Word #AtoZChallenge

This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter W

Word seems an appropriate choice for W in this series about words from the Bible. Wisdom was an alternative, but Understanding perhaps leads to wisdom.

Words may be written or spoken. Did you know that Jesus Christ is known as The Word (or The Word of God)? At the beginning of the Old Testament we read that God (the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit) spoke everything into existence. Genesis 1-2:3

At the beginning of the Gospel of John in the New Testament we read that The Word was there in the beginning. John 1:1-18 Jesus was and is and evermore will be! The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as Wisdom.

Word appears over 950 times in the NIV translation. Sometimes it is used about ordinary words. Often it is ‘the word of the Lord’ – a prophetic word from the God, who speaks.

‘Sending word’ is used for sending a message. Word can also mean promise, or authority as in Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.’ Genesis 41:44 .

‘The word’ is also used in the New Testament as a shorter way of expressing ‘the Good News about Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God’.

Psalm 119 stands out among the Psalms as being about words. Psalm 119 has a section for each letter of the Hebrew alphabetic rather like an A to Z Challenge! Word (or words) appears about 30 times in this psalm, usually in praise of God’s word.

Moses receives and renews the covenant

The story about Moses in my post for the Letter B mentioned that Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. This happened on the Holy Mountain.

The Ten Commandments were written by the Lord on tablets of stone. Moses was very angry when he came down the mountain and found that the people had turned away from God to worship a golden calf, which they had made. He threw down the tablets and they smashed. Exodus 32:19 The story of how the replacement set of stone tablets came into being is told in Exodus 34: 1-28.

Towards the end of Moses’ life he began to prepare the people and Joshua for a handover of leadership to Joshua. Moses gathered all the people together and read them the whole of the law, which he had received from God. It was very long. Moses had stayed so long on the mountain when he first received it that the people had given up hope of him and of God.

The people responded to sections of the law, replying, ‘Amen’. Let it be so.

There were warnings about the result of breaking the Law and promises about obeying it.
Moses asked the people to ‘choose life’ by obeying the Law. Deuteronomy 30:19

How the Law was given and the episode with the golden calf can be found in Exodus 20-33

The renewal of the covenant is described in Deuteronomy 29-34

Jesus claimed not to have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them. Matthew 5:17

In John’s gospel Jesus Christ (the Word) is quoted: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ‘ Matthew 4:4

He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’
Luke 11:28

Romans 8:26 The Holy Spirit helps us pray with ‘wordless groans’.

1 Peter 1:25 The word of the Lord endures for ever.


Vision #AtoZChallenge

This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter V

Vision has a few meanings. It can mean eyesight or a waking dream or foresight (imagining or being aware of what will happen in the future). The word appears over 100 times in the Bible.

Dreams and visions are often mentioned together as ways God speaks to people. Often they are accompanied by a voice from heaven.

In the Old Testament only a small proportion of the population were reported to have visions from God. They were all prophets. Numbers 12:6

In the New Testament prophecy became more usual as the Holy Spirit began to be given to all believers.

To jump to the story A strange vision click here.

Abraham and Jacob had visions. Genesis 15 and Genesis 46:1-4

All these prophets had visions: Samuel 1 Samuel 3 ,Nathan, Ahijah the Shilonite, Iddo 2 Chronicles 9:29, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Zechariah (not the father of John the baptiser, but an earlier prophet.)

While some visions were of good things in the future, others were warnings of disaster. Isaiah’s vision of a vineyard Isaiah 5:1-7

In the New Testament important visions were given to Saul, who became Paul, and Ananias, who healed Paul’s blindness. Acts 9:1-19

Zechariah the father of John the baptiser had a vision Luke 1:22

A strange vision

While I was staying at Simon the Tanner’s house in Jaffa, I made a habit of resting and praying on the roof in the afternoons. After all it was too hot to do anything at that time of day.

One afternoon I was almost asleep, when I saw a vision of a large sheet descending from heaven. It was being held by its four corners and contained all kinds of living creatures. None of them was the sort, which have cloven hooves and chew the cud. They reminded me of the sea creatures we used to throw back as useless.

Then a voice said, ‘Rise up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

There was nothing permitted for us Jews with our strict dietary rules. I realised it was the Lord, but I could not believe what he was saying.

‘Surely not, Lord.’

He told me not to call anything impure or unclean that he had made. This happened three times. The Lord likes to do things in threes. I recall how he asked me three times on the beach, ‘Do you love me?’

Then there was a knock on the door; some Gentiles were asking for me. Without the vision I’d not have had any dealings with them. My wits may not be the quickest, but even I could see what this vision had been about.

I invited them in and listened to their request. The next day we travelled to Cornelius’ house, so that I could speak about the Lord Jesus.

Then what the prophet Joel had foretold came true as the Gentile believers received the Holy Spirit just as we had and were baptised afterwards .

This story is based on Acts 10-11:18, John 21:15-19 and Joel 2:28

I wrote the first draft during an online writers’ day run by the Association of Christian Writers in a workshop led by Bobbie Ann Cole.


Understand(ing) #AtoZChallenge

This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter U

Understand mostly appears in the Bible as part of the word, understanding. There are over 230 references, depending on the translation searched. Is a definition of the meaning necessary here? There is no special meaning attached to understanding in the Bible, but there is a desire that the readers should understand its message.

Wisdom and understanding are often linked Deuteronomy 1:13, Deuteronomy 4:6

King Solomon asked the Lord for an understanding mind (sometimes translated as wisdom). 1 Kings 3:9

God understands everything about us 1 Chronicles 28:9

To jump to the story Planting seed click here.

King Solomon had a wise man to oversee the building of the temple 1 Kings 7:13-14

The book of Nehemiah (who restored the walls of Jerusalem) has references to people who could understand, especially being able to understand the Law.

The Book of Job is all about attempts to understand suffering and man’s inability to understand everything a God does.

The Psalms speak of understanding: those who seek after God Psalm 14:2

There are comparisons between foolishness and wisdom.

In Psalm 119 the psalmist (writer) asks four times for understanding (verses 1, 27, 34, 73) then explains how he has understanding (verses 99, 100, 104), asks again for understanding in verses 125, 144 , 169, while explaining how understanding is gained in verse 130

As Job discovered the psalmist explains that God created the heavens by understanding in Psalm 136:5

The Book of Proverbs is full of sayings about understanding.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Genesis 11:7 The tower of Babel was where God confused people’s languages so that they did not understand one another and could not work together.

The prophet Isaiah speaks about understanding. In particular he describes the Spirit of God as being a Spirit of wisdom and understanding. Isaiah 11:2

The understanding of the creator is unsearchable Isaiah 40:28

The people being slow to understand is also a theme in many prophets’ words.

Daniel had understanding in dreams and visions Daniel 1:17

The disciples did not always understand Jesus’ teaching Mark 9:32

After Jesus’ death and resurrection He opened the minds of two disciples so they would understand Luke 24:45

The Holy Spirit gives understanding 1 Corinthians 2:12

Planting seed

In the time when Jesus lived on earth there were no tractors or combine harvesters. Farming was done by people using animals to help them.

Nowadays seed is often planted exactly where the farmer intends using machinery.

In Jesus day the person planting seed (the sower) would have a basket or bag full of seed and walk to and fro in the field, throwing the seed. It would have been a familiar sight to the people who listened to Jesus. The method was known as broadcasting long before radio and television were invented!

One day when there were so many people trying to hear him he spoke from a boat, while they listened on dry land. He told a story about the seed, sown by a sower.

Some of the seed fell on the path. Birds flew down and gobbled it up.

Some of the seed fell on rocky ground. There was not enough soil for healthy growth. The seed germinated but withered, scorched by the sun.

Some of the seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the young plants.

The rest of the seed fell on good ground, where it grew and produced a yield of crop many times the amount sown. Perhaps one hundred times, or sixty times or thirty times.

Jesus did not tell the crowds the meaning of this story, but his disciples asked him about it later. He told them that they were being given the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.

The crowd would not understand in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

He explained to his disciples that the message was the seed. When people did not understand the message it was like the seed on the path.

The seed on the rocky ground represented people receiving the message gladly, but not continuing as disciples when persecution came.

The seed among thorns was like people, who allowed the cares of this world and the false hope of riches to crowd out the message.

The seed falling on good ground was like someone hearing and understanding the message and continuing, bearing differing amounts of fruit.

This story is a retelling of the Parable of the sower Matthew 13:1-23