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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Life verses

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!

4 comments:

  1. CWM:
    I thought I'd be pondering this for a while, and then I looked outside, and it came to me:
    Isaiah 1:18
    (KJV) "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as 'white as snow'; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

    That FIRST sentence sums it up for me...to REASON together, especially when you and God are having a "debate" on (your) life.
    I think we can just as easily apply that same sentence when dealing with PEOPLE as we can with God.
    It's all about REASONING.

    Very good post, my friend.

    May you all enjoy a prosperous (and blessed) NEW Year up there in Scrappy-Hollow.

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    1. If I were trying to pass out verses to people, that's the one I would have picked for you. Like you said, the oft-quoted first sentence sums you up.

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  2. I had a very rocky few years with the church I grew up in. It's a nondenominational Bible based church, but when I was a young teen we got a whole slue of new pastors and fellow church goers who introduced a lot of new ideas into the congregation. Nothing that wasn't biblical, just not things that had been previously practiced at the church. One of these things was the idea of biblical counseling. It's a great way to keep yourself accountable and fix those stubborn habitual sins, I really like it NOW 13 odd years later, but at the time I felt attacked and persecuted by being singled out as one of the first counselees. Not because I was self righteous or anything, but because the reason I was singled out.

    I never fit in with the youth of the church. Not that I hadn't tried, but I just didn't. We came from different worlds (I was homeschooled, and sent to private Christian schools, they were mostly public school attendees) our views on life, Christianity, and social behaviors were on polar opposite ends of the spectrum. I wasn't into popular fashion, or trends at ALL, very independent and out spoken. I didn't waste my time trying to fit in or earn their "approval" so I was labeled as "troubled" "lost" and even "possessed" at one point. So they pulled me out of youth group and into this counseling thing to "fix" me, because clearly the root of my social issues was simply because I was rebelling, and the rebellious spirit must be stopped! I wasn't actually rebelling against anything, I was just being myself.

    ANYWAY... I said all of that to say this, during one of my counseling sessions I was sitting around in the lobby waiting impatiently, really angry, and feeling really doubtful about my own faith. I knew in my heart that I was on the right track, but I was young and hadn't figured out how to convey that to other people. So I was sitting there praying and asking God for answers and directions as to what I should do, and why I was feeling so strongly the way I was feeling. Then out of the blue a verse popped into my head: James 5:19-20. "19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

    To be 100% honest at the time I didn't even remember that James was a book in the Bible, so I've always considered that to be my personal verse. I'm still not sure what it means or how it actually applies to my life just yet, but that's my verse.

    That, and the entire book of John... every Bible Study I have ever been a part of has been over the book of John. Obviously there is something in the book of John that I'm missing. lol.

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    1. Wow, I can understand why you felt picked out... One of the things that loses so many churches members is the inability to understand the difference between man's "black and white" and God's "shades of gray". It sounds like they should have remembered to pray for their own understanding as they prayed for you.

      Laurie's sister and her first husband were in such a church. She left him due to emotional abuse and they were fine with that, But when she found a good man to marry, they told her that if she wanted to marry again, it would have to be with her FIRST husband, that anything else would be adultery. Never mind that the reason for the divorce was that he had broke his vow to "love your wife as Christ loved the Church". Needless to say, she and her new(er) husband have four kids, three grandkids, and no church.

      Not having been there, I would think that the verse came to you to remind you of the why of their actions, and perhaps give you an insight into how they saw you. Or, it could have been that be figuring out where they went wrong with you, it would help them to help others afterwards.

      John was very esoteric, and spoke on a higher level than the other Gospel writers. If it were just up to John and Paul, there'd be a lot of things I couldn't figure out! I guess the best way to take him is to remember that he looked at Jesus from the angle of His divinity rather than His humanity. John simply saw more of God in Him than the others did. Which is why he was such a great partner for Peter who saw more the man, the teacher, the friend in Him.

      You and I (me more blatently, you more subtlely) do a lot to obey your verse in what we say on our blogs. Thank you for sharing!

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