Y is for Yes

Another one of David’s favorite phrases in Psalm 119 was “according to your promise.” When David read the Torah, he saw loads of promises, and he wasn’t shy about reminding God about them.

“Be gracious to me, according to your promise.” (V. 58)
“Comfort me, according to your promise.” (V. 76)
“Sustain me, according to your promise.” (V. 116)
“Preserve my life, according to your promise.” (V. 154)
“Deliver me, according to your promise.” (V. 170)

Along with all the “regular” promises, God made David a “special” promise. In fact, it’s called the “Davidic Covenant”. It went something like this: “David, I promise you that the Messiah, the Savior of the world, My Son, will come through your family line and He will be a King over My Kingdom forever. There are no conditions on this promise, it’s all on Me. You can’t screw it up. Signed, God.”

David had his eye on his son Solomon, wondering if his boy was the fulfillment of that promise. God had His eye on His Son, Jesus, who would come from David’s line one thousand years later. Jesus came the first time to suffer and die. He will come again one of these days to rule and reign.

We have a promise-keeping God. How many promises did God make, exactly? Well, that depends on who you ask. According to Everet R. Storms, there are 7,487 promises in the Bible. (He counted them on his 27th time reading through the Bible.) Biblegateway.com tallies 5,467 divine promises. Another source counts 3,573. But you know what? It doesn’t matter! God knows and He can’t screw it up.

David stood on the promise God made him. We also stand on a whole boat-load of promises. The reason we can be sure about every single one is because of 2 Corinthians 1:20. (And now I’m finally getting to my favorite word.)

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.”

yes

Me: Is it true that if I lack wisdom, I can ask and it will be given?
Jesus: Yes!

Me: Will You really work all things together for good?
Jesus: Yes!

Me: If I resist the devil, will he actually run away from me?
Jesus: Yes!

Me: If I confess my sins, will you truly forgive me and purify me?
Jesus: Yes!

7,483 to go….

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with Y is YES.

W is for Why

Is it okay to ask, “Why?”
Some would have us believe that it shows
lack of faith or wavering trust or a wobble in our walk.
Not so, I say.
We are in good company.

“Why, Lord, do You stand far off?” (Ps. 10:1)
“Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1)
“Why are You so far from saving me?” (Ps. 22:1)
“Why have You forgotten me?” (Ps. 42:9)
“Why have You rejected me?” (Ps. 43:2)
“Why do You sleep?” (Ps. 44:23)
“Why do You hide Your face and forget our misery?” (Ps. 44:24)
“Why does Your anger smolder?” (Ps. 74:1)
“Why do You hold back Your hand?” (Ps. 74:11)

And that’s just a sampling from the Psalms.

There are hundreds of “whys” in the Bible.
I counted 447 why questions in the NIV.

why

I found that…
…sometimes people ask each other “why?”
…sometimes people ask themselves “why?”
…sometimes people ask God “why?”
…sometimes God asks people “why?”
…sometimes God asks God “why?”

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Mark 15:34

So it must be okay to ask.

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with W is WHY.

V is for Vine

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I am the vine, you are the branches.
If you abide in me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from me
you can do
nothing.
John 15:5

The vine nourishes the branches,
the branches produce the fruit,
the fruit nourishes the world.
That’s how it works.
Get any of those out of order and you have nothing.

Union with the Vine is the only way to stay spiritually alive.
Hang on to the Vine, all you lovely branches.
The fruit will come.

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My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “V” is VINE.

U is for Us

Up in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan, “Yoopers” have a distinct dialect. They greet visitors with, “How are yous guys today?”

Down in Texas, where the southern drawl is thick, guests are welcomed with, “How are y’all today?”

I regret that my Midwest English (and the English translations of our Bibles) doesn’t distinguish between singular and plural when it comes to “you.” The northern Yoopers and the southern drawlers might have a real advantage there.

One thing Americans are known for, whether from the north, south, east or west, is an independent, go-it-alone, self-reliant, individualistic mindset. So we often make a mistake when reading the Bible. As Lois Tverberg points out,

English speakers have a habit of reading every “you” in the Bible as if it’s addressed to “me all by myself” rather than “me within God’s larger community.”

In the Jewish way of thinking, faith is built around doing life with people and is inherently communal. In other words, the “you” is almost always plural. They think in terms of “we” instead of “me”.

When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He started with “Our Father”, not “My Father”. He used “us” and “our”, not “me” and “my”. The early church was famous for its devotion to fellowship, communal prayer and sharing meals together in each other’s houses. The New Testament writers continued the theme:

  • But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
  • If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)
  • For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)
  • If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
  • See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Yes. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.
But we mustn’t forget that Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. (Eph. 5:2)

I’d sure like to do something about all those plural “you”s in the scriptures. Perhaps a new translation of the Holy Bible is in order. It would sound something like this:

Yous guys are the salt of the earth.
Y’all are the light of the world.
y'all

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “U” is US.

T is for Time

time

Due to lack of time this week, I will not be posting on “T is for Time”.

I had great plans —
— to reflect on the words of the wisest man, Solomon.
“There is a time for everything.” (Eccl. 3:1)
— to ponder the words of King David.
“My times are in Your hands.” (Ps. 31:15)
— to think over the words of Jesus.
“It is not for you to know the times or dates.” (Acts 1:7)
— to consider the words of Paul.
“Make the best use of your time.” (Eph. 5:16)
— 
to contemplate the words of Jim Croce.
“If I could save time in a bottle.” (Not really)

But I ran out of time.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to on the New Earth is
no clocks, no schedules, no timers buzzing, no deadlines,
no time limits, no delays, no due dates, no cut off point,
no being late, no calendars, no hurry, no push to finish.

We’ll have all the time in the (new) world.

clock

S is for Said

God is a talker.
In the first chapter of the Bible, we read the phrase “God said” eleven times.
We literally have the very words that God spoke.
At our fingertips.
In quotations.
Selah. (Hebrew for “stop and think about that for a while.”)

said

God’s people are talkers, too.
The word “said” is found 3, 071 times in the scriptures.
Words are the method of choice to get the gospel out to the nations.

world

For those of us who are not such great talkers, there’s a promise:
“The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” Luke 12:12

Psalm 119 was David’s long love song about the
extraordinary,
astonishing,
miraculous
record of what God said.

Musicians have been writing songs about the same thing ever since.

Back in 1975, the Heritage Singers recorded an album. The group was made up of men dressed in powder blue leisure suits and women wearing puffy sleeved maxi dresses. Ah, the 70s. Their big hit was titled, “God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It For Me”. Pretty good theology.

Going back farther, in the 1700s, a song was published by an anonymous lyricist identified only as “K”. Pastor John Rippon included it in a compilation of hymns he put together for his church. “K”, whoever you are, thanks for writing such masterful words.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

What more can He say than to you He has said?
He said it, I believe it.

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “S” is SAID.

R is for Ran

There is a lot of running in the Old Testament.

Abraham ran. (Gen. 18:7)
Rebekah ran. (Gen. 24:20)
Esau ran. (Gen. 33:4)
Joseph ran. (Gen. 39:12)
Moses ran. (Ex. 4:3)
Aaron ran. (Num. 16:47)
Samuel ran. (1 Sam. 3:5)
David ran. (1 Sam. 17:48)
Elijah ran. (1 Kings 19:3)
Jonah ran. (Jon. 1:3)

In the New Testament, there’s more running.
Mostly to Jesus.
The demon-possessed man ran to Jesus. (Mark 5:6)
People who needed healing ran to Jesus. (Mark 6:55)
Large crowds ran to Jesus. (Mark 9:15)
A rich young man ran to Jesus. (Mark 10:17)
Zacchaeus ran to see Jesus. (Luke 19:4)

Once, Jesus told a story about running.
Only this time, God the Father was the Runner.
“But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him
and was filled with compassion for him;
he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Luke 15:20

My favorite verse about running is in John’s Gospel. Mary had gone to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran to where Peter and the disciples were hiding out and told them.

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. John 20:3-4

They ran.
(John, the “other disciple”, pointed out who won the race. Really, John?)

peter

We’re supposed to run, too.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Heb. 12:1
Not stroll, not strut, not saunter — run!
So we can say someday,
“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”
1 Tim.4:7

running

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “R” is RAN.

P is for Paul

Although I’ve chosen a proper noun for my favorite word that starts with “P”, I’m well within the bounds of the rules I set for myself. (Use only small words, 4 letters or less.)

“What’s the big deal with all these rules?” you say.
Well, the Apostle Paul and I are both #1s on the Enneagram scale.
We like rules.
We like to make the rules.
We like to obey the rules.
We like to make sure everyone else obeys the rules.

rules

Paul is my Bible Buddy.

Before he was Apostle Paul he was Pharisee Paul, a devotee to all things rules and laws. So much so, in fact, that he set out to arrest, imprison and seek the death sentence for all rule-breakers. In Acts 8:1, we see Paul’s dark side as he gave approval to the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Characteristics of unhealthy Ones:

  • Highly critical, both of self and of others
  • Picky, judgmental, perfectionistic
  • Self-righteous, intolerant, inflexible
  • Corrects others, badgering them to do the “right thing”
  • Is the only one who knows what the “right thing” is

But then Paul met Jesus and God began the transforming work of bringing health into his personality. God redeemed Paul’s temperament and used him to carry the gospel to the Gentile world. The man who was determined to destroy the church became the man who built it.

Characteristics of healthy Ones:

  • Inspiring, hopeful and wise
  • Conscientious with strong personal convictions
  • Fair, objective, and ethical
  • Values truth and justice
  • Self-disciplined, mature and moderate in all things

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I have been known to go into a business to inform them that a word is spelled wrong on their sign. Sometimes I correct PB when he puts the silverware in the dishwasher the wrong way. I shake my head at those who fold towels improperly. And I refold them. So far, I haven’t made any citizen’s arrests or breathed any murderous threats (Acts 9:1).

God is still at work in me,
transforming my not-so-healthy side of my personality
into a more grace-filled person, both toward myself and others.
Me, Mary Poppins and Paul.

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “P” is PAUL.

O is for O

Not many letters get to be words.
I can only think of three: A, I, and O.
As in, “O Lord, I have a problem.”

O!

We usually write this word with an “h” (oh!) but it means the same thing with or without the “h”. The original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek don’t include the word “O”, but there are markings in the text that indicate intense emotion, which translators express as “O”.

Every time you come across an “O” in your Bible reading, give your voice a little oomph, a small burst of energy, a bit of zing. The Holy scriptures are not monotone. They are full of power and life, so read them with zest and zeal. Especially the “O”s.

It can mean awestruck wonder.
O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Ps. 8:1

It can mean spirited approval.
O Lord my God, you are very great.” Ps. 104:1

It can mean desperation.
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Ps. 13:1

It can mean urgency.
“Arise, O Lord, in your anger.” Ps. 7:6

It can mean exasperation.
“Answer me when I call to you, O God.” Ps. 4:1

It can mean joy.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul.” Ps. 146:1

Jesus said it.
“Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Matt. 8:26

Paul said it.
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Cor. 15:55

The angels in heaven say it.
“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was.” Rev. 16:5

Oh, such a versatile little word that packs a punch with just a breath!
My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “O” is “O”.

N is for Now

How frustrating it was as a kid to hear,
“Maybe later, but not now.”
When was “later” going to arrive, exactly?
Did “maybe” mean “probably not gonna happen”?

How thrilling it was as a kid to hear,
“I have time right now. Let’s play!”

Now.

It’s a short word that packs a punch.
It appears in over 1200 verses in the Bible (NIV).
But Romans 8:1 is my favorite.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.

What would that verse sound like without this powerhouse syllable?
“Therefore, there is * no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When, exactly? Maybe later? What about now?
See? Aren’t you glad there is no condemnation NOW?

now

Perhaps you remember my favorite word that starts with “B”.
Team that word up with this one and you’ve got a potent duo.

“Once you were alienated from God,
BUT NOW he has reconciled you…”
Colossians 1:21-22

“Once you were not a people,
BUT NOW you are the people of God.”
1 Peter 2:10

“I was blind,
BUT NOW I see.”
John 9:25

“For this son of mine was dead,
BUT NOW he is alive;
he was lost,
BUT NOW he has been found.”
Luke 15:24

It has been said that we live between the “already” and the “not yet”. The Kingdom of God has come in Jesus, but the complete fulfillment of the Kingdom is still in the future.

John said it like this,
“Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared.”
1 John 3:2
Now and not yet.

How thrilling it will be to witness the moment the God of the universe says,
“NOW!”.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thess. 4:16-17

Not maybe.
Not probably.
Not now.
But soon.

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