This But Not That? Psalm 21

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People I know have trouble seeing God’s wrath in action in the Old Testament. “It sounds so cruel and unfair,” they say. “I much rather focus on His love. That’s what Jesus was all about when He lived on earth. That’s the New Testament way.”

Most Christians I know want this “loving” side of God but not that “wrathful” side.

That wrath-side of God is so disturbing to some people that they walked away from God altogether. “I don’t want anything to do with the God of the Old Testament – a God who kills women and children, even babies.”

However, David had no trouble embracing both sides of God. He knew Him better than many of us, and I like to read his songs to glean insights into the whole nature of the God that I love and serve. And yet, I must agree that his outright glee in the destruction of the enemy is at first disturbing to my 21st century western mindset.

But recently one of his psalms put this in a new light for me. It seems the first half of Psalm 21 is talking prophetically about Jesus. And if that is so, could the second half be just as prophetically talking about the real enemy of God – the fallen angels and their offspring? (See Genesis 6:4)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the son of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took them as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh; his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:1-4

(For those who don’t know, the Nephilim were the offspring of the fallen angels (sons of God) and human women.)

Here’s a way to think about it.

Let’s say there are two kinds of small insects flying around you – butterflies and mosquitos. Wouldn’t you enjoy the beauty of the fluttering butterflies while at the same time hate the buzzing mosquitos? Would you reject the person who cares for the butterflies but swats at the mosquitoes? Or destroys the innocent looking larvae wriggling in a bucket of water?

Or to put it another way…

What if those who choose to follow Jesus are like butterflies (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17) and those who choose to follow the fallen angels, those who choose to do evil, are like mosquitoes (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8)

What if in their attempt to attack Jesus they also attack the butterflies? Wouldn’t the butterflies look forward to the day God removes all mosquitoes and their offspring from the face of the earth? Would that make God unfair? Or would that show His love and care for the butterflies?

When reading the Bible, we have to keep in mind that God is not man. His thoughts are way above our thoughts. He sees things very differently than we are capable of seeing. One day, when we are with Him, we might begin to understand. But for now, we just have to trust in the goodness of His nature that everything He does is just and right, including the destruction of the wicked and their innocent looking offspring.

Psalm 21:1-13  O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

Your right hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man. Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed. For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.


What do you think? Does this make sense? How do you see the “God of the Old Testament”?

What’s On Your Mind? Psalm 19

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Let the words of my mouth and the meditation
of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Would God find it acceptable if you said any of these following comments
to other people? What if you just thought it and didn’t actually say it out
loud?

“I don’t know why you have to act like that. It’s awkward to be around you. You
should keep to yourself and not subject others to your deficient personality.”

“You’re so ugly. No wonder you don’t want your photo taken. You should also stay
away from personal appearances and just stay connected to other people through
emails and texts that saves them from having to see you.”

“Look at you smile as if you’re worth the same as the ones you’re talking
with. Shut up before you say something stupid and reveal your nothingness.”

“It’s irresponsible of you to want others to do parts of your job. It’s your
job, after all. You are supposed to handle all the details. It doesn’t matter
that it takes you long into the night to complete them. You shouldn’t be shirking
your responsibilities no matter how many those are.”

“Whoa, you’re getting fatter each time I see you. What a glutton! If you’d
just change your diet – if you quit eating altogether – you could lose the
weight so you’d look better and be healthier, and so people would like being around
you better. No one likes a fat, disgusting person hanging around.”

“Why does you keep spending your money? That’s so careless. Where’s your
self-control? What if you need it later? You could be in a world of trouble if
an emergency happens and you don’t have enough money.”

“Gee, your voice is one of the weirdest voices I’ve heard. Other people have
clearer, nicer voices that are pleasant to listen to. Not you. You sound like
you’re talking from inside a pipe. You should avoid talking except when
absolutely necessary. People don’t want to hear that weak and odd voice.”

Of course not. Yet I say them to myself about myself every day. David
prayed that his thoughts and words would be acceptable to God. That would include thoughts and words directed at himself.

Lord, I, too, pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You. Convict me when they are not, and help me to see what You must see – that these thoughts are directed towards someone you love and died for. Forgive me, Lord, and give me the strength to make the changes I need to in order that You will be honored both in my thoughts and in my words- all of them – no matter who they are directed towards.

Spiritual or Psychological?

Journal Entry, summer of 2021

With the merciful you show yourself merciful;

with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;

with the purified you show yourself pure;

and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

Psalm 18:25-26

I’ve often wondered why nonbelievers see God so differently than I do. The One I see as holy and loving and affirming, they see as harsh, cruel, and distant. Sometimes I just look at people with wonder as they go off against God. How could they be so far from the truth?

David must have had the same question at some point – but instead of just wondering about it, he had an answer. When I read Psalm 18 again not too long ago, my inner conversation went like this…

Ah, so that’s why. People see what God wants them to see, and that’s based on their own character traits.

Wait… what if it’s more like people are projecting their own nature on to God? Maybe God has nothing to do with it. Maybe David has it backwards. Maybe people see God as they see themselves. That would be kind of like making God in their own image.

But that doesn’t hold true for many people I know. In my own experience, if the psychological explanation is accurate, I should see God as selfish, distant, and judgmental. But I don’t. So it has to be spiritual eyesight.

Hmmm… this would make an interesting topic to research. I wish I had time to do that.

Paul told the Corinthians that unbelievers were unable to see spiritual truth.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5

Unbelievers who are open can ask God and He will show Himself to them. But for those who are not, no amount of discussion, argument, intimidation, threat, pleas, or explanations will make them see what they can’t.

When I pray for non-Christians now, and those who call themselves Christians but don’t live like they are, I ask God to open their eyes to who He really is. That way they will know the difference between who they perceive God to be and who He really is. Then their choice to accept or reject Him will be based on reality instead of misunderstanding.

Lord, may we all see You for who You really are.

When Praying is like Swimming Upstream

Does anyone else sound like this when they pray?

God, I lift up my friend Tammy to You. She is carrying such a weight right now. Please fill her with Your strength to handle all the details that are coming her way. It’s hard to sell a house, but even harder when you’re still emotionally attached to it. I wonder if I would feel the same way if I sold my house. The evidence of my kids growing up here are everywhere. I really should get that hole in the wall fixed, though. How do I do that? Do I cover it with wide tape, like duct tape, and then paint over it? Hmmm…. the new paint won’t match the rest, so I’ll need to paint the whole wall. Should I keep to the same color or change it to another? I wonder… oh, right, I was praying.

God, sorry for getting distracted. Like I was saying, please strengthen Tammy and give her the wisdom to make the best choices. I also lift up my daughter, Erica. She hasn’t been feeling well lately. Heal her quickly, Lord, and strengthen her to be able to handle her job and family responsibilities. Her husband may understand her lack of energy, but her baby will not. Mikey needs his mother, and when she’s too tired to spend that time with him, he cries. It hurts my heart to think of him crying. Bob is a good father, but not a replacement for mommy. I wonder why some kids gravitate towards one parent over the other. Erica was a momma’s girl when she was little, but ever since he was a baby, Steve preferred Matt. He still prefers his dad over me. That hurts, like I’m being rejected even though I know he loves me. What did Matt feel when Erica clung to me instead of to him? I never thought of looking at it from his perspective…

Oh.

God, I did it again. I’m so sorry. This time I will stay focused. School is starting soon. Please be with the teachers and students as they return to the classroom. Keep them safe as they start another year. There are so many dangers nowadays that I never had to face when I was teaching. It must be stressful to be in a place where the chance of getting the Covid virus is high. Or where a shooter might show up at any time. I wonder what I would have done if a shooter had entered my school when I was teaching. How would I have protected my kindergarten students? The bathroom could hold maybe half of them, if they squeezed in tight enough, but would they be able to stay quiet? Maybe the rest of them could hide inside the cabinets. I’d have to remove the stuff in them first, but they’re big enough for the kids to fit in them. There were 2, 3, 4, 5 cabinets on the back wall. That would work for five students, but then there’d still be…

Oh, Lord.

Please forgive me. I can’t stay focused. I can never stay focused. I don’t know how You put up with this. I would be so annoyed if someone kept doing this to me. Please have mercy on me and help me to do better. I’m good at some things, like giving to the poor and being kind to my neighbor. But praying – why is it so hard? What is wrong with me that I can’t pray like my pastor does? Or the other people in my small group…

And so it goes on until I eventually finish, give up, or run off to do something I just remembered I had to do.

For me, sometimes praying is like swimming upstream. I’m trying to swim towards God, to be in His presence and stay focused on our conversation. But the current of human weakness keeps pushing me back to my own thoughts. Debris, such as memories, worries, reminders of things I need to do constantly distract me. How much easier it is to float downstream with them than to maintain the energy required to push against that current. This causes frequent feelings of failure or inadequacy resulting in many apologies and pleas of forgiveness. I think God is gracious to keep forgiving me. And He is.

And yet, what if God’s response is different? What if instead of disapproval and tolerance, He looks at it in a different way. What if instead of saying, “You keep drifting away,” He says, “You keep coming back.”

For me, that would be game-changer.


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

The Throne of Your Heart

One of the things all Christians have in common is that we had to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior in order to become one.

Romans 10:9-10 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Most Christians have little trouble accepting Him as Savior. Most of us know we can’t save ourselves (there are some whose lives show differently, but that’s a topic for another day) and we are grateful for what Jesus did to save us. But for many people, that’s enough. Accepting His Lordship seems to take a lower priority in many of our lives and hearts. Jesus warned us about this.

Luke 6a “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

Could that be because as Americans, we don’t have a clear grasp of lords or of thrones? Merriam-Webster describes a lord as “someone having power and authority over others, to whom service and obedience are due.” They sit on thrones. Thrones symbolize the sovereignty, power, control, glory, judgment, and authority of the one who has the right to sit on it. For us, that person is supposed to be Jesus.

Revelation 17:14b for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

In our culture today, we don’t have kings, lords, or thrones. If it helps, we can think of Jesus as the Boss of bosses, the Top Guy, the 6-star General (that puts Him above the 5-star generals), or the CEO of Planet Earth. What He says goes. Not one can tell Him what to do, how to do it, or what needs to be changed. He holds total authority.

Is this how we see Jesus? Is He Lord to us? As I watch and listen to Christians, I think the answer is yes and no.

We freely acknowledge His Lordship over the earth. He created everything and is sovereign over all.

Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.

We freely acknowledge His Lordship over our churches. We, the church, exist to worship Him, learn about Him, and to serve Him through serving others.

We somewhat acknowledge His Lordship over our families. We try to live by Christian principles and expect other members of our family to abide by Christian morals.

But when it comes down to our lives – to our hearts – it’s often a different story. We don’t want to give up control of our lives. We want to sit on the throne. We believe we have the right to choose for ourselves what we do, say, and believe. However, the truth is, we gave up those rights when we accepted Jesus as Lord.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Song of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Peter 2:10a Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;

Jesus is Lord. We are not. Yet, no matter how much we may mean it when we say it, we live as though we are still on the thrones in our hearts. While praying this morning, I got an idea, inspiration, thought, whatever of some of the ways we cling to the throne in our heart. I am guilty of them all, so this is for me as well as for you.

The Can We Share Position

Some of us squeeze over on the seat to make room for Jesus. We don’t want to give up our throne, but we want Him to be on it with us. We want to share the rulership. We want to do what we want, until things get too hard or crazy, and then we ask Him to take over. That doesn’t make Him Lord. That makes Him our servant – a very powerful servant, but a servant nonetheless because we only yield to Him when we choose to.

Many others of us have managed to get off the throne – mostly. We cling in various ways, afraid to give up total control.

The I Can Help Position

Sometimes it’s our arms that remain glued to the armrest. Arms symbolize power.

Psalm 44:3 for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.

We want some of the power to make our own decisions based on our own knowledge and understanding. We want to help Jesus deal with what happens in our lives. We want to fight against those who get in our way. We want to get back at those who hurt us. We want to forge paths into our careers. We want to make people change in order for us to live more comfortably. We want to judge the motivation of those who ask for money. But Jesus had a lot to say about this…

Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Matthew 5:44b and pray for those who persecute you,

Luke 6:27b do good to those who hate you,

Matthew 5:39b-40 Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right check, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

It’s scary to give up this power. What if God doesn’t do things the way we think He ought? What if by thinking that, we are actually saying God can’t take care of us as well as we can take care of ourselves? There’s plenty of assurance in the Bible that He can and will.

Psalm 145:16 You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

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

(Isaiah 41:10 NASB1995  Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’)

Psalm 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me; you stretch forth your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand will save me.

Isaiah 33:22 For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.

The Is This Enough Position

Sometimes it’s our feet that stay attached. Feet symbolize our lives, our walk with Him.

Proverbs 4:26-27 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Being a light, spreading the Good News, witnessing to others about Jesus, and living by all of Jesus’ words will make us stand out from the world. It will be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and messy at times. We will become targets of persecution (Jesus said “when”, not “if”). By keeping our foot attached to our throne, we give ourselves the option to adjust or refuse an assignment from Jesus. “Not this time.” “Maybe later.” “Let me think about it.” “Will this be good enough?” It could be we are too comfortable with rejecting or compromising with earthly authority when it doesn’t suit us or make sense, and extend that same attitude towards Jesus. But rejecting authority puts us above the authority, even if it’s just a foot’s worth.

The Do You Have Enough Room Position

A common idiom – by the seat of my pants – is defined by dictionary.com as “using or based on experience, instinct, or guesswork, done without the aid of instruments”. Based on this, I would like to submit that our bottoms represent our thoughts.

We want to use our reasoning, our understandings, what we see and hear, to determine our actions. We resist using the Bible if what we think makes more sense to us than what we read. What we forget is that God can see so much more than we can. We get caught up with all the details, skirmishes, and distractions around us while God can see the everything from above. He sees the big picture, the beginning to the end, and how all things fit together. He looks at things differently than we do. He values different things than we value. He has different goals than we sometimes have.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We are okay about giving room for His thoughts, but we don’t want to give up all of our own. We like to think we and those around us have some wisdom and knowledge because of our past experiences, and frequently we’d rather rely on that than what we find in the Bible – the tool God has given to us. It’s hard to accept in the moment that God’s view and knowledge is better than our own. It’s hard to rejoice that we are blessed while we are being persecuted. It’s hard to obey when we’re told to sell all we have and give to the poor, or to leave our family to go to an unfamiliar place. It doesn’t make sense.

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Mark 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.

It’s hard to get completely off the throne in our hearts. It’s hard to trust all He says, to obey all He commands. Few of us want to be or admit to rebellious, and yet we live in as much rebellion as the Israelites did, only in much subtler ways. Why? Is it because we want to be comfortable? Is it because we want to be in charge? Or is it because we don’t really – deep down really – trust God to take care of us, to do what He says He will do, when it makes no sense?

If it’s this third reason that forms the bottom line of our attitude, God understands, as is evidenced from the multitude of scriptures He gave us about His faithfulness.

Psalm 33:4 For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

Psalms 40:11 As for you, O LORD, you will not retrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.

Psalm 26:3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

The Bible is clear – God is faithful. He will do what He says. He will take care of us, lead us, sustain us, and provide for us. What if we took Him at His word? What if we did things His way? What if we truly made Him Lord in our lives?

I have not achieved that yet, but I am committing to working towards that goal daily, with His help. My first step is to determine what those commandments are by reading through the Gospels and list everything He said to do. If you think that would be helpful to you, let me know and I will post that list when it’s finished.

Psalm 119:30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.

I’m not talking about becoming religious or legalistic. I know we have been set free from that. I’m talking about walking as Jesus did, of seeing things through God’s eyes, and being a woman after God’s own heart. I’m also not talking about earning my way into heaven. Jesus already did that for me. I’m talking about responding to His love by loving Him the way He said in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I’m talking about getting off the throne in my heart.

What about you? Will you make Him Lord as well as Savior? Will you get off the throne in your heart?

Psalm 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.

Celebrations

We tend to celebrate the days in our lives that mark a birth or change or completion of something. Days like…

Birthday

First day of school

Graduation

First car

First job

Marriage

New home

Birth of children

Retirement

As Christians, there is something missing from that list. Something that should stand out from everything else. Something that is worth more than all of that list put together.

That something is … the day we were saved.

For me, it was April 24, 1977. I can remember it clearly. Not the physical details as much as more, although there’s still plenty of those. But I will never forget the spiritual wonder of meeting Jesus. In an instant I was changed forever. It was the most significant day of my life, and yet, I do not celebrate it.

I don’t really celebrate any day. I’m like the second person described in Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

But I think I might just make an exception come next April.

God is Bigger Than Climate Change

Climate change. Who hasn’t heard the warnings? Higher temperatures, more drought and heat waves, heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels, widespread flooding, melting ice caps… it goes on and on. According to Wikipedia, climate change “threatens people with food and water scarcity, increased flooding, extreme heat, more disease, and economic loss. Human migration and conflict can be a result. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls climate change the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.”

All of this is serious and frightening.

But God is bigger than climate change.

God made the earth (Neh 9:6, Ps 24:1) and not only knows how to take care of it, but does so according to His will (Job 12:10, Ps 65:9-13, Ps. 107:33-34 NOTE: all cited Scriptures are written out in full at the end of this blog). He also gave us the job of tending the earth (Gen 2:15) knowing full well that we wouldn’t be as good at it as He is. Yet He is powerful enough to correct the mistakes we make, smart enough to know the needs for all generations, and strong enough to control the effects of our ignorance (Job 26:14, 37:13, Is 45:5-7, Matt 8:26-27).

But the truth is, even if we had done a phenomenal job, no matter what we do or don’t do, the earth is passing away. It was not made to last forever (Ps 102:25-28, Is 51:6, Matt 24:35, Heb 1:10-12). God’s plan is to make a new heaven and a new earth once this one has grown old and worn out (Is 65:17, Rev 21:1).

Until then, we can trust God with our future. We can tend the earth in the best ways we know. We can enjoy what He has given us until the new, better earth arrives. And we can rely on Him as we go through the coming storms, floods, droughts, and times of pestilence. We may not be able to fix the earth, the Bible makes it clear that the earth will pass away, but we can be at peace knowing Jesus is with us all the way (Matthew 28:20b, Hebrews 13:5).

What we shouldn’t do is be obsessed with the earth’s condition or to live in fear (John 14:27). Concern is one thing – obsession is another. There is only one thing He has told us to be obsessed with – and that is Him. Instead of dwelling on the earth until it consumes us, let’s get our eyes back on the One who holds the earth in His hands. Let’s dwell on the LORD who dwells on us. Let’s be obsessed with God Most High.

And he said to them, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37).

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Col 3:2.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3


Other Scriptures cited in this blog:

“You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. Nehemiah 9:6

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, Psalm 24:1b

In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10

By his power he stilled the sea…Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?
Job 26:14

He loads the thick clouds with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen. Job 37:13

I am the Lord, and there is no other ,besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:5-7

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Gen 2:15

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea , and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:26-27

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offering shall be established before you. Psalm 102:25-28

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the Earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, and the Earth will wax like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner. Isaiah 51:6

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

you, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end. Psalm 102:25-27 (also quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12)

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe of your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for you joy. You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothes themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:5-13

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:17

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sun was no more. Revelation 21:1

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

As long as the present earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. Genesis 8:22

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matt 28:20b

God is Bigger than Food Prices

Food prices are soaring. Some people are talking about becoming vegetarians – not because of their concern for animals, but because of their concern for their wallets. Some people are talking about becoming self-sufficient – growing their own fruits, vegetables, and raising their own livestock – so they will have food when it’s no longer available to them due to price or scarcity. Some people are already doing this. Some people become depressed each time they go shopping, having to decide between what tastes good and what’s cheap – if they can find it on the shelves at all. Other people become shocked or enraged. Anger is mounting. Desperation is climbing. Complaints are widespread, but no one seems to be able to do anything about it.

It’s not just food. It’s clothing, cleaning supplies, toiletries – shelves are increasingly empty and almost everything has a significantly higher price tag than just a year ago. If this continues, as it looks like it will for some time – will we have what we need when we need it?

For many people, the answer is not clear. No one can really predict how long this will last and how severe it will get. There have been numerous guesses, estimates, and predictions. But the truth is, no one really knows the future except God. And He warned us that there would be famines as the end time came nearer.

Matthew 24:3-7 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

He tells us not to be alarmed. How can we NOT be alarmed when faced with climbing food prices without a parallel climb in income?

Because God is bigger than food prices.

In Philippians 4:16-18, Paul was talking about how the Philippians had repeatedly provided for his needs, and that at the time of his writing he was well supplied. These were gifts that had been sent to him from the Philippians and therefore physical items for physical needs. Thus, verse 19: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus is also talking about physical needs.

God can supply our needs because He is rich! No matter how high food prices go, they won’t make a dent in His treasure house.

We can trust that He will take care of us. He said in Matthew 6:25-33 that He knows we need food, drink, and clothing, and that He will provide them if we seek His kingdom and righteousness first. He didn’t say He would do so as long as prices stay reasonable. He doesn’t care about the prices. His richness has no limit.

If rising food prices has your heart in turmoil, you’re looking in the wrong direction. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will guide you through these times and provide for you in many expected and unexpected ways.

Philippians 4:6-8 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Sidenote One: There is a difference between a need and a want. If you spend your income on your wants – eating out, entertainment, hobbies, name-brand clothing, jewelry, cigarettes, the latest technological toy, a large home, expensive cars, etc. – you may not have enough left over for your needs. And if you are spending most of your money on yourself, God may not give you more. God will provide for His children, but He won’t spoil them or enable their self-centeredness and selfishness. James 4:3 You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Sidenote Two: I keep hearing that we need to be stockpiling items so that we will have them when they are no longer available on the shelves where we live. That’s fine if God is leading you this way, but keep in mind that stockpiling is not hoarding. Jesus expects us to share what we have with others.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he had denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Luke 3:11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Ephesians 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

It may be that He has stockpiling as we are able now in order to provide for our needs later as well as the needs of those who are unable to save up items due to finances or space.


Matthew 6:25-33 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow or reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

A Story of Running From God

Christian loved God and professed to follow Jesus. He enjoyed his life and lived according to Biblical principles. One day, God interrupted his life. He said, “Hey, Christian! See those people in high places? Those people who live in the spotlight, surrounded by many admirers? Politicians, athletes, famous people, and other people of great influence? Go to them and call them out for their sins because I’ve had enough of their evil.” But Christian didn’t want to hear that word. He was afraid he’d end up looking like a fool if they heeded his warning and God relented on the disaster He planned for them. So, he ran from God thinking if he blended in with other people, God wouldn’t see him. He found a group that would serve his need. Compromising his values and adopting their values was a steep price which he willingly paid if it got him away from God’s presence.

But God saw and sent a great wind upon the land and there were mighty storms – earthquakes, wind storms, fires, droughts, pestilence – so that the people’s lives were in danger of being destroyed. The people cried out to all kinds of things seeking a savior. New age practices, pagan gods, crystals, social activism, political actions, religious observances, and fortune tellers were called on night and day. The people even gave up basic necessities and rights in their effort to survive. Nothing worked.

Meanwhile, Christian ignored everything. Focused on his own needs and desires, he was no longer awake to the voice of the Lord and was unaware that the storm was anything out of the ordinary. When the people brought his attention to it, he recognized what was going on but remained silent until the people figured out that the storms had something to do with him. At that point he admitted he was running from God. The people, seizing on this ray of hope that they would be able to stop the storms, grilled Christian until they finally asked point blank, “What do we need to do to stop it?” Christian, knowing he had to directly confront the consequence of his action, told them that he would have to die to himself. Maybe then, God would relent.

But that made no sense to the people and they refused to accept Christian’s way; instead, they continued to seek their own way to end the storm. Eventually, when it was clear their efforts were in vain, they did as Christian said. They freed him to go do what he needed to do. Instantly the winds were stilled. The people were amazed at the power of God and turned to Him with fear and trembling. However, it wasn’t over for Christian. He had to spend time alone with God until his stubborn pride was broken and his attitude was realigned with His. Humble and sorry for having run, he returned to his life.

God again spoke to him, “Hey, Christian! See those people of great influence? Go to them and call them out for their sins because I’ve had enough of their evil.” This time Christian obeyed. He spoke to everyone he could, warning them if they didn’t change their ways, God was going to bring disaster upon them. He was later dismayed that everyone believed him. As the result, the leaders and celebrities believed the Word, humbled themselves, and repented. And sure enough, God relented and no disaster fell on them.

Sound crazy? Like a fairy tale? Not to Jonah (see the book of Jonah in the Old Testament).

The Bible says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). What if one of the reasons the story of Jonah was written was to give us insight into a side of God we don’t hear preached about very often today? What if by compromising with the world, blending in instead of standing out, we Christians have brought down the storms that blow around us? Maybe not entirely, but certainly our rebellious disobedience to Biblical teaching has a far-reaching consequence. And maybe, if we who call ourselves Christians humbled ourselves, repented from our compromises and rebellion, and obeyed His command even at the cost of our lives, would God intervene and calm the storms that rage across the world today? Would that result in the leaders and celebrities believing the Word and calling for the repentance of everyone in their circles of influence?

It’s an interesting thought.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

What Does It Mean When the Bible Says God Loves Me?

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God loves me, this I know

For the Bible tells me so.

Words to an old children’s song. But what does it mean? (For the condensed answer, skip down to the blue Takeaway at the end.)

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines love as…

Strong affection for another rising out of kinship or personal ties [love for a child]

Attraction based on sexual desire, affection and tenderness felt by lovers (in love)

Affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests [old schoolmates]

Warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion [love of the sea]

The object of attachment, devotion, or admiration [baseball]

A beloved person [hello, Love, good to see you]

Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another such as the fatherly concern of God for humankind, brotherly concern for others

a person’s adoration of God

a god or personification of love

an amorous episode

the sexual embrace

a score of zero (as in tennis)

to hold dear

to feel a lover’s passion, devotion, or tenderness

to like or desire actively, take pleasure in [love playing the violin]

to thrive in [roses love sunlight]

to feel affection or experience desire

Basically this is saying the definition of love changes based on how it’s used.

So, what does the Bible mean when it says God loves us? All of the above? Some? None?

I did a quick word study of a random sampling of verses that used the word love. Here’s what I found.

In the Old Testament:

    Deut 6:5 … love the LORD… with all your heart

    Is 43:4 Because you are precious in my eyes… I love you…

    Jer 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love

the word used for love was ahabtik: to have affection

In another Old Testament verse:

    Ps 36:7 how precious is your steadfast love…

the word used for love was hasdeka: kindness, piety, reproof, beauty

In the New Testament:

   1 John 4:16 … come to know… the love that God has for us… God is love…

   Eph 2:4 … his great love for us…

   1 John 3:1 … see what kind of love the Father has given us…

   Rom 8:39 … separate us from the love of God…

   1 Cor 13:2 … but have not love…

   Rev 2:4 … you have abandoned the love you had at first…

the word used for love is agapen: affection or benevolence; specially a love-feast

In other New Testament verses:

   1 John 4:20 … If someone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother…

   John 13:34 … a new commandment… love one another just as I have loved you…

   Rom 9:13 … Jacob I loved, Esau I hated…

   John 3:16 … God so loved the world…

   Matt 22:37 … love the Lord your God with all your heart…

the word used for love is agapo: to love, wish well, to take pleasure in, long for, denotes the love of reason, esteem. Perhaps from agan; to love.

And in another New Testament verse:

  John 16:27 …the Father himself loves you because you have loved me…

the word for love is philei: from philos; to be a friend to (an individual or an object) i.e. have affection for, specially to kiss

I think what surprised me the most was the word used in Deut 6:5. I would have thought to love God with all our heart would have a stronger word than ahabtik: to have affection.

I was also quite surprised to find the word love in John 16:27 where Jesus says the Father loves us because we love Him means to be friends with, have affection for, specially, to kiss. Friends? I know Jesus called us friends, and Jesus and the Father are one, but I never thought of myself as a friend of the Father. And kiss? The Father kisses us because we love Jesus? What a heartwarming visual!

The rest of the words for love are applied to “us” and “the world”. As a follower of Christ, I am part of “us” and “the world” so those apply to me. If you are a part of “us” and “the world” you can apply them to yourself, also.

Takeaway:

What does the Bible mean when it says God loves me?

God has affection for me.

God is a friend to me.

God kisses me.

God is benevolent (well-meaning, kind, desire to do good) towards me.

God has given me a love feast (a banquet or gathering of persons to promote good feeling, restore friendly relations, honor a special guest, etc.)

God wishes me well.

God takes pleasure in me.

God longs for me.

God esteems me.

Isn’t God’s love for us amazing!

Which definition impacted you the most? Comment below. Comments help keep me motivated to write and sometimes teaches me new things. I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave one.