The Play’s the Thing

“As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.”

The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.” 2 Chronicles 18:12-13 

Micaiah had been summoned to give the word of the Lord to two kings – Ahab, who was very wicked, and Jehoshaphat, who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.” They were trying to decide if they should go into battle. 400 of Ahab’s prophets were declaring he would be victorious. But Jehoshaphat was not so sure.  

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied. 2 Chronicles 18:6-7 

This peevish complaint would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. It reminds me of 2 Timothy 4: 3 

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 

So, Micaiah was called and was pressed by the messenger to stick with the script and agree with the other prophets that the kings would be victorious. As Micaiah steps on the stage of this bizarre play scripted to please the wicked King Ahab, the kings are in costume, “dressed in royal attire,” and one of the prophets is acting out the goring of the enemy with a costume of iron horns on his head. And all 400 prophets are repeating their lines correctly: “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.” This whole drama always makes me think of Hamlet’s famous line, “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” (Act 2, Scene 2) 

God is not averse to using some street theater to get his message across. I have always been intrigued by how much theater there is in the Bible. God directed Ezekiel to act out packing up his belongings for exile and digging a hole in the city wall (Ezekiel 12:4-6). God also told Ezekiel to act out a siege of Jerusalem, laying down on the ground and bearing their sin for 390 days (Ezekiel 4)! God directed Jeremiah to smash a jar before the people to act out the shattering of the nation (Jeremiah 19:10). God also had Isaiah walk around naked and barefoot for three years (yikes!) as “a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush” (Isaiah 20:2-4). 

But in all these cases it was God who wrote the script and gave the direction. When I was taking acting class in high school our teacher used the quote, “the play’s the thing” (i.e., Shakespeare’s written words were the thing) to emphasize that we could NOT improvise with Shakespeare. We had to know and say the words exactly accurately. Everybody knows Shakespeare wrote it and many know it by heart and would catch any deviation from the original words. “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.”  

“The Word of God is our Script. That’s why we call it Script-ure. We are not just memorizing lines. We are learning a character (Jesus). We are immersing ourselves in a plot and narrative. We are becoming players in the story. When we get our eye off of that ball, we so easily slip into a comedy of errors.” — J.D. Walt i 

And it turns out that Jehoshaphat did not stick with Ahab’s script after all and it saved his life. As they went into battle Ahab changed out of his kingly costume, hedging his bets that maybe Micaiah was right, but still directing his own play, still writing his own script. He told Jehoshaphat to keep his kingly costume on though. Jehoshaphat may have been feeling uneasy about this time, and with good reason. 

Now the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.” When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “This is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him. God drew them away from him, for when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped pursuing him. 2 Chronicles 18:31-32  

I always think that maybe the attackers realized that this guy in the king costume wasn’t the king that they were after, because the king that they were after would never have cried out to the Lord – at least not the capital “L” Lord, not to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Crying out to the Lord God Yahweh was not in Ahab’s script. And if you read the whole story, you know that, even though Ahab changed his costume and had 400 actors shouting his script, he was still killed in the battle, just as Micaiah prophesied.  

Jehoshaphat made a mistake that day aligning himself with a wicked king, but he learned something. Because this is the same Jehoshaphat who later when a great army came against him, cried out to his God, “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” And God answered him, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” ii And, there was a great rout of the enemy. 

The battle is not ours. The script is not ours. It belongs to God. Let us cry out to the true Lord. Let us fix our eyes on Him. He is the one with the power to overcome impossible odds. He sustains “all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1: 3). He is our glorious God, the Author of the Script, the Word. The Word made flesh, Jesus, who came to show us God’s character that we might learn it. 

Obeying God is hard. The narrow way is narrow. God’s word cuts to the heart of our self-deception, self-preservation and promotion, our efforts to be in control. Let’s decide right now not try to write our own script. Let’s let God be the director of our life story. Let’s stick with God’s script. Let’s memorize it. Let’s learn our character, immersing ourselves in Jesus, clothing ourselves in His kingly garments. 

… clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ … Romans 13:14 

… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NASB) 

i J.D. Walt, The Word of God and the Comedy of Errors  https://www.seedbed.com/the-word-of-god-and-the-comedy-of-errors/ 

ii2 Chronicles 20:13-15 

Image, Hamlet by Kevin Houle https://flic.kr/p/8U8hv  

Let Go of the Seed

This is amazing grace.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10 

I recently read a blog by EagleSighti that blew my mind. When I saw the title, Letting Go of the Seed, I immediately pictured sowing the Word of God like seed as in the Parable of the Sowerii. I soon realized that the verse, 2 Corinthians 9:10, and the blog were really about generosity in giving, but by then it was too late. The Lord had turned this precious gem and I had seen into a different facet.  

I’m still not sure the blog is not about sharing the gospel it was such a bright flash for me. Especially, this sentence: “You have to let go of the seed in your hand to reap the harvest.” Yes! We believers in Christ have seed in our hands, precious, precious seed. The seed we carry is the Word of life and healing for world. But we hang on to it. At least I do.  

Why do I hang on to the seed? Why don’t I let go of it? Why don’t I just spontaneously pray for that stranger in trouble or that friend in need of strength or healing, that dying loved one? Why is it not the first thing I think about? Why don’t I share the gospel message more? Why don’t I speak the truth in love to those who are wandering off the path?

I may not have any money to be generous in that way, but I can give the seed – “silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.” These tiny, seemingly insignificant seeds in my hand are precious, they have power – “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” (Acts 3:6).

So, why do I hold the seed back in my hand? Fear, self-preservation, thinking I have to do or be something wonderful. J.D. Walt of Seedbed wrote an articleiii on the following verse, which has helped me a lot: 

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 

We have been given the ministry; we have been given the message. We have been given the seed. This would be scary except for that phrase, “all this is from God.” J.D. Walt translated the phrase this way: 

“ALL THIS IS FROM GOD.” 

Translation: This is amazing grace.  

Translation: None of this is from us. 

Praise God, none of this is from us!

What does this mean for the seed in my hand? I received grace from God and those to whom I give my seed will receive revelation and new life from God, from the Word – not from me. For God has promised that his Word that goes out “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11)”. He supplies the seed, he supplies the Message, the Word of Life, he will make the harvest happen. He is the Wonderful One. All I have to do is open my hand and drop it. 

The sower sows the word. Mark 4:14 

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls … John 12:24 

i https://eaglesight.blog/2021/08/02/letting-go-of-the-seed/  

ii Matthew 13 

iii Are You Finally Ready to Receive? https://www.seedbed.com/are-you-finally-ready-to-receive/ 

Image, free download from Pixabay 

All Along

Jesus had been very clear right from the first.

“Who are you?” they asked. 

“Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. John 8:25 

I truly believe that everything that Jesus did and said here on earth was proclaiming himself to be Lord, Messiah, the great I AM. 

And in the verse above Jesus said that he had been proclaiming it all along. That word translated “all along” is the Greek word arche (ἀρχή) which means the origin, commencement, beginning. It is the same word as is used in this verse about the creation of the world: 

In the beginning (arche) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (arche). Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3 

The Word has been going out from the beginning, the origin, the commencement, all along. And the Word was going out as Jesus walked here on earth. And the Word continues to go out, creating and declaring, life springing up wherever the Breath of God is received – the Word proclaimed through the prophets, the Word written down, the Word-created creation itself a proclamation. 

The heavens declare the glory of God … Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1, 4 

The Word demonstrated by Jesus. 

The Jews gathered round him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. John 10:24-26 

When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was “the one,” i.e., was he the Messiah, Jesus answered, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” Luke 7:22 

According to the NetBible study notes for Luke 7:22, Jesus was paraphrasing Messianic prophecy, various OT descriptions of the time of promised salvation: Isa 35:5-6; 26:19; 29:18-19; 61:1. Jesus is answering not by acknowledging a title, but by pointing to the nature of his works.” 

This would have been especially apparent to the scribes, Pharisees and experts of the law who had been studying the scriptures since their youth. Maybe not at first, but it began to dawn on them what Jesus was saying/doing/being and this realization was reflected in their increasing hostility. 

Because Jesus had been very clear right from his first recorded public reading of the great Messianic passage by Isaiah in the synagogue. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
    because he has anointed me 
    to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
    and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21 

There were many other scriptures and Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during his ministry, but let’s just look at one section of Psalm 118:19-27. 

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.   
20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9 (NIV) 
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.   
22-23 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Matthew 21:42  
24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. John 8:56 
25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna (oh save us)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13 
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Luke 13:35  
27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!  
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12  

Jesus proclaimed himself the Gate, the Savior, the Cornerstone, the coming One, the Light. And that last verse – “Bind (tie, bind, imprison, take prisoner) the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!” – Jesus demonstrated for all eternity by allowing himself to be taken prisoner, bound, and nailed to the cross. He is our festal sacrifice, our Passover Lamb. 

He is what he said he is. Enter through the Gate and be saved  Salvation 

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? Isaiah 40:21

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come– it is written about me in the scroll. Psalm 40:7 

This post is also available as a free-to-use Bible Study here https://hiddentreasurebiblestudies.home.blog/2021/07/29/all-along-bible-study/

The Decision-less Middle

The message the Lord is giving me this week from the blogs and devotionals I follow is a sobering, but extremely relevant, one. Thank you to all the bloggers I follow. Be set free.

For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. (2 Tim. 4:2-3 The Passion Translation) 

“The Living Word exposes these self-inflicted boundaries to us—piercing our hearts, interpreting our innermost motives, and even challenging our cherished assumptions. This is why I contend that we should learn to let the Bible study us. 

For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. (Heb. 4:12 The Passion Translation) 

Here’s the danger. Without this continual ‘piercing,’ without the Spirit’s constant recalibration of our perspective, without letting Holy Spirit speak through other people we’re in community with, who may even irritate us at times, our unexamined life will be just be following our own confirmation bias. 

They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear.  

Like birds of a feather flocking together, we’ll only be open to teachers we already agree with. We will have stopped ‘the eyes of our hearts from being enlightened’ (Eph.1:18), resting in a truth that makes us comfortable instead the Truth that makes us truly free.” — blogged by Mel Wild https://melwild.wordpress.com/2021/02/23/will-we-follow-holy-spirit-or-our-confirmation-bias/  

Matthew 16:26: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NASB). 

“These words bothered me. They still do. They set up a stark contrast I have never managed to get past. On the one hand: the whole world. On the other hand: my soul. I so want to dwell somewhere in the decision-less middle. I want a life overflowing with monetary wealth and I want a soul filled with God. The text tells me I must decide on one or the other. As a kid, I somehow knew the splinter of this saying would pulsate with nagging pain until I aimed my life in one of these two directions. It was clear to me. These roads led to two completely different destinations, and one of those would look like great gain and yet be complete loss. Little did I know at the time how these words would stick in my soul like a tiny shard of wood even to the present day. As an adult, I now know this is not a one-time transaction. It’s an everyday decision. “– J.D. Walt, How I Got a Splinter in My Soul and How I Got It Out  https://www.seedbed.com/how-i-got-a-splinter-in-my-soul-and-how-i-got-it-out/  

“… Janet Malcolm from her book In the Freud Archives: ‘There are few among us who do not resist self-knowledge. We are all perpetually smoothing and rearranging reality to conform to our wishes; we lie to others and ourselves constantly, unthinkingly. When, occasionally — and not by dint of our own efforts but the under the pressure of external events — we are forced to see things as they are, we are like naked people in a storm.’ 

When naked in the storm of his own sin, King David stared at the unvarnished reality of his bad moves. He confessed his sins and asked for mercy, ‘According to your steadfast love….’ (Psalm 51) We like David can embrace our true selves and confess our sins. Because we know God is forgiving and our time is finite: life will end. And we can lose or win by our actions or simply lose on time … With God’s help, I’ll sweep away self-deception to reveal my true self. And make good use of the time I’ve been given.” — blogged by Carole Duff  https://caroleduff.com/2021/02/22/losing-on-time/  

“Not only will Jesus have to take up his cross – you and I will. There’s no nicer, refined, more reasonable way, even if we carefully surround ourselves solely with nice, refined, reasonable churchy people. 

For true life requires complete surrender to it. And what will be the point of gaining the whole world by thinking as the world thinks, if it means falling short of true life?”  -Suzanne Guthrie, At the Edge of the Enclosure 

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32 (NKJV) 

Photo copyright by Derek Bair

The Stability of Our Now, Our Always

Amen and amen! I can be sure of this.

And He will be the stability (firmness, truth, steadfastness, steadiness, security, the verily, the truly) of your times (your when, your now, your always, continually), A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure. Isaiah 33:6 (NASB) 

Oh, how we need stability in these days! Stability in the above verse, also translated “sure foundation,” is the Hebrew word emuwnah (אֱמֻנָה). It means, literally, firmness. Figuratively, it means security, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness, faithfulness, stability, steady, truly, truth, verily. The root of this word is aman (אָמַן), from which we get amen in the New Testament. (I know I have written about this before, but God keeps bringing me back. My need – our need – for His stability is great. See Amen)

When Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you” (I stopped counting at 70), he is actually saying Amen, amen! So be it! Truth! This is true, this is sure, this is a faithful word you can stand upon! 

R.C. Sproul writes this about Jesus’ use of amen: 

“There is, perhaps, no more remarkable use of the term amen in the New Testament than on the lips of Jesus. Older translations render statements of our Lord with the preparatory words, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you.’ Later translations update that to ‘Truly, truly, I say unto you.’ In such passages, the Greek word that is translated as ‘verily’ or ‘truly’ is the word amen. Jesus does not wait for the disciples to nod their agreement or submission to His teaching at the end of His saying; rather, He begins by saying, ‘Amen, amen, I say unto you.’ What is the significance of this? Namely, that Jesus never uttered a desultory word; every word that came from His lips was true and important. Each word was, as ‘amen’ suggests, valid, sure, and binding  … 

We also notice that Jesus uses the Hebrew technique of repetition by saying not merely, ‘Amen, I say unto you,’ but ‘Amen, amen.’ This form of repetition underlines the importance of the words that are to follow. Whenever we read in the text of Scripture our Lord giving a statement that is prefaced by the double ‘amen,’ it is a time to pay close attention and be ready to give our response with a double amen to it. He says ‘amen’ to indicate truth; we say it to receive that truth and to submit to it.” — R.C. Sproul, Amen. (emphasis mine) 

Amen and amen! I can be sure of this: 

Jesus is my stability, firmness, truth, steadfastness, steadiness, security, my verily, my truly. Jesus is Lord; Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is The Amen! The Truth. He is the sure foundation, the firm Rock I stand on. He is faithful and true. He is my certainty, my assurance – right now, when everything is shaking around me, and tomorrow no matter what happens, and forever.  

He can be your stability too. Put your faith in him. Salvation

Truly (Amen!), truly (amen!), I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24 (NASB) 

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly (Amen!), truly (amen!), I am the door of the sheep. John 10:7 (NASB) 

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 

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

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:6 

Read more about aman (אָמַן) here Faith, Part One

Image, Strong by Eduardo Martinez https://flic.kr/p/2ihGeUk  

What Are You Storing Up?

Fear made David act like a madman. Fear can make us do some pretty crazy things.

And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 1 Samuel 21:12-13 (KJV)

When David was fleeing from Saul to Achish, the king of Gath, he heard the king’s servants talking about him – “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” It says that David “laid up” these words in his heart, or took them to heart, and he was afraid that if Achish thought he was the king of Israel, he would kill him. The word translated “laid up” in the King James means, among other things, to “heap up” and “to preserve.” Later, when David wrote about his experience, he proclaimed:

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NASB)

The word translated “fears” here means, in addition to fear, a granary or storehouse. It comes from two words: a word for “terror” and a word that means “dwelling place.” The dwelling place of terror. These two verses together invoke an image of David preserving these words of terror in a storehouse of fear in order to keep feeding on them. In David’s case, feeding on fear caused him to act like a madman. Fear can make us do some pretty crazy things.

There are a lot of verses in the Bible about fear, what we are listening to, and what we store up in our hearts.

So they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites … All the people we saw were huge. Numbers 13:32-33

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25 (NASB)

Your word I have treasured (stored up, hidden) in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:11 (NASB)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful (pain, sorrow, idol) way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to.” Mark 4:24a

What are you storing up? Is your heart a dwelling place of terror, a granary of fear? Or is your heart a treasury of the Word. What are you listening to? What are you believing?

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NASB)

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3

 

Image by Irving Rusinow, Photographer (NARA record: 5307166) – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17210867

Center of the Storm

I stood there beside him, and because he was there with me, so brave and calm, all the fear evaporated.

Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ask him more directly to give you joy, peace, and a pure heart. Purity of heart means a heart where God is the center of your attention. Take a simple sentence like “The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want,” and repeat that quietly during the day until the truth of it enters the center of your being. You will always continue to have feelings of depression, anger, and restlessness, but when God dwells in the center of the storm, the storm is less frightening and you can live with trust that in the midst of all of the darkness you will be led to a place of joy and peace.—Henri Nouwen

This quote brought me back to my childhood. Our new house was the last built on the block, and beside and before us to the west were empty fields. That was the direction the storms came from and we could watch them awesomely and terrifyingly racing towards us. Dark sky and writhing, black clouds, and spectacular lightening.

Most of the time my mother would herd us down into the basement to ride out the storm. I know that was the safe place, but there was a lot of fear in that because we couldn’t see what was happening, only hear the roar of the wind and the crash of the thunder, and the ominous warnings coming over the radio.

But sometimes I snuck up to the open garage where my Dad stood watching it come and overtake us. And I stood there beside him, and because he was there with me, so brave and calm, all the fear evaporated. We shared the awesomeness and the glory and the majesty of the storm together. I was in the center of the storm. But I was with my Dad. I was never afraid of a storm again.

Nouwen’s suggestion of meditating on the word in these times is a good one. You may feel overwhelmed with what is roaring about you right now. But your Father is always there with you in every storm. Sneak away now to stand with him. Fix your eyes on Him. Be still and know.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56: 3

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until this violent storm is past. Psalm 57:1 (NLT)

 

More encouraging verses can be found here: Fear Bible Verses

 

Image, Storm by texaus1 https://flic.kr/p/R41Zbp

 

The Arm of the Lord

Isn’t this just like God? The last, first, the meek victorious, overcoming evil with good?

The Arm of the Lord

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” Exodus 6:6

A footnote in a book I am reading recommended a word study of the arm of the Lord. So, I decided to do it, and found some amazing hidden treasure.

The Hebrew word translated arm, as in “outstretched arm” and “arm of the Lord,” is zerowa or zeroa (זרוֹע). It is defined as the arm as stretched out, and figuratively, as force, help, mighty, power, strength.

Zeroa comes from zara which means to sow or scatter seed. Sowing seed was done by taking a handful of seed and scattering it with an outstretched arm. It is the same word as used in Psalms 126.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. Psalm 126:5 (NASB)[1]

God’s outstretched arm bringing deliverance, but also sowing the seed of life. This is wonderful in itself, but what really stunned me was the other meaning of zeroa. It also means the shoulder or foreleg of an animal sacrifice. This meaning is still used today for the sacrificed lamb in the Passover celebration. From Wikipedia:

“(Hebrew: זרוֹע) is a lamb shank bone or roast chicken wing or neck used on Passover and placed on the Seder plate. It symbolizes the korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice), a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted (70 CE) during the destruction of the Temple, the z’roa serves as a visual reminder of the Pesach sacrifice; in Ashkenazi and many Sephardi families, it is not eaten or handled during the Seder.”[2]

The Arm of the Lord, his might and saving power, is also the sacrifice lamb. Isn’t that just like God? The last, first, the meek victorious, overcoming evil with good?

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:1-2 (written between 701 BC and 681 BC)

This verse begins the famous chapter in Isaiah prophesying the Messiah. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows … Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows … he was led like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:3, 4, 7).

Who is this “message” referred to in Isaiah 53:1, and who is the “arm of the Lord”? Jesus, Messiah, is both the message (the Word become flesh) and the revealed Arm of the Lord (the sacrifice Lamb).

God’s arm, his strength, might, power, help, was revealed in a sacrificed lamb, submissive and obedient to death.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8

The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” Luke 22:7-8

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:7b

 

[1] All quotations from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeroa

Thank you to Ian Livesey for the photo of the lamb from Flickr.

I Testify

The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life. 1 John 1:1 (NLT)

This is what eyewitnesses do. They testify about what they have seen and heard and experienced, with their own eyes and ears and hands

I have been called to be a witness, and I, too, testify that

I have heard His voice calling my name. I have heard Him say to me, “You are mine!”

I have looked, while in the spirit, into His eyes like unending pools of molten love, like perfectly pure liquid gold, purer than anything here on this earth

I have felt His Presence, very near, right beside me, instant in need, comforting, cheering me on, relentlessly offering me this Hope, pointing out the Way

I have experienced His unstoppable power and authority, taking my breath away, healing, redeeming, restoring, bursting bonds, kicking down doors, bringing me out into that spacious place

I have experienced this power in me, in my heart, in my mouth and in my hands, working through me sharing this love, this healing, this redemption, this new-creature, new-way-of being, new Life

I have known the power of His Truth repairing the twisted, mangled parts, the mind-blowing revelation of His Word, changing my thinking, switching the track, crumbling unscalable walls, blowing away the chaff

I testify, with my own ears, with my own eyes, in my own life, with my own hands

He is Jesus Christ, the Word of Life

 

Image in the Public Domain, by Brad Shorr

Put in and Drop the Anchor

For this reason we must pay much closer (earnest, exceeding, more abundant, more frequent) attention to what we have heard (hold it in our minds, bring our ship to land, put in at safe harbor), so that we do not drift away from it (glide by, carelessly pass, let it slip our minds). Hebrews 2:1 (NASB)

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

Only hold on (seize and hold fast, don’t let go, keep carefully and faithfully) to what you have until I come.  Revelation 2:25 (NIV)

 

 

Image: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Kathleen Gorby [Public domain]

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