July 4 – July 10, 2017

WORD

8The voice of my beloved!  Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.  9My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.  10My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; 11for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  12The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.  13The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear on the earth…

Have you ever written or received a love letter?  What a joy it is to receive an intimate expression of deep affection written from the hand of your beloved!  Song of Solomon is just such a romantic note between a man and a woman.  The book also serves, though, as an allegory for God’s deep desire and love for us.

It might seem uncomfortable at first to think of our relationship with God in this way. However, the image of God as spouse is present in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  At different times, God refers to Israel with husband/wife language.  Jesus uses bridegroom/bride and wedding banquet imagery to speak of the coming kingdom of God.  Also, Paul refers to the Church as the “bride of Christ” and John uses this metaphor in the Revelation.

As in all good love letters, God’s love letters to us are filled with words of longing and affection and contain good news.  God adores you.  You are beautiful and cherished in God’s sight.  You have been in God’s heart from even before your creation.  God desires to sing a song over you in joy and to speak words of endless devotion to you.

This love letter from Song of Solomon brings a message of hope found within divine love. The rains are over and the flowers are blooming.  Whatever storms you have faced are now overcome in the brilliance of God’s grace and mercy.  Your Beloved has come to offer you new life.  What words of good news is the One who adores you writing to you today?  How will you respond to God’s letters of love to you?  What will your letter to God say?

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.

What fruit is God producing in your life?  God is always at work to bring holy goodness into your life.  Pray for eyes to see such fruitfulness.  It is not always measured in the way that we measure fruitfulness in our society.  Ask God to aerate the soil of your heart and mind.  Pray that God would remove the weeds that choke out divine goodness. Receive, in your times of prayer, the nutrients that flow from the living water of the Holy Spirit.  In your times of silence, stillness, and prayer, bask in the fragrant offering God is making of your life.

Meditation Focus: The voice of my beloved! 

Our times of meditation help us to attune our ears to the voice of God and distinguish the other voices that clamor for our attention.  We have spoken about this much in the past during our focused meditations.  Let’s practice this again this week.  What words of affirmation do you hear when you meditate?  We should listen to these words of affirmation.  This does not mean that everything we choose is what God would choose for us.  God will challenge us and lead us to change our attitudes and actions to be like Christ.

However, what I mean by listening to the voice of affirmation is to listen to the voice that affirms your personal worth, your sacred beauty, and the joy you bring to creation. These words are spoken by the voice of the Lover of your soul.  This voice should be listened to – for it is the voice of the One who created you, gives you purpose, and adores you.  Listen deeply for this voice this week.  What affirmations do you hear?  How does this voice challenge your inner voice?  How does this voice assure you of God’s love for you?

Journaling Focus: The time of singing has come…

What makes a good song?  Though music and beat are important and communicate emotion, lyrics are just as powerful in their ability to move us and shape us.  What song lyrics have been important to you in your life?  What song lyrics have shaped your character or spurred you on to action?  Write some of these lyrics down this week and write about how they have affected you.  Try to remember when you first heard these powerful words and see if you can recall how they affected you then.

For instance, there is a song called “The Call” by the singing group Anointed that I first heard as a teenager.  It was during this season of my life that God was first revealing the call on my life to vocational ministry.  The words of that song encouraged me and affirmed what I was feeling.  Though I doubted my abilities, God assured me that it was the Holy Spirit who would be guiding me and working through me as a minister.  God used this “time of singing” to shape me as a young man growing into his pastoral identity.

Holy Action: 

Show pure love to someone this week.  Here I am not talking about romantic love, but agape love – the love that chooses to offer itself freely for the good of the other.  Go forth this week with the intention of communicating God’s love to someone through action.  As you engage in an act of service or selflessness this week, remind yourself, “I am doing this to show God’s love to _________.”  Also, it never hurts to just come out and say “I love you” or “God loves you” to someone!

Breath Prayer: Father, fill us with a grace-filled love.

 

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