Bible Bytes: God: Awake, Alert and Oriented

God Awakens to Help Us

“O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me… Arise, O Lord in your anger; if yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.” Psalm 7:1 and 6

Things happen in our life and our relationships that cause us pain, anxiety and inner turmoil. Sometimes these events are of our own doing because of choices we have made; or ways we have sinned. Sometimes we are caught in the fall out of another person’s choices, fears, problems or sin. Whatever the cause, we feel the oppression of the event. At times, I have wondered where God is.

In Psalm 7 we read about David speaking to God about such an event in his life and he seems to be wondering where God is; better yet, David is crying out to “wake” God up to see his trouble.

It seems an accusation or charge was leveled against David by Cush the Benjamite. An interesting side note in these few verses is that David had a heart to accept blame and accountability for his actions should he be shown to be at fault. In the midst of the pain of what he thought were false charges, he had a humble heart. We see his heart in verse 3:

” O Lord my God, if I have done this , if there is wrong in my hands; if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it…” .

God: A Proven Refuge
But the greater truth here is that David went to God with all of this before taking any action himself. David trusted that he could go to God in his time of need because God had proven true to David before in his relationship. Every time David reached out to God, he found God answering him in some way.

David is so sure that God will help him that he frantically calls to God to wake up and see what is happening to him. He seems to think God has not come to his aid yet, because God is not aware of his situation. He asks God to “awake for me.”

Awake for Me
Awake comes from a primitive root word that means “open your eyes.” David cries out to God to look at what is happening to me here – open your eyes- SEE this and help me.

In a literal sense, “awake” means to rouse up from slumber, to open your eyes as you do in the morning to see around you. Figuratively it means to stir oneself up; to incite to action. A truth here is that in any difficulty that I am in, God will awake for me.

God and Me
I am so encouraged by this choice of words that David uses. It reveals characteristics of David’s heart and faith that I need to imitate:  his ever awareness of God’s nearness to him; his belief in God’s willingness to come to his aid; and how “personal” David is in communicating with God. On one hand David acknowledges God as the One who is all powerful and can deliver him and save him; on the other hand David calls out to, so to speak, “wake up his Father.”

No matter what my difficulty, God will awake and rise up to help me. He will provide a way out, or a way to stand up under the pressure. As we read through Psalm 7, we see within the context that we have to  take refuge in God (verses 1, 10); call upon Him to help; have a heart to repent of our fault/sin ( verses 3, 4,5,12), and praise God for His righteous response (verse 17).

Call out to our Father today to awaken on your behalf concerning trials and troubles in your life.

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“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Psalm 46:1a

Bible Bytes: Prayer Talk Reveals Faith

As I read through the Psalms I am continuously amazed at how lovingly and personally God interacts with us. Today while reading in Psalm 4, which was written by David, I see David’s trust in God which has been wrought within him through his belief in truths about God he has learned in scripture and in his interactions with God.

David trusts God so much that he is comfortable with God. His trust and ease show in his prayers to God. In verse 1, David is so bold as to demand God answer him. He says, “Answer me when I call,” sort of like a trusting, needy child saying, “Pay attention to me, give me what I need.”

In Psalm 3:7, David says to God, “Arise (get up!) and save me.” In Psalm 5:1-2, David demands, in a respectful way, “Give ear to the sound of my words,” and “Give attention to the sound of my cry.”

David’s manner of speaking to God is based on his knowledge of God, the truths he knows about God’s character through the scriptures and through his experience with God. David bases his pleas to God on the knowledge of God’s righteousness; His faithfulness; His protectiveness; His good will and life giving support.

I long for such a close relationship with God. Like David, I need to look for truths about God’s character in the scriptures; and be alert to God’s faithful working and speaking into my life.

Two questions for us: What are you learning about God from reading the scriptures; and, how do you see these truths in your relationship with God?

 

 

Chew and Know 2: Blessings of Rumination

Did you know that a cow can spend up to eight hours a day chewing cud! Cows swallow large amounts of food at one time. They then spend more time bringing that food back up and chewing it. This process allows enzymes to be produced that breakdown the food and cause it to be more effectively processed through the body.

Cows that spend time chewing the cud are proven to have a better quality of life. They are more content and healthier, producing a better milk and having a higher production of muscle.

Do you see any spiritual parallels here between cows ruminating on cud and believers meditating on the Word of God?

A Definition Reviewed and Extended
In the previous article, it was noted that the word for meditation in the original language has its roots in the concept of “muttering” or even “growling.” The word actually has shades and gradations of meaning that create a rich definition.

The word means: mutter, moan, growl, utter, muse, ponder, think, meditate; and, to speak with oneself, murmuring in a low voice as one often does when musing or comparing.

Another insight into this concept of meditation is found in 1Timothy 4:15. Paul is encouraging Timothy to attend to the public reading of the Word, to teaching and preaching, and to use the gifts God has given him. He is specifically telling Timothy to be absorbed in these tasks with the Word of God.

There are two words of interest in this passage. The first is the Greek word “melatao” which means to meditate on as in preparing for oratory; to attend carefully to; to ponder, meditate, to devise and plan and to practice.

The second word of interest is “eimi” which is a form of the word “to be:” meaning to live in; to be immersed in; to be absorbed in or with. It carries the same connotation of Col. 3:16 which encourages us to let the Word of God live in us, richly.

Here are how various versions translate this passage:

  • Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” 1 Timothy 4:15  NKJV
  • Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.” 1 Timothy 4:15 NASB
  • Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” 1 Timothy 4:15 ESV

It is very clear that reading, teaching and preaching the Word involves a deep intake of the Word of God. 1 Timothy 4:15 describes the concept of meditation as well as its’ most essential product or benefit which is progress in our growth in Christ.

Blessings of Muttering/Meditating
Intimacy with God:
Meditation brings blessings. The focal point of meditating on God’s Word is to know Him. In Psalm 46: 10 the Spirit commands that we be still and know that God is God. Such understanding comes through meditating on truths about God and on His great deeds. The greatest blessing of meditation is understanding God in a deeper way; knowing Him more personally.

Counsel and Instruction: Another blessing of meditation is found in Ps. 16:7:
“I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.”

Pondering and mulling over the Word of God, even in the watches of the night, counsels our heart and instructs our mind. As we meditate we see God and His heart for us more clearly and we are comforted by what we see.

Also, we receive direction and indeed instruction in how to apply the principles of God.

Fruitful and Thriving: Meditating on the Word of God makes us grow. It causes us to become fruitful and effective in our walk with God.

In Psalm 1:2-3 reveals that meditation enlivens and nurtures our spirit making us fruitful and effective in every season of our life.

  • “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Righteous Living:  Meditating on and muttering God’s word helps us be on guard against sin and resist temptation. In Psalm 119:11 we learn that valuing the Word of God so much so that we take time to meditate on it helps us to live righteously: “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Joy and Satisfaction: Meditating on God’s Word brings contentment and fullness to our spirit. It produces an inner joy within us. Read and believe the truths associated with the practice of meditating on God’s Word.

Psalm 63: 5-6, “My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night.”

Psalm 104:34, “My meditation of Him will be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord.”

Start Chewing
This article is meant to encourage you to begin meditating on the Word of God, on God and His deeds. Taste and see that this practice is good. I would be encouraged to hear of a blessing or insight you receive from your meditations.

Chew and Know

Riddle me this: What do cows and meditation have in common?
Cows belong to a group of animals called ruminants. They have 4 stomachs, one of which is the rumen. It is like a big fermentation vat. It sort of predigests the food. The cow then brings back up the food and chews on it until it can be completely digested and returned to the system to provide energy and nutrition to the cow. Yes, it sounds disgusting!

Meditation on the word of God has similarities to the rumination process of a cow except we are ruminating, meditating on the word of God so that we can digest it to feed our souls. (“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Mt.4:4)

Plumb and Mutter
Meditation is a process God has provided for us so that we can plumb the depths of the Word of God and grasp truths about Him. Meditation is a way in which we can come to know God more deeply.

The word meditate is very rich in meaning. In the Hebrew language it comes from a word meaning:
– mutter, moan, growl, utter, muse, ponder, meditate;
– to speak with oneself, murmuring in a low voice as one often does when musing or comparing;
– to read syllable by syllable.

Perhaps this is what the psalmist meant when he said:
“My mouth speaks wisdom; my heart’s meditation brings (speaks) understanding.” Psalm 49:3

A Picture of Meditation
The picture of meditation is not necessarily that of someone sitting cross legged on the floor staring vacuously into space. It is possibly more the picture of the professor walking the floor, mulling over his theorems and muttering to himself, pondering meanings and connections, and coming up with deeper understandings.

Meditation involves active thinking upon something, turning it over and over in your mind and even muttering it. Muttering would involve thinking about it and repeating it over and over as in grasping for meaning, perhaps saying it with different emphasis, finding connections between the words within the passage and between other passages. It is not merely the muttering or repetition associated with memorizing.

Sighing and Groaning Are Acceptable
Sometimes meditation will involve sighing in joy, as well as at the beauty of truth, or groaning upon conviction.

In fact, meditation may be born from our groaning under sadness or stress. Psalm 77 is excellent for showing us about meditation. In verses 2-3 we see that sadness and distress motivated meditation. In these verses we also see the connection with groaning and meditation.
“When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.” Ps. 77:2-3

The Word, His Deeds, His Character and Promises
The scriptures encourage us to meditate on the Word of God, on the acts of God as revealed in His Word and in our lives, on God’s character and nature, and on His promises.

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:11-12

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.” Psalm 143:5

“On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.” Psalm 145:5

“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalm 119:148

Meditation and You
In my experience meditation on the Word of God and on God is a way I commune with God. Such meditation always causes me to praise and thank God. It opens my mind to understand who God is and who I am in relation to God. It helps to humble me. It increases my ability to trust God for my life.

The problem is I can be so busy and task oriented that I neglect this wonderful way to commune with God. I want to encourage us to take time to meditate on God and His Word. Don’t be satisfied with just reading it, but “chew” on it. As you read the Word set aside certain passages to meditate on. Make a collection of such verses, categorize them by concept or focus and regularly dip into your treasure chest and think, ponder and mutter on them, and grow.

Note: This article is one in a short series on Meditation. To read the following articles subscribe to the blog. To subscribe to the blog on your mobile device: go to the Menu section and click on About; scroll down to the notice to “Follow My Blog,” and enter your email address, then click subscribe.

A Heart for God – Psalm 138

This blog entry is from Bible Bytes a new page on words2encourage.

Psalm 138 is a very short psalm of only 8 verses, yet packed with wisdom. This psalm pours out from David’s relationship with God, and reveals characteristics of a heart for God. Some of these are noted here.

Wholehearted thanks to God (v.1) – “I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise…”.

Humility before God (v.2) – “…I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your loving=kindness and Your truth…”.

David acknowledges and values God as God. This acknowledgement of God as God is scattered throughout this psalm, (v.5b – “…great is the glory of the Lord…: v. 6 –“…for though the Lord is high He regards the lowly…”).

Acknowledging “God as God” is important to God. We learn this in Romans 1:20-21, God states that the downfall of men is to worship themselves therefore not acknowledging God as God and giving Him the thanks due Him.

Trust the goodness of God (v. 7) –– “… though I walk in the midst of trouble You preserve my life…” and v. 8 “… the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me…”.

David trusts that God intends good toward Him. David looks back on how God has answered his prayers before and how God delivered him in the past. He has learned to trust the truth of God’s steadfast love. David views himself as a work of God and God will not forsake that work (v.8).

As I read this I reflect on my relationship with God. I ask myself: Do I daily acknowledge God as God? If so, what difference does that make in how I live? Do I give God the thanks and praise due Him? Or am I just relieved when a prayer is answered? Do I have truths about God from His word and from His past interactions with me that I cling to in times of difficulty?

I encourage you to read Psalm 138 and let the truths therein
bless your relationship with God.

God’s Facebook Page

If God had a Facebook page imagine His Time Line and His photos!
I read an article in Reader’s Digest recently that talked about how people are obsessed with documenting their life through technology and on social media.

Entries on Facebook alone are an indication of this obsession. We see pictures, even videos, of major life events, as well as minutia in our life even down to pictures of food we are eating.

Remembering and Relationship
Recording memories about our life and the people in our life is a good thing. Remembering has the ability to enhance our knowledge and appreciation of one another.  Looking back on a picture, or reading a journal entry can evoke a memory of a loving action, an encouraging word or a joy shared.

I remember many fun shopping trips with my mother. We would stop for a hot dog, or eat a sundae at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. At the time, it was just a lot of fun, but as I remember these times I see my mother’s generosity, her desire to be close to her children and to encourage them. So in that remembrance I come to know more about her character and heart.

Remembering people and events is a dimension of our relationship with them. Remembering can revive our feelings for people, but also can deepen our knowledge and understanding of them.

Think on some of your favorite memories. As you bring that person and event to mind ask yourself what do I now know about this person that I did not see before?

God Calls Us to Remember
God cherishes the act of remembering because He knows it will deepen our relationship with Him. There are places in scripture where God specifically commands His people to remember Him, His deeds, and His covenant.

Deuteronomy 7:18-But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand  and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.

Exodus 13:3- Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, the day you left Egypt. You were slaves in that land. The Lord with his great power brought you out of it.

1 Chronicles 16:12, 15 – “Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth. . . Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.”

Luke 22:19b -20 – “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Prepared for Memories
God prepared memorials for Israel to remember Him in order to remain close to Him. Among these God established memorials are: the Ark of the Covenant with the manna, the rod and the stone tables of the law; the Passover meal, and the 12 stones from the Jordan River. Each memorial brings to mind God’s love, power and faithfulness. Each one documents God’s relationship with His people. I believe these are some of the posts we would see on God’s Facebook page.

In the New Testament era we have the testimonies of the miracles and events of the life of Jesus as documented in the Gospels, as well as the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. The bread and wine are visual reminders of His death, burial and resurrection, documenting God’s love for us.

Remember and Act
Remembering is not just recall. Zakar is the Hebrew transliteration of the word “remember.” It does not merely mean to recall a fact, detail or an event to mind. It calls upon us to use mind, hands, feet, mouth etc., to engage in whatever action a memory requires.

The true concept of “remembering” involves the action that comes from the remembrance. For example, zakar is used in Genesis 30:22 in reference to God and Rachel: “God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.” The specific action of God in remembering was to listen to Rachel’s prayer and open her womb.

In Psalm 77, the psalmist remembers the wondrous deeds of God and this remembrance encourages his faith. He writes of feeling forgotten and unloved by God (verses 7-8). Things are not going well and he is wondering if God is angry with him (verse9). I can relate to those feelings.

The psalmist reaches out for help by remembering about God. “Then I thought…I will remember the deeds, miracles and works” of the Lord (v.11). This remembering strengthens the psalmist’s faith and leads to the action of praising God.
“Your ways are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Psalm 77:13-14

I have tried “remembering the wondrous deeds of God” when I am feeling discouraged and despaired. I have learned that I cannot remember the great deeds of God from His Word, or that He has done in my life, without it restoring my faith.

God and You
Think through some of the wondrous deeds of God that you read about in the scriptures, what do they inspire in you?

If you were on God’s Facebook page, what are some of the photos or videos of God and you that He would have posted? Think about the wondrous things God has done in your life. What actions of faith do His deeds move you to?

A Word in Season

Looking back on my childhood, I remember Easter as being a favorite holiday. The snow had melted, flowers were popping out of the ground and we were shedding our heavy winter clothing. My mother always made us new “Easter” outfits. I remember one year my mother just finished making me a new outfit, a beautiful lavender and white suit. We headed out to the stores to purchase a hat and shoes to match. My sister had a pink outfit designed and made by my mother. I couldn’t wait till Easter Sunday church service to wear my new outfit.

There were many preparations involving food. Every year we made coconut eggs dipped in chocolate, my favorite. I could often be found dipping my finger into the coconut mix.

Wait a minute! There is something wrong here. Isn’t this the time of year that we focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus? Let’s stop and think a little deeper.

Distracted by Many Things
When I was younger, many things distracted me at “Easter” time. The church my family was affiliated with had many preparations in the weeks before Easter. We met regularly as a group to remember the sufferings of Jesus in His betrayal, trials and crucifixion. There was much talk of His glorious resurrection.

One would think that my heart and mind would have been spiritually focused to praise God as I remembered the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection. However, I have to say, while I did give that thought, I was very distracted by other preparations.

My mother was an excellent seamstress, and every year, out of a very generous heart, she would make beautiful Easter outfits for my sister and me. I can remember many of the suits, dresses, even springtime coats. The materials were beautiful pastel colors expertly sewn. I remember one year a beautiful dress with a matching cape. There were, of course, hats with ribbons and flowers, and also shoes to match. I couldn’t wait to go to the Easter church service to wear my new outfit.

In addition to an outfit, we always received an Easter basket full of delicious treats. One year the whole basket was made of chocolate!

This is a sad commentary on my spiritual state. It wasn’t until years later that I began to value the sacrifice of Jesus not only at the time of Easter but daily.

Look Inside
While I grew up around the story of Jesus and had inclinations to spiritual matters of the heart, I was often distracted by things of the world and my “self.” As I began to read the Bible I began to see what my state really was before God.

No one wants to talk about sin today. It is considered an unsophisticated, antiquated topic associated with fire and brimstone preachers in gospel meeting tents.

The truth is when I began to see my sin, the depth and breadth of my sinful nature, then I began to understand and appreciate the sacrifice, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  To this day, when I see my sin, this principle holds the same for me.

Look to Jesus
At this time of year, when people are in some way thinking of Jesus, make a decision to avoid distractions of the holiday and family plans. Take some time to meditate on Jesus and His sacrifice and what it means to you. If you dare, I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you your sin and your sinful nature.

But don’t stop at your sin, because without looking to God our sin is depressing. Look upon the cross at the sacrificial Lamb, at His death and resurrection. Meditate on some of the passages below. These truths will focus your heart on Jesus, and remind you of the true blessings we have received from His death and resurrection.

Be Still and Know

“God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that
in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“He himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

“Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own through what Christ would do for us; He decided then to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault—
we who stand before Him covered with His love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.
And He did this because He wanted to!” Ephesians 1:4-5 (TLB)

“… For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith…”  Romans 3:23-25a

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!”  Rom. 5:10

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And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9

Treasures Within

I grew up in a region of our country where anthracite coal beds formed, because of this there were many different types of rocks around the area.

As a young girl one of my favorite places to go was the community pool and playground because rising up around this area were step-like hills with trees and wildflowers on them. I would love to climb and play on these hills. It was here that I found many “rock treasures.” Among these were: sparkling rocks glittery on the outside; some with quartz crystals attached; some thin and clear like with layers like mica; some striated orange and gray. Of course I found the expected, shale and slate. I always felt like I was finding treasure.

The most amazing find was a small, ordinary looking rock that when cracked open it had beautiful crystal structures inside it. I later found out those rocks are called geodes.

Empty Spaces Transformed
According to an article I read, geodes are rocks that have an empty space inside them.  As it rains or as various water sources flow through pores on the rock to the inside, over time, crystals from the various minerals in the water form and transform the rock into a beautiful and valuable gem.
Purple GeodeDifferent elements can affect the color of the crystal. For example trace elements of manganese can cause a pink crystal, while iron can cause purple. Heat is another factor of change. Heat can cause the purple crystal to turn to yellow or citrine. Geodes are a beautiful works of God.

Treasures Within
Geodes remind me of how God transforms us. In a sense we are God’s true geodes who reflect His glory and His image. God takes my empty soul,my rocky hard heart, my fleshly self and transforms me into His radiance. Consider these truths about what God is doing in us.

Transforming
2 Cor. 3:18 tells us that God is transforming us from our fleshly self into His image, into the image of His character and glory. The word transform (metamorphoó) means to change into another form. So God is working in us to change our inner fleshly nature into the essence of His character that we would have the same excellence that shines in Christ.

 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who
is the Spirit.”  2 Cor. 3:18 (ESV)

Conforming
In Romans 8:29 we read the truth that God is conforming us to the image of His Son.
The word conform (symmorphos) implies a changing to make similar to or the same as. We are being changed from the inside, much like the geode, to be like Jesus. We are being fashioned into the likeness of Jesus character.

 “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”Romans 8:29

Filling
We are self oriented. We are fleshly and prone to follow our fleshly nature. God changes, transforms and conforms us to His image. God fills us with His Spirit, with His nature with His fullness.  This is astounding but it is true. This truth is reflected in several places in scripture.

In Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians he points to this truth in verse 19.
“… so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:17-19

In Ephesians 4:13, Paul points to the truth that the whole church, the body of Christ, is being brought to be the fullness of Jesus. So even in the church with all our different strengths, weaknesses, agreements and disagreements, the goal of God our Father is to bring the church into the fullness of Jesus.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4: 11-13

Christ in You
These truths deserve more intense study, deep consideration and prayer as to what they mean to us. They express God’s true intention towards us. In closing, consider this:

“. . . the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:26-27

Faith and Authority-The One and Only Series-2

A fierce gale arose upon the sea. The winds where howling and the waves were tossing the sturdy fishing boat around like a toy. Waves were breaking over the boat with such intensity that seasoned fishermen were crying out in fear and panic. The One who was asleep in the stern awakened to cries for help. He stood up in the heaving boat and spoke to the wind and the sea, telling them to be silent and still. Immediately, there was calm.

This account in Mark 4:35-39 provides a glimpse of the emotion and wonder of the disciples as they witnessed the supremacy and the authority of Jesus.

In a recent blog entry, we referenced the supremacy of Jesus Christ as described in Col. 1:15-20, and we looked at snapshots of the power of Jesus in gospel accounts. We are going to look at a few more examples of this to encourage our faith.

His Wonders Lead to Faith
Numerous passages in the Old Testament reveal how important it is for us to sit up and pay attention to the wonders of God. One such passage is Psalm 106:7.

In Psalm 106: 7, the psalmist relates the failure of Israel to “consider” the wonders of God which led them to be unfaithful to God.

“Our fathers when they were in Egypt did not consider Your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of Your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea …” Ps. 106:7

“Consider” means to think about; give attention to; take it into their mind and heart and connect it to their faith. They did not give weight or value to the wonders God performed, and this led them to be unfaithful to God.

It is important for us to look at the signs and wonders that Jesus performed and to connect them to the supremacy of Jesus that we read of in Col. 1:15-20.

For the purpose of this writing we will focus on Col. 1:16-17, which emphasizes Jesus’s authority and supremacy over all things.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Authority over Essence
We can read about the signs and wonders that Jesus did in all four gospels. In amazing show of Jesus authority recorded in John 2:1-11, Jesus changed water into wine at a wedding feast at Cana. He changed the essence of water H20 into wine with a basic chemical composition of CH3CH2OH.

In this one action Jesus shows us that He has the power and authority to change the internal natures and or essences.

When I take time to “consider” this wonder, to give it the value and the weight it
deserves, I begin to understand that knowing this truth about Jesus’s authority gives me hope for my life.

The fact that Jesus changed water into wine at a wedding feast 2000+ years ago gives you and me hope. While this sign in itself shows the glory of God and who Jesus is and it was intended to produce faith in the apostles (John 2: 11), it does the same for us; it shows us who Jesus is and produces faith in us. (“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John 20:31)

Authority to Change Me
Considering this wonder more deeply shows me that Jesus has the authority to change me. He has the authority to help me make lasting changes in my character that I thought were impossible for me. Weaknesses and failings that I considered were just me, a part of my temperament or a non erasable scar of my life experience.

Jesus changes me into a new creation.
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” 2 Cor. 5:16-18

He can change my prideful self into a humble soul. He can change my tendency to be fearful and deceitful into being courageous and truthful.

Scripture uses terms such as transform; restore; regenerate; renew; new heart, new creation, etc. All these are associated with the authority of Jesus to affect the nature and essence of a being or thing.

In fact scripture says that when we believe in Him as the Son of God and step out to obey Him, He begins transforming us into what we were always meant to be in relation to Him.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord (Jesus), are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18

A Closing Prayer
God, Most High, open the eyes of our heart and help us understand more truly who
Jesus is and to grasp what His power and authority mean to our everyday life and our faith. May we see Jesus for who He is and honor Him.

The One and Only

My understanding of Jesus has been fashioned by things I have seen and been taught from birth. I believe this filter has hindered me in knowing Jesus in a more true sense, even as I have been searching the scriptures. I believe we need to pray and ask God for clear, untainted sight when we come to learn of Jesus.

Recently I read a beautiful description of Jesus in Colossians 1:15- 20.

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the Head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.”

In five verses Paul the apostle shows us that Jesus is God and that He has supremacy over everything. This is a powerful passage and has much to teach about Jesus, and is worthy of your own in-depth personal study.

Jesus Supremacy Looks Like…
Let’s look at some snapshots in Jesus’ life that give us a glimpse of the supremacy that Paul outlines in Col. 1:15-20.

Jesus Walking on Water
In Mt. 14:22-33, we see Jesus power and authority over what we call “natural laws.” Jesus, as the Author of the laws of nature governing water, has the authority to have those laws obey Him and in fact to supersede those laws and walk on top of the water. He did this in the midst of wind and waves.

Jesus walked on the water and He made Peter able through faith to walk on the water. When Peter went under Jesus brought Him up and walked with Him on the water back to the boat.

The Wind and Waves Obeying Him
In Mark 4:35-41, we see the apostles and Jesus in a boat on the Lake Gennesaret, also known as the Sea of Galilee, when a significant squall arose. A squall involves violent winds and water turbulence. It must have been severe enough and life threatening for the apostles, some of whom were seasoned fisherman, to cry out to Jesus for help.

Jesus was quick to intervene on their behalf. He spoke to the wind one word, “Quiet!” and to the waves He said “Be still!” Immediately there was calm. Jesus has supremacy over all the elements of nature and the laws that sustain their existence.

Dark Powers Submitting
When we turn to this photo, we come to a scene that would be a dream come true for the Capernaum paparazzi. Picture this: the young Rabbi Jesus teaching in a synagogue in which there is a demon possessed man shouting out challenges at Jesus, Luke 4:31-44. We see Jesus turning to the man and commanding the demon to come out. It immediately obeyed, coming out, but first acknowledging that Jesus is God.

Sin Forgiven and a Man Healed
A highlight in these snapshots is seen in Mark 2:1-12 This is a clear picture of the authority of Jesus to forgive sins. Men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed. To the astonishment of everyone, Jesus forgives the man’s sins. Then to prove His authority and power over the spiritual bondage of sin, He heals the man’s paralysis.

What does this mean to me?
Each of these selections from the gospels show us several truths about Jesus that comfort our souls. For example. in the account of Jesus calming the storm I can take comfort and trust that Jesus will help me in the various storms of my life. We can find similar faith building and life assisting truths in the other accounts, also. I believe these passages show us more than faith affirming and comforting  truths.

The truth is they clearly define the supremacy of Jesus. I believe that is the main truth expressed in Colossians 1:15-20, as well as by the accounts in the gospels. Understanding and acknowledging that Jesus is pre-eminent and has supremacy over our “self” is greatest truth we must realize and respond to in our life.

For me, seeing this truth intellectually is easier than daily bringing myself under the supremacy of Jesus. I would like to encourage all of us to pray that God will help us know and understand the supremacy of Jesus, and help us to obey Him like the wind and the waves.

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“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the Only Begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14