, leads me far from God, and quiets His voice. When I confess my sins and humbly call on the Lord, He is eager to hear my prayer.
Are you guilty of having a religious spirit? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to get back on the right track today so He can live in a close relationship with you. Let’s say this prayer together: “Lord, forgive me for my religious spirit. I confess I have been more concerned about rules than following You. Help my heart to seek after You and love You above all else. Help me to love others instead of criticizing them. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). From this day forward, guide me to operate in a spirit of grace to myself and others. Thank You, Lord, for the grace You have shown me in Your great mercy. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
We pray their cares would be few,
& your peace would console their heart,
We pray they would learn their true value
& they’d live as ones set apart.
We pray they would know Your amazing grace,
Though they may never learn the depth or length,
We pray they claim You as their hiding place,
& let the joy of the Lord be their strength.
We pray they would know You as their Friend,
& learn to trust You and be still,
We pray good would come to them,
All this according to Your perfect will.
Let them share the gospel without shame,
Let them lift up praise to Your Holy Name.
We pray for the salvation of loved ones today,
that they would gain supernatural wisdom,
and learn You are the truth, the life, and only Way,
You love them and welcome them into Your kingdom.
Let them look and see our faces are radiant,
For we know You and we behold Your glory,
We testify that You are life’s sweet, pleasing fragrance,
Open their ears to truly hear our true life story.
Lead us to the house of God with shouts of joy,
You will lead, and we will follow Your voice,
We will sing praises as part of Your envoy,
Eternally, we’ll worship You and forever rejoice.
Come, all those who are weary and heavily burdened,
Come to the One who binds the wounds of the hurting.
In Matthew 6:15, Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” There are many opinions about what that means exactly, but the lesson is clear: Forgive! Who do you need to forgive? Wait a second to let the Holy Spirit bring that person to your mind. What they did may have been unthinkable, but it’s time to let go of that anger and turn it over to God. Holding onto it will only make you bitter and resentful, but letting go is a step to freedom and joy for yourself. I know that first hand.
Shortly after becoming a Christian, the Lord started talking to me about forgiveness. At first, I didn’t think I held any grudges against anyone. I didn’t feel bitter or resentful, but the signs were there. My mouth often dished out heaping spoonfuls of scathing sarcasm, dismissive mocking, and pessimistic cynicism. The Lord revealed to me the truth that I’d held onto anger about growing up with divorced parents. My family wasn’t perfect, and my heart was keeping a record of the wrongs against the people close to me without even letting my brain know. Is it possible you have unconscious anger against someone who love?
God wants us to feel free and happy so let’s forgive those we love. Go ahead. Ball up your fist. Call the name(s) of the people you want to forgive and open your hand to let them go. Join me in prayer. “Lord, I confess I haven’t been quick to forgive. Thank You for forgiving me all of my wrongs. Since You forgave me, I want to show my gratitude by forgiving others because I want to be obedient to You. I trust that You are just, and You will repay my debtors according to Your will. Help me to be quick to forgive all those that wrong me in the future so I can be free and joyful like You want me to be. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”
Movies and shows about serial killers and murderers have captivated the world, and I have spent my fair share of time watching them. It started with a curiosity why anyone would murder another human being. Murder seems so extreme. What could their motivation be? Were they crazy? After watching a large number of documentary-type shows, I realized their motivation was pretty simple. An overwhelming majority of murderers kill for money. And so 1 Timothy 6:10 stills ring true, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” The rest of the verse is less well-known, but it continues, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” By those words, we know the love of money is another spiritual trap.
Satan is a sneaky one. If he knows a Christian is a good person, he does not lead him away with promises of a mansion in Beverly Hills. He leads the person astray with promises of “comfort” and “security” especially for loved ones. As your comfort and security increase, the people around you have more and more making you feel like you need to keep up and before you know it, you are no longer seeking God but only money.
After I graduated from college, I reflected on the advice given me by the business professors. They advised the students to start investing in the stock market when you are young even if you don’t have much money because it will really grow by the time you retire. That’s just security, right? But the Holy Spirit told me something different in the moment I was contemplating an investment. He said, “Invest your money in the kingdom of God—not in the stock market.” I was already tithing, but I started giving to Christian organizations with the little I had and I have never been sorry.
Let’s get our hearts refocused on God today. “Lord, forgive me for putting my focus on providing for myself instead of trusting You for provision. Today, I choose to put my focus on You and Your kingdom. Help me and lead me to use my workplace as a way to show Your light. Help me to use my money to build up Your kingdom. I want to live for You because You gave up Your life for me. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”