Numbers 30:2 When one of you men makes a promise to the Lord, you must keep your word.
Some verses really don’t need much deeper study or explanation. There’s no hidden meaning buried somewhere in the original Hebrew. It’s a very plain command, not a polite suggestion: I must keep my promises to You.
I like to think I’m a man of my word but there are many times I’ve made some bold statement of what I’m going to do for You, then promptly forgot it. I sometimes use my words too lightly.
Lord, remind me of the things I’ve already promised to You that I need to do right away. From now on give me an open heart and a guarded tongue.
Hebrews 2:18 And now that Jesus has suffered and was tempted, he can help anyone else who is tempted.
To travel safely through unknown and dangerous country, I’d need a guide. A guide can lead me through because they know the terrain. They’ve walked it before. They know there’s a true path because they’ve followed it through to safety in the past. If I follow their footsteps and listen to their advice, I’ll be okay. I’ll be able to guide others in the future if I pay attention along the way.
Jesus offers help in temptation because he’s been there. Satan struck at his perceived weak points and failed to break through. He marked a path for me to follow. I have words to listen to. And for every time I make it through, either bruised or unscathed, I can help someone else see where to tread and where not to tread.
Thank You Lord for the example set before me, that I have a guide who knows the way by experience. Help me to guide others from my own experience and point them towards the One who truly knows the way.
Leviticus 25:10 This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families.
I’ve always loved the idea of the year of jubilee, where debts were cancelled, slaves were set free, everything was returned to its rightful owner and everyone went home. It’s sad to find out that it’s questionable whether the jubilee was ever actually observed. That’s just like us humans to take Your perfect commandments and twist them or ignore them.
On one level the jubilee may not have happened and certainly doesn’t happen today. There was no mention of it when I bought my house and took out a mortgage. But on a higher level it’s here right now. A time of freedom and celebration. A time when we receive back what we threw away and was stolen from us. A time when the slaves are set free and come home. That sounds very familiar. That sounds like Your Kingdom come. That’s what Jesus was talking about when announcing the year of the Lord’s favour. Freedom, restoration, homecoming, celebration. The free gift that’s there for anyone who wants it.
Thank You Lord that where man fails, You are faithful. Thank You that I’m freed from sin and death by Your mercy and brought home to You.
John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
It is finished. Jesus’ mission on earth. The power of sin and death. The weight of the law. The separation between man and God. All finished through this one perfect sacrifice.
This finish is the beginning of life, hope, restoration, healing. It is the beginning of a new relationship with You.
Thank You Lord.
John 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
It seems strange to me. Sometime Jesus spoke to the crowds using simple stories about things that they knew and understood. Then he’d say something that completely baffled them. Miracles and parables drew the curious but talk of You tended to drive them away again.
You don’t want crowds of onlookers. You want crowds of believers. Jesus said things that divided the group into these two camps. That’s not to say that the believers understood any more than the onlookers. The difference was that, as Peter said, they knew they had nowhere else to go to find words of truth and life. The believed even when it didn’t make sense. They didn’t let their lack of understanding be a barrier to their relationship with You.
I don’t understand everything about You. Sometimes that frustrates me. I want it all to be perfectly clear, rational and reasonable. But You are so far beyond my understanding. What I do know about You is what keeps me coming back for more. You are good. You are love. You are powerful. You are in control. You know me and yet still love me.
I do believe – help my unbelief.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“God won’t give you more than you can handle” or “God won’t put on you more than you can bear”. Well-known ‘Bible verses’ that aren’t anywhere in the Bible. The truth is that You will give me more than I can handle but it’s never something You can’t handle.
Paul was familiar with suffering but this unknown affliction was bad enough that he begged You to take it away from him three times. Instead You showed him that it was to make him reliant on You. When everything is going well and I feel good, I can lose sight of You and start to think I’ve got everything covered in my own strength. When trouble hits I’m forced to rely on You. You give me more than I can handle so I learn to trust in Your power to see me through. As Paul says, Your strength is made perfect in weakness. My weakness. It shows that You re God and I am not, in case anyone was in any doubt.
To You be all the glory. Keep my eyes fixed on You, no matter how high the waves may be.
1 Corinthians 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Sound carries meaning. Certain patterns of notes played on a trumpet or bugle have significance to a soldier, telling him to advance or retreat. A trumpet concerto may be beautiful music but it doesn’t deliver an explicit message. Paul uses this as an example to distinguish between speaking in tongues and prophesying. He encourages prophecy because it has clear meaning to other people.
The trumpeter playing at home, or in a free jazz ensemble, can be creative with their sounds. A military trumpeter has to deliver a clear signal. The Christian at home, or in times of corporate prayer and free expression, can pray in tongues. They shouldn’t try to preach in tongues!
This thought can be extended further. If I’m writing or speaking to other people I need to be clear about what I’m trying to say. There’s a time for creativity and artistic freedom. If I’m trying to get a message across, that creativity needs to support and enhance the message or it’s an ‘uncertain sound’.
Lord give me clear thoughts and clear words to deliver Your message. Help me to take control of my creativity and channel it for You.
1 Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
I don’t have a great deal of natural ability, particularly when it comes to speaking. I suppose I should take heart from Paul’s example here. He didn’t have a repertoire of one-liners, amusing anecdotes or moving stories. He didn’t try to ‘work the crowd’. He relied on You so that You got the glory.
When I feel weak in a particular area, I do everything in my own power to try to overcome my weakness. I need to stop trying and start relying. If You’ve called me to do something, I need to rest in Your ability to see it done. If I do something and no-one thinks highly of it or me but they think highly of You, that should be me ideal.
Lord, take first place. I don’t want to claim credit for Your work. Use my weakness for Your glory.
Romans 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The simple verses are the ones that I can easily skim over or ignore in my search for something deep and profound. But is anything really more deep and profound than grace? What the author prays here for the Romans is probably the extreme of good wishes. More than health, wealth or happiness, he prays for grace to be with them. Undeserved favour from Heaven. Does it really get any better than that?
It’s the ultimate prayer for friends and it’s the ultimate prayer for foes as well. By wishing grace on someone I’m acknowledging that they don’t deserve this good but I pray they get it anyway. That sounds dangerously like loving my enemies.
Lord may Your grace be with me at all times and may I always be aware of it. I want to be as free in praying it to others as You are free in giving it to me.