I John 3:1 Behold, what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the sons of God! For this reason, this world does not know you: because it does not know Him. 2 Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God. But what we shall be is yet to be revealed. And we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him. For we shall see Him as He is. RGT [Revised Geneva Translationa]
You may remember a simple chorus sung as a round based on these specific words of I John 3:1. You may still mentally hear the music. If it’s unfamiliar take a minute to listen here. It’s a very basic two-sentence structure that repeats and overlaps as each side sings their part to complete the Word to the other.
Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us,
Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us,
That we should be called the sons of God,
That we should be called the sons of God.
Reading those words triggered the memory of the music that goes with them. The testimony of truth is when music and the Word are combined, the two halves of the human brain are uniquely engaged in a lasting way. Behold! Reading Words on a page has the power to stimulate the music of our memory and remind our heart that the Father has given His love is to His children [of any age] for this purpose: our hope “that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him. For we shall see Him as He is.”
aThe Geneva Bible is specifically designed to be SPOKEN and HEARD, repeatedly, and is built on the premise that a crucial key to revival in the present can be found in one simple practice from the past—speaking God’s Word back to each other in community.
John 12:47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” ESV
These Words are the last thing Jesus says before separating himself from his public ministry to begin this very personal “Passover” preparation. Jesus speaks these Words as a commandment from His father. They are the judge, not Jesus. God’s commandment is eternal life and He has given Jesus the power to Pass Over His judgment to liberate those who will hear and keep His Word.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise,
as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.
He does not want anyone to be destroyed,
but wants everyone to repent. NLT
John 7:10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders. 14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. NLT
Why didn’t Jesus go to the Feast of Shelters with his brothers? This feast was one of three required pilgrimages for all Jews. It was their remembrance of the temporary dwellings they lived in for all those years in the desert. Why did He change his mind and go?
Noun: A place providing food and accommodations for the homeless.
Verb: To protect or shield from something harmful
Jesus WAS the Shelter! The miracles were a mixed blessing that could lead people to the Shelter or keep them from Him. For some miracles were signs of power that verified Jesus’s claim that He was sent from God, but for others they were signs of power that threatened their own reputation. “Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach.” Jesus chose to go public at this important festival, not with miraclesa but with teaching. A miracle was an improbable display of power in a given moment to direct the focus of those who saw and heard. Jesus chose to teach them something even more extraordinary; the provision of God that would shelter His people for all time.
Jesus IS the Shelter that transitions our life into eternity. He has chosen to “teach” us by His Word that reaches through the ages and redirects our focus to provide nourishment for us that is more than food and to be our Shelter for the circumstances of daily life so we might “honor the one who sent him.” That’s a miracle!
a John Piper
25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
God’s Word has survived all these centuries because it’s more than information. Psalm 119, Daleth – Door is truth beyond time, translation, and even survives reading these eight verses right to left. My hope is that after you’ve read the eight verses above as copied from the English Standard Version you’ll read my right to left versions with the “Door” in mind. Daleth is the Old Testament Word of God that opens the “Door” to our communication with Him through our relationship to Jesus. “Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”
25 Give me life according to your word, dust clings to my soul
26 You answered me with your statutes to teach me your ways when I told of my ways
27 I will meditate on your wondrous works to make me understand the way of your precepts
28 Your word strengthens me when my soul melts away for sorrow
29 Graciously teach me your law and put false ways far away from from me
30 Your rules set before me are the way of faithfulness I have chosen
|31 Let me not be put to shame O Lord, I cling to your testimonies
32 Enlarge my heart so I will run in the way of your commandments
Click here to read a previous post about ד Daleth – Door
For the “first” time since I began this blog in 2015 and settled into two posts a week I missed my post this Sunday. Oh, I have a list of reasons but when I ticked them off to myself I didn’t find much justification in any of them. I just don’t always get it right. In keeping with my recent theme of “Firsts” I’m reposting an updated version of my very first post. The reality is I need to remember what inspired me to begin this blog in the “first” place. Consistency is of great value in a blog but it doesn’t compare to God’s consistency. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Hello world! – Edited “First” Post from June 5, 2015
I began what I call a timid, limited slog through the Old Testament. It’s timid because I’m not a scholar, limited because what I read is often far less than a whole chapter and slog because sometimes reading to find faith in my daily life feels like trying to run in a dream. I wanted to explore the human identity of some of the main characters of the Old Testament that I pretty much skip over to get to Jesus. They often seem so remote to me but they’ve become heroic examples of what faith looked like in the “good old days;” days that were so much closer to God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of those real people.
I wanted to look at them as people who didn’t always get it right the first time and see what happened in their lives. Some stayed faithful and learned from their mistakes and some just let their worry or anger destroy them. You know, people just like us. People knowing and believing God but held back from becoming what God created them to be by flaws, or maybe just indifference. This is exactly where many of us find ourselves. This word journey is my attempt to see how God moved them, and still can move us, from being satisfied with being not Godless, but not Godly either.
I am absolutely convinced there is a process God has designed for the purpose of revealing himself to those who care to look and listen. It involves his Word, the Holy Spirit and time. I read many versions of Scripture online and watch for the mental “stop sign” in those words that says “notice me.” These are the methods of the digital age. I copy and paste them into my iPad journal. Yes, I’m a geek. I type, I think, I backspace [a lot] and then I think and type some more until there seems to be a completion of the thoughts I believe the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind. Sometimes I need to be reminded what makes my thoughts important is where they come from and my ability to hear what God is trying to tell me. That’s where I am today.
It brings a smile to my face to imagine that God might use that oft repeated cell phone phrase of the digital age, “can you hear me now” as an object lesson for me. I want to listen, I want to hear, but sometimes I just have to quit moving and stay in one place long enough to get good reception. One thing is absolute though, God is faithfully consistent to ask the question over and over, “can you hear me now?”
Lord, “yes.” Amen.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The image of that sharp, double-edged sword makes being changed by the word of God sound so brutal…and painful. Here’s an idea to consider about how that sword might be working in you as you read.
Have you ever read a familiar part of Scripture and been surprised to find you see something new and meaningful you’d never seen before?
I think that’s the sword at work cutting up the Word of God into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces for you. Thats how it becomes the nourishment needed to reunite your soul and your spirit. That’s complete renewal that penetrates your bones, your heart and your mind. That’s God’s Plan Be.
Psalm 119:81-88 כ Kaph – Wing, Palm
81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
The Psalmist saw his life with a different comparison; a wineskin. He wasn’t protected by a palace. Wineskins weren’t even used in a palace. They were the travel mug of the day for the person on the move; the fugitive.
A wineskin was strong, to a point, but could easily be ruined if exposed to certain elements. That would leave the traveler at serious risk of losing the very thing needed most to survive. It was from this comparison the Psalmist wrote.
This “wineskin’s” soul longed to be done with waiting for the promised comfort. The smoke of circumstance blurred what his eyes could see right then but he was counting on the unfailing love of Kaph. This was the “wing, Palm” he could trust to lift him away above his circumstances to preserve his life; the word, decrees, precepts and statutes of God that he knew.
49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
that I may keep your law.
56 This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts.
ז Zayin – Weapon
Look at this definition of weapons: “a means of gaining an advantage or defending oneself in a conflict or contest.”
Our recent history of events has given us terrible images of the reality of weapons used for violent and random destruction. Even in the midst of that murderous mayhem and death “defense” is the cry for the need to have personal weapons. That choice is our mistake but it may well be a metaphor of Zayin.
Many have decided the “means of gaining an advantage or defending oneself in a conflict or contest” is to justify those weapons. The Psalmist writes of recognizing the need to depend on a defense that’s much harder to recognize and accept; a radically different list of defensive weapons that justifies us instead…God’s law.
That “law” is the Word that gives hope and promises that preserve life and give comfort in suffering in the midst of this human conflict. Those are the Psalmists’ weapons. They can become the defense of our life too; wherever we are and whenever we need them because we remember and practice them.