Category Archives: Old Testament

A Book Review:  A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip W. Keller

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller is a beautifully written book with enriching insights into this Old Testament chapter. Using the New International Version, the author takes the six verses in the chapter and describes his “shepherd insights” so his audience can revel in the spiritual truths of seeing the Lord as mankind’s shepherd, restorer of soul, comforter, and more.

Phillip Keller (1920-1997), author of this one-hundred thirty-one-page compact book, gained widespread accolades for his authorship of this book. Being born in East Africa, the son of missionaries, Keller became familiar with the open air, nature, and shepherding. Subsequently, Keller traveled the world as a nature photographer and an expert in the science of soil management and crop production. These life experiences prepared Keller to author this book and his other thirty-five Christian books.

Summary

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is written by someone who valued his early life being raised in the outdoors, while David wrote Psalm 23 when he was fleeing and wandering from place to place to avoid King Saul. David was exposed and defenseless., “Today, this is not the case. Many who either read or study the Scriptures in this twenty-first century come from an urban, manufactured environment. They miss the truth because they are not familiar with such things as sheep, wheat, soil, or grapes.” Keller compares how shepherding sheep calls for attention and care to how he desires man to come under the shepherding of our tender and gentle Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Keller achieves his goal by taking each of the six verses in Psalm 23 and explaining that “One of the outstanding marks of a Christian should be a serene sense of gentle contentment.”

Keller’s purpose is to lead people to transformation and behavior change by yearning for Jesus’ presence in their lives. Like the sheep have their shepherd’s presence, one’s behavior will change to follow Jesus’ will for their life. Transformation is an important goal that Keller wants his audience to understand. He wants the Lord to be our shepherd and live by the Holy Spirit’s direction in our life. Keller shows how this purpose is obtainable by explaining the necessary requirements to lie down and trust the shepherd, Jesus. For example, the book states, “Instead of loving myself most, I am willing to love Christ best and others more than myself” and “Instead of exercising and asserting my will, I am willing to learn to cooperate with His wishes and comply with His will.”

Some will find Keller’s thesis clearly stated at the end of the book, although its presence is noted throughout its twelve chapters. Keller sums up his thesis when he states, “For when all is said and done on the subject of a successful Christian walk, it can be summed up on one general sentence, “Live ever aware of God’s presence” through Keller’s analogies, similes, and metaphors throughout the book—comparing sheep and shepherds to man and Jesus Christ, an accomplished book was birthed.

We see this thesis in many illustrations throughout the book. In Chapter Eight, titled “Your Rod and Your Staff, They Comfort Me,” the shepherd’s staff primarily guides sheep, whereas, in our walk with God, God’s Holy Spirit will guide us to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). Another comparison between the sheep and man can be seen when young David leads his flock of sheep by keeping them safe whereas one’s “Good Shepherd” goes ahead of us, anticipating danger and praying that one might not depart from the Lord or perish.

Keller’s main points that accomplish his thesis and purpose are displayed in each Bible verse he mentions throughout the book. He wonderfully blends the culture of the day within this psalm. The psalm communicates the sheep’s transformation and humanity’s purpose to transform and lie in God’s holy presence.

Critical Evaluation

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 did not explicitly state its purpose and thesis until later in the book. However, it was apparent that the author’s underlying approach was to show a parallel between the shepherds and sheep and man to God while calling for a transformation and life in His presence.

Keller’s claims and arguments are well-supported. One illustration the author used came from Chapter 10 when he talked about how sheep are troubled by nose flies and fly around a sheep’s head, then hatch to form larvae. Eventually, irritation and severe inflammation occur. He proceeds to compare how applying an antidote to their heads changed their behavior upon many applications. In the same way, Keller tells us that we must continually come to Him for our daily anointing of God’s presence. Illustrations like this are a powerful testimony to what is needed to get back on the right and productive track.

The strengths in Keller’s book abound. He was raised in a rural area, a Christian home, contributing to this book’s strength. From the gorgeous cover on the gift edition to the beautiful well-placed photographs in the book to the elegant, simple language used. Keller had a comprehensive view of shepherding as he shepherded a flock for many years. His perspective allowed him to have a unique view on the topic. Another positive in Keller’s book includes insightful Biblical principles from each chapter, which coexists with Keller’s shepherding approach, as shown below.

Chapter 1:      God is our shepherd. One needs to deny themselves and belong to Him.

Chapter 2:      When depending on Christ, contentment comes.

Chapter 3:      By having God in one’s life, behavior changes.

Chapter 4:      Being in Christ’s presence guides life’s directions.

Chapter 5:      God is our shepherd. He knows what He is doing.

Chapter 6:      Willingness to do what God wants is beneficial.

Chapter 7:      Thank God for difficulties in life.

Chapter 8:      Reading the Bible gives spiritual understanding.

Chapter 9:      God knows all our circumstances—good and evil.

Chapter 10:    People should have Christ and the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Chapter 11:    Trust in God’s goodness and mercy.

Chapter 12:    Live in God’s presence.

The disadvantage some see in this book revolves around Keller’s lack of formal education. However, when one reads Acts 4:13, we see how uneducated and untrained men can be used in ministry equally. When the rulers, elders, and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, “they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13 NIV). A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 is read by people from various backgrounds and social statuses. Many proficient authors educate themselves through their life experiences and personal Bible study. Another disadvantage is that Keller does not connect the chapter title with its corresponding Bible verse in the Contents or for each chapter. Additionally, the book could have included both an index and a glossary, which would help the reader.

Conclusion

All people could benefit from this book—those who rejoice in the Lord and those with affliction, Bible teachers, and more. Being so awed by this book, I immediately bought a copy for my friend, who is reading it one chapter at a time, and following up her reading with intentional meditation and contemplation. This is the type of book I would love to read or reread wrapped up in a blanket, on a cold, snowy day, with the fireplace aglow.

I do value this book tremendously. One reason is that I have a blog titled “Greene Pastures” located at GreenePastures.org. There is an “e” at the end of Greene because that is how I spell my last name, plus GreenPastures was already taken as a domain name. Second, I love reading innovative ideas and commentaries. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 falls under that category.

Keller’s writings contain a plethora of common sense and easy-to-understand Biblical principles. I have not read his other books, but I will choose a few to read in the future—The High Cost of Holiness and Elijah: Prophet of Power. Keller is a man who has been used mightily by God to encourage transformation and living in God’s presence. His influence spans the globe, and I wholeheartedly recommend A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.

God Bless.

 Works Cited

Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

Gift Edition

Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family. Comments are lovely to receive. And, if you would like to receive notifications from the Greene Pastures blog, you can subscribe from the subscription block in the upper right-hand corner of this blog.

#bgbg2

Books by Patti Greene (Great for birthday gifts, Mother’s Day, and more)

  

 

Psalms: Genres, Authorship, Themes, Structure, and Chapter Headings

I hate to admit it, but there was a time I was not particularly eager to read the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. I found myself just wanting to be learning something “more substantial and productive.” Fortunately, in time, I saw the benefits of reading this 150-chapter book of the Bible. It came about when I realized I just needed to be still before the Lord, when I needed to rest in Him, and when I needed His presence more deeply in my life. Maybe you are in the same boat, so I want to share some information—yes, to me, important information, that might help you get started. Start with a chapter whose title sounds interesting. Cross them off when you read each one, and then come back and comment if reading this book makes sense to you.

Genres

The chapters in the Book of Psalms include the following number of different genres. The genres in Psalms identify and group the books by the main idea of the psalm. Below you will see how the 150 psalms are categorized by their overall subject matter. Some say the genres are like prayers.

  • Lament  - 59
  • Praise  - 41
  • Hymn  - 17
  • Royal  - 10
  • Wisdom  - 9
  • Thanksgiving  - 8
  • Trust - 6

Authorship

Psalms authorship can be attributed to multiple people.

  • David
  • Asaph
  • Korahites
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Anonymous

Themes

There are multiple themes in the Book of Psalms. The most prominent are listed below.

  • Worship
  • Faith
  • Prayer: Petition
  • Thankfulness
  • God: Providence
  • Righteousness
  • God: Faithfulness
  • God: Love

Structure

Many types of structures consist in Psalms. Here are just a few you might recognize when you read through this mighty book.

  • Strophe-a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line length, especially an ode or free verse poem.
  • Chiasm-a repetition of any group of verse elements (including rhyme and grammatical structure in reverse order.
  • Acrostic-a poem, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.

Chapter Headings

Now, it is time for you to browse through the titles of the psalms. If it helps, print off this list, keep it in your Bible and check off the ones you read. Find ones that interest you first and go from there.

Psalm 1           The Ways of the Righteous and the Wicked

Psalm 2           The Messiah’s Reign

Psalm 3           A Call to Yahweh in Distress

Psalm 4           Safety in Yahweh

Psalm 5           Prayer for Guidance and Protection

Psalm 6           An Appeal for Forgiveness and Deliverance

Psalm 7           Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 8           Yahweh’s Glory in Creation

Psalm 9           Praise for Yahweh’s Justice

Psalm 10         Prayer for God to Throwdown the Wicked

Psalm 11         Confidence in Yahweh’s Righteousness

Psalm 12         Human Faithlessness and God’s Faithfulness

Psalm 13         Trust in the Salvation of Yahweh

Psalm 14         The Folly of the Godless and God’s Final Triumph

Psalm 15         Description of Those Who May Dwell with Yahweh

Psalm 16         Confidence in Yahweh

Psalm 17         Prayer for Vindication and Protection

Psalm 18         Praise to God for His Deliverance

Psalm 19         Yahweh’s Creation and Law

Psalm 20         God’s Blessing on the King

Psalm 21         Joy in the Salvation of Yahweh

Psalm 22         Suffering and Waiting for Deliverance

Psalm 23         Yahweh the Shepherd

Psalm 24         The King of Glory

Psalm 25         A Prayer for Guidance, Deliverance, and Forgiveness

Psalm 26         A Prayer for Vindication

Psalm 27         Declaration of Trust

Psalm 28         Prayer for Help, and Joy in Its Answer

Psalm 29         Praise to God for His Glory and Strength

Psalm 30         Thanksgiving for Answered Prayer

Psalm 31         Yahweh is a Fortress

Psalm 32         Thanksgiving for Forgiveness of Sins

Psalm 33         Praise to Yahweh for His Character and Creation

Psalm 34         Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Deliverance

Psalm 35         Prayer for Rescue from Enemies

Psalm 36         Human Wickedness and God’s Love

Psalm 37         The Protection of the Righteous and the Destruction of the Wicked

Psalm 38         Prayer of Repentance

Psalm 39         The Brevity of Human Life

Psalm 40         God’s Faithfulness and Deliverance

Psalm 41         Thanksgiving for God’s Provision in Time of Sickness

Psalm 42         Hope in God in the Midst of Despair

Psalm 43         Prayer for Rescue

Psalm 44         Present Defeat and Past Deliverance

Psalm 45         Celebration of a Royal Wedding

Psalm 46         God Provides for and Protects His People

Psalm 47         God Is King over All the Earth

Psalm 48         The Greatness of God in Zion

Psalm 49         Wealth and the Fate of the Wicked

Psalm 50         An Oracle Concerning Sacrifices

Psalm 51         Prayer of Repentance and Plea for Mercy

Psalm 52         God’s Judgment on the Wicked and Love for the Faithful

Psalm 53         The Folly of the Godless and Salvation for Israel

Psalm 54         Answered Prayer for Deliverance from Adversaries

Psalm 55         Betrayal of a Friend and Trust in God

Psalm 56         Prayer for Deliverance and Confidence in God

Psalm 57         Prayer for Rescue from Enemies

Psalm 58         Judgment on the Wicked

Psalm 59         A Prayer for Protection

Psalm 60         Lament After a Defeat and a Prayer for Restoration

Psalm 61         Confidence in God’s Protection

Psalm 62         Confidence in God’s Salvation

Psalm 63         Longing for God

Psalm 64         Plea for Divine Retribution

Psalm 65         Thanksgiving for God’s Provision

Psalm 66         Thanksgiving to God for His Works

Psalm 67         Prayer of Blessing

Psalm 68         Praise to God for Providing Victory

Psalm 69         Plea for Deliverance from Persecution

Psalm 70         Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 71         A Prayer to God the Rock of Refuge

Psalm 72         Prayer for the Prosperity of God’s Anointed King

Psalm 73         The Wicked and the Righteous Contrasted

Psalm 74         Lament in Time of National Defeat

Psalm 75         Thanksgiving for God’s Future Help

Psalm 76         Praise to God for His Rescue of Israel

Psalm 77         Remembering God’s Help for Israel

Psalm 78         God’s Faithfulness in Israel’s History

Psalm 79         Lament for Jerusalem after Its Destruction

Psalm 80         Prayer to Restore Israel

Psalm 81         An Appeal from God to Israel

Psalm 82         God Commands Justice

Psalm 83         Request to Act against Israel’s Neighbors

Psalm 84         The Joy of Worshiping in the Temple

Psalm 85         Hope in God’s Future Help

Psalm 86         Prayer for Help against Ruthless Men

Psalm 87         Foreign Nations Come to Worship in Jerusalem

Psalm 88         Prayer for Help in Despair

Psalm 89         Remembering the Covenant with David, and Sorrow for Lost Blessings

Psalm 90         God’s Eternity and Human Frailty

Psalm 91         God’s Protection in Times of Crisis

Psalm 92         Thanksgiving to Yahweh for Victory

Psalm 93         Yahweh Is King Over All the Earth

Psalm 94         Prayer for Retribution against Oppressors

Psalm 95         Call to Worship and Obey

Psalm 96         Yahweh the King Comes in Judgment

Psalm 97         Yahweh’s Glorious Reign

Psalm 98         Praise to Yahweh for His Salvation and Judgment

Psalm 99         Yahweh Is a Holy King

Psalm 100       Worship God with Joy

Psalm 101       Promise to Act with Integrity

Psalm 102       Plea for Personal and National Help

Psalm 103       Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Compassion

Psalm 104       Praise to Yahweh for His Creation and Providence

Psalm 105       Praise to Yahweh for His Work on Behalf of Israel

Psalm 106       Praise to Yahweh for His Faithfulness in Israel’s History

Psalm 107       Thanksgiving to Yahweh for His Deliverance

Psalm 108       Prayer to Yahweh for Victory over Enemies

Psalm 109       Prayer for Help against Enemies

Psalm 110       Yahweh Gives Authority to His Messiah

Psalm 111       Praise to God for His Work and Commands

Psalm 112       The Path of the Righteous and the Path of the Wicked

Psalm 113       God’s Majesty and Care for the Needy

Psalm 114       Praise to God for His Works During the Exodus

Psalm 115       Dead Idols and the Living God

Psalm 116       Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance

Psalm 117       Let All Peoples Praise Yahweh

Psalm 118       Praise to God for His Loyal Love

Psalm 119       Meditation on Yahweh’s Law

Psalm 120       Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 121       Trust in God’s Protection

Psalm 122       Jerusalem the Site of God’s Presence

Psalm 123       Prayer for Yahweh’s Action in the Face of Scorn

Psalm 124       Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Help

Psalm 125       Confidence in Yahweh’s Protection

Psalm 126       Prayer for Restoration

Psalm 127       Prayer for Protection and Prosperity

Psalm 128       Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears Yahweh

Psalm 129       Victory Over the Enemies of Zion

Psalm 130       Hope for the Redemption of Yahweh

Psalm 131       Calm Trust in Yahweh

Psalm 132       Yahweh Dwells in Zion

Psalm 133       The People of God Dwell in Unity

Psalm 134       Praising Yahweh in the Temple at Night

Psalm 135       Praise to God for His Power and Redemption

Psalm 136       Praise to God for His Creation and Deliverance

Psalm 137       Lament During the Babylonian Exile

Psalm 138       Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Goodness

Psalm 139       The Knowledge of God

Psalm 140       Prayer for Help in the Face of Enemies

Psalm 141       Prayer for God’s Help in Maintaining Integrity

Psalm 142       Prayer for Deliverance from Pursuers

Psalm 143       Prayer for Rescue from Enemies

Psalm 144       Prayer for National Safety

Psalm 145       Song of God’s Majesty and Love

Psalm 146       Praise to Yahweh for His Help

Psalm 147       Praise to Yahweh for His Provision

Psalm 148       Let all Creation Praise Yahweh

Psalm 149       Praise to God for His Future Judgment

Psalm 150       Let Everything Praise Yahweh

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this browse through these psalms. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, at one time I was not particularly interested in reading the psalms. But God has a way of enlightening us! Only God’s sense of humor would have put me in a position where I am now facilitating a seventeen-session Bible study on the Book of Psalms from the Joy of Living Bible Study. God is good, wise, and always wants us to move on with Him.

God bless.

Please feel free to comment or share this post.

Subscribe: Join other subscribers at the Greene Pastures blog to ensure you receive an email every time a new blog is posted. Click here to subscribe to the Greene Pastures. Enter your email address in the top right field and receive notifications of recent posts by email. You will receive an email to confirm your subscription. Feel free to forward this to your friends and family. I promise you won’t be overloaded with excessive emails — only when I post, which is no more than twice a month!

Verses come from the New American Standard Bible. Photo Credit: Canva

Books by Patti Greene (Great for birthday gifts, Mother’s Day, and more)

           

Psalm 51 Bible Study

Are you looking for a Bible study to teach or to work on yourself?

Below you will find a Bible study on Psalm 51 that can be worked on at any time. By studying straight from the Bible, my prayer is that you will discover spiritual truth and direction in your life or in the lives of others.

BIBLE STUDY TEXT: PSALM 51 (NASB)

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-27 and 2 Samuel 12:1-25 for background information about King David’s sin and Nathan’s rebuke of him. This will enhance your understanding of the Bible study lesson.

A few years ago, a man wrote to Dear Abby needing help. The article titled, “Dear Abby, Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide.” This man had been married for 19 years and had two children. He fooled around, convincing himself that the women knew what they were doing and that he never promised them anything. His affairs became public, and his reputation was in ruins. He asked “Dear Abby” to provide a solution. He signed off calling himself Shattered in Louisiana. ¹

We find a similar real-life story in the fourth and most well-known penitential psalm, Psalm 51. Penitential psalms are psalms that express deep sorrow leading to a person’s true repentance of sin. Most scholars claim that King David wrote this psalm, or if not, by someone who knew the extent of the deep suffering he experienced. This prayer psalm was written after Nathan, the prophet, confronted David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. King David was on his palace rooftop when many say he should have been with his men in battle. He looks out and sees Bathsheba bathing. He asks his men to fetch her and bring her back to the palace, where he has sex with her. She becomes pregnant. David arranges for her husband to come home from battle, anticipating that he will sleep with her and then he would take the responsibility of fatherhood. However, being an honorable man, Uriah does not go into Bathsheba and camps in tents away from her presence. David arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. [1]

  1. As a married woman, what do these two stories speak to you about being faithful in marriage?

KING DAVID’S CALL FOR MERCY, FORGIVENESS, REPENTANCE, AND CLEANSING. Read Psalm 51:1-2.

The King James Version uses the word mercy to describe what David wants from God. He is crying out to God for help. David’s goal is for God to blot out his sin, so he can be cleansed and resume fellowship with Him. To grasp how the Bible looks at blotting, cleansing, and washing away sins, refer to Isaiah 43:25, Leviticus 11:32, and Isaiah 1:18, respectively. He is aware that he willfully rebelled against God and is grieved. David is ready to confess his sin and have fellowship with God again. Today, our sins are covered by Jesus’ death on the cross.

  1. Describe a time you reached a breaking point, and you called out to God for forgiveness?

RECOGNITION OF SIN. Read Psalm 51:3-6.

David begins to openly concede he has sinned. In verse 3, David acknowledges that his sin is “ever before me.” Although he knows his sin was towards Bathsheba, Uriah, and the entire nation of Israel, he is addressing his grave sin toward God. His sin against the LORD was the most offensive. David shows his seriousness when talking of his sin by calling it EVIL.

  1. What does David’s example teach us about the seriousness of sin?

In verse 5, David is now ready to accept whatever judgment God may choose for him. David recognizes that he was born in sin in verse 5. He is not using that as an excuse for his sin, but he acknowledges that he is human. All humankind has a sinful nature within them. Here it is important that one mustn’t think David is criticizing conception or birth, but that he is just conversing with God regarding what he understands about human nature. Moving to verse 6, we find David wanting God’s truth to be within his innermost being.

In the Compact Bible Commentary, the inward parts are described as “a rare word in the Hebrew Bible, indicating something clouded over, difficult for anyone to see but God.” ² David trusted God so much that he does not mind God searching for his innermost being. These verses conclude with David desiring wisdom—God’s wisdom. [2][3]

  1. In James 1:5, what does James say we should do if we lack wisdom?

PURIFICATION, HYSSOP, SNOW, AND BONES. Read Psalm 51:7-9.

These verses contain the phrases, “purify me, wash me, make me hear joy and gladness, let my broken bones rejoice, and hide thy face from my sins.” David is pleading for cleansing from his sin. Verse 7 mentions hyssop. Hyssop was a bush whose stems were dipped in blood or water and then sprinkled on people who needed cleansing. See Leviticus 14:4 and Numbers 19:6. Ceremonial hyssop was used on lepers and others during this period. Today, we receive our cleansing from the mighty blood of Jesus Christ. David desires true repentance and pleads for a clean heart—one that will wash him, make him joyful, and heal him. He wants his life to be as white as snow. When a person accepts Christ, there are testimonies of how they feel so clean and pure inside. That is David’s desire to have his life like that again. He also wants his sins hidden from the LORD. Verse 8 is intriguing. David declares how his sin has affected his eyes and bones. It is easy to deduce that more had been affected as well. Keep in mind that when we sin, our sin does affect us. We can become depressed, ill, and even suicidal. We should take a special interest in caring for our friends and loved ones if we see their destructive behavior. Verse 9 circles back around to David desiring God to blot out his sin. (See Psalm 51:1) This repetition shows that David really is serious about repenting of all his sin.

  1. What matters most in David’s life at this point is God’s forgiveness. What matters most in your life, and how is God intertwined in the matter?

CENTRAL VERSE EXPRESSING THE HEART OF DAVID. Read Psalm 51:10-12.

The central verse (theological principle) in this Bible study comes in Psalm 51:10 when David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David desires to be renewed, restored, and transformed. In verse 10, the word create is the same word used in Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God in His power called the world into being, and God in his power can cleanse David from his agonizing sin. David wants a new heart and a new spirit. He recognizes that he cannot do this by himself. It is up to God. We see God cleansing Israel and giving Israel a new heart and spirit in Ezekiel 36:25-27. This concept is very similar to Psalm 51 where it speaks of sprinkling water on the Israelites for cleansing, giving them a new heart and a new spirit, and allowing them to walk in His ways again. David wants to be in God’s presence again when he says he does not want to be cast from God’s presence in verse 11. He wants God’s Spirit, and he is ready to do the Lord’s will. In our life, we do not want to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Striving to keep ourselves clean from sin is necessary for God’s Holy Spirit to move in our lives and keep us from temptation. Compare to Acts 15:8-9.

  1. While the LORD did forgive David, there were still consequences to his sin, one being the death of his son when he was 7-days old. (2 Samuel 12:18) What outcomes have you seen in your or other peoples’ lives due to sin?

Verse 12 speaks of regaining the joy of one’s salvation. David wants that “feeling” of purity and love for God back into his life. He wants it to be a sustainable feeling as well. He does not want to lose fellowship with his LORD again.

  1. Describe a time you or someone you know lost fellowship with God but then had it restored.

SINNERS CONVERTED, RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERED, RIGHTEOUS SACRIFICE, AND A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART. Read Psalm 51: 13-17.

In verses 13-15, David expresses his desire to be of service to God. He wants to teach others (sinners) and take what he has experienced and learned to help others. He wants to see people restored as he had been. It is a glorious event when we see others offering themselves up to serve God. Romans 5:20b eloquently states, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” David recognized his sin, and now that he has experienced restoration, he wanted to share God’s righteousness with others. Verse 14 speaks, delivering David from bloodguiltiness. Scholars believe this refers to Uriah’s blood. David experienced forgiveness for all his sins. He got right with God.

  1. What does God call David in Psalm 51:14?
  2. Have you ever experienced God’s gift of salvation? Would you like to share your salvation testimony with the class?

DELIGHT IN GOD. Read Psalm 51: 18-19.

When we look at verses 18 and 19, David is longing for God’s security. This is what he is referring to when he says, “Build the walls of Jerusalem” The walls were to be a security to God’s holy city, and that is how he wants his heart to be—secure in His LORD and to delight in Him. David gave God the sacrifice He desired, his heart. He is ready to be “the man after God’s own heart” that many call him today.

  1. Where can we find our security in God?

APPLYING THE TEXT.

· God is gracious and compassionate; therefore, when we repent, He forgives and cleanses us.

· Sin is serious and destructive.

· We must cry out to God to create a clean heart in us.

· God desires a broken and contrite heart from us.

· Once true repentance occurs, we are restored and able to delight in the Lord, our God.

CONCLUSION: REMEMBER THE MAN IN ADULTERY. Read Psalm 51:17.

At the beginning of this study, a man asked Dear Abby for advice on dealing with his guilt over affairs, leaving him thinking of suicide. Dear Abby’s answer was purposely not shared. There is only one solution for this man. It is to follow King David’s path calling on the LORD to wash him, cleanse him, and seek repentance in Jesus Christ. Then, in God’s grace, he will become pure. His broken spirit can be healed, and he can face life with a renewed heart and spirit. If not, he will remain Shattered in Louisiana.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father.

Thank you for washing me clean when I transgress against You. Lead me away from sin. Give me wisdom so that I can live with a pure heart. Keep my spirit steadfast in You. Lord, I want to be in Your presence always. Let me sing Your praises. Give me a broken and contrite heart so that I can praise You always.

In Christ Alone, Amen.

God bless,

Bibliography

Carson, D.A., R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, eds. New Bible Commentary. Downsers
Grove: Intervarsity, 1994.

Hays, J. Daniel and J. Scott Duvall, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids: Baker
Books, 2011.

Hill, Andrew E. and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Pfeiffer, Charles F. and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody
Press, 1962.

Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House. Compact Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson,

Van Buren, Abagail, "Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide," Accessed 4
October, 2021.

https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Bible: Old Testament, Job—Song of Solomon. Colorado Springs,
David C. Cook, 2004.

[1]Van Buren, Abagail, “Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide,” Accessed 4 October, 2021, https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

[2]Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House, Compact Bible Commentary, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. 378.

Permission: I, Patti Greene, am the copyright owner of the above material titled Psalm 51: Bible Study. I consent to use this material with the expressed purpose of individual or group Bible Study only. Please give credit to the author by including: “Written by Patti Greene @ GreenePastures.org  for use in Bible studies only.”

Subscribe: Join my blog by subscription to ensure you receive an email every time a new blog is posted. You can subscribe to the Greene Pastures blog site in the right-hand corner. You will receive an email to confirm your subscription. Feel free to forward this to your friends and family. I promise you won’t be overloaded with excessive emails — only when I post, which is no more than twice a month!

Books by Patti Greene (Great for Christmas Gifts!)

  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Christian Caregiving

CLICK HERE TO ORDER


 

Hannah: A Biblical Character of Worship

Hannah’s Dedication

In Chapters 1 and 2 of 1 Samuel, a touching story expresses Hannah’s complete dedication toward God. Elkanah was the husband of two women—Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. Every year when the two women accompanied their husbands to the temple to worship and sacrifice, Hannah would weep because Peninnah would provoke her due to her having no children. Being oppressed in spirit one year, Hannah prayed and wept bitterly and made a vow that if the Lord gave her a son, she would let Him have the child for service. The priest Eli heard her prayer. He mocked her and accused her of being intoxicated. However, when he saw that she was afflicted and not drunk, he said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Sam. 1:17). In due time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son which she and Elkanah named Samuel. Hannah said, “For this boy, I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is dedicated to the LORD” (1 Sam. 1:27-28). After weaning him, they brought the boy to Eli to serve in the house of the Lord.

Hannah’s Distress

In this Bible story, we see that Hannah was distressed. She prayed, cried out to the LORD, made a vow, listened to what Eli told her, trusted God, conceived, had a son, and remembered her vow to give her first child to the Lord for service by bringing him to Eli. Hannah started by worshiping the LORD in the temple, but we see it more profoundly after she dedicated Samuel to serve.

In her beautiful Song of Thanksgiving and Worship, we read:

My heart exults in the LORD,

My horn is exalted in the LORD,

My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,

Because I rejoice in Thy salvation.

There is no one holy like the LORD,

Indeed, there is no one besides Thee,

Nor is there any rock like our God (1 Sam. 2:1-2).

Hannah’s Worship

Because worship is unique to every individual, Hannah’s worship experience was not like Abraham, Jacob, Isaiah, or Mary of Bethany. However, we see Hannah using elements from each of them in her worship of the LORD, as stated in Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Ground by Warren Wiersbe. For example, she conversed with God (like Abraham), she made a vow (like Jacob), she heard Eli speak (like Isaiah listened to the angels), and she gave her best to the LORD—Samuel (like Mary of Bethany gave perfume). ¹ Furthermore, she trusted in the promise of God when Eli said. “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Sam. 1:17).

There are multiple reasons we know she worshiped God. First, she approached the LORD with an honest and sincere heart. Second, she had a focused purpose in communicating her desire to God. Third, she waited for God with a humble attitude; we see that by Hannah’s initial deep cries in the house of God that worship filled her heart even before her prayer of thanksgiving.  Fourth, Hannah centered her life on God and His power by pouring her entire being to the LORD. Hannah’s ultimate blessing included her transformation from a barren woman to a child-bearing mother. After she conceived and weaned Samuel, her worship prayer included:

-An exalted heart,

-A mouth speaking boldly against enemies,

-A rejoicing in her salvation, and

-An acknowledgment that there is no one besides God.

Our Experiences

In today’s context, Christians can worship as Hannah did. Many times, when people experience trauma and distress, they give up on the LORD. They are not patient enough to wait on Him to work. Being impatient can diminish confidence in the Holy Spirit leading one’s life. However, every believer who yearns to empty himself of sin and live for Christ can worship like Hannah. We must continually train our church congregants to know what to do at all stages of their lives. We might not be going to the temple to worship, but we can go to church. We might not be experiencing barrenness, but we are experiencing something. We might not get our prayers answered as Hannah did, but we can trust that God knows the big picture of our lives, and He knows what He is doing.

Prayer:

O, dear heavenly Father, may my life seek Your will. May I feel at home with You enough to share both my distress and hearts’ desires? I seek Your wisdom. I give my life to You. Let me do all that is honorable in Your sight now and for the rest of my life. In Your name—the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Bible Verses:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24)

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker (Psalm 95:6)

For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

¹Wiersbe, Warren. Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Ground? 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004. p. 82.

Bible verses come from The New American Standard Bible.

Subscribe: Joining by subscription ensures you will receive an email every time a new blog is posted. You can subscribe to the Greene Pastures blog site in the right-hand corner. You will receive an email to confirm your subscription. Feel free to forward this to your friends and family.

Books by Patti Greene

  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Christian Caregiving

Click here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=patti+greene&ref=nb_sb_noss

GUEST BLOG by Heroes II: What Makes Bible Characters Better Than Superheroes?

Most of us, especially children and youth, are fond of fictional superheroes like Superman and Batman.

We often watch them, collect toys and souvenirs, and even imitate their signature moves. Do you remember putting on an improvised cape to pretend like flying? Have you attempted to jump from a rooftop? Dangerous, right? Those were the days!

Let’s admit it! Superheroes are fascinating to follow. It is not only because of their powers but because of the inspiration they give us. We can relate to them because they experience the same struggles we do.

The most exciting part, perhaps, is whenever they overcome a tragedy.

Before going any further, let us define a “superhero.” A superhero is an imaginary character possessing superhuman power.

But do you know that the Bible also has heroes? It defines a hero as someone who lived his life in faith and helped his neighbors.

The Most Famous Fictional Superheroes of All Time

Superman the Greatest

Superman is the superhero we consider the strongest. His name implies it.

We identify him with the red, blue, and yellow costumes. His height is 6 feet and 3 inches, while his weight is 225 pounds. His hair is black with a natural curl, and his eyes are blue. He has a rugged body-build and a square jaw, giving him a noble physique.

He has a gentle, kind, and selfless personality. He knows what is right and wrong. Thus, he can act decisively during a crisis. In addition, he can maintain friendships and acquaintances.

Finally, he has superhuman powers that make him invulnerable. He can fly and leap in the air. Having X-ray vision, he sees through walls and other obstructions. It allows him to shoot red beams out of his eye.

Batman the Protector of Gotham

Batman is the superhero in a black and brown costume with the wings of a bat. He claims to be the protector of Gotham City.

His love for his city is probably one of his best qualities. He is intelligent, suspicious, devoted, and determined. He is ready for any challenge. Another good trait is his ability to control emotions and tolerate pain.

He does not have superhuman abilities, but he can do incredible things. He can pick a lock, hack and record mobile frequencies, understand multiple languages, and much more.

Spider-man the Superhuman

Spider-man is the character who does whatever a spider can. He shares almost the same uniform colors as Superman’s uniform.

He is caring, kind, loyal, brave, and intelligent. He uses more of his left brain in assessing situations. However, he has a personality disorder–neuroticism. He is anxious, fearful, jealous, envious, lonely, and frustrated.

Despite those weaknesses, he is notable for his superpowers. Like a spider, he can cling to walls. He has a sixth sense which keeps him alert for possible danger. He can also maintain perfect balance and equilibrium.

The Most Famous Bible “Hero” Characters of All Time

Joseph the Dreamer

Joseph was the second youngest son of Jacob and Rachel.

Since he was his father’s favorite, his brothers envied him. They became angry whenever he shared dreams, telling them that he would someday be their king.

As such, they would always trick him until they finally decided to sell him to Egypt. To protect themselves, they made their father believe Joseph died.

Extremely cruel, were they not?

In Egypt, Joseph became a slave. He suffered for something he never deserved. Nevertheless, God blessed his curse.

He earned the favor of the king by interpreting his dream about the coming famine. Eventually, Pharaoh appointed him governor.

When famine came, his brothers went to Egypt to buy food. They did not recognize him until he revealed himself (Genesis 45:4-5). Soon, he met his father and youngest brother. It was a dramatic revelation and reunion.

Indeed, Joseph’s curse turned out to be a blessing. It not only benefited other people but saved his family who his brothers had once disowned him.

What a hero!

Noah the Ark Builder

Noah, son of Lamech, was a righteous man in his generation. God entrusted him a special mission to save and restore the earth from all wickedness. He was to build an ark.

For 120 years, he preached about the coming global flood. He encouraged people to get into the ark, but they laughed at him–thinking he was crazy.

When the flood came, the people realized they were wrong. They wanted to get into the ark, but it was too late. Thus, they died along with other living creatures. Only Noah’s family obeyed and saved themselves.

Though he was not able to save his generation, Noah was a hero to his family. He became God’s instrument to eradicate all sinful beings and start anew.

Jesus our Savior

And, of course, there has been no better hero than Jesus Himself! Can you believe the Creator and God of the universe sacrificed Himself on our behalf?

He fulfilled this plan by living as a human on earth. God guided His earthly parents in preparing Him for the divine mission. By overcoming sin his entire life, He saved the world by dying on the cross of Calvary.

Indeed, Jesus is the ultimate hero in the Bible. His life, death, and resurrection justified us, giving us the chance to obtain salvation if we accept Him.

Reasons Why Bible Heroes Are Better Than Fictional Superheroes

Bible Heroes are Real

Bible heroes truly existed on earth. Superheroes are just fictional—meaning they are made up.

No matter how much we admire and follow them, superheroes can’t do anything outside our television screens.

On the other hand, Bible characters were real humans who did exist just like us. Genesis 2:7 confirms that God created man from the earth and gave life to it. Verse 27 of chapter 1 adds that He made them in His image.

Bible Heroes Did Not Need Superpowers to Carry on a Mission

Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, and the rest had superpowers. Without such, they could not protect themselves and other people.

Meanwhile, Bible heroes did not have supernatural powers. Faith and prayer were their weapons. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1).

With God as their source of power, they have performed acts that changed the world beyond human understanding.

The Deeds of Bible Characters Never Exemplified Violence

Fictional superheroes have good motives. Saving people from danger is their mission. However, it involves killing and other forms of violence.

In contrast, Bible characters never had to be cruel to bring about change. They just relied on God’s power and let Him move. They did not have to commit any sin that would ruin their moral character.

1 John 3:9 says that a child of God does not practice sinning because God’s seed abides in him.

Take-home Lesson

There is nothing wrong with admiring fictional characters. But to be fanatic about them is somewhat alarming.

It may sound harsh, but the truth is that there is no sense to idolize fictional characters. Superheroes are just a product of human imagination. They do not give us any value more than entertainment.

And so, Bible heroes are the ones worth following. We learn the best moral lessons from them. We can relate well because they were real beings like us. Above all, they lead us to the ultimate hero of all – Jesus Christ. Amen!

Heroes 2: The Game is a Bible trivia game released by the Hope Channel. It is a sequel to the game Heroes which was released in 2013.

The latest game version features:

  • New 3D animation
  • More challenging Bible Questions
  • Comes in four languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, and French
  • Heroes 2 is available on  iOS and Android
  • Downloadable at the Apple Store and Google Play

CLICK HERE – Heroes II Bible Trivia Game

Bible Reading Plans and Tips

Bible Reading Plans and Tips

Wishing you a “Happy New Year!”

Let me end this year by encouraging you to choose a Bible reading plan and read the Bible through in 2021. You will never regret soaking up the Word of God.

Below is a link with many different plans you can chose from. Choose one that suits you best and go for it!

Top 14 Best Bible Reading Plans – 2023

Also, here are a few tips that I have learned over the years.

1. Skip over the Bible genealogy you can’t pronounce. [At this point, knowing there’s a genealogy is enough for now, especially if this is your first read-through.]

2. Read with a pen, highlighter and notebook nearby to write down verses, questions, or things you want to look up later.

3. It is okay to read ahead. There will be days you will miss.

4. If possible, find a friend to read along with you on the same plan. [This way you will have a comrade to share with.]

5. Don’t be discouraged if you lag behind. Keep at it. So what if it takes you 1 1/2 or 2+ years to finish?

6. If you are reading a book for your Bible study class or group, count it. When you get to that book, you will be happy to have some catch-up time.

7. If you are in a plan where you are reading the entire Old Testament at once, give yourself permission to stop and read something in the New Testament.

8. Share meaningful verses with your friends and family.

9. Look for God’s sense of humor as you read. For example, today I did something rather “stupid” and the next thing I read (in my plan) was in Matthew 11:4. It said, “Go and report to John what you hear and see.”

Yikes, John is my husband’s name! I laughed when I read that. I still haven’t told him, but I will when he wakes up!!!

Best wishes and again, have a blessed 2021!

And please share this article with your friends and family!

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

It: Isaiah and Prayer

Frequently in this article, I will be referring to the word it. I will not be talking about it as in Information Technology or the abbreviation of Italy, but as the Middle English word used as a noun or pronoun that refers to a problem, decision, or challenge you are facing or have faced in the past. Examples of an it may possibly include handling your child’s alternative lifestyle, dealing with your spouse’s affair, or noticing false teachers or doctrine at your church.

For the sake of this article, all referrals to it will apply to any trepidation that should cause believers to call upon the Lord, just like the prophet Isaiah encountered.

Background

The book of Isaiah was written around 700-680 BC—more than 700 years before Jesus was born. This prophetic book was written for instruction to past, present, and future generations.

Isaiah came from a privileged family that provided a stellar education to him. His 40-year ministry began in Judah in the Southern Kingdom of the nation of Israel.

The nation of Israel consisted of two kingdoms—the Northern Kingdom known as Israel and the Southern Kingdom known as Judah.

Isaiah’s call to the ministry came through an intense revelation he received when worshiping the Lord. As a result of this vision, his life was transformed into a heartfelt full-time service to God, much like most pastors who are called into the ministry today have experienced. Isaiah yearned for the nation of Israel—both Northern and Southern Kingdoms—to return to their Lord, their God. Furthermore, he knew God needed someone to proclaim this essential pronouncement to the people. He heard and accepted the call to be that person.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then, I said, “Here I am! send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Isaiah ministered during the kingship of Uzziah, Jotham, Johoahaz I, and Hezekiah. During their reigns, political mayhem faced the Jewish people. Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom, and the restoration of Israel consumed Isaiah’s onerous ministry load.

American pastor and writer Warren Wiersbe states that Isaiah was confronted with many different concerns including Israel’s captivity, including prosperity (and lack thereof), and possible famine. The prophet held an unquenchable desire for holiness in God’s people while only seeing their lavish wickedness.

Conceivably, Isaiah’s calling in the day and time he was living caused his it—his despair!

In many instances, our it may be—just like Isaiah’s—a burden we do not know how to handle or a challenge we are facing.

As we capture the essence of Chapters 29 and 30, let’s unearth and follow the Biblical principles below to help us unruffle the difficulties we have in pursuing God’s will for our lives.

  1. When facing Your It, PRAY

Recently, when pondering my it, I prayed this prayer.

Help me, my heavenly Father! I think about it daily. I have been thinking about it not only for days, weeks, and months, but for years. I do not understand why or how I am supposed to think about it. I want to discern Your will and even if it is not Your will. Please make Your desires my desires—Your thoughts my thoughts. I do not care how You speak to me about it. Just speak. Please resolve any hindrances to being totally aligned to Your will. You may be using it as a springboard to refine my character. There is so much unknown about it. Help me, Lord!

Many of our prayers, such as mine above, are never made known to the “general public” or even to those closest to us. Sometimes, we cry out to God, and only God and ourselves know the depths of our concerns. And that’s okay!

Our lives should be structured insomuch that prayer comes first to our minds when seeking solutions to our problem, our it. Prayer is to be our first line of defense. Unfortunately, sometimes we get hung up when faced with how to pray and how to follow God’s commands in the Bible. Our distress, our challenge—our it—drags on, repeats itself, and even possibly returns after we think we have overcome it.

When our it consumes us and tries to destroy our close relationship with the Lord, we can pray for a miraculous sign and ask God for confirmation.

King Ahaz had a problem. He did not want to do business with God. When Judah’s water supply from the Euphrates River was reaching his limit, threatening to flood, Ahaz should have broken his alliance with the Assyrians and called for the nation of Israel to pray, but he didn’t. He continued in his unbelief and continued to trust in Assyria for help, not God.

In Isaiah 7:11, God spoke to Ahaz saying,

Ask for a confirming sign from the LORD your God. You can even ask for something miraculous. (Isaiah 7:13 NET)

While Ahaz refused a sign from God, we do not have to. When we face it, we can ask our heavenly Father to confirm His will and ask Him for a miraculous answer. When the nation of Israel was invaded by the Assyrians, it is a shame Ahaz didn’t depend upon God and prayer.

Now, let’s fast-forward to Isaiah 29.

  1. When Facing Your It, Seek the Truth

As a believer, we may originally be confused about our it and we may err, and stumble and we may question God. Nevertheless, it is always in our best interest to remember that we can know God’s truth if we “ask, seek, and knock” as is mentioned in the New Testament. When our it rears its head, let us seek His truth.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

King Ahaz’s problem was twofold. He did not want to listen to Isaiah’s prophetic voice, and he did not want to do business with God. His lack of proper leadership trickled down, making the Israelites and others living in the area apathetic toward the things of God.

Isaiah tried to present God’s light to the people of Israel, but they kept rejecting it—even disdaining his words. They did not care to understand God’s prophecies spoken through Isaiah, just like how people today who have not seen the light of Christ cannot comprehend the Bible or the things of God. People globally may “understand” the Bible from an intellectual or historical viewpoint, but not from a spiritual heart-and-soul vantage point.

God saw a nation disregarding their spiritual inheritance, but He reminds them that one day they will know the truth. The city of Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom had watched the Northern Kingdom fall to the Assyrians, but this judgment did not bring them to repentance and Judah did eventually fall to Babylon in 586 BC.

We must keep praying and reading the Scriptures until God, in His compassionate and gracious manner, shows us the correct answer, method, or path to walk.

Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illumine my path. (Psalm 119:105 NET)

  1. When Seeking Your It, Understand God’s Intentions

As we seek His answers and clarifications on it, we must navigate through the Word until we can affirm His intentions.

God’s intentions for us are numerous; however, some major intentions that our heavenly Father has toward us are that:

God’s intention, through His prophet Isaiah, was to protect both kingdoms—the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

In Isaiah 30, Judah, the Southern Kingdom, is admonished not to turn to Egypt for protection from Assyria. And Isaiah, following his call, exhorts the people to instead trust God.

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity [your it] and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.’ (Isaiah 30:20-21)

At this point, the Israelites should not have been expecting that God was going to hide from them anymore. Delivering them from evil, cleansing sin, and leading them into righteousness was His intention—as it is for us as well. But the people laughed and scoffed at Isaiah’s prophecies and continued turning their backs on God.

  1. When Seeking Your It, Trust God

Trusting God to show you the ways you must handle your it is imperative.

While the people in the Northern Kingdom did not listen to Isaiah and proceeded hurriedly into the arms and captivity of the Assyrians, we should not be in such a hurry, jumping ahead of God with our impatience.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Foremost, knowing our salvation is secure, and knowing we are in the right relationship with God through the cleansing of our sins and our acceptance of Jesus Christ, we allow the Holy Spirit and His words to seep into our mind supernaturally. Our Lord wants to enlighten us through His Word, give us clarity in our thought, and forgive us when needed. Then, we must apply these truths in assisting us to show His light to others.

  1. When Facing Your It, Believe God Will Answer

We are impatient people. Wanting to know and understand everything God does only proves that position. Having confidence that He will show us what we need to know, however, is of utmost importance.

Certain things will remain a mystery to us—either forever or until a later time. Once we recognize that, we understand that His answer to our concerns, will be clarified by a Yes, No, or Not Yet answer. Any way He chooses to answer is His answer to us.

As I was pondering, praying, and reading the Word, seeking advice about my it, I read the following verse:

The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted. (Isaiah 30:26)

While Isaiah is speaking here of end times, God’s Word spoke supernaturally to me in the latter part of the verse.

His Spirit whispered, “I am binding up your wound and it will result in your healing. Though your dream has been shattered, the severe wound is healed. While the purpose of your it is still unknown to You, trust that it was put there by Me to grow you and to make you more like my son Jesus Christ.”

WOW!

  1. When Facing Your It, You Must Accept His Answer

As we face our daily walk with the Lord, He may choose to give us a blessing by saying “Yes” to our desires and prayers.

He may also choose to give us a “No” answer and wish for us to move on.

After college, I dated a young man who decided to break up with me and go back to his former girlfriend. I was devastated. To say I prayed hard for him to change his mind would be an understatement. Then, one day I pleaded with God to show me what His will was, and I was led to this Bible verse which proved to me, once and for all, that God cares enough to say ‘No” when “No” is needed.

From the sole of the foot even to the head
There is nothing sound in it,
Only bruises, welts and raw wounds,
Not pressed out or bandaged,
Nor softened with oil.

(Isaiah 1:6)

Now, that was definitely a “No!” That is God speaking supernaturally!

Lastly, He may choose to give us the answer “Not Yet.” In this case, we must move on, living in righteousness, and continuing our lives by honoring Him—all the while remembering the Lord is not on the same time schedule as we are. He may need time to work on our character, improve our service, or time to prepare us for the next big season we will encounter.

Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may reply to him who reproaches me. (Proverbs 27:11)

  1. Wrap Up

Throughout history, God honors the promise He gave to Abraham. He promised to make Abraham a father of a great people. In turn for their obedience, God would guide them and give them the land of Israel.

In the latter days, many Israelites will turn to the Lord and completely fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah.

Until that time, let us believe that Isaiah’s call to turn to God and live righteous and holy lives for His glory applies also to us today—Now!

Looking back to your it, why not pray, seek His truth, grasp His intentions, trust Him, believe in Him, and accept His answer?

Bible Verses:

I have called upon thee, for thou wilt answer me, O God: Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. (Psalm 17:6 ASV)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24 ASV)

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15 ASV)

Prayer:

Dear Lord, as You called Isaiah into ministry, call me into ministry. Let me say, “Here I am! send me.” Use me for Your pleasure and for Your purposes, whatever they might be. I am not perfect by any means and You know that. Not only do I have an it, but I also have many its. Give me the courage to face my problems, decisions, and challenges. Guide me into Your truth. I trust Your leadings through the Word and circumstances as I make decisions. I know Your intention is to always answer my prayers. No matter how You choose to answer, let me understand that You always answer with my best interest in mind. I love you, Lord. You are my heavenly Father and I will continually and daily seek Your presence. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

Works Cited

¹ Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament. Cook: Colorado Springs, 2002.

Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.

Photo: Isaiah. Wikipedia. 1904 Public Domain

_________________________

Dear Readers,

Please feel free to share, forward, retweet, and/or comment on this blog. It is my gift to you and to others.

To receive e-mail notifications of blogs from Greene Pastures by Patti: Inspiring stories about Bible Study and Prayer, please click here. Type in your email address. To subscribe, you will immediately receive an e-mail to confirm your desire to receive blogs from Greene Pastures.

If you would like a personal reply, please email me at Patti@GreenePastures.org

I love hearing from my readers.

Patti Greene

_________________________

Books by Patti Greene – Order Below!

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

 

 

Solomon’s Wisdom: Bring Me a Sword

Wisdom

The Elementary Bible Truths Handbook defines wisdom as “the ability to use one’s knowledge and experience to make good judgments.”¹

While this is a good general definition, it does not differentiate between secular wisdom and godly wisdom. The late Pastor Adrian Rogers bridged this gap when he said that, “Godly wisdom is wisdom seeing life from God’s point of view. Secular wisdom (also known as knowledge) comes from looking around; [while godly] wisdom comes from looking up.”²

Days of Our Lives

1 Kings 3:16-28 puts godly wisdom in the forefront. King Solomon is tasked to solve a dispute between two women. If there ever was a story to grab someone’s attention, the story of Solomon and his wisdom is it. It has all the drama, including two bickering prostitutes, a “she said, she said” scenario, no witnesses and two babies—one dead and one alive. If this does not sound like a Days of Our Lives soap opera, it will.

As a child, I had a Bible storybook titled A Small Child’s Bible by Pelagie Doane that I read over and over and over. For hours I would ruminate on the stories and stare at the illustrations of two special Old Testament stories: King Solomon and the Baby and [Jonah] Jonas and the Great Fish. To read my story about Jonah, click here.

Below is the story from my childhood book, which still sits in my bookshelf to this day.

A Paraphrased Story Version of 1 Kings 3:16-28

Solomon sat upon the throne of David, his father. David had died and now Solomon was king. He was a good king and wise.

One day two women came to him. They had a baby with them. One woman said, “We live in the same house. We each had a baby born to us. This woman’s baby died one night, and she came and took my baby. She put her dead baby in my bed.”

The other woman said, “It is my child who is alive and hers who is dead.”

The first woman said, “No. The dead is your son and the living is my son.”

And so, they argued.

The king said to one of his men, “Bring me a sword.”

The sword was brought, and the king said, “Divide this child in half and give half to each of these women.”

One woman said, “Oh, do not kill the baby! Give him to the other woman but let him live!”

The other woman said,” No. Let neither of us have him. Divide him.”

Then King Solomon knew which was the mother of the child.

He said, “Give the child to the woman who does not want the child divided. She loves it and wants it to live.”

When the people heard how wise King Solomon had been, they said, “He knows what is true. He has thoughts of God.”³

Guiding Light: The Search for Wisdom

Solomon was King David’s son from his wife Bathsheba. His upbringing in an extremely wealthy household allowed him to have just about every privilege a child raised by a rich godly king could expect—fine food, a good education, religious training, little conflict, and more.

Solomon’s life was most likely free of conflict until it was time for him to ascend to the throne of Israel. His brother Adonijah tried to force a coup, doing all he could to get the kingship for himself that David already promised to Solomon. Fortunately, he did overthrow Adonijah’s attempt to rule Israel and became king.

Solomon knew he needed God’s wisdom if he were to enlarge the kingdom and construct the temple his father David had already prepared for him to erect.

Solomon loved God, and as a young ruler, he wanted the wisdom to rule this vast kingdom fittingly. Knowing he needed to dedicate himself totally to the Lord, he sought wisdom and guidance, and in a dream at Gibeon, not far from Jerusalem, he offered multiple sacrifices to the Lord. Then, God came to him in a dream and asked Solomon to ask Him for anything he desired.

God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1 Kings 3:5b-9

It was at Gibeon Solomon asked for WISDOM. He wanted to administer justice and judgment using true godly discernment. It was normal in those days for the common people to have access to the king, and he took his job seriously. Shortly after his asking for wisdom, Solomon was introduced to these two prostitutes—both seeking to resolve a dispute between them and a living baby.

One Life to Live: Mothers

These two temple prostitutes stood before their ruler and king, waiting for his judgment as to which woman should be allowed to keep the live baby.

Sidebar: I believe most mothers can recognize their own child, especially after three days of caring for and loving them.

But, the disagreement over the baby’s “ownership” continued all the way up to the top court. King Solomon, not being privy to DNA testing, listened to both women’s side of the story. He gathered facts and information. Although Solomon had many responsibilities, as kings do, such as peacemaker, builder, worshiper, administrator, and scholar, this was his opportunity to be a discerner, noted Warren Wiersbe.⁴ Solomon was looking for the real mother. Most Bibles and commentaries refer to the first woman mentioned in the story as the real mother and the second woman mentioned as the untruthful mother.

Both mothers were distressed—one because she knew she might lose her baby, and the other one because she lost her baby; and her maternal instincts were so strong, she was willing to lie and deceive to have any baby.

We see this kind of behavior even today. In February 2020, Juliette Parker, former Colorado Springs mayoral candidate, posed as a “friendly” baby photographer in an attempt to steal Elysia Miller’s newborn child. Meeting Miller on a Facebook newborn baby site, they connected. Parker met under the guise of taking free baby pictures to build up her portfolio and administered GHB—the date rape drug—to try to steal Miller’s baby. Fortunately, Miller called 911 after feeling drowsy and the plot was averted.⁵

In the original story, Solomon, using his divine wisdom, called for a sword. His solution was to cut the baby in half and give half to each woman. He was wise and I feel sure his intent was never to follow through on dividing the baby. Solomon was looking to see which woman had the most compassion towards the child to find the real mother.

“And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other, the first woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, ‘Oh, my Lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.’ But the other said, ‘He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!’” Then the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.” When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.” (1 Kings 3:25-28)

God is a God who works out the most magnificent things and coordinates situations in His timing to be used for the glory of God. In this case, God took two prostitutes: they lived in the same house, allowed them to get pregnant at the same time, and had them deliver their babies three days apart—to be used as a very early catalyst for the people of Israel to see his wisdom. Warren Wiersbe says, “for weeks, this even was the main topic of conversation in all Israel displaying to all that King Solomon was truly a wise king.”

As the World Turns: How to Gain Wisdom

We live in a culture not much different than Solomon did in the 900s BC. Today we encounter obstacles just like the people did back in Solomon’s day. Many times, we need wise people to arbitrate our difficulties and problems.

Right now, we might be like the first woman in this story desperately needing advice, the second woman who lied and deceived, or we might be like Solomon—the one to whom people come for leadership or arbitration.

Know that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, by repenting and choosing to live a life honorable to our Lord and Savior, we can gain God’s wisdom. By following King Solomon’s steps, let us do what He did first and then commit to following whatever He says in His Word.

How to Gain Wisdom

First Solomon ASKED FOR GOD’S WISDOM. (1 Kings 3:9; James 1:5) So should we, then we can work on:

Wherever we are on this pendulum called life, let us remember that we are loved by a holy and just God. He is there to give us direction.

Look to Him for divine strength. Look at people through His eyes.

It can be difficult after we have been lied to, deceived, humiliated, criticized, or disregarded, but God has a purpose for every one of us. Striving to live a life fully dedicated to Him is costly, but wisdom is supreme. Therefore, get wisdom. Ask for wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get [His] wisdom and His understanding.

It is then that we can look at life correctly as we Search for Tomorrow.

Bible Verses

For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding, He established the heavens. Proverbs 3:19

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. Ecclesiastes 9:18

All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB).

Prayer

My heavenly Father. We need Your wisdom. We cry out to You for it. As King Solomon prayed, so we pray and ask You to give “Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil.” For it is only when You and Your Word is ingrained upon our hearts that we can begin to fully follow You. Give us a deeper walk from now until we reach Your heavenly kingdom. In the Name of Your precious son Jesus. Amen.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

Works Cited

¹ Elementary Bible Truths Handbook. Greeneville: Bob Jones University Press, 1981.

² Adrianisms: The Collected Wit and Wisdom of Adrian Rogers. Collierville: Innovo Publishing, 2015.

³ Doane, Pelagie. A Small Child’s Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1945.

⁴ Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Commentary Old Testament: Joshua—Esther. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008.

⁵ Benzel, Lance. “Former Colorado Springs mayoral candidate allegedly duped local man before baby abduction plot.” The Gazette. Feb 18 2020; Updated Feb 25 2020. Gazette.com.

Books by Patti Greene – Order Below

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

Building an Understanding Heart: The power of discernment can be nourished in the believer

Most likely, we all know people who have that special discernment into what is really happening within our culture, in the lives of people, and inside the church. Not only are they able to understand spiritual happenings, but they are also gifted in expressing their thought so those enlightened by the Holy Spirit can grasp God in His fullest.

Recently, I have been reading several books by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963). Tozer was a self-taught theologian, pastor, and writer whose influential words still linger in the hearts of his readers even after his death. Two of his more than 40 books are considered modern-day classics: The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God.

I rank Tozer’s writings among those of other great Christian theologians or apologists such as Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, J.I. Packer, Warren Wiersbe, and E.M. Bounds. These men seem to have a grasp on the surrendered and deeper life Christians should be experiencing. It is that life where, after salvation, we grow, we depend, we surrender (or strive wholeheartedly) to live our lives in the presence of God.

Sons of Issachar

The men mentioned above and others like them remind me of the sons of Issachar mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:32. King Saul was now dead, and David was crowned King of Israel. During this period, great wisdom and discernment were needed to understand what was going on and what to do during this transition time. Being very analytical and perceptive, the sons of Issachar were aware of what was occurring and what should be done; their discernment far exceeded that of the average person. They skillfully knew how to express their sentiments so others could take hold of them and grasp the gravity of the situation.

And of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Don’t you just love it when you are in a meeting and someone knows how to get to the real issues at hand? I experienced this first-hand as I served as a jury foreman a few years ago in a very intense five-week trial. We were into the third day of deliberations with the jury split 6-6 on a verdict. I was flummoxed as to how to proceed with my 11 jury partners when one of the men in the group stood up, went to a drawing board, and mapped out the entire plan and overview of what we needed to do to resolve our divisiveness. What a relief!

The sons of Issachar operated in the same way. Their awareness of their culture was uncanny.

Because of that, I want to share some of the dynamic quotations I encountered when recently reading my seven-volume marathon of Tozer’s books. Hopefully, these will resonate a powerful drawing and passion for you to live a holy and surrendered life to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Due to time and space, I am sharing quotes from only four of my most recently read Tozer books. But the other ones are so worthwhile, I would be remiss if I did not mention the titles to you—The Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, and How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience by A.W. Tozer

One important point many fail to understand is that the Bible was never meant to replace God; rather, it was meant to lead us into the heart of God. Too many Christians stop with the text and never go on to experience the presence of God.

I refuse to be discouraged about anything, but it gives me a heavy heart to walk among Christians who have wandered for 40 long years in the wilderness, not going back to sin but not going on into the holy life.

The closer you are to God, the more tender your conscience is before the Lord, and the more severe your trial and temptation may be.

Most Christians are satisfied living their entire lives as common Christians. They never experience the richness of what it truly means to be a Christian. Without a deep insatiable hunger for the things of God, there is nothing within them prodding them to go forward to perfection. The condition of today’s Christian Church is the result of too many common Christians in leadership roles. Once again, we need a great move of the Holy Spirit to break out of the spiritual rut and press on to spiritual perfection. That move needs to start with individual Christians who are willing to give all to God and live the crucified life.

Never defame a fellow Christian. By this, I mean never believe evil about him or speak any evil report about him.

Pray. “Oh Lord, set in motion a chain of circumstances that will bring me to the place where I can sincerely say, ‘Be thou exalted above the heavens.’”

Obedience is a primary component of the Christian life . . . True obedience is the refusal to compromise in any regard or relationship with God, regardless of the consequences . . . If you believe in God as millions of Americans do today and do not make Him the number one exclusive priority in your life, the devil has no issue with you . . . We do not have to understand what is happening to obey God. We do not need to know the outcome to obey God. As a matter of faith and trust, we obey God simply because He is God.

The Dangers of a Shallow Life: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy by A.W. Tozer

The people impressed by the converted celebrity are carnal Christians, and only until a bigger celebrity comes along. Where is that generation that fell on their knees before God with broken hearts for the world around them? Where are those men who gave up everything to reach the world of unsaved men and women?

It is possible to be crammed with religious news and filled with religious shoptalk and yet not have the spiritual discernment to know what it means. If there is anything, I have asked God for, it is spiritual discernment. It makes you just about as popular as a hawk in a henhouse or a skunk at a picnic. You are not popular at all, and you will never be popular because nobody wants to be awakened.

If you are bored with spiritual conversation (I am not talking about religious chitchat that would bore anybody), something has gone wrong inside of your heart. The best thing to do is admit it and acknowledge it before God.

A person’s choices distinguish him as either wise or foolish. The wise man knows he must give an account of the deeds done in the body, but the fool does not. In the Bible, the word “fool” is not describing a man of mental deficiency. A fool is a man who acts without regard to consequences.

The best thing to do is to keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him take care of the devil.

If God has called you, He is not withdrawing the call because of some questions you could not answer.

Suppose you pray for something and do not get it, and it is obvious that you are not going to get it. Do not let that finish you off. Maybe you are not living right; maybe you are praying selfishly; maybe you have misunderstood the will of God. Go to the Scriptures, search it out, get right with God, give God a chance at you, then try it again and press on. Finally, the Lord will either tell you to hold on or that you are praying for the wrong thing and to pray for this thing and He will give it to you; or else He will give you what you prayed for the first time. But do not stay defeated.

A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night: Finding and Following God’s Will for You by A.W. Tozer

Rarely do we see many steps ahead of us. We need to walk entirely by faith. But like God did for Israel, He prepares us for one step at a time.

By trusting God whether we understand His plan or not, we are placing ourselves in the path where He can lead us to where He wants us to be.

From my point of view, many gospel Christians today accept the importance of getting people saved out of Egypt. That is the real focus for them. And it is true—God saves us from our past sins, from our worst habits, and above all else, He is to save us from hell. Coming to Christ means that. And people think, Now I do not have to worry about those things. I am not going to hell when I die. I will go zooming off into heaven. Now I can just enjoy life because I know where I am going when I die. However, almost nothing is said about what we are saved unto. Yes, we know what we are saved from, and we can glory in that, but that needs to be a temporary glory. We need to know what we have been saved unto.

We do not need to figure out our own road map or how we are going to go or what we are going to do. We need to be careful that we stay in His presence, and this is the work of faith.

Knowing what my weakness is enables me to turn that section of my life over to God.

Serve God. Not the church.

There is no premature death in the will of God. A man will live if God has work for him to do and as long as that man is really committed to that work. When my work is done and I have completed it as God wants me to, then my life is over.

This message is missing for the most part today. Too many people view Christianity as an insurance policy so that when they die, they can go to heaven. They do not see it as a road map leading them into the heart of God.

The deeper Christian life goes forward as God directs and leads us, and we depend upon God to deal with our enemies.

No obstacle surprises God: He knows what is ahead and knows how to prepare us, and we need to go forward in His power and trust His wisdom. Many times, we try to do it in our own strength and power, but it never works that way.

Delighting in God [Follow-Up to the Knowledge of the Holy] by A.W. Tozer

Whenever you find a man of God, you will also find an overwhelming passion for God that is almost beyond control. Not a curiosity about God, but a deep passion to experience God in all His fullness. To know God is the one passion that dries [drives] a man into the very heart of God.

What I see lacking today is this desire to know God on a personal basis. Other things crowd this relationship out until it is barely recognized in the church today.

The great secret of the Christian life is to begin experiencing God as He desires me to experience Him. God’s greatest delight is to bring me into His presence.

Our trouble is, we hear sermon after sermon and do not get anywhere . . . This is happening because we have a lack of desire. We have not the desire we ought to have, and God’s people are not hungry and thirsty anymore.

Conclusion

As you have read through these quotes, you may have gathered that Tozer spoke what he was discerning in his heart after being in the presence of God. Many people called his works too negative. He recognized that, but it did not stop him from sharing his perceptions about God and the culture around him. I guess you would say he operated like a 20th century son of Issachar!

My prayer for you triple-fold. It is:

  1. To read your Bible expecting to experience the presence of God,
  2. To pray and meditate reaching the holy presence of God, and
  3. To surrender your life to a deeper—a much deeper—walk with Him.

Bible Verse:

So, give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? (1 Kings 3:9)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:23-24)

Prayer:

Oh Lord, the world is full of so much information, please teach me to know what is true and what is false. Give me the desire to ground myself in Your holy Word—every day. Let Your words soak into my mind. Guide all my thoughts and decisions. Allow the Holy Spirit to give me discernment so I can always be an honorable servant obedient to You.

God Bless.

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member

Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible.

Edited by E. Johnson

Photo Credit: Canva/Fernanda Latronic

COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word and Prayer to Heart [Part 2]

COVID-19 [Part 2]

It was Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Houston Texas—the last day all the nail and hair salons in our area could operate under the newly imposed state laws due to COVID-19.

To me, it was the last day I could get my hair colored gray to match my gray roots!

One week earlier I took the plunge and had 5-6” of my long hair cut off. My wonderful hairdresser (yes, I am showing my age by calling her that) kept three tufts of my hair to skillfully practice various dye methods to see which shade of gray would be best suited for me. Unfortunately, none of the three gray strands fit the bill–and we both recognized that.

Not knowing when the salons would be given the green light to open again, I left the shop both disappointed and empowered—disappointed I could not obtain my gray hair and empowered because I still had the choice not to go through with a dye job.

Perhaps that is how you feel with COVID-19—disappointed, empowered, or both!

Maybe you must Stay-at-Home or Stay-in-Place. Maybe your children are out of school and you don’t know how to teach them remotely or even worse, you are still having to work leaving your children unattended all day. Maybe you have been furloughed and you don’t know if you will have a job when all this is over. Maybe you had to cancel your cruise. Maybe you can’t find food or toilet paper in the grocery stores. Or maybe you have lost half or more of your life savings in the stock market.

Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, maybe you are grateful for the time to do some Spring cleaning. Maybe you are looking forward to just being home with your family. Maybe you are grateful for the time to read and spend time with the Lord. Or maybe you are thankful your church has an online service you can participate in.

The Word of God and Prayer

We may be disappointed in what is going on, but we can also be empowered because we have the choice in how we respond to the circumstances this virus has foisted on us.

I am choosing to spend this time in the Word of God and prayer.

In last week’s post titled COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart, I shared,

The question is, “Why is God allowing this?” Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that He knew about it and He knew when it [the Coronavirus] would arrive.

Whether the coronavirus is just a medical occurrence or a foreshadowing of what is to come in our world, only our Heavenly Father knows for sure. ¹

And one week later, after reading multiple secular and Christian articles from various viewpoints, I feel the same way.

The Word of God—The Bible—has many purposes in our lives. Click here to read.

But prayer has many purposes in our lives, as well. Prayer . . .

  • Allows for faith, trust, and humility to develop
  • Creates humility and obedience in our lives
  • Builds compassion
  • Unlocks divine resources
  • Allows the Holy Spirit’s presence to guide and help us
  • Equips us to face every situation that comes our way
  • Develops our character
  • Permits us to see situations from God’s perspective
  • Shows us our weaknesses and failings, among other purposes.

Below are some Old Testament Bible verses from the King James Version to help us during this present-day situation.

Read them, pray over them, write them down, memorize them, meditate on them, highlight them in your Bible, or look them up in other Bible versions. But, please take them to heart and let the Holy Spirit of the Living God speak supernaturally to you through prayer.

As in all cases, when a particular verse is shared alone, there is always the possibility it may be misunderstood. I pray that these verses are not in that category. However, if you feel any verse is difficult to understand, out of context, or hard to digest, please take the time to look up the verse and read it in context to completely understand what God is saying to you or to one of his “ancient” servants.

The Pentateuch

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. Exodus 15:13

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19

If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 30:10

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

The Histories

One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Joshua 23:10

And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous. And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord is your way wherein ye go. Judges 18:5-6

And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: Ruth 4:15

He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 1 Samuel 2:9

And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 2 Samuel 22:1-4

(Elijah says to a widow) And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself. 1 Kings 2:3

And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? And wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand. 1 Chronicles 14:10

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Ezra 7:10

Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. Nehemiah 1:6

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Poetry and Wisdom

He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. Job 5:19

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job 23:8-10

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 9:8-9

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday…Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. Psalm 91:5-6, 14

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecclesiastes 11:5

Major Prophets

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Isaiah 43:2-3

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3

Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation. Lamentations 5:19

 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27

To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Daniel 9:9

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

Minor Prophets

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Joel 2:28

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. Obadiah 1:4

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. Jonah 3:1

Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. Micah 7:7-8

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Nahum 1:7

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. Zephaniah 2:3

Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Haggai 1:5-6

Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee; Zechariah 9:12

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:6

Headlines, Articles, and Reports

This week countless headlines, articles, and reports seemed threatening, gloomy and ominous. Regrettably, we can anticipate more will come this following week, but let’s try looking at them from our Heavenly Father’s viewpoint. We can when we are grounded in His Word and prayer. He will show us how to pray. Let’s not let Satan create a fear in us. That is what he wants to do, so our hearts will worry and stray from God.

Recent headlines include…

  • Health care workers on frontlines feel like ‘lambs to the slaughterhouse’
  • Hedge funder Bill Ackman profited $2.6B in Coronavirus market rout
  • Southwestern Baptist Seminary full-time faculty members were let go for financial reasons
  • Pestilence-Is the coronavirus an end-time biblical plague?
  • Surging traffic is slowing down our Internet
  • Virtual happy hours are the new shut-in activity—and everyone’s invited
  • How can you have a church in the age of social distancing?
  • Women are begging for pills to end their pregnancies
  • The reality is that the disease is beyond our capacity to handle in this country
  • Hospitals across the U.S. consider universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients
  • Texas colleges change to pass-fail grading during the pandemic
  • Amazon delivery guy spits on package

Conclusion

The happenings of the day will create fear, loneliness, and an unsettled feeling to many. But, let’s try looking at them from our Heavenly Father’s viewpoint. It is then, and only then, we can experience the wonders of God (during this time) through prayer and His Word—The Bible.

So as with my hair, I was disappointed I couldn’t reach my goal of leaving the salon with my new gray hair. But, I was empowered I had the choice I could wait for a better day and a better color.

We may be disappointed regarding the state of world affairs right now or we can be empowered to make a difference in our life or in the life of others. It is my choice! And, it is your choice.

God promises to care of us. Just keep looking to Him through prayer and the Word of God.

He loves you.

To read COVID-19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart Part 1, click here.

God Bless.

GreenePastures.org

Bible Verses: See above.

Prayers:

“20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic” by Jen Pollock Michel

1. For the sick and infected: God, heal and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.

2. For our vulnerable populations: God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially the uninsured.

3. For the young and the strong: God, give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help.

4. For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combatting this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests.

5. For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.

6. For the media, committed to providing up-to-date information: God, help them to communicate with appropriate seriousness without causing panic.

7. For consumers of media, looking to be well-informed: God, help us find the most helpful local information to equip us to be good neighbors. Keep us from anxiety and panic, and enable us to implement the recommended strategies, even at a cost to ourselves.

8. For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless: God, provide them every necessary support.

9. For the homeless, unable to practice the protocols of social distancing in the shelter system: Protect them from disease, and provide isolation shelters in every city.

10. For international travelers stuck in foreign countries: God, help them return home safely and quickly.

11. For Christian missionaries throughout the world, especially in areas with high rates of infection: God, provide them with words of hope, and equip them to love and serve those around them.

12. For workers in a variety of industries facing layoffs and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire your church to generously support them.

13. For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.

14. For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.

15. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.

16. For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.

17. For pastors and church leaders faced with the challenges of social distancing: God, help them to creatively imagine how to pastor their congregants and love their cities well.

18. For college and university students, whose courses of study are changing, whose placements are canceled, whose graduation is uncertain: God, show them that while life is uncertain, their trust is in you.

19. For Christians in every neighborhood, community, and city: May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified around the world.

20. For frontline health care workers, we thank you for their vocational call to serve us. We also pray:

  • God, keep them safe and healthy. Keep their families safe and healthy.
  • God, help them to be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, as well as the changing protocols.
  • God, help them to stay clear-minded in the midst of the surrounding panic.
  • God, deliver them from anxiety for their own loved ones (aging parents, children, spouses, roommates).
  • God, give them compassion for every patient in their care.
  • God, provide for them financially, especially if they fall ill and are unable to work.
  • God, help Christians in health care to exhibit extraordinary peace, so that many would ask about the reason for their hope. Give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel. ²

Bibliography

¹ Greene, Patti. “COVID 19: It’s Time to Take God’s Word to Heart. Greene Pastures Blog. 24 March 2020. https://greenepastures.org/COVID-19.

² Michel, Jen Pollock, “20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic.” Christianity Today. Mar 18 2020. Accessed Mar 29 2020. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-coronavirus-20-prayers-to-pray-during-pandemic.html

All Bible verses come from the King James Version.

Patti Greene’s Bio

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please sign up from this blog or email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

 

%d bloggers like this: