Because He Truly Cares – 1 Peter 5:7

As often happens while sitting in church a scripture is given or something is said that may only be tangentially related to the sermon topic itself but it triggers in me that I realize that it is not only the meaning that God wanted me to get from the service, but it also triggers as a seed for blog post. This post is one such post. Warning, this may be a bit of a dry post as I’m going to be looking at word origins and such, so be aware if that holds no interest to you.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7

This is how it reads in the NIV translation. The translation given at church was from the NLT and reads;

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

What struck me was the use of the word cares in two different contexts, one as a noun and one as a verb. Granted the pastor did go into a similar explanation of what I’m about to talk about and the entire sermon leads up to this verse, I’ll post a link to the sermon once the church puts one up.

Anyway, when I want to look at the meaning of words and how and why they were translated into English as they are, I like to look back at the original text in the original languages.

So the first instance of cares, is the word ‘merimnan’ which we also see translated into anxiety (which is a more descriptive translation to us modern English speakers) is described as meaning:

A part, separated from the whole, worry, anxiety. Dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts.

So literally he is talking about those things that we stress over that divides our attention and distracts us. When we become Christians, we want to focus on the works of God, what He is doing in the world around us and how we can be a part of that. This worry and anxiety, literally takes our focus off of that and puts it back onto us and our situation.

The second instance of the cares, the verb is the word ‘melei’ which is described as:

To be of interest to, to take care, to be concerned about. To take interest in.

This tells us that God truly takes an interest in us. He cares about us and our situation, whether it’s a financial issue, a health issue, a relationship issue or a spiritual issue. God is truly interested in the details of our lives.

The takeaway from all this, is that God truly cares about our lives, but as long as we are distracted by our worries and anxieties, we can not see how much he cares and we struggle to give our full attention to Him and his works. I take this verse as a clear instruction to us. Cast our worries and anxieties on him, and God who truly cares for us and loves us will use us in mighty ways.

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A Trip Through Proverbs – #6 – In God We Trust

In_God_We_TrustIf you’re here in the US, pull out your wallet or open up your change purse and take a look at any money you may have in there. On there will be the words “In God We Trust.” It means many things here in the US. But let’s look at what we find in Proverbs 3, our next stop in our Trip Through Proverbs.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5,6

Every day, we are faced with decisions to make as we move through life. Some are simple (what should we have for dinner?), others can be life changing (Should I take that new job? Should we buy that house?) Usually as Christians we make the effort to find God’s will about those big life changing decisions we face. I say usually, because often we may make an effort to pray, but it seems more out of duty and not of a sincere need to find the path that God wants us to travel. We can go through the motions of asking what God wants us to do, but I’m not sure we always want to hear the answer, because we’re fearful it will disagree what we want the answer to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Trusting in God in all things is an easy thing to say we do, but in reality it’s much more difficult to actually do. We may not like the answer that God gives us. He may tell us to stay in a job we dislike, because He still has some work for us to do there. Or he may tell us to go on mission, usually taking us out of our comfort zone into places we would least expect or like to go. But we are to trust that he knows best, has a better plan than we could ever come up with, one that we couldn’t even fathom how it reaches beyond what we know. Our job is simply to trust.

Do not depend on your own understanding

We aren’t to try to figure out why God wants us to do what he has asked. We will never completely understand, we will not comprehend the big picture. God sees for all eternity and how each of our actions plays out. We see only in the here and now. What we feel may be the correct course of action, may be the complete opposite of what God wants. And while we are in no danger of spoiling God’s grand plan, we have the potential of missing out on God’s blessing if we try to go our own way.

Seek his will in all you do

So we are trusting in God completely. Not trying to reason out the best course of action for ourselves. So what do we do. Well we seek his will. Not just in the big things, but in all things. Don’t just come to God when we have a major life changing decision, but ask him what we should have for dinner. He does care. Plus because we don’t see the big picture like God does, perhaps our choice of dinner will put is in a place where we are meant to be.

And he will direct our paths

Just yesterday, my wife says somewhat out of the blue, “Let’s go see if we can find any garage sales.” So off we go, into the 90 degree heat and see what we can find. The direction we went, was probably a poor choice for selections of garage sales, but finally we came across a sign that lead us into a dead-end street that curved up and around into wooded areas. We travel for awhile, wondering if we would ever find the location and just as we were about to turn around thinking someone had just left an old sign at the end of the road, we see a small sign at the end of a driveway. We stop, look towards the garage and still wonder if this is the right place as it seems empty. We get out of the car and walk up and sure enough, there is a couple tables setup in the garage, filled with a few trinkets. A man in his 60s sits in the back of the garage working on a crossword puzzle, seemingly disinterested in us. We browse the tables and actually find a few things that we want to purchase. Taking our selections up, we pay the man and begin to walk away.

As we left the garage, I see the man rise and walk our way as he begins to make small talk with us. My wife and I got the sense that he was just a lonely man that needed someone to talk with so we stopped and chatted for a bit. We come to find out that he had recently lost his job and was currently having financial issues which if not corrected soon, he would lose his home. As we talked, it turns out that I may actually be able to help him find a job and hopefully get him and his family back on their feet financially. As we were leaving, he walked us out to our car and said that his church had been praying for him for six months and he felt I was an answer to their prayers for him.

Well that’s yet to be seen if I can really help him or not. Each day though, I wake up and try to fix in my mind that I want to follow God’s promptings for the day. I want to see where the opportunities may be that he is putting in front of us. There were a lot of steps and decisions that had to be made at just the right time for me to walk in that man’s garage that morning. But by seeking his will and trusting that he has complete understanding so I don’t have to, he guided me to exactly where I needed to be for myself, my wife and this man we met.

I’m a firm believer that God has a purpose for each of our steps, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Each of those seemingly small decisions and steps can have far-reaching impacts that may take years to come to light. If we fully trust God and not our own understanding and truly seek out his will in even the small things, he will guide our path. That sounds pretty amazing if you ask me.

Bible Study Minute – Psalm 18:2 – God’s Protection

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my stronghold.
— Psalm 18:2

I have been reading through the Psalms recently and found this second verse of the 18th Psalm interesting in that David shows us 5 characterizations of God’s protection of his people.

1.  A rock

The word used for rock here is cela (sela), which means a lofty crag or cliff.  Not just a simple boulder to hide behind, but a place of rocks and caverns that a person could hide in and escape an enemy.  God, when we run to him, becomes our cela to which we can hide surrounded by his protection.

2.  A fortress

The word here for fortress is matsuwd, a fortress or stronghold fortified by rock where we could be safe from our enemies and rest.  The fortress is a place of such safety that we can find rest.  The enemy can’t follow us there and we can rest assured that God has us in his safety net.

3.  A shield

God is often referred to as our shield.  A shield comes between us and our enemies protecting us from harm.   In Ephesians 6:16, we are called to take up the shield of faith.  I always picture this as holding our faith out in front of us as we move through life.  The enemy will be throwing arrows of doubt and darts of fear at us constantly, but our shield of faith protects us from those attacks.

4.  Horn of salvation

The horn was often used as a means to signal an attack or defense.   It is frequently used as an emblem of power or strength.  Here it is used to symbolize the strength that we receive in our salvation.  Through the work of Christ on the cross we are saved from our enemies and nothing can snatch our salvation from us.  Read in John 10:28 where Jesus says;

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;  no one will snatch them out of my hand.  -John 10:28

5.  A stronghold

Here the word used is misgab, which means a high place, refuge, a lofty or inaccessible place.  This is a place high above our enemies, inaccessible and again we are well protected from our enemies.

If we need protection we need only look to God.

 

A Trip Through Proverbs – #5 – Wisdom is calling to you

As I continue down this road in Proverbs, we are finishing up Chapter 1 with a personification of wisdom of someone shouting in the street.  This is used to help wisdom come alive for us.

Wisdom shouts in the streets.  She cries out in the public square.  She calls out to the crowds along the main street, and to those in front of city hall.  – Proverbs 1:20,21

We know that wisdom is not a living being, but it is the mind of God revealed to us.   We can see Wisdom in action by reading about Jesus’ ministry here on earth.  And if we want to learn how to become wise we need listen to the “calling” of Wisdom and learn it’s instruction that is laid out in the book of Proverbs (and in the whole Bible)  for us.

“You simpletons!” she cries, “How long will you go on being simpleminded?  How long will you mockers relish your mocking?  How long will you fools fight the facts?  Come here and listen to me!  I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.”  – Proverbs 1:22,23

Here we have the term simpleton.  Here the term simpleton is not someone with a mental deficiency, but someone with a character deficiency.    This could be rebellion, laziness or perhaps anger).  The simpleton is not stupid, but they are unable to tell right from wrong or good from bad.

God calls to us so often, so many times to come follow Him.  But we often pay no attention to his call and decide our own way.  When we persist in going it alone, we create problems for ourselves that will eventually destroy us.

The rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.  That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way.  They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen.   For they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death.  They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them.  -Proverbs 1:30-32

But the alternative, for those that follow the instruction of God, who follow the path of Jesus, who read their Bible and learn the Wisdom that God has placed in those pages, the alternative for them is far better.

But all who listen to me will live in peace and safety, unafraid of harm.   -Proverbs  1:33

That path sounds much better to me….


A Trip Through Proverbs – Catch up on the rest of the series.

  1. Introduction
  2. Acquire Wisdom
  3. Parents, Your Children are Watching
  4. Sin is Enticing

 

 

A Trip Through Proverbs – #1 – Introduction

proverbsI love the book of Proverbs.  It is probably the clearest book in the entire Bible in regards to understanding.  It comes right out and tells you how you should and shouldn’t act, what you should and shouldn’t do.  There is so much wisdom in there, but I’ve not heard many pastors preach about it on Sunday mornings.  I’ve been thinking about doing a little series of posts that go through Proverbs and pull out items that catch my eye and expand on them for quite some time.  As I was coming up with topics for a new post, I felt it was time to start that series.

Right from the start, we learn what the purpose of the book of Proverbs is.

The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings.  -Proverbs 1:2

It couldn’t get much clearer than that.  So what can we expect to learn through these proverbs?

Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just and fair.  -Proverbs 1:3

So we know the purpose and what we will learn, but who are they meant for?

These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever.  They will give knowledge and purpose to young people.  Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.  And let those who understand receive guidance by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings and riddles.  -Proverbs 1:4-6

So they are basically for everyone.  Solomon did not leave anyone out of those who can benefit from these proverbs (or by extension, the wisdom in all of the Bible.)  So that includes all of us!

So why?  Why do we need this wisdom, why do we need to dive deeper?

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.  -Proverbs 1:7

Well there you go.  We learn these things because the Lord wants us.  The fear of God, sounds like an awful thing.  But it’s not, it’s a deep sign of love and respect and willingness (in fact deep need) to obey.

I’m actually looking forward to this as I know I will learn a ton from a deeper dive into the Proverbs.  Stay tuned!

Bible Study Minute – Psalm 118:24 – Today is the day

Psalm118-24Today is the day that God has given us.  There are days that are easy to rejoice in and there are days that rejoicing is the last thing on our minds.  But let’s remember what we learn in this psalm,

This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.  -Psalm 118:24

When reading through the psalms, we can notice that the writers situations were often out of hand, or their sorry or guilt was overwhelming.  The writers wrote their psalms to God, telling him exactly how they felt, often crying out and questioning why they were in the situation they were in.

Something important to note was that they were completely honest with God, telling him exactly how they felt.  But as they talked with God, their prayers ended in praise.  God had given them a reason to rejoice and they praised God for that.

When you don’t feel like rejoicing, tell God how you truly feel.  God will give you a reason to rejoice.  God has given you this day to live and to serve him, be glad and praise him for that!