I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13 (CEB)
Very often in life, discouraging things happen that can shake one’s faith to the core. Sometimes it is hard to think we can get through some difficulty– that perhaps it is too much for us to bear. At those times we need God most and it feels like He doesn’t care. Yet, the truth of the matter is that He sees a much bigger picture than we do. What I can so often fail to do is ask God in all humility for the strength to get me through and bring glory to His name in the process. The Holy Spirit is within all of us as Christians and wants for us to acknowledge Him and allow Him to work His will in us.
Don’t fear, because I am with you;
don’t be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
I will surely help you;
I will hold you
with my righteous strong hand.
-Isaiah 41:10 (CEB)
The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
beside streams of refreshing water.
He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
steering me off worn, hard paths
to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.
Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
near with Your protection and guidance,
I am comforted.
You spread out a table before me,
provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me
where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal,
in Your house forever. -Psalm 23 (The Voice)
I was reading an article about a more recent Bible translation called “The Voice” that has made its way into a very crowded marketplace in recent times when I stumbled upon its rendering of the 23rd Psalm. I found it quite nice and thought it deserved a spot in my listing of posts! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and derive equal comfort from its words.
Yet there is one ray of hope: his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day. My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him. The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek for him. It is good both to hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. -Lamentations 3:21-26 (The Living Bible)
As I continued to watch this night vision of mine, I suddenly saw
one like a human being
coming with the heavenly clouds.
He came to the ancient one
and was presented before him.
Rule, glory, and kingship were given to him;
all peoples, nations, and languages will serve him.
His rule is an everlasting one—
it will never pass away!—
his kingship is indestructible.
Daniel 7:13-14 (CEB)
One of the Bible translations that I have recently become acquainted with is known to translate “Son of Man” as the “Human One.” My initial reaction was one of slight alarm until I took a minute to think about the phrase and relate it to my Lord. I have come to hold an even higher regard for the sacrifice of Jesus when considering the fact that He is God incarnate, now and forever fully human– as well as fully God. He has, in every sense of the word, become our bridge to our Heavenly Father. To relate to us best He became one of us– that concept still astounds me when I spend any time contemplating it. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! -Hebrews 13:8 (CEB)
Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave—just as the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.” -Matthew 20:27-28 (CEB)
He said, “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” -Luke 9:22 (CEB)
I have this little app on my phone that displays a different proverb each day. it’s neat, because it will remind me of the importance of receiving daily wisdom from the Word of God. Recently it displayed Proverbs 13:25, which says: The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
Many years ago, at a 12 step convention, I heard a speaker talk about the “God box” that she tried so often to put things into that were not of God. She tried putting men, drugs and alcohol, all sorts of things that brought momentary satisfaction at a dear price. Her evenings often started in nirvana and ended in jail– or (at the very least) wanting more as she tried to cure the insatiable lust for “feeling good.”
How about you? Are you feeling satisfied? How about partaking of the bread of life? And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. -John 6:35
“In the years to come when your son asks you, ‘What is the purpose of these laws which the Lord our God has given us?’ you must tell him, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with great power and mighty miracles—with terrible blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people. We saw it all with our own eyes. He brought us out of Egypt so that he could give us this land he had promised to our ancestors. And he has commanded us to obey all of these laws and to reverence him so that he can preserve us alive as he has until now. For it always goes well with us when we obey all the laws of the Lord our God.’ -Deuteronomy 6:20-25 (The Living Bible)
To some Christians (especially who have come from some sort of legalistic background), the idea of Old Testament law is both disturbing and [perhaps even] annoying. However, reading God’s Word with an open mind (open to the power of the Holy Spirit for understanding) reveals a deeper truth that must not be missed. The law shows us our sin. Without the law, we don’t know about sin– at least not in the detail that it can be made available to us. More than just knowing of our sin, the law can protect us from ourselves and our behavior. God loves us very much. His love, expressed through His unending patience and amazing demonstration of grace, in actually incomprehensible to me as a human being.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” -Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)
This morning, after I got to work, my first voice mail message was from somebody who was having an issue that I didn’t want to deal with today (or any other day). This person and those around him can be difficult to deal with. I got instantly angry and wanted to flip out, yelling at the phone as it spewed its problematic message into the morning air. This was not the first time I got angry this morning, either. I was running late to work and things weren’t going my way. Nothing major– just things not working out as I had planned. God, especially since I was running late this morning, had been relegated to the back burner of my life. Not a good way to start the day. I had created a breeding ground for ill temper and selfishness.
All too often, I find myself all wrapped up in the way I think things should turnout or the way I am convinced they will turn out (which is often way off the mark). Determining God’s will for me at that moment is impossible for me, as I am too busy thinking and shouting in my head to hear His voice calling out to me. God has given me free will, to choose to come to Him or to do it my way. Every time I choose my way, the end result is more turmoil and unhappiness.
Time to be still and listen for that voice.
“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. -John 5:39 (NRSV)
Not very long ago, a friend from a small group I attend started a Bible study on another night which I am also involved in. My intention was to get very involved in an in-depth study of God’s word– so I would be prepared for any argument or discussion that might come along. I must confess that my decision to really get into the Scripture has been as much ego-driven as anything. I was expecting to come away with some fantastic pearls of wisdom that I could both share with the readers of my blogs and possibly impart to those I know– impressing them with my profound wisdom. To that end, I have not been disappointed. The first benefactor of such studies has been [and I am sure will continue to be] myself. I am learning things I was unaware I could be taught.
Sometimes these little gems (all of which are profound) are simple in their sentence structure and should be easily-reached conclusions of the mind that anybody could [and should] derive from even a minuscule amount of time reading the Bible. Often they arrive unheralded– yet right on schedule. When you least expect it, usually from a surprising source, God speaks His truth. Such was the case that very first evening of the newly-formed Bible study group. Deep in theological thought (or so we believed) a simple truth was stated: when you come right down to it, what really matters in all of this is Jesus. that is the message we came to hear– the one we need to hear.
It is so easy easy to get wrapped up in theological dogma and often give it more weight than it really deserves. The result is a separation from each other and, as Abraham Lincoln so aptly stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Satan, of course, is counting on that. He would love to render Christians as ineffective [and perhaps even working for him, unaware]. How often do people balk at the idea of attending church, citing examples of people who do not practice what they preach? It so often seems like Christians are the greatest enemies of Christ, by example of their behavior. There have certainly been many moments in my life when it would appear that I am working more for the other side than for God. There is a message in the Gospel that should not be obscured by the ideas and pompous actions of men and women.
Please don’t misunderstand me, the name of the game is serving our Lord and preaching His message of salvation. How we do this is quite clear. It goes back to the days of the Old Testament: Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. -Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NRSV)
Jesus adds a second commandment, much like the first: And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” -Matthew 22:39-40 (NRSV)