Daily Verse – Walking with the Wise.

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 13:20 NIVUK

In this recent technological era we can gain unparralleled access to the very best people in our field of interest.

Most of them even do Masterclasses to teach you everything they have learnt on their journey.

We are often told in the marketing blurb ‘they have made the mistakes so now you don’t need to’.

According to Proverbs, however, this will not make us wise.

We are instructed to walk with the wise – hō·w·lêḵ – to go along with, keep pace with, to be conversant with.

Rabbi’s like Jesus did not just ‘teach’ in the synagogues, as we might here a preacher in a pulpit, but every footstep, every conversation, every gesture, even the way he ate his meals, would be observed by his disciples and imitated.

A teacher’s wisdom was the sum of every part of them, physical, spiritual, and thought.

Literally, walking in the footsteps of those wiser than ourselves in our field of interest, creativity, spiritually, or our work, will help us to become yeḥ·kām – to be wise in word, action, or thoughts. This word only occurs three times in the Old Testament, with all of them occuring in Proverbs.

I am not suggesting that we ignore every bit of wisdom which isn’t given to us in person – as much as I might like it, I cannot take a walk with Claude Monet if I want to paint ponds – but we should perhaps make more of an effort to form relationships/friendships – mentors – where we can experience their gifts in proximity.

Find a mentor/teacher and howlek them!

Daily Verse – Matthew 7:24

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 NIV

There are two principle teachings of Jesus about ‘hearing’ his/the word – the sower and the seed and this contrast between two builders.

Everyone who hears – the Greek akouei which occurs in this single instance in Matthew’s Gospel – is to give an audience to, or make a point of listening to. It also relates to understanding and being reported.

Jesus taught throughout his ministry that his words and actions were not just to be treated as an academic teaching but to be acted upon. All throughout his ministy the parallels are drawn between the words of the religious leaders and the actions of Jesus and his disciples.

Here, again, the distinction is clear.

Those ‘who do’ – put them into practicepoiei meaning to make or do – are like a builder who build his house on the rock.

It is hard not to think here of Peter – Petros – and the word used here is the femine form – as the rock upon which the church would be built.

Jesus must be emphasising further the ‘action’ he expects from us all but also the disciple’s example of someone who didn’t always get it right, as we may not do.

Hearing Jesus’ words requires us to take action and in doing so we are on a sure foundation despite the storms of life which are inevitable.

Daily Verse – Philippians 2:3

YouVersion

Do nothing according to eritheian – self ambition.

The two occurrences of this word, here and James 3:4 – are better understood as strife or contention.

Don’t act if it is a result of, or results in, faction or intrigue – being contentious or continuing in opposition.

Instead, act in humility – tapeinophrosune – modesty or humbleness of mind.

There are three occurrences of this word in the N.T.

This verse is often used to teach that as Christians we shouldn’t argue or be in opposition to things.

Jesus shows his opposition to many things in the Gospels – prejudice, bad religion, not supporting and helping others, and many more.

Paul tells us here to be open and honest in our opposition, doing it from a place of humility and honesty, not by intrigue and deception.

We are not to revel in our opposition but in respect of situation and those involved.

Daily Verse – Psalm 23:1

YouVersion

Yahweh is my shepherd.

ra’ah – shepherd – is only used in this verse in the entire O.T.

To tend a flock, to pasture it, to keep companion with it, to keep with it.

The Lord is with us, as a companion, looking out for us, keeping up with us.

Because of this we ‘shall not want’ – chaser – again this word is only used in this verse.

To have a lack, to fail, to lessen or be lesser, to be made lower, or to decrease.

We may feel those things if we judge by the world’s standards, but not by God’s standards.

It is not surprising that Jesus took this image as a central theme in his ministry.

The Lord is our shepherd. He is all we need.

In the midst of everything that is happening in the world, be conscious of the Shepherd with us.

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 – James 1:2

You Version

Making the word order a little easier to follow in the Greek Interlinear, this verse reads, ‘Esteem it all joy, my brothers, when you might fall into various trials’.

This verse may well be the equivalent of that common saying, laugh in the face of danger.

Neither are reckless or uncaring of what happens next – danger or trials.

But both offer a logic which is counterintuitive.

Mindset is a buzz-word everywhere in recent times, but all the way back in the 1st Century, Jesus’ brother is onto it.

The word James uses for trials is peirasmos, which means ‘temptation’.

It is the experience of temptation rather than an abstract notion.

It is only used three times in the N.T. Once by Jesus, here in James, and once by Peter. It is differently translated as trials or temptations.

When these temptations happen we are to esteem – hégeomai/think or judge (the only occurrence in the N.T.) – it chara/joy or delight.

We should all be aware that life is not without its difficulties.

James exhorts us to have a different mindset at such times. We are to see these kinks in the road, or low points in our self-belief, as opportunities to face up to these temptations in faith and trust in God.

Remember to smile when times are tough.

Daily Verse – 1 Peter 3:15

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNUkBuwrD4P/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The word which jumps out in this verse, when you read the Greek Interlinear version, is that ‘answer’ is written as ‘defence’.

We are to always be ready to give a defence of the hope we have in Christ.

The word for ‘defence’ in Greek is apologian and only occurs in the New Testament 3 times: 2 Corinthians 7:11, Philippians 1:16, and here in 1 Peter 3:15.

According to Strong’s definition, the word means to give an answer for oneself, to be a clearing of self, or a defense.

The religious hierarchy was very anti the 1st Century Church – remember its actions had led to the leader of The Way – Jesus – being crucified. Saul of Tarsus had led the Judaic witch-hunt of the post-Resurrection followers.

As the Word of God spread out into the Gentile communities there were many other debates and challenges to this new faith. The Book of Acts provides sufficient examples of Paul having to defend his faith.

We are still being challenged to ‘defend’ our faith.

Sometimes this is in the face of violence and persecution, but for most of us it is in the form of the unbelief of those around us and a society which is increasingly humanistic in tone.

Peter challenges us to have our ‘defence’ for our faith in the hope of Christ.

What is your apologian?

What is it in your life, day in and day out, which convinces you to be a follower of The Way of our Lord Jesus Christ?

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.