Daily Verse – Struggle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 NIVUK

In this verse the Apostle Paul is teaching, and reminding, believers that our world and lives are more complicated than we think.

Before becoming believers we were purely physical beings and existed in a world of physical situations and challenges.

Now, as believers, we have had the spiritual connection, which Adam and Eve originally possessed, put back into place through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This spiritual ‘refit’ brings us to a new life but a life which also has it’s own unique set of circumstances.

When I read through this verse this morning I got stuck on the ‘struggle’.

The Greek word used is palé and occurs only in this verse in the whole of the New Testament.

Translated mostly as ‘struggle’ it derives from the word ‘pallo’ which means wrestling or to wrestle.

Often our struggles are very much like a wrestling match. We are in the grip of an issue or problem and we are trying to pull away or overpower the ‘thing’.

I am reminded again of the story of Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord, mentioned in yesterday’s Daily Verse.

Jacob saw and understood our lives/world is much more complicated than we often care to consider.

We can struggle creatively as well.

Creativity is a mental and physical experience.

Even creatives who are not believers will refer to their practice as often being a spiritual process.

Recognising and making connection with the spiritual can still mean we struggle or wrestle – with doubts, with processes, with realising that physical form of the mental idea.

If we wrestle like Jacob we will become stronger in our spiritual lives and creative practices.

Daily Verse – Every Thing

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3 NIVUK

We are given everything we need . . . let’s stop right here and start on the shopping list of all our wants and desires!

Western society has embraced an attitude of ‘I want it all and I want it now’ philosophy, and you can even here this message being preached from pulpits.

The Apostle Peter thankfully qualifies this ‘everything’ for us as what we need for a godly life.

The Greek word translated as everything is pas – every and all manner. In terms of time it has an attached meaning of daily, calling immediately to mind the Lord’s Prayer where we are to pray for ‘our daily bread’- the here and now of our food needs.

Godly life – is eusebeia and zóé – godliness/holiness/piety and life in a literal and figurative sense.

Roll up your ‘desire’ list and through it into the rubbish bin.

Be assured, however, that we will be given everything we need to follow Christ and God in a manner after the Gospel message.

Everything we need comes from our knowledge of him.

The word for ‘knowledge’ – epignósis – only occurs here and in Ephesians 4:13 and is better translated as acknowledgement, or recognition.

Our acknowledgement of him – God – allows us to enjoy his divine power which provides us with everything we need to continue to learn, grow, and impact others, to the best we can.

This passage doesn’t necessarily mean we have everything in advance, but we will have what we need at just the right moment for us.

As we grow in the Lord, we are given every thing to continue in that growth.

Daily Verse – Inwardly Renewed

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16 NIVUK

In this verse the Apostle Paul draws attention to the difference between our physical and spiritual presence.

Outwardly we are ‘wasting away’ – we are wearing down or out, our bodies follow the natural process of aging and weaken.

One of the key characteristics I appreciate about Paul is that he is direct and straight with his audience and us.

He doesn’t pull any punches in his assessment of us but, likewise, he then takes us to the other end of the scale, and both can be difficult to digest or come to terms with.

Inwardly – esó – that which is within, the presence of God through the Holy Spirit, is being renewed – anakainoó.

This is the only occurrence of anakainoó in the New Testament, and probably the best way to understand it is with the word ‘renovate’.

Whilst the exterior of us maybe be getting a little more aged and weather worn, inside – the spiritual connection with God – is being renovated – improved, updated, tidied up – day by day!

When times are tough, or our circumstances wear us down, remember that God is always with us and whilst we maybe focused on the outward situation, we are being renovated – adapted, changed, improved – on the inside to match the difficulty.

Daily Verse – Matthew 6:6

You Version

This is one of the most quoted passages of Jesus talking about prayer and he highlights the difference between praying in public for the praise of others and praying individually in a close relationship with God.

The Greek Interlinear offers up an interesting translation of part of this passage.

Rather than ‘go into your room’ it reads, eiselthe eis to tameion sou – enter into the room of you.

Tamieon – the word here used for room – has only two occurrences in the N.T. – here and Luke 12:24. In the latter it is translated as ‘storeroom’.

Strong’s informs us that tampon generally refers to the ground floor or an interior room or chamber of an eastern house.

But the final part of the phrase is the room (tamieon) of you (sou) – not ‘your’ indicating is a space of yours.

The inner room of you.

Sou occurs 478 times in the N.T. and is predominantly translated as ‘of you’ and lesser just ‘you’.

My mastery of N.T. Greek is at best simple, and the next part of the verse has the word ‘door’ – thura – used 14 times as door, but it can be in a literal or figurative state.

Whether you physically shut yourself in a room or pray from the inner you, Jesus assures us that God listens.

So pray.

Daily Verse – 1 Peter 4:10

https://my.bible.com/en-GB/bible/113/1PE.4.10.NIVUK

Interestingly in the Greek Interlinear text of this passage, the phrase ‘from his great variety of spiritual gifts’ does not appear. This is clearly an addition by the translators to further inform on the meaning of the passage.

The more straight forward Interlinear ‘(as) each has received a gift’ is much more inclusive than the addition of spiritual gifts.

You can read of specific spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 13, and no doubt your ‘gift’ may be part or inclusive of these.

Yet there is a difference.

Your gift maybe of conversation or hospitality, music or poetry, confidence or encouragement, teaching or listening, art or craft.

God’s Spirit will be abundantly clear in all of these, no doubt, and they are your gifts to use in service of others, reflecting God’s ‘manifold grace’.

The word gift is charisma occurs 8 times in the N.T. and is always translated as gift, ‘free from God’ and only once in Romans 8:1 as ‘spiritual gift’.

You all have at least one gift from God, which brings something positive to others.

What’s yours?

Daily Verse – Colossians 4:6

Colossians 4:6 https://my.bible.com/bible/113/COL.4.6

The Apostle Paul is talking again about proclaiming the mystery of Christ.

He exhorts us to talk about Jesus, the hope of our lives, wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. As in yesterday’s verse, we are to always be ready to share our faith, even in the face of opposition.

Today, Paul asks us to have grace in our conversations.

The Greek word is charis and it occurs 24 times in the New Testament and is mostly translated as grace and favour, from God and from ourselves as a result of God in our lives.

Strong tells us that charis is from chairo meaning: of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude).

Our conversations are to have God upon our hearts and be a reflection of Him in our lives.

Verse of the Day: Romans 8:1

https://www.bible.com/en-GB/bible/113/ROM.8.1.NIVUK

In this verse the Apostle Paul uses the Greek work katakrima for the word condemnation.

He tells us there is no condemnation – no penalty, no punishment or penal servitude following from a condemning.

There are only two other usages of katakrima besides this one in the New Testament and both occur in Romans 5:16 and 5:18. Both refer to the penalty of Adam’s sin and how, through Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid for good.

In some ways this is an easy concept to understand but much more difficult to take on board.

It is as if a stranger had just walked up to you and offered you a £1,000,000. You would be looking around to try and work out what was going on. Really? The money must be fake. There must be a catch.

Paul reassures us, there is no ‘penalty’ for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Those who are part of the body of Christ. Those of us who find out belief and peace in God through His son.

I love the way The Message Version puts this part of the verse:

‘Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. ‘

https://my.bible.com/bible/97/ROM.8.1-2

How many of us feel as if we are still under that continuous, low-lying black cloud?

The Good News is that we are able to move out from under it into newer, clear blue skies.

Easter Day Thoughts

It has been more than a year since I entered a physical church building.

No one could have imagined the events of the last year which has contributed to me making that statement.

I have always believed that the church of God is the people and not the stone and glass, but it did strike me sitting in the pew of St. Oswald’s at 6:30am that I really was just one of many believers who have sat in Easter Day services since it was dedicated in April 1241.

People have found many different ways to connect to what is important to them over the last year.

So it has been with faith.

That we strive for connection with God is the important part.

Whether it is in a church building or online, with others or alone, out in the countryside or on city streets as we walk, God waits for us to start the conversation.

The Daily Verse – Proverbs 8:34

“ Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.” -MSG

Proverbs 8:34

Are you ready for God each morning?

Do you listen and look for God?

The Hebrew word translated as ‘proverb’ occurs in Numbers (23:7,18) as ‘message’ and Ezekiel (17:2) as ‘parable’.

The book of Proverbs is generally referred to as the book of wisdom, and this wisdom generally take the form of short statements which are easily to remembered by the reader.

Many of the proverbs show a result of actions taken and often are written as command.

Others are given in metaphors, and others use direct comparisons.

The sequence which Proverbs 8 falls into is generally regarded as a Father’s invitation to make wisdom, and the pursuit of it, central to your everyday life.

It asserts that wisdom is for everyone – blessed the man, blessed the woman.

As in many other places in the Bible, the reader is encouraged to listen to God and be alert and responsive.

Just as we rise and begin work, so does God – as I start my day’s work.

You may have said this yourself, but I am sure you will have heard this phrase said if not, ‘I’m not really a morning person’?

This verse in Proverbs 8 sets the beginning of each day as the most important time of the day to be with God.

A lot of modern living advice encourages you to leave your mobile phone in another room when you go to be, so it isn’t a distraction as you go to sleep, or the first thing you grab when you wake up.

Personally, I use my mobile for an alarm and I use YouVersion Bible app, and a couple of meditation prayer apps, like Presence and Pray as You Go.

So when the alarm goes I switch onto God’s word or pray first thing – I also then check the news and have been know to doze back off during prayer – which are the less intended consequences of having everything on my Mobile.

God tells us, through Solomon, that we should be awake and ready, but more importantly alert and responsive.

We need to wake up and be ready for me – be ready for God.

Often morning rituals are to prepare us for the day ahead.

God tells us our morning ritual should be about focusing ourselves on Him.

We should listen for Him – He may be with us as a voice, or as music, or in the chatter of the birds, or the blowing of the wind.

Get awake and ready, to hear God’s voice.

Be alert and responsive – pay attention and act upon that which we hear from God.

As God starts His day’s work.

This phrasing is reminiscent of the beginning of Genesis, but importantly it reminds us that God didn’t stop when he got to the Sabbath day.

God still works everyday, just as we work each day.

We need to be ready to listen and be reactive, acting upon God’s words and signs for our lives and the lives of others we come into contact with.