DAY 19 - MATURING LOVE
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 6
In this dream, I believe it was symbolic of the season that I am in (And it may speak to this season of your life also). The dream, which I found myself in, brought forth deep emotions. Then those emotions helped me to know what I was feeling and understand how to respond to God’s grace in this season of my life.
In the dream, I was walking across a university campus, and it was graduation time. I should have had the feeling of overwhelming jubilation, because I had just finished four years of hard work. I should have been filled with overwhelming anticipation as I stood for pictures, with cap and gown, celebrating overcoming sleepless nights and early morning exams. I should have been feeling the exhilaration of throwing my cap into the air as the President said, “Congratulations class, you have just graduated.” Instead, deep in my stomach was the anxious pain of regret.
Why? I knew that I had not attended one of my classes for the whole semester, and I was going to fail that class. Not only would I fail that class, but I would not be able to graduate. In the dream, I felt the overwhelming sense of panic, which starts as a seed in your mind (and if you think about it too much), then it is planted in your heart. Anxiety, panic, and regret started to grow in my heart, causing my mind to race in 1000 different scenarios, all ending in a fiery crash that I could not escape from. But then another seed entered the dream.
In the midst of the scurry of the end of the year semester, the stress of, “what is next?” A seed of hope came into my heart. It was only a seed, but it was hope. The seed can be summed up in one word:
I knew I had a choice. Either I could think about all that was wrong, or I could humble myself before God and cry out for mercy. With the full guilt of regret running down my neck as painful beads of sweat, I choose to turn to His Mercy. And I prayed a prayer, “God, I am sorry I did not make it to my writing class. You are merciful, can You please forgive me? Help! And then, in the dream the most remarkable thing happened.
A man walked up to me on the campus and introduced himself as my writing instructor. I told him I was so sorry for missing class. But then I asked him when the exam was, hoping that I could do some last-minute studying and come to class. He told me that the exam was already over. I weakly fought back the feeling of anxiety and tried not to let me face show the oncoming pain. Then, the kind teacher smiled (it was the most peaceful smile), and he said, “I will give you the exam and let you take it over the weekend. Just bring it back to me on Monday. If you pass, I will let you graduate.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude and started to dance, overjoyed at God’s mercy.
As I celebrated, this Psalm came forth (Psalm 116:1-8)
I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
So, where are you? Are you overwhelmed by a present circumstance? Are the trials of life causing suffocating pain, or pushing you closer to the cross? I want to encourage you. Joshua, who had the HUGE task to take over for Moses, was called by God to lead Israel into the promised land. The very place the people had not been able to enter, because of their sinful nature, which had caused them to wander for 40 years. The very promised land which Moses had not entered, because he had hit the rock one too many times. Joshua had every right to be afraid, but the Lord saved him with hope by pledging to help Joshua (Joshua 1.)
Ok, now to pick up our journey with the Shulamite. Now, as you go through Chapter six you can fall into a potential trap. It is a trap that many people have fallen into. They don’t take things seriously, and they start to read these devotionals as a story about someone else’s life. (BTW you may have to go over this devotional a few times.) Instead, we need to see this as a love story between a man and a woman, and at the same time, a story about the Bride of Christ maturing in love with the Bridegroom. If you learn to look at this in these two ways, then you will grow your relationship with your spouse, your love towards God, and your love towards other people. And now they ask her,
“Where has your Beloved gone, O fairest among women? Where has your Beloved turned aside, that we may seek Him with you?” (Song 6:1)
She has just finished standing as a witness for the king, and she has also ministered to Him, by declaring his glowing character and attributes. Now her friends, the daughters of Jerusalem, ask her, “where is her beloved?” But the amazing addition to this question is a life changing statement, “that we may seek him with you.” The Shulamite has been a witness to the king’s love and is now drawing others to seek the king.
What will you do when God calls, but you can’t find Him? What will you do when He calls you, but the watchmen beat you, take away your identity and ministry—all in a moment? What will you do? The Shulamite is maturing in love, her patient perseverance to find the king, even in this vulnerable state, causes others to turn to the king. Whenever you go through what she is going through, will you be lovesick and provoke people to turn to Jesus? Love covers a multitude of sins, and it draws many people unto Jesus.
“My beloved has gone to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” (Song of Solomon 6:2-3)
The Shulamite lets the others know that the king is gone serving others within the kingdom. He has other people to serve; the business is urgent. Even if she really doesn’t know the exact place of the king, she knows that he is serving in someone else’s life. Then she makes a very powerful statement, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” Amazingly, she is maturing in love. She no longer just thinks about what she can get out of the relationship. First, she says, “I am my Beloved’s.” She is confident that he is moved by her heart of love. Then second, she declares, “and my beloved is mine.” Her love is now second place. It is not less important, but she is not just thinking of herself.
In the same way, we grow in our relationship with Jesus. Instead of just thinking about how God makes us feel, we need to think about how we make Him feel. You could say, “I move Jesus’ heart with my love, and He fills my heart with love.” But Jesus takes center stage. Remember, when she first talked about their relationship was all about how Jesus’ relationship is to her. The progress could very well sound like this.
1. When I worship God, He makes me feel good. (Song 1:14)
2. When I worship and hear a sermon, my heart feels good, and God likes me too. (Song 2:16)
3. I move God’s heart with love, and His love moves my heart. (Song 6:3)
“O My love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners! Turn your eyes away from Me, for they have overcome Me.” (Song 6:4-5)
The king returns, and the Shulamite is affirmed by the king. He declares she is as beautiful as Tirzah (beautiful city) that is celebrating a military victory. A military victory would have been a celebratory time when the people would have been protected from the enemy for another year. He is showing how her love is part of the whole kingdom.
Then the king says the most powerful statement, “Turn your eyes away from Me, for they have overcome Me.” She has the ability to move the heart of the king in such a significant way that he is overcome. You have that same ability with God. The weak “yes” in your heart, is overwhelmingly beautiful to God. When you are tempted, struggle, and overcome you move God’s heart. He enjoys you so much. He is overcome by your inner beauty. Your little victory is something to celebrate, like an army marching into their city celebrating a victory.
“Your hair is like a flock of goats going down from Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep which have come up from the washing; every one bears twins, and none is barren among them. Like a piece of pomegranate are your temples behind your veil.” (Song 6:5c-7)
Why does the Shulamite cause the king to be overcome? He gives her three reasons. There are probably a lot more, but He focuses on three. And each time someone focuses on the reasons they loved someone, the compliment means more. Because the person is more purposeful and deeper in their love. This shows that the king really knows her, and his words can be life to her. It is up to her to take these true love compliments to heart. Today, allow God to speak over you and receive it. You have to stop, and take the words He speaks over you, and place them in your heart.
“There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my perfect one, is the only one…the favorite of the one who bore her.” (Song 6:8-9)
The Shulamite has lost her position from the beating she took from the watchmen. She lost her identity in the king’s court. But then the king steps in and affirms her position, and then releases a statement of love. And even calls her his favorite. The pain of the past, the loss of position and the stigma placed on her by others are gone in a moment.
Man may think they have the upper hand, but God has the last word. The Proverb says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps (Prov. 16:9). Solomon knew that God was ultimately in command of how things turned out. And then again, “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1). He also knew that God was also sovereign over the work of the kings of the earth. No matter what man does, God has the ultimate movement in your life. God gave David the “key of David.” (Isa. 22:22) This means God took a lowly shepherd and shifted his life and made him king. Ultimately, man may take away your ministry, but God is in charge.
“Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army with banners? (Song 6:10)
She is now co-heir to the king, and people are asking, “Who is this?” She has the public endorsement of the king. The pain of the past is gone. And the others in the kingdom are jealously looking around. When anyone is promoted there are those that are jealous. It always happens. In fact, God uses promotion to expose envy. It really is a clever thing to do. The question is what will you do when you are promoted? What will you do when others are promoted? What will you do when envy comes? The only road is called humility, but few actually take it.
“I went down to the garden of nuts to see the verdure of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed. Before I was even aware, my soul had made me as the chariots of my noble people.” (Song 6:11-12)
The Shulamite is answering the question, “who she is?” She is explaining that her life had been going one way, but supernaturally she was pick and transformed. She is testifying to what the king had done. He was the one that elevated her. In the same way, God shifts and changes the body of Christ. It is important for us to testify to what God has done. And it is equally as important to stay humble.
“Return, return, O Shulamite; Return, return, that we may look upon you!” What would you see in the Shulamite—As it were, the dance of the two camps? (Song 6:13-14)
The king promoted her, and people wanted to meet her. The question, and this is always the question, “what will you do when promoted?” Will you continue to grow as the person you were, the meek person who was “dark, yet lovely.” Will you continue to grow inwardly? What you do in the secret place counts. And people are watching. Finally, the Shulamite affirms that she will not waver between two camps. Her heart is set on serving the king’s camps. She is in love. She is a messenger. She is maturing in love.
The goal is LOVE and you are the prize. You are the prize on God’s heart. Today, resolve yourself to dwell in the secret place (the place of love). Resolve that nothing with take you out of that place. Nothing will keep you from being a locked garden, a fountain sealed that grows in mature love towards the king. Remember, only God can truly promote you.
“Father, take me past the outer courts and into the secret place. Make me a treasure before You; one that will not be moved by the pain of past regrets. Help me today. I have insurmountable issues that need to be overcome. Help me.”
Well, it is time to have the talk. The talk about being a Christian. Sit down and ask them if you can share your story. Tell them your personal story; how you came to faith in Jesus. Then invite them to church on the next Sunday. Their life is about to change.
“Father, I know that You love __________. Today, I ask for You to prepare the way. I want to humbly share how You sent Jesus to rescue me from my sins. Make a way for me to talk with them. And help me to bring them to church on Sunday. (Note: you can share your faith at any moment, but if they have not heard, now is the time to ask them if you can share.)
Have you been blessed by this and want to be a blessing?