We respond to Scripture based on how we perceive our current circumstances of life. That is one of the beauties of God’s Word; it becomes new each day just as our circumstances and moods do. It’s a lifelong process to take God at His word and not allow perception to filter out the truth. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception with God’s truth.
A dear sister recently told me she is not a fan of Psalm 23. I got the impression she felt bad about admitting it since it’s part of the Bible, but her reasoning made perfect sense.
After a little inquiry, I learned it was the chapter she was forced to read and recite when she got in trouble as a child. So it’s not hard to see how one of the most well-known passages in Scripture became tarnished in her mind. Let’s dig into Psalm 23 together and see what it says and how it may challenge our perception.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
Two specific thoughts come to my mind after reading verse one:
Do I view God as my personal Shepherd, or is He too busy with more important tasks?
What do I perceive I am lacking?
In this passage, God presents Himself as a caretaker. He is seen as a provider, a leader, and One who is responsible for care. Because of that fact, David’s response is: there is nothing I lack. The first part of verse one speaks to God’s character. I wonder what causes us to feel He is holding out on us? Lately, a bit of careful reflection will quickly illuminate I have everything I need.
For example, a few weeks ago our kitchen was wrecked after a weekend of grilling out with neighbors and running around town. No one wanted to clean up the mess. My man is an excellent helper around the house, but he was working late and I needed to clean up before I had room to cook. Has anyone else encountered this yucky phenomenon?
Anyway, as I dove into the mountain I asked God to help me see the positive instead of feeling sorry for myself that no one was helping me. The Father quickly reminded me of the sweet time we had spent with our neighbors and the laundry list of blessings which made it possible. And He showed me what a joy it is to have a family and a home to share. Before I knew it, I was actually smiling while washing dishes. But don’t spread that around.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths.
Three more reflections appear to me here:
Green pastures mean God knows where the food is.
Quiet waters represent that God knows we are like sheep.
Comfort is always going to be greater on God’s path.
Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. If sheep are steered to rushing waters they will stick their head in and be swept downstream. God understands what His children need and how best to provide for them.
That means, if we truly accept that He knows best and does provide for us, then we must dare to challenge beliefs that set themselves against God’s goodness to us. Sheep may lack water and be willing to go toward a stream to quench their thirst, but they may be pulled under rushing waters. The Good Shepherd will always lead us to quiet waters, even if it means we have to walk away from a seemingly sure thing.
His purposes are better than ours, and therefore His paths are better than ours.
Jeremy Pierre, Author & Dean of Students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
Two big things stand out:
There’s no question of if we will go through dark times; it’s merely a question of when.
Yet God is present in the darkness.
In verse 4, David is allowing his understanding of God’s nearness and comfort to guide his perception of a truly agonizing situation. There are times in life when we feel such thick darkness we can practically taste it. Normally that causes fear. But God is with you. He is with me. Darkness and death cannot separate us from the love of God, so in reality, it can do no infinite harm. It may trifle with our body, but it cannot touch the souls of the children of God. We are secure through Christ Jesus.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord as long as I live.
God hosted David on the battlefield in the face of his biggest threat.
David has the assurance of complete rest in God’s steadfast love.
In this last stanza, David shifts the descriptive symbols used for God. He went from describing God as Shepherd in verses 1-4 to a Host in verses 5-6. God lavishes us with His individual attention and exclusive exaltation. He can do that because He’s God! And because the things that concern us concern the Father.
A Few Questions
How would it change your life to believe God “leaves the 99” to find you (Luke 15:4)?
What is the thing you feel you’re lacking or desiring that you don’t have?
Do you believe you can continually leave your desires at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you (Philippians 4:6-7) and will fulfill His purpose for you (Psalm 138:8)?
I hope this encourages your heart and has sparked some rich thoughts about our Good Shepherd and Host. My journal is filled to the brim as I read the beautiful Word of God. It is all at once penetrating and comforting my soul.
All scripture is referenced from the HCSB version of the Bible.
There may be times where God appears distant, but we can breathe knowing He stays true to His word. He never leaves us and works even when He seems silent.
Remember that although God may be silent, He is not still.
Sometimes God is just hard to get. One moment, He is breaking into our lives with His glory and majesty, answering prayer left and right. We are “living the promises!”
earth seemingly erupts beneath us and chaos ensues. Friends betray us. Illness
strikes. Or, like St. John of the Cross, darkness falls across our souls like a
The ceiling is
made of iron.
The sky is
Morning, afternoon, and evening our hearts cry out to God, but He does not answer. The situation remains unchanged. We may feel like C. S. Lewis after his wife died of cancer.
But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.
C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I have felt this level of desperation before; although, I’m not proud to admit it – when our oldest son ‘disowned’ us during a crisis time in his late twenties; when my mother’s mental health was overwhelming me; when my migraines were relentless. I guess that is why it’s easy to become tearful when I hear Andrew Peterson’s song, The Silence of God:
It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God
Andrew Peterson, The Silence of God
certainly had moments of desolation, hearing nothing but God’s silence.
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Oh my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
When I was younger, I used every Christian ‘trick’ or equation I knew, to no avail. As with David in the Psalms, despite my pleas, promises, prayer, and meditation, God remained silent.
Be not silent, O God of my praise! For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Like David in the following verses, I stated my case before my Father, and like David, I have experienced silence. We’re not alone.
In Genesis 12:1-3, Abram was told to leave everything and everyone he knew because God wanted to give him a new land. In addition, God would use him and Sarai to become a great nation.
Years passed. No direct heir…not one. And while God spoke to Abram about other things, He was silent about that – for nearly twenty-five years.
Joseph’s coat of many colors is a wonderful children’s Bible story. However, as adults, it’s important to remember that he was sold into slavery, (today we call it human trafficking), and was falsely accused in his owner’s house of sexually abusing the master’s wife. Joseph then sat in prison for two years before the dream he was shone at seventeen came to pass.
Do you wonder if Joseph had some unanswered questions for God during that
I would be remiss not to mention Job. He spends a great deal of time telling of his righteousness, but he grew frustrated and impatient at God’s silence in the face of his suffering.
I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.
If only God would answer!!
Isn’t that how we feel at times? Even if it isn’t the answer we want –
please, just ANSWER!
Mary and Martha
I wonder if that is what Mary and Martha were thinking when their friend and Lord did not answer them? When He was told their brother, Lazarus, was very ill and didn’t immediately come to the rescue? Jesus didn’t even send word that He was on His way. In fact, John 11:17 reveals that Lazarus had been dead four days by the time Jesus arrived!
Silent or Not?
Other writers more learned and wiser than me have written about this
topic. Many have expounded that this time of silence or darkness exposes our
need for discipline, renewal, and/or repentance. No doubt these and more are pieces
of the puzzle.
However, looking through the lens of a merciful, loving Father, I’m wondering if there is another aspect; if this silence is real or perceived. My feelings or experiences tell me He is absent, but God’s Word says that He is with me, (examples – Psalm 23:4; Deuteronomy 31:6). He will never leave me or forsake me.
Jesus told us He would not leave us as orphans in John 14:18-20. I love that; regardless of our biological heritage, Jesus will never abandon us.
So, what does this mean? Why the sense of silence or aloneness?
Well…according to Jon Bloom of desiringGod.org:
It is the mourning that will know the joy of comfort (Matthew 5:4). It is the hungry and thirsty that will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Longing makes us ask, emptiness makes us seek, silence makes us knock (Luke 11:9).
Keep knocking, Sister. God hasn’t left you…and He never
Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be legitimately helpful when it comes to being knowledgable, but how do we know what’s right? David said, “I will not let anything worthless guide me” (Ps. 101:3a, CSB). Who or what should be our teacher?
Last week a mom asked me for advice. Her teenager has been voicing opinions in favor of gender/sexual orientation. She asked how she could talk about it beyond just saying “Because it’s in the Bible.” I said, “When someone wants to use the Bible for personal approval, there are a bunch of Biblical passages that can be taken out of context.”
For instance, I was recently approached by a woman who asked me if I wanted to learn more about God, the mother… ??? There is an entire handbook of denominations that believe different things about the Bible.
The Issues Change
The weight of hot button issues fluctuates throughout each generation, varying in the attention they receive.
A little over one hundred years ago women weren’t allowed to wear pants or vote. Drinking alcoholic beverages was seriously frowned upon in Southern Baptist churches until the last few decades. However, now it has become somewhat of an acceptable trend…which isn’t necessarily a great victory.
When it comes to any search for truth, the most important thing is to know the Lord. The Spirit of God disciples the hearts of those who seek Him.
I’m not saying we should never discuss specific topics or read books other than the Bible. But the highest counsel comes from God and His Word. The best way to trust the Lord is to understand His character and trust His teaching.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Psalm 33:11, CSB
Finding His Character
I understand how frustrating it can be when someone tells you to “get to know the Lord.” Like, wow. I’ve never heard that one before. Great idea! (Sarcasm? Is that you?) HOW? was the battle cry of my heart for so long. If I wasn’t reading it on my own, the Bible was read to me since I was in the womb. Yet for so long I felt I was missing something staring me in the face.
One of my favorite pictures of God’s character is His interaction with Simon Peter. Peter was a zealous, devoted, and fierce disciple—and he was fearfully disloyal when it mattered most. The third time Peter denied being associated with Jesus, Luke records, “Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61a). I love how Brennan Manning wrote of this account.
In that look the reality of recognition was disclosed…The Man whom he had confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, and loved him.
Brennan Manning, The Gentle Revolutionaries
Making a Teacher
Jesus saw and knew Peter was afraid. He understood the depths of Peter’s heart and though he had walked with the Christ for three years, he chose self-preservation over allegiance to his Teacher.
What’s more, soon after Jesus’s resurrection He had a conversation with Peter (see John 21:15-19). Jesus asked Peter repeatedly if he loved Him and instructed Peter to shepherd His sheep. Only God, who intimately knows the hearts of humankind, could offer such an assignment to someone who had recently denied knowing Him. Jesus looked at Peter and saw him. Then Jesus gave him another opportunity to be a bold teacher for the sake of the gospel of salvation.
Every time Jesus says, “Do you love Me,” and Peter says, “Yes I do,” Jesus doesn’t say, “Well gosh, if you did, what happened six weeks ago, Bub?” He’s not asking that question. What does He say? He gives him work to do. “Do you love Me? I have work for you to do. I need you to feed my sheep, I need you to tend my lambs. I have work for you to do. I have new, good, beautiful things for you to make, and I want you to start paying attention to Me more than you are paying attention to your shame.”
Author Curt Thompson, MD, shared in an interview with ACT29
A Good Teacher
I am currently taking some seminary classes, so I read a lot of books. Most of them are great teachers. But I cannot tell you how much richer the content is now that I have a better understanding of who God is! God’s character is faithfulness. It is love and justice. His very nature is righteousness, and He teaches those qualities to His children!
But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows Me—that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.
Regardless of the issues you are facing or will face, there is help. There is counsel in the Word of God. So much advice is flung at us. From books to social media and more. How do we know what is right? By knowing the Teacher, the Creator of heaven and earth.
It’s not an overnight realization either. It will take our entire lifetime. But when you think about it, isn’t it wonderful? What an adventure—we can always learn more about our Maker and be taught by the One who knows all things.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
When we place money above everything else, sin takes root in our hearts. We must learn to replace our love of money for the love of God.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:10, CSB
I recently read an article stating that money is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. Now, I have never sat down and counted the number of times it is mentioned, but I have definitely observed it many times.
It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to see that the Lord wants us to know a thing or two about money. This generation is undoubtedly the most prone to wander from faith, like 1 Timothy 6:10 states. Especially when it has to do with the almighty dollar.
Money Makes Us Squirm
Money is widely talked about and not usually referenced in a way God intended it to be. Why do you think the majority of people squirm in their seats when the pastor preaches on money? Do you think God addressed money so many times to make us uncomfortable? Or is He trying to get our attention and make a point?
Personally, I think it’s the second one. I think people are naturally uncomfortable talking about money because it happens to be the very thing that we depend on in order to live.
Think about it. We need money for pretty much anything! Food, water, clothes, shelter, medical care – you name it – it costs something. Freebies only go so far, for so long. Money happens to be the very thing that helps manage, operate, and change the world we live in for the better. Do you agree?
Plain and simple, we need money in order to live. Without it, we fall into a deep pit of despair and eventually die because we lack the necessary lifeline in order to survive. People say it all the time, “You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it”.
Money is a powerful source of help. It’s required in order to appropriately exist in this world. I think it’s fair to say we should go to God, our Creator who created all things, to see what He has to say about money…
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
Revelation 4:11, ESV
For The LOVE
I want to dive into only one of those 800+ scriptures on money. I hope to provide some insight that the Holy Spirit gave me when I read this passage…
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…
1 Timothy 6:10, CSB
Let’s break the verse up so we can better understand what it means.
For the LOVE of money…
When we love something, it holds a higher value and significance over other things. This can be best demonstrated in how we view relationships with others, like our spouse or our children. We give them value and significance in our lives because we love them so much.
Putting value on money can feel as though we need it in order to live. Or, in other words, it feels like we can’t live without it because it’s a necessity. When we view money this way, it reveals in our hearts that we actually love it and can’t live without it. Many people, myself included, have fallen in love with money without recognizing its trap!
Is The ROOT
Let’s continue dissecting this verse and see what comes next.
For the love of money is the ROOT…
Our understanding of the love of money will help us better understand this second part, the root. Whenever we want to see a tree grow, we have to plant the seed in the soil and water it. Roots only take place after the seed is planted in the ground.
In this case, the scripture is showing us that the love of money is the seed that we have willingly planted in our hearts which has started to take root. A root also indicates some kind of growth is happening below the surface.
Deep inside us, we have a “money root” and we better hope it produces good fruit or we will certainly reap the consequences otherwise. Jesus taught His disciples that if they did not develop good fruit, then they would be cut off from the root and thrown into hell.
The ax is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 3:10, CSB
Oh, how I wish good growth was rooting in our hearts. Sadly, that just isn’t the case as we’ll unfortunately see.
ALL Kinds of EVIL
Now the final part of the verse.
For the love of money is the root of ALL kinds of EVIL.
This part of the verse is very interesting to me. The fact that this particular sin, the love of money, has the ability to grow and produce ALL kinds of sin within us is quite alarming.
Honestly, the last part of this scripture really had me a bit shaken up. I mean, it does say ALL, so we must conclude that God intended it to mean what it says. He is not a God of deception, but of truth. ALL kinds of EVIL begin to grow from this ONE bad seed.
Beloved, that’s not to be taken lightly! You might be asking yourself the same questions I found myself asking…
How do we avoid the love of money and avert its ability to take root in our lives?
How do we keep it from potentially and inevitably causing more and more sin from within us?
Understanding Faith Like Abraham
F – A – I – T – H! That’s it, my friends. Faith.
Thousands of years ago before houses, televisions, computers, phones and more; men and women lived in this world just like we do today. Sure it looked different, but people adapted to their surroundings just like we do today. I personally think they did a better job with this than we do.
They used their hands to work in the fields and they used their gifts God gave them to help each other even more. In the Old Testament, we find that people like Abraham and Sarah lived according to what God wanted, not what they wanted. If they needed something for basic survival, then they would ask God for it and trust that He would provide it.
When they needed food, God sent them food. When they needed water, He would lead them to where water could be found. If they needed shelter, then God would provide the supplies needed to build a roof over their heads. God ALWAYS showed up when they came to Him for a need.
God knew they were seeking Him first and it gave Him great joy to bless their faith. Makes sense right?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Matthew 6:33, CSB
Just like today, there were people then that felt like they didn’t need God’s provision in their lives. They decided to go their own way and figure things out for themselves. Some might think people like this are brave, strong and courageous. Others may think of them as stubborn, prideful, and foolish.
Consider reading about Abraham’s nephew Lot and his wife to form your own opinion on the matter (Genesis 13-14). In a nutshell, though, it doesn’t go well for them. It turns out that going their own way only leads them into danger. This easily could have been avoided had they followed God instead of their own evil hearts.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
Psalms 81:12, ESV
How Far Would Your Faith Go?
Abraham, unlike his nephew, was a faithful follower of God. Those who trusted and followed Abraham had the privilege of seeing just how real God is. Abraham found favor in the Lord because of his unwavering faith.
He never questioned or doubted God when asked to go somewhere or do something. He just simply listened and obeyed his Father’s instructions. Abraham knew that God was the provider because, simply put, there was never a time He didn’t provide. Each time Abraham went to God, God provided. And each time God provided, Abraham’s faith grew stronger.
Abraham’s unwavering faith is tested to the max, though. In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to offer his son, Issac, on the altar as a sacrifice to Him. Abraham is clearly unsure and saddened by this, but HE STILL FOLLOWS THROUGH WITH IT! He gathers his sticks and tells his son Issac to come with him to the altar without grabbing a lamb! They walk up the mountain to the altar and Issac asks his father Abraham where the sacrifice (the lamb) was and…
Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Then the two of them walked on together.
Abraham blindfolds and ties up his son and lays him down on the altar to kill him. He is just about to take his son’s life…
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’
He replied, ‘Here I am.’
Then he said, ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.’
Genesis 22:11-12, CSB
ALL IN Faith Has Its Benefits
God then provides a ram stuck in a nearby thicket by its horns for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son Issac.
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Genesis 22:13, CSB
Abraham’s faith showed God that he was ALL IN no matter what! How do we establish that kind of faith today? No offense, but we have issues spanking our own children, let alone putting them on the altar to kill for God! Sounds crazy, but truth be told, our faith is weak because we have become weak as a human race.
We think we know best and don’t feel the need to go to God for help with EVERYthing in our lives. I think this is because we have believed the same lie that Lot and his wife believed: if we follow the larger crowd (a.k.a. the world), then we will be able to make money and lead a successful, happy life. There are people out there, right now, doing this very thing and making it look so appealing. ‘It’s working for them, so it should definitely work for me too!‘ This little lie comes straight from the devil, hoping we catch it and run.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8, ESV
But we believers are called to be set apart.
But know that the Lord has et apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
Psalms 4:3, ESV
Replace Money With God and Receive Good
We are God’s children, created to follow Him not the rest of the world. So in order to live out this Abraham kind of faith today, we must first acknowledge our need for God in our lives. By doing this we can start to follow His lead instead of our own.
When we acknowledge God as our ultimate “lifeline” in order to survive and make Him more valuable and more significant than anything else in our lives, then we can rest assured He will root in us ALL kinds of good.
God showed me something pretty spectacular in His word. When you take a look back at the one verse we used today, and change only two words in it, it takes on a whole new meaning.
For the love of GOD is the root of all kinds of GOOD.
When we live our lives putting God first and relying on Him to provide for all our needs, then God will do just that. We must replace the love of money for the love of God and surely find a life of contentment, joy, peace, purpose, and prosperity!
With our world changing constantly and new distractions popping up everywhere, it is extremely crucial that we root ourselves in the Lord. God wants us to live our lives in abundance with peace, knowing He will take care of us always.
God knows we need money to live, just as much as He knows we need water to live. The same God that provided for all of Abraham’s needs, is the same God we serve today. He hasn’t changed. His ways and words stay as they are, no matter what we choose. Even though wechange daily, it is good to know that His Wordstays the same.
We all need to get on our knees and acknowledge one simple and unchanging truth…
God will give us what we need when we finally accept that all we really need – is Him.
The anger is rarely righteous and does not help us reflect the image of God. We must look inward and to His Word to inform how we act upon our emotion.
As a child, I boiled over with outrage on a regular basis. I felt the anger so viscerally, I thought it was important to let those around me know how angry I was. My temper tantrums were the things of legends. Neighbors called to check on me. Mom and Dad tried different strategies to address them. All the while, I was content to just express the heck out of it.
Addressing the Problem
One strategy my parents tried was a punching bag. It was an inflatable balloon, weighted at the bottom so that when I hit it, it might fall all the way over and touch the floor and still right itself. The best thing about this new addition was that they put it in the basement.
The door of the basement led to wooden stairs and held a large ironing board. When I was told to go down to use the punching bag, I had the distinct pleasure of swinging the door open, causing the ironing board to swing and bang against the door. Then, I would slam the door behind me, producing a cacophony of banging as the board bounced back and forth. Subsequently, I got to stomp down the stairs, and this was all before I ever got to the punching bag.
I was very content to rage openly. I found satisfaction in releasing my temper in physical ways. Throwing things felt better than not throwing things. Yelling felt necessary.
As an adult, I had to work through this instinct to rage openly. I sought counseling and learned how to be slow to act on my anger. I learned how to be silent until I could address my hurts more dispassionately.
But let me tell you a secret. To this day, after all the counseling and all my study of God’s Word, that little stomping menace still lives inside me. I feel incredibly entitled to my outbursts. Even in apologizing, I feel the need to express how rightfully I held my anger. “I’m sorry but…” is a phrase I’m constantly running away from.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
Ecclesiastes 7:9, ESV
The problem with this entitlement I hold so dearly is it is incredibly foolish. I need to have patience and grace for others. To do so is not only wise but in alignment with the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-39).
The Anger of Man is not Righteous
The thing is, I like to trick myself into thinking that my anger is righteous. Even Jesus showed anger, right? He overturned tables in the temple, turned marketplace. He decried the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, calling them a brood of vipers (Matthew 21:12-17).
So, logically speaking, if Jesus lived a perfect life and expressed anger, then I, too, can express righteous anger.
And this is true, but there’s a small problem–my anger is almost never righteous.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19-2, ESV
Jesus’ Righteous Anger
Jesus was angry on the Father’s behalf. He saw people so steeped in sin and hypocrisy that He felt the betrayal against God. I, on the other hand, am angry that someone else’s sin hurts or annoys me. It gets in the way of me being happy or comfortable. This is not righteous anger. Even when I have been wronged, the anger that follows is still the anger of man, being fueled by the warring desires inside of myself.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
James 4: 1-2, ESV
Feeling Anger vs. Sinning in Anger
We are all works in progress, battling the sin that wars inside us. But, how? Are we to never feel anger? That would not be in line with scripture, either.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV
Paul does not tell the church in Ephesus not to be angry, but to be angry and not sin. How we act on our anger is the opportunity to choose between conforming to the image of God or giving into sin, which gives the devil a foothold in our lives. We should always assess the source of our anger and find the righteous way to address it.
The Bible is quite clear in how to address quarrels between people. We are to approach people in a spirit of both truth and grace. We are to avoid stirring up division. Paul even tells the Romans not to quarrel over opinions with people who are weak in the faith, cautioning them against passing judgment.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4, ESV
I am a work in progress, and will probably battle with the sin of anger for my whole life. However, I will arm myself with the Word, gain intimate knowledge of what is righteous, versus what is simply of man. I will continue to strive to be slow to speak and slow to express rage so I can walk away from my entitlement. Away and into the arms of my Father who always upholds me because He loves me in my very most unrighteous moments.
In 2 Timothy, Paul talks about what will occur in the last days, or end times. Has every generation before now read this passage and thought, Is this now? I sure do. In a life of tension, how do we keep practicing godliness?
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
2 Timothy 3:1-5a, ESV
Focusing on Godliness
It is hard to imagine things worse than they are right now. And who, aside from the Father, determines the length of “last days” as to how long they will go on? Technically speaking, any day after Jesus ascended to the Father could be considered the last of them. It is similar to the morbid saying that we begin to die as soon as we are born.
Nevertheless, what feels more pressing in this current reality is how much the church has allowed itself to be deceived. Yet would that not also have been the case in Martin Luther’s day? So, instead of focusing on the potential of these times being the “last,” let us draw our attention to the instruction given, and seek to do the opposite of the aforementioned verses.
Be others focused
Do not love money, or what it affords
Be gentle and kind to those around you
Show honor to parents
Diligently pursue holiness
Be compassionate and loving
Do not gossip; rather, be self-controlled
Be peaceable, loving what is good
Love God, and recognize Him as the giver of good things
Worship the Creator of pleasure rather than pleasure itself
Practice spiritual disciplines which can lead to true godliness, not merely the look of it
I am thankful for the monumental heads-up Jesus gave when He said we would have trouble in this world. Still more, I am grateful for the promise which followed—He has already overcome the world and has won the victory (John 16:33)!
Surely Paul would have taken this to heart as he encountered his own various trials. The brutal honesty in which Paul communicated the life of a Christ follower is refreshing. He could have stopped at simply disclosing the tribulations he endured for the sake of the Gospel, but he continually gave God the glory for rescuing him again and again.
My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me…which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
2 Timothy 3:11, ESV
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he encouraged Timothy to pay attention! He charged Timothy to persevere in what he was learning and to keep a close eye on what he was teaching the people around him.
Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:16, CSB
In the second letter to Timothy, Paul reiterated his instructions.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15, ESV
The Word of God gives wisdom for salvation, both individually, and for the people who hear. Even more, since Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), studying and applying its instructions is sufficient to understand how to live a godly life. There is no higher authority! What a provision of grace! But this grace is not just for ourselves. As we pursue godliness, our lives testify of faith in Jesus Christ which leads to salvation.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV
These verses are palpable in today’s society. The time has come. It is now. All the more, the truth of the gospel humbles and comforts me! How often do I go searching for someone or something that will tell me what I want to hear? Justify me. Validate me. Tickle my ears. It is a slow decline over time, one where daily meditation on God’s Word is gradually abandoned. Advice is sought elsewhere, even a wicked way of thinking within myself.
Solomon talked about this trap in Proverbs: it looks like a sparkly fairytale, but it ends in death (Proverbs 16:25). Therefore, every suggestion, whether from our own minds or others, must be weighed against the Word of God. Does it align with His character? Is the purpose to bring Him glory or myself? Will following the advice move me toward godliness or away from it? Where does it focus my affections?
The main pursuit of sinners is self—looking out for #1. If the interests of the world are adopted (such as whatever the current American dream is) then the pathway to God has been deserted. The quest is no longer holiness but an evil adventure of heartily approving of the ways of the world. Avoid this way! Why? Because delighting in the instructions of the Lord have incomparable purpose and joy; not just for the life to come, but now!
The life of success spoken of in the Bible does not look anything like the prosperity gospel being peddled to the masses today. Unlike the godly person, the wicked do not prosper in everything they do (Psalm 1:3-4). Even when we cannot see it, God knows, because the Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). With that assurance, we can make peace with the constant tension of living a life for the glory of God.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?
We have been given the best treasure for finding and knowing God. The only true way to truly know Him is by diving deeper into the Bible.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Genesis 1:2, CSB
What Treasures Lie Below The Surface?
Have you ever noticed the deeper you dive into scripture, the more you seem to find? Hidden treasures lie deep below the surface of the Word. We are not meant to tread on its surface because it will only give us a small glimpse of who God is and what He has for us.
When we tread on the surface of the Word, we also find ourselves face to face with the darkness that covers it. This darkness is where we find ourselves lost, tempted, and treading in the territory of the enemy.
Instead of living our lives on the surface, we should dive down deep to see what hidden treasures we will find in the waters below. Doing this, we will gain a deeper realization of who our Creator is, a deeperrelationship with His Son, and a deeper reason for diving further into the scriptures.
Dive deep with me today, Dear Reader, as we explore together these hidden treasures.
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:2-5, CSB
Deeper Realization of Who God Is
God wants us to know who He is. He created us in His image. If we desire to know how we are supposed to live or be, then we would be wise to know who God is first.
Knowing the attributes of God will help us better understand ourselves. Before I knew Jesus as my Savior, I read the Bible. I knew how to read each and every word. Yet, I had no clue what it was saying. I was only reading on the surface.
It wasn’t until I was saved that the Word of God became easier to understand. Even then, I remained on the surface when I read. I would read a random place in the Bible, mostly the New Testament, and then try to apply what I read to my life.
The scriptures helped me, but they didn’t give me fully what God had originally designed. He wanted me to dive deeper. He wanted me to come to a deep realization of Him. I couldn’t do that by reading the Bible the way I was; which was for mostly selfish reasons.
God’s word is full of encouragement and good stuff, but it’s much more than a ‘pick you up when you feel down‘ book. When we dive deep in the scriptures and ask ourselves, how does this scripture characterize God? first, then we understand the direction clearly on how to apply His Word in our lives.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Ephesians 1:17, CSB
Deeper Relationship With His Son
Understanding who God is will inevitably lead to a closer and deeper relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. If we only allow ourselves 5 minutes a day in our Bibles, how deep can we expect our relationship with Christ truly to be?
I’m not saying that we should all spend our days with our noses shoved in our Bibles doing nothing else. Although, if given this option, I’d happily welcome it. All I am saying is the amount of time we invest in the relationship, is what we will naturally expect to get out of it.
When I find myself reading my Bible with intention, I tend to be led to discover sweet treasures of God and His relationship with His son, Jesus. This prompts me to feel a love so high and so deep between the two of them that it moves me to tears. I need to be truly invested in what I’m reading in order to get that kind of emotion and reaction.
For example, my younger sister LOVES to read! I’ve always admired this about her. She will sit and read an entire book as big as Harry Potter in one sitting if allowed the time. She always tries to explain the story to me when she is done reading, but I never seem to have the same reaction she had.
This is because she was invested in the story and the characters of that story, while I was not. She got to know their character well; So when those characters experienced something very tragic or very exciting, she experienced it too. Her ability to understand them as the role they were created to be in that story, is what drove her into an intimate and deep connection with them.
This is the same way God designed us to read His Word. When we allow ourselves to understand the main characters of the story, which is not us, then we will reap a more meaningful relationship with them. You can not know the Father without knowing His son. And you can not know His son without knowing the Father. When we know the main characters, we then deeply come to know ourselves.
They saw the Lord’s works, his wondrous works in the deep.
Psalms 107:24, CSB
Deeper Reason For The Dive
Upon looking at the scripture in Genesis 1:2, I found a startling discovery. The scripture says that darkness covered the surface of the watery depths. When you think of darkness, what comes to mind?
For me, these words are triggered: isolation, depression, lost, blind, fear, cold, temptation, and evil. We all have been there. We all know it well. It isn’t a place we enjoy living in. God understood this fact which is why, if you dive into His word, you’ll find His sweet warning from the very foundations of the earth.
The fact that God reveals to us from the beginning that darkness covers THE SURFACE of the waters, is not accidental. He intentionally put that there for our own benefit and knowledge as a warning not to tread there. Knowing this will help us stay away from the surface and dive down deep for all things good. There is a reason for God’s placement of scriptures. He wants us to unlock these mysteries and find as many hidden treasures as we can.
Today, Beloved, I urge you to do this very thing. Read your Bible to know who God is. Read your Bible to grow in a deeper relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. And understand, Sister, there is a deep reason for EVERY. SINGLE. WORD!
The words of a person’s mouth are deep waters, a flowing river, a fountain of wisdom.
If you constantly run, you’ll grow tired. If you’re always running out of gas, but never filling back up, you cannot go anywhere. Why choose to be empty when we can choose to overflow with the love of God?
Running On Empty
Lately, I’ve been living from moment to moment. What’s next? What am I looking forward to? I don’t need to tell you this, but it’s exhausting. Always looking forward to whatever’s coming up instead of living for Christ, is no life at all.
I know how much it sucks to feel empty. Why then, do I continue doing the exact same thing? That’s insanity! We cannot live off of momentary pleasure. Instant gratification ultimately leads to death…
Where do we go once we’ve reached a goal? We make another one. Then another and another. We’ll run out. But with Christ there is no end; we can’t “use Him up” or reach His end because He has no end.
We’ll never be able to wrap our minds around the vastness that is Christ. God is so infinite and wide which includes His love, mercy, and plan for us. We will not just be filled in Christ, but we will overflow! Why live on empty if all we have to do is believe and love the One who first loved us?
It’s so simple, so straightforward. Accept Christ, you’re saved. Love the God who turned His back on His Son to bring you home, you’ll overflow. Why is it then, that I choose to turn my back? Who am I to walk away from Christ?
Well, I’m no one. But God has given us the choice between Him and our own plan because He loves us so much. How, though, do we choose life over death when death is so enticing?
The hardest part of this, for me, is actually doing it. What does it look like to live for and like Christ? I haven’t been in the word for one. I guess I don’t realize how utterly vital it is to be reading the literal word of Christ. How can you be in relationship with someone you know nothing about? You can’t!
Another thing that makes it impossible to be in relationship is not TALKING TO SOMEONE! We have to be in constant communication with God otherwise we grow distant. Emphasis on we. God knows us and wants all of us so we cannot blame any faults or shortcomings on Him. He’s so graciously given US the choice to live and live with Him. There is no flaw in Him. He is full; He is not empty and He will never leave us empty.
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Romans 6:4, NLT
If you’ll allow, I’d like to go off on a little tangent…
I mentioned there is no flaw in Him. That means the things He creates are flawless as well. You are flawless. Tainted by sin yes, but you are no mistake. No accident.
This is something else I’ve stumbled upon in these season of emptiness…
Self-esteem. A battle I’ve been fighting for a while is finding the balance between, well, I am a sinner, but I am also saved and a part of Christ’s perfect plan. So, I really can’t question any part of myself. God made me the way I am on purpose. God made you the way you are, on purpose.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20, NLT
What a beautiful picture. Nothing to prove and nothing to lose because He lost it all so we could win. So He could win. We don’t have to spend our days waiting for the “next big thing” because He is always filling us up. We overflow. With Christ, we are no longer empty. With Christ, we are full.
He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
Just like we all rely on GPS to get us to and fro, we need Spiritual GPS to keep us from becoming lost. The Trinity has everything we need to make it to our Heavenly home.
I tell you, use the worldly things you have now to make ‘friends’ for later. Then, when those things are gone, you will be welcomed into a home that lasts forever.
Luke 16:9, ERV
GPS – Global Positioning System
GPS, Global Positioning System, is a nifty instrument used to help people everywhere determine their exact location on Earth. When this technology came to my attention, I was certainly the one shouting Hallelujah! Finally! I will NEVER be lost again!
You see, I was always the one that had difficulty reading maps or any written instructions for that matter. Even though I trusted the person writing the instructions, I still found myself not trusting the path. I always doubted each and every turn I’d make.
When GPS came into my life, I found myself heavily relying on it because, quite honestly, it works! I get where I’m going and I always find my way back. Robert L. Easton knew what he was doing when he engineered this brilliant design. He is clearly smarter than I am! I’m just thankful it works! I know I can always trust my GPS will get me home safe and sound. And for that, I’m forever grateful.
I mean, aren’t you, Dear Reader?
God is Global
According to Google, global by definition means relating to the whole world; worldwide; relating to or embracing the whole of something, or of a group of things. God is the Creator of ALL things, which includes our world. I love how the second definition of global uses the word embracing, to give it a just description. God certainly embraces the whole world in His hands.
He is the inventor and maker of it all. He controls all things by keeping everything working in perfect harmony with each other. The Sun has it’s perfect position, as do the planets, the stars, and even you and I, Dear Friend. God is holding it all out of a love we have only scratched the surface to comprehend. For me, knowing this gives me a safe feeling inside. Knowing He’s got everything under control. It gives me peace and rest.
Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14, ERV
Prophet is Positioning
Again, using Google as my dictionary today, I found it interesting to see that the word positioning means, put or arrange (someone or something) in a particular place or way. Or to promote a service as the fulfillment of that sector’s specific requirements.
Beloved, I pray you receive this today. Jesus is the Prophet whom the Old Testament prophesied would come. The Disciples had been waiting for Him! They knew Jesus was the One.
The people saw this miraculous sign that Jesus did and said, ‘He must be the Prophet who is coming into the world.’
John 6:14, ERV
God sent Jesus to fulfill specific requirements. He came to fulfill the Old Testament Prophesy; to live the life we could not live; to die the death that we deserve; and to resurrect from the grave defeating death itself. He is positioned at the right side of God, in Heaven. Jesus holds everything together with His powerful command.
The Son shows the glory of God. He is a perfect copy of God’s nature, and he holds everything together by his powerful command. The Son made people clean from their sins. Then he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3, ERV
Spirit is Systems
You got it! Google defines systems as being a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network. It even breaks it up into four parts: Physiology – (The human body and organs working together), Computing – (Technology, like computer parts, working together), Geology – (Land and nature working together), and Astronomy – (Celestial objects, like planets orbiting around the sun, working together). This was very interesting to me because that is the divine purpose of the Holy Spirit. To work all parts; mind, body, and soul, together according to the will of God.
In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:21-22, CSB
The Holy Spirit enters our bodies upon salvation and begins re-building our parts to work according to the will of God. Our bodies become the Spirit of God’s dwelling place. That is so neat! It is trustworthy to believe, Dear Sister, that the same God who holds ALL things together, lives in us, holding us together as well. This is such GOOD NEWS! Just like our GPS is an instrument we use to locate where we are and where we are headed, The Spirit within us is the instrument helping us to determine which route to take.
After reviewing all this, I was compelled by the Holy Spirit to re-write my first paragraph. It looks a bit different now…
GPS, God – Prophet – Spirit, is a nifty instrument used to help people everywhere determine their exact location in life. When this trilogy came to my attention, I was certainly the one shouting Hallelujah! Finally! I will NEVER be lost again!
You see, I was always the one that had difficulty reading the Bible or any written instructions for that matter. Even though I trusted the person writing the instructions, I still found myself not trusting the path. I always doubted each and every turn I’d make.
When GPS came into my life, I found myself heavily relying on it because, quite honestly, it works! I get where I’m going and I always find my way back. I felt like, God, the genius behind this neat creation, knew what He was doing when He engineered this brilliant design. He is clearly smarter than I am! I’m just thankful it works! I know I can always trust my GPS will get me to myeternal home safe and sound. And for that, I’m forever grateful.
Giving Scripture the last word lays a solid foundation in our lives that cannot be moved. We must be alert to follow God’s Word and encourage each other in it daily so we do not become deceived (Hebrews 3:13).
One of the many conversations in our home right now is learning how to spot false gospels. In many circles today, the message of the cross has been altered to make it more polished, palatable, and attractive. But when the gospel is watered down, it is no longer the gospel. And it is alarmingly easy to veer off course. For example, take the phrase “God gives you what you need.” Think about that.
Pause for A Moment…
Where did your mind go when you read that? Perhaps you thought of the meme you’ve seen floating around that guarantees God will never give you more than you can handle. That is not in the Bible. I looked. The only pledge that comes close is 1 Corinthians 10:13 where we are promised not to be tempted beyond what we can bear, and that God provides a way of escape so we can endure. Or perhaps you thought of Philippians 4:19 which says God will supply all of our needs.
I don’t know about you, but I can quickly become discouraged by phrases that have been taken out of context or have had the gospel stripped from them. Without understanding who God is, and what assurances He has shown throughout Scripture, what does God gives you what you need even mean?
When I heard someone say that several years ago I smirked and thought, I know that’s what the Bible says, but it doesn’t feel true in my life. I felt forgotten, overlooked, and cast aside by God. However disappointed I was with myself, I believed I was living the life I had created. But that was a lie. I wasn’t relying on truth. My feelings were my final authority; not the sure foundation of God’s Word.
This past weekend, my husband Sean and I were able to attend a free marriage enrichment seminar offered through his work. We had a wonderful time away together and I am very grateful! But my point in mentioning it has to do with the curriculum we went through.
I was familiar with the original material, but the version taught at the seminar had been, as the instructor called it, “de-Jesus-ed.” The only note I took the whole weekend was in response to this statement—”We all need love.” I wrote:
Why [do we need love]? How do people without the God of Creation, whois LOVE, find an answer to that question?
I know we need love because I believe what the Word of God says. Because I know Him, I believe the need for love is also satisfied in Him. Without the hope of Christ, people are left to the exhausting and futile task of manufacturing love.
I imagine many perceive the gospel to be ethereal. Spiritual but elusive; like an ungraspable vapor. Yet we have been given the Word of God to instruct, guide, and embolden us to stand firm, to live lives worthy of the gospel! But we have to open it up and read it! And as David did, we must ask for help over and over again…
Help me understand Your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.
Psalm 119:34, HCSB
In the midst of a texting conversation between me, Sean, and our two teenage daughters, Sean sent Galatians 5:13 and Psalm 5:3 as ways to pray for change in the hearts of their friends, and for God to work in their school. He challenged the girls not to pray flippantly with empty words, writing: “Don’t drop BS to the void. Speak God’s Word back to Him with hope.” Then he shared some of Jesus’s words from the gospel of Matthew.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Matthew 7:21, HCSB
I admit I have read this passage before and thought that seems harsh. Strict? Yes. Unreasonable? No. Why? Because He is God, and there is only one way to Him, and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
God is bigger than me. He is bigger than you. God is the Savior of the whole world, and salvation is freely given. But it costs everything because it cost Jesus everything. Every single day, as a follower of Jesus, I must die to what I think is best for me or fair. Daily the Father calls me to admit the ways I choose my own self-exalting, ethereal ideas above what He has clearly put forth in His Word. In His mercy, He shows me His way is best for me.
What is Needed
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4, HCSB
God has absolutely lavished His love on us in Jesus! Through the life of Christ God has given us all that is needed for this life. In Jesus, we have what is needed to live godly lives because we have the gift of God’s Word and His indwelling Spirit for those who believe.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say the mass majority of you know on some level that Jesus loves you. It is a comforting and powerful statement. For years I lived off of that phrase alone. Even if [fill in the blank] doesn’t love me well, I know Jesus does. Then last summer I read how raising a foundation on this methodology can be deceptive.
This approach subtly turns Jesus into the One who meets my needs and fills my emptiness—as I define them. It turns God’s love into something that only serves me. Repentance for our rebellion and sin against God is minimized or even ignored while God’s love for us is maximized. We turn Jesus into someone whose goal in life is to make us feel good about ourselves…[Jesus] is the Holy One who comes to cleanse us, fill us, and change us…He loves us too much to merely make us happy. He comes to make us holy.
How People Change, by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp
God’s love does fulfill every single one of our needs! The best way to fully believe that with conviction, is to read and pray His words. Then we can be confident that though sin does separate us from God, He made a way for us to become holy. Praise Jesus!
Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.