DAY 16 - LOVE THAT ENDURES
Read the Bible verses related to each devotion.
Then follow the actions and prayers for yourself and a nonbeliever at the bottom of the page.
READ Song of Solomon 4
When I was newly married, thinking all my pains of the young adult life were behind me, I did not know I had a severe intimacy problem. Before I was married, I was single and could do whatever I wanted. When I was in pain, I just did what was needed to stop the pain. If I was in an uncomfortable situation around others, I made up a rash excuse, which really was a lie, and would quickly leave the room to spend some “alone time.”
Then, on the night of my wedding day, I awoke to find this amazing woman faithfully sleeping next to me—in the chamber of marriage. She was innocently resting, completely trusting me to provide and protect her. And there, in the perfect stillness of bridal love, an intruder abruptly rose up to slay my perfect wife. That violent intruder was inside me.
I was confused at the feelings in my heart and felt trapped. Things should not have turned out like this. I had just married this smart, spunky, stupendous wife, who had entrusted her heart to me for the rest of our lives (again, she was sleeping contently.) But that night her gentle words of kindness, which traveled from her heart, and raced towards mine. But, I had a terrible guard, who stood watch over the door of my heart.
Honestly, I was so hurt from my past that I demanded this guard lock the door of my heart and throw away the key, so nothing, or no one, could get inside. But here she was innocently trying to get into my heart. She was attempting to grow deeper in LOVE with me. This was something I had never experienced before. During the course of the next few weeks she was sharing her heart, dreams, and aspirations. She continued working her way into my heart with every funny story, sweet smile, and awkward moment. Her words and soft eyes were overpowering. As my heart longed to be loved, I fought to not open up to her, all because of the pain. But knowing this was wrong, I quickly asked the Lord for help. The answer to my prayer came in an opportunity.
One day, she looked at me with tender eyes of undying affection; she was baring the depths of her soul to me, while awaiting a response. She was waiting for the very depths of my heart to accept her, embrace her, not just outwardly and physically, but deep, deep in the depth of her innermost being. She was made for LOVE, but I could not open up my heart. You see I shut that part of my heart down a long time ago. Oh, I had tried to love once or twice, but had been shattered. To prevent further harm, I slammed that door shut.
Now she was trying to open up the only safe place I had control of. She was trying to get into the depths of my soul. As a man, I had to respond in that moment. Then she reached her arms around me, looked lovingly into my eyes and gently knocked on that door, whispering, “Come on…let me in!” Sadly, I said, “no.” I laughed it off and said, “Of course I love you.” But it was at that point that I realized I had a major intimacy problem.
Maybe you have this same issue. The answer is not alcohol, porn, excessive phone use, pre-marital sex, or any other form of immorality. The answer is allowing the KING of kings into the door of your heart, so He can BRING YOU INTO HIS CHAMBER (cultivate an intimate secret place with you). And there you can let HIM into the deepest place of your heart. Let Him heal your heart.
Trust me this may not seem easy, but it is necessary. I have had some very hard conversations with God. Unfortunately, I have said some pretty mean things to God. But you know what, He is a good Father; His love for you is fiercer than the cutting of your words. Tell Him how you really feel, but a word of advice. Actually, listen to what He says in response. He is wise. He is God, you know.
***The chamber experiences refer to the times that God carries us to Himself by granting us unusual experiences in the Spirit (revelations, encounters, and impartations). I call this the “secret place.”
Now, where was it that we left the Shulamite this time? If I recall, and the older I get, the less I recall (I think this is a true statement, but I don’t always remember what I am forgetting). I believe she was just getting to the point of connecting up with king Solomon and recalling how safe his leadership really is. With her newfound trust in her bridegroom king, let’s jump into the next phase of our journey, or should I say, the next phase of her growth and maturity in love.
“Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair!
You have dove’s eyes behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats, Going down from Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing,
Every one of which bears twins, And none is barren among them.
Your lips are like a strand of scarlet, And your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil are like a piece of pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an armory, on which hang a thousand bucklers,
All shields of mighty men. Your two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.” (Song of Solomon 4:1-5)
King Solomon starts to speak. He does not come from a place of heavy-handed authority. Instead, he comes from a place of sincere love. Worldly love, if it is love at all, would have said, “I have one up on you, and now I can control you.” Thankfully, his heart reaches out to the bride with mature love and words of affirmation declaring, “Behold, you are fair (beautiful), my love! Behold, you are fair!” First, He is inviting others to behold, which means he is unashamed of her and her story. He wants to tell others about her. Second, He is announcing her beauty to her. This announcement has the power to destroy self-doubt in the Shulamite and restore her inner confidence, which builds trust in their relationship. Third, He says, “behold” twice. This is amazing, because he really means it, enough to repeat it to all. But that is not it.
He then goes on to share about what makes her beautiful. Why? Because a girl really wants to be told she is beautiful, but then wants to know why. Anyone can say someone is beautiful, but it takes love, true love, mature love, which is safe love, to actually talk about her virtues. So, I want to label what they are and what they mean. (Pay attention here, it is important for you as you mature in your relationship with God.)
1. Dove’s eyes: Eyes of single-minded devotion and loyalty to the Lord.
2. Hair like goats: Dedication to God (hair may point to submission or to a Nazirite dedication).
3. Teeth like shorn sheep: Chewing the meat of the Word.
4. Lips like scarlet: Godly speech that calls forth God’s redemptive (scarlet) purposes in others.
5. Kisses of the mouth: Intimacy with God in receiving the kisses of His Word.
6. Veiled temples (cheeks/countenance): Emotions empowered by the grace of God.
7. Neck like David’s tower: Setting our will to obey God without any stiff-necked resistance.
8. Breasts like fawns: The power to edify and nurture others with the milk of the Word.
Why is King Solomon doing this, and how does this fit with your relationship with God? Perfect question. Let me explain. He is calling forth the budding virtues that are found in her character. He does this by cherishing what she has and calling forth what she does not have. And this is the exact same thing you should learn to do. In Song 4:1-5, we see the cherishing heart of Jesus our Bridegroom King. Jesus washes and cherishes His Church. God’s cherishing heart for His people is one of the prominent spiritual themes in the Song. Powerfully, the Lord’s affirmation in our life breaks the power of accusation.
…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church…For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Eph. 5:26-29)
Why is it important to learn to cherish and speak life over the budding virtues around you? Well, it is important in your life, your spouse’s life, your children’s life, and the life of your friends, because life brings life, while death brings death. In your life, you have to learn to speak life. Find the good, and find what God wants to work on, and speak life over your heart. Speak God’s heart over your life; speak God’s Word over your life; speak your Holy Spirit promises over your life—SPEAK LIFE! When you learn to tenderly speak life over your own life, then you can speak life over others. Such as your spouse, children, and friends. How do I do this?
I first build trust, then speak correction. As a parent, for a general rule, I speak ten positives over my children before I speak a correction. Why? Well, no one likes to have someone hovering over him or her telling them how wrong they are? How do I speak the ten positives? As a general rule I affirm them in three ways. First, I affirm Godly character traits they are working on. Second, I affirm their gifts and talents. Third, I affirm their weak attempts as the “try new things.” SPEAK LIFE!
(side note...How do you learn how to affirm someone else? That is an easy question to answer. First, learn to affirm your own heart. Then you will know how to affirm another's heart. You have the power to listen to God and affirm your own heart—SPEAK LIFE).
“Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense. You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you. Come with Me from Lebanon, My spouse [Bride], with Me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana…from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.” (Song 4:6-8)
Now we are getting to the good stuff. They are lovesick. They are maturing in love. After the king speaks life over the small areas of her life, she immediately responds with, “I will go to the mountains.” She is willing to obey. Then the king responded with another affirmation of her beauty. But this time he adds, “There is no spot in you.” He may see issues, but he is affirming that she can conquer anything that comes up (anyone can see the issues in another, but it takes love to walk with them through the process.) Lastly, after affirming her, he invites her back to the mountain tops to fight lions, tigers, and bears.
In the same way, Jesus is speaking life over the Bride. Consider the churches in the book of Revelation. Many of them had issues, but God is rich in mercy and overflowing with grace. He gives them time to repent and then offers them a reward if they do. Remember how God talked to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. First, He declared that He holds the seven stars in His right hand, and walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. This means He is sovereign and divinely leading the church. Second, He affirms who they are and what they have positively done for the kingdom. Third, He shows them the issue they need to work on. Then, He shows them how He will reward them if they overcome. And just for good measure He affirms them again.
Is this how you treat others? Is this how you treat yourself? Jesus said, we must love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (this is the 1st commandment). And the second is like it, we also have to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39). Consider how Jesus talks to the Bride at Ephesus. He first shows her who He is (the power of God to help them overcome.) Next, He declares what they did right, He affirms the budding virtues (this builds trust and confidence.) Then, and only after He has done this first, He tells them what they need to do to change (this is the next step in righteousness.) Lastly, He motivates them through a long-term reward (God is not afraid to give long-term rewards; only after you actually do something; or the reward means nothing.) If this is how God treats His Bride, of which you are His primary focus, then so must we.
Today, just take a minute to stretch. Yes, I said stretch. Stand up and stretch for five minutes. Now, doesn’t that feel better? It is the same as your life with God. When He stretches you, then you feel better. So, trust Him today.
“Father, I love You. Seriously I am overwhelmed by Your love. You have a sovereign plan for my life. You speak life day and night. The best is yet to come. Today, I ask You to speak life over me. And help me to speak life over myself and others. Today, I ask You to fill me, mature me, grow my heart, soul, mind and strength in love.”
CONSIDER AGREEING WITH GOD & PRAYING THESE AREAS INTO YOUR OWN HEART (SPEAK LIFE)
1. Dove’s eyes: “Father, with Your grace I have eyes of single-minded devotion and loyalty to You.”
2. Hair like goats: “Father, according to Your word let me have a heart dedicated to You."
3. Teeth like shorn sheep: “Father, I love the Word of God, I will find the deeper meaning.”
4. Lips like scarlet: “Father, You made me for godly speech that calls forth Your redemptive (scarlet) purposes in my heart and others.”
5. Kisses of the mouth: Father, I was made for Intimacy with You. Let Your words touch my heart—kiss me with the kisses of Your Word.
6. Veiled temples (cheeks/countenance): “Father, thank You for my emotions. Let my emotions become empowered by Your mercy and grace.”
7. Neck like David’s tower: “Father, You know I want to obey You, help me obey.”
8. Breasts like fawns: Father, You edify and nurture Your children. Nurture me with the strength of Your Words and the Power of Your Holy Spirit.”
Today is a day to wait. When we wait upon the Lord, God will come. Ask Him this question and wait until He answers. Father, what are You praying for (affirming) in the life of __________? (Ask Him, and wait until He answers. If you do this, then maybe, just maybe He will speak a life-changing prayer.)
Pray the prayer right here. Pray it until you feel released in your heart. “Father, You made __________ for divine love. I ask that today, right now, You would reach out and filled them with Your LOVE. When they read the Word of God, let them grow in love with You. When they worship and pray, let them grow in love with You. Today, fill them with Your life changing love.”
Have you been blessed by this and want to be a blessing?