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A Book Review: Eternity Now: The New Testament Series

Eternity Now: The New Testament Series. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2022.

In August 2022, I received a complimentary copy of Eternity Now: The New Testament Series from Thomas Nelson publishers because I am a Bible Gateway Blogger Grid member who promised to read the books and publish an honest review of the series. My analysis is below.

The Series

This series consists of five books titled with a content description.

Volume 1: The Legacy—Matthew, Hebrews, James, Jude

Volume 2: No Going Back—Mark, 1-2 Peter

Volume 3: Grand Tour—Books of Luke: Luke, Acts

Volume 4: Death to Life—Books of Paul: Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians,

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy,

Titus, Philemon.

Volume 5: Now But Not Yet—Books of John: John, 1-3 John, Revelation

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Content

The books are formatted presentations of the New Testament using the New English Translation. The editors describe the series as books that reveal “the history shaping story of how Jesus Christ changed the world and what that means to you. The reader-friendly format presents the New Testament books across five paperback volumes, making it easy to carry anywhere and read anytime.”

Design Décor Description

The books arrived in a beautiful display box—so attractive that one would be proud to place the boxed set on any bookshelf as a lovely décor addition. All five books have coordinated covers using blue, orange, black, and two shades of green. When put together, the spines of the books create an attractive design when placed in the series box. Each cover describes the book as coming “From the #1 Bestselling Book of All Times” (a.k.a. The Bible) along with a title, subtitle, quotation, and an acknowledgment that what is inside comes from the New English Translation Bible (NET). When I first received the books, I had no idea the publishers were using a unique concept in designing them to make them look like small fiction or non-fiction books—great to fit into one’s purse or briefcase.

The Positives

  1. The books are easy to pick up and browse through, easy enough for any late elementary or junior high student to read.
  2. The “ministry-first” concept is impressive, meaning there are no restrictions regarding quoting or sharing any of the Scriptures when using them in books, magazines, newspaper articles, and more. One does not have to gain permission to use as much of the translation as desired.
  3. Its simple format is excellent for seniors who might have problems holding a large, heavy Bible.
  4. I enjoyed how the layout shows the chapter headings and accurate subtopics.
  5. Another positive is that the books bold all prophecies from the Old Testament.
  6. This innovative approach to Bible reading seems accurate compared to my usually read Bible—the New American Standard Bible.

The Drawbacks

The drawbacks listed below are all due to “my personal preferences,” which may or may not affect other readers.

  1. All five books lack verse numbers while representing their story format. I understand that by not including verse numbers, one will experience more ease in reading. However for me, many times, as I was reading, I wanted to look up the Bible verse but could not find “the address” to do so.
  2. The books did not create that sacred feeling of reading the Bible. While the editor’s intent is to read each book like a novel, reading them as a novel was bothersome.
  3. Words referring to Jesus were in lowercase letters. My preference would have been to use the names of Jesus as He, Him, and Himself. Other words like scripture are also noted in lowercase.
  4. I missed the red lettering of Jesus’ words prevalent in many Bible versions.

Book’s Purpose

The book’s primary purpose is obvious. It is to get the Bible into the hands of those who might never pick up a Bible themselves, making this set a lovely gift for any occasion for boys, girls, men, and women. Not everyone will appreciate the novel format, but many will find it the most enjoyable way to read the Bible. Therefore I recommend this book series.

God Bless,

New English Translation Bible Verses:

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 NET

Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God. Matthew 22:29 NET

For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.” John 19:36 NET

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. Luke 24:45 NET

Prayer:

Lord, give me wisdom as I approach my Bible reading. Lead me to Bible verses You want me to read and learn from. Allow me to obey all Your sacred principles, which You have made available through Your Holy Scriptures. You are a mighty God, and I love You. Amen

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

 

Barnabas: Leadership in Action

[Email followers: Click the title to see this article in its web version.]

 

Following Christ involves denying ourselves to follow Him. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23 NASB1995).[1] This verse is crucial for Christian leaders to heed. Barnabas’ years in ministry possessed a heart intent on following Jesus. This goal was accomplished using Jesus’ style of leadership—servant leadership.

Barnabas

Barnabas was born and raised on the island of Cyprus. His training and upbringing stemmed from him being a Levite of Jewish descent. His name occurs twenty-three times in the Book of Acts and five times in the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote.[2] Before Jesus’ disciples called him Barnabas, Acts 4:36 says he was called Joseph (Joses) which means “Son of Encouragement.” Luke interprets Barnabas into the Greek words huios paraclete’s, which may well be translated as “son of encouragement,” “son of comfort,” or “Son of Exhortation.” Some say it could mean “son of a prophet,” but then doubts are cast why Luke calls him the “Son of Encouragement.” Some scholars question why Paul calls him the “son of encouragement in Acts.[3]

Barnabas’ central timeline includes selling property and giving the profits to the Jerusalem church, meeting and introducing Paul to the church in Jerusalem, being commissioned to travel to Syrian Antioch to evaluate what was happening with the preaching and Christianity there, leading the first missionary journey with Paul, set out on a missionary journey with his cousin John Mark, and an instrumental leader in Cyprus, Antioch, and Jerusalem.[4]

Barnabas’ Qualities, Strengths, and Weaknesses

Throughout the Book of Acts, one sees qualities of generosity, encouragement, leadership, loyalty, friendship, consistency in being a team player, and a love for God. His focus on the mission God had prepared for him is evident through his words and actions.

Godly character and behavior remained pivotal throughout Barnabas’ life. His strong personality was built by his love and dedication to his salvation and call upon his life. Due to this, Barnabas naturally had multiple strengths.

  1. Big-hearted: When Barnabas sold his land to give to the early Christian community, that behavior was rare then. Could it be that this was one of the first relief work missions that one sees from the New Testament?
  2. Persuasive: In Jerusalem, Barnabas received a cool reception because the disciples could not believe that Paul had changed from a persecutor to a follower of Jesus. Barnabas persuaded them, and they eventually thought he was a disciple of Christ.[5]
  3. Loyal: Barnabas was faithful to John Mark when he abandoned his work on the first missionary journey. He did not allow the disagreement when Paul refused to have John Mark participate in the second missionary journey to affect their relationship. Due to the encouragement of Barnabas, vital contributions from both Paul and Mark have been made to the Christian faith and the New Testament.
  4. Exceptional evangelist: Many souls were saved as he traveled from city to city, church to church
  5. Discerning: Barnabas discerned that Paul’s character had been transformed from a sinner to a believer in Jesus Christ.
  6. Humble: Barnabas followed wherever he was needed. He did not show one-upmanship or comparison to other people as he lived his life.
  7. Filled with the Holy Spirit: Barnabas would not have been able to minister as he did without the Holy Spirit leading and guiding him.
  8. Encourager: As an encourager, he could keep the peace with Paul through a lasting friendship and encourage those he met along his life journey.

Few weaknesses are evident in the Bible. However, one weakness found was hypocrisy. One can only assume that if one backslides and is not living for the Lord, the Holy Spirit’s evidence in their life would wane. It is unknown if Barnabas experienced a dip in his spiritual life, but there is no evidence in the Bible of any other faults. Regarding hypocrisy, Paul accused Peter and others (including Barnabas) of being hypocrites because they separated themselves and feared the circumcision party. Paul mentions that “even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy” (Gal. 2:13). Not knowing the heart of Barnabas on this matter, this weakness may or may not be accurate since we should never judge others primarily based on the word of only one person and this one incident.

Principles and Issues on Leadership

Many secular scholars over the years have tried to conceptualize and define leadership. Peter G. Northouse defines leadership: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.”[6] While that is a helpful definition, Jesus’ life and lifestyle would be more appropriate if one were to look for the Biblical description and qualities a leader should possess. C. Gene Wilkes discusses seven servant leadership principles. These principles are seen in one degree or another in Barnabas.

  1. Jesus humbled himself and allowed God to exalt him.
  2. Jesus followed his Father’s will rather than seek a position
  3. Jesus defined greatness as being a servant and being first as becoming a slave.
  4. Jesus risked serving others because he trusted that he was God’s Son
  5. Jesus left his place at the head table to serve the needs of others
  6. Jesus shared responsibility and authority with those he called to lead
  7. Jesus built a team to carry out a worldwide vision.[7]

Critical Analysis: Barnabas’ Servant Leadership Qualities

Barnabas’ leadership qualities are detected in various locations in the Bible that closely mimic the same leadership model Jesus portrayed.

  1. Barnabas’ humility and generosity are recognized in Acts 4:37 where he sold a tract of his land, brought the money, and laid it at the apostle’s feet to be appropriated as needed in the Jerusalem church.
  2. Barnabas’ belief that people can change for the good is noted in Acts 9:26-27 when the disciples were afraid of Paul. Barnabas described to the apostles that he had talked to Paul and that he had spoken out boldly for Jesus.
  3. In Acts 15:35, Barnabas is regarded as a leader proclaiming the word of the Lord. His leadership is also seen in his involvement with the Council of Jerusalem. It was there that Paul and Barnabas were given “the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles” to proclaim God’s message of salvation (Gal. 2:9).
  4. Barnabas continued in Jesus’ footsteps by being a risk taker. When Paul would not allow John Mark to accompany him on his second missionary journey, he took John Mark under his wing, and they proceeded to proclaim the Lord to the world, even though John Mark deserted them on the first missionary journey.
  5. Serving others through his preaching, teaching, and mentoring was everyday behavior for Barnabas. In Acts 13:42-43, the people in the synagogue begged Paul and Barnabas to continue to speak to them. Both these men served the Lord by encouraging them to continue in the grace of God.
  6. Barnabas loved God and recognized God’s authority over his life. In Jesus on Leadership, Wilkes says, “Barnabas’s relationship to God helped him see past the fear of others and come alongside Paul who would ultimately take the message of Jesus to all people groups.”[8] Last, Barnabas did build a close-knit team by mentoring Paul and John Mark. However, he also left the mark of Jesus upon all the churches and cities he traveled sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Synthesis: How Barnabas’ Leadership is Applied to Ministry Settings

Studying the life of Barnabas brings many principles that one can bring to a servant leadership style. Values arising from these principles may be valuable to any believer—those working in a secular or Christian environment.

Like Barnabas did, striving, desiring, and working toward a life of holiness is essential to one’s spiritual growth and ability to lead. His lifestyle was built on character, integrity, and submission to the Lord. His determination steered him to possess and retain God’s heart. He lived and served as Jesus did, and Jesus’ influence led him to behave and interact lovingly with others. Standing up for what is right and acknowledging God as our strength in our ministries creates a life that others will want to emulate. Honesty and honest work are vital, as well. Leading like Christ and behaving like Christ is how ministry workers should behave and lead. Just as Barnabas served people, so must those in ministry. However, how is that done? Author and Pastor C. G. Wilkes says, “Servant and leader stand together as a model for those entrusted with the well-being of a group. Leaders who follow the example and teachings of Jesus will lead first as servants.”[9] My personal goal for ministry leadership lines up with Wilkes’s beliefs, and that is to pray for humility, patience, a desire to put others before me, take risks, and equip others well.

Conclusion

Believers are all sinners—even Barnabas. The Apostle Paul writes a summation verse that encompasses how we can live in our fallen nature.

Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).

Pressing on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus is a worthy goal. When that goal is in the forefront of a believer’s mind, as it was with Barnabas, servant leadership will follow.

Legend says this Barnabas died a martyr’s death at Salamis in AD 61. He is remembered as being possibly one of the seventy mentioned in Luke 10:1 and the traditional founder of the Cypriot Church.[10] Most would agree with Norman Blackaby and Wilkes that, Barnabas’ leadership, and character “made a lasting difference in the lives of millions because he demonstrated the heart of God.”[11]

God bless,

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we see Barnabas relating to others, let me have the same qualities as he had. I want to be more generous. I want to encourage others and be loyal to my friends and family. Help me, Jesus to continue to have a love for all things of God and to put others before myself. You are a good God and I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

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This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please contact me through the comment section of this article. [This paper was written for a college, academic, research class by Patti Greene.]

 

 

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online!

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Bibliography

Note: All linked Bible verses come from the NASB1995 version.

“Barnabas.” in Lexham Bible Dictionary. Logos Bible Software, accessed June 2, 2022. www.logos.com.

Brooks, James. “Barnabas.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. revised ed. edited by Chad Brand, Eric Mitchell, and Holman Reference Editorial Staff.

Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2015.

Barnabas. (2002). In R. Brownrigg, Who’s who in the New Testament, Routledge (2nd ed.). Routledge. Credo Reference:

http://library.dbu.edu:2048/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/routwwnt/barnabas/0?institutionId=2659.

Blackaby Norman and Gene Wilkes. Character: The Pulse of a Disciple’s Heart. Birmingham: New Hope, 2012.

Cross, Frank and Elizabeth Livingstone, ed. “Barnabas.” Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. accessed June 2, 2022.

https://www-oxfordreference-com.library.dbu.edu/view/10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001/acref-9780192802903.

Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory & Practice. 9th ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2022.

Wilkes, C. Gene. Jesus on Leadership: Timeless Wisdom on Servant Leadership. Carol Stream: Tyndale, 1998.

Zodhiates, Spiros. ed. Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: Key Insights into God’s Word, New

            American Standard Bible, rev. ed. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

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.

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

  

 

My Favorite Pericope: James 1:5-8

Today, let us summarize a pericope from James 1:5-8.

Did I catch your attention with the word “pericope”? It is not a common word used outside of theological studies, but I will share my new vocabulary with you since I recently learned its meaning. Oxford Lexico defines a pericope as “an extract from a text, especially a passage from the Bible.” ¹

So, let’s move on!

JAMES 1:5 SAYS

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We all encounter trials! That is why we need wisdom. We must ask God for wisdom. Why? Because He gives it to us liberally and without reproach. Reproach means “disapproval or disappointment.”

SOLOMON’S PRAYER FOR WISDOM

In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you?”

And Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.

Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?”

God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king,

wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you. (2 Chron 1:7-12 NASB).

JAMES 1:6 STATES

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

If we do not believe God will give His wisdom to us, James compares us to a wave of the sea tossed by the wind. We need to be solid and firm, not insipid about our faith.

JAMES 1:7-8 CONTINUES

For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James calls the one who does not believe he will receive wisdom from God a “double-minded man.” Some scholars call him a “double-souled man.” James also says that such a person should not expect anything from the Lord. What a tragedy when God wants to give us the best life possible by emulating Himself!

SOLOMON AND THE BABIES

In 1 Kings 3:16-28 (CEV), Solomon, a man of wisdom, had to make a difficult decision.

Two women came to him, and the first woman told him that she lived alone in the same house with another woman. This woman had a baby boy, and three days later, the second woman also had a baby boy. While they were sleeping, the second lady rolled over her baby, and he died. Then, she got up and took the first woman’s son out of her bed and put the dead baby next to her.

As you can imagine, the first woman saw the dead baby in the morning and knew it was not her son. In front of King Solomon, they continued arguing back and forth.

The king said, “Someone bring me a sword.” When a sword was brought to Solomon, he ordered that the living baby be cut in half, so each woman could have a part of the baby.

The real mother screamed, “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just do not kill him.” The second woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”

With all his godly wisdom, Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Pointing to the first woman, he declared, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.” And all Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon wisely made his decision.

This kind of wisdom is possible for us as well. I experienced God’s wisdom when I asked Him for it early in my spiritual walk.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH PRAYING FOR WISDOM

Back in the 1970s I was an elementary-grade teacher in the Fort Worth, Texas school system. Each spring, teachers selected by the district to be retained had to decide whether to sign a new contract, confirm their agreement to stay for the upcoming school year, or not sign and seek opportunities elsewhere.

Before me was the question of whether to stay in Fort Worth, or move to Houston. It was my first encounter with genuinely seeking God’s wisdom.

On April 1, 1977, our principal walked into my classroom while I was teaching and, in front of everyone, handed me my contract for the upcoming year. “I need it back by 4:00 p.m. today,” he said.

I was struck with fear of being forced to make such a consequential decision so quickly! I gave my students some busy work and consulted my Bible. I prayed, then searched the Scripture for the Lord’s direction.

I eventually came upon Ecclesiastes 11:5:

Just as you do not know the path of the wind, and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes everything.

While it does not make sense to anyone else but me, that verse might as well have said, “Patti, move to Houston.” That very day, I told my principal I was moving and never looked back.

I can say that following James 1:5 in asking for God’s wisdom, He answers. It might not be the way one might envision or in the timeline preferred, but God loves us so much and has so much compassion on us that He always answers at just the right time.

HOW TO ATTAIN WISDOM

  1. Ask for wisdom—not human understanding, but divine wisdom from God’s Holy Spirit.
  2. Make it a habit to cleanse yourself from all known sins.
  3. Trust in God’s word to guide you as you seek His wisdom, then
  4. Trust that God’s wisdom will change your life.

God makes wisdom attainable to us. My charge is for you to follow the steps above and always recall this Godly pericope from James 1:5-8.

PRAYER

My dear Lord, when I am fearful to ask You for help, understanding, or wisdom, guide me by Your Holy Spirit, to You—to trust You and have faith. I want to live my life fully attuned to Your will and ways, but sometimes I fail. Please give me the courage to ask for wisdom in faith to be stable in all my ways. Amen.

BIBLE VERSES

  1. Wisdom and Understanding—King David said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His Commandments; His praise endures forever!” (Psalm 111:10).
  2. Faith—Jesus said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to” (Matthew 17:20b).
  3. Stability—Paul said, “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” (Colossians 2:5).
  4. Freely Given–Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)

God Bless,

¹”Pericope.” Dictionary. Accessed December 12th, 2021. https://www.lexico.com/definition/pericope.

Edited by E. Johnson.

Linked Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible.

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

  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
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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.”

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Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer

Just like with music, I get hooked on a particular song, and I play it over and over, much to my husband’s cagrin.

As a teenager, I remember playing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye so much that I thought my brother might rip the 45-rpm vinyl off the record player. I also obsess over topics and authors I investigate. I read an issue, or books by authors I like, until another new subject or writer piques my interest. 

The past few months, I have been obsessed with reading quite a few books by a true man of God— A.W. Tozer. During his life (1897-1963), Tozer was an American Christian pastor, Christian mentor, magazine editor, and author. As an author, he wrote sincerely! He wrote boldly! And he wrote with authority. Some of what he wrote contains many thoughts I have but am afraid to express. Maybe it’s my insecurity over being rejected, or perhaps it is my lack of courage or confidence. Either way, I am glad Tozer wrote what I mull over.

Tozer accepted Jesus Christ as his savior when he was a 17 year old teenager. His life was never the same after that. His schooling ended at 6th grade, but his education continued through extensive study in the Word of God. To read more about his life, click here. A.W. Tozer’s Biography from his Webpage!.

This past month, I wanted to read something happy, so I bought Tozer’s book, Delighting in God: True and absolute freedom is found only in the presence of God. This being a hectic time, I highlighted some sentences to share with you as I read the book. It turned out there was more conviction in the book than delighting. I know that conviction leads to confession, confession to a clean heart, a clean heart to a transformed heart, and a transformed heart to delighting in Him. So, I read on!

Below, I have quoted one sentence from each chapter of Tozer’s book, except in Chapter 7, where I splurged with two quotes, 

Two Activities

After I wrote, then reread this blog, I noticed something was missing.

What was missing was my thoughts on each profound phrase, so I quickly reread Tozer’s statements and jotted down the first thought that came to my mind. This activity reminded me of where I am at in my spiritual walk. You might find dialoguing over spiritual beliefs this way fun!

After reading Tozer’s chapter snippets, respond (aloud or on paper) to what you feel right after reading his quotation. You most likely will not have the same expressions as I did. That is to be expected, since we come from different backgrounds, encounter various trials, and experience wide-ranging circumstances. Also, our levels of maturity differ. It is an excellent dialoguing activity. To use a line from an old Alka-Seltzer commercial, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Second, as a read-through activity, just read the chapter snippets I have noted from Tozer. You might become enamored of his writing style and decide if you want to pursue more profound readings along his lines. 

Chapter Snippets

Chapter 1: What I see lacking today is passion, but more defined, a passion for God, a deep desire to know God as He desires to be known.

“Oh Lord, give me a passion to be so close to You. Let me cling to You always.”

Chapter 2: What the Holy Spirit does not reveal to us is not worth knowing.

“This is hard, God. I want to know what the future holds for me, but I am not hearing from You. I remind myself You know the big picture of my life, but it doesn’t help my ruminations.”

Chapter 3: In evaluating the great advances and victories in the Christian church, we need to compare it to the New Testament pattern.

“Amen and Amen.”

Chapter 4 – Church problem – everything is programmed.

“So true Lord. I know for broadcasting, programs must be programmed, but I long for the days when we can be free to worship in our church without time restraints and just worship You until the Holy Spirit says to stop.”

Chapter 5 – You cannot reach the world by becoming like the world.

“I pray for me and my friends to not be like the world. I fail often. Let me see that as believers we are not of this world and accept that we may not quite fit in with some.”

Chapter 6: The average church . . . does not dare rise into high theology, because his poor backward sheep cannot follow him. It is hard to get people to think, but it is harder still to get them to thirst.

“Let our pastors and church leaders proclaim the Word of God without fear or trembling. Allow the Word of God to deeply infiltrate their lives, so only Your pure and righteous teaching may be preached. Let us understand church is for worshiping You, not for worldly entertainment.”

Chapter 7: What weakens us in evangelical circles is that we put a plus sign after Christ.

“Nothing can be added to You, God. I can’t add works, more Bible studies, more church work to add on to You. It is only a deeper walk with You that we need. Let us confess our sins and look to You for everything.”

Another Sentence from Chapter 7: Twenty minutes on your knees in silence before God will sometimes teach you more than you can learn even in church.

“This is so true, Jesus. When I am silent before You, You speak. Let my time with You be so much longer than just 20 minutes. I know I need so much more silence and solitude.”

Chapter 8: The first duty of every minister of the gospel is to bring God back to the church—not the intellectual God of the academics, not the palsy God of the gospelers, not the chairman of the board, but the God who reveals Himself in the Scriptures and who revealed Himself supremely in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Amen. Lord, I pray for my ministers and mentors. Do not let them fall into such spiritual warfare that God isn’t preached in truth and power. Let me always keep in my mind that in all I do, I must be humble before You as I face the hard things in life.”

Chapter 9: Whatever in my life is unlike God and contrary to the holiness of God must be eliminated from my life.

“Man, I so need to remember this. I pray for elimination over and over and over. I desire it, but it is so hard when the same thoughts keep seeping through my mind. Heal me of all ungodly thoughts and teach me what triggers I have that leads me astray.”

Chapter 10: To know about God and to know God are two absolutely, different things.

“I want my friends–even my church friends to understand this.”

Chapter 11: God cannot be manipulated.

“So true. Try as we may, God cannot be manipulated. He knows what is best for us and that is the direction He pursues for us. I sometimes try to get MY desires met through prayer and persuasion, but in reality, He is the one in charge–not us.”

Chapter 12: It is impossible to separate the Old Testament from the New Testament. It takes the whole Bible to make the Word of God.

“I heard once that when we read the entire Bible, we open ourselves up to hear ALL God wants to tell us. But, if we only read part of the Bible or only the parts we like, it is like us telling the Lord, ‘We DON’T want to know too much about Him.’ Lord, keep me in Your Word using all the different and creative ways I have seen You do, both in the past and currently.”

Chapter 13: So, God takes us through many trials, and it is not so important that we be happy right now. He is thinking about our enjoyment forever.

“Amen! If I can only live in the light of wanting Heaven more than anything else. I need Your strength each day to do that. I am so weak in this area.”

Chapter 14: Your own thoughts are heard by Him just as loud as Your loudest shout because God is as near to You as Your nerves, as near to You as Your thoughts and Your soul.

Jesus, I know You hear my thoughts and my prayers, but I sometimes wonder (maybe a lot) why You are not giving me relief in the areas that concern me. Come Lord Jesus and answer me with solid and specific ideas. Please take away any thoughts or prayers that I pray that might not be honorable to You. And, I need You to obliterate any distractions that Satan throws at me. Please.”

Chapter 15: I believe that the most important verse in the Bible is “In the beginning.” The most astounding and powerful phrase of all Scripture is “Thus saith the Lord.”

“Thus saith the Lord” is everywhere in the Bible. Let me hear You clearly when You say that phrase to me. Convince me it is You speaking and not my imagination or wishful thinking.”

Chapter 16: [Prayer] is more than a monologue—it is a dialogue. I am afraid most Christians have not progressed to the dialogue aspect of their prayer life.

“Lord, I know that is true. It hurts when I realize how difficult it is to dialogue–both myself and others. But, I know when we dialogue, it is a precious time between You and me. I love listening to Your Word, to the thoughts I obtain in the quiet times. I love dialoguing with my friends, but dialoging with You is the best. Please, do not let me get so busy where I am tempted to give my time with You up to do something else.”

Chapter 17: God is good.

Yes, I love that I have recently discovered Nahum 1:7, where it says, “The LORD is good.”

Chapter 18: Too many these days are going about the country making contented Christians. This is one of the worst possible things that could be done in the church—make a content Christian. We should not want contentment but a thirst for hunger after God. As long as we are without the thirst and hunger, we will be content.

“At church, make convictions a reality for us. Let us continually be reminded of sin. Why? So we will continue to become aware of our sins and shortcomings. Convict us, so we move to remove them from our lives. Give us Your humility to bow down in pure love to honor You. I want Your desires to be my desires. I want to become more and more like You. I want transformation.  I want (I need) to be transformed daily into Your image. Please take away any sinful or unpure thoughts, so my mind can be clear to hear Your Word.

Moving On

If anything caught your attention through my chapter highlights or quotes, I would love for you to share your thoughts with me through the comment section.

Okay, I feel it coming on again–that “hooked on a feeling” song. My song this time is “Til He Comes” by the Imperials! I know I am aging myself, but music is music. And the topic of this song is highly profitable as well! Right? Check it out on YouTube or through this link.

If you are a YouTuber, click here to hear “Til He Comes” by the Imperials.

Love y’all.

Bible Verses:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature (1 Corinthians 14:20).

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you (John 14:26).

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Prayer:

Jesus, I want to hunger and thirst for You — for Your righteousness. Every day that I wake up, Lord, create in me a new heart. A heart that desires You more than anything or anyone else. Give me Your strength, wisdom, discernment, and joy until You come again to take us home to be with You forever and ever. In Your Name, Amen.

Work Cited

Tozer, A.W. Delighting in God: True and absolute freedom is found only in the presence of God. Ada, MI: Bethany House, 2015.

Bible verses come from The New American Standard Bible (NASB). “You” and “Your” references referring to God have been capitalized for consistency.

Edited by E. Johnson.

Fun Fact

Wondering what the A.W. stands for in Tozer’s name? His full name is Aiden Wilson Tozer. He never liked his name, so he became identified with his initials.

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Change the Way You Walk and Worship

One thing I can say with confidence is that traveling with God far outweighs traveling without Him. We are on a journey through life deciding whether to walk with Him or without Him. In Genesis through Revelation, God is working to get His people to yearn for an intimate walk with Him. The primary way to accomplish His purpose in our lives is through Christ-centered worship.

In Psalm 84:2, King David wrote, “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh sing for you to the living God.” True worship is giving our undivided devotion to God. Nevertheless, how do we do that?

First, we must give God complete priority in our lives. When we give Him our heart and soul in pure love, genuine worship prevails. Worship is not just singing in a choir, being on a worship team, or even listening to Christian music. Even Bible knowledge does not always connect us with the worthiness of God. Being in the presence of God daily, desiring to follow our Lord and Savior in all areas of our life cultivates true worship.

Second, we ought to worship the Lord not for what He can do for us, but for what we can do for Him. He gave His life for us to live honorably, dedicating our service to Him. Once we accept His offer of salvation, we can worship the Lord in spirit and truth. Author Warren Wiersbe defines worship as involving “wonder, witness, warfare, and wisdom.” ³

Of course, Satan does not want us to worship the King. He will try to disrupt our worship by allowing sin, distractions, evil thoughts, and more to enter our lives.  However, through Jesus, we can fight this warfare with God’s strength and power working through us.

I am a firm believer in both personal and corporate worship. Personal worship includes praying, Bible study, and a quiet time with the Lord. Every person’s modus operandi is different. For example, one might worship through music, pouring out adoration upon the Lord in prayer and Bible reading, while another person might sing while walking through a wooded area, then proceed into prayer with our heavenly Father. No matter how we worship, our actions, behaviors, and thought patterns affect our efforts—maybe through a divine appointment, a service opportunity, or a deeper walk with Him. Our unique personalities and gifts from the Holy Spirit will mark how we worship. Moreover, we cannot leave out the importance of corporate worship—worship in our Christian community. It is there where we will find means to unite with the congregation in spirit, Bible study, song, and sermons, for encouragement or conviction.

A.W. Tozer applicably states,

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” ²

Benefits abound when true worship washes over our spirit, mind, and soul. God may choose to bless us by providing us with incredible opportunities to use our spiritual gifts, a deeper faith, assurance of His will, the holy expectancy of living a life worthy of honor as His child, and more.

There may be broad and varying opinions as to the final goal in worship. However, worship’s crucial goal is to transform our mind, as stated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NASB). ¹

A verse worth memorizing!

Bible Verses: Within Text

Prayer: My gracious heavenly Father, I love You more than anything. Let me experience pure worship, both in my personal and corporate worship. Let my life be honorable to You in all I do. Show me my weaknesses and where I need to repent to be a better witness and soul-winner for You and Your Kingdom. Again, I love You. Thank You, Lord. Amen!

Edited by E. Johnson

Works Cited 

¹ Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. Rev. ed. Chattanooga: AMG, 2008.

²Tozer, A.W., “20 Timeless Worship Quotes by A.W. Tozer. Renewing worship, accessed January 27, 2021. www.renewingworshipnc.org/quotes-by-tozer.

³ Warren, Wiersbe. Review excerpt on the book cover. Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Ground? 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004).

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Ten Ways to Acknowledge God Honorably and Biblically

Have you ever felt led to pour love and grace upon a person? If so, it is most likely a person that you find great happiness being with. You want to help this person in their pursuits and passions. You protect them and wish them the best. Just as with a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, you find time to be with them—no matter what!

This is the same reason we should find time to spend with God. We do this because . . .

  • He loves us.
  • He is gracious to us.
  • He is merciful to us.
  • He forgives us, and
  • He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to die for us.

Let’s see what the Bible says about how to acknowledge our heavenly Father honorably and biblically. While these ten ways are not exhaustive, they are an advantageous start to keeping our minds focused on the Lord.

Ten Ways to Acknowledge God Honorably and Biblically

  1. Be obedient. (See Genesis 22:1-14)

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So, Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place of which God had told him. (Gen. 22:1-3)

  1. Offer Him your sacrifices. (See 2 Chronicles 7:1-9)

Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. (2 Chron. 7:1)

  1. Humble yourself and pray. (See 2 Chronicles 7:12-22)

And My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chron.7:14)

  1. Marvel at what He has done through His resurrection. (See Luke 24:1-12)

Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and when he stooped and looked in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. (Luke 24:12)

  1. Follow His words. (See John 21:1-14)

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find the fish.” So, they cast it, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great quantity of fish. (John 21:6)

  1. Follow Him. (See John 21:15-25)

Now He said this, indicating by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had said this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” (John 21:19)

  1. Worship Him. (See Revelation 4:1-8)

And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.

And when the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and they will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.

(Rev. 4:8-11)

  1. Bless, honor, and glorify Him. (See Revelation 5:6-14)

Saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing.”

And I heard every created thing which is in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, or on the sea, and all the things in them, saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion forever and ever.” (Rev. 5:12-13)

  1. Give Cheerfully. (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7)

  1.  Praise Him. (See Psalm 34:1-10)

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Ps. 34:1)

When you embark on a lifestyle of poring your love and mercy upon your heavenly Father in an honorable and biblical fashion, you will notice positive changes in your life occurring and so will others! Despite anything you are going through!

And that’s awesome!

Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to become more honorable to You. Allow me to become more conscientious as I go through my day to appreciate the tenderness You have shown me. I am sorry for when I have failed to recognize Your movement in my life, Let Me become more like You as I practice Your righteousness in my heart and before men.

God Bless.

All Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Books by Patti Greene

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (Westbow, 2016 Reprint)

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (Westbow, 2016 Reprint)

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (Westbow, 2016)

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending (Awesome Librarian, 2018)

Sacred Snippet: Refilling the Pot

When the coffee pot is empty, we refill the water, the grinds, and the filter.

When this year ends, let us refill our mind, heart, and soul with the love of God!

As we approach the new year and are thinking about our New Year resolutions, we tend to think like this . . .

If I am stressed, I need to unstress.

If I am frustrated, I need to be less frustrated.

If I lust, I need to stop lusting.

If I am addicted, I need to not be addicted.

If I am proud, I need to be humble.

If I lie, I need to stop lying, and

If I am overweight, I need to stop eating.

This list could go on and on and on!

As believers, we encounter the same challenges as unbelievers. The difference is we have the power through the Holy Spirit to confront these ordeals not just in our strength, but in His.

As we face the New Year, let us commit to asking the Lord to continually show us our shortcomings and sins, then evaluate and confess them. Let us renew our relationship with Christ through daily prayer and Bible reading. Let us lay our souls bare before Him and talk to Him about EVERYTHING. He is here to hear our concerns, our weaknesses, our upcoming decisions, our plans, and our spiritual concerns. He already knows them, but by expressing ourselves to Him in either quiet meditation or loud wailing, we are connecting to the source who wants to guide up to a deeper walk with Him in holiness “. . . For He knows the secrets of our heart” (Psalm 44:21).

Below is an example of sharing one’s heart with God from Psalm 139. I challenge you to read this Hebrew prayer from King David aloud and make this prayer your prayer as we approach this upcoming year!

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
You understand my thought from far away.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, Lord, You know it all.
You have encircled me behind and in front,
And placed Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot comprehend it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take up the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

For You created my innermost parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully formed in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my formless substance;
And in Your book were written
All the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts for me, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

If only You would put the wicked to death, God;
Leave me, you men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

Do I not hate those who hate You, Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139:1-24

Prayer:

Lord, let not anything interfere with my quiet times with You or my connection with Your church and community. Let me worship You with gratitude and live a life of perseverance in every direction You lead.

Bible Version: NASB

How God Speaks Supernaturally Through His Word

The Bible Speaks Supernaturally

You may have heard people say, “the Bible speaks supernaturally,” but what does that really mean, and how do you experience it? Those are tough questions to answer because unless you have experienced it, explaining it is hard to do. I am not an expert on this topic other than the fact I have personally experienced it. Not just once, but multiple times.

I am not talking about the everyday way the Bible speaks to mankind through Godly principles, commands, inferences, and stories; I am talking about those WOW moments when one cannot escape the fact that the Lord is speaking so directly and so powerfully that His Word enlightens us as nothing else can! For me, these verses have usually become part of my collection of “life verses” because they have made such an impact on my life at the time I received them and in my current walk with the Lord.

Author Blair Park defines a “life verse” as a Bible verse that “establishes intimacy with our heavenly Father and is our tether to remind us of His love and omnipresent nature in our daily lives, whether we feel He is near or not. A life verse also reveals to us that God’s Word is alive and still appropriate for whatever situation we might find ourselves in when our faith is tested.” ¹

Honestly speaking, if you have not experienced this, you are seriously missing out on one of the most joyous experiences in a believer’s life!

God Speaks to Us

I am often hesitant to say “God told me…” Whether it is because of fear that I might be mistaken or possibly not wanting to appear too pious, I find myself saying instead, “God impressed upon me…” It just sounds less religious and less pompous.

However, in truth, God does speak to us!

In a cursory search on Bible Gateway, I plugged in the terms God says, God said, God spoke, and God told and discovered that these terms yielded 1,030 results. ²

In John 16:13, Jesus says…

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

God may speak to us through counselors, pastors, laypeople, and others. But God mostly speaks through His Word. It is through the Bible and the Holy Spirit we can have confidence in what God reveals to us.

God Speaks to Us Supernaturally

Whenever someone uses the word supernatural or supernaturally, people get a little freaked out. They think you must be talking about the likes of mediums, channeling, and/or seances. When a believer in Jesus Christ talks about the Bible speaking supernaturally to them, they are not referring to something psychic, mystical, or paranormal. That is NOT what is being referred to here.

The Bible strictly forbids that kind of supernatural occurrence.

Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:31).

When the Word of God speaks to us supernaturally in the WOW kind of way, we are often desperately seeking an answer or needing confirmation that we are doing the right thing. At times like these, God may choose to give us a Bible verse or principle to hang on to through our anxious inquisitory period. But, while we may long for WOW verses, it is up to our heavenly Father when and how He speaks to us. We will just know supernaturally when we receive a special word from Him.

We must remember that He also speaks to us through other means as well like, nature, angels, our conscience, other people, commands, principles, and even in a still, small whisper as He spoke to Elijah at Horeb (1 Kings 19).

In the 1970s I had my first experience with a WOW verse. I was teaching second grade in the Fort Worth, Texas area. Apprehension and restlessness filled the beginning of the school year, so I made a deal with the Lord. I said, “Lord, I will start reading Your Word until you show me whether I should move back to my hometown of Houston or not.” After work, I would rush to my apartment and conscientiously and faithfully devour the Bible seeking an answer to my question.

I remember the morning of April 1st well. My principal stopped by my classroom and handed me my school contract for the upcoming year. He said, “I need to have this contract back and signed by 4:00 pm today.” What was I to do? God had not given me an answer yet on how to proceed, and I had already finished reading the entire Bible—Genesis to Revelation! I gave my class some busy work to do. I pulled out my Bible and started reading. And, WOW, God spoke to me in the WOW kind of way:

Just as you do not know the path of the wind, and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes everything (Ecclesiastes 11:5).

Being in a state of awe, that verse could have just as well said, “Patti, move to Houston.” I do not know how I read that into that verse. It was the supernatural Word of God speaking. I did not and still do not fully understand how this works, but that is why it is called “supernatural.” That verse gave me the confidence to turn in my unsigned contract that very afternoon.

I moved to Houston at the end of the school year, met my husband, and raised three children there. And, 43 years later, we are still in Houston (with a few brief stints elsewhere.)

No matter how we hear from the Lord—through conventional means or in a WOW way, let us graciously thank Him for all His leadings, love and insights.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is real. He is probably the least understood person of the Trinity. It is important for us to know how the Spirit works and understand how He reveals Himself.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand God and His Word.

However, not everyone is privy to the things of God. The natural man (he who has not yet chosen to follow Christ) does not understand the things of God, as they seem foolish to him.

Those who have received God’s gift of salvation by confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, they are qualified to understand His ways and words.

If you are a believer, pray and ask God to give you supernatural insights. Ask Him to give you a thirst for the deeper things of God and to hear from Him through His word. God reveals glorious things through the Holy Spirit because no one knows the “thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Unfortunately, there are times believers are prevented from hearing from God. This may be due to unconfessed sin, pride, a controlling spirit, a desire for power, idolatry, and other reasons.

Many nominal believers do not know how to deal with deep spiritual ideas. In 3 Fold Secret of the Holy Spirit, author James H. McConkey wrote, “Many today are saved by Christ, and yet are unwilling to yield to Christ.” ³ If you find yourself in this category today, there is hope. The Holy Spirit filled you at your new birth, and now He wants to sanctify and mature you.

Think of the Holy Spirit as your helper, your source of wisdom, your provider of truth, and your interceder. Get real with God. He knows everything anyway. Confess any known sin, pray, and commit to reading your Bible—it is through these things God will reveal Himself to us.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17).

The Bible

The Bible was not written just for pastors, seminary students, or Christian professors. It is written for people just like you and me, regardless of our lack of ministerial training or positions. Some of the most astute Bible pastors I have known have trained themselves in the Word of God through reading and individual study.

Every time we open the Bible, it is beneficial to ask God to open our eyes so we can see wonderful things (Psalm 119:18).

The Bible gives understanding and light to the simple (Psalm 119:30).

All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

When we speak about the Word of God speaking supernaturally, we are not talking about adding anything extra to God’s Word, as some might think. We are talking about the Holy Spirit giving us an illumination into the Word which we can understand more acutely. It gives us the ability to walk away from temptation or toward a blessing.

A Bible verse may speak to you, but not to another. While a verse may be individualized for you, be wise and compare it to other Scriptures, read it in context, and ask other mature believers for clarification if you do not understand it. We must saturate our minds with the Word of God.

Some ask, “Why is it important to read the entire Bible?”

The answer lies in the fact that one part of the Bible helps us to understand other parts of the Bible. You might notice – “Oh, I read the same thing there and there.” This brings enlightenment to God’s Word and how it all ties together. But, keep in mind, it is okay if you do not understand it all. Scholars have spent their entire lives searching out the Scriptures, and so should we.

Frequently when I am reading the Bible, walking in obedience, and praying about something specific or otherwise, God speaks clearly to me through His Word. Sometimes it is in a still small voice, sometimes through a mighty WOW verse. The Lord usually uses exactly where I am in my personal Bible reading to show me His will. It is also at the exact time I need it as well—usually.

Why Don’t We Let God Speak Supernaturally to Us Through His Word?

There are many reasons why we do not allow the Holy Spirit to speak supernaturally to us through the Word of God. Below are just a few.

  • We are fearful of submitting our lives fully to God
  • Unconfessed sin. We may have sin that we are not willing to hand over to God
  • Not willing to give up time for prayer and Bible study
  • We want to be in control of our lives, and
  • We are worried others will think all this talk about the Word of God speaking supernaturally to us will be considered malarky to them.

Conclusion

Recently my mother died. It was on her mind that she wanted my husband and me to move into her home when she passed. For two years, I did pray about whether that was God’s will for us or not. I soon came to realize that was probably not His will.

Nevertheless, sadness still filled my heart once the house went up for sale, and others would have the privilege of living in my parents’ house—a house I grew up in, a house that had been in the family for 51 years, the family home for all holidays and birthdays, the house that held my wedding reception. But God in His goodness provided a verse from His Word that released me from that sorrowful thinking just a few days before the house sold.

For both husband and wife shall be taken, the aged and the very old. And their houses shall be turned over to others (Jeremiah 6:11-12).

How I read this verse…

For both your dad and your mom shall die, the aged (my dad died in his late 80s) and the very old (my mom died in her mid-90s). And their house shall be sold, and others will live in it.

Now, that is a WOW verse—spoken supernaturally through the Holy Spirit directly to me!

I hope this article has shed some light on this sometimes-perplexing topic. If it did, I would love to hear from you in the comment section.

Bible Verses:

This also comes from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who gives supernatural guidance and imparts great wisdom (Isaiah 28:29).

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:13).

For the Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Prayer:

Jesus, I love You. Enlighten my eyes to the treasures in your holy Word. Guide me by Your Holy Spirit into Your truth. Speak clearly and often to me and let me hold dear all You reveal to me. Thank you for being who You are. You are loved. Amen.

God Bless,

Works Cited

¹ Parke, Blair. “What is a Life Verse and How Do I Choose One?” Accessed 20 Nov 2020. www.ibelieve.com.

² Biblegateway. Accessed 5 Nov 2020. www.biblegateway.com.

³ McConkey, James H. Three Fold Secrets of the Holy Spirit. Create Space, (originally published 1897), 2014.

Edited by E. Johnson

All Bible Verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

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Books by Patti Greene – Order Below!

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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