Everyone has his choice verses of Scripture, texts that grabbed him and won’t turn him loose and have come to mean a great deal to him.
We posted 12 such texts from the Old Testament, 12 from the Gospels, and 12 more from the rest of the New Testament, and I thought that did it. Later, when another favorite verse would come to mind, I would think, “How could you have left that out? That’s one of the all-time great scriptures!”
So, here we will have the final (I expect) list of 12 verses that we skipped the first time but shouldn’t have!
1. Resurrection: Job 14:14 and 19:25-27.
In the middle of this philosophical/theological discussion between Job and his friends over Why-do-the-righteous-suffer, Job raises the eternal question: “If a man dies, will he live again?” It’s a great question, one everyone wonders about. Every culture has struggled with this issue through all the centuries.
Something inside the human mind takes conflicting positions on this question: we want it to be so, and yet we wonder, “How could it possibly be so?” That is, we hope and we fear at the same time.
It helps to see that Job ended up answering his own question in 19:25-27. “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand upon the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God, whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another.”
Don’t ever let anyone tell you the Old Testament does not teach a hope of eternal life. We know better. The Jewish scriptures are saturated with insights and promises of Heaven and the afterlife.
2. Praise: Ezra 3:11-13.
“And they sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, ‘For He is good, for HIs lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.’ And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
“Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,
“So that the peole could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.”
What we have here are the two ways the different generations worship. As the foundation of the temple was restored (following the return of a partial group of Israelis after the Babylonian exile), they all paused to worship and give thanks. The old people–those who had lived through the entire exile period of 70 years or more and who still carried memories of the wonderful temple of Solomon destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies–wept for joy. The young people, those with no memories of anything other than life in Babylon, shouted for joy.
One group laughing and clapping and shouting, the other group weeping.
From the distance, it all sounded the same, just one loving tumult.
People worship in different ways for a hundred reasons. Old people look back and grow sad and reflective and like the old songs. Young people look forward in hope and excitement and want songs of joy and vigor.
When will we in the church ever quit demanding that “those who come to this church must worship only in the way I choose”?
3. Faithfulness: Ecclesiastes 11:6.
“In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening, do not quit sowing. For you do not know which will succeed–that which you sowed in the morning or in the evening–or whether they both alike will be good.”
Don’t try to judge the soil, Christian worker; just sow the seed.
On the farm, this kind of sowing is called broadcasting. Casting broadly, see? When I was a teenager on the Alabama farm, Dad would plant small fields of soybean this way. Sometimes he or one of us would walk the plowed field scattering the seeds, and at other times, would use a small planter that hung around one’s neck. It had a turning device with a handle. As you rotated it, soybeans were thrown out in front, to the left, and to the right.
“Is this a good opportunity to share my faith? or to do good? or to obey the Lord by helping this individual?”
We have no way of knowing whether the soil has been prepared, so let’s get on with it. The sowing is up to us; the harvest is God’s job. (See I Corinthians 3:6-7 for an additional insight into this principle.)
4. Prophecy: Isaiah 9:6-7.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
“There will be no end to the increase of His government of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
This and Isaiah 7:14 are two of the great prophecies of the birth and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These and several others account for the hope in the Jewish people when Jesus appeared on the scene. They asked Him–as they had asked John the Baptist first and perhaps others before him–“Are you the One to come?”
These encourage us to hold firmly to the New Testament teachings of the second coming of Jesus.
5. Prayer: Isaiah 62:6-7.
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night, they will never keep silent.
“You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in all the earth.”
You have heard of “Watchmen on the Wall” prayer ministries in which people pray around the clock for various needs. They got it from these verses.
There is a tiny insight here that has changed forever the way I pray: “you who remind the Lord.”
Think of prayer as reminding God.
Zakar is the Hebrew word for “remember.” But the word used here is Mazkir, which means “to cause to remember” or “remind.” (We have written extensively on this subject elsewhere in this blog. To find the articles, google “McKeever/reminding God” and see if it comes up.)
Why do we need to remind God of anything? Doesn’t He know it all?
For the answer, we look to the Lord Jesus. He said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). And yet He continually urges us to pray. Clearly, we are to remind God.
Remind Him of what? Three things: Who He is, What He has done, and What He has said. Then, remind Him of two more: Your situation and what you are requesting.
Acts 4:23-31 gives a beautiful picture of the early church praying in exactly this way.
Try it yourself. It will bless your prayer, build your faith, and inspire those who pray with you.
6. Sin: Jeremiah 2:13.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and they have hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
I love the clear and simple analysis of what God’s people had done. Notice the excellent metaphor. In turning away from God to the idols (they were dead, mute, lifeles stones!), Israel had rejected the fountain of living water (think of clear, cold, fresh and healthful water).
Then, they had dug out for themselves cisterns, which are holes in the ground where the water is always stale and flat and unhealthy. As bad as that is, Israel’s self-dug cisterns are broken and contain no water at all.
You and I have a choice: we can come to the living God or we can dig ourselves a hole in the ground.
Standing at the graveside of a believer, I’ve frequently thought of this verse. How wonderful that we are not consigning the loved one to a hole in the ground, but into the loving care of the eternal Lord.
7. Knowing God: Jeremiah 22:16.
“Your father ate and drank and did justice and righteousness, and it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy, then it was well. Is not that what it means to know me, declares the Lord.”
At the funeral of one of our New Orleans pastors who had been active in community affairs and whose death had taken everyone by surprise, as one of many ministers on the program, I recited this verse. I pointed out, “We in the church sometimes speak of ‘knowing the Lord’ as though it is something entirely separated from how we live. And yet God says this is what it means to know Him–to do justice and righteousness, to plead the cause of the poor and the helpless.”
A number of preachers came up asking for the reference on that verse. “I didn’t know that was in the Bible,” more than one said.
8. Obedience: Jeremiah 29:7,11.
Everyone knows verse 11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”
It’s a great verse, one which someone printed on small signs and left all over New Orleans in the weeks following the devastation of Katrina in late 2005. Our Baptist seminary adopted this as their verse at the same time.
But I wonder how many people know verse 7. “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray on its behalf; for as it prospers, you will prosper.”
Verse 11 gives us hope; verse 7 gives us our assignment.
9. Scripture: Matthew 13:52.
“And He said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.'”
Imagine going into your attic and pulling out all the family heirlooms. Here is your mom’s brooch, your dad’s watch, the deeds to property, and a secret stash of money. But everytime you do that, something happens: you keep finding new things. One time, it was a hundred dollar bill, another time a pearl necklace.
You’d go often.
Jesus says something similar happens when you take a scribe–an authority on the Old Testament scriptures–and get him saved. Now, he goes back into the Word with which he is so familiar, and finds all those old treasures he has known and loved for years. But he keeps finding new insights, treasures he had no idea were there.
That’s what happened to the Apostle Paul after his conversion. For 3 years, he said in Galatians 1:17-18, he stayed with the Lord in the desert. No doubt, he was going back over all he had learned of the Old Testament, the only Bible in existence at the time, and was seeing it in fresh ways. That’s why we have such insights from him in Romans and Galatians particularly, that we find nowhere else.
It’s one of the delights of Bible study. The enemy will try to shoo us away, telling us, “You’ve read the Bible, you know it, there’s nothing new there.” But he’s a liar. There is always something new in God’s Word to those who come with faith and a listening heart.
You cannot say this about any other book in your house. The Holy Bible is unique.
10. Mercy: Titus 3:5.
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit….”
Not of works, lest any man should boast, is how Paul said it in Ephesians 2:8-9. Titus 3:5 is a variation on the same theme.
Mercy is God not giving me what I deserve. Grace is God giving me what I do not deserve. (This distinction I find helpful, although it’s possible to draw the line too sharply between the two. I suspect Scripture uses the terms interchangeably sometimes.)
I’m all for mercy. I need all the mercy I can get, so-that being the case–I want to show to others a great deal of mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
It grieves me to hear Christian people speak of the poor who come to their offices seeking help in disparaging ways such as, “They don’t deserve help.” “Let them get a job.” “You know they could work if they wanted to.” “It’s like pouring our gifts into a bottomless pit.” “Jesus said we’d always have them with us.”
One wonders if these church members have never read of God’s compassion toward the poor. You wonder further if these people have never been poor themselves. (That, of course, would not guarantee they would show mercy to others in need. The ancient Romans used to say the harshest slave-owner is someone who used to be a slave himself.)
“God, be merciful to me the sinner.” That prayer, found twice in Luke 18, first from a tax-collector in the temple (18:13) and later from Blind Bartimaeus on the road outside Jericho (18:39), is a good one to pray. David prayed a variation on that theme after his sin with Bathsheba had become common knowledge and he was repenting: “According to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
11. The Cross: Hebrews 2:14-15.
“Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
In verse 14, we have the Incarnation (“He Himself partook of the same flesh and blood”). Then, by His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus accomplished two mighty important achievements: He defeated the devil (rendered him powerless) and He delivered those whose fear of death was paralyzing them.
We no longer have to fear the devil or death. Both are defeated.
Here’s an assignment, Christian. Go through the New Testament and make a list of all that Jesus accomplished by His death-burial-resurrection. You’ll find statements from our Lord all through the gospels, such as “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28) and “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In the epistles, you have the loaded passages of Ephesians 2:4-7 and Colossians 2:11-15, as well as many others.
12. Faithfulness: Hebrews 11:16.
“Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.”
There are some who call themselves followers of Jesus of whom the Lord is ashamed.
I don’t want to be one of them.
I want him to be proud of me.
Those words “I’m proud of you” have meant a lot to me all my life. The few times I heard them from my dad were like treasures. I often tried to say them to my children. Once, when one of my sons had done something that displeased me a great deal, instead of punishing him, I said, “Daddy’s not proud of you any more.” The look of hurt in his eyes lingers with me to this day. Those words got through to him–far deeper and with more effect–than any spanking would have done.
The Lord Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
May you and I labor so faithfully day by day in this “adulterous and sinful generation” so that one day we will hear Him say the most prized words ever:”Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many. Enjoy thou into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21,23).