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National Guard, not Right Guard

Song of Solomon 8:8-10  
We have a little sister, 
And she has no breasts. 
What shall we do for our sister 
In the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall, 
We will build upon her 
A battlement of silver; 
And if she is a door, 
We will enclose her 
With boards of cedar.  

I am a wall, 
And my breasts like towers; 
Then I became in his eyes 
As one who found peace.

Never Too Young to Start Guarding Fidelity
The discussion of the excellence and power of covenanted love now leads to a question from a family. In the Song, it is possibly that same family that had thought so little of the Shulamite that now has seen Love's effect upon her and wants to guard the other sisters for the same.

So they have a question--a rhetorical question, "what shall we do for our sister in the day when she is spoken for?" The King has spoken for each of our children. His love is so transforming, so life-giving and death-destroying, that we too should be willing to build strong battlements on these little walls and cedar enclosures for these little doors.

It's amazing how easily a young heart can get carried away with the most recent idea, possession, activity, entertainment, or person. We have a duty to every covenant child to have the living God far outpace everything else in our family's conversation, desires, joys, activities, motivations, etc. We should be more afraid of their entering Hell than touching the stove, more desirous of their coming to faith than going to college, more hopeful of their seeing Christ's face than accumulating great riches, more eager to see them worshiping than any other activity.

And we ought to identify the competition and ruthlessly humiliate and eliminate it.

Never Let Your Guard Down
Well, what about someone who has come into her maturity and is already married? By the analogy of the Song, what about when you've come to faith, and you've been greatly changed, and you're now living your life as a "leaning upon your Beloved"? Is it safe now to be less "militant"?

No, actually. Towers may be beautiful in their architecture, but they are military in their purpose. For her, "peace" was not the ability to let her guard down; it was the result of keeping her guard up. When she determined that she would keep herself for her husband with the vigilance of one keeping a watch in a military tower, not only did she guard her own heart for Him, but it endeared her to His heart.

What is the most important tower in our lives? It's not the list of things that we don't do because we belong to Christ. This list, to be sure, is extremely important, and the neglect to keep a military vigilance against those things that are spiritually damaging--or even draining--is an epidemic of wasting disease in the churches with which I am familiar.

But the most important tower is our wholehearted devotion or affection toward Him. I don't know how anyone can possibly do it without re-warming the heart at the beginning of every day, or spending an entire day adding fuel to the flame at the beginning of every week. But, with this fire burning strong, we will jealously oppose anything that threatens to weaken our commitment to be His alone, and to serve Him in all things. Thankfully, our Lord has commanded these means of communion with Him and the keeping of the Lord's Day in His Word.

What competes with your time for daily fellowship with Christ? What are you tempted to spend thoughts or minutes on every Lord's Day? What consumes dollars unnecessarily that could be used for kingdom extension (n.b. kingdom extension starts at home!)? Is there perhaps even a sin that you are just unwilling to let go of?

Chastity from the Cradle to the Grave
In the secondary application, to our earthly marriages, it would be easy to start listing off rules. No "steady" boy/girlfriends. No dating. No romantic crushes. No exclusive time with anyone from the opposite sex. No clothing that reveals any part of your breasts, buttocks, thighs, or parts more private still. No clothing that reveals your particular one of any of these parts. No painting up your face like an advertisement in one of those grocery store checkout mags. No "just hanging out" with people who aren't openly committed to the same.

In an age when so many young people are more worried about Right Guard (picking their deodorant), they should be far more concerned with National Guard (the military guarding of the heart, body, and life for their spouse).

These are all important "battlements," "enclosures," and "towers." We could certainly come up with more. But the aim of the apparatus is far more important than any detail of the apparatus. And the aim is itself a part--the most significant part--of the apparatus itself.

The aim is for the day that she is spoken for. A desire for a one-flesh union of life that will be that greatest earthly blessing and integral component of our eternal and spiritual blessing of which we were thinking in vv5-7. It is the positive nurture of that affection, the giving of the self to Him (and therefore to him, the future husband) with all the heart, that drives modesty of dress, modesty of manner, and a careful refraining from any possibly compromising situation.

But this doesn't end when we marry. Rather, we then add to the vigilance and diligence. Now, we are not only exercising them in reserving ourselves from all others, but in giving ourselves wholly away to our spouse. And again, it will be the eager and determined and persistent and delighted and energetic giving of the self to the spouse that will drive the vitally necessary guarding our hearts and bodies to be for spouse alone.

Don't Play with Fire (Song of Songs 8:6-7)

Song of Songs 8:6-7
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm; 
For love is as strong as death, 
Jealousy as cruel as the grave; 
Its flames are flames of fire, 
A most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.

God's Commitment Toward Us
The bride hears what her relative has said in verse five, and she now addresses her Beloved. She realizes what a difference He has made in who she is. She realizes that her whole life now can be described as a leaning upon Him. And she realizes how devastating it would be if anything ever came in between them.

The bride requests a seal, not only for her own assurance, but so that her Beloved will think of her every time He considers anything in His heart, and every time He extends His arm to do anything. She knows that if she is the object of His love, then even death is not strong enough and the grave not fierce enough to stop His thinking of her and acting for her.

This, of course, puts their marriage beyond earthly marriages. Once one spouse dies, the other is free to marry (Rom 7:2-3). But God has graven us on His hands (Isa 49:13-16), and He will never die. His love indeed refuses to give up in the face of death or the grave, but overcomes them both (1Cor 15:54-57).

Nothing can be compared to His love. Nothing can overcome His love. It is valuable beyond any price.

Our Commitment Toward God
Although the main idea here is the commitment of God toward us, the truth about love is one with great application to our love (or lack of it) toward God.

In the first place, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deut 6:5) is immediately described by Scripture as having His words upon our heart (Deut 6:6). To have them bound as a sign on our hand (Deut 6:8a) and as frontlets between our eyes (Deut 6:8b) is not instruction concerning fashion, so much as it is a remark upon what a life lived out of love for God looks like. It looks like only extending our hands according to His Word, and it looks like considering everything according to the viewpoint of His Word.

But often, those who claim to love God, or even who believe they "feel" strongly toward God, are not even attempting to live in this way. Why? Well the answer is, because their true love is someone or something else. When push comes to shove, living this way toward God gets in the way of something they like better--whether that something is to feel or appeal normal to others, or to enjoy exciting or amusing or relaxing entertainments, or to not have to exert oneself too much physically or emotionally or mentally, or even to have the romantic attention of another human.

Love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave. If the Lord is our first love, then we will overcome any obstacle to know Him and please Him. If something else is our first love, then we will see being "too fanatical" about Him or His Word as an obstacle to something else.

Love is a flaming fire with unquenchable flame!

Oh, let us learn to keep our hearts diligently, for out of them flow the results of our life (Prov 4:23)!

The Commitment of Marriage
In the secondary application, our earthly marriages are not just commitments to our spouse above every other man or any other woman. Our earthly marriages are a commitment to live the rest of this earthly life, thinking about and acting for the good of our spouse and the pleasure of our spouse--more than any other person or any other goal.

The Necessity of Christian Marriage
Finally, all of our applications have an important intersection: we will put ourselves in an unending series of miserable dilemmas if we marry someone who does not have the same commitment toward God that we do. Note that, even as we have observed, this is much more than marrying someone who says that they love God, or even who feels that they love God.

This is marrying someone who does not find any level of love for God or commitment to His Word "too fanatical." Some easy (though not fool-proof) indicators will be: glad attendance at two services on the Lord's Day; a keeping of the in-between time as a day of joyful meditation upon God, God's Word, and God's works; a commitment to Christian service that exceeds entertainment in dollars spent and hours consumed; a resolve to put no unclean thing before the eyes, and a covenant with the eyes to use them in no lusting; a use of the mouth that is ruled by the law of kindness; a hatred of sin such that death would be preferable to intentionally breaking any command of God, and so on.

Choosing someone whose love toward God is not as strong as death and as fierce as the grave is volunteering to endure one situation after another in which their first love gets in the way of the Lord--even if that first love for a time seems to be you! I say "seems to be," because true spouse-commitment only exists as an extension of and parable of true God-commitment.

The Blessedness of Christian Marriage
On the other hand, what a marriage--where each is devoted to the other's love for the Lord, and where the two are committed to serve Him together! Little else really need be in common at the first, if they truly have this in common.

First, they will already have that in common that is greater than any other thing in their lives. Second, their desire for their love to their spouse to mirror their love with God will slowly but surely swallow up differences in personality and preference until the two are not just one flesh, but united in heart and in action on everything else as well.

Genuine love toward God is full of spiritual and eternal gifts. Genuinely Christian marriage love is the greatest possible earthly gift.

==
Prior to the series that we just finished in the morning calls to worship, I had taught or preached on Song of Songs on two other occasions, taking earthly marriage as primarily in view, and our relationship with Christ by way of application as secondary.

Now that we've finished, I am grateful to God for bringing me to the conclusion that our relationship with Christ as Husband is primarily in view, and that application to our earthly marriages is secondary. The richness of the study has been a blessing to me in thinking about our Heavenly Husband's interactions both with us corporately as a church and with me personally as a member of Him.

This was true in this last passage (SoS 8:5-14) as much as in any other part. This is why it seemed good to me to interrupt current prayer meeting series in Job to give the exposition of this passage in more detail. As I write the lesson, I hope to give it--in perhaps even more detail than we will be able to muster on Thursday--in this space.

Transformed by Fellowship (Song of Songs 8:5)

Song of Songs 8:5
Who is this coming up from the wilderness, 
Leaning upon her beloved? 
I awakened you under the apple tree. 
There your mother brought you forth; 
There she who bore you brought you forth. 

A Totally Different Person
Have you ever met someone whom you had known as a child, and whom you thought would make a waste, or even a wreck of this life--only to find that at some point between then and now, the Lord has arrested this person and totally changed him? This is one of the great joys of seeing God's work in Christians, a joy captured by sentences like "and such were some of you" (1Cor 6:11) and "we were dead in trespasses... but God who is rich in mercy... made us alive" (Eph 2:1,4,5).

Here we have it in these words, "Who is this..."

We don't know which relative of the Bride is speaking, but we do know that this is one of her closest relatives. This relative was there at her birth and has known her throughout her life. But even this relative no longer recognizes her. "Who is this?," she asks.

It's not our first encounter with "the family." This is the family that found reason to be irritated with her in the past (1:6b), and esteemed her as little more than a field servant (1:6c). Even after her engagement, they expected the status quo between herself and them to continue, as they expected her to drop everything to catch the foxes that were spoiling the vineyard (2:15). They never expected much to change. It is even possible that they again are speaking in 6:13a, after the Beloved's extended praise of her in 6:4-12, as if to say, "that can't really be true; let us have a look!" Her response in 6:13b would fit that reading well.

Now, we cannot fault family for not having much hope in us for real and transformative change. If we are honest for ourselves, we too will have little hope in ourselves for such change. In fact, God tells us that hoping in ourselves for such change is like expecting a leopard to change his spots or expecting a dead man to make improvement.

But here she is, totally transformed. "Who is this?"

Now, we know from the book as a whole how it happened. One of the things that we had noticed even before we left chapter one was that her interaction with her Beloved was already changing what she saw when she looked at herself. But, for two great factors in producing this change, we don't even need to leave this verse.

Private Time with the Beloved
"Who is this coming up from the wilderness..." This is, of course, the wilderness in which the Bride and the Beloved interact in such a way that she wishes that circumstances were such that she could spend time with Him like this always (8:1-2). As it was, her enjoyment of the time with Him was such (8:3) that she concludes it with a strong warning--either not to attempt to stir up such love artificially, or (more probably, in my view) not to awaken her prematurely from the enjoyment of such love (8:4).

And this wilderness--this place and time of intense and intimate interaction with her Beloved--is one of the keys to her transformation. Like Moses, who literally glowed after having been with the Lord; and like the apostles, whose manner was so changed that even their enemies were forced to note "that they had been with Jesus," we too are transformed in these concerted times with the Lord. The Scripture says that we grow, not only by the grace of Jesus Christ, but also in a personal way by knowing Jesus Christ (2Pet 3:18).

Leaning upon the Beloved
"Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?..." Here, in fact, is not only one of the things that has led to the observable change in the bride, but something that is a large part of the change itself. She is now one who has a Beloved, and she is one whose life displays a continual leaning upon Him.

If our "wilderness" times with the Lord are not continued in a leaning upon Him when we come out of them into other times, then we are missing the transformation. Not only is every action transformed by being done in a resting upon Christ and in fellowship with Him, but this resting and fellowship themselves produce further transformation.

How sweet is the Christian life that is lived as a leaning upon our Beloved!

Expect Marriage to Change You
Here, we come to the secondary application--our earthly marriages as a reflection of the church's relationship with Christ. Marriage is a big part of our sanctification. It gives a husband an opportunity to grow in a specific kind of Christ-likeness (Eph 5:25). It gives a wife an opportunity to grow in her submission to Christ as she follows His design for her earthly marriage (Eph 5:22-24).

The husband's laying his life down for his wife aims at her sanctification (Eph 5:26-28). The wife's submission and gentle and quiet spirit aim at his(1Pet 3:1-4). The way the husband interacts with his wife factors directly into his prayer life (1Pet 3:7).

Not only this, but as the Lord is continually sanctifying us in all of our experiences (Rom 8:28, Heb 12:1-2, 10-11), and one of the chief among these is our marriages.

Enjoy Regular Marital Intimacy and a Lifetime of Marital Union
It is not difficult to see how 1Cor 7:5 is an application of the preciousness of the "garden" or "wilderness" time, as we have seen it in Song of Songs. Husbands and wives should be eager for the next episode of intimate time spent together. And, they should "take their time" in those moments--savoring the experience of observing and appreciating every square inch, each of the other, body and soul; and delighting in the exclusivity of that interaction.

Yet, let this also form how they understand their business in the world. They are never again a mere individual anywhere they go or in anything that they do, but always half a union. Let us have always a thought about, a prayer for, and an affection toward our spouse no matter what other business we are about or what other company we are in. The husband and wife are no longer two but one.

==
Prior to the series that we just finished in the morning calls to worship, I had taught or preached on Song of Songs on two other occasions, taking earthly marriage as primarily in view, and our relationship with Christ by way of application as secondary.

Now that we've finished, I am grateful to God for bringing me to the conclusion that our relationship with Christ as Husband is primarily in view, and that application to our earthly marriages is secondary. The richness of the study has been a blessing to me in thinking about our Heavenly Husband's interactions both with us corporately as a church and with me personally as a member of Him.

This was true in this last passage (SoS 8:5-14) as much as in any other part. This is why it seemed good to me to interrupt current prayer meeting series in Job to give the exposition of this passage in more detail. As I write the lesson, I hope to give it--in perhaps even more detail than we will be able to muster on Thursday--in this space.

27-July-2014 Orders of Service and Suggested Memory Work

One thing that we have found beneficial for our children--especially our non-readers--to participate more and absorb more in the Lord's Day assemblies is to be going over the texts and songs in advance.

If they come to the Lord's Day, in the prior six days having heard each passage opened up in family worship, having memorized a verse or two from every portion of Scripture that they will hear, having sung each song several times as a "song of the day," and having memorized the portion from the shorter catechism for the evening, they are able to track a lot better.

Perhaps you may wish to try this too. If you've been using the "follow-up" devotionals, you may find that they help you Sabbath well at Lord's Day lunches and bedtimes.

Here are the pertinent items from the upcoming Lord's Day:

The Lord’s Day, July 27, 2014
Morning Service
Ruth 1:1-6, Prayer
Song, #9 All You That Fear Jehovah’s Name
Numbers 3, Exhortation, Prayer
Song, #589 Fill Thou My Life, O Lord My God
Ephesians 2:1-7, Exhortation, Prayer
Song, #486 God, Be Merciful to Me
Responsive confession of Heidelberg Catechism 60-62 (p70-73)
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 49-52 (p873)
1Corinthians 1:1-3, Prayer
Song, #347 The Church’s One Foundation
Matthew 14, Prayer
Song, #158 I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art
Joel 2:1-17, Exhortation, Prayer
Song, #316 The Mighty God, the Lord
Responsive confession of Heidelberg Catechism 86-91 (p96-100)
The Lord’s Supper

Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Suggested memory verses for this week
Monday, Ruth 1:6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that Yahweh had visited His people by giving them bread.
Tuesday, Numbers 3:13 because all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am Yahweh.     
Wednesday,
Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)
Thursday, 1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
Friday, Matthew 14:33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Saturday, Joel 2:13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to Yahweh your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

Prepare for the Lord's Day with Deovtionals for Next Week

Some have been [reading the texts and practicing the songs] in order to prepare to participate as well as possible in the Lord's worship gatherings on His day tomorrow.

As you intensify this preparation on this Lord's Day eve, you may find it helpful to consider next week's follow-up devotionals in advance:

July 21 · Song of Songs 8:5-14
   Questions for understanding this Scripture: What difficulty does the observer in v5 have? What, in the bride’s posture here, explains the cause for the change? How does the bride address her husband as she considers how her life with Him has changed her(v6-7)? · What kind of imagery is used for how vigilantly her guardians should protect a girl’s heart for her groom (heavenly, and by analogy earthly, v8-9)? What kind of imagery is used for how vigilantly a bride should reserve herself for her husband(v10)? · As she serves her husband, whom does she serve primarily and whom does she therefore also serve(v11-12)? Who else is also to delight in the love between the husband and his bride(v13-14)?
   Questions for applying this Scripture to our lives: How has belonging to the Lord Jesus changed you? How do you still need it to change you? · In what ways is your life like a “walking as you lean on your Beloved”? · What girls are entrusted to your care? How will you guard her heart with a military vigilance to protect her from romances ahead of the time? What children are entrusted to your care? What great efforts of vigilance are you taking to reserve their lives from being primarily about anything other than the Lord? · If you are married, what are some of these military measures that you are taking to guard yourself for your spouse? · If you are a believer, what are some of these military measures that you are taking to keep yourself only for Christ?
[M’Cheyne reading plan: Judges 4, Acts 8, Jeremiah 17, Mark 3]
July 22 · Numbers 1-2
   Questions for understanding this Scripture: How many children of the promise had Abraham had? Had Isaac had? Does Israel (Jacob) now have (ch 1)? Which of the Israelites are numbered? What is God showing that He has prepared them for? For what does Israel’s arrangement (ch 2) also show that God has prepared them? · How are they going to respond to the prospect of this? How does this factor into what happens in the rest of the book of numbers? · What tribe was not numbered for war? What tribe was at the center of Israel’s formation? What was at the center of that tribe? What does all of this point out as the most important thing about Israel?
   Questions for applying this Scripture to our lives: What has God especially saved you for and called you to (Eph 1)? What has God especially armed you for (Eph 6)? · What is the most difficult part of this battle for you right now? What would a believing response look like in your heart and mind? What would a believing response look like in your actions? · Describe how your life is ordered to show that you are set apart for God. How could this be more carefully and sincerely done?
[M’Cheyne reading plan: Judges 5, Acts 9, Jeremiah 18, Mark 4]
July 23 · Ephesians 1:20-23
   Questions for understanding this Scripture: What power has v19 described? When else was that power  exercised (v20)? Toward whom was the power of Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s ascension, and Christ’s session (sitting) exercised? · Over whom does Christ, not merely as the Son but especially as the Mediator, reign (v21a)? When does He exercise this reign over these subjects as our Mediator (v21b)? · How entire is Christ’s rule (22a)? For whom, especially, is Christ ruling (22b)? Why would Christ’s concern in everything be especially for the church (23a)? How much of what happens is done out of this concern (23b)?
   Questions for applying this Scripture to our lives: What are some things in your personal life that do not immediately appear to be good for you? Repeat aloud the truths of these verses, as they apply specifically to the persons and circumstances of these situations. · What are some things in our country and in the world that do not immediately appear to be good for you? Repeat aloud the truths of these verses, as they apply specifically to the persons and circumstances of these situations? · How does this passage describe your personal relationship with Jesus? What effect does this have upon your emotions toward Him? What effect does it have upon your emotions toward this world?
[M’Cheyne reading plan: Judges 6, Acts 10, Jeremiah 19, Mark 5]
July 24 · Romans 16:25-27
   Questions for understanding this Scripture: How does Paul refer to the entire message of his letter here (25a)? What is one of the things that “his gospel” says that God can do? As the foundation of this reality, who was God’s special secret that has now been made known (25b)? · What is the means by which He is made known to all nations (26a)? Whose command (not just plan!) is it that this would happen (26b)? In addition to commanding that Jesus be made known to the nations, what is God commanding that the nations do in response (26b)? What is the ultimate aim of all of this—and indeed of all of everything (v27)?
   Questions for applying this Scripture to our lives: What might you adjust in your heart and mind, in order to take better account of the fact that only God can establish you? What might you adjust in your habits? · How are you using “the prophetic Scriptures” to tell the truth about life only-in-Jesus to others? How are you believing and acting upon the truth about life only-in-Jesus for yourself? · How does it show in your telling others that only God’s wisdom (not yours at all) gets glory for the telling of the gospel? How does it show in your response to God that only His wisdom (not yours at all) gets glory for your believing the gospel? What specific actions—privately, as a family, as a congregation—show that the ultimate goal of every part of every day is that God would get glory through Jesus?
[M’Cheyne reading plan: Judges 7, Acts 11, Jeremiah 20, Mark 6]
July 25 · Matthew 14:1-13
   Questions for understanding this Scripture: About whom had Herod heard (v1)? What wrong explanation does he give for Jesus’ power (v2)? Who else has recently given a wrong explanation (12:24)? Who have recently failed to respond at all (13:53-58)? · So, what question is Matthew pushing us to ask? And what answer is he pushing us to give? · Whom do unbelievers fear more than God (v9)? How does it often go for the Lord’s servants who fear God more than men (v2-11)? · When the Lord takes away something or someone that has genuinely helped us, where can we turn (v12)? What is one way that the Scripture here encourages us to see the extent of Christ’s care and sympathy when we “go and tell Jesus” (v13)?
   Questions for applying this Scripture to our lives: What conclusion have you come to as an explanation or the great power at work in Him? How does your life show that you have really come to this conclusion about Jesus? · What is a situation in which you have been tempted to fear men more than God? What have you so far done in that situation? · If you have suffered for this, or for something else recently, has your reflex been—in addition to taking care of business—to “go and tell Jesus”? What will it look like if you determine now that this will be your response? · How does doing this with the small troubles help you when it comes to the big ones?
[M’Cheyne reading plan: Judges 8, Acts 12, Jeremiah 21, Mark 7]
July 26 · Joel 1:15-20
   Questions for understanding this Scripture: To what immediately upcoming day (v2-14) is v15 referring? To what significant history-changing future day (Acts 2:17-21) is this day pointing? To what ultimate history-ending day (Rev 6:12-17; Heb 12:25-29) day do both of these point? · What is one time-limited thing that we must respond rightly to, in light of these great days (16a)? What is another (16b)? How do v17-18 show that not just sinners, but the entire creation, is subject to the reality of these great days? · As Joel learns these things from his own prophecy, what right response does he model for us (19-20)? How do not only the exile, but the subsequent “day of Yahweh” on Pentecost, teach us to respond to them (Acts 2:21)?
   Questions for applying this Scripture to our lives: When you consider the greatness of God’s rejection of Israel (and offer of salvation to the remnant) in the exile, how do you respond to your own sin? When you consider the even greater rejection by God of ethnic Israel (and further establishment of spiritual Israel) at Pentecost, along with the “greaterness” of salvation offered to the nations, how do you respond to your own sin? · Over what recent sins have you been mourning? Why might you be in danger if you have not mourned over your sin? · How has turning to Jesus in faith turned that mourning into joy for you? Why are you most certainly in danger if you have not rejoiced over Jesus’ salvation? · What steps will you take to hold the salvation of Jesus before yourself—and before your family—for you to rejoice over?

20-July-2014 Orders of Service

The Lord’s Day, July 20, 2014
Morning Service
Song of Songs 8:5-14, Prayer
Song, #657 In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee
Numbers 1-2, Exhortation, Prayer
Song, #83 O Praise the Lord, for He Is Good
Ephesians 1:20-23, Exhortation, Prayer
Song, #313 Unto My Lord Jehovah Said
Responsive confession of Heidelberg Catechism 45, 49-51, 55, 57 (p54)
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 45-48 (p872)
Romans 16:25-27, Prayer
Song, #99 My Song Forever Shall Record
Matthew 14:1-13, Prayer
Song, #608 To God My Earnest Voice I Raise
Joel 1:15-20, Exhortation, Prayer
Songs, #552 From Out the Depths I Cry, O Lord, to Thee
Responsive confession of Heidelberg Catechism 52 (p61)
The Lord’s Supper

Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Song of Songs 6:4-10 - The Husband's Delight in His Imperfect Wife

In the morning service this week, we were called to worship by Song of Songs 6:4-10. It was wonderful to consider that although His wife is very imperfect, and she had last received Him as if His presence was rather inconvenient, yet now in this interaction He is full of affection and adoration for her.

Just so is Christ with His bride, though she is yet ever so imperfect. And just so should each husband imitate Christ in how he loves his own wife. And how much easier it is for us sinful husbands to imitate the Lord Jesus, when we remember how intense and unwavering is His love for and delight in us.

The following is the suggested memory work from the Scripture passage:
Song of Songs 6:10 (NKJV) Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?



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As we look forward to next Lord's Day, we will be called to worship in the morning by Song of Songs 6:11-7:10, continuing the husband's description of His wife (you may disregard the NKJV's editorial suggestion that some of this is the bride's speech). In this portion of the passage, He admits to getting carried away, and the intimacy of the description may make some readers or hearers uncomfortable. This is really between the bride and groom only!

Just so is much of our Christian lives (cf. Matt 6:1-21, Psalm 139). It is "for His eyes only." Our God, our dear Savior, delights in that which is especially between us and Him alone. How is your secret life with the Lord? That part that no one else sees? Give yourself to it. Give yourself to Him! Drink up His delight in it!

The following is the suggested memory work for next week's passage:
Song of Songs 7:10 (NKJV) I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me.

Planned Orders of Worship for the Coming Lord's Day, 6-July-2014

You may find the planned orders of service for the coming Lord's Day helpful, as you pray and prepare for the teaching, practice the singing, and review the Scripture passages and the Scripture truths from the confession and catechisms:

The Lord’s Day, July 6, 2014
Morning Service
Song of Songs 6:11-7:10, Prayer
Song, #37 All That I Am I Owe to Thee
Ephesians 1:15-16, Exhortation, Prayer
Song, #436 Zion, Founded on the Mountains
Unison confession of Westminster Confession VIII.I, XXVI.I (p853,864)
The Lord’s Supper
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 40-41 (p872)
Romans 15:29-16:16, Prayer
Song, #356 How Beautiful the Sight
Matthew 13:44-52, Prayer
Song, #657 In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee
Joel 1:1, Exhortation, Prayer
Songs, #59 Forever Settled in the Heavens
Unison confession of Westminster Confession I.I, I.IV-VII, I.IX-X (p847-849)

Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Reminders for the Coming Lord's Day, 6-July-2014

It's difficult to believe that we've already spent half of 2014, even if the Lord grants to us the entire remainder of the year. This is an opportunity for some serious reflection.

Those who have a "vacation" from mid-May to mid-August have spent half of that time. How has it been spent?

As you look forward to the first Lord's Day in July, please remember that:
(1) We plan to take the Lord's Supper together in the morning. If you are accustomed to using the Lord's Day afternoon as a time of particular preparation to take the Supper well, then you will want to make a time for that in advance of the morning service instead.
(2) We will be having a fellowship meal after the class. Fellowship is important. It is commanded by God. Opportunity for it is limited in this age. It is a duty to prioritize fellowship meals and afterparties, to extend hospitality to other believers, and to use these times for planning the other good works that we will do with one another. WCF 26.1-2 say...

WCF 26.1  All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory:(1) and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces,(2) and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.(3)
(1) 1 John 1:3; Eph. 3:16-19; John 1:6; Eph. 2:5,6; Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:5,6; 2 Tim. 2:12 
(2) Eph. 4:15,16; 1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; Col. 2:19 
(3) 1 Thess. 5:11,14; Rom. 1:11,12,14; 1 John 3:16-18; Gal. 6:10  

WCF 26.2  Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification;(1) as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.(2)
(1) Heb. 10:24,25; Acts 2:42,46; Isa. 2:3; 1 Cor. 11:20 
(2) Acts 2:44,45; 1 John 3:17; 2 Cor. Chapters 8 and 9; Acts 11:29,30