QUOTED: Living faith includes a simultaneous awareness of:

“Living faith includes a simultaneous awareness of: God’s grace, besetting evils, deep need, and indwelling radiance.

‘You are merciful,’ ‘I am the chief of sinners,’ ‘That hurts,’ ‘Have mercy,’ and ‘I am Yours’ go well together.”

-David Powlison

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QUOTED: “It were an easy thing to be a Christian…”

It were an easy thing to be a Christian,
if religion stood only in a few outward works and duties,

But to take the soul to task,
and to deal roundly with our own hearts,
and to let conscience have its full work,
and to bring the soul into spiritual subjection unto God,

This is not so easy matter,
because the soul out of self-love is loath to enter into itself,
lest it should have other thoughts of itself than it would have.

-Richard Sibbes

QUOTED: God’s Oath, Our Hope

“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…”

– Hebrews 6:17-20 ESV

BLOGGED: “Faith is my active attitude of total reliance on God’s absolute trustworthiness.” Including thoughts by @SkipMoen –

I could never claim to be a Bible scholar. But I DO love to study God’s Word in its original languages, aided by some handy-dandy Bible apps like Blue Letter Bible & PocketSword. Currently, three of my favorite words are the Greek “histemi” (pronounced “his-stay-me”), “pistos”, and the Hebrew “‘aman”, all of which resound heavily regarding where I am right now in my journey of faith – and I mean “journey” because, God knows, it’s taken me 41 years to get here. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually considered getting “histemi” tattooed on my hand (Deut. 6:8…I think the forehead is a little too much, don’t you agree? Ha!)

There have been so many moments recently when I’ve felt the pressure of life begin to weigh heavy on my shoulders, when I’ve wanted to say, “Okay, enough! I give up!” And, just then, the word “histemi” will come flooding into my mind, with all of its depth of meaning:

Outline of Biblical Usage (from Blue Letter Bible Lexicon):
1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
a) to bid to stand by, [set up]
1) in the presence of others, in the midst, before judges, before members of the Sanhedrin;
2) to place
b) to make firm, fix establish
1) to cause a person or a thing to keep his or its place
2) to stand, be kept intact (of family, a kingdom), to escape in safety
3) to establish a thing, cause it to stand
a) to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything
c) to set or place in a balance
1) to weigh: money to one (because in very early times before the introduction of coinage, the metals used to be weighed)
2) to stand
a) to stand by or near
1) to stop, stand still, to stand immovable, stand firm
a) of the foundation of a building
b) to stand
1) continue safe and sound, stand unharmed, to stand ready or prepared
2) to be of a steadfast mind
3) of quality, one who does not hesitate, does not waiver

“His-stay-me”…I think of that and, by His grace, peace floods my soul and I, having stood, stay standing.

-M.

The following, by Skip Moen, is so beautifully written, I wanted to quote it here (I hope he doesn’t mind). If you enjoy reading about in-depth, original language, Bible study, I highly recommend Skip’s website: http://www.skipmoen.com/

SOLID AS A ROCK

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

FAITHFUL – What does it mean to be faithful? What do you think of when you hear these words? Do you think about a marriage vow or a promise or someone? Do you think about unwavering commitment or loyalty? If we look at the way John uses this word, we find some other imagery that helps us understand what faithfulness really is. Then we will know why Jesus can say, “Be faithful unto death.”

John uses this word only one time in his gospel. When Jesus confronts Thomas’ disbelief, Jesus invites Thomas to examine the nail prints and the scar from the spear. Jesus says, “Come and look, and as a result, be believing.” That is the Greek word pistos. It is an adjective, not a verb, so our English translation sounds funny. We would like to say, “Come and believe,” but that would make pistos a verb, and John doesn’t use “believe” that way. When John talks about believe, he always uses the verb pisteuo (92 times). For John, belief is an action, not a set of statements. To be faithful is to act in a certain way.

How do I act when I am faithful? For that answer, we need to look at the Hebrew thought behind this Greek word. We arrive at Numbers 12:7, for example, where the Greek word pistos translates the Hebrew word ‘aman. This Hebrew word paints a very tangible picture. Its primary meaning is to provide stability and confidence. It is used to describe the foundation of a house, the support of pillars, a nurse holding a baby in her arms, a nail driven into a post. It is about things that can be relied upon; things that are solid as a rock. Suddenly faithfulness is no longer simply mental affirmation. It is no longer just about what I think. It is about the concrete actions of unshakeable trust. It is building on granite instead of sand. It is trusting that nurse not to drop the baby. It is knowing that the pillars will hold up the roof. To be faithful unto death is to be steady as a rock no matter what the storm may bring.

Faithfulness is not found in my signature at the bottom of a list of beliefs. Faithfulness is found in the behaviors that reflect those beliefs. Yes, I must know what I believe, but until my head knowledge is converted into real, tangible actions, it is not faithfulness.

The Old Testament uses pistos for another Hebrew word, ne’um, a word that means “an oracle or prophetic saying from God.” You can find this in 2 Samuel 23:1. Why is this also pistos? Because it comes from God’s mouth and it is totally and undeniably trustworthy. You can act on it. It is rock-solid truth. Accepting the oracle of God means more than simply acknowledging that God spoke it. It means hearing and acting on it. I cannot be faithful until I put it in practice.

“Faith” is not like medicine. In fact, it’s not a substance at all. It is a code word for a relationship, and just like any other relationship, you can’t bottle it or store it or acquire it except in interactive exchange. The relationship exists only in the exchange. You don’t have a “relationship” with someone you never speak to. The idea that “faith” is something that I acquire is as misguided as the idea that children are something I own. In fact, the Hebrew word, ’emunah, is typically a word about character, the utter reliability and fidelity of someone, particularly God.

Faith is my active attitude of total reliance on God’s absolute trustworthiness.

That means that my “faith” is demonstrated in the action of putting myself in His care, no matter what the circumstances! Until and unless I act on His reliability, I just don’t have faith. I might have a set of written beliefs that I can recite, but I won’t have any active relationship. Faith is only found in the action, not the declaration. Israel claimed to have “faith” in God, but their actions revealed denial of His claim on them. The truth is that they were faithless.

How much faith does it take to please God? The question itself is wrong-headed. If faith is the action of trusting Him, then I either act or I don’t act. I either trust Him, or I try my own way. There is no half-full measure here. So, how do I get this faith? God grants it, freely, abundantly, continuously. From God’s side to the relationship, nothing impedes your trust in Him.

All you have to do is act accordingly.

God is a Rock. Imitating that rock-like quality is being faithful. So, polish the granite in your life. Sculpt the marble. Shine like a diamond. You were called to be a geological marvel.

– Skip Moen, D. Phil.
http://www.skipmoen.com/hebrew

PRAYED: Prayer for Pastors

Lord, shelter Your anointed shepherds under the cover of Your wing.
Fill them as vessels, allowing Your Spirit to pour forth from their lips.
Close their eyes and ears to anything that would keep them from hearing Your direction.
And, may they see friends wherever they look.
I ask these things in Jesus’ name.

PARAPHRASED: My Soul Waits for the Lord

Psalm 130

A Heart’s Cry for Forgiveness

From the depths of my sinfulness, from the deepest part of my heart, I cry out to You, O LORD, the covenantal God who needs nothing from me.

O Lord – my Sovereign Ruler who is in control of where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going – give attention to the sound of my voice. Attend Your ears to my words that implore You for mercy; my petitions that move You to show me favor.

My passion is on display when I admit, LORD – the God who IS – if You laid in wait for my sinful acts, looked closely at all the punishment I deserve…O Lord who is in control, how could I abide with You? How could I possibly endure? But You pardon me. You spare me so that I will revere You for the rest of my life.

Now I pull myself together and patiently wait, expecting the Lord who IS to show-up; I’m holding my breath, knowing He’ll be here because His Word said He would. I wait patiently and expectantly because I can trust in His Word.

With the deepest longing, I wait for the Lord who rules – even more than the one who lays in wait for the morning, even more than the one who watches for the sunrise.

As evidence of the strength and prevailing power of God, let the posterity of Israel expectantly hope in the eternal Jehovah. For with the Lord there is merciful kindness and an abundance of deliverance, so that, as He goes before us, He anticipates our need and hastens to help us. By any means necessary, He will deliver the posterity of Israel from all our crooked ways; from all our troubles caused by wickedness.

Paraphrase written using the apps at:
-blb.org – Hebrew Interlinear Table
-crosswire.org/pocketsword – King James Version with Strongs Numbers and Morphology

MEDITATED: on Psalm 57

“To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me..

He will send from heaven and save me;
He will put to shame him who tramples on me,
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts…

They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way…

My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!

I will sing and make melody!…
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

–Psalm 57:1-11, ESV

*David took refuge under the covering of God’s protection during the WHOLE time the storms of destruction passed.

*When he was most afraid & had stuff to get off his chest about his enemy, David cried out to the One True God, the Most High God…not his most loyal companion.

*David trusted God to be a righteous judge and to take vengence over his enemy. He also knew that God’s actions would not conflict with His never-changing character.

*Even in the midst of “his enemies”, David trusted God enough to lie down.

*David kept moving forward, in a position of humility before God, even though his circumstances were difficult and often treacherous.

*He fixed HIs eyes on the Lord, who firmly established his steps – his “heart was steadfast”.

*Despite all his difficulties, David never let the events surrounding him prevent him from praising and thanking God.

I can definitely learn some things from King David about how to get through the storms of life with the heart of one of God’s annointed…