Daily Verse – Endurance, Encouragement, Hope.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:4 NIVUK

There are more opinions and points of view in the world now than there has ever been.

News outlets and social media algorythms may try and manoevure you down a particular path, but search any #hastag on any topic and you will see what I mean.

It was no different in the 1st Century Church.

The main pull, or push, here was the necessity or centrality of the Jewish scriptures to the new followers of the Way.

The Apostles were all Jews, as were many of the first disciples, but this was quickly changing with many examples being given in the first chapters of the Book of Acts.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans whilst under ‘house arrest’ to new believers in Rome. These new believers had different backgrounds and religious upbringings. Most were not Jews.

Before this Paul had challenged Peter, Jesus’ brother James, and other leaders of the church, face to face in Jerusalem over new believers being drawn into Jewish customs, which were not strictly of the teachings of Jesus.

In this verse Paul is explaining that the Hebrew scriptures were important for teaching us, not matter what our religious background or ethnicity.

The scriptures teach us endurancehupomoné – patience, steadfastness, or consistency – through many examples of faith and following the Word of the Lord; Abraham, Noah, Daniel, Joseph, spring readily to mind.

The scriptures also give us encouragementparaklésis – comfort, consolation, solace, exhortation – the Psalms are the obvious examples.

Together, Paul tells us that endurance and encouragement are there to provide sustanence for our hopeelpis – an expection or a confidence. It can also be translated as ‘faith’ – the scriptures support our faith through the people who have lived out that faith themselves.

The Book of Hebrews provides a very worthy list of those Old Testament ‘heroes of faith’.

Each, in our own individual way, will have to endure difficulties and hardships, disappointments and disadvantages, but Paul reminds us that with patience and consistency, a steadfast attitude, we will meet the challenge. There will also be encouragement to give us confidence and an expectation of comfort and consolation, through our faith.

Scripture is important because it reminds us that we are amongst many faithful followers of the Lord, who look to and call upon God.

Daily Verse – Will, Act, Good!

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13 NIVUK

It is common for us to see ourselves in isolation.

As our work environments have been forced mostly into solitary affairs due to the Pandemic, and the suspension for long periods of time for any form of group interaction, we have become even more fixated in what I often refer to the ‘i-Generation’.

Everything is geared around us as individuals.

Sometimes this can be positive, where we can access knowledge and entertainment curated to our specific interests, but we can also be manipulated and suggested streams of information without us specifically searching it out.

In this verse, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we are not alone.

God is works – energeó – active, effectual, mighty – in us.

What exactly is it that God is working within us for?

To will – theló – desire, be disposed, to intend – us to act or work – it is the same root word as God working in us – in order – huper – on behalf of – God to complete His good purpose – eudokia (this is the only occurence in the NT) – His delight, His kindness, His good pleasure.

God uses us to bring His light and goodness to others.

The more we become ‘i’ the less able He is able to work within us.

As we share ourselves with God, He works within us to enable us to ‘pay it forward’.

Will. Act. Good.

Daily Verse – Three Things on Your To-Do List.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 NIVUK

We are used to productivity gurus and time-management geniuses giving us the number one rule – have one main thing on your list, have five things, have as many as you can think of but only to the top two, etc. etc.

In this verse, the Apostle Paul puts three things on our to-do list.

Hope. Patience. Prayer.

The same three things every day.

Hope – elpis – to anticipate, to be expectant, to have confidence.

Patience – hupomenó (this is the only occurence) – to endure, to remain, to have fortitude, to persevere.

Prayer – proseuché – to pray, to worship, to be earnest in prayer.

Paul is always quite clever in the way he gives us the ‘big focus’ of our faith but also adds in qualifiers almost without notice.

Not only are we to have Hope, Patience, and Prayer, as central to our days, but we also have rejoicing, affliction, and constancy.

We are to rejoice in our hope – chairó – be glad, cheerful, calmly happy.

We are to be patient in affliction – thlipsis – trouble, burden, under pressure.

We are to be faithful in prayer – proskartereó – to continue, be diligent, to adhere to.

Paul’s to-do list isn’t one to be ticked off and consigned to the ‘completed’ archive or filing cabinet of diaries, it remains our priority everyday. We may not tick the items off everyday, but we still have the chance to do it the following day.

So rejoice in the hope of our lives with God.

Be patient in difficult and troublesome times.

Be faithful in our Prayers to God and he will lead us in both hope and difficulty.

Daily Verse – Under to be Up!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

1 Peter 5:6 NIVUK

Action and Timing.

The secret sauce for many things.

Our society definitely has an action-based mantra.

Production is easier in many respects than it has ever been, even within the creative sector.

Keep striving and you will rise to the top, or keep standing on top of enough other people and you will get to the top, sometimes it is difficult to work out.

There is plenty of ‘action’ – spend five minutes on your social media and you will lose count.

Timing is the interesting part.

Of course, through many of the means of producing ‘action’ there is an expectant timing of ‘now!’.

The first computer I owned I had to program myself before it did anything – today we are impatient if anythng takes more than a second to access.

The Apostle Peter gives us advice in respect of timing – in due time – kairos – an appointed time, or a set and proper time.

This verse is a reminder that everything happens in God’s time and not ours.

Being lifted up – hupsoó – this is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament – is to be elevated above others.

What ‘action’ do we need to perform before God lifts us up in ‘due time’?

We need to tapeinoó – to be humble, to not see ourselves as above or better than, but come to God in recognition of we are what we are and recognise that we will rise up due to his hand and strength.

We place ourselves under God in order that he may lift us up!

Daily Verse – Overcome.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21 NIVUK

Short. Simple.

Overcomeniko – the only occurence of this word is here and it means to not be conquered or prevailed against.

We are not to be conquered by kakos – anything bad or harmful.

This could be an external situation or even an internal situation.

We are to stand against any situation, any thought, any action, which is bad and could do us harm.

We are not to be conquered or prevailed against.

How are we to do accomplish that?

By taking action ourselves.

We are not to be passive in our difficulties and troubles, but we are to counter or prevail against this ‘evil’ with ‘good’.

This second instance of ‘overcome’ is present only twice in the New Testament and is linked to the first instance in the verse.

Nika – essentially carries the same meaning of conquering or prevailing over – in this case we prevail against evil with good – agathos – actions and thoughts which benefit rather than harm.

We overcome negative situations by countering them with positive words and actions.

Try it next time you are in a difficult place or frustrated that something isn’t working out for you.

We cannot be passive. We must take action.

We can overcome.

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 – Receive, Find, Open.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:8 NIVUK

The wording of this verse is interesting.

We have ‘everyone’ who asks, but then ‘the one’ who seeks, and ‘the one’ who knocks.

The Gospel writer Matthew appears to be drawing a distinction in people’s actions – lots of people ask, but only ones go through to the next levels.

It is easy to ask for things. Many of our prayers can sound suspiciously like our Christmas present list or a list of jobs for others to do.

Asking can be incredibly passive.

However, to seek and to knock requires us to act.

For everyone who asks – aiteó – a word which only occurs here and once more in Luke’s Gospel, they ask, beg, crave, desire, but they will – lambanó – receive or take.

But, the one who seeks – zéteó – desires, endeavours, seeks after in a sense of worship, finds – heuriskó – gets or obtains what they are seeking spiritually.

And, the one who knocks – krouó – literally knocks at a door, has the door – anoigó – opened for them.

The knocking and the door appears a bit of anti-climax after asking and receiving, followed by seeking and obtaining.

However, if you jump forward in Matthew’s Gospel to Chapter 25, you gain an insight into the what the door is which will be opened to you.

The parable of the ten virigins, as it is often known, uses the tradition of the bridegroom and his party arriving to escort the bride and the bridesmaids to the wedding feast as a comparison to expecting the Kingdom of God.

Due to the complexity of the various parts of the wedding traditions, the timing of the bridegroom’s arrival isn’t a set time. The role of the bridesmaids is to wait and announce his arrival to the bride.

However, in this instance some of the bridesmaids decide not to wait any longer and go inside, and are thus late to accompany the bridegroom. When they arrive at the wedding banquet, the door is already closed to them and won’t be opened.

Everyone ‘asks’ about the Kingdom of God and they are given responses, but too many of them will not wait, as some of the bridesmaids didn’t, then the ‘one’ – the few – who seek and continue to watch for the Lord enter the wedding banquet – the Kingdom – when the door is opened for them.

Asks-seeks-knocks is a three part action, which then leads to receiving, finding, and opening.

Receive the knowledge of God, seek to understand it, and then act to enter into the Kingdom.

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 – 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 – Revelations 7:9

You Version

The Book of Revelation is a rich source of information and complicated.

In today’s verse I am just concentrating on a few words.

A multitude out of every nation and tribe and peoples and tongues.

Ochlos – a crowd, a multitude, like the people surrounding Jesus as he entered towns and villages.

Ethnos – out of every nation, but usually used to denote non-Jewish people. These people at the Holy City are not the people of Israel but the people of the gentile nations. Foreigners, brought to God through their faith in Jesus Christ.

This point is further emphasised with the words, tribe, people, and tongue.

There are so many things which differentiate us. So many ways of looking at others as different.

Different and differences can be good and part of God’s diverse world.

But there is one thing which can easily unite us – faith in Christ.

Until then we should help point the way and look for as many ways as we can to stand together as nations, and not stand apart.

Art, music, writing, dance, and other creative endeavours can all help build communication and message, until we all stand together.