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.

Storms

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

God creates them.

God dwells in them.

God sends them.

God controls them.

God shelters us from them.

God moves in them.

Through many scriptures (many are listed below), I’m hearing God say something like this:

Do not be afraid of the storms in life. I am greater than them no matter their source. Seek the shelter I offer, but offer only to the meek for I refuse to safeguard the haughty lest they take the glory for themselves and think they are able to control the storm or protect themselves. Let them try. It may or may not work. But for those who humble themselves, who seek my protection my way, it will always work. Maybe not the way they want. Maybe not without damage. Maybe not even their physical lives. But, whether on earth or in heaven, they will be stronger, safe, and with Me on the other side.

What do you hear God saying?


Scriptures:

Ex 19:9a And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak to you, and may also believe you forever.”

Ex 19:16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.

Lev 16:2b …for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.

1 Kings 8:12b …”The Lord has said he would dwell in thick darkness.”

Ps 18:11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds with water

Ps 57:1b … in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by

Ps 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Ps 104:3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind;

Ps 107:25a He commanded and raised the storm wind…

Ps 107:29b He made the storm be still …

Ps 135:7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Ps 138:6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.

Prov 1:27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you

Is 2:11 The haughty looks of men shall be brought low and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

Is 25:4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the need in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat, for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,

Is 28:2 Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong, like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest, like a storm of might, overflowing waters, he casts down to the earth with his hand.

Is 30:30 And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstorm

Jer 23:19 Behold the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest, it will burst upon the head of the wicked

Ez 13:13 therefore thus says the Lord God: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end.

Jonah 1:4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.

Nahum 1:3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way in in the whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Luke 9:34-35 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own eyes.

2 Peter 2:17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

Rev 4:5a From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder…

Don’t Attack the Lawn Mower

Pushing the lawn mower across the tall weeds, she watched wasps and dragonflies rise up from the ground. She had not noticed anything in the grass, but the vibration of the mower, the disturbance of the area, or a combination of both were enough to disturb them into flying out in every direction. As they circled her and the mower, she wondered if they would attack. The dragonflies darted back and forth for a few minutes, and then flew away. However, the wasps took usually took a swipe or two at the mower before flying away. Relieved that they weren’t going after her, she continued mowing, observing the same behavior from other wasps all across the yard.

A thought gradually formed in her head. They were attacking the mower instead of the one pushing the mower. No matter how hard they hit the plastic-covered engine, the mower never even slowed down. Yet if just one of them came at her, the mower would have stopped in its tracks as she ran away in panic.

And then she had another thought. People are just like those wasps. So often we attack the people we feel are disrupting our lives, but ignore the power that moves those people to do so.

There are many mowers moving across America today. People doing and saying things that are being pushed by powers we may not see or acknowledge. What would happen in our towns, states, and nation if we became courageous enough to quit attacking the mowers and went after the larger powers behind those mowers instead?

Just a thought.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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 heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

What’s Behind the Curtain? (The Why of Our Attitudes and Behavior Concerning the Covid Vaccine)

We all see it. The growing division between those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t is both heartbreaking and scary. The condemnation, name-calling, and judgment being flung by both sides is horrendous for anyone, but especially for Christians. Aren’t we supposed to act like Christ? Aren’t we supposed to bring light and peace into our society instead of promoting fear and darkness? Or is that what we are trying to do when we point out how ignorant, misinformed, selfish, fearful, brainwashed, careless, and divisive the other side is?

As always, I went to the Bible to see if I could figure out if what we’re doing fits God’s way of doing things. After all, we are His image bearers and are supposed to be revealing His nature to those around us.

God doesn’t use fear tactics –  or does He?

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20: 18-21  (This happened when the Israelites heard God speaking to Moses, giving him the Ten Commandments.)

God doesn’t create disunity –  or does He?

Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Matthew 10:34-35 (This is the same word peace as used in John 14:27 when He said “Peace I leave with you…”)

God doesn’t name-call – or does He?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our father, we would not have taken part with them in the shedding of the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Matthew 23:13:29-33 (Jesus said this to the Pharisees for claiming they wouldn’t have killed the prophets like their forefathers had.)

That was eye-opening to me. Maybe we are doing what we should be doing. But then I took a peek behind the curtain. I looked at the why.

What I discovered was – and this is crucial – EVERYTHING GOD DID AND SAID WAS RELATED TO FOLLOWING HIM AND LIVING IN HIS KINGDOM. He was concerned about the spiritual health of His people. He wanted them in a relationship with Him and used these tactics to warn them away from everything that would harm that relationship, or to point out his enemies who were threatening that relationship.

However, that is NOT what we are doing. What I see and hear in our behavior these days is not about our relationship with God. It’s not about following Jesus, but about following our opinions, our feelings, our rights, our consciences, our leaders, our chosen experts, our understanding, our fear, etc. It’s all about us and how we want to live.

Satan is a counterfeiter. He’s using God’s tactics against us by twisting them to fit his own agenda. He has us killing, hating, lying, deceiving, judging, hurting, segregating, rejecting, and suspecting each other. And I’m not just talking about non-Christians. Although they are engaged in the same behaviors, they have an excuse. We Christians do not. As long as Satan can keep us acting like this, he can effectively shut down our influence in our society.

What do we do?

Put our eyes on Jesus – and keep them there.

Obey Him first.

God knows what’s best for us. For many Christians, getting the vaccine is fine with Him. For many others, it is not. God knows what we don’t. Maybe the vaccine will save the lives of those who are told to receive it, while it will keep those who are told not to get it from a serious adverse effect. I don’t know, and it’s not my place to judge anyone concerning this.

I think if Paul were alive and writing Romans today, he may have included vaccines in the following passage.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 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 14:1-4

Each person needs to pray and discern what God wants them to do and not project what they decide onto other Christians.

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. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us live to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:5-8

Whether we get the vaccine or not, it’s important that our decision be out of obedience to God, and not out of fear, rebellion, pride, or peer pressure. And we must not shove our decision in the faces of those who decide differently, nor discriminate against them in any way. I think vaccine passports might fit this.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:20-23

Jesus wants us spending our time here on earth serving others, not tearing them down. We need to be working on bringing people closer to God, not participating in things that cause separation. We need to keep our focus on the spiritual and not the earthly.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:24-26

Instead of bickering, let’s seek ways to serve each other. Let’s reject anything that divides us so that we can be one as Jesus prayed that we would be. Let’s quit unwittingly playing Satan’s game and spend our time doing what Jesus calls us to do.

Let’s be the light of Jesus in these dark, confusing, and broken times.


Some notes:

The words for afraid and fear in Exodus mean just what they say. I’ve heard people try to explain them away (God loves us so we’re not supposed to be afraid of Him.) But the original words make it clear that yes, if it serves to keep our relationship with God right, we might need to remember just how fearfully powerful He is.

In Exodus

be afraid,”
תִּירָאוּ֒ (tî·rā·’ū)
Verb – Qal – Imperfect – second person masculine plural
Strong’s 3372: To fear, to revere, caus, to frighten

the fear of Him
יִרְאָת֛וֹ (yir·’ā·ṯōw)
Noun – feminine singular construct | third person masculine singular
Strong’s 3374: Fear, reverence

The original word for peace used in Matthew 10:34-35 is the same one used here in John 14:27. Without doing a lengthy bible study on these verses, I would say that Jesus is talking about an inner peace and an outer peace. He gave us His inner peace, one that we will have no matter what happens around us. However, choosing Jesus over everything else threatens the peace of family relationships if not everyone is a disciple. Jesus didn’t come so that above all we would live in peace. He came so that above all people would be reconnected with the Father through Him. Turning to Jesus frequently results in ostracization, accusations, rejection, and condemnation by family members who don’t understand the change and feel threatened by it. I would add that obeying Jesus may have the same results at times.

peace
εἰρήνην (eirēnēn)
Noun – Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong’s 1515: Probably from a primary verb eiro; peace; by implication, prosperity.

Here’s Matthew 10:34-35 in context. Jesus is talking to His twelve disciples just before He sends them out to preach and heal.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against their parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by al for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.  So have not fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before me, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.    Matthew 10:16-39

Obedience is Not Optional

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

To be God’s friend, and not His enemy, (see previous blogs) we need to obey Him. Obedience is not easy. It comes with a cost that affects us and often the people around us. It’s a serious decision, one with huge impacts and grave consequences. It’s a decision that we have to consciously make.

Jesus said to consider the cost to being His disciple.

It cost Noah a career change, at least temporarily. The Bible is not clear what Noah did before he built the ark, but it most likely wasn’t large-scale construction or wild animal care.

It cost Abraham his homeland. He had to leave his father and most people he knew to go where he knew not. I doubt any of them understood why Abraham was leaving them, especially if every question they asked was answered with, “I don’t know. God just said to go.”

It cost Moses his comfort zone to have to speak to the pharaoh, and the initial impact of his obedience resulted in harder living conditions for the Israelites.

It cost Esther her safety as she faced death for breaking the king’s law.

It cost David his lifestyle. He went from a quiet, peaceful life as a shepherd to a dangerous, stressful life as a king.

It cost Jeremiah his freedom. When leaders didn’t like his prophecies, they sometimes locked him up or threw him into a well.

It cost the wise men their time as they went in search of the Child. The Bible doesn’t say, but their families may have been left behind on a journey that may have taken at least four years. If so, I doubt their wives or children were very happy about it.

It cost Mary and Joseph stability in the early years of their marriage as they had to keep moving from one place to another in order to keep their new baby safe. I can imagine what their friends might have said: “You’re moving again, because of a dream?”

It cost Paul his pride. He gave up everything he was proud of – his zeal, training, knowledge, status – to become a servant of Christ.

It cost numerous Believers their family, friends, and even lives. Imagine the attitude of the unbelievers in their lives (both family and friends) as the Believers chose the new cultish belief over everything else.

Obedience requires knowing who to obey. These people in the Bible all obeyed God, which frequently put them at odds with societal and religious norms. We need to do the same. Jesus didn’t say to follow the church or church leaders. He didn’t say to follow society. He didn’t say to follow the government or other organizations. He said to follow Him. He sent us His Holy Spirit to ensure we could hear Him, and He gives us His grace to empower us to respond obediently.

We may not think God is calling us to do something but He is. He has a job for us, a mission to accomplish, a stand to take, or a light to shine. We may not like it. We may be in denial. We may question it. We may procrastinate. We may talk ourselves out of it. We may twist it to fit what we want to do or believe. But none of that excuses us from obeying Him. His mercy allows us time to grapple with what He wants us to do, but eventually we must decide to obey or disobey. There are no other choices.


“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?… So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-28, 33)

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up the cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9:20 ESV)  or Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. (Genesis 9:20 HCSB)

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

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:10) Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘the LORD did not appear to you.’” (Ex 4:4) But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Ex 4:10)

Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.”And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’  Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.” So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?” Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this?  No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.”The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5:1-23)

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud. (Jeremiah 38:6)

“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. (Esther 4:16)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “’And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. (Matthew 2:1-7)

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and he took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. (Matthew 2:13-15a)

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth… (Matthew 2:19-23a)

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh – though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ  (Philippians 3:3-7)

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8)