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The LORD Yahweh is Our Good Shepherd

My last blog post was in June, so I decided it was time to write a new post. Typing is a challenge right now, using mostly one hand because my right hand is in a wrist brace with thumb splint, but here this goes. This is a short post I wrote this morning on one of the most familiar passages in the Old Testament.

The LORD Yahweh is Our Good Shepherd

This familiar psalm teaches us so much about our Good Shepherd. I used Psalm 23 in the New English Version this morning to gain a fuller understanding of what it means when we use the name of Yahweh Rohi, meaning the Lord my shepherd. (Numbers correspond to verse numbers)

  1. As my Shepherd, He provides for ALL my needs
  2. He meets my PHYSICAL needs.
  3. He meets my SPIRITUAL needs.
  4. He is WITH ME in the darkest valley.
  5. He has a SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with me, even in plain sight of my enemies. My cup is completely full.
  6. His “hesed” – His GOODNESS and FAITHFULNESS – will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live with Him forever.

“Hesed” describes the covenant relationship Yahweh has with His children. This Hebrew word has no one English word that even comes close to it’s full meaning. Other Bible versions translate it LOVINGKINDNESS, UNFAILING LOVE, and STEADFAST LOVE. It also conveys the meaning of DEVOTION and LOYALTY.

Take some time today to thank Yahweh Rohi for all He is and does for us. Another good Scripture to study is John 10: 1-18, which gives us an extended picture of Yahweh Rohi through the life of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Prepare the Way for His Coming

People get greedy, grabby, and grumpy at Christmastime. We’re greedy when we obsess over excess while others go without basic needs. We’re grabby when we insist on drawing attention to ourselves when the glory belongs to God alone. And we’re grumpy when we forget that our worst day is often a thousand times better than most people’s good days. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves over-indulging, over-spending, and over-committing, none of which are healthy, helpful, or healing in any way for us or others.

This quote from a YouVersion Bible devotional based on Susie Larson’s new book Prepare Him Room: A Daily Advent Devotional, stood out to me this morning. Christmas is a time when we need to guard our attitudes, especially when our circumstances are less than ideal. The weeks of Advent are a time to prepare our hearts for Christmas, the celebration of His first coming.

This Christmas is an unusual one for our family. It’s a season I’ve looked forward to, fully expecting we would be settled in our new home and decorating for the holidays as part of the process of setting things up.

But that’s not how things turned out. Hours before we were to close on the sale of our new home, the buyers backed out. Because of this, the family we had planned to buy from had to put the property back on sale. This Christmas, another family is living in the house we had fully expected to be ours.

God pushed the “pause button” on our plans, and as a result our Christmas plans were changed. Even decorating our house for Christmas underwent change, since every open space is filled with boxes we had packed before our plans changed. Decoration had to be minimal, with a tabletop tree to bring some color and our manger scene to help us remember the reason for the season.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the first coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This season is a reminder that we are never alone, that Jesus came to be Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus came to bring light to our darkness. He came to die as the Lamb of God, paying the price for our sins. And now He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. His love is constant. And we are never alone, no matter what circumstances we may be facing.

Advent is a time for heart preparation. Many of my readers deal with the daily challenges of chronic illness, and when you add other undesired circumstances having a right attitude doesn’t come naturally. I think that’s why this devotional really touched my heart. I needed to make a choice to face this holiday season with an attitude of gratitude instead of grumbling, a time of giving thanks for the good things we are partaking of in the midst of less than desired circumstances.

Even as John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming, let’s prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is a time of remembering the first coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We prepare our hearts by choosing an attitude that reflects the One whose birth we are celebrating. Let’s make room for Him to work in our lives, humbling ourselves and allowing Him to continue the good work He has begun in us.

A song to remind us to prepare the way for His coming:

https://youtu.be/HQpLH9BGC8I

Faithful Heralds For Our King

Have you ever watched the White House Press Secretary give a speech? Whether you were watching President Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany or President Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki, you were hearing from the official spokesperson of the United States government and especially the President.

We have been called to be spokespersons for Christ Jesus. Just as current press secretary Jen Psaki doesn’t speak for herself but is a clear and unquestionable voice for the United States government, we are to be a herald for the desires, dictates and orders of the One we represent. To empower us to do that, we have been given direct access to the King Who reigns over the Kingdom of God.

This is the meaning of the Great Commission Jesus gave His followers before He ascended back to heaven. As followers of our Savior and Lord, we are called to be spokepersons for the King of kings and Lord of lords. How are you doing in fulfilling this job description?

We aren’t all called to be preachers, but every believer in Christ Jesus is called to openly proclain the gospel with a clear and unquestionable voice. Proclaiming His desires, dictates and orders, even in a world that is rejecting our message more and more, is our responsibility.

Realizing the Brevity of Life

During the month of July, I have been reading through the books of Psalms and Proverbs, and this morning’s reading included Psalm 90. I’ve been using the New Living Translation to get a fresh view of these Scriptures that I’ve read hundreds of times in the around fifty years that I’ve been a Christian.

Psalm 90 is the oldest of the Psalms. It was written by Moses, in the form of a prayer, and entitled From Everlasting to Everlasting. The first verses focus on the eternal nature of our God.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm‬ ‭90:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Moses starts with a reminder that no matter what circumstances we face, we have a safe dwelling place in the Lord. The New Living Translation calls it a home. In Him we have shelter and protection from danger or distress. The Creator of the earth and heavens calls us to come to Him and be secure.

The next verses are Moses prayer of lament over the brevity of life and the judgment of sins. This section ends with a reminder that our “secret sins” are not a secret to God.

“You spread out our sins before you— our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan.” Psalm 90:8-9 NLT

‭‭Then we come to the two verses that jumped out at me as I was reading them this morning.

“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away… Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm‬ ‭90:10, 12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Seventy years are given to us!” These are the words that seemed to jump off the page as I was reading this morning. And before I looked forward, the words “teach us to number our days” came to mind. I was surprised to see that this truth was only two verses ahead. Because of the brevity of life, and the fact that I turned seventy-two in February, the thought came that I am “living on borrowed time.” The time when I will “fly away” to be in the presence of the Lord could be any time.

Remembering how fragile our life on earth is a good reminder to appreciate the years and months and even the days I still have to complete the purposes of God for my life. I need to value every moment and live wisely and with purpose. Time is short, so I need to live with a sense of urgency, seeking God’s wisdom for each day’s tasks.

At age seventy-two, I’m well aware of the brevity of life. As I read these verses, 2 Corinthians 4:16 came to mind. It begins with a reminder not to lose heart when our outer self, our physical bodies, begin wasting away. In my own life, over the last year I’ve seen the cartilage in my knees waste away so that my knees are now basically bone on bone. How do we not lose heart in this situation? The key is remembering this life is not all there is.

Living with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and an endless list of other infirmities, as many of you who read my blog do, is living with watching your bodies slowly waste away. But the good news is that’s not where the Apostle Paul ended this verse. He added the encouragement that our inner self is being renewed day by day.

If you are a Christian, one who has been forgiven and who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, your inner self is renewed as you spend time in God’s life-giving presence. Colossians 3:10 (ESV) says we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Through prayer and reading the Bible, God’s written Word, your inner self, the part of you that was made for eternity, is being renewed daily by the Holy Spirit.

No matter how many years you have left on this earth, they are a brief moment compared to eternity. Don’t despair when you see your outer self wasting away. Instead, turn your focus on renewing your inner self and on doing the things that will count for eternity.

Look for Christ and You Will Find Him!

When the month of July rolled around, I turned the page on the Pathways calendar in my bedroom, but didn’t pay much attention to the message on this month’s page. This calendar has had encouraging quotes by Christian writers, so today I decided to check out this month’s message. Here is what I found.

“Look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else.” – C. S. Lewis

As I read these words, the cry of my heart was to look for Christ in all the difficulties we have walked through for the last few months. Where is Christ in the midst of all the uncertainties of this world-wide pandemic? Where is Christ during this time when our Christian freedoms are being threatened? Where is Christ in the financial difficulties that we face as a result of shutting down our economy? Where is Christ in the midst of the civil unrest in our nation? Where is Christ in this chaos that has become a part of our daily lives?

As I contemplated these questions, one answer came to mind. Christ is in His people. If you are a believer in Christ, the Spirit of Christ, also known as the Holy Spirit, lives within you.

You may feel alone in this situation. But if your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), the truth is you are never completely alone. Through His Spirit, we are strengthened and empowered to be His hands and feet to those around us. We are encircled by His love – yes, Paul told us in Ephesians that we KNOW the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

  • For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

The Spirit of Christ is also available to direct our path, to tell us where to go and where not to go.

  • And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Acts 16:6-7 ESV

And if we find ourselves in a situation we can find no way out of, He is able to deliver us.

  • What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,” Philippians 1:18-19

And finally, if we feel lonely during this season on “social distancing” we can be confident that Jesus Christ doesn’t practice social distancing. He is always as close as our breath. And the writer of Hebrews promises that He will never leave or forsake us.

  • Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'”Hebrews‬ ‭13:5-6‬ ‭

So the next time you look for Christ, take a look at your brothers and sisters whom you’ve been meeting across a Zoom screen during this season when we haven’t been able to gather in person. And take a look in your mirror. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus during this difficult time, as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, works through us to touch others. How are you doing that in the place where Jesus currently has you? And how have others been Christ for you during this difficult season?

I want to close with a short prayer that I heard this morning, from Pastor Chris Shook of Church of the Woodlands in the Houston area. I’ve been watching her encouraging morning devotions, and her prayer this morning fits perfectly with this post.

“Lord, fill me up with You, so I can pour Your presence out on others.” Amen!

Bringing Calm to Unrest

Last Thursday, I was encouraged when my husband Mitch and I were finally able to have lunch together at one of our favorite restaurants. After months of isolation due to COVID-19, things were finally starting to look up. Stores and restaurants were gradually opening back up, still with the need to maintain social distancing, but it felt like things had turned a corner. Our church was even planning in-person services on Sunday, and though we had decided to wait a few more weeks before going back, things were finally starting to look hopeful.

Then, as we left the restaurant to take a package to UPS, we turned on the radio and listened to the news. The heartbreaking story of the senseless death of George Floyd was the top story. We expected there to be some protests about this situation, but we really didn’t know what was ahead. What started as a peaceful protest of the injustice was quickly hijacked by violent external groups bent on destruction and mayhem.

Another truth is equally important in this situation. Ephesians 6 reminds us that our battle isn’t just with flesh and blood. Yes, there are people involved whose desire is to fan the embers of hatred into a raging fire. But behind them there are spiritual forces in control. Walking in this understanding and responding in love and prayer can bring healing to a horrible situation.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Yes, the United States is in turmoil right now, but as Christians we can help to bring the presence of the Prince of Peace into the unrest. Let’s reach out to our black brothers and sisters and support them through this time. And let’s pray for all those affected by this travesty.

Remember, the Light of Christ can overcome the darkness, the Love of Christ can replace hatred. Though prayer, we can come against the spiritual forces that are behind this situation. And we can run to the Lord, our strong tower, and find in Him a place of safety.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

Living For Eternity

SOMETIMES LIFE HURTS. That’s definitely been true in my life during the last fourteen months. First, we lost our special-needs son David, then I found myself dealing with a long list of new health issues that seemed to have no simple solutions. During such times, it’s easy to become disheartened.

As I was praying this morning about this Wednesday’s RECLAIMING YOUR LIFE post, one of the first books we studied in God-Living Girls came to mind. Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts, is the life story of Sara Frankl, co-written by Mary Carver.

Sara Frankl knew what it was to live with chronic pain. As a young woman, she was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disease and form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine but can also attack other joints. As Sara’s disease progressed it became clear that her health was not going to get better.

The pain and loss could have easily become Sara’s primary focus, but she decided this wasn’t how she wanted to live. Sara chose to place her trust in a God Who is good all the time and to find hope and purpose in the midst of the pain. She chose joy, not happiness which she described as being “flimsy as a shirt blowing on a line in the breeze.” She chose “true heart joy, which sustains through obstacles, disease, death.” She lived with an “unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it.” 

Sara lived with relentless pain, but she chose to focus on the blessings instead of the burdens. She believed God had a purpose for her illness or He would have taken it away. And she accepted God’s plan, though it was difficult, and focused on what God wanted to do through her life. She wrote, “It’s not about me; it’s about what He can do with me. My job is simply to pay attention and enjoy the rainbows.”

Sara made it her goal to live the best life she could with what she had been given. She knew it wouldn’t be the life she had expected to live before this disease touched her life, but accepted it as the one God meant for her to live. Though Sara may never have used the term RECLAIMING YOUR LIFE, that’s how she lived.

Sara Frankl came up with six life goals which she wrote on her wall. They were a constant reminder of what was most important to her and they became the motivation for every choice she made.

As we focus this year on reclaiming what chronic illness has stolen from our lives, I felt Sara’s Life Goals would be a good launching pad for each of us to come up with our own life goals as we press on to live in the fullness of what God has in mind for our lives. The following verses encourage us to forget what is behind and press on toward fulfilling the goals God has set before us.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Sara’s Life Goals:

  1. To not be ashamed to stand before God.
  2. To fulfill God’s plan by living the best life I can live with what I am given.
  3. To be aware and present in every moment.
  4. To love what I have, not yearn for what I lack.
  5. To spread the Joy, not the fear.
  6. To be intentional in all things.

Now, it’s your turn. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you will one day stand in His presence. Let’s look beyond our earthly desires for a while and focus on eternity. What are the goals you hope to fulfill before you see Jesus face-to-face? What principles do you go back to over and over again to guide your decisions? Share some of your personal life goals with us in the comments.

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Quieting the Clamor in Our Minds

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like your circumstances are shouting so loudly and with such insistence that it’s difficult to hear anything else? How do you quiet your mind during times of increased pain so that you are able to hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice? This is the subject I felt the Lord wanted us to consider this week, as I was praying for direction for today’s Teach Me Tuesday post.

This last month has been unusually difficult for me. First, I noticed my left knee was hurting so badly that just making it from my bedroom to the living room caused severe pain and swelling. This was a drastic change, after several months of increasing my walking to the point where I was able to manage thirty minutes of walking most days with little pain. Then a couple days later, I added new symptoms, this time with my digestive system. And the process of trying to get some answers concerning what was going on began. After a doctor’s visit, lab work and several x-rays of my knee, I still don’t know much more than I did before I saw my doctor. More tests are being scheduled, but how do I stay where I need to be in my relationship with the Lord during this time of waiting.

I’m not sharing this so you will feel sorry for me. Since my writing ministry focuses on helping those who deal with the daily challenges of living with chronic illness, I know many of you understand the frustration I’m currently dealing with. So for today’s post, the question on my heart is an important one: how do we live with such physical and medical challenges and still quiet the clamor in our minds so that we can hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice and come out of our times in His presence strengthened to face another day?

Personally, I hear God’s voice best when I’m taking time to read and study His Word. Some days, the distractions may mean I can only read a few verses, but I’ve learned to pick up my study Bible or Bible app and my current journal and turn the passage I’m reading into a prayer. This morning I did that with Psalm 23, a passage most of us are very familiar with, but by the time I finished those few verses and read some verses listed as cross references I was strengthened to face another day.

I was reassured that the Lord is my Good Shepherd, and He will meet all my needs. With Him, I will lack no good thing (Psalm 34:9,10). I prayed for the Lord to lead me to restful waters, even in the midst of these new health problems. I thanked the Lord that we are now through the valley of the shadow of death that we entered last November when our precious David graduated to his heavenly home, even though we still miss him daily, moving forward into the next things He has for us to do. I asked Him to continue to lead us into the new things He has for our family. Reflecting on His help during this time of loss encouraged me to trust He will also be with me as I walk through this time of unknowns. And I rejoiced that His rod and staff remind me He has been with me and will continue to be with me regardless of what lies ahead of us. And I closed my time with a prayer of gratefulness that His goodness and mercy will follow me all the remaining days of my life on this earth, and then I will dwell with Him for eternity. I left my quiet time with the quiet assurance that I had heard God’s voice and was ready to move forward.

On this Teach Me Tuesday, let’s share some ways we have learned to quiet the clamour of our minds caused by difficult circumstances and daily life with chronic illness. How have you learned to quiet your mind during the painful times of life, to shut out the distractions so that you are able to hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice?

Bringing Down the Walls

Have you ever faced a set of circumstances that you honestly could see no way out of? Our family has faced a series of seemingly impossible circumstances in recent years, including an unexpected property tax bill we had no way to pay, a lack of transportation we had no solution for, and a reduction of income after losing our son last November that made it appear we would be a facing a deficit in money to cover our monthly bills. In each of these situations, God has made a way where we could not see a way. And God also has the answer for any insurmountable situation you may be facing.

When I opened a devotional I receive in my daily email Monday morning, ready to begin my morning quiet time, the Scripture was from Hebrews‬ ‭11:30.‬ It read, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” But as soon as I read the verse, I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart that faith – the subject of the devotional – was only one of the requirements for bringing down the walls of Jericho. Yes, faith is important, but alone it won’t do the job. So before actually reading what the author of the devotional had to say, I took some time to look back at Joshua 6, where this story is recorded in detail.

This account of the fall of Jericho begins with these words:

“Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.’” Joshua‬ ‭6:1-2‬ ‭(ESV)

With the city “shut up inside and outside” there was no way for Israel to get into the city of Jericho, definitely not to take the land that God was calling them to take. The huge city gates had been sealed shut, and no one could enter or leave the heavily fortified walled city. Joshua and the people he was leading had an insurmountable problem that was beyond their ability to resolve.

The stories recorded in the Old Testament are more than bedtime stories to share with our children. They are true stories that were written for our instruction, to give us hope when we face circumstances we can see no way out of. As Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

If you haven’t read Joshua 6 for a while, I encourage you to take time now to pick up your Bible or open your Bible app to do so. As you read Joshua 6, look for the specific instructions the Lord gave Joshua, and be alert to any information given about his and the people’s response. Then come back and finish today’s Teaching Tuesday post.

So what was the Lord wanting us to learn from this rather bizarre battle story? I saw at least five important lessons we need to heed when we face situations we can see no logical way of.

  1. The first truth that stood out to me is that God’s ways are not like our ways. As Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” If I were coming up with a battle plan to breach an immovable wall, I don’t think it would include marching around the wall daily for six days and then seven times on the seventh day. If doubt my “weapon” of choice would be trumpets made from rams’ horns or late shouting at a pre-arranged time. How about you? But if God’s ways are not our ways, we need to be sure we are trusting in the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
  2. The second lesson that stands out to me is when faced with impossible circumstances, Joshua listened to all of God’s instructions. God could have just given him the instructions day by day, as He sometimes does, but in this case He gave the entire battle plan before the implementation of it began. Joshua didn’t jump ahead of God. He listened to God’s full plan before he took the first step.
  3. Third, Joshua and the men he was leading followed the Lord’s instructions to completion. God could have brought down the wall in one day or even one hour, but that wasn’t His plan. He gave Joshua a detailed battle plan and Joshua led the people in following it exactly as it was given. Obedience was a key to the victory that was to follow. Genuine faith in God is shown by doing what He has told u to do. As it says in James 2:26, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
  4. Another truth I saw as I read this chapter is that God didn’t just give Israel His battle instructions and then leave. Behind the men of war (who were armed but not instructed to use their arms to bring down the wall), there were to be seven priests carrying seven trumpets made of rams horns. And after the trumpet bearers, the processional ended with some Levites (probably four, though the number isn’t included here) carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The significance of this is that the Ark was God’s dwelling place on earth – they took God with them as they were following these unusual battle plans.
  5. Finally, Joshua and the men of Israel did not bring down the wall. God did! He alone has the power to bring down the walls that are holding us back from fulfilling His purposes. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:57, God is the One who gives victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

‭‭I don’t know if you are currently facing a situation in your life that looks insurmountable, but if you are I encourage you to take these five lessons from the story of Jericho’s walls coming down and apply them to what you’re facing. Remember, our God is still in control, and He has the power to bring us to victory. Seek His face, listen for His instructions, and walk in full obedience as you trust in Him to do the work only He can do.

Receiving the Word of God with Meekness

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:19-22 (ESV)

How we approach the Word of God is vitally important! Just opening our Bible isn’t enough. When we approach the truths of God’s Word, the above verses teach that we are to do so with an attitude of meekness.

Meekness is a word greatly misunderstood in our society, where it is often equated to weakness or deficiency in spirit and courage. Because of this misconception, in most modern versions of the Bible, the Greek word the New Testament uses for meekness is usually translated gentleness. The above passage is one of the few where meekness is used – frankly because “gentleness” would make no sense in James 1:21. Other versions translate the Greek word as “in humility” or “humbly,” which is a characteristic of those who are meek but actually misses the full meaning of the word.

The Greek word “prautes,” as it is used in the Bible, is the condition of heart and mind with which we are to approach God and His Word.

  • Meekness is the way Jesus lived while He was on earth, always following the instructions the Father gave Him. “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.” (John‬ ‭12:49‬) ‭‬‬
  • Meekness is a characteristic Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew‬ ‭5:5‬)
  • Meekness is one of the attributes Paul encourages us to put on as God’s people. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” (Colossians‬ ‭3:12‬)

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, one of my favorite Bible study tools, defines meekness as “an inwrought grace of the soul” – in other words, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23, translated “gentleness” but the same Greek word) – that is exercised first and foremost towards God. Vines goes on to say, “It is that temper of spirit with which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the author of a recent study our God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness group did on Choosing Gratitude, contrasts meekness and pride using the the following words.

You see, meekness says, ‘I know that God has His reasons, and it doesn’t matter whether I can see the reason or not.’ But the proud heart, the poisoned heart, says, ‘It should have been done differently. I see no reason for this; therefore, God should not have done this.’

She adds about meekness as our attitude toward God’s Word, “It’s able to cleanse us, to renew us, to transform our lives. But it does none of that if we don’t receive it, if we resist what it says, if we don’t have a teachable and humble and open spirit to the Word of God.”

God’s desire is to “implant” the Word of God in our hearts, where it will take root and grow. And for that to happen, we must approach our Bible reading and study time with an attitude of meekness, with a willingness to listen and then do what God is teaching us. Sometimes that means allowing His Word to encourage us during a difficult season, other times it will correct us when we’ve left the path God is calling us to walk, sometimes it will warn us of a danger ahead if we don’t deal with a wrong attitude.