Re:Verse passage – Jeremiah 29:10–14 (day four)

There are some who believe God to be like a watchmaker – he sets the “watch” or the world in motion, and then walks away. No longer intimately involved in the world or in our lives, he simply allows time to tick on. Then there are some who think of God more like a character in Greek mythology – constantly meddling in human affairs for their own gain and getting caught up in earthly drama, punishing his people when he has a bad day. Passages like this remind us that neither of these theories are true.

Our God’s character is unlike any other. Only Yahweh is both holy and loving, omniscient and intimate, just and merciful. Only he can stand as Lord of Lords and creator of all the earth while also speaking kindly to the specific circumstances of his people. Only he can exist in perfect holiness while turning his face to sinful people, offering hope and restoration and wanting to be found by them.

Our God is intimate enough to set hopeful plans for us, and he is powerful enough to see them to completion.


Re:Verse passage – John 10:10 (day four)

Jesus gives this invitation into abundant life in the middle of a parable. In this parable, he identifies himself as the Good Shepherd. He is the only shepherd who knows his sheep by name, the only one who goes looking for the sheep that is lost, the only one who will lay his life down for the sheep. Only through him can the sheep go out and find pasture. When he uses this language to describe himself, he not only shows how intimately he loves his people, but he also reveals his divine nature.

When Jesus calls himself the Shepherd who offers abundant life, he identifies himself with God the Father. In Genesis, Jacob states that Yahweh is his lifelong shepherd. David calls God his shepherd in Psalm 23. In Ezekiel 34 God proclaims himself to be Israel’s shepherd. Jesus’ words in John 10 reveal his identity as the Son of God, the flesh-and-bone shepherd of the people of God.

So, in the context of God the Shepherd, what does abundant life look like? It looks like living without fear of thieves and wolves, it looks like fresh green pastures and peaceful quiet waters, it looks like restoration and righteousness, perpetual goodness and lovingkindness. Abundance of joy, abundance of peace, abundance of love. Sounds a lot like Revelation 21-22, doesn’t it?


Re:Verse passage – Genesis 1:26–27 (day four)

We often feel a sense of reverence for creation. When we’re standing on the beach watching the ocean roll. When we’re looking up at a starry night sky. When we hike to a marvelous view on a hilltop. We have reverence for it because we know God created it. Every grain of sand and every unknown creature in the depths of the ocean – God created them. It’s right that we would view them with reverence.

Humans, though, were created in a unique way. All of creation brings God glory, but humans were created in God’s image. We uniquely reflect God’s glory unlike anything else in creation.

Yet, we don’t always have that same sense of reverence for ourselves that we do for the rest of creation. There might be moments, when we witness humanity at its best, that we feel a sense of awe for one another. But we’re often deeply unkind to ourselves. We treat our bodies poorly. We let unholy things enter our mind. We starve our spirit from sustenance. We easily treat ourselves irreverently. And we are guilty of treating others the same way.

The more we understand the Imago Dei, the more we will live with reverence for ourselves and those around us. What would change if we lived this way?

The True and Better

Re:Verse passage – John 14:6 (day four)

As we consider what it means to be made in the image of God, it’s right that we first understand the God in whose image we’re made. We begin this study by going back to the beginning – but not to Genesis. We’re going to the beginning described in John 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Christ the Son is God’s gift to us, co-eternal with the Father, he is God made manifest in human form that we might know God – his substance, his character, and his love.

In Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, Paul paints a picture of Christ as the true and better Adam. Through Adam came death, but through Christ, the true and better Adam, the firstborn of all creation, came the resurrection of the dead. In him we see the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan. In Christ we see the truest human to ever live.

Because of Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:18 is our reality, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

May Christ, the true and better Adam, transform you into his likeness. Glory to glory.


Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 31:10-31 (day four)

Solomon ends this book of wisdom with a poem. In Hebrew, it would read as an acrostic poem, each line beginning with a successive letter of the alphabet. He uses this poetry to perfectly sum up the godly wisdom he has given throughout the book, and offers us a picture of this wisdom put into action. The short and sweet, pithy sayings we’ve studied now become embodied.

We met Lady Wisdom in chapter 1 and have followed her closely, but in this summary it’s difficult to discern where Lady Wisdom ends and where the real life “excellent wife” begins. But I think that’s the point. This chapter isn’t meant to be an impossible to-do list for women, or a how-to for domestic life, it’s meant to show us a picture of wisdom in action.

When someone reads Proverbs 1:7 and takes it seriously, this is the kind of life that becomes possible for them. Godly wisdom allows us to live like the “woman of valor” – working hard, moving in holy confidence, helping those around us to flourish, teaching truth in love. Through the power of the Spirit, wisdom takes hold in our lives and changes the way we live. As we end this study, may we consider how wisdom can grow from the seeds of thought into the fruit of action.


Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 27:17 (day four)

Never in my life have I seen friendship done better than in the FBCSA Single Adults Ministry. It became clear to me in my first week on staff – these folks take friendship as seriously as Scripture asks us to. They know that God designed for us to live in community and they make it a priority in their lives, even when it’s hard.

I was struck by this when I met them because so few people – both inside and outside of the church – place a high value on friendship. Throughout Scripture, it is clear that all people are called to live in relationship with others. For some of us that includes marriage or parenthood, but for all of us that includes friendship. Many of us, as C.S. Lewis says in The Four Loves, consider friendship to be “marginal; not a main course in life’s banquet; a diversion; something that fills up the chinks of one’s time.”

To view friendship this way is to completely ignore the irreplaceable role it has in our sanctification, our calling, and our understanding of God. Real, Biblical friendship keeps you walking through the narrow gate, it buoys your faith when doubt clouds your mind, it helps transform you into the likeness of Jesus. Regardless of what stage or station of life you’re in, you are in need of friendship in order to walk in the way of Jesus. How is the Spirit prompting you to grow in this way?

The Real Thing

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 23:17-18 (day four)

Throughout Scripture, we receive the calling to live as pilgrims in this world, just passing through on our way to our eternal home with Christ. In Philippians we’re reminded that “our citizenship is in heaven.” In 1 Peter we’re reminded that we are “aliens and strangers” in this world.

But in the milieu of day to day life, it is easy to forget where our citizenship lies. Even though we’re “just passing through,” it’s a long journey. When we’re constantly surrounded by the things of this world, they begin to look appealing. We see those around us enjoying luxury, prestige, or the seeming happiness of living without restraint, granting themselves every fleshly craving.

But we’re reminded in Colossians that the things of the world that appeal to us are “mere shadows” of what is to come. Earthly goods are shadows, counterfeit versions of the true and complete good that is found in Christ. When we’re surrounded by the counterfeit, it’s easy to settle for that instead of the real thing. But our identity is in Christ and our citizenship is in heaven. Our God is the giver of every good gift, and offers us real joy, real fulfillment, real peace. He is the only real thing, and he offers himself to us in abundance.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 22:7 (day four)

We’ve all heard the famous mis-quote of Scripture, “Money is the root of all evil.” Money itself isn’t a bad thing – it’s really a neutral thing. It’s a necessary part of our society in order to trade services. It’s our own sin, our own pride and materialism and desire for power that turns money into something sour. Where people are, there is also sin. And sin in regard to money is nothing new, as this proverb indicates.

This sin impacts both parties in the exchange, it is present on both sides of the same coin (pun intended). If you’re in financial need, it’s easy to try to solve the problem yourself and make money your sole pursuit. This inevitably subjects you to the power of those with wealth. Solomon, even in all his wealth, recognizes that this is a terrible way to live.

But if you’re wealthy, or even just financially comfortable, this proverb speaks to you, too. This serves a warning about the sin that often accompanies financial abundance. How do you treat the people in your life that have less than you do? How do you treat the people who depend on you financially? Do you use your financial abundance to lift up others, or lift up yourself?

Surpassing Value

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 15:15-17 (day four)

We might read this and think, “Easy for you to say, Solomon.” He is one of the wealthiest figures in the Bible. But we can’t dismiss his advice here for several reasons. God gifted Solomon with supernatural wisdom. Yes, he also had incredible material blessings, but his life’s focus was on obtaining godly wisdom. This wisdom led him to the conclusion that wealth is meaningless when compared to a life lived in the presence of Yahweh.

This wisdom is echoed throughout Scripture. Paul offers a similar sentiment in Philippians 3:7-8, But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”

Solomon knew the love of God, which led him to have a proper view of worldly things. How much more do we, living on the other side of Christ’s earthly life, death, and resurrection, know the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit? May our lives be shaped by the surpassing value of knowing Christ.


Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day four)

Our worldview in the West is so heavily individualistic that we often view salvation and repentance through that lens too. Yes, salvation and repentance are for individuals, but they are also for communities and nations. So much of what the Old Testament prophets address is about collective repentance and national righteousness. Daniel repents on behalf of the entire nation. Isaiah calls for the collective people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways. It seems almost impossible today in our modern, Western worldview that an entire nation could repent and turn to God. Yet, it comes up over and over again in Scripture.

So how do we move towards corporate repentance and righteousness? It’s more than standing on our religious high horse repeating, “America just needs to get back to God.” Yes, of course she does. But tropes won’t help us achieve that. It’s more than just politics and policies, though those are important.

I wonder if it starts with considering Jesus’ vision for us in John 17:22-23,The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.”

The more we pursue and experience the glory and unity of life in the Spirit that Jesus describes in our homes, small groups, congregations, neighborhoods, etc., the more national righteousness seems possible.