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HOW TO ENJOY GOD: THE SONG OF SONGS) Lesson 11.

I think of Steve often during each day, but this time of year others kindly tell me their

memories of him, for it was when the leaves turned golden in October that Steve went to be with the Lord. Three dear friends who knew him well came to Wisconsin to be with me. Jill, a nurse who worked with Steve said, “Even when my office was at the other end of the clinic, I could hear his laugh echoing through the halls daily. There was a the joy that constantly bubbled up in him and overflowed to everyone.”

Steve enjoyed God, that I know.

STEVE IN THAILAND ORPHANAGE
Steve in the school in Thailand that our daughter Beth attended — shortly before we adopted her.

Though Steve has gone to be with the Lord, his legacy lives on through the many he touched. He inspired me and I wrote so much about him in The God of All Comfort. I recently was encouraged to hear that this book was being used with some of the grieving families who lost children at Sandy Hook, who have, in my mind, almost unimaginable pain. It is the powerful  truths of God that are giving them hope, truths that Steve embraced, making him the joyful man he was. As the bride is described in The Song of Songs, enjoying the beauty and love of her Lord, so did Steve. His life was a well-watered garden that bore fruit, fruit of love, peace, and JOY.

What was Steve’s secret?  It was a secret Hudson Taylor knew, and learned from his mentor, George Mueller.

I think it will surprise you.

Here is a picture of George Mueller, who founded so many caring orphanages in the 1800’s. The reason people look so stern in photographs before 1900 is because they had to hold their pose for ten minutes. Yet even in George Mueller’s photograph, I see the hint of a smile. That same irrepressible smile that was in my husband Steve.

GeorgeMueller

 

What was the secret?

Here it is, from Mueller himself:

The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. 

Isn’t that amazing? Nothing about service, just about getting “my soul happy in the Lord.” I do believe, that in today’s English that would translate to the concept of “joy.” From that habit came great fruit, including the caring of thousands of children, loving them well.

orphanagechildren
Clothed, fed, loved, and raised in the nurture of the Lord.

My daughter Anne said, “Every night I would hear Dad in his den (which was above her bedroom) singing with all his heart to the Lord. I liked it.”

When we abide, we become like a well-watered garden, bearing fruit that blesses everyone around us.

You may be thinking, So you are saying the secret is a quiet time? That’s it?

As Tim Keller would say: “Yes. And no.” There are quiet times that feed our idols, there are quiet times that do not connect our souls with the Lord, and there are quiet times in which we experience the presence and beauty of God. Those are the quiet times that carry us through the day. Today, sadly, Christianity has become so much about truth and so little about enjoying God. The Song of Songs can help us.

So this week, each day, I am going to guide you, with Mueller’s help, into getting your soul happy in the Lord. Then our souls will be like well-watered gardens.

IT’S GOING TO BE A GREAT WEEK!

the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength-kathy-clark
Kathy Clark www.fineartamerica.com

Sunday

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

Monday

Music can prepare a heart — listen to a song that helps you — or perhaps this one from last week:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s587cFIUmV0

Read this one page guideline from George Mueller: Link

2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.

3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.)

4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)

5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.

Tuesday

There must be some Christians who have infiltrated NBC morning news, for on their “faith Fridays” they have already interviewed Tim Keller and Tullian Tchividijian. Last week Tullian spoke some very “foreign” thoughts on grace, comparing it to a roller coaster ride — both scary and enthralling, for we have no control. They kept asking him what we do to get it! He kept repeating,that’s it, we can’t do anything. We can plead for it — but it is up to God. We have no control. It’s like a roller coaster ride, so  just enjoy it. You will have ups and downs, but the One who is in control knows what He is doing and loves you more than anyone on earth ever could.

A-rollercoaster-ride-001

This is a great nine minute interview with Tullian: Link

6. Comment on the above.

7. Meditate on verse 8. Mueller would slow down, contemplating phrases, using cross-references. Today we can google things to help us understand better. For example, when I googled the peak of Hermon I discovered what a dangerous place it is even today…

    A. Meditate – do research – what do you learn?

    B. Is there a passage that has similar thoughts?

George Mueller was a mentor to Hudson Taylor. Both men founded mighty missions that had the unusual characteristic of not asking for funds, but praying and trusting God to provide. Hudson Taylor wrote only one book, and it was on The Song of Songs, and is called “Intimacy with Jesus.” He faced enormous dangers in founding China’s Inland Mission. He writes on the above verse: “What fear is there in the lion’s den when the Lion of Judah is with us? ‘I will fear no evil, for you are with me!’”

C. Respond to verse 8 in prayer: praise, confession, petition.

Wednesday:

Sing or listen to a praise song to warm your heart. Here is one a silent blogger suggested:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNrI-4OA8hQ

 

Read aloud Song of Songs 4:9-12

8. Meditate on these two names he calls her (he calls us!) My sister, my bride. Share your thoughts.

9. Describe what her love (your love!) means to him in verses 9-10.

10.  There was a moment in one of Mike Reeve’s teachings when he was commenting on verse 10 and said “Just this morning I was reading ‘You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.’” (Psalm 4:3) I sensed vicariously his joy, his understanding, his soul being made happy in the Lord. When you compare these two passages, what do you see? 

11. Describe the fruit of her well-watered garden as describes in verses 11-15. Take your time.

Thursday/Friday

Our own Anne found this. I know little about the author, but I feel she has caught the heart of The Song of Songs, and this is well worth meditating on. Watch it and comment. Then you may want to watch it again, stopping to meditate, to write comments, to look at verses. It is so rich.

12. Comment on the above.

Saturday

13. Have you been able to enjoy the Lord this week? If so, share.

14. What is your take-a-way?

Leave a Comment

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218 comments

  1. oh my–I honestly don’t know if I can get the tears to stop long enough to type! This is possibly the most beautiful, my most favorite post yet. I stopped before the music–so just looking at the first part, and I am overwhelmed.
    Steve at the orphanage, Anne talking about his singing! And this new to me insight–to seek to “get my soul into a happy state”! There is some responsibility on my part–but it makes sense too–before I can enjoy God, see Him in my day, or serve Him, my disposition must be made right. I was thinking of that picture of Steve I love that you have posted–where he is standing by the tree, looking at the water. I’ve always imagined that as a time of great prayer, of resting in joy amidst such pain.
    Love that Kathy Clark artwork too!

  2. “There are quiet times that feed our idols, there are quiet times that do not connect our souls with the Lord, and there are quiet times in which we experience the presence and beauty of God. Those are the quiet times that carry us through the day. Today, sadly, Christianity has become so much about truth and so little about enjoying God. The Song of Songs can help us.”

    Yes….I very much agree.
    As in John 15…He is the Vine…we are the branches.  Without Him we can do nothing.
    Unless we are strengthened and nurtured by Him in the secret place, we cannot have even an ounce of effective ministry to others.

    Happy 45th Birthday to my brother… John.
     

    1. JR, Amen re: what you wrote about John 15.
      And Happy Birthday, John!

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?This post was a lifeline to me this morning.  I grabbed my phone at 3:00 and was going to check if it was here yet– then remembered the time I should check later 🙂

    What stood out to me on the phone (because of proportion of text to pictures) is a little different than what I think would stand out first now that I am on my computer.  Two things that stood out to me on my phone:

    1) Mueller: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.”

    2) “Precious” by Christine Wyrtzen (and I haven’t even listened to it yet)

    A couple of times during the past week, I was so overwhelmed that I crawled into bed in the middle of the day and took a nap.  I wasn’t particularly tired; it wasn’t a nap habit time of day (late morning yesterday); I didn’t necessarily have more on my plate than usual. I was paralyzed with being overwhelmed by what I need to do (and that I can’t do it by myself!). 

    In addition, during the past couple of days, I was working on something to help students prioritize/identify what is most important.  So the first part of Mueller’s quote grabbed me. And the rest left me yearning, thinking not only “I want to do that,” but “I can do that.”  It was as if all the rest of the stuff went away (at least until I got up!) because the top priority “thing” is doable.  It became clear that if my life is structured around the “first great and primary business,” everything else will fall into place or will fall away.  I’m also aware (only a couple hours later) how easy it is for me to get distracted rather than focusing on my North Star.

    2) During the years in which I experienced the most severe depression, I had a record album and several cassette tapes that I listened to over and over.  The record album was by Christine Wyrtzen, and I think this song was on it.  Even without listening, it’s been running through my mind over and over the past couple of hours. 

    I’ve been seeing some caution flags in my life lately, and this morning, God used the memory of this song to show me His faithfulness, His constancy and consistency in my life.  The Mueller quote brought a sense of excitement with a strong “YES!” and remembering Christine Wyrtzen’s song brought tears of relief. 

    Last night, after thinking about how far behind I got last week, I wondered if I should “drop out.”  (I was embarrassed to be so inconsistent).  But as quickly as I thought that, I thought “no, keep going.”  I’m seeing more and more that He loves me, and that in my weakness, He is drawing me to Him.  I think I still tend to turn things around, not only in my relationship with Him but with others — trying to get my act together before I ask for help.  He’s calling me to Himself, now; and my act is not together. 

    Dee, once again, God is using you to  minister to me — so much.  This experience is showing me that this Bible Study and God’s work in my life through it is about God’s grace and His love for me, not about how well I complete an “assignment.”  Some of these weeks, I haven’t done much more than meditate on one question all week.  I’d like to repeat this “course” later so that I pick up all I am missing 🙂 

    1. Your post resonated with me Renee 
      thinking not only “I want to do that,” but “I can do that.”  

      The acknowledgment of the loss of focus & your thoughts on repeating the study…yes yes, me too 🙂

      1. Dee, 2 votes so far for repeating this (How about right away?) 😉

  4. What stands out?

    The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD. 

    and this

    Today, sadly, Christianity has become so much about truth and so little about enjoying God. The Song of Songs can help us.

    Hmm. Much to ponder here. I come from a solid Baptist tradition where TRUTH is extremely important and there enjoying God was never mentioned. Too much emotion in worship or life was suspect. Restraint is admired. Yet I do sense that God longs for us to enjoy Him. What does this truly mean for my life? If I am in love with my Savior, it will show in my life in the same way that a person in love with another person or a pregnant mother “glows” due to their happiness.
     
    I also  liked the roller coaster picture and what Tullian said about grace.

    They kept asking him what we do to get it! He kept repeating,that’s it, we can’t do anything. We can plead for it — but it is up to God. We have no control. It’s like a roller coaster ride, so  just enjoy it. You will have ups and downs, but the One who is in control knows what He is doing and loves you more than anyone on earth ever could.
     

    1. Diane, I also believe that truth is extremely important.  I suspect that it’s not too much truth that is the problem, but that those who overdo on some aspects of truth (and sometimes even misrepresent truth) miss truth in other areas such as God’s grace, His love for us, and enjoying Him.  Truth points us to Him, in enjoyment, confession, worship…  As Mueller wrote, truth nourishes us.
      From Mueller’s article:

      For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

      1. Just to clarify, Dee. I didn’t mean to imply that you were saying that truth isn’t important. I wasn’t thinking that at all. I know you think truth is very important.

    2. Recently I heard someone (someone I admire who has a Baptist background) say that too much emotion was an indicator of spiritual immaturity.I began to think about some really passionate Christ followers who are really emotional. It is sad when we let our stylistic and personality differences lead us to feel superior to one another. I want to enjoy Christ more, I think others are drawn to Him when we experience fellowship with Him and the hope spills over onto them.

  5. oh, this is a REALLY good article!
    2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.Mueller realized “the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD.” Whereas he formerly had prayed first, he now saw the importance of first “feeding the inner man”. “the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart may be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.”He meditated on the Word of God “for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul”. After meditating on a verse, he was led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication. Then he would proceed to the next words or verses, turning each word or verse into prayer–“but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation”. “As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man: not prayer, but the Word of God: and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

    1. Elizabeth-I am running out of time-and your post has SO sparked me to read the article now! 🙂

  6. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    What a beautiful opening to this weeks lesson…HOW TO ENJOY GOD…and then the following stories of two men who knew how to do just that – Dee’s own Steve, and George Mueller. It’s lovely to see that their enjoyment of God during their lifetimes on this earth is still overflowing to others and being remembered.
     
    The “secret” of George Mueller gives me much to think about…“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have my soul happy in the Lord…”
    It sounds so simple, but for me, it is not, I think. Even on a “good” day, I may get up early and think that my first great and primary business is to spend time reading the Bible, having some prayer time, making sure I pray for my family, etc… Then so many of my quiet morning times are as Keller describes…either feeding my idols, or not really connecting my soul to God.
     
    Honestly, I am still sort of struggling with this aspect of our/my relationship with the Lord – that of a bride to her bridegroom. So many passages in Scripture refer to God as Father, and we His children…that is so very different from being a bride in a marriage. It’s hard to know which one I am supposed to be…one or the other or both at the same time? Sometimes I need to be a child. It is so hard for me to relate to this bride enjoying the beauty and love of her Bridegroom, and He, her…when I don’t seem to have an earthly example of it, even though I’m married.

  7. I must apologize, I have gotten two weeks behind, all this past week my kids were on Fall break, and a much needed one at that. Im going to catch up the two weeks I missed. Oh how I missed you all. On a good note I did attend Matt Redman and Martin Smith concert last night, was a long drive there and back, but so worth it. 
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    So much stood out from above, your treasured, heart felt memories of your husband Dee. Im so sorry, I can not even imagine, but what a legacy he left behind, the lives he touched, and the love he had for Jesus and his family. I loved reading your memories of your husband the most. Also George Mueller, beautiful, his legacy of love for Jesus and orphans as well. My great grandmother’s maiden name is Mueller. Love the scripture, The joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh. 8:10. I always quote this and it is a scripture that is becoming more real to me as Jesus is teaching me this and putting it more and more in my heart. True joy is found in Jesus, nothing else, no person, idol or relationship other than Jesus gives us pure joy.

    1. Staci, I have missed you too! Glad to hear your absence was due to Fall break and not illness or something else…I hope you enjoyed your time with your kids!

      1. Thanks Susan, glad to be back. IM currently in Germany…so trying to get through todays lesson, been on the road most of the day and headed back to the Netherlands tomorrow. I used your notes from the Kellers sermon on Love or Lust. My husband and kids listened to the message on covenant marriage and consumer and then I used your notes to add to it. Pretty cool!

  8.  

    When we abide, we become like a well-watered garden, bearing fruit that blesses everyone around us. The above quote stood out to me and made me want to make it my mantra. However, as I glanced through the rest of the session to see what was in store for us, I noted the words of Tullian, saying that we could not do anything to obtain this, but plead for it. It was up to God. I guess I will be pleading and waiting!

     

     
     

    1. Deanna, How did the worship time go? excited to know!

      1. Rebecca,  Worship went very well!   We had several hurdles to get over:  the pastor was on vacation, one of our college-age favorite sons was giving the sermon, and he did such a good job!   We had an elder who was ill and couldn’t come, and another elder slid into that place.  I, as worship leader, had  more to do than the worship leader would normally have to do, and the Lord saw me through it.   Thanks for the prayers — they helped!  

  9. I love Aleona Isakov’s art (ordered some the first time the images posted here!).  And I love her heart, too — revealed through her descriptions here of the symbolism in the clothing she draws.  

    1. Love the link, Renee.

    2. Renee, thanks for finding that…it helps to understand the meaning of the art, colors and everything.

  10. Look what I found! So exciting (right at the top of a search, didn’t look too hard).  I read someplace (?) that Sergey and Aleona Isakov moved to the U.S. in 2010.  Here they are (youtube).   She is from a military family in Russia!  A little more info about them here.

    1. I just want to thank you so much for posting the youtube link of Aleona’s testimony and then several visuals of models wearing her Scripture inspired clothing. I just got to watch it now. The testimony is amazing and the clothing is STUNNING! They gave me chills and brought tears!

  11. 3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.)

     I liked how Mueller referred to the Word as nourishment for the inner man, the soul. If I have not fed myself, I am easily distracted by hunger. If the Word is my food, I cannot expect to last long on snacks of other “good” things, without first nourishing my soul with what it was designed for.
     
    This is really applicable for me. I love to pray and pray for others, and I pray often throughout the day. But I can see how often prayer alone can become human-focused, needs-based, crisis-centered. I can come away from prayer with a sense I’ve left it with Him—but my heart is not always “comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed”, as Mueller said of meditating on Scripture.

     I think beginning with Scripture reminds me who I am and Who God is. It puts my heart, my thoughts and affections, in the right perspective to then come to Him in prayer as He leads. Prayer becomes more and more communion with Him rather than rather than self-directed requests.

  12. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day, to have MY SOUL HAPPY IN THE LORD. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.”
    I want to get my soul into a happy state and enjoy God.
     

    1. “I want to get my soul into a happy state and enjoy God.”…me too, Dawn.

    2. Me too Dawn & Nanci!

  13. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    My heart aches for your loss, Dee…you were blessed to be married to a wonderful, godly man, who was not only love and support, but companion, confidant, and friend.  An incredible reunion awaits you and Steve in the Lord’s presence.

    This week’s study appears to be a “God send”…  I am so looking forward to the reiteration of the lesson of “abiding”…”being” as the catalyst to “doing”…”my soul happy in the Lord.”
     
    “When we abide, we become like a well-watered garden, bearing fruit that blesses everyone around us” stood out to me.  It reminds me that we cannot give what we do not have…if we are not spiritually nourished, we cannot provide spiritually healthy “fruit.”

    I agree that “truth is very important. But too often it seems Christians are more concerned about believing right things than experiencing God.”  I could elaborate on my agreement with Dee’s statement, but find that I am drawn back to less than positive past experiences that act as poison (to be perfectly honest, I believe it is a bait of the devil to lure me into negativity), therefore I will leave it at simply “I agree.”

  14. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Steve’s life inspires me so..and I am amazed at how the fruit of His happiness in Christ continues to flow onto us..Anne’s memory of him singing in his den is one I remember from the book-and impacted me greatly. I see Dee the same way as Steve-both so passionately intimate with God. Really the way Dee wrote The God of All Comfort was such an encouragement to me to go deeper with God in intimacy-through Dee and Steves’s example. One of the rare books that encouraged me rather than made me feel as if I have missed the mark-for I had-but God came gently and lovingly to me through Dee and Steve. They both made an impact in my life and I am deeply, deeply grateful to God for them, and SO GLAD this life is really just a flicker-and then the future where we will dwell together with Him-face to face!  
     
    Also, what stood out to me was Mueller’s quote and this from Dee: Isn’t that amazing? Nothing about service, just about getting “my soul happy in the Lord.” I do believe, that in today’s English that would translate to the concept of “joy.” From that habit came great fruit, including the caring of thousands of children, loving them well.
     
    This is very meaningful to me because this is what God has shown me these past four or five years. I so faulted on the other side of worshiping truth-while God used that in a great way in my life-to ground me in the essentials so that I could discern truth from error- I missed going deeper in enjoying Him for so many years before God led me to Dee’s blog and here is where He opened my eyes that this is His desire.
    I don’t have anything really to offer as to ‘why’..just that this is true! I am experiencing life with Him on the other side of covenant- I am experiencing communion and yet really I haven’t gone deep enough-the well of intimacy is truly endless and that excites me. 
     
     It is easy to feel as if I have wasted so much time since coming to know Him back in 1988-but He has redeemed that and I believe more and more that love can’t be awakened before its time-and God has brought that time in His time to bring me closer in..and really take me with Him to the mountain of myrrh and incense. 
     
    Another thing I picked up on was that Muehller had to daily do this-for as Dee says our hearts are like churning whirlpools..it didn’t just ‘happen’..so there is a turning inside to Him daily. Spending time in His word and letting Him quicken my soul-and just enjoying Him all throughout the day too..like Keller said in that quote-the quiet times that carry us through the day are when we experience the beauty and presence of God-so true.

    1. Rebecca, So many times Dee and others have spoken of her book, God of All Comfort. I have already sensed that it might be a book that would be helpful for me to read since what I am going through right now is a kind of grief. Yet there are so many good books out there that it is sometimes difficult to know which one to hone in on. “So many books so time.” Now with your testimony about how much it has impacted you, I KNOW I absolutely have to read it.
       
      Also, this paragraph of yours intrigues me and I wish you would elaborate more on what you mean here. But then again, I sense that might be hard to explain. Very winsome, though.

      This is very meaningful to me because this is what God has shown me these past four or five years. I so faulted on the other side of worshiping truth-while God used that in a great way in my life-to ground me in the essentials so that I could discern truth from error- I missed going deeper in enjoying Him for so many years before God led me to Dee’s blog and here is where He opened my eyes that this is His desire.I don’t have anything really to offer as to ‘why’..just that this is true! I am experiencing life with Him on the other side of covenant- I am experiencing communion and yet really I haven’t gone deep enough-the well of intimacy is truly endless and that excites me. 

       

      1. Diane–I only have a minute, but have to chime in on recommending God of All Comfort. It is honestly one of my top 3 books that impacting my relationship with the Lord. I can’t even think of the “other 2” right now–so it may very well be the most! It is also the one book “I couldn’t put down”, and I’m normally an impatient reader–so that says a lot! The Lord used God of All Comfort to transfer my knowing God as Lover of my soul in my mind,to believing it in my heart. I’ve said this before–but I honestly think it should be a movie 😉

      2. Diane,  For sure, read it!  Just received more copies that I ordered for gifts.  When I ordered these, I noticed that I first ordered my copy at the beginning of January 2010.  I was exhausted and grieving, and the study of The God of All Comfort prepared me well for deeper exhaustion and grieving.  In addition, I’m recommending it in a class I am teaching in the spring.

      3. Mom, if you get it I will definitely like to borrow it after you are done. Sounds like it would be worth the read.

      4. Good morning Diane! 🙂
         
        I am glad you asked-tough question-hard to explain, I apologize if I am too wordy! 🙂 I will try. First off I have to say this, that  He is the way the TRUTH and the life. 🙂

        When I came to Know Him, I was in love-He opened my eyes in understanding Scripture for the first time, and I couldn’t get enough of time spent with Him in His Word..When I met with Him daily-(I was single and I could really spend quite time digging and meditating)..He quickened me in His word-although I didn’t know that was what He was doing-Truths would stick out that I had to focus on-It was VERY hard for me to make it through a chapter without staying on a few verses so I always had a hard time “reading through the Bible in a Year.” ..My time with Him most often led to confession, adoration and praise and in praying for others..my favorite places to spend time with Him in the Word were outside on the back porch..I had my Bible and my ‘Strongs Exhaustive Concordance”-this was before home computers. 🙂 Yet after the first 5 years of my honeymoon time with Him I began spending more and more time laser-beaming more about ‘truth’-and ‘being right’ than I did about letting His truth sear my heart first-feeding my inner man and enjoying Him while He illuminated Himself in scripture. Then that grew into me obeying Him because I feared God would be displeased with me if I didn’t, and of course I had idols out the ying yang yet wasn’t aware..so there was approval and comfort idolatry going on at the same time-even with verse memory and in singing, and whenever I would lead a group of women in study-and my prayer life-mostly, “God please do this and that to make my life or their life more comfortable”..yuk! 

      5. Oh and Diane, YES, The God of All Comfort is an amazing book-it isn’t only for those going through a loss-although it has helped them tremendously. It is also for those of us who feel as if we have a ‘loss’ of deeper intimacy with Him…rather than what Mueller experienced-a deeper intimacy which is God’s desire for us. This intimacy with Him is lived out in Dee and Steve in the book-and so encouraged me just to see ‘how’ in their pain, He came and is their comfort.

        1. Thanks for the replies, Rebecca. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. 

  15. What stood out to you? The quote about not glorifying God but making my heart happy as the first business of the day (my phone isnt copying). This gave me pause because I have thought our purpose, and therefore the first thing we should do, is to glorify God. We are a living sacrifice, our lives an act of worship. I have studied this extensively as a worship leader. But as I ponder I can start to see the truth in it. I will be anxious to read the rest of the post to better understand and apply the concept. 
     
    By the way: tonight will be the third meeting of my own Idol Lies study with a small group of women. =)

  16. 4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)

     He started in verse 1 with “you are altogether beautiful”, and gave detail of her beauty. Now He says it again. And if she is doubting, or thinking about her weaker points—He makes sure to cover that, He says “there is no flaw in you”.

     What is striking me is that He does not say “I think you are…” or “to me you are…”, or “I don’t see anything wrong with you”. He says it as fact, truth. The promise is that there is no flaw in me, because I have been washed with Jesus’ blood. I am beautiful, not only in His sight, but He is stating it as Truth, because I now have Christ’s righteousness, I cannot “not” be beautiful. And the promise that I am His, He calls me His love, He has claimed me, He owns me

    1. Wow, Elizabeth. 

      What is striking me is that He does not say “I think you are…” or “to me you are…”, or “I don’t see anything wrong with you”. He says it as fact, truth. The promise is that there is no flaw in me, because I have been washed with Jesus’ blood. I am beautiful, not only in His sight, but He is stating it as Truth, because I now have Christ’s righteousness, I cannot “not” be beautiful. And the promise that I am His, He calls me His love, He has claimed me, He owns me.

       

  17. I don’t mean to rabbit-trail, but this article on Mueller from Desiring God is so beautiful, I wanted to share (you can listen or read!). There were so many parts I started to quote–his last words to his wife before she died–his “delight” in her that so reminded me of Steve and Dee… his prayer, and then it talks about the man he met who taught him to meditate on the Scripture in the way the article Dee posted mentioned. OK, here’s the link.

    1. Very helpful. Read the article, Elizabeth. Good information.

    2. Thanks, Elizabeth.  SO good! 

    3. Elizabeth, thanks for finding that…it is so interesting….I’m still listening now.

  18. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    The joy of Steve and George Muller, and that the God of All Comfort was being used by some of the Sandy Hook parents.
    Bless you again Dee for allowing your grief to point us towards eternal hopes. Writing of your loss is not without cost to you, it is a precious gift. I have a friend at work who says that I have the light of God in me, when I am neglecting my Lord, not dwelling on Him enough, I struggle so much more, and she always notices. I need to endeavor to keep ‘happy in the Lord’.
    The Sandy Hook parents, I wondered for a moment how it might be to have others who were walking just the same path of grief, I hope they are finding support in each other, I am praying that for them.
    Seven people from our church went the CCEF conference, the theme was ‘Not Alone’. Our pastor asked us at dinner where we feel most alone, when it came to me, I said in my grief and proceeded to ‘lose it’. It was so seriously uncomfortable to be coming apart in the middle of a busy restaurant with 6 people totally focused on me. The theme next year will be Loss. I have work do do if I am to be ready for those sessions. I signed up to take the first of the online CCEF classes.
    The conference was amazing BTW. Elyze Fitzpatrick pre conference session was one of those take your breath away, inspired, personal times, when you feel God speaking directly. I showed my friend the take away I posted here a couple of weeks ago, because it so fit with the message she brought.
     I read last weeks study and comments, Dee I want you to know that thought I haven’t been as present as usual, I have been so blessed by this study. In so many ways it had prepared my heart for the conference, I feel like it has helped me immensely to begin to relax in Christ’s love, To believe He wants to hear my voice, that I am really covered in righteousness and there is no condemnation for me. As you know this has been a longstanding struggle for me. I hope this encourages you!

    1. Chris, thanks for the notes on your CCEF Conference. Glad you were helped by it. Elyse Fitzpatrick seems very insightful. I have listened to a couple of YouTube videos of her that were helpful to me.
      Also, I am glad to hear that this SoS study is blessing you in spite of the fact that you have not been able to participate as much as usual. I also have not been participating fully but reading, thinking, meditating and I have learned a lot. I feel God is leading me into something deeper with Him that I do not fully understand right now. He has given me a deeper sense of calm and hope and even laughter– even while pain swirls about me. Hard to explain.

    2. Chris, is sound like you had an amazing experience at this conference. I am struck by just as you answered that you feel most alone in your grief, you “lost it”…and yet, in doing so with your pastor and the others, you were not alone in your grief. Perhaps that is also a new part of healing for you, even though you were uncomfortable. This is so hopeful, Chris, what you wrote about how you have been blessed by this study, “I feel like it has helped me immensely to begin to relax in Christ’s love. To believe He wants to hear my voice, that I am really covered in righteousness and there is no condemnation for me. As you know this has been a longstanding struggle for me”.

    3. Chris–there is a “Chris-shaped-hole” when you are gone. Always thankful for your rich posts.

      1. Thank you sisters, I have missed being a part of this fellowship.
        Susan that thought, that I am less alone for having them see me and glimpse the pain, had occurred to me, but it also created tension, my pastor felt he had erred in ‘going there’ with me, it was better after I told him not to feel bad, he couldn’t have foreseen my reaction to the good question. We are such complicated creatures.
        Diane they gave us her book Found in Him, if you would like to read it let me know and I will mail it to you when I finish it.
        My schedule at work is coming to a close, I only have a few more events this year. I hope to be much more present here 🙂

  19. 2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
     
    He began each day with reading God’s Word and meditating on it. It was while meditating that his heart was brought into communion with the Lord. As he searched every verse, his one main goal remained to get food for his own soul. As he did this, prayer began to flow…confession, thanksgiving, intercession, supplication. Yet Mueller stresses that food for his own soul is the object of his meditation.
     
    3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer.
     
    Mueller, before he began to read and meditate on God’s Word, would begin each day with prayer. But he found his mind would wander and it was hard to really pray and commune with God. It strikes me that by rushing to prayer first, there is no proper preparation of the heart, no “warm-up”, so to speak. It also seems more like a monologue, rather than a dialogue, with God. I couldn’t help but think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who also thought that the Scripture (especially the Psalms) helps us, prepares us, to serve as a springboard to prayer. It seems to me that beginning with Scripture is giving God the proper courtesy to speak first, to take the lead, to instruct and guide me.  He already knows what is in my heart, what is on my mind, and He is then able to draw-out those things and even to show me my true self, my sin, which leads me then to make things right with Him.
    It amazes me how the Lord often “changes the subject” from what I thought I would pray about or what I thought I needed from Him. When I begin with His Word, He can talk to me, reveal His thoughts and ways to me. It is a way to approach God that begins with listening.
     
     

    1. Good thoughts, Susan. I like the idea that the Lord often “changes the subject” as we read Scripture and focus on Him.

    2. I like the thought of giving God the ‘proper courtesy’ to speak first.

      1. I mentions the ‘proper courtesy’ idea at bible study tonight, it resonated with the ladies 🙂

    3. Susan, I am with Diane..I liked your thought of “God often changes the subject” as we read scriptures and focus on Him. 

  20. 4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed – a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book – in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)
     
    I asked the Lord, as it were, to “go first” in our conversation, and then to help me respond. The verse, “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” As I read, I felt myself strangely warmed, a little tearful. This is His Word to me, how He feels about me. Observations:
     
    1) I am ALL beautiful in His eyes. (If there is a flaw then I am not ALL beautiful) He promises me –
     
    2) There is NO FLAW in me, in His eyes.
     
    3) He says, “All beautiful you ARE” – present tense. This is my present reality of how He sees me, my right standing with Him.
     
    4) He calls me “MY darling”. It does not say, “All beautiful you are, darling” but “All beautiful you are, MY darling”. In other words, “You are MINE…you are MY darling”. You belong to Me, you are the object of MY special affection.
     
    5) Again, “There IS no flaw in you”. Present tense…IS no flaw. But what about the sins of yesterday, the sin I will commit today? He has separated me from my sin; He sees me now as flawless.
     
    Though not a command, it is a statement of truth, and so, implicitly, I am asked to accept it and to believe it.
     
    Where else is this truth found in this book? – In Song of Songs 1:15, “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!”
     
    Where else in Scripture? – I thought of Psalm 45, which we looked at. Psalm 45:11, “The king is enthralled by your beauty”, and in verse 13, “All glorious is the princess within her chamber.”
     
    Romans 3:22 (I interchanged the words “beauty” or “having no flaw” with “righteousness”) – “This righteousness (this beauty, ALL beautiful – having no flaw) from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
     
    Ephesians 5:26-27 – (…just as Christ gave Himself up for her) “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
     
    Colossians 1:22 – “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
     
    1 Peter 1:19 (speaking of Jesus) – “…Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”. He makes us all beautiful and flawless because He is.
     
    5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
     
    (It amazed me how the response back to Him flowed after meditating on this verse and looking at other verses. I can’t put it all down as I didn’t write as I talked to Him, but afterwards, this is what I wrote)
    Lord, I thank you. Without You, this could never be true. You have done this, by sending Your Son, Jesus, to die for me, to remove my sin, filth, guilt and shame, and making me all beautiful, no flaw in me. I confess my unbelief of reading this truth but walking away and not believing it by self-hatred, feeling inadequate, unworthy. Lord, I believe – help my unbelief! I confess my anger and resentment when I seek after the approval of others and don’t get it. That is not the kind of beauty this verse is talking about. That is my own self-efforts, and pride, of wanting to look good and be well thought of. This beauty You speak of is true, and all wrought by You…undeserved, unearned. I could never get it by being good or doing good. It is bestowed upon me by a loving heavenly Father and my Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. This true beauty is to point back to You, all glory belongs to You. I pray for this to become a reality in the hearts of myself and all the women doing this study here, and those silently following along.

    1. Your sharing here is SO BEAUTIFUL, Susan. Thanks for letting us peek in on your precious study and prayer time with the Lord.

      1. I like your covered bridge avatar, Diane…was it one you encountered when you drove to visit your son and his family for Thanksgiving? It looks so picturesque!

        1. Susan, no, it is in Hartand, New Brunswick. It’s the longest covered bridge in the world. 🙂 It is very near to where Mom’s sister lives. Mom took that picture in June, I’m pretty sure. I remember going to visit them when my brothers and I were kids and we (or at least I did) always wanted to take the route that would go through the covered bridge! 🙂

        2. Krista is right about the bridge. It is pretty neat that it is still used, only one lane at a time, though. The main road bypasses it now of course.

    2. Susan,
      This is WONDERFUL — Thanks SO MUCH for posting the verses from the NT — and for bolding what I needed to read first 🙂

  21. I have to say that working through (I hate to call it “work:))) today’s lesson, with the help of Dee and George Mueller, was really different, in an exciting way. I took the time to copy the lesson for today and then come away from the computer and spend however much time it took, praying briefly, as Mueller said in the article, for God to bless His Word, before I began. It surprised me how just ONE VERSE warmed my heart and spoke to me, and I do feel I enjoyed my time with God this morning.

    1. Your post is a testiment to this process, Susan…thank you for sharing and providing encouragement.  I didn’t have adequate time to do the verse this morning; I didn’t want to feel rushed, but I will most definitely give it a try tomorrow morning.   
       
       

    2. This made me smile for you Susan.

  22. 2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
    By reading and then really mediating on scripture and allowing that meditation to lead him to confession, intersession or supplication. Spirit led prayers, guided by the soul nourishment provided by Gods word.
    3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.) I loved what he said about simply reading scripture ‘like water running through a pipe’ as opposed to really chewing on it and applying it to our hearts. I felt relief as I read and thought about this method of study, as if the pressure was off me, it is a more relational style of devotion, allowing God to speak to me through His word and Spirit, I don’t have to frame the conversation or be anything but willing and present.

  23. 2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
    Mueller’s first priority of the day was to spend time with the Lord meditating/contemplating scripture.  He found that by pondering scripture and its relationship to him, his life, and relationship with God, it lead him to focused prayer.  Mueller’s main focus was his personal relationship with God and his spiritual nourishment from God.

    3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer.
    Likely beginning with scripture would be advantageous more times than not, but there are those times when I just need to share with the Lord what is on my heart and/or mind.  That being said (and excluding those times), I think that beginning with scripture and meditating/pondering/contemplating it, puts me on “God’s page” rather than my own.  It allows me to focus on what God has to say to me.

  24. Read this one page guideline from George Mueller: Link
    2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
    This was a beautiful read. To be happy in the Lord, the joy of the Lord is our strength. Im sorry if I dont answer the question,but I can testify this to be true what Mueller has written. There have been so many times I have spent time with God, singing to him, listening to praise music, reading his word, praying….and come out feeling rejoiced. I know because my husband would notice and tell me I looked happy, I had a glow or as he always says “your eyes are smiling”….hallelujah! I so needed to be reminded of the joy of the Lord is my strength. My husband was also shocked when I would say, I know…I was spending time with Jesus and it was awesome!!!  I became lazy in my time with the kids being out of school and I kept telling God I was so sorry, to forgive me, for I know He misses us when we dont spend time with Him. Im going to print this article out by Mueller and keep it in my journal as a reminder…spending time with God really is our joy and strength.
     
    3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.)  Loved this, Im quick to pray scripture or quote it, but never thought about starting my prayer with scripture, so powerful, God’s word is living and powerful.

    4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)

    ~All of me is beautiful, inside and out.

    ~God sees no flaws in me, even though I see many in myself.

    ~He calls me His darling ‘My Darling’, I am His completely, just as I am. I dont need to do a song and dance for God to love me, that is unconditional love.

    ~Darling is a term used to be favored or favorite, cherished and loved. I am cherished and loved by God.

    ~I like how the first statement made is I am ALL beautiful, you could rewrite that scripture so many different ways using the same words, but a different order. I like how God addresses it with pointing out I am beautiful, not pointing out I have no flaws first, and second He calls me His darling …God notices our beauty first then calls us HIS cherished, favored~darling…

    5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.

    God you call me all beautiful and your darling, I praise you and thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in You.  You see no flaw in me, for how can there be flaws when I am in You and You are in me. You abide in me and I abide in You. You are my lover of my soul, the keeper of my heart, my best friend. Thank you Jesus! (wow, that just spoke to my spirit, once we are God’s, he does not see the old us, our sins, our hangups, God only sees true beauty that resonates what Jesus did on the Christ and now lives in us)

     

  25. Sunday
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Everything!  I read the article abt. Mueller and I was amazed.  God has led me to reading Matthew chapter six a few months back.  I read it each morning.  Sometimes at night.  God has also given me Romans chapter eight and I kings chapter nineteen ( I ran so much like Elijah-I was so zealous for the Lord but so filled with fear and self hatred)  today God gave me Is: 61.  I journal, I write, I savour and I am amazed. 
    Amazing love how can it be that u my Lord would die for me. 
    My husband has been dealing with a fractured shoulder and a tooth that needed to be pulled.  Pain and canker sores -that has been my husband for the last couple of weeks.  I have stayed with him and he is a bit of a bear when he is in pain like we all are.  Finally I was able to convince him to go to the doctor and the dentist.  He is feeling a little bit better. 
    Also an update with my sister “B”.  She is back home but still refusing to acknowledge her mental illness.  Her doctor states that she will probably cycle a time or two before she acknowledges it. My concern is her medical condition.  Thank u for all your prayers.  Please hold up my brother Dirk.  He is getting consumed with protecting her and helping her.  His wife Colleen is saying he must choose.  Guilt pushes my brother as he was not abused as much as his sisters. 
    This is just an observation not judgement but God has shown me how blessed I am.  How He blesses people who fear Him.  My siblings come in and out of my life all the time-sometimes I do not hear or see them for years.  I can see first hand how God has kept me even with my trials.  When I try to share or pray or even send devotions I am rebuffed.  sometimes firmly other times u can pray but don’t use the name Jesus. 
    But Jesus is my life, my reason for being here, my reason for being blessed.  Jesus is the only difference between me and them.  I don’t want this to sound like I am going “nah, nah, I am better than them b/c I know I am not.  It is only the mercy and grace of God that I am where I am.  God saved me and delivered me and sanctified me but they do not see it or if they do they refuse to acknowledge it.  It is God showing me what could of been.  It is sobering to me when people reject Christ.  It makes me reflective and quiet. 
    Throughout this whole study and since I joined this bible study God is showing me that I do not need to punish myself anymore or others for that matter.  That suffering has nothing to do with love.  That love is forgiving others but also yourself.  It is about accepting love.  Receiving and acknowledging love.
    I printed off all the writings on George Mueller.  I so agree with what he wrote:
    We should not be satisfied till we are brought to this, that we know the Lord Jesus Christ experientially to be our friend and habitually to be our friend.  (Like him I have been pondering this for quite a while now.) 
    George also wrote “Habitually, never leaving never forsaking us, at all times and under all circumstances ready to prove Himself to be our friend.”
    God’s love quiets me.  Yesterday when Chuck did not want to go to church we went to our favourite spot.  Lac Le Juene.  We walked and our little hounds ran and swam in the lake.  When Chuck went to check on something.  I was able to sit on a stump and just praise God.  Sing in the spirit and worship Him.  God is so good and is so good to me.  I am filled with love for Him and more importantly I accept His love and rest in His love.  I go to Him with everything.  He is teaching me His word.  George Mueller said to meditate and God has been teaching me this for the last few months.  I read scripture and I journal what God is teaching me through scripture. 
    Like I tell my siblings Jesus is the difference.  There is no name under heaven or earth that is more loved or misunderstood.  I love Jesus and He loves me and that has made all the difference in my life.
    Thank u again Dee and dear sisters in the Lord for all of your prayers. 
    Blessings,
    I am still able to cut my roses for bouquets and I am going to take a picture and send u one.  A bouquet of roses.  All my roses have a scent b/c I think it is silly for roses not to have a scent.  They are so beautiful and all so different and I marvel at their beauty.  Kind of like how I marvel at the beauty of my Lord, or the beauty of Christians or the Church itself.  I have come a long way and all through this bible study I have felt the Lord shadowing me.  Walking beside me at a distance but at a distance.  I now am reaching my hand out to His.  Stepping out of the emotion I have been drowning in and resting in His love.  I have actually been laughing out loud, sharing jokes, remembering things with a smile.  I think my personality will always run to tears but God made me that way. 
    But now and always they will be tears of joy.  Kind of like when the woman in the gospel bathed Jesus’s feet in tears and wiped His feet with her hair.  She unbound her hair for Him.  Only a husband should have seen her unbound hair.  Yet she freely loved Jesus with her tears and her unbound hair.
      With me it is loving Jesus with tears, words and acceptance of His love.  I marvel in that and the fact that Jesus is teaching me His word.
    Mellany
    When writing this God has given me a word -tears-  I am going to study tears in the bible.  Like God will wipe away all our tears.  Just think of that.  The Lord of the universe wiping away our tears or those who come weeping will go away rejoicing bringing in the sheaves. 
    It is simply marvelous what the love of God is teaching me.  Holy men of the past were dying to be able to hear and understand what the Lord God Almighty through His precious Holy Spirit is teaching me and all of us who call upon His name.  We live in an amazing time of Grace. 

    1. I am so glad you are experiencing such joy and peace Mellany, you’re so changed from when you joined us! I pray you will be a beacon of hope to your siblings.

  26. 4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed)?
    Where I am so far:  I wrote down the process as I was going through SoS 4:7  (also was struck by vs 8 as a follow-up to it, but haven’t looked closely at that yet)
    When I looked up the verse yesterday, my first thought was “this isn’t even fair! I can’t get distracted by goat’s hair, or fawns or pomegranates.”  The verse is very direct and focused. Typically, this would be a verse I’d skim over.  But Mueller looked closely! I’m reading words that don’t allow me to get intellectually distracted (I did try different versions – same message & no room in the verse for distraction!  I did think that Mueller’s hairdo in pic at link kinda looked like a cross between a very modern hairdo and goat’s hair!):
     
     
     
    “You” … At first, I wondered if this refers to me as an individual or the church as a whole?  I decided that it doesn’t matter a lot because I am part of the church.  If I don’t accept this, I hurt the church.   So, He is speaking to me, at least as part of the church.  My response isn’t really impacted by which it is.
     
     
     
    “altogether” and “flawless”  … no room for excuses or for me to say “ok, but also I have this flaw …”   To me, this was a loving “shut up and let this sink in.”
     
     
     
    “beautiful”  and “my love” …   Oh, how my first and strongest tendency is to put up my walls. 
     
    The steps of my response:
     
     1)  Brief  focus on my walls, including the history, funny parts, good parts, and sinful parts.  I know my walls well, and this doesn’t take as long as it seems it might.
     
    2)  Prayer of confession – too deep for me to put into words
     
    3)  Pleading with Him to continue to pursue me through my lack of trust, fears, faithlessness
     
    4)  Looking at the verse again (and not focusing on my lack of trust).  In order to begin to grasp “beautiful” and “my love,” I want (need?) to look at Who is saying the words.
     
    5)  Worship:  need some music.  I want to know Him.When I meditated more closely on the verse, the confession, pleas, worship were an automatic response.  In retrospect, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t impose a structure of a certain style of response or prayer.  I simply responded, following the path of seeing Him and starting to grasp how He views me. 
     
     

    1. Renee, I like you post, but especially your #5…as you meditated on the verse, “the confession, pleas, worship were an automatic response.” It wasn’t “structured”, but “I simply responded, following the path of seeing Him…” That’s what was so exciting to me about trying this “method” (don’t like that technical word…maybe this “approach”)…the prayer seemed to just flow naturally.

      1. Susan, I resonated with your post, too, for that reason.  I didn’t feel fake or as if I were talking to the ceiling — and it certainly wasn’t just going through the motions or checking things/people off a prayer list.  I’m curious about how this and praying Scripture for other people or myself are related.  I experienced Scripture as the living, breathing Word of God — Seems like perspective on both prayer and reading the Bible might be changing.

      2. I’ve been thinking lately that God may call people away from something, but they may not know what they are being called to. (i.e., starting to sense that He is calling me away from but not sure of where to).  Then I put that thought aside temporarily.
         
        Now I was reading vs 8 and looking for where he is calling her to go.  I haven’t read the whole book of SoS (maybe it says later?) but in ch. 4, I don’t see where they are going.  I see “Come with me.”  Where?  If she trusts Him, she doesn’t need to know where.Very rich verse, too rich to spend more time in tonight 🙂
         
         Ugh! Posted in the wrong place again — but I did realize how NOT to do it. Just didn’t pay attention this time.

    2. “You” … At first, I wondered if this refers to me as an individual or the church as a whole?  I decided that it doesn’t matter a lot because I am part of the church.  If I don’t accept this, I hurt the church.   So, He is speaking to me, at least as part of the church.  My response isn’t really impacted by which it is

      I thought about that too,
       and this made me smile:

      “altogether” and “flawless”  … no room for excuses or for me to say “ok, but also I have this flaw …”   To me, this was a loving “shut up and let this sink in.”

  27. A thought: I just now realized, starting to look at the questions for Monday, that I still hold control to my grace (notice I said “my” grace, that’s not right). The analogy of the roller coaster made me squirm because it articulates so well that I have NO control. I am merely a blessed recipient. I am seeing that I still want control, to work toward giving God glory, making myself useful, valuable….salvation by works….sigh. When will I learn?! I am learning, slowly but surely. God is good. But this is why I had pause to the Mueller quote about the priority of making my soul happy in the Lord. To just enjoy relationship?! I am humbled in my continued misconception. However, I am seeing. Answers to follow in awhile, time now to feed the restless natives (ie my sons, haha).

  28. 2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
    Mueller wanted to begin the day by making his soul happy in the Lord.  His main focus was to gain spiritual nourishment for his inner being.  He found that the best way was to begin with reading Scripture, meditating on each word (not just breezing through it).  Soon he would find himself in dialogue with the Lord — it would just happen that he would automatically go into prayer, giving confession, thanksgiving, intercession,  and supplication. 
    3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.) 
    Mueller said that when he tried to begin with prayer, he would have a difficult time getting started. He would find his mind wandering.   However, when he began by meditating on Scripture he seemed to automatically and quickly go into prayer. 
    Actually, I think I have experienced this myself during times of prayer vigil.   When I have signed up to pray for a given period (half hour or hour) at church, I have entered the chapel to find a large Bible centered on the altar.  There have been times when I have begun to pray, and sort of ran dry before my time was up.  Then I would go kneel down in front of the altar so I could read the Bible,  and soon I would get ideas from the Scripture that would make my praying flow again.   I confess the “magic” of it was lost on me, as I was just glad to be back in dialogue with the Lord again.  I didn’t catch on that this was a mechanism that I should repeat again and again.  

  29. Chris, I love your avatar!

    1. Thank you Dawn

  30. 4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)
    “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
    1.  All  – Every last bit of me is beautiful to my Lord.  There  isn’t one part of which I need to be ashamed.  I am beautiful absolutely from head-to-toe!
    2.  beautiful –  “Love is blind,” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”   My Lord’s love for me is so complete that He feels nothing can compare with my beauty when I am with Him.
    3. You are  –  Not ” you will be.”  Not something I have to work at accomplishing.  I only have to “be.”  
    4. My darling –  He uses the most intimate of  terms to describe our relationship.
    5. There is no flaw –   He knows me from top to bottom, and even under His microscope, he sees no blemish,  because His love has covered it all.
    6.  In you –   Beauty as the worlds knows it is only “skin deep.”   Beauty as the Lord sees it includes all the way to my core being.  It is my core He really wants.
     

    Song of Songs 2:10 –  “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one…”

     
    Jude 16:24  –  “To Him…who is able…to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy….”
     
     

    1. Loved the Jude verse Deanna

  31. 5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
     
    Oh, my Dear Lord,   How awesome, compassionate, and loving you are toward me.  In the past I have come to you like a whipped puppy, being fully aware of all the things in me that you might not find acceptable.  Now I am so much more aware of your love for me!   I know that you want me to submit all of my inner core to you.  It seems like such a difficult thing for me to do, but I really want to do that.  Please reach out your hand and help me to bridge the gap.  May I come to see my life from your perspective.  May others see Your love shining through me to them.  Amen.

  32. Very interesting info about Lebanon, Mt Hermon, etc here in Google Books. Hope it works. I scrolled earlier in the book, too.

    Haven’t read it closely enough. I think I also saw reference to SoS as prophecy. A lot to ponder.

  33. 2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.
    He started with the Word of God instead of starting with prayer.He meditated on the Word-didn’t just read and blow past it, but stayed and chewed on it- and inevitably it led Him to communion with God and into prayer. 
     
    3. Comment on beginning with Scripture rather than prayer, allowing Scripture to lead you into prayer. (Keller does this as well.)
    He is the word-so when I get into the Word I encounter Him and can have wonderful communion with Him when I see His beauty. I agree with Mueller that conviction, encouragement and comfort come from God to me in this time and I do love how Dee has taught us to pay attention when He quickens us..when a passage stands out. Yes, I agree..I think when we start with His word and His Word leads us into adoration of Him in prayer and praying for others-oh my..
     
     

    1. 2. Summarize how Mueller went about making his soul happy in the Lord each morning.He started with the Word of God instead of starting with prayer.He meditated on the Word-didn’t just read and blow past it, but stayed and chewed on it- and inevitably it led Him to communion with God and into prayer.

       This was my 2nd favorite part of the beginning.

       My first favorite was about Steve….“Even when my office was at the other end of the clinic, I could hear his laugh echoing through the halls daily. There was a the joy that constantly bubbled up in him and that  overflowed to everyone.

      I can testify that, that quote is very true of Steve, as I worked there with him and the other doctor’s and employee’s for 10 years.   He did have much joy and such a humble, awesome man.   He became the most like Jesus of anyone I’ve ever known.    After all this time, since his passing (9yrs?), anyone I talk to and mention Dr. Brestin…he is still highly respected in this and many surrounding communities.  And Dee is following in his footsteps.

    2. “He is the word – so when I get into the Word I encounter Him…”  This is a very good point!

  34. 4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. Some questions that might help you look: (Is there a promise to be believed — a command to be obeyed? Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? What phrases stand out? Why?)
     
    Immediately, God brought to mind that Her beauty is His Beauty all over her. She is ‘altogether’ beautiful-and He delights in her ‘my darling’. He isn’t just adoring her and then walking away-but this is deep, intimate adoration of her beauty. I thought of the verse in Psalm 45: “The King DESIRES your beauty-All glorious is the princess in her chamber with robes interwoven with Gold.”-This is His beauty-His Glory covering her-those are the robes He put on her. 
    This is how He sees me-wrapped in His beauty-His Glory because of the cross and resurrection-I am covered in His Glory, and He is making me Holy-transforming me into His likeness-tending this wretched woman’s garden and making me beautiful. And so I am sealed-I am His and this is how He loves me. The promise is that He always and forever will faithfully delight in me even though I fail, and sees me as beautiful because of His transforming me inside, making me beautiful like Him.
     
    In Psalm 45-“The King will desire your beauty”-and “All glorious is the princess in her chamber with robes interwoven with Gold”
    In Song of Songs 1: “Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.” and “How beautiful you are, my darling, Oh, how beautiful!  Your eyes are doves.”
    Song of Songs 2:14 “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside. show me your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
    He: In Song of Songs 1: “How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming!”
    He: Psalm 27: “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
    Psalm 135: “[c]Praise [d]the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.” (NASB)
     
     
     

  35. 5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
     
    Oh God you are lovely, you are glorious and your light is so fierce it can break any man-you make the mountains tremble, you set the boundaries of the Earth, you set the stars and the moon and the Sun in it’s place-the elements of Earth that can shatter my soul-you can shatter in one breath. You brought plagues on Egypt-and their hearts were hard for you are Holy yet you are the One who can melt hearts and woo them to You-You are fierce in your love and gentle as a Lamb-You are beautiful beyond description. Yet my heart can wander thinking that having comfort or approval or affection from others is a more beautiful thing than adoring You-the master and creator of the universe and of my heart. What a fool I am Lord to hold anything as more worthy of gazing upon than you-but I did yesterday -I forgot about You yesterday in those moments. Thank you Jesus that because of the cross you are making me beautiful despite me! Thank you for the times when the tempter comes for you have only given him enough rope to hang himself-and I know he will come today-help me today for you are my beauty-help me not desire approval from my co-workers-help me to gaze on you and help me be on guard for my wandering soul. For I do the things I don’t want to do and don’t do the things I want to do and this is not because you have forgotten me, but because I have forgotten you-wretched woman i am! But thank you for the cross-that you Love me despite me-that I am a princess in your chamber all gloriously clothed in your beauty, and you are going to make me more beautiful and in your majesty and power-You WILL and CAN take these temptations, my failings and turn them into beauty as you cause them to drive me closer to you. Thank you that you love me so much that you don’t want me to be happy merely in covenant but in communion with you. Thank you that I can’t claim any beauty-I can’t and that is so freeing!!!! Any beauty in me is You-all praise be to you-the One who pulled me out of the pit and set my feet on a rock-the One who was forgotten and cursed by men, and forsaken by God so that I would never be-so that You could call me lovely-so that I could be your desire and experience your beauty and Love-and the depths-oh to go deeper into the depths of your love-Thank you! Only in your lovely name I pray.

  36. 6. Comment on the above.
     
    This was a great interview, and I was impressed that one of the anchors actually talked about one of Jesus’ parables about the workers – some who start work early and others who join in late, but both groups receive the same wages. Wow – we said the name “Jesus” on national television…that is usually very politically incorrect! I also appreciated Tullian’s tactful answer to the question, does he think that America is a Christian nation. He was truthful in answering “no”.
     
    Tullian said that grace somehow draws us back to being a child who loves rollercoaster rides…made me think. I used to love rollercoasters, but now I’m scared of them (they’ve gotten too big and wild for me). He said we are scared of grace, because it is out of our control, we like our checklists and steps that will guarantee a certain outcome, we are naturally adverse to it, we resist Law b/c it tells us what to do but we resist grace even more b/c we can’t control it and we don’t like that.
     
    I noted the one anchor’s question, then, “If it’s hard to accept, how do we do it, what do we need to do, what process do we need to go through?” Such a good question…he was thinking hard. It is so natural to ask, what must I DO. We are “doers”…and I also think that many of our Christian teachings fuel this “process mentality”. Even the ABC’s of Salvation – you tell someone, “okay, first you admit you are a sinner…then you believe….etc…” Tullian said you beg God for help and mercy, but it takes God’s work in us to cry out and say we need help.

  37. 7. Meditate on verse 8.
     
    A. Meditate – do research – what do you learn?
     
    The cross-ref’s I looked at were Deuteronomy 3:9, where I learned that Hermon is called Senir by the Amorites, so Mount Hermon and Senir are the same place…and 1 Chronicles 5:23, where I learned that the half-tribe of Manasseh settled around the land of Senir (Mount Hermon). From Renee’s link, I learned that the peak of Hermon was thought (by the Canaanites) to be the dwelling place of Baal, and ancient name for Hermon is Baal Hermon. Solomon was a king who built altars to Baal and his wife, Ashtoreth (called Molech in Hebrew) – worship of them involved child sacrifices. This occurred in Israel and Lebanon. God condemned the Canaanites as being evil, but Solomon condoned and practiced interfaith marriage.
    Another source said that some scholars believe the Transfiguration of Jesus took place on Mt. Hermon.
     
    But what really threw a “wrench” was one online commentary that suggests that there are TWO lovers in this book, both wooing this maiden. One is a Shepherd, and the other is King Solomon. That the young maiden’s shepherd is the one she held and would not let go, and that in 2:15, the reference to catching the foxes that are ruining the vineyard is the shepherd saying that to her and the “fox” that threatens their love is Solomon. The commentary suggests that it is God who is The Shepherd and the maiden is the remnant of Israel.
     
    Then I am wondering, since Solomon had formed alliances with the King of Tyre, that on one of his sojourns into Lebanon, this maiden was just another woman he found beautiful and wanted to add to his harem? But she is really in love with a shepherd of her own country?

  38. I’m not good with the “linky thing”, but here is the site where I found the one commentary: http://www.answering-islam.org/Andy/Songs/commentary.html

  39. I got a little panicked reading the differing views of commentaries I looked up on this verse…then I went back and re-listened to Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ introduction to The Song of Songs, and I feel a little more grounded again (Whew!) In her intro, she said that Jewish and Christians have felt this book to be yes, a love story, but also a picture of a greater Divine love. The Jews saw it as a picture of their relationship with God…I thought of how David knew God as his Shepherd, and New Testament believers see it as a picture of our relationship with Christ…as even Paul refers to this mystery of marriage and Christ and His church in Ephesians. But I love Nancy’s over-arching goal, which is to see women really embrace the love God has for them.

  40. Posted my answers to Monday’s questions but they have gotten lost in cyberspace! Bummer (should have saved my answers…). Will try again, but first have to tend to the restless natives again! =)

  41.  

    Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations. 

    7 [He exclaimed] O my love, how beautiful you are! There is no flaw in you!
    I am loved, I am beautiful, I am flawless to Him, I belong, I am loved. I still squirm, but less than before, I am easing into this identity, taking on His name, His righteousness.
     

    Where else does this truth occur in this book — in Scripture? These they are from the Amplified Bible:

    Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared from of old to me [Israel], saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.
     
     
    Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and shout for joy [exulting and triumphant]! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor, for the marriage of the Lamb [at last] has come, and His bride has prepared herself. 
    8 She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white–for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).
     
     Ephesians 5:27 That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]
     

    Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.

    Oh Thank you my God, Father and Son And Spirit, Thank You for redeeming me from the pit, for covering my shame, for giving me a name. Forgive my reluctance to trust in your love, my unbelief, my spiritual laziness, my self pity. Thank you for your patience, your gentleness with me. Lead me in paths of righteousness for your names sake. Grant to me true repentance, I want so much to be the sheep that recognizes your voice and wont follow another. For me and all of us here I ask that this study will help us to grasp how wide and long high and deep your love for us is.

  42. 6. Comment on the above.
    Well, first of all, I didn’t even know who Tullian Tchividjian is!  🙂   Now I know he is a Presbyterian pastor and author in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida — AND he is the grandson of Billy Graham!
    I also found it interesting and surprising, in a pleasant way, to hear a discussion of grace on a national television network. I think they kind of sneaked it under the guise of promoting his book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.
    Tullian compared grace to a roller coaster;  the main point being that in both cases we can only go along for the ride, and we have no control over where it takes us.  He refers to one-way love  because God’s love comes our way, but we don’t deserve it. 
    We are so law-locked.  However, we resist the law because it tells us what to do, but we resist grace even more because it tell us there is nothing we can do.   Grace is out of our control. 
    When asked what process might be used to obtain grace, he answered that all we can do is, in humility and desperation, pray and ask God to give it.   We need to cry out “God have mercy,” “God help us!”  
    Tullian finished the interview with mention of his 95-year-old grandfather, Billy Graham. He said he was most impressed by Graham’s humility on a daily basis.  He said Billy Graham really thinks he’s worth nothing. 
     

  43. 4. Now do this with just one verse. Here is the challenge. Meditate on Song of Songs 4:7 and come up with at least five observations.
    “you”…this means “me“.
    you “are”…present tense, today…right now!
    “altogether”…complete, nothing lacking
    “beautiful”…lovely, no stain of sin
    “my”…possessive; He refers to me as His
    “darling”…loved, precious
    beautiful in “every” way…all ways, not “just some”; inclusive; He sees me entirely beautiful
     
    5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
    Dear Lord, thank You for this text…thank You for your re-assurances of Your love and my redemption.  Thank You, that I am Yours always…yesterday, tomorrow (should there be) and most importantly right now!…that when You see me, You see beauty in all.  Thank You for understanding me…understanding me better than I understand myself.  Help me to surrender to you more and more each and every moment…Help me to believe and not doubt Your immense and incomprehensible love for me…I am Your darling; You find me beautiful in every way.
     
    6. Comment on the above.
    These points ring so true…
    *We resist law because no one likes to be told what to do; we resist grace because there is nothing we can do.
    *We live in an exhausted world with exhausted people.
     
    When I was doing the Mueller-type study of SoS 4:7 this morning…I thought how lovely it was to really ponder the word…to “chew” on each word…I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.  But then I thought about time…would I routinely have enough time in the morning to ponder fully in Mueller-type style without feeling rushed?…what changes could I, or might I, be willing to make to my morning study/devotional time to incorporate Mueller-type study on a regular basis; might I be willing to get up even earlier? (Presently I get up about 5 a.m. or shortly thereafter and have devotional/study time until 6 a.m.; I used to do 30 minutes of exercise before my study/devo time, but that hasn’t worked so well these past few months with extra family responsibilities…i.e., granddaugher…:)).  I know that morning is best for me, and I do enjoy the quiet of the early morning (after working 8-9+ hour days, doing supper/clean-up, and other “household responsibilities,” evening isn’t the right time for my mind to be contemplative, but does work well for listening to podcasts…:))  Any ideas bible study blog sisters?  I guess this is where the “exhausted world with exhausted people” kind of “hit home”…so often, I feel like I don’t slow down until I hit my bed pillow (or sometimes the couch pillow)…I think that was what was especially wonderful and refreshing about the Mueller-type study, one MUST slow down and ponder…  I have gotten into somewhat of a morning study/devo routine…maybe a bit to rout.  I welcome comments and suggestions…
     

    1. oops…one MUST slow down *to* ponder…

        1. These past two mornings of slow pondering have been wonderful…I read the verse slowly, savoring each and every word and phrase…contemplating…I love it! 

  44. 5. Respond to the above verse in prayer: praise, confession, petition.
    Dearest Jesus. I am so humbled when I realized I am in Your presence, I almost don’t want to speak. I think of all the times I just spill out my wants, my hurts, and I do not first just gaze. This time, I want to first take in Your beauty. I want to tell You how much I love You. I want my words, my thoughts, my actions–to tell You just how much. You are perfect. You are truth. Your love surrounds me. Forgive me Lord for not believing You when You say I am beautiful.  For doubting that I am who You say I am. For responding throughout the day as if I am an ugly, unloved, un-loveable, orphan trying to justify myself. For ever thinking that my trials mean You are punishing me. Oh Lord, I am sorry for believing these lies. May I run to You—with the good and the hard. May I lay my burdens at Your feet, and thank You for taking them. May I thank You for them, and remember, as may I be able to say, as Spurgeon says “I have learned to kiss the waves that push me against the Rock of Ages.

    1. I appreciate you prayer Elizabeth.

  45. 6. Comment on the above.
    This stood out to me: We like formulas, that will guarantee a certain outcome. We are law-locked in our hearts, naturally adverse to grace. We resist law because law tells us what to do—we resist grace even more because grace tells us there’s nothing we can do. It takes an act of God for us to receive grace.
    I so respect Tullian and follow his blog, I think he is a gifted, wise leader. I did have 2 small “bugs” with this interview though. I watched this first with a friend,(and maybe that influenced me) who also respects Tullian, and they noted that Tullian himself never mentions Jesus. The other thing was that the panel repeatedly mentioned Pope Francis having focused on grace, and I wished there had been some distinction between the “grace” the Pope seems to refer to, and God’s grace, but I admit I may be sensitive from my own background. I was impressed by the guy who referred to Scripture, and who said grace was the central focus of Jesus’ teachings. To hear him call Jesus by name, as Susan mentioned—that was a “wow” moment!
    Honestly, I was just beaming from the fact that MSNBC is having such a series–love that they promoted his book, and I pray for what God will do with this! Dee–your turn to be on! 🙂

  46. I thought I was at the end … here when I left my comment, so please find it above because I want everyone to know how I feel about Steve Brestin. (not too far above)

  47. My granddaughters arrived last night at 35 weeks 4 days. They are doing great! Kaylee 6lbs 12oz and Lydia 5lbs 11oz. No middle names yet. They are (in my superbiased opinion) the most beautiful girls I have ever seen!

    1. Oh, congratulations, Dawn MS. You look much too young to be a grandmother. Your grandbabies are a good weight too at 35 weeks. Pretty names too!

    2. Congratulations Grandma!  No shame in being “superbiased”…I’m sure they are adorable; you revel away…:) 

    3. A double blessing! Rejoicing with you Dawn, enjoy those sweet babies 🙂

    4. Congratulations, Dawn!! Thankful for two healthy baby girls…they are going to bring so much joy to you!

    5. SO happy for you Dawn! What double joy!