Tag Archives: HCSB

Bible Study ~ The Trinity

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Bible Study ~ The Trinity

Days Two, Three, and Four of the bible study discuss the Trinity.  I mentioned Wednesday that we would discuss God’s attributes today, but I came across some other items that I want to discuss first.

There is a person in my life who doesn’t consider Jesus God.  Because he calls himself a Christian, I didn’t realize this until he mentioned after church one day that he didn’t like a song we sang in which we called Jesus, God.  I was flabbergasted to hear that he believes Jesus is the Son of God and the Father is completely distinct.  Literally speechless … my mouth might have even been gaping open.  What a teaching moment!  Actually, I did teach, or at least tried to, but it didn’t work out so well.  Sometime later, when I was listening to Moody Radio, I heard a pastor say that people who didn’t understand this core concept of Christianity should read the book of John because in it Jesus calls himself God several times.  I was kicking myself.  I’d told him to reread the bible but if I’d thought about it (and given the Holy Spirit a chance to speak) I could have given him better direction.  Especially since he also mentioned that he only believes what Jesus says in the bible (but that’s a topic for another day!).

In reading several of the scriptures pulled out by the study, John 10:30 must be especially jarring for those who don’t see the connection:  “I and the Father are one.”  Really can’t misread that sentence.

Isn’t funny how Jesus called himself God over and over and no one either (1) believed him or (2) even heard him?  It really wasn’t until He asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) where Peter answers, “You’re the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (v.16) the first time that this revelation is voiced publicly.  Jesus tells the disciples then that the only reason Peter knew the truth was because the Father allowed it to be revealed to him.  Why doesn’t God allow this truth to be revealed to everyone?  The same can be said for the Holy Spirit, but we’ll get to Him next.  I stop in the middle of the study and thank God that He has revealed this truth to me and pray that He will reveal it to my friend as well.

So if it’s hard to believe that Jesus is God, how does that fare for the Holy Spirit?  Just who is this guy anyway?

Well the most amazing thing I learned during the third day of the bible study is … wait a second … do you ever come across a verse and swear you’ve never seen it before?  I know for a fact I’ve read John and I’m willing to bet I’ve even read it several times; yet here in the study is a verse I swear I’ve never read.  It was so foreign to me that I even looked it up in several different versions trying to fathom how I’d missed it.  Yet in each version there it sat plain as day.  The verse is in John 14 where Jesus is talking to the disciples about having to leave soon.  You know they’re reeling.  It seems they’ve just hit their stride and their rabbi is now talking about his death – the end of it all.  In verse 16 Jesus talks about how he will ask the Father to send another Helper to be with the disciples forever.  I can appreciate that they’re not really hearing this.  But then, just as he’s discussing the Holy Spirit coming, we hit the bit that sent me running for different translations, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

I will come to you … meaning I am the Holy Spirit.

Of course, I know that we worship a triune God, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one – but I can’t believe I’ve missed that verse my entire life.  Jesus stating in no uncertain terms that He is the Spirit.

As I let this verse roll off my tongue over and over again, I grasp that I’ve been guilty of treating the Holy Spirit and Jesus as different entities.  Even though my head knows they’re one in the same with the Father, my heart and my mouth have probably prayed differently to them.  I make a pact with myself and God to not let that happen again.

We’ll talk more about God’s attributes on Monday and what I learned in the study which may spark a hot debate.

Have a wonderful weekend!

My Anchor

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My Anchor

We sang “Anchor” by Hillsong United in church on Sunday.  It’s a beautiful song and I adore the imagery of Jesus as my anchor.  In the middle of any upsetting situation, faced with any temptation, or in any trial or storm I should find myself; I need only to look to Jesus to secure me – to hold me in safety.  With Him there’s no way I can be snatched away by the winds.  I can’t be lost.  He is my anchor.  It makes me think of the story of a man who lashed himself to a palm tree in the middle of a hurricane.  Buffeted by the fury of the storm he was bruised and bloodied but survived only because he was anchored to the tree.  Jesus … as my palm tree.  How comforting is that truth?

While we were singing, two lines of lyric struck me in such a way that I had to immediately sit down during worship and write them down.  The first was, “Your word, unfailing.

Your word, unfailing.

Out of the entire song … why is this line touching me?  I ponder in the days to follow and more questions than answers develop.  How do I know God’s word is unfailing?  I also recognize that I add a comma to the lyric where we naturally pause when we sing.  Is there a comma in the original lyric?  Does the writer of these lyrics mean God’s word as in the Scriptures or does he mean God’s Word as in Jesus?  Does he mean both?  Does it matter?  I begin my study …

First, the dictionary:  Unfailing. (Adj)

1. not failing; not giving way; not falling short of expectation; completely dependable

2. inexhaustible; endless

Then the thesaurus:  Unfailing … meaning certain, dependable, reliable, trustworthy, constant, consistent, abiding, lasting.

Finally, in the Scriptures I search for the word “word” in the HCSB and find:

Every word of God is pure;

He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. ~ Proverbs 30:5

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… My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do. ~ Isaiah 55:11

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Heaven and earth will pass away,

but My words will never pass away. ~ Matthew 24:35

 

God’s word is unfailing.  It is pure, it is strong and true, it can accomplish God’s purpose (making it alive), and it will never die.

If you’ve read the Bible more than once then you know that the same verse of Scripture can have vastly different meanings to you each time you read it.  I can attest that even day-by-day God’s word can have different meanings and perform new works in one’s heart.  I will never forget reading a fairly long passage of Scripture one day and deriving nothing from it other than a good story.  The very next day I reread it and was flabbergasted by the significance and the lesson it was teaching me.  I was especially convicted of how superficially I’d read it the day before that I spent a long time asking God for His forgiveness and to help me to never read his word so casually again.

It was a direct example of how God’s word accomplished His purpose in me.  We can rely on the Scriptures.  They have proven to be true, trustworthy, and consistent.  Just consider that our Bible was written over thousands of years, penned by many different people, but authored by only one – God’s Holy Spirit.

Then I took a look at the word as God’s Word.

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1

We need not read beyond Genesis to see the plurality of God, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” (Gen 1:26a) God only has to speak a word and worlds are formed.  Then John confirms that the Word was there in the beginning, with God and was God.  Jesus is that Word.  The very breath of God that called the universe into existence.  I love in Colossians where Paul states, “For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth … … all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Col 1:16)  Why?  Because He is the Word.  He is God.  Alpha and Omega.  He was there from the beginning and He’ll be there until the end … unfailing.

I think I now know why this lyric is tugging at my soul.  There is nothing … no thing … on this earth that is truly unfailing except God. Friends grow apart.  Attitudes change.  Everything, even you and I, dies.

Only Jesus is my One True Constant.  My Rock.  He and His word are unfailing.

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What’s a favorite lyric of yours that has touched you in some way?

 

When Faith Falters ~ 2

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This is part two and the conclusion of a story that started on Friday.  You can find part one here. ~ F

Faced with a friend whose strong faith is perilously close to slipping over the edge of the abyss … I close my eyes and pray … God, help.  I am not equipped for this.

As I often do with my counselees, I change the direction of the conversation.  There is a time to shake the muck and mire off your feet and scramble back up to the edge of the pit.  I concentrate on asking Paula to pray for God to speak to her and then to watch closely and listen for Him to speak.  “He can use anything and anyone,” I say.

“I do,” she says.  “How come I don’t hear Him?”

Knowing that she believes she isn’t hearing Him I add, “His voice may not come the way you think it will.”  I remind her that I’d wanted to share Psalm 66: 1-10 with her earlier and hadn’t had the opportunity to – mainly because of how our conversation had unfolded.  I ask her to read it at home because it had been called to my attention that morning and it was so beautifully brimming with praise to God.  It’s hard to feel poorly when you’re busy praising Him.  And, since it’s one of my spiritual gifts, I tell her that I’ll pray for God to send me a word for her and that when He does I’ll let her know immediately.  She doesn’t look very confident.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m confident for the both of us.

We settle the bill and I suggest we go sit on the rocking chairs that litter the front porch of this establishment.

Outside we rock and talk softly.  The gravity of her earlier emotion subsiding, she’s now deep in her head and I’m still praying that God will speak to her and allow her to hear Him.

A woman walks by with a “Happy Birthday” balloon. I notice her hair is cropped really short like maybe she’s coming off chemo.  “Happy Birthday” I call out as she passes by.  She turns and smiles, it’s not her birthday but a friend’s … she’s just going to the car and will be right back. I mention to Paula that she might have cancer.  “Look at her hair,” I whisper.

“It may just be her style,” Paula responds.

“Maybe.” I say, sighing and looking out into the parking lot.

As the woman returns from her car she stops and hesitates in front of us.  Looking at me she indicates that she’s just finished treatments for breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery.  She apologizes for surmising my situation (which I presume is due to my lovely ‘I’m fighting cancer’ hair-do).  I wave her off and congratulate her and her progress.  I gesture to Paula and tell her that my friend is also battling cancer and having a tough day.

Her words so tender and uplifting, I gasp and grab Paula’s hand as the woman bends down and speaks directly into Paula’s soul.  She mentions much of the verbiage in Psalm 66 – the very Psalm I had planned to read to her hours earlier.  She talks about gratitude and hope and healing. Paula is crying and I’m thanking God for this angel He has sent to us.  Talk about divine appointments!  Hugs and kisses later she hurries off to retrieve her friends inside.  I praise God aloud for sending the woman and squeeze Paula’s hand again.

Paula is still despondent.  “She’s just a woman,” she states matter-of-factly.

“A woman sent by God,” I emphatically declare.

The next morning I was not even out of bed before I was praying for Paula and asking God to give me a word for her.  I sigh laying my head back on the pillow, “Lord, we need a word from you now,” I implore aloud.  Suddenly I ‘got’ Isaiah 62:12.  I smile and say (again out loud), “Thank you, Lord,” my heart brimming with joy.  I grab my HCSB from the nightstand and read:

“And they will be called the Holy People,

the Lord’s redeemed;

and you will be called Cared For,

A City Not Deserted.”

How glorious! Of course He cares for her and has not deserted her. I immediately text Paula.  The Lord makes my day before I’ve even gotten out of bed!  How can you not love such a responsive Father?  He is so faithful!  I pray Paula will receive this message from Him and meditate on it.

At church the following Sunday Paula remarks that she didn’t understand the verse I sent her.  She opens her Bible and we read her version of the verse.  It’s nowhere near as glorious as the version I’m currently using (the HSCB or Holman Christian Standard Bible).  I open mine and read it to her.  She sits back contemplating the message.

Then, just before service started Paula grabbed my hand, “Don’t give up on me,” she whispers.  I turn to look at her with tears in my eyes.

“I won’t,” I whisper as I hug her tightly. “I won’t.”

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Now tell me … What have you done to strengthen your own faith, or someone else’s faith?

Update:  While Paula still struggles, she is doing better, is reading the Bible, and has (at least) remembered that she will be going to Heaven when she dies. Glory!