Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
We’re in the midst of a series called “I Love That Verse” where we’re talking about some of our favourite verses and why we love them. As a young teen, Proverbs 26:11 was on my list.
At that time most of my Bible reading was done in the pew on a Sunday morning, using the Word as a diversion from the message or a decoy to make the adults think we were listening to what was happening in the service. I’m embarrassed to say that my friends and I would flip through the Bible, mostly the Old Testament, and look for the most obscure passages we could find and compare them in hushed whispers. It was a game. And as far as games go, a verse with the word vomit in it felt like a gold medal winner.
In my later teens and into adulthood I worked a lot of retail jobs. It seemed as though every day I encountered people who were angry, annoyed, displeased, irate, or just generally having a bad day. Oh, I also met and served lots of amazing people, but sadly it’s the angry ones that tend to stand out in my memory.
It was around this time that I discovered Psalm 25:21-22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
Based on this verse, I felt like God was telling me, “Be as sweet as pie to your critics, because it will just annoy them to no end, and you will have the last laugh at their miserable faces.”
Hmmm… looking back I’m fairly certain this isn’t what the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote these words, but nevertheless it became my favourite verse for a time.
So, why am I telling you this? Is it because I want you to see what a lousy Christian I was? Maybe. I am pretty excited at the work of grace and transformation that the Lord has done in my life over the last 20+ years.
Mainly I just want to say this: I have used Scripture for a lot of things. I used it as a game to amuse myself. I've used it to prove myself right and others wrong; to prove myself righteous and others wanting; to show how much God loves me but hates all the sinners of the world. Every motive was centred on me.
But here's the thing. My favourite verse… my absolute favourite verse in the entire Bible… takes the focus off of me entirely and places it firmly on God and the work of Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:4-5 says this, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Check out those beautiful words: Loving kindness. Saved by God. Mercy. Regeneration. Renewal.
I look back now and am ashamed at how I abused God’s Word. What a treasure it is to us, testifying to the heart of the Father, the gift of the Son, and the work of the Holy Spirit. And I missed it for far too long.
If you have a favourite verse (and I hope you do!), make sure it’s firmly centred on God. If reading it makes you feel righteous and puffed up, then read it again. Read the verses around it. What is God saying in the passage about who He is and how He works. Allow Scripture to transform your heart and mind as you dwell on the richness of His Word. You’ll be so glad you did.
And, as the book of Titus ends, “Grace be with you all.”
This month the staff were asked to write about their favourite verses. There are so many great verses and pieces of scripture that have guided my thoughts over the years. The book of Psalm is usually my ‘go-to’ for some uplifting and soul quenching encouragement, hope and joy - plus I love the way it’s written.
Romans 8:38-39 however has always meant a lot to me. When I was a child, we used to walk to our little white church in downtown Halifax. My parents always sat in the balcony and it had rows of foldable wooden seats. Every Sunday, at the silent cue of the worship director, we would rise and sing the same chorus of a hymn without any instruments. I felt pretty good that I had memorized the whole thing. I remember overlooking a sea of people below, all in their Sunday best (there wasn’t a Sunday school class) and thinking how do people know about church and understand what’s being taught? How do my parents know to come to this church? It’s funny what children observe and process? I just knew church was special, that it needed to be part of my life and that God loved me. Plus, I loved wearing my white knitted poncho every Sunday.
Romans 8:38-39 is a reminder to me that I am an ordinary person and believer who is flawed and falls short, but who will also forever be loved by God. Of course we walk through various disappointments, trials, celebrations and successes at some point - our path is unique to us. Paul seems to write these verses with such conviction. I appreciate that the verses seem to go through a checklist of possible dangers or things that might threaten this idea of our security in God’s love. For someone like myself who might say, ‘but what about this’, the verse has it covered.
I may not have understood all about church long ago, but I knew that there was a God who loves us. These verses remain a reminder that nothing is bigger or more powerful and can separate us from His love.
Tanya Chant, Director of Family and Children's Ministry
Okay, before I start, I need you to picture this; me driving down the 403 in my trusty 2003 Chevy Malibu. Shoppers Drug Mart uniform on, singing my heart out, and bawling like a baby.
Can you see it? Just put a pin in that image, because it will come into play later, I promise.
Aaron has started a sermon series titled, “I Love That Verse”, so to stay on that topic, I'm sharing one of my favourite verses. This was difficult, because different verses have been significant to me in different seasons of my life. But one that has stayed with me these last couple of years is Psalm 61:2 which says this; “From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
This passage is talking about refuge, but I've always found that this verse reminds me to have a right perspective. When I get caught up in myself – in my struggles, frustrations, successes – I need to be taken out of my own perspective in order to get a glimpse of God's plan. Sometimes we don't even get that glimpse, and then the promise of His plan has to be sufficient, even when you want much more.
Real talk, it was probably close to 4 years ago now that I realized I needed to quit my (then) current job. I really felt like God was leading me to a new thing.
Which was fine. Really it was.
I like new things, and I don't (really) mind change.
I remember sharing with my small group about this shift, wondering what would come next.
And I would wonder... and wonder... and wonder.
For the next 2 years I would wonder.
I'm a fairly patient person, but this was a bit much, even for me.
And you know what got me through this time? You know, because you can picture it in your head right now! A song that I'd blast on my way to work in my Chevy Malibu, singing my little heart out and bawling like a baby.
It was a song called “You're Already There”. It reminded me that even when I'm lost, when I'm tired, when I just feel done, God has seen the end of my story – the story HE has written – because He is already there, my whole life laid out in front of Him.
And that's the perspective I need. That's the reminder I have to trust in.
From God's perspective, he sees the grand design of my story, of all of our stories.
And he leads us through our stories; each agonizing and joyful step of the way.
In His perfect will and time, God did bring me to my next steps, and I'm so thankful for that. But I'm also thankful for the time of waiting – the time when my heart was faint – because it taught me look up to the rock that is higher than I.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
- Psalm 61:1-4
Jolene Sanders, Director of Worship
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
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