“My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.” Job 29:20
Arrows seem to be really popular in graphics and images today. We see them on chalkboard art and in home decor and just about everywhere. The Hunger Gamesmovies have probably made arrows a little more popular too.
Let’s take a look at Job 29:20 where Job says, “…my bow was renewed in my hand.” What does a bow do? It shoots arrows of course and you have to have strength to shoot an arrow. Sure, shooting arrows requires accuracy and good aim but ultimately it requires strength to pull back on the bow.
Living the Christian life requires strength too. We cannot do it on our own. We have to depend upon the Lord to draw our strength from. We need that fellowship with Him and have to rely on Him to build us up and to help us wield our arrows through life.
So how do we keep that strength renewed in our hands? I think the parts of an arrow can help us. There are four parts.
The fletching is that feathery part of an arrow. It is used to provide a little force to stabilize the arrow as it flies through the air.What are we using for our “fletching”? What stabilizes us as Christians? It has got to be the Word of God. Nothing else can ground us more and help us as we fly through life.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
The next part of the arrow is the arrowhead. It is the point at the end of an arrow. The type of arrowhead an arrow has attached depends on the purpose for which it is used.What is our purpose as Christians? It should be to live for Christ and bring others to Him. We are ambassadors for Christ. The passage in 2 Corinthians 5 talks about this.
“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
The noch is at the backend of the arrow. It is the little cut out spot that you insert onto the string into before you shoot the arrow. It holds the arrow in place while you take your aim and draw the bow.What keeps us in place? I think our prayer life can do that. Spending time in prayer helps us build our relationship to Christ and helps us increase our faith. I find, especially as I get older, that prayer steadies me. I don’t know how I would cope with life without being able to go to the Lord in prayer.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
The shaft of an arrow is that long part. It is what the other elements of an arrow are attached to.Salvation is our shaft. Salvation is what we build upon as a Christian. We have to have that in place first. Accepting Christ is key before we can build a relationship with Him and begin going about serving Him. We have to have our salvation settled.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12
2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
When missionary Adoniram Judson entered Burma (Myanmar) in July 1813, he found an unreached people in a hostile land. Today, there are some 3,700 congregations who trace their origin to Judson’s pioneering ministry. His primary legacy, however, is the complete translation of the Bible into Burmese—still in use today. Judson’s path was difficult, for he faced opposition, rejection, imprisonment, serious illness, pain. He also lost two wives and seven children to death. But through it all he persevered for the cause of Christ.
The apostle Paul also endured great suffering. He was “pressed on every side by troubles,” “hunted down,” and “knocked down”(2 Cor. 4:8-9). He lived “in the face of death”(2 Cor. 4:12). As we read of his travels, his overwhelming difficulties and life-threatening dangers are well documented. Despite the suffering, however, Paul wrote, that we faint not “We never give up”
Describing our lives as “clay jars,” Paul acknowledged his own frailty, vulnerability, and mortality. But he also refused to be defeated, for he chose to see his difficulties from God’s perspective. “Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. . . . So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. . . . The things which are not seen are eternal” . Paul’s confidence was rooted in God’s great power and sustaining grace, Jesus’ resurrection, and the hope of eternal life with Him. We can know this same hope and confidence as we fix our eyes on Jesus. Persecution and suffering may come, but with God’s help we can echo Paul’s words: “We never give up!”
For many people, the coronavirus pandemic has been a test of patience — or worse. Medically vulnerable people face an anxious time of hypervigilance. Furloughed workers wait on hold or in lines for assistance. Special events have been canceled or rescheduled.
Those not impacted directly deal with assorted frustrations and inconveniences. Many people are learning the benefit of slowing down, being present (even virtually) to others and practicing patient attention.
Interestingly, scientist Isaac Newton did some of his best work when the plague forced Cambridge University to close. At home, the inquisitive student invented calculus and developed groundbreaking theories of gravity and optics. Later Newton called the year 1666 his annus mirabilis (“year of wonders”) and reportedly said, “If I have made any valuable discoveries, it [owes] more to patient attention than to any other talent.”
What have you discovered during the Covid-19 crisis? What appreciations have you developed for aspects of life you may have previously taken for granted? What has social distancing taught you about the value of neighbors, church, community volunteering?
During the pandemic, what have you learned about persistence and God’s presence? What empathy do you now feel for writers of words such as “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5
For two solid hours, the lady sitting next to a man on an airplane had told him about her grandchildren. She had even produced a plastic-foldout photo album of all nine of the children. She finally realized that she had dominated the entire conversation on her grandchildren.
“Oh, I’ve done all the talking, and I’m so sorry. I know you certainly have something to say. Please, tell me—what do you think of my grandchildren?”
~ ~ ~
A Sunday School teacher challenged her children to take some time on Sunday afternoon to write a letter to God. They were to bring their letter back the following Sunday.
One little boy wrote, “Dear God, we had a good time at church today. Wish you could have been there.”
~ ~ ~
Two city boys were on their first camping trip. The mosquitoes were so fierce the boys had to hide under their blankets to keep from being devoured. When they saw some lightning bugs, one boy said to the other: “We might as well give up, they’re coming at us with flashlights!” [forwarded by Gretchen Patti]
~ ~ ~
A man came back to the dealer from whom he bought a new car.
“I believe you gave me a guarantee with my car,” he said.
“That’s right, sir,” the salesman answered. “We will replace anything that breaks.”
“Fine, I need a new garage door.”
~ ~ ~
Happy Thought: It’s rare that a defibrillator fails—but nobody’s shocked when they do.
THE PROFIT IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:14-17
We have encountered the truth that the Word of God is a divine revelation of God’s Person and Character. We have been reminded that the Word of God was divinely inspired in the beginning and that it has been supernaturally preserved down to this very day. We have discovered the purpose for which the Bible was given to man. It was given so that lost sinners might come to know God in a personal relationship.
I. v. 17 THEY PERFORM AN EQUIPPING MINISTRY (The word “furnished” means “to be complete and equipped.”)
A. They Equip Us For The Faith – In the pages of the Bible we learn all we need to know to give us:
1. Saving Faith – 2 Tim. 3:15 – The Bible shows us our condition, our condemnation and how to obtain our conversion. The Bible shows us a crucified and risen Savior Who gave His all that anyone who believes in Him might be saved. The Word of God is a book about redemption!
2. Serving Faith – 2 Tim. 2:15 – Here, we are commanded to “study” the Bible. This word means “to be diligent, to labor.” If we will spend the time we need in the Word of God, we will be able to “rightly divide” that Word. This is a surgical term that means “to make a straight cut”.
In other words, we will obtain a correct understanding of the Word of God and this prepares us to be a “workman”, that is, a “servant” who will not be put to shame in the face of the enemy! As we study the Bible, we will learn about the Wonder of God, the Work of God, the Will of God, and the Ways of God! We will receive a theological education that will enable us to serve the Lord without shame! The Bible teaches us about the Person, Promises, Prophecies, Plan and Proof of God.
B. They Equip Us For The Fight – Eph. 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” – When Paul described the armor of the believer, he only mentioned one offensive weapon: The sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God. The word sword comes from the Greek word “rhema”. It refers to what was called the “Roman short sword”. It was much like a dagger. This short sword was on the belt of every Roman Legionnaire. They carried wherever they went and used it in many tasks from preparing their food to hand to hand combat.
It is interesting that Paul should use this word for the Bible. In some other places, the word “logos” is used. The word “logos” refers to “the whole Word of God”. It is the same word used in John 1:1, where Jesus is called the Word of God. The word “rhema” refers to a “specific word”.
Think of it like this, the “logos” or the whole Bible brings to mind the idea of a complete armory. In that armory, there are weapons of every description. When a battle arises, we should be able to walk into that armory and select the perfect “rhema” or specific sword we need to fight that particular battle.
This is just what Jesus did on the Mount of Temptation, Matt. 4:1-11. Three times Jesus was tempted and three times Jesus walked into the great armory of the Word of God, entered the Deuteronomy room and walked out with the perfect sword with which He could stick the devil! (“It is written”, Matt. 4:4, 7, 10.)
Of course, before you can do this, you must be familiar with where the right swords are located within the armory! This means that you need to study the armory and familiarize yourself with placement of all the swords. Then when temptations and trials come, you can walk into the armory and find the perfect weapon for the day of your battle!
By the way, when you try to fight the battles of life and the enemy of life in your own strength, you will fail, 1 Cor. 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” But, when you fight the battles of life with the Sword of the Spirit, you are assured of victory, Matt. 4:11 “Then the devil leaveth him,”! Learn the layout of the armory; it will enable you to fight far more efficiently!
Christian is never really commanded to fight, but he is told to “stand”, Eph. 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”. After all, “the battle is the Lord’s”, 1 Sam. 17:47. (David, Goliath)
There is a bird called the gray heron that has a very odd mode of defense. When attacked it simply stands quiet and firm, using its bill as a sword, allowing the enemy to pierce himself through by his own force. The Christian’s method of defense is very similar. We have the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. When attacked by the enemy, without or within, stand firm and display the Word, hold it forth. The more fiercely the foe attacks the more surely shall they pierce themselves with it. God’s Word is a burning fire and all it will consume all that cross it.
I. v. 17 THEY PERFORM AN EQUIPPING MINISTRY
II. v. 15, 17 THEY PERFORM AN ENABLING MINISTRY
A. They Enable Us To Grow Spiritually – 2 Tim. 3:15 – We are told here that the Scriptures have the power to make us “wise”. The word means “to teach or to have understanding.” I would submit to you that there are people in this room today who have not had the benefit of obtaining an extensive formal education, but who know the ways of God better than many theologians because they know their Bibles. Experts say that 30 minutes per day for ten years yields the equivalent of a Doctor of Philosophy degree, Psa. 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
If you will get the “seed” of the Word within your heart, God will water it and it will bear fruit! You will grow! As you abide in Him, through prayer and through studying and meditating in the Word of God, you will find that “fruit” will be produced in your life. You won’t have to struggle to grow in the Lord, you just will!
“Furnished” in 2 Tim. 3:17 is in the passive voice! How much time and effort are you putting into your study of the Word? – Ps. 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”; Ps.119:148 “Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.”
B. They Enable Us To Go Spiritually – 2 Tim. 3:17 – The Word of God gives us all the tools we need to go to work for the Master. The Bible teaches us about:
· God’s Works (What He is doing around us)
· God’s Will (What He wants from us)
· God’s Ways (How He accomplishes His Will).
As we read the Word of God we discover that there are some things that we are to avoid and there are some things that we are to do.
As we obey the Word of God, as we do the do’s and don’t the don’ts, we will find ourselves “throughly” or “completely and perfectly” “furnished” or “equipped” to do the Lord’s work in this world!
God saved you to work for Him, Eph. 2:10; James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
The Lord saved us to work and the Bible tells us how!
I. v. 17 THEY PERFORM AN EQUIPPING MINISTRY
II. v. 15, 17 THEY PERFORM AN ENABLING MINISTRY
III. THEY PERFORM AN ENLIGHTENING MINISTRY
A. We Are Enlightened Through Their Coaching Ministry – The Scriptures teach us “doctrine”! This word simply means “teaching or instruction”. It refers to the body of truth that we believe and practice as part of the Christian faith. Everything we know about God and believe as Christians has been taught to us by the Word of God! In fact, God could never have been known unless He had first reached out to us! Like a good coach, the Scriptures teach all the fundamentals of the faith and they instruct in the deep things of God. By the way, we should never base our doctrine on feelings or experiences or on what someone we admire believed. Everything we believe and do should be based squarely on a clear Word from God, not on our own opinions, preferences or prejudices! (The folly of the Charismatic movement – “I don’t care what the Bible says; I know what I have experienced!”)
B. We Are Enlightened Through Their Chastising Ministry – The word “reproof” means “to be convicted”. It has the idea of putting something to the test. The Word of God will put your life to the test. It is like a set of scales, or balances. It will show you where you fall short. It is like a plumb line, it will show you where you do not line up! Scripture will put you to the test! It is like a mirror, it will reveal the true you, James 1:23-25.
The word “reprove” comes from the same word that is translated “evidence” in Heb. 11:1. In both cases it refers to “convincing evidence”. In modern language, we would call it “the smoking gun”. Sometimes, the Word of God is laid alongside our lives and serves as the Lord’s Exhibit A. He shows us from the Word the He has the goods on us and how we are living. The best thing to do is to bow before Him and deal with everything that He shows us about ourselves. Never rebel against the convicting ministry of the Word of God! (Note: Don’t get mad at the preacher either!)
C. We Are Enlightened Through Their Correcting Ministry – The Word “correction” means to “restore to an upright or correct state”. The Bible doesn’t just show us what is wrong in our lives; it also teaches is how to fix what is wrong. It teaches us about the matter of repentance and confession of sin, Pro. 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”;
1 John 1:9. If you will do what the Bible says to do about the wrongs it exposes, it will get you on the right path in short order!
D. We Are Enlightened Through Their Commanding Ministry – “Instruction in righteousness” refers to “Instruction that aims at increasing virtue”. The Bible will tell you what is wrong with you. It will also tell you how to fix what is wrong with you. Then, it will tell you how to live so that you can avoid being found in the wrong the next time around. Literally, the phrase “instruction in righteous” means “that which cultivates the soul”. The Word of God, if read, believed and lived out in your life will cause you to become more like Him!
There are several tools God uses in maturing us for His glory. Sometimes, He will use adversity to shape us. There are times when God will use chastisement to speak to His children. However, the Bible is the primary tool God uses to develop His children, Rom. 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”; 2 Tim. 3:15 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
A few mornings back I was jogging through my neighborhood, and even I could not miss the significance of that day. It was the first day of school.
It was no surprise to me, then, to see a pretty little girl step out of her house wearing new clothes and a backpack. “Have a great first day of school,” I greeted as I jogged past.
She stopped and looked at me as if I’d pulled a rabbit out of a hat. “How did you know?!”
She was stunned. Somehow I had miraculously discerned why she was up so early and where she was going. And she was impressed.
“Oh, I just know those kind of things,” I shouted back to her. (No need to burst her bubble.)
You, on the other hand, are not so easily impressed. You understand the difference between a child and a grownup. Take the difference between the girl and me, amplify it a million times over, and we begin to see the contrast between us and our Father.
We ask for grace, only to find forgiveness already offered. (How did you know I would sin?)
We ask for food, only to find provision already made. (How did you know I would be hungry?)
We ask for guidance, only to find answers in God’s ancient story. (How did you know what I would ask?)
God dwells in a different realm. “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25). He occupies another dimension. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8–9).
I once clipped a strange story from the newspaper. It was about a man named Jose Estrada who drove to a popular trail where he liked to jog. While Estrada was running, another man on the same trail collapsed and died of a heart attack. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital where authorities found a car key in his pocket, but no identification. Assuming they’d find the name of the man in his automobile registration papers, they brought the key back to a parking lot near the jogging trail and tried it in the doors of every General Motors vehicle until they found a match.
Now, here’s where the story gets strange. The key opened the door of Estrada’s pickup truck. They found his papers and notified his wife of his untimely death. They asked her to come to the hospital and identify the body of her husband.
And here is where the story gets stranger still. Mrs. Estrada saw the body on the table with a tube snaking from his mouth, his eyes taped shut and wearing jogging clothing much like her husband wore. In her distraught condition she assumed the body belonged to Jose and signed the death certificate.
Meanwhile, Jose Estrada finished running, drove back home and promptly learned from a friend, who was more than stunned to encounter him in the flesh, that he was supposed to be dead. He immediately sped to the hospital and strode, as big as life, into the waiting room. His startled wife fell into his arms laughing and crying. The only thing she managed to spurt out was, “Jose, if you ever die on me again, I’ll kill you myself.”
I wonder what thoughts first surfaced after she received the news about Jose’s death. Did she try to recall her last moments with him? Did she try to remember if she told him she loved him that morning? Was there an argument? Were there regrets?
I wonder if she ever thought of Jose as a gift to her—an undeserved life companion. Or was he more of a problem to be solved, like an unfinished project? Or maybe he was just there, a reliable presence in her life that could be taken for granted as fully as the sunrise every morning.
How fragile life can be. After all, he was dead and then he was alive—he was lost and then he was found. And all in a single day.
I suspect that, if life came in a package, it would arrive in a box labeled, “Fragile: Handle with Care.” It is delicate and can be damaged in a moment. And I also suspect that, if life came in a package, it would arrive as a gift. It is undeserved and priceless. Which of us earned it and who could ever afford it?
I would do well to remember these things, even for just a moment every day. Life is a fragile and awesome gift. And the people in it are gifts, too. Somehow, that alone makes every day one I can embrace and treat as it deserves.
“I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” 1 Sam. 1: 15
HANNAH’S soul was fall of complaint and grief, which flowed over into her face and made it sorrowful. But when she had poured out her soul before the Lord, emptying out all its bitterness, the peace of God took the place of her soul-anguish, she went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. What a glad exchange! How great the contrast! How much the better for herself, and for her home!
Is your face darkened by the bitterness of your soul? Perhaps the enemy has been vexing you sorely; or there is an unrealized hope, an unfulfilled purpose. in your life; or, perchance, the Lord seems to have forgotten you. Poor sufferer, there is nothing for it but to pour out your soul before the Lord. Empty out its contents in confession and prayer. God knows it all; yet tell Him, as if He knew nothing. “Ye people, pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us.” “In everything, by prayer and supplication make your requests known unto God.”
As we pour out our bitterness, God pours in his peace. Weeping goes out of one door whilst joy enters at another. We transmit the cup of tears to the Man of Sorrows, and He hands it back to us filled with the blessings of the new covenant. Some day you will come to the spot where you wept and prayed, bringing your offering of praise and thanksgiving.
For 3 weeks every fall season, our city becomes an art gallery. Nearly 2,000 artists from around the world display their creations in galleries, museums, hotels, parks, city streets, parking lots, restaurants, churches, and even in the river.
Among my favorite entries are mosaics made from small pieces of colored glass. The winning entry in 2011 was a 9 x 13-foot stained-glass mosaic of the crucifixion by artist Mia Tavonatti. While viewing the artwork, I heard the artist discuss how many times she had cut herself while shaping the pieces of glass for her mosaic.
As I gazed at the beautiful rendition of what was a horrific event, I saw more than a representation of the crucifixion—I saw a picture of the church, the body of Christ. In each piece of glass I saw an individual believer, beautifully shaped by Christ to fit together into the whole (Eph. 2:16,21). In the artist’s story, I recognized the shedding of Jesus’ blood so that this unity could take place. And in the finished artwork, I saw the act of love required to complete the project despite pain and sacrifice.
We who believe in Christ are a work of art created by God to show the greatness of a Savior who makes something beautiful out of the broken pieces of our lives.