I was going to hit this on a Sunday message last week, but God derailed it for the Christmas message. And I was going to do it again this moring, especially after hearing a message on why John 3:16 is "the greatest verse in the Bible". But to be honest, I haven't felt real well today, and I'm not convinced I'll get through this right tonight, but I wanted to have a go at it.
It was messages I heard last weekend as well as the one today that got me thinking about life verses. Many Christians have that one verse that is their "go-to" verse. Most of them have one of the famous verses, and almost all of them have one that has application to their lives and how they see their walk. An encouragement or comfort. For example, Laurie uses Matthew 10:29-31- 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. It represents God's care over her life, the value He gives it.
I have one as well, but it is important to see how I got there. As a Catholic in my youth, I never had any doubt about my faith in God. But the Church added doubt to the equation with concepts like mortal sin and purgatory, and how the works you did would lift your status from purgatory, or else you might need people to light a lot of candles for you after your death. I could have lived a perfect life (which I didn't) or done amazing works (ditto), but I'd still have that shadow of doubt- what is "good enough?"
In addition there was one particular verse that always prayed upon my mind- Matthew 7:21:
Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
I could never know whether I was truly being heard, truly repenting, truly being forgiven- or whether I was just crying, "Lord, Lord." And so I was unassured, even when Jesus assured us that we were in His and His Father's hands, and They would not let go.
But then, friends came into my life with another verse to focus on- Romans 10:9:
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. That was simple assurance- too simple, and it took a long time and many tears before I got to the point that I got on my knees and accepted it.
But once I did, I knew in my soul that, at last, Matthew 7:21 no longer applied. I was free from the crippling doubt, the wonder about what my "ledger" in heaven read. It was the life changing moment, and the beginning. But not my life verse.
You see, I wasn't smart enough to learn how to be that Christian the easy way. No, I had to do things my way, and get "put on the shelf" by the Holy Spirit- until I was willing to do it His way. Even that has not been without struggles. But after each struggle, God has still been there- and I have another experience that has taught me, or I have made it through, and there He was- and is. Which brought me, at long last, to my life verse- I Samuel 7:12. But to understand the simplicity of this verse, I have to show you first what had gone before.
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.
So, look what happened here. A fearful difficulty arose. They turned to God for help. They were OBEDIENT to God. God answered. The difficulty was solved. Something of a cycle that happens again and again to the Christian. And remember how I said, "But after each struggle, God has still been there- and I have another experience that has taught me, or I have made it through, and there He was- and is"? See how Samuel put it in MY life verse:
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[b] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
Eben-ezer meaning, "Stone of help." Every difficult time in my life is another stone God has helped me set up. And if I fear a difficulty ahead, I need only look at the "row of stones" behind me. It's a pretty long line.
Anyone else out there have a life verse? Feel free to share!