“PATH” – The Word for Tuesday, February, 24, 2015

It occurs in the New Living Translation (NLT) Bible 94 times.

In Proverbs 3:6, Solomon advises his child, “Seek (the LORD’s) will in all you do, and he will show you which “PATH” (my emphasis) to take.” NLT

So many “PATH(S)” which could be taken.  Like with a maze.

Perhaps you’ve been in one.  More likely, you’ve seen one on a piece of paper.

You’ve taken a pen or pencil (the latter’s the better choice), entered the maze at its lone entry point, and then sought to find the one and only one “PATH” to take that will result in your getting to the center of the maze, or else through it and out of it at the one exit point.

It’s not easy to solve this type of maze, but at least you have the advantage, so to speak, of looking down at it from above.

It’s far more difficult to be standing on the edge of a maze, and immediately upon entering it, to be facing multiple choices as to which way to go, with only one “PATH” achieving the desired outcome.

Seek God’s will in all you do, says Solomon, and God will show you which “PATH” to take.

I confess I’m not sure how easy it is to follow Solomon’s recommendation, nor how clear will be the path God shows us if we’re able to follow that recommendation.

But, as now I think of it, it needn’t be like a maze to get to God.

Jesus says he’s the way – the only way – to God (John 14:6).

The way.  The “PATH.”  Jesus.

Follow Jesus.  Stick with him.

He won’t take you down the wrong “PATH.

“COVENANT” – The Word for Monday, February 23, 2015

It surprises me to learn that this word appears 331 times in the New Living Translation Bible.

It occurs seven times in a nine verse stretch in Genesis 9, the first being, God speaking to Noah and Noah’s sons, “‘Look, … I am now going to make a pact, a special “COVENANT, (my emphasis) with you and all your descendants.  As part of this “COVENANT,I promise you I will never again wipe out all living flesh by means of flooding waters.  Never again will a flood destroy the earth.'” Genesis 9:9, 11; The Voice Bible

I’m beginning to wonder if, quite stupidly, I’ve misinformed people about the word’s meaning.

What I now think I understand  “COVENANT” to mean (possibly incorrectly) is this.

Two parties enter into a “COVENANT, each party stating (promising? guaranteeing?) what they will or won’t do.

What each party states they’ll do or not do is IN NO WAY dependent or conditional upon what the other party says they will do or not do.

As one example of what I believe a “COVENANT” is and is not (and is broken), it’s NOT, “I’ll love you, if you’ll love me.”  It’s simply, “I’ll love you.”

Should two persons each say to one another, “I’ll love you,” and then either one or both of them not actually love the other, the “COVENANT” is broken.

Going one step further, if one of the two persons who has said they would love the other stop doing so, the unloved person need not also not love the other person.  But, even if the unloved person continues to love the other, the “COVENANT” has nonetheless been broken by the unloving person.

I firmly each of us should be “COVENANT” makers with other persons, and not “COVENANT” breakers.

If what I’ve written here has only served to confuse you, rather than clarify for you, the meaning of “COVENANT, I apologize.  That has NOT been my goal.

“CELEBRATE!” (it seems to me the word demands an “!”) – The Word for Sunday, February 22, 2015

It (minus the exclamation point) appears in the New Living Translation Bible 80 times.  There are only eight occurrences of it in the New Testament, and three of those are in a 10 verse stretch in the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32.

The son had been disrespectful toward his Dad, wanting when he wanted it the inheritance that would be due him on his Dad’s death.  Dad had given it to him.

The son went way away, partied, and went through all of the money.

He had to exist in the mess he’d made.

Ultimately, he decided to return to his Dad, apologize, and ask to be treated like one of Dad’s servants.

But Dad wouldn’t hear of it, and instead told those servants , “‘Let’s have a feast and “CELEBRATE!” (my emphasis), because my son was dead and is alive again.  He was lost and has been found.’  So they had this huge party.” Luke 15:23b-24, The Voice Bible

We (people in general, and more specifically, congregations), I believe, would do well to search for people or occasions  to “CELEBRATE!”, and then to “CELEBRATE!” them.

It would necessarily require a “huge party.”

Perhaps it would be as simple as singing “Happy Birthday.”

Or, it could be a fairly well-planned and involved recognition of a congregation’s presence in their community for 175 years.

Opportunities to “CELEBRATE!” may well be limitless!

Thinking of a couple “CELEBRAT(IONS)” I’ve attended in the last year, I see several common elements.  Positively-thinking people, food, music, speeches (perhaps the shorter the better!).

Let’s try it!  We wouldn’t necessarily need all of the above “CELBRAT(ION)” components.

We could call it, “Search for and “CELEBRATE!”

May we not miss many, or maybe even any, people or occasions to “CELEBRATE!”

The person most important to “CELEBRATE!”?

In the lyrics to a song, “CELEBRATE, JESUS, CELEBRATE!”

“JOY” – The Word for Saturday, February 21, 2015

It occurs 271 times in the New Living Translation Bible.

Hebrews 12:2b (NIV), referring to Jesus, says, “For the ‘JOY’ (my emphasis) set before him he endured the cross, scorning it shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Some would say that Jesus was a different – even a weird – dude.

We can and should be thankful that his life on earth could prompt such a description of him.

But Jesus was neither so different, nor so weird, that he (EN)”JOY”(ED) the cross.  The verse quoted above states he endured it – not that he (EN)”JOY”(ED) it.

He would have been glad to have avoided it.

That’s what his prayer in Gethsemane (which he prayed three times in rather rapid succession) is all about.  See Matthew 26:36-46.

But when his Father made it clear to Jesus that his will for Jesus included death on the cross, Jesus acquiesced.

Beyond that, Jesus carried the cross, and experienced both the pain that went with being nailed to and suspended on it, and the shame of it.

He suffered on the cross.  He died on the cross.

For you.  For me.

That Jesus would do that for us is definitely, decidedly, different.  It is, truly, wonderfully, wackily, weird.

Thanks be to God, that is who Jesus is, based on what he has done.

But, how does Jesus manage to derive ANY “JOY” from THAT??

Here’s an offering of three possible answers.

No.  Three actual questions.

1) Might there be “JOY” for Jesus in doing as his Father willed?

2) Might there be “JOY” for Jesus in making it possible for all persons of all time (we’re in there, folks) to be saved from eternal separation from God because of their sins?

3) Might there be “JOY” for Jesus in sitting down, in heaven, at the right hand of throne of God, with his Father occupying the throne?

On Jesus arrival in heaven, and his sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God, with his Father occupying the throne, might the Father have said to Jesus, “Well done, my good and faithful Son.”

And if God so complimented Jesus, might there be “JOY” for Jesus in hearing those words?

“ALONE” – The Word for Friday, February 20, 2015

“ALONE” appears 192 times in the New Living Translation Bible.

Falling asleep, and staying asleep, were problematic for me a number of years ago.  They probably would still be so today, were it not for a medication I take at bedtime (that medication is so effective that I’d go on TV to advertise it, but, I have a face more suited for radio).

B.M. (before medication), I memorized Psalm 4:8, which is a short prayer – “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you “ALONE” (my emphasis), LORD, make me dwell in safety.” NIV

“ALONE” can mean “isolated.”  I recall a rather sad, secular song lyric, “I’m by myself, ‘ALONE’.

That’s not the meaning “ALONE” has in Psalm 4:8, however.  There, it means “incomparable.”  As in, “No one but you, LORD, can make me dwell in safety.”  Or, “Only you, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

Note that within “ALONE” is “ONE.”

God is truly “‘ONE’ of a kind.”  “‘ONE’ of a kind” among gods, and “‘ONE’ of a kind,” PERIOD.

I formerly sang in a praise band.  One of the songs we did began with this question and answer – “Who is like the Lord?  There is ‘NO ONE.'”

You are not like the Lord.  I am not like the Lord.  No on is like the Lord, who “ALONE” is the Lord.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5a, NIV).  Don’t trust in your own judgment, nor rely on your own intelligence, nor in the judgment or intelligence of anyone else who presently has skin on them.

A very liberal paraphrase of Philippians 4:6-7 could be, “DON’T sweat in either small or big ways ‘stuff’ that is either big or small.  DO take all ‘stuff’ to the Lord in prayer.  And then, you’ll have God’s peace guarding your mind.  You won’t be able to understand it, because its the peace that God “ALONE” gives.”

It will be a lot like being able to “(i)n peace … lie down and sleep, for (God) ALONE’ (is able to) make (you) dwell in safety.”

That particular, peculiar peace.  In God “ALONE” is it yours, and mine.

It is.

“LOOK” – The Word for Thursday, February 19, 2015

MAYBE I learned something from yesterday’s post.

“LOOK” appears in the New Living Translation Bible 421 times.

“Simon (Peter) and his companions went to “LOOK” (my emphasis) for him (Jesus), ….”  Mark 1:36, NIV

The next verse indicates they found him.

How about you?

Are you “LOOK(ING)” for Jesus?

He is around to be found.  There is never a time when he’s not.

He told his disciples, “… surely, I am with you always, ….”  Matthew 28:20, NIV

But, that fact might cause one to “(OVER)LOOK” him – to be so accustomed to his presence as to forget about it, or him. Which wouldn’t be a good thing.

It’s also possible to “(UNDER)LOOK” Jesus.  That word is in the Terry Kelly Dictionary, First (and Last) Edition.

The definition?  “To merely go through the motions of searching for something, while at the same time saying, ‘Well, maybe it’s here, but it certainly isn’t biting me, nor even jumping out at me.”  Don’t be like THIS Rob Lowe/Terry Kelly (which, by the way, is the first time those two names have ever been used in ANY proximity to each other, Rob not having the good fortune to in any way bear resemblance to me).

Vigilantly, determinedly, deliberately, intentionally, continually.  Those are just a few words that describe how we are to “LOOK” for Jesus.

And, places other than “with you always” that you can find him?

In the Bible (one Bible teacher has even said you can find Jesus on every page of the OLD Testament!).  In God’s magnificent creation (see John 1:1-3).  In other people.

And, will other people find Jesus, when they “LOOK” at you, and at me.

May it be so.