Week 43 – Double-Mouth Sword

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Hebrews 4For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints, and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

This is a familiar verse to me as it may be too many of you. However, this time the words “double-edged sword” stood out like a shining beacon each time I read the verse. On the surface, we see how this verse is literally saying God’s word is sharp and can penetrate our soul and spirit. We could easily dismiss this, believe we had the complete meaning and move on to another verse. But let’s pause for a moment on these three words.

Two-edged Sword

Two-edged – Interestingly, when we go back to the Greek, we see that two-edged comes from the Greek word “distomos.” This is unusual to me because in the Greek “di” means two and “stomos” means mouth. So, the original text would imply we are talking about a double-mouthed sword.

Sword – And the word “sword” is used throughout scripture to describe God’s written Word.  In fact, I was just having a conversation about the putting on the armor of God at lunch today with two friends. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

Another point to make here is that we see this term, double or two-edged sword several times in scripture. When I searched it, the phrase came up six times in the NIV translation. In Revelation 1:16 we read about the Lord’s return and it mentions a double-edged sword coming out of His mouth. I had never matched the two of these verses before until searching these three words this week.

“In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Revelation 1:16

So what does this all mean or boil down to? What is this new understanding we can glean from the Greek translation? How does God’s mouth work in two ways for us as we walk this Earth and seek His ways?

I see it like this, and I hope you have experienced this same interaction with the Word/Sword of God. You are in thoughtful prayer about something, reading through the word of God, listening to a sermon or praise music and all of a sudden . . . it hits you. The perfect scripture flys into your heart like balm on a deep cut. You sense God’s presence and know He has provided you with an answer to prayer. He has spoken to your heart and soul (His mouth). But then where does the second mouth come in? Ah, couldn’t that be when we take His truth and treasure and share His wisdom and Word with someone else? Speaking into them what God shared with us (our mouth).

Two mouths (His and ours) working together with the Sword (His written Word) . . . what an incredible image. I may be way off here, but thanks to digging into some Greek, my eyes have been opened to a new way of looking at how God works through me and in me. I pray you feel the same.

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

 

 

 

 

Week 41 – A Rare Gift

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Friends - Proverbs 18

A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Sometimes reading Scripture takes us back to a time in our lives that God used our circumstances to teach us. Often, He will gently remind us of lessons He has already taught us. These moments are a wonderful reminder of His presence, love & desire for us to continue to grow in Him.

This verse from Proverbs quickly brought my mind back to a blog I wrote in 2009. I’ve reposted it below. Although these times of remembering can be bittersweet, I never want to forget the lessons God taught me through trial and tears. It is those lessons that are the light in the darkness, the joy that comes out of sadness and the good He can provide out of the worst situations.

We are all guilty of it. Taking our problems, our concerns and complaints to others before we take them to God. He is the one we should go to first when we are seeking wise counsel.

God drove this point home to me in 2008. It had been a tough few months. Everything seemed to be falling apart. My friend Shannon’s cancer had spread to her brain, my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I had a disappointing birthday and oh, how the list continued, but I will spare you. It was summer and all my friends were traveling, busy with camp, the pool, etc. When I tried to talk to them everyone seemed distracted. They were out of town or running out the door to the next activity or obligation. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of the same thing. We get in a hurry and fill our schedules to the brim so there is no margin for the things that might pop up.

After the fourth attempt to talk to a friend and getting nowhere. . . it hit me! God spoke to my heart and I realized I needed to be taking all of this worry and concern to God. God, who is my friend, is always closer to me than anyone, and who knows me better than I know myself.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying we don’t need to seek the counsel of our friends. God has put friends in our lives to support us, love us, give us solid Christian advice and hold us accountable. I praise God for my girlfriends every day!

I think God was reminding me that above all else, I should first seek Him. He is always available and “not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). He is never on the way out the door, swim team practice, Target or the grocery store. We have a God who craves a relationship with us and desires for us to seek Him daily. This rare gift is beyond our comprehension and understanding most days, but it exists and is very real. Next time you are troubled, have a concern or problem, talk it over with our Lord and Savior first. Seek His counsel, comfort, and direction. Pray that He provides you with a solution or answer in any way He can. He may speak straight to your heart, send a friend or put you in a circumstance that will give you the answer or peace that you need. He doesn’t promise when or how, but He blesses all those who seek Him.

If someone asks him: What are these wounds on your chest?—then he will answer: I received the wounds in the house of my friends. Zechariah 13:6

“Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested Him. Matthew 26:50

You are My friends if you do what I command you. John 15:14

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 40 – One and Only

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The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

This one verse is packed with beautiful and awe-inspiring details of our Savior. First, He was born and lived among us taking on the “likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). But in spite of taking on our likeness, He was still “full” of grace and truth showing us that He brought all of His divine qualities with Him.

But there is one word that caught my eye this week that I wanted to dwell on ~ residence.

Residence: a person’s home; the place where someone lives

This Greek word is skenool, which literally means to pitch or live in a tent. At first glance, we might think it’s referring to the Lord’s temporary “camping out” here on Earth among us. Which is relevant, but it goes deeper than that as we dig deeper into scripture.

Take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:1-3 (NCV)

We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. But now we groan in this tent. We want God to give us our heavenly home, because it will clothe us so we will not be naked.

God took up residence among us in His tent (His earthly body). These verses from 2 Corinthians go on to talk about how we will groan and be burdened in this tent/body until we reach our heavenly home. We understand this clearly because this tent we live in here on earth is all we know. We know the pain, tears, sadness, and heart-break that comes with this tent we now dwell in. We can only imagine how amazing and breathtaking our eternal home will be. But God knew! He knew and He left all the glory, perfection, joy, magnificencesplendorgrandeurmajestygreatness, and nobility of Heaven behind to come be with us and live in a human body that experiences and endures pain, suffering, and heartbreak. And for what? For you and for me and because of His GREAT love for us. Only the most loving Father and Creator would give up everything to come and live in this mess we call home for now. 

In churches, small groups and Bible studies all over the world, we talk about how God sent His only Son to die on the cross to cover our sins so we access to eternal life with Him. But sometimes, I think it’s said so much, we begin to overlook the deep truth of the sacrifice He made and the love it must have taken for Him to do so.

This week, my prayer is that we all take some time to reflect on the intense and profound love our Creator and Heavenly Father has for us. May we bask in His glory and respond with word, action, and deed.

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 35 – Wise Warriors

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Proverbs 21

A wise person went up against a city of warriors and brought down its secure fortress. Proverbs 21:22

I know why this is one of my favorite Proverbs! I can’t count the number of times I’ve been faced with a situation, conflict or challenge that has seemed impossible to tackle or overcome in my life. Let’s just say, it seems like millions sometimes. This verse, from Proverbs 21, is a wonderful reminder that we don’t need all the answers, strength or solutions if we are wise.

And what is a wise man/woman? Where does wisdom come from? And how do we get it?

Thank goodness it’s not from reading all the books in the library, earning multiple college degrees or playing jeopardy daily! It’s much less work than all of that, but it does take discipline and an earnest desire to gain wisdom and be wise in all situations.

I found these scriptures to answers our three questions:

What is a wise woman/man?

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Where does wisdom come from?

For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, . . . Ecclesiastes 2:26 

because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. 1 Cor. 1:25

And how do we get it?

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 

The wisdom we need to overcome all obstacles isn’t from us or anyone among us, but from God. No amount of schooling or degrees will give us His wisdom, but through prayer, reflection on His word and just asking Him, we can have the wisdom He so desires to give us. And what makes this Godly wisdom so amazing and so much better than worldly wisdom?

 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

There isn’t much on this Earth that is full of mercy, impartial, sincere and peace-loving. Heavenly wisdom is the kind of wisdom that helps us conquer fears, scale walls, face unthinkable grief, look at giant obstacles as mere ant hills, keep our eyes on the cross and offers a safe place to anchor your heart in the midst of a violent storm. My prayer for all of us this week is that we are able to seek and receive God’s wisdom in the midst of the chaos that looms around us each day and that we can go out as wise warriors among wolves.

 

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 33 – Search Me

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Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. Psalms 139:23-24

Well, after last week’s post. It looks like God is answering my prayers and leading me to new levels of trust in Him. Maybe it’s just me, but does this verse strike a bit of fear in you like it does when I first read it? As I think, “Yikes, not really sure I want God looking into my heart and testing it today. I’m not sure He would like what He saw in there.”  I mean there is surely some good stuff, but let’s be real, it’s not all sparkly clean in there either. I’m sure there is trash I don’t even realize is hanging around in there making things a little dusty. Just to start: fear, pride, frustration, insecurity . . . . what else? I’m sure I could keep adding to those things.

My mom isn’t a “Type A” like me. Just looking in her office can give me the hives. She’s always talking about cleaning it up. We have even done it together a few times, and it will stay that way for a few weeks and then it’s right back to where she started. In her defense, I may have a super clean and organized office, but I hate weeding my flower beds. You won’t find one weed in flower beds!

My point in sharing that is, making cleaning and weeding a priority can be difficult. There is a lot to do, it can be dirty and hard work. It takes time, effort, discipline and a willing heart to make it a priority. But when we do, the benefits are AWESOME! When my mom has a clean office, she loves it and enjoys using her office again. When my plant beds are weeded, I enjoy sitting on my front porch so much more.

It’s the same with God and our hearts! Asking God to search (examine & investigate) our hearts for discrepancies and fears can be scary. But my heart is asking me, “Why is your first response to this scripture/request fear?” For me, I think there are several reasons.

  1. I don’t want God to think badly of me or that I can’t handle it.
  2. I know it will require some hard work with God to work through the heart things with Him.
  3. It’s just easier to tuck things away and keep moving forward.

OK, when I type all those reasons out, they don’t seem very good or logical anymore. How about yours?

Here is how my heart responded to my initial fears after reflecting on God’s truth. FIRST, God already knows everything about me, my heart and loves me anyway. He also knows I can’t handle anything without Him nor did He create me too. Plus, He doesn’t judge. He extends mercy, forgiveness, and grace to all His children. SECOND, yeah it’s going to require some work, but don’t all great things. Isn’t that little bit of work, discomfort, and pruning worth the gift of eternal life, a whole heart and His glorious light in my life to share with others. THIRD, everyone knows that tucking things away never gets you anywhere. It only holds you back. Plus, it’s just letting Satan win and for goodness sakes, I never want him to win!

Sometimes, we just have to dig into the fear or our first instinctual feelings. Ask ourselves why it’s so scary, makes us angry or causes us anxiety. Why we are having a negative response? Once it’s out in the open and we have processed the emotions, they shrink to the size of a sunflower seed compared to the glorious promises of our Creator, King, and Father. May His word continue to pierce our hearts and uncover any and all offenses so that we can continue to grow stronger in our faith and shine His great Light into the world.

Week 32 – Shield Me

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Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Proverbs 30:5

I was delighted to pull out this verse from Proverbs for the week. Reading Proverbs is like reading poetry. There are so many poetic styles (rhyming, Haiku, Limerick, etc.), but Proverbs is Hebrew poetry. It throws you this way and that way, comparing and contrasting points one after another. The Holman Study Bible explains it this way, “Hebrew poetry is terse and concise, it uses a lot of imagery, and generally, the second line complements or contrasts the thought of the first. Contemplating how the second line relates to the first is a profitable way to meditate on a proverb.”

There are two words that jump out at me, to sum up, this verse ~ Pure Shield. My husband and I just saw the new Wonder Woman movie (which I highly recommend). So, when I think of a shield, I picture Wonder Woman’s shield. She used it to protect herself and friends, but also to deflect the approaching enemy and their warfare. It was awesome and don’t even get me started on her arm bands. Those things could send a pulse of energy blasting that sent every oncoming danger whirling away from her. But that is just a movie and she is just a made-up character. However, our God is not made up. He is very real and has more power than we can even imagine. He is our hero and waiting for us to ask to be saved.

In other translations, the word pure is replaced with flawless (NIV), tested and refined (AMP), and proves true (ESV). We see this truth repeated in other Scriptures (Psalms 18:30 & 2 Samuel 22:31) as well.

Let this sink in for a moment. Every word (not just some, or part, or portions), but every word (truth & promise) of God is pure (flawless, tested, refined, true). God is a shield for all of us who call to Him for help. I’m not sure about you, but that is an AWESOME reminder for me today and two questions well up in my heart.

  1. What do I seek refuge in, instead of God?
  2. What do I need refuge from today?

Recently, a lack of control over many circumstances in my life and those in my family has brought up an element of fear and uncertainty. My heart knows God is in every detail and He is my protector and shield, but I have to fight to keep that truth in my head at times. The fighting is much easier with the appropriate armor and gear. That will always be the Word of God and prayer. May we all take refuge in Him no matter what the day holds and giants we are facing. Wonder Woman wouldn’t go into battle without her sword and shield. Let’s make that our game plan too!

The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

Week 30 – I love a list!

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The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
renewing one’s life;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
making the heart glad;
the command of the Lord is radiant,
making the eyes light up.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are reliable
and altogether righteous.
They are more desirable than gold—
than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey,
which comes from the honeycomb. Psalms 19:7-10

Oh, I do dearly love a list. I know, it’s my “Type A” coming out! Let’s break down this week’s scripture and see what glorious reminders Psalm 19 has for us. For each one, I’m going to find supporting scripture to back up the claims of Psalm 19. I love a treasure hunt too. Studying the Word of God can be so exhilarating. Let’s dive in.

1. The Lord’s laws and  instructions = perfect

The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His instructions are trustworthy. Psalms 111:7

2. The Lord’s testimony = sure (firmly established, bound to happen)

Lord, Your testimonies are completely reliable; holiness is the beauty of Your house for all the days to come. Psalms 93:5

3. The Lord’s precepts/statutes/commandments = right and radiant (able to lift you up)

Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:6

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalms 33:4

4. The fear of the Lord = pure & clean

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

5. The Lord’s ordinances, decrees, and judgments = true, righteous and reliable 

Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Psalms 119:142

6. The Lord’s ways = more valuable than any earthly treasure and sweeter than honey

Instruction from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalms 119:72

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:3

What sweet reminders of the God we serve and all He has promised those who believe and follow Him. May all of our hearts be open to the truth of who our Lord is. He is perfect, sure, radiant, right, able, pure, reliable, righteous and worth more than anything else in all of creation. AMEN!