How to Fall and Stay in Love with JesusUnheeded Love 1: Loving in the Laboratory of Life
Day 8 of "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus"
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says if Christ is your beloved, you need to listen to Him.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you want to hear His voice and learn to recognize it and know what He’s saying to you, there needs to be time when you turn off the noise so that you can listen.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, February 22.
For the last week-and-a-half, we’ve been in a rich study of the Song of Solomon. The series is called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.”
Nancy: Up until this point in the Song of Solomon, or as I like to call it, the Song of Songs, the bride and the groom have been enjoying sweet, intimate fellowship with each other—initial love.
In the last session, we left the bride locked in a passionate embrace with her beloved, and you would think, if you didn’t know the whole story and you hadn’t read the whole book (which I hope you are reading the book throughout our days of studying it together), you’d think that from this point nothing could ever go wrong with this perfect couple. They would live happily ever after. Right? Wrong!
We’re going to see that, as is the experience with all of us in human relationships and in marriage and in our relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom, love has to grow. And it grows by being tested, by being challenged, by being worked out in the context of real life, everyday circumstances. The laboratory of life is where we experience that growth in love.
There are times when barriers arise in our relationship with the Lord. If you’re married, there are times when barriers arise in your relationship with your mate. Understand that will happen, and I think this book gives us a lot of insight into why it happens and what we can do about it.
So for the next several sessions, we’re going to be in the second section of the Song of Songs that I’ve called “Unheeded Love.” It begins in chapter 2, verse 8, and it continues through chapter 3, verse 5. We’ll spend several days on that section. We’re going to see some of the things that threaten intimacy.
So let me pick up at chapter 2, verse 8, and just the first phrase of that verse. I want to stop there: “The voice of my beloved!”
And then if you skip down to verse 10, it says: “My beloved spoke, and said to me . . .”
Let me just park there for a few moments before we move on. The beloved is speaking to his bride, but in this moment, as we’re going to see, he is outside the house. She can’t see him, but she recognizes his voice instantly. She knows that he is speaking to her. She knows that he’s not talking to the neighbor. “My voice, my beloved spoke, and said to me.” She knows he’s talking to her.
Now, how does she know whose voice it is? How does she know who’s speaking? She can’t see him.
Well, the way she knows is that she has been with him. She has spent time with him. They have talked. They have communicated. She knows his voice, and she would know that voice anywhere, any time of day or night.
And she’s excited to hear his voice. There’s an exclamation point here. “The voice of my beloved! My beloved spoke, and said to me . . .”
It reminds me of that verse in John 3 that says: “The friend of the bridegroom rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice” (v. 29). There’s a sense of excitement. He’s speaking, and he’s speaking to me!
A sign that you have a genuine relationship with Christ is that He speaks to you through His Word and by His Spirit, and you hear Him speak, and you recognize it as His voice. The reason you recognize His voice is that you have been with Him. You have spent time with Him. You have learned to discern the difference between His voice and someone else’s voice.
We read about this in John chapter 10. Jesus said: “The sheep hear his voice [talking about the Good Shepherd], and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out . . . and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (vv. 3–4).
Now, those who are not of His flock don’t recognize His voice. It’s a reminder that you can hear the Scripture read and preached but never hear God speak. Because so many of those who are apart from Christ, they but don’t have ears to hear. They don’t have a receiver. They don’t have a spiritual receiver. The things of the Spirit are foolishness to them. It’s just like fuzz or static on a radio. Their receiver’s not working. They can’t hear. They can’t discern. They can’t understand what He’s saying.
Believers, on the other hand, hear His voice, and they follow His voice. Hearing His voice and saying, “Yes, Lord,” is an evidence that you belong to Him.
So when I open the Word of God, I expect to hear God speak to me. I ask Him to speak to me. I recognize that when I read this Book; He is speaking to me. God is speaking to me. Christ is speaking to me. And I want to hear His voice. I want to follow Him.
The problem is that so many of us today have a hard time listening to His voice because there are so many other voices in our lives. Our lives are so cluttered, so noisy. I was talking to a friend recently who really loves quiet. She and her husband are quite opposites. He’s into sports, and they have a three-bedroom apartment with nine televisions in it always turned on to sports.
Now, that may seem a little extreme, but that’s a picture of how most people live. We’ve always got noise going. We’ve always got voices going. For you, it may not be audible noise. It may be books. You’re reading three novels at a time. You’re always having voices coming in.
Maybe you spend all your time with friends, always talking with friends, and you don’t get quiet and alone to hear His voice.
If you want to hear His voice and learn to recognize it and know what He’s saying to you, there needs to be times when you turn off the noise so that we can listen. Get a quiet heart. That’s not easy. I find it extremely difficult to do, and I live alone, and I keep a quiet house. But I can still have a heart that just has a lot of voices going through it. I can be spending all my time on electronic gadgets and doing email and communicating and not take time to just be still and quiet and listen to His voice.
It’s just a reminder that prayer is not just talking to God. Prayer is listening to the voice of our Beloved as He speaks to us through His Word and by His Spirit taking that Word and applying it to our hearts.
God said: “This is My beloved Son—listen to Him”—listen to His voice. "I will hear what God the Lord will speak” (Ps. 85:8 NKJV).
Are you listening to His voice? Are you taking time regularly to hear the voice of your Beloved?
Well, she says: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes.” (v. 8)
And, again, let me just stop right there and remind us, as we’re seeing Christ our Beloved, that Christ came to this earth to save us. He continues to come to us by His Spirit and through His Word. The great hope of the Bride of Christ, the great hope of every believer is the return of our Bridegroom who is coming back for His own, to consummate this marriage relationship, to take us to live with Him forever. We’re going to see more of that vision when we get to the last chapter of the Song of Songs.
But, “The voice of my beloved!” and then that precious promise, “Behold, he comes.” He came for us. He comes to us daily if we will let Him visit us. And He is coming for us so that we can be physically with Him in His presence forever.
“Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” (v. 8) And we see the power of Christ for whom nothing is too difficult. Blind eyes? He says the word, and they see. Raging storms? He speaks the word, and the waves become calm.
“Leaping upon mountains, skipping upon the hills.” It’s a picture, I think, of His resurrection power. Death is no match for Him. It cannot keep Him down. His great power, that resurrection power, exposes how weak and frail and fragile we are. Right? We can’t leap on mountains or skip on hills. We’re hoping not to go over the edge while He’s leaping and skipping. In our own strength, we are no match for those mountains and hills.
She sees one who can conquer every difficulty, who can run across every mountain and leap upon every hill. He has a strength and a power that far surpass her own limited, puny power. He comes leaping on mountains and skipping upon hills.
She says: “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag”—nimble, sure-footed on those mountains and hills and those treacherous places.
You’ve seen the deer leaping in those places where we would be just taking one single scary step at a time, and they’re leaping. Her beloved manages these mountains and hills with ease, like a deer. It’s so unlike us. On our own, we’re cautious. We’re fearful. We’re clumsy. We stumble in the face of those obstacles.
And she says: “Behold, he stands behind our wall; he is looking through the windows; gazing through the lattice. [Notice he doesn’t force or push his way in.] My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away’” (vv. 9–10).
Now, she has been with him in his chamber, in chapter 1, verse 4. She’s been with him at his table. She’s been with him in the banqueting house. They’ve had this sweet, intimate, blessed, joyful experience.
But now he calls to her. He wants her to get up and leave that comfortable, secure, precious place and go out with him into the mountains and hills. He scales them with ease, and he wants her to scale them with him.
As we spend time alone with the Lord, it can be so sweet. And then your quiet time’s over. Right? And God calls you out into the rough, tumble, real world, real life, and sometimes you think, “Do I have to? Do I have to go there?”
Think of Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration. “Lord, this is awesome! Can’t we just stay here and see this glory?”
And Jesus says, “No, no, no, no, no. We’re not supposed to stay up here right now. One day it will be all glory forever. Right now it’s just a glimpse, and we need to go back down in that valley, where there is no glory being seen, and take the glory we’ve experienced here and make it real down there. Show it to others.”
The problem is, we’re guilty of spiritual gluttony. We get self-absorbed, and we want to protect our spiritual experiences for ourselves and just stay there in that holy little cocoon of just God and me, just Jesus and me . . . reading my Bible, enjoying Jesus, playing praise and worship music. We don’t want to go to work, don’t want to have to deal with those kids, don’t want to have to deal with that difficult situation at church. We want to just stay there, enjoying Him.
But Jesus says at times we need to get out of that quiet place and go out with Him and take that glory that we’ve seen and reveal to the world what God is like so the world will give Him the glory that He so richly deserves.
And so he says, “Arise, my beloved. Come away.” This is an invitation, but it’s also a command. He wants her to join him in dealing with real-life circumstances outside the palace. At this point she has experienced the sweetness of intimate communion with him, but she still has a lot to learn about how to serve with him, how to get his power for service, how to enter into spiritual warfare, how to take the sweetness of the bedchamber—the glory she’s experienced alone with him—how to take that out into the reality of mountains and hills and hard places.
I can imagine she may be thinking, “Hey, that’s fine for you to leap on mountains and skip on hills, but that’s just not my thing. You may be nimble and fleet as a young deer on the mountains, but I’m not. I’m klutzy. I’m afraid I’ll trip on those rocks. I don’t think I can do this.”
How many times do we look at what God has put on our plate, the things He’s assigned to us, and we say, “Uh . . . somebody else can do that. Not me. I can’t do that.”
You see, we’re so accustomed to walking in the reality of our natural strengths and abilities that we seldom prove how great God is. We seldom lay hold of His resurrection power because we’re so accustomed to doing only what we can do in our own strength. So we just stay walking around the block, safe on the sidewalk—no hills, no mountains, no challenges. And He says, “I want you to come up and scale these mountains with me.”
When is the last time you were in a place where you knew you couldn’t make it without Him? I hope it’s often.
I’ve often asked the Lord over the years, “Don’t ever let me get to the place in ministry where I can do what You’ve called me to do without needing You.” You know, that’s one prayer God has been very faithful to answer. I was a straight-A student, good at books, good at studying, good at talking, but He keeps me feeling a desperate sense of my neediness and my inability apart from Him.
He delights to get us to the place where we have no strength of our own, no wisdom of our own, no ability of our own, no resource but Him, His greatness, His resurrection power, His strength demonstrated in our weakness. And that’s when we learn what it means to live in the realm of the supernatural. And that’s when others can see the power of God displayed in and through our weakness.
So he calls her to rise and come away. He wants her to learn to walk with him, to service with him, to enter into the battle, to go into the hard places, the high places, into the fray. He wants to teach her how to deal with the dangers and the challenges of the mountains and the hills.
And he says in verse 11: “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come. And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
I want to remind us that there are seasons. Up here in Michigan, we have winter. It happens that the last winter was not all that severe, but the previous one was horrific! And it goes on and on and on. We talk about the permacloud here in Michigan. It’s just dark and dreary and cold and snowy and icy. And you think, “This winter is going to last forever.”
But it doesn’t because God has ordained seasons, and after winter comes spring. In the changing of seasons, we see a parable of death coming forth into new life. In the winter we see the picture of the cross, dealing with sin and with self, dying to self. But that leads to spring where we experience the power of His resurrection life. We’re filled with His Spirit, and we experience new life and fruitfulness.
God doesn’t want us to stay in the same season forever. He brings new seasons. And He wants to work in our lives in new ways. Winter may be a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or it may be years. “Weeping may endure for a night—and that night may be very long—but joy comes in the morning.” When you’re in the middle of the winter, you’ve got to keep reminding yourself: There will be spring. Spring will come.
Is He calling you to rise up and come away, to scale those mountains and hills with Him, to enter into a new season of faith, a new level of experiencing His supernatural power in your life?
Is He calling you to rise up and come away from a winter that maybe you’ve been in for a season? Is He calling you to rise up and . . .
- to come away from the winter of bitterness and anger and step into the spring of forgiveness?
- to come away from the winter of nursing your hurts and your wounds from your past and to step into the spring of healing?
- to come away from the winter of lethargy and indifference and triviality and to step into the spring of wholeheartedness and fixation on Christ and eternity?
- to stop the winter of your purposeless living and begin the spring of purposeful living in light of eternity?
- to come away from the winter of your self-absorption, your self-seeking, and to step into the spring of seeking Him and becoming absorbed with His kingdom agenda?
- to leave the winter of defeat and bondage and guilt and shame and step into the spring of walking in freedom and in His grace?
Some of you have been maybe seeing counselors for years on end for something that you suffered as a child. Counselors can be helpful, but maybe God’s just saying, “Step out of that winter. Rise up and come away and step into the spring of wholeness.”
Now, it may not happen overnight, but are you even willing to go there? to let God bring the season of spring into your winter?
Maybe God’s calling you to rise up and come away from the winter of the roller-coaster Christian life that’s been driven by your emotions and your circumstances and instead to move into the spring of being led by His Spirit.
Maybe He’s calling you to step out of the night of weeping and grieving—and there is a time for that—but to step into the spring of His joy in the morning. That’s not necessarily because your circumstances have changed or your problems disappeared because joy isn’t the absence of problems or pressures, that’s Heaven. Joy is the presence of the resurrected Christ in the midst of the problems and pressures.
Maybe He’s calling you to come away from a season where you’ve been set apart to be alone with Him, and He’s calling you to go out with Him and to scale the mountains and the hills and to minister with Him in the vineyards, to go out into places of responsibility and mission and vision that you could never have imagined yourself doing.
I know we have some recent widows here, and this has been a winter in the grieving and the loss of that mate that you spent so many years with. But maybe God has for you a new spring coming, a spring of purposefulness and mission and usefulness and fruitfulness that you never imagined possible.
He’s not asking you to do it by yourself when He says, “Rise up, come away.” Our natural response is to say, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” That’s exactly what He wants us to realize. We can’t.
He’s not asking us to go leaping on those mountains and skipping on those hills in our own strength. He’s calling us to live in intimate union and communion with Him, and by faith to enter into the power of His resurrection. By the power of His Holy Spirit living within us, we truly can be more than conquerors, going with Him to walk in victory, to leap upon the mountains, to skip upon those hills in union and communion with Christ.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray.
That message is part of a series called, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” It’s a verse-by-verse study in the Song of Songs. Through the series, listeners have been invited to experience a more intimate relationship with Christ.
One way to get the most out of this study is to read Nancy’s “Making It Personal” questions. She wrote these questions so you could follow up on the material, evaluate your own heart, and discover how to live this message out in your life. You can read the follow-up questions for today’s program by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Just scroll to the conclusion of today’s transcript to find them.
You’ll also get all of the “Making It Personal” questions in one place when you pre-order this series on CD. Look for the series, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus,” at ReviveOurHearts.com, or order the series by calling 1-800-569-5959. You’ll get the series in about a month when it’s done airing.
Well, little foxes may look cute, but in the Song of Solomon, they steal love away one little bit at a time. Learn how to avoid this problem when we’re back next week picking up the series in the Song of Songs. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Now, let’s pray with Nancy.
Nancy: Lord, you’ve said, “Rise up and come away.” And You’re speaking to our hearts even now about ways that You want us to rise up and come away, to leap on mountains and skip upon hills with You. Oh, God, give us grace and faith and courage to say, “Yes, Lord, I’ll come, I’ll go with You. I can’t do this, but You can.”
Thank You, Lord, for speaking to our hearts today, and I pray that even just with these introductory days of this series that You will have done something sweet and special and rich in our hearts that we will take with us.
I pray a blessing on these women as they take what we’ve seen in this place today and live it out in the context of the mountains and hills that surround us as we leave here, the reality of every-day life—some in some hard places, some hurting places; and for some that their winter is not going end right away. I thank You that there’s grace there, too.
Keep us cleaving to Thyself and still believing into the hour of our receiving promised joys with Thee. Then we shall be what we would be. Then we shall be where we should be. Things that are not now nor could be soon shall be our own.
And for all that and more, we give You thanks, in Jesus’ holy name, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
Making It Personal
To get the most out of this verse-by-verse study of the Song of Songs, try to read through the entire book several times during the course of this series. You should be able to read this short book in approximately 15–20 minutes. This will give you a birds-eye view of the whole story. (This study is based on the New King James Version. You may want to print out the text at www.BibleGateway.com so you can follow along.)
As you read, make a note of any observations or questions that come to mind. Also, record your thoughts in relation to these two questions:
- What insights does this book give you in relation to human love and marriage?
- What insights does this book give you regarding God’s love for His people and the relationship between Christ and His Church?
Day 8 – Unheeded Love (Living in the Laboratory of Life—Song of Songs 2:8–13)
- The voice of my beloved! (2:8). I will hear what God the Lord will speak (Ps. 85:8). “This is My beloved Son. . . . Hear Him” (Matt. 17:5). Are you regularly taking time to listen to Christ’s voice? When was the last time you were conscious that He was speaking to you through His Word, and what did He say?
- Do you find it difficult to get a quiet heart so you can listen to the Lord? What other “voices” and noises keep you from hearing His voice? How can you turn them off—either figuratively or literally?
- Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills (2:8). What are some “mountains and hills” in your life that are difficult or impossible for you to scale, but that Christ is easily able to overcome?
- My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past (2:10–11). Is the Bridegroom calling you to “rise up and come away” from some “winter” in your life? How might you experience His supernatural power in a whole new way if you were to respond to His call?
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