Tags: bible, exodus
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Here, we see one of many times in the book of Exodus where Moses doubts whether he can fulfill all that God is asking him to do. Yet in each case, God gives Moses the abilities and knowledge he will need to tackle each new challenge. Even though Moses feels ill-equipped to be all that God asks him to be, God knows better.
As one whose tongue routinely trips all over itself and begins 5 different sentences, only to never finish any of them, I am feeling the truth of these particular verses–I, too, feel “slow of speech and tongue” sometimes. But Moses’ “Pardon your servant” line is about more than just speaking badly; Moses worries that he will fail publicly, which is more a matter of pride than anything.
We often fall into the same trap–I’m currently stuck in it myself! These two verses are stepping ALL over my toes. I, too, have told God “no” because I’m scared I can’t do it. But when we experience God moving in our hearts to do something, a divine “tug” in a particular direction, and then tell God “no, I can’t do that,” what are we actually afraid of? More often, we’re afraid of failing and humiliating ourselves–we fear losing control and looking incompetent, and/or fear that others will judge us harshly for poor performance. (Living example of that sitting right here typing this. :D)
The Lord’s reply to Moses, then, is also a reply to our fears and questions about where God is leading us. He is in control–He gave us our brains and our abilities, and He knows the whole plan where we only perceive a small portion of it. If He leads us to a new task, a new place, new people, then we must trust that He will provide what we need. We just have to allow verse 12 to serve as inspiration–we must go and do, because God will help us and teach us along the way.no comments February 12th, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, redo
Today, we’re revisiting 1st Corinthians in my older post Do Everything for God’s Glory. Saying more about these Bible verses in less words, with better flow? Yay!no comments February 5th, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, john
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
In this passage, Jesus had just healed a disabled man, and told him to pick up his mat and walk; the Pharisee leaders, following the letter of the Old Testament Law, considered that the man was carrying a “load” and thus was violating Sabbath law. When they question the healed man, they learn of Jesus, “this fellow” who is apparently healing people AND telling them to violate Mosaic Law (at least in their highly legalistic understanding)!
But Jesus, following the spirit of the Law, knows that the formerly-disabled man walking is an important demonstration, not only of Jesus’ divine power but of the old order changing. God is moving among His people again, shaking up the human-created hierarchies and pointing out the useless legalism in their interpretations of His Word. And, as you might expect, the Pharisees are none too happy about that!
We modern Christians, however, are not immune to Pharisee-like beliefs. We, too, like to put human-created pseudo-Christian laws and opinions in God’s mouth, like the following:
- You HAVE to be dressed nicely to enter church*
- The more money you give to the church, the closer to God you are
- If you call yourself a Christian but don’t belong to a certain political party, you are not actually Christian*
- Certain kinds of people (homosexuals, junkies, etc.) cannot be saved*
* I have actually heard “Christians” say these things
These sentiments may have started out based on wanting to honor God, wanting to be holy, etc., but along the way they got twisted to serve human interests and conveniences instead of God. It’s very easy to do–you might say it’s very tempting to do. That’s why it’s so important for us to do a faith self-exam every so often, to check ourselves against the Word of God so that we don’t start falling into Pharisee traps!no comments January 29th, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, redo
The redone post I’m featuring today is the very first post ever on this blog–We Complain, God Provides, with a passage from Jeremiah. Click and read the new and improved-ness!no comments January 22nd, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: 1 samuel, bible
1 Samuel 13:19
19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!”
This single verse describes the tyranny with which the Philistines menaced the Israelites in the Old Testament. By this time, the Philistines had grown so powerful in the region that they even kept tight controls over potential weapon-makers (blacksmiths), so that the Israelites could not rise up against them with any serious force. At the time, Saul had been named the first king of Israel, but had already proven himself more self-focused and impulsive in his leadership; needless to say, it was a scary time for the average Israelite!
Yet even then, as chapter 14:1-23 proves, God was still with His people. Though the Israelites were unarmed and seemingly defenseless, caught between internal political strife and external military threats, God was still working, bringing confusion to the Philistines and helping the Israelites to rout them. The overall struggle was not yet over, not by a long shot, but this battle, which had seemed so hopeless at the outset, was utterly changed with God’s help.
The lesson here? Even when we feel powerless, defenseless, completely without what we need, God can and will provide. He will bring a fitting resolution to your problems, one you might never have been able to imagine; it may not come right away, but when it does, it will be perfectly timed to God’s plan.no comments January 15th, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, titus
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Paul emphasizes both the nature of God and His ultimate gift to humanity in this passage. Salvation, the pardoning of our souls so that we no longer have to pay for our sins, comes through Jesus to us because of mercy, not because of merit.
It’s very easy–and tempting–to get this wrong, to start believing that we can engineer our own salvation or that we somehow “deserved” God’s love more than somebody else. But Paul is clear: God’s merciful act saved us because we could not save ourselves; alone, we could not be spiritually reborn and renewed without the Holy Spirit’s power, and could not hope to have eternal life with Him after physical death. None of us deserved this gift, this second chance to live as Christ lived, but it was and still is offered to all.no comments January 8th, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, song of songs
Song of Songs 8:6-7a
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. 7 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.
Up till this point, the Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon) has created a dialogue between Beloved and Lover which reads a lot like flirtation to modern readers. However, the verses above give a new dimension to the conversation; suddenly, it doesn’t read like flirtation purely for its own interests, but a delicate dance leading to the ideal marriage (the “seal” on the lover’s heart), where “love is as strong as death,” a God-kindled fire unquenchable by anything earthly.
This is where this whole book of Scripture has been leading–that flirtation and courtship are not mere ends in and of themselves, but ideally lead to a love blessed and sanctified by God. It gives new meaning to the words of the Beloved and the Lover, showing that this has been God leading them closer together in spirit, and not just them saying gushy things to each other. In short, it shows us the character of a Godly relationship; it isn’t without passion or fire, and it isn’t boring. Rather the opposite–the Beloved and Lover look forward to a life spent continually cherishing and delighting in each other, and God has just such a relationship planned for each of us.
(See my earlier post on this passage, which digs into the symbolism representing God’s relationship to humanity!)no comments January 1st, 2014 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: acts, bible
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Luke begins the Book of Acts right where his Gospel leaves off–describing the last instructions Jesus gave the apostles as well as His ascension into heaven. Jesus didn’t just get resurrected and leave His disciples completely to themselves; He stayed around “over a period of forty days” (v. 3), speaking with them about the kingdom of God and giving them a few last things for them to remember as they carried forth His teachings and established the early Christian church. (Not only that, He was proving He had truly risen from the dead, appearing all over the local region to many different people, speaking with them, eating with them, etc.)
Two important things Jesus mentioned are the arrival of the Holy Spirit, bringing a “gift” for them (v. 4-5), and where the disciples should take His message after they receive said gift (v. 7-8). They are supposed to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes; the gift mentioned arrives in chapter 2, and (at least from my reading) seems to be the gift of languages (speaking in tongues). This will be very handy for the disciples, since they are to travel to distant lands to speak of Jesus, to fulfill the Great Commission.
Jesus’ last two pieces of advice are short but full of meaning:
- The Holy Spirit will equip them with every ability they need to witness. How many times have I found myself making excuses that I don’t know “how to witness right,” that I’m inexperienced, that I stutter and make a fool of myself? Jesus first reassures the disciples (and us modern believers) that the Holy Spirit, the third personage of God, will be with them as they go forth and speak to others about Jesus. Believers then and now can rely on that strength–you’d be surprised how the right words just seem to come forth when you witness!
- They are to witness not only to their own communities, but to everyone, because everyone can be included in the kingdom of God. Christianity was not merely for the Jews and the Jewish lands they had all grown up in–Christ’s message was (and still is) meant for anyone to hear, and open for anyone to accept no matter what their background, language, culture, etc. This would be greatly important for the disciples to remember, as the early church struggles with people saying that to be a Christian you have to be a Jew first, etc. (It’s also important for us today, as we struggle with churches increasingly treating themselves like a members-only club rather than an open place of worship for all.)
With Jesus’ first instruction, it’s no wonder that the disciples begin to think the kingdom of God is already coming (v. 6)–if this “Holy Spirit” is coming, then doesn’t that mean the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament foretold? But Jesus makes it clear in His second instruction that they will go out witnessing to everyone, and the kingdom of God will arrive when God wills. Once Jesus has said that, then He is taken up to heaven…and the work of the early church begins with these 11 people.no comments December 25th, 2013 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, psalm
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
In this verse, the culmination of a buoyant psalm of praise to God, we see a final reminder: we Christians need to “be strong and take heart.”
Being strong, however, doesn’t mean never admitting our problems. Nor does it mean turning away from God and doing everything ourselves. In fact, “being strong” in God means looking pretty weak to the world–it means giving over control to God and relying on His strength, putting all our effort into faith that God will provide a way out of even the worst situations.
Once we become “strong” in this faith, then we will find it easier to “take heart”–to gain courage to face our life’s troubles, knowing that God is there with us riding out the storm. This verse reminds us that we can praise God and hope in Him because He is indeed capable to help us and faithful to do so (“mighty to save,” as the following song goes).no comments December 18th, 2013 by Robin, in Wednesday in the Word
Tags: bible, revelation
Revelation 4:4, 6b-8a; 19:4
4:4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
6b In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8a Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings.
19:4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”
The Book of Revelation is full of these sorts of visionary images, depicting the otherwise unimaginable splendor of heaven and the various personages who dwell there. Though this book of the Bible is largely symbolic, it’s important as a rallying cry for Christians, reminding us of the glory we await and the power of the God we serve. It’s also meant to remind us of what is most important–pulling together as one family of God in worship.
In these passages, we first see 24 elders, either representing human believers or acting as angelic servants to God; the number 24 is important, hearkening back to the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 disciples. Then 4 other creatures are revealed, creatures with eyes all around so that nothing deceives or passes by unseen, and with six wings; these sound both like the cherubim and seraphs described by the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel.
Yet, as amazing and powerful as all these presences seem, they all worship God, as we see in 19:4. John, the writer of Revelation, strongly connects Old Testament to New Testament, asserting that the God of Israel is still in power and is still relevant, enough so that even the most fantastic beings we could ever imagine bow to Him. They are still gathered around His throne, still at His feet, just as we are; all are equal before Him, uniting in worship. What a message for the modern church, indeed!no comments