Point of View

As I have been visiting the jail and coming to know the ladies there, God has been speaking to me about how important our point of view is. He showed me that there are two ways to look at people. One is from the viewpoint of Hell and our Accuser (Revelations 12:10). One is from the viewpoint of Heaven, where we are seated with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7).

If you are looking from the viewpoint of Hell, you are looking up at people and can only see the dirt on the bottoms of their feet. If you are looking from the viewpoint of Heaven, you are looking down at people and you can see the hand of God resting on their heads. 

I start to see faintly the hope and passion for the end of their journey, a glimpse of eternity. If I follow God’s gaze I begin to see as He sees.

… and [God] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show (point out) the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7 (NASB)

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work (poem) of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 (NLT)

 

 

He Will Hold You Together

The older I get the more I know I tend to leak, the more I know I need his frapping.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

Mercy and grace. So often I need mercy and grace. Mercy and grace to help right at my time of need – which is really all the time. God’s very throne is a throne of grace. And we can go right up to him as his child that he delights in because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. And because he has gone through it all before us, and knows what we need, he can empathize with us.  

Mercy is compassion: “kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted (and that I am!), joined with a (or plus the) desire to help them.” He has a deep desire, a passion, to help us.

Grace is unmerited favor: “good will, loving-kindness, favor, the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ (and turns them back to Christ), keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”[i]

He helps me, keeps me, strengthens me, keeps turning me back, over and over again, to Jesus. Then there is the word translated “help.” This word contains a breathtaking, and comforting, revelation of God’s compassion and love toward us. The word is boétheia (βοήθεια) and it is only used twice in the New Testament. It means “help, aid, specially, a rope or chain for frapping a vessel.” So then, of course, I had to look up what “frapping a vessel” meant. Elliot’s Commentary of the Bible defines it this way.

“The process described, technically known as ‘frapping,’ consisted in carrying a strong cable several times round the ship from stem to stern, so as to keep the planks from starting (to become loosened or forced out of place), and guard against the consequent leakage. The practice has always been a common one. Thucydides mentions the Corcyreans as having recourse to it. The Russian ships taken in the Tagus in 1808 were kept together in this manner in consequence of their age and unsound condition.” [ii]

Age and unsound condition – I can relate to that! The older I get the more I know I need his frapping. In my storms faith and trust tend to start leaking without his help.  Webster’s Dictionary defines frapping a vessel as: “Lashing or binding a thing tightly or binding things together. (Naut.) To draw together; to bind with a view to secure and strengthen, as a vessel by passing cables around it; to tighten; as a tackle by drawing the lines together.” It was the procedure of passing ropes under the ship to hold it together. In a storm the sailors would wrap cables around the ship’s hull and winch them tight. The ship would then be better able to withstand the severe pounding of wind and sea.

Many believe that the book of Hebrews was written by Paul, and if it was, he may have had some firsthand experience with boétheia, or frapping. The only other place this word is used in the Bible is describing the wreck of the ship which was taking Paul to Rome.

When the men had hoisted it [the lifeboat] aboard, they passed ropes (boétheia) under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sand-bars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. Acts 27:17 (NIV)

The ship was bound and lashed tightly with ropes to hold it together long enough for them all to be saved. In like manner, Paul writes here in Hebrews that we can come to God, in the midst of our pounding storm,and he will wrap us tightly in the Arms of mercy and grace that will hold us together.

In your time of need, just when you think you are going to be pounded to pieces or smashed on the rocks – go, trusting, fearlessly, to the one who understands what you’re going through, and receive what He has for you. He will not let you fly apart. Or leak.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV)

 

Image in the Public Domain: Sailing-ships in a storm, by Pieter Jansz van der Croos http://kokoelmat.fng.fi/app?si=S-1998-166


[i] Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary (text in parentheses is mine)

[ii] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/acts/27-17.htm

He is Trustworthy

For great (mighty, strong, stronger, valiant, prevailing)

is his love (goodness, lovingkindness, faithfulness, mercy) towards us,

and the faithfulness (truth, sureness, reliability, stability, trustworthiness, certainty) of the LORD

endures forever (is of continuous existence, perpetual, everlasting, unending future).

Praise the LORD!  (Psalm 117:2 NIV)

His love is stronger – His love prevails!

He is trustworthy forever, continually, perpetually.

He will not fail you.

You Are Missed

And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about (cared about, attended to, sought, missed) them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. Exodus 4:31 (NIV)

When I read this I thought immediately about the women at the jail we visit. Unstoppable tears stream down their faces as they realize somebody cares about them, God cares and has not forgotten them in their misery. The Hebrew word translated “concerned about” here is paqad – פָּקַד. It means to care for, attend to, be concerned for, but, wonderfully, it also means to seek, look about for, to seek in vain, miss, lack. It means to number or muster the troops, or to be missing from the number or muster. When Saul mustered the troops (1 Samuel 14:17) Jonathan and his armor bearer were missing (paqad). Jonathan told David he would be missed (paqad) from the dinner table (1 Samuel 20:18).

Isn’t that amazing? God missed the Israelites. And when they heard, in their misery and slavery, that the Lord cared about them, was looking for them, missing them, they bowed down and worshiped. God is concerned about you, cares about you, seeks you. If you have wandered far away, he misses you. If you have gotten yourself stuck in a prison and slavery to sin, he has not forgotten you. He wants you in the muster of the great army of God. He wants you there at the banquet table with him. He is always missing, seeking, caring about you.

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. Matthew 18:12-13 (NIV)

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. Job 36:16 (NIV)

 

Image in the Public Domain from the Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/matpc/item/mpc2010007606/PP

I still dare to hope

But (Yet!) this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope (I still dare to hope):

The steadfast love (unfailing love, loyal love) of the Lord (indeed!) never ceases (is never completed, never finished, never fails), his mercies (compassions, tender love) (indeed!) never come to an end (are never accomplished, cease, consumed, determined, end, fail, finish, completed, be ended, be at an end, be finished, be spent); they are new (fresh, new thing) every morning; great (much, many, abounding, abundant, enough) is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21-23