“What scriptures mean the most to you?”
I’m glad you asked.
Last night somewhere between sleep and consciousness, I went over what was going to be “my top ten favorite scriptures.” That quickly went by the wayside as I realized that I probably have ten favorite texts for every subject you can name! So, even though this list will be incomplete–since it’s an ongoing part of my daily walk with the Lord, and He’s not through here, not by a long shot!–here is my list of favorite scriptures that define my understanding of the Christian faith, guide my actions as a follower of Jesus Christ, and comfort me when tempted to vary, stray, or weaken.
On the subject of Jesus Christ Himself:
–“I am willing.” (Mark 1:41). If you’re looking for three words to sum up the earthly ministry of Jesus, look no further. Not willing that any should perish, He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant and….. He was so willing to bless and help, to love and give and forgive. Why, in Mark 2, He forgives a man his sin who hadn’t even asked for it! He was so eager to bless.
–“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This single statement can fuel my meditations for hours.
–“No one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27 and Luke 10:22). That is as strong a Christology as you’ll find in John’s Gospel.
–“No one has ascended into heaven but He who descended from Heaven, even the Son of Man” (John 3:13). Jesus tells Nicodemus why He should be believed when speaking of Heavenly things: He knows. He is a native. He’s talking about His home.
Scriptures about the afterlife…
–“But as for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.” (Psalm 17:15). I love this promise. It’s as good as it gets.
–“I know that my Redeemer liveth! and at last shall take His stand upon the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God, whom I myself shall see and not another.” (John 19:25-26) This is the Everest of Old Testament declarations about God! It answers Job’s question back in Job 14:14.
–“For if we believe that Christ died and rose again (and we do!!), even so also those who have fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (I Thessalonians 4:14). I hold tightly to this promise!
–“I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. So, wait on the Lord….” (Psalm 27:13-14) Weeping at my parents’ grave, suddenly the Lord spoke this to my heart. I believe, therefore, there is no room for despair in this heart.
–“You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:14) Jesus asks us to do the Christlike thing here and He will repay us there. I love to ask: Can you believe that strong? Wait that long? Sing that song?
Scriptures about the nature of God Himself…
–“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands (of generations), who forgives iniquity, transgressions, and sins; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:6-7) This is God talking about God! There’s nothing like it in Scripture–with the exception of all the places where it is quoted! Moses quoted it (Numbers 14:18), Nehemiah did (9:17), Jonah did (4:2), and David used it in numerous Psalms (86:15; 103:8; 108:4 145:8), and Joel quoted it (2:13). Wow. Stunning.
–“Have I been so long with you and yet you have not come to know me? He who has seen Me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9). God is like Jesus. And vice versa. I love to quote John Bisagno who said, “Jesus Christ is everything God had to say about Himself!”
–“The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Memorize this, friend, because there’s nothing else like it in the Word. It stands as a rebuke to those shallow people who believe God delights in catching people doing wrong (“God’s going to get you for that!”). He loves to bless.
–God is love.” (John 4:16). Earlier, John exclaimed, “What manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God! …And it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him just as He is.” (I John 3:1-3) Wow and double-wow.
Scriptures on the responsibility of God’s people to care for the weak…
–“He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:17) That’s similar to the way Jesus identifies ministering “to the least of these my brethren” in Matthew 25:40. He takes it personally, either way. We do it to the needy and we may as well be handing it to the Lord Himself. Pretty special.
–“Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then 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?” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:16). This is a jaw-dropping text no believer should ever lose. We think in terms of knowing Jesus as being some act of praying a certain prayer. But the Lord says to know Him is to do the types of things He would do.
–“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). As with Matthew 25:40, it’s not that doing these things make one holy, but the truly holy and Christlike will do these things.
Favorite scriptures about Scripture…
–“Every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Matthew 13:52). The scribe was one who knew the Old Testament. Now, get him saved, Jesus said, and watch what happens. He returns to his treasure–the Hebrew Bible–and still finds all those old treasures he loved so long, but more than that, he keeps making new discoveries, finding new treasures.
–“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable….” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This one is quite well known, but is unsurpassed in its riches.
–And yet, there’s a problem. “Just as our beloved Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Here we have Scripture saying some Scriptures are hard to understand! We knew it, we’re just glad someone else did!
Favorite Scriptures about prayer…
–“Men ought always to pray and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Pray or quit. That’s the alternative.
–“Your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask” (Matthew 6:8). However, go on and ask, seek, knock! (7:7).
–“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should! But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8;26). We simply do not know how to pray very well. Here is the great Apostle saying so! But not to fear. It’s all right. The Spirit takes our baby-talk and translates it into Heavenly language. I find it fascinating that 8:26 says the Spirit is interceding for us, and verse 34 says Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father doing the very same thing! Wow, are we blessed!
Favorites on Leadership…
–“That the leaders led in Israel, and the people volunteered, O bless the Lord!” (Judges 5:2). That’s the goal, isn’t it?
–“He who would be great among you, let him be your servant.” “I am among you as One who serves.” (Matthew 20:26; Luke 22:27) This is pure genius, but makes sense only to the spiritual, and you know the problem with that (see I Corinthians 2:14).
–“I am only an unworthy servant; just doing my duty.” This parable of Luke 17:7-10 may be the most profound bit of wisdom in Scripture, particularly for those who would take seriously their service to the Savior.
I’ll be returning to add more to this. We need a list of favorite texts on so many other subjects: The church, conflict among God’s people, our joy in Christ, and such. But as my wife and I are about to be out of town for a few days, I wanted to leave something “worthy” on the website. Happy New Year to you!