Matthew 19 & Mark 10

In Tim Keller’s book, Counterfeit Gods, he describes the ways that we put other areas of our life in the role of ‘god of our lives.’ Though the handmade idols that the Israelites worshipped – like the Baals and Golden Calves – may not exist anymore, idolatry is still very present in our modern day life. Keller describes how we, as humans, have a tendency to make good things god things, and consequently, we allow those things to turn our focus away from God. Sex, marriage, money, wealth, (self-)righteousness, and status can all be good things, but these things cannot be the ultimate thing. 

In today’s passage, we meet the Pharisees who were trying to trip Jesus up with a question about divorce. They wanted to know if Jesus was going to contradict the law of Moses by saying that divorce was not legal. After Jesus responded that divorce should not happen outside of sexual immorality, the disciples were amazed and said, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry” (v. 10). Jesus agrees with them in v. 12 when he talks about the eunuchs who chose to live that way for the sake of the Kingdom. 

Then, later on in Matthew 19, a rich young ruler comes and asks Jesus what rule he needs to follow to get eternal life. Jesus tells him the thing that he needs to do is give his possessions to the poor. He “went away sad, because he had great wealth” (v. 22). When Jesus tells his disciples that it is incredibly difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom, they are amazed and asked “Who can be saved?” (v. 25). Jesus responds in v. 26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

In Matthew 19, Jesus focuses on 3 areas of life, and in each case, he shows the disciples that they need to obediently follow what God says, despite how contrary it looks to the world. These 3 areas of life can be areas where we all easily fall into idolatry. They are good things – but they cannot be the ultimate thing. These things cannot be our god, but we try to put them in that place. 

The pharisees (and the rich young ruler) struggle with self-righteousness. They wanted to be good enough to be their own god – so that in effect, they wouldn’t actually need God. Though no one in the story seemed to struggle with marriage and sex, the question the Pharisees asked brings up this next idol that so many people make an ultimate thing. Both of these marriage and sex are created by God, but so often, we do not act with obedience to God’s word in these areas, and we step out of God’s design for us. By doing so, we are making these things an idol. The last area is money and wealth. The rich young ruler had so much wealth that he went away grieving. We don’t know if he made the choice to act with obedience to what Jesus commanded him to do, or if he decided that his wealth was too important to him to follow Jesus and ‘enter life.’ What we do know is that he mourned for his wealth. The disciples were amazed that Jesus spoke so harshly of wealthy people. In a culture that values money and possessions (like our own), the pursuit of wealth always seems like a good thing. However, like we’ve read this past week in the book of Luke, money can become an idol in our life, and the Bible says plainly that we cannot serve two masters: God and money (Matt. 6:24). 

When it’s so easy to fall into idolatry, who then can be saved? Jesus reassures us that “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If you find yourself in a place of idolatry – putting good things in the place of the ultimate thing, turn back to God. He is the one with whom all things are possible. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 19 & Mark 10.

Tomorrow, we will read Matthew 20-21.

Love and Marriage

Ezra 7-10

Ezra, who was from the lineage of Aaron the high priest came up from Babylon. He was skilled in the Mosaic Law. King Artaxerxes gave the children of Israel the right to return to Jerusalem if they chose. In 7:10 it says, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel”. A letter was given to the ones returning from the king. Interestingly enough, this would have been the stepson of Queen Esther. Maybe he had heard about God through her. He starts out “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven:” He allowed the Israelites who wanted to return to go back, they were given gold and silver from the royal treasury, and then they were urged that if they needed anymore, that they were to pay for it from the king’s treasury. Ezra said in 7:27 “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” It sounds like Queen Esther must have talked about God to her family, and the king acknowledged that he was the God of heaven, and he did not want to have the wrath of God on him or his sons.

In chapter 8 they list those who returned, I love 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.” They fasted and prayed to God before making any decisions, just like we read in Esther as well. It is important that we follow these guidelines in our lives before we make decisions, pray about it and ask God to lead us in the direction that He would have us take.

In Chapter 9, we see the beginning of some problems, the children of Israel had taken pagan wives for some of their sons and daughters, even the religious leaders were included in this sin. Ezra was very upset at this and he prayed and wept before God because of their sin. They had been forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:3, to take foreign wives. Now, this was not a matter of being racist, because the foreign people could convert to Judaism, but the ones they married were pagans, which meant that they continued to worship idols. In 1 Kings 11:2b “the Lord said to the children of Israel “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love.” V.4 “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” This was when their idolatry began which eventually led to the kingdom being conquered by the Babylonians. It is a fact that if we marry outside our faith it makes it more difficult to love God with our heart, soul, and might. That’s why we are told in 1 Corinthians not to be “unequally yoked with an unbeliever.” I believe who we choose to marry is one of the most important decisions we can make in our lives. I have a friend who said that of her four children, only one remained in the faith. She said it was who they married that made the difference. One married someone who was an active participant in church, two would go on occasion, and one married an atheist. When we marry, we are to be one, and it works best to be in accord with one another, and to both be pulling in the same direction. You will not get very far if the two oxen are trying to go in opposite directions.

The assembly decided that they would put away the pagan wives and children that they had with them. They confessed their sin and repented of it. Ezra 10:2b “We have trespassed against our God and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.” 10: 10b-11 “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and to do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” There was hope when the people repented because God will always accept us back when we return to him.

That is what is so encouraging to us as we read the history of the Old Testament. None of our patriarchs were perfect but God is able to use imperfect people to accomplish His will. We all need to be willing to let God use us in our imperfections. When we sin and make mistakes, that isn’t the end, if we return to God, he will return to us as we read earlier this week.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezra 7-10

Tomorrow we will begin the book of Nehemiah (chapters 1-5) as we continue on our

Launching Blessings

Psalm 37 23

 

My wonderful wife is a very frugal person about many things (good thing, because I’m more of a spendthrift- God knew what he was doing when he gave me her).  This is evident in the way she handles toothpaste.  She waits until every bit of toothpaste is squeezed out of that tube before she discards it and pulls out a new tube.  Sometimes, just brushing my teeth turns into a session in strength training as I try to squeeze a blop of toothpaste onto my brush before I’m allowed to throw it away and she rewards me with a fresh and easy squeezy tube.

            Lectio Divina* helps us to squeeze every drop out of the Bible.  There is some benefit to reading quickly through the Bible.  If you read about 4 chapters a day you can read through the entire Bible in a year.  My Dad used to read the Bible straight through every year using a different translation.  I’ve done that as well and there is benefit to doing that.

            About 30 years ago I really ratcheted it up and spent 2 full weeks reading the Bible 8 hours a day and writing a brief summary of each chapter as I read.  I was able to read the entire Bible Genesis to Revelation in 2 weeks.  It was a great experience and showed me the “big picture” and full scope of God’s salvation plan that anticipated the coming of his Messiah and the fulfillment of his coming and the hope of his future return and the fullness of the Kingdom of God.  Just absolutely wonderful!  But as good as that way of reading the Bible can be, I want to also commend to you Lectio Divina- slow, deep reading… squeeze every drop out of a passage of scripture.

            This week we’ve been going through Psalm 37.  Let’s squeeze the tube a bit more today and see how much is still in there.  Psalm 37:23-29

            Read, Meditate, Pray, Rest in God.

    1. Read slowly through the passage at least 3 times.  Look for a word or phrase that speaks to you.

23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

For me, I chose thoughts from verse 23 and 26  “the one who delights in him [God]” and “their children will be a blessing.”

  1. Spend some time meditating upon the word or phrase you choose.  For me, I recall that on Sunday I meditated on vs. 4 and what it means to delight in God.  Here the Psalmist takes up that theme again and gives a kind of cause/effect relationship.  The one who delights in God will produce children who will be a blessing.

In vs. 25 the psalmist says “I was young and now I am old…”  He has lived long enough to gain some valuable perspective as he looks back on his life.  According to my teenage children I’m also qualified as old.  I guess when you’re 15 years old 55 seems ancient.  I’m old enough to also be able to look back and gain some perspective about those things that truly matter in life.

Compared to many successful people I haven’t accomplished that much in my life.  I didn’t invent Facebook like Mark Zuckerberg.  I didn’t turn Apple into a multi-trillion dollar business like Steve Jobs.  I didn’t change the retail world like Jeff Bezos with Amazon.  I’ve never been elected president and I don’t have loads of money in the bank.  I don’t pastor a 20,000 member Church and have a tv show like Joel Osteen and I don’t fly on private jets like Kenneth Copeland.  I’ve been a youth pastor and pastored a few small churches.  I served briefly as a missionary and Church planting pastor in England and didn’t have much success.  I’ve managed to go to several colleges and gotten several academic degrees and passed the arduous process of becoming not only a pastor but a board certified chaplain and a certified spiritual director.  I’ve helped a few people over 35 years of ministry.  And every Sunday I preach and the rest of the week I visit the sick, needy and broken and share the love of Jesus with them.  I hope that I live long enough and stay healthy enough to help a lot more people.  I’ve got ideas for 3 books that I’m currently working on and getting ready to pursue a doctoral degree.  I’m not ready to hang it up yet and want to stay active into my really old age. (I’d like to put in another 40 useful years of ministry).

With all that being said, what I feel best about in my life as I look back is continuing to delight in God.  I haven’t done it perfectly to be sure, but I have managed to stay connected to God, even during dark times, even when I’ve wrestled with temptation, sin and guilt, I’ve remained connected to God and continued to delight in God.  I’ve also stayed true to my promise to love my wife “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.”  Trust me, I don’t take much credit for this because at times I’ve been a huge pain in the rear end to my wonderful wife.  But even during my worst struggles, I remembered that I made a promise to God and to her and stuck with it (and to her credit, she has continued to be a loving and faithful wife, even when she didn’t like me very much because I was acting like a jerk).  So I am blessed beyond measure and now enjoy the benefits of having gone through some rough times in marriage and find myself closer and more in love with my wife than I was nearly 35 years ago.

But the thing I take the most pride in is my children.  A few of them are still home and are still works in progress, but I can say that the greatest blessing of my life and the thing I take the most joy and pride in is that I have tried as a Dad to point them toward delighting in God and following Jesus.  At times I have failed miserably to be the kind of godly example that I wanted to be or should have been, but even when I’ve blown it I’ve tried to show them that God’s grace and mercy is there for us and not to give up on God.

Now most of my children are adults, several are married, several now have children of their own. I am able to see them in their various roles- one is himself a pastor, several lead worship in their churches, some have gone on mission trips, others sing in worship or teach classes and write devotions, and now they teach my grandchildren.  All are good workers.  They have become good people and I see them in their various churches and communities blessing others.  That makes me very happy and very proud.  This year at FUEL three of my sons were on the worship team, Joel was the worship leader who did a great job and even wrote worship songs to support the theme of FUEL, JJ was playing lead guitar with great skill and Jon was killing it on the drums.  I couldn’t have been more pleased and more delighted to see them blessing others by helping lead them in worshipping and delighting in God.

So as I meditate upon this portion of Psalm 37, that’s what comes to mind for me.  Even though I’m deeply flawed and have failed to do so much of what I may have hoped or dreamed I might do, I have given myself to delighting in God and I have been blessed by God with children who are now blessing others.  If I accomplish nothing else in my life, I can know that I along with my wonderful wife who has done 99% of the hard work, have launched some tremendous blessings into the world.

That’s what emerged for me as I meditated upon this part of Psalm 37.  What comes up for you as you chew on it?

  1. Spend some time in prayer.  What questions do you have to bring to God that emerged from your meditation?  Is there something you need to confess to God?  Is there something you want to change in your life as a result of what you have read and meditated upon?  Ask God what he wants you to know or do.
  2. Rest in God.  After you speak to and listen to God, spend some time resting in God’s love and presence.  Delight in God, God delights in you.

-Pastor Jeff Fletcher

*If you are unfamiliar with the Lectio Divina method of prayer/scripture study please refer back to the Sunday, August 11th devotion.

Divorce

Mark 10

Mark 10 8b

There are many things that man has come up with that God really didn’t create us to do. The Pharisees loved to bring the complicated subjects up to Jesus and see what he said. They were always comparing his teachings to the teachings of Moses. So the Pharisees go to Jesus and start discussing divorce. Jesus says for them to go ahead and tell him what Moses commanded.  They say that Moses said it was okay “to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” Jesus admits that this is true, but reminds them that the Hebrews Moses was dealing with were a rebellious and ungrateful people. This was not the best way. In the beginning God wanted man and woman to “become one flesh” and stay that way. In Mark 10:9 Jesus says “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Jesus’ disciples wanted to make absolutely sure that they understood Jesus on this subject. So later they bring it up again. In verses 11 and 12 Jesus says, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” They knew without a doubt that adultery is wrong. It’s one of the ten commandments. “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

We might ask “Why is this so?” Ultimately we have to trust that God knows what is best and wants what’s best for us. We can look at divorce in our society and see some of the ramifications of it and see for ourselves that it’s hard on families. Does God want us to be happy? Without a doubt, YES! Read Psalm 37:3-5 God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. We need to trust Him, be committed to Him and His ways, and do good.  Our Father will take care of the rest.

Melissa New

 

 

Ahhhh, Love

1 Corinthians 13

1 corinthians 13 4

I Corinthians 13.  The ‘love’ chapter.  Has any passage of Scripture been read at more weddings?

Let me ask you, what’s the difference between the wedding and the marriage?  We typically spend years planning and orchestrating one to be perfect and we waltz into the other without a thought and expect it to go off without a hitch.  And that’s sad.

It’s sad that this passage that so eloquently captures what real love should be is relegated to a romantic poem.

This description of love is raw.  It is get your hands dirty, give up your ‘rights’, lay down what you want, doesn’t feel good kind of real.

Patient

Kind

Trusting

Humble

Not rude

Not selfish

Not angry

Doesn’t bring up past wrongs

Protective

Never gives up

Who wouldn’t want to be married to THAT person?!  Right?  But being that person, well, that’s a big ask.

I think it’s great if you want to read this passage at your wedding.  (Pro tip if you do: Rehearse)  But remember to take the time to dig in to each one of these descriptors that Paul gives us.  You know which ones are hardest for you.

Think about how many hours you put into wedding planning.  Does your marriage deserve any less?

Check out this post that includes some helpful resources for building a strong marriage as well as advice from a number of married couples that have stood the test of time:  https://thesparrowshome.com/marriage-resources-advice/

 

-Susan Landry

 

 

 

The Perfect Team

Acts 18 26

ACTS 18

 

Shoes and socks, salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly.   Some things just go together, complement one another and make the perfect team.

 

Priscilla and Aquila are just such a pair.  They are spoken of at least three times in this chapter by Luke, and then Paul will speak highly of them in three of his letters – and each time they will be mentioned together – a team.  They were a team in marriage and a team in ministry.

 

They endured storms together – banished from their home in Italy when Emperor Claudius removed all Jews from Rome. Together they opened their home to others.  Paul would stay in their home, and later they would host a house church.  Together they risked their lives for the sake of Paul (Romans 16:3-4). They learned together and taught together. They traveled together. They mentored together. Together – they served God.

 

If you are married already – consider how you can work on your teamwork skills today (and all your tomorrows, too).  Neither you nor your spouse is perfect – that is true, of everybody else’s spouse too  – but together you CAN be a perfect team – complimenting each other’s skills and working together for God’s glory. What acts of service to God and others can you work on together?

 

If you are not married now – but might be in the market to be married at some point…consider wisely. Rather than seeking out the hottest athlete or the cutest nerd (or whatever characteristics are already on your to-find list), be intent upon finding one who will be a great mate to serve the Lord with you.

 

-Marcia Railton

Still Seeking the Next Big Thing?

PROVERBS 30

Proverbs 30-8

Before writing this post, I did some research about other commentaries and devotionals from Proverbs 30.  Many writers have speculated about the author of this passage, whether Agur is a pseudonym for a known author or what wisdom this author may possess.  Most of the devotionals focus on verses 5-6: “Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”  These verses tell us that we can confidently put our faith in the Lord and warn against tampering with His Word, the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16-17, Numbers 23:19, Deuteronomy 12:32, and Revelation 22: 18-19 all reinforce these 2 verses in Proverbs 30.

 

When I read this chapter, however, I did not latch onto those 2 verses like most of the commentaries and devotionals I read.  I was drawn to verse 8.  “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”  As a whole, our society is never satisfied.  We are always seeking something more.  I remember talking about marriage in a psychology class, and the professor was explaining how studies have shown that one reason marriages tend to fail more often now than they used to is often because one of the spouses is seeking something more, whether that be a more attractive partner or a partner who makes more money or whatever qualifications are deemed important, rather than being content and wholly loving the current husband/wife.  We are never satisfied, always looking for the next-best thing.  Verse 8 asks the Lord for neither poverty nor riches, only what is needed for the day.  The writer isn’t seeking more.  He’s seeking to be satisfied in the Lord.  We’ve all read that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:25), and verse 9 reinforces that someone who is “full” is quick to deny the Lord.

Proverbs 30-9a

Though society tells us that we always need the newest and next-best thing, the newest iPhone, the bigger tv, the prettier woman or more handsome man—the Bible teaches us to be content with what we are given.  Our daily bread is enough.

-Megan Bryant

Power Struggle

Ephesians 4-6

ephesians-5-25-26

Thursday, June 29

There is no such thing as a power struggle in a Godly marriage.  Ephesians 5:23 states that the husband is the head of the wife.  I get the feeling that some women have a hard time agreeing with that these days.  They aren’t going to let their husband tell them what to do.  I am convinced that the reason God put man in charge has not changed through the years and this rule still applies today.  Why would God have the man and woman become one in marriage, but then tell the woman to submit to the man?

I think God was trying to keep harmony in the marriage.  Think about a church board that had two people on it and they both got one vote.  In other words, neither one had more power than the other.  What would happen if they disagree on something?  Perhaps they could compromise or one could give in to the other, but I suspect if they both had very strong opinions, they may not be able to come to a resolution.  It would probably not end well.  I am not sure, but I suspect this could be the reason we no longer have Simon and Garfunkel.  What a shame.

The husband is the head of the wife, but it is important to look at the whole picture.  God is in charge of everything and Jesus is next in line, above man.  Man is number three.  The man has been given orders on how to be a leader.  He doesn’t get to make all of the decisions.  Many of the important decisions have already been made for him and he just needs to carry them out.  Think of God as the owner of a store, Jesus as the manager of the whole store, and man as the department manager of one of the departments in the store.  The owner gets to do whatever he wants to do with the store.  The store manager follows the directions from the owner and makes sure all of the department managers are doing what they are supposed to do.  The department managers get to make some decisions within their area, but they must follow the directions from the owner and store manager.  Man does not have the freedom to do whatever he wants; he must follow the directions from God and Jesus.

Wives need to submit to their husbands, but Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands that they need to love their wives.  Verse 28 clarifies it even more by saying husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.  We all have selfish tendencies so we all know what it is like to want to make our own lives as good as possible.  A massage feels awesome, certain foods taste wonderful, and eight hours of sleep feels great.  In the same way that we desire these good things for ourselves, men need to make sure that they are supplying this level of love to their wives.  They need to constantly be aware of their wives’ needs and fulfill those needs with the same vigor they would use to take care of their own needs.  In fact, they will need to sacrifice their time and energy to love their wives the way they should be loved.

Men, it is true that you have been given the power to make decisions in your marriage, but I suspect some men abuse their power and use it to keep their women down.  They enjoy being in charge and they make sure their women know that they are in charge.  They use that power to make their own lives better, rather than loving their wives the way they should be loved.  Ephesians 5:26-27 explains what men should do with their power.  He should present her in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.  In other words, he needs to use his power to lift her up, not keep her down.  He needs to invest in her life to make her the most she can be.

The struggle is NOT real as long as wives submit to their husbands and husbands love their wives.

-Rick McClain

SOS

Song of Solomon 1-4

sos700

Friday, February 3

I hadn’t gotten around to registering for the “mom’s” conference, Hearts at Home, until a few days before and couldn’t find the class descriptions so I had to sign up for classes just based on the names.  I saw one called, “Passion Pursuit,” taught by Dr. Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow.  I’ve heard Dr. Slattery on Focus on the Family and at previous Hearts at Home conferences and really enjoyed learning from her. I also figured I’d like to figure out what I have a passion for, so I signed up for this class.
Pursuing one’s occupational or spiritual passion was NOT what this class was about!  It was about that one book your pastor rarely, if ever, speaks on, the book I personally have never done a jr. church series of lessons on, and as of yet, the one book we’ve never had the kids memorize verses from. That’s right! I’m talking about The Song of Solomon (SOS)!  (Signal collective blush from everyone’s cheeks.)
Over the years, there has been debate about what this book is about and why it is in the Bible.  I did a little bit of research and almost everyone agrees that this book is about God’s great love for His people and the intimacy He wants to have with both the Israelites and those of us who have chosen to become adopted seeds of Abraham.  Where debate and controversy lies is that other meaning.  As Bob Jones stated in his book, “ The 5W’s and 1H of Genesis Through Malachi,”  Song of Songs is to be seen as, “literally describing the sanctity and beauty of human physical love…Maybe God wants us to read this book so that we return marriage and sexuality to the holy place He has always intended them to occupy.” p. 70  The ladies teaching “Passion Pursuit” agree with Bob.  SOS is a book celebrating God’s love for us but it is also celebrating the gift God gives a couple upon their marriage. Those of us who have taken those vows are to embrace this gift to the fullest.( Dr. Slattery and Mrs. Dillow created an online ministry to help people do this called “Authentic Intimacy.”  I highly recommend checking this out. They have scriptural advice and instruction for anyone looking to have greater, true intimacy with God and their spouse or in preparation for marriage.)
Yes, there are a few problems with the actual book.  If Solomon was the author, which most consider as fact, he wasn’t exactly a one woman man.  My study Bible states he probably had 140 wives and concubines at the time and more throughout his life.  Not exactly a fact that would make a woman feel special!
This is also a very hard book to follow. They’re in a garden, she’s having a dream, they’re married….What is going on???? They are also talking in metaphors and similes…they’re in an actual garden, He’s in her “garden.”  And if it weren’t for the headings in my Bible, I would have no idea who is talking.  The Shulammite woman is talking, a whole bunch of women are talking (where did they come from?!) And even God speaks once.  This is a book you’ll benefit from reading along with a commentary.
So how do you use SOS to make a difference in your life?  How do you make this a part of your devotion?  A friend of mine told me that her pastor recently preached a sermon on it and encouraged husbands to tell their wives they are beautiful.  So there you go husbands!  God wants you to complement your wives!  Use lots of flowery words! (Check out youtube for examples on how to use King Solomon’s words to make your woman swoon!)  Ok, that was a little facetious. Seriously, most woman do want to know her man desires her (but maybe not in the words of chapter 4) and God has provided an example of this along with His blessings.
My friend thought of another take on SOS.  She thought that since her husband was being encouraged to tell her she’s beautiful, she should make more of an effort to be beautiful.  She looked at verse 1:6 when the Shulammite woman tries to hide from Solomon.  So my friend decided that in addition to not wearing sweats all day, she would close the door while using the powder room and not burp or otherwise display gross behaviors in front of her husband.  We all laughed when she told us that he didn’t notice but her point was that we shouldn’t take our husbands for granted and we should make an effort to be beautiful for our husbands. We also need to keep in mind verse 2:15, “ Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.  The chorus talking here, saying not to allow anything to spoil the man and woman’s relationship.  Good advice for all of us in any relationship.
The world may have cheapened the physical relationship between a man and a woman,  likening it to something as casual as a game of ping pong.  SOS reminds us that it is truly a wedding gift from God that is to be treasured, embraced, and protected.
So if you are married, read today’s reading with your spouse and have a great night! ; )
– Maria Knowlton

 (photo credit: cartoon by Andrew Fraser – found at http://www.cartoonsidrew.com/2014_10_01_archive.html)