Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten Things for Tuesday

For reasons both reasonable and un-, I find myself in a testy mood today. And since there is no good reason to spread that lack-of-joy, I've decided that today's post will be...Ten Bible Passages I Love & Why I Love Them! (That's pretty much the opposite of sharing my b.a.[bad attitude], no?) So here we go, in no particular order:

1. Psalm 116:1-9
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
This is my testimony, particularly of the period in 2000-2001-ish when I suffered from a clinical depression.

2. Isaiah 40:10-26
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?

As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
I love how this passage describes the MIGHT and v.a.s.t.n.e.s.s of Yahweh and the itty-bitty-ness of man and his self-exalted nations.

3. Psalm 103:1-14
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Oh how often I have had to fall on the mercy of my God described in this passage.

4. Romans 14:19-23
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Really, all of chapters 14 & 15. These principles teach me the basis on which I make decisions: Does it lead to peace? Does it build others up? Does it cause my brother to stumble? And most especially, can I do it with a completely clear conscience, or do I have any reservations?

5. Ephesians 1:3-14
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
Chosen, loved, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, entrusted with the mystery of Christ, sealed...all to the praise of His glory! What GRACE!

6. Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Want peace? Try editing where you focus your mind. These first few verses are also the first ones where God Himself showed me truth from His Word. I was in middle school, working at a camp, doing my 'devotions.' Suddenly, the truth popped out at me: Christ's peace comes when I=Rejoice! + Let my Gentleness be Evident + Reject Anxiety + Present my Requests to God in Prayer! I LOVE formulas like this one! :-)

7. Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
During a particularly trying period in my life, I learned that waiting and waiting on/for the LORD were two different things. This is a lesson He often reiterates with me; I am often found waiting for Him. This is also a favorite verse of my brother, and he has often sent it to me in moments of need.

8. Psalm 3:5-6 and 4:8
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
I combine these two because they were gifted to me by the Spirit after a particularly terrifying visit to the Korean DMZ. I had lived there more than a year, but until that moment, I really didn't understand the danger of living in a war zone. I was truly frightened, despite the brave American and Korean men guarding me. I calmed down and could sleep only when the Lord Himself reassured me in the verses above that He was my guard.

9. Psalm 107:17-22
Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
Really, the whole Psalm, but I only included the verses most pertinent to me. It was from this chapter that God taught me that He saves us, not just when problems come upon us, but when bring them upon ourselves, too (as I had at the time I learned this). The four vignettes teach us that sometimes we just encounter trouble, sometimes we bring in on ourselves, and sometimes God sends it (see verse 25), but no matter the source, salvation comes the same way: cry out to the Lord! Isn't He good?!

10. Psalm 138:8
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.
The semester before I graduated from college found me crying out to God, asking what was next. My path wasn't clear at all, and I didn't know what to do. One day, while reading in a quiet moment, God gave me this verse, which has given me confidence for every future moment: The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me!


Well, you may not be surprised to hear this, but my bad mood has gone! Reflecting on what the Lord has done and has taught me usually does, doesn't it? I have one final favorite verse, one just for you: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Blessings!
-J

All verses quoted from the New International Version of the Bible.
All other material (c) 2008.

3 comments:

Beth said...

What a beautiful list!
Put me in a great mood too!
Thanks!

Sarah said...

I'm with Beth...it helped my mood too! (I'm missing my pop :) Also, I definitely need to hear more, somtime, on the Korean DMZ visit!

joyce said...

I picked up Sabina Wurmbrand's book: THE PASTOR'S WIFE and could not put it down. During her time in prison without a Bible, those who had memorized Scripture recited verses to each other for their Bible study. Without Bibles, only what was hidden in their hearts could be used to comfort themselves and each other. To survive WW2 and the Nazis and then to be imprisoned by communism in Romania---her husband for fourteen years, and she did not even know he was alive at the end until they came to her and tried to get her to sign a certificate of divorce to try and break her husband's spirit. She refused.

Amazing how she used Scripture and comforted others wracked by guilt in the dark of night when the nights are long and they are hungry and cold and in pain.