Trust #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 T

Trust is related to belief. The difference is that belief may be only in the mind. Trust involves what is usually referred to in the Bible as the heart. This is the centre of one’s being, the emotions and perhaps the will. The statements made at baptism include the words ‘I believe and trust.’ Trust leads to obedience.
Trust appears in the Bible about 170 times including words like trustworthy and trusted. Many of the verses in the Bible about trust include a promise.

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.

The Book of Job speaks of trust, as do many Psalms, Proverbs and many of the prophets.

To jump to the story Hezekiah, KIng of Judah click here.

Psalm 9:10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 13:5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 32:10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. (steadfast = enduring)

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

Isaiah links trust with ceasing to be afraid and having peace. Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 30:15 in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

In the New Testament there are references to the words written in the Bible being trustworthy. 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 4:8-10, 2 Timothy 2:11, Titus 1:9, Titus 3:8, Revelation 21:5 and Revelation 22:6

Psalm 22 foreshadows Matthew 27:43

Hezekiah, King of Judah

After the reign of King Solomon, the son of King David, the kingdom was split into two.  A succession of kings (and one queen) ruled Judah from Jerusalem, while the northern kingdom of Israel was ruled by other kings in Samaria.

Hezekiah became King of Judah at the age of 25 years. His father, King Ahaz, had not put his trust in God.

Hezekiah immediately began to put things to rights. He reinstated worship of the Lord in the temple in obedience to the rules handed down from the times of King David and King Solomon.

Passover was celebrated with crowds of people gathered from Israel and Judah in a way that had not been done for years. Not all the people invited to celebrate Passover bothered to travel to Jerusalem*. Afterwards the people of Israel destroyed all the idols that had been worshipped previously on the high places. Then they went home.

Hezekiah did what was good and right and faithful in obedience to God’s laws. He sought God wholeheartedly and prospered. (Faith is similar to trust, often implying loyalty as well.)

The prophet Isaiah was alive during Hezekiah’s reign. Hezekiah acknowledged Isaiah’s prophetic gifting. When he needed guidance Hezekiah prayed to God and consulted Isaiah.

When a foreign power threatened Jerusalem Hezekiah looked for guidance and made a plan. He made it difficult for an invading army to find water. He refused to listen to the blasphemous lies the enemy told about the God he worshipped. They said God had as little power as the idols the neighbouring nations worshipped. Hezekiah’s people proved that they trusted him by obeying his order not to answer the taunts of the enemy.

Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed urgently to God. Hezekiah asked God to show the nations of the world that he alone was God. Then God acted by sending an angel of death. All the leaders and fighting men of the enemy were found dead in their tents, one hundred and eighty-five thousand of them! The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, withdrew to his own country where he met his own death.

Hezekiah became dangerously ill, but recovered after pleading with God, who granted him 15 more years of life. Hezekiah’s prayer is recorded in Isaiah 38:10-20

The stories about Hezekiah may be found in three books of the Bible: 2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39 and 2 Chronicles 32

*See Letter K for another story about ignoring an invitation.


Spirit #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 S

Spirit appears in the Bible more than 550 times. Spirit is a word, which is tricky to define. In the original languages of Bible it is often represented by the word for breath. In earlier times it was sometimes translated into English as ghost. The Holy Ghost is now usually called the Holy Spirit. Ghost has spooky associations. There is nothing spooky about the Holy Spirit.

Spirit is not always used in a positive way. Spirit of jealousy is one example of a negative spirit. A deceiving spirit is another.

As well as the Spirit of God there are many references to the human spirit, high spirits and other words of which spirit forms part.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, who would guide the disciples into all truth. John 16:12-14

The Holy Spirit is a person. The God of the Bible is one God, but three Persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit. This is the Trinity. Matthew 28:19

The Spirit of God was active in creating all things Genesis 1:2

Jesus Christ claimed that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in him, when he read Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon him. Isaiah 11:1-3

Joel prophesied that God would pour out his Spirit on all people. Joel 2:28 Letter P.

To jump to the story Jesus is baptised by John click here.

Many characters in the Old Testament were notable for having the Spirit of God: Joseph Genesis 41:38, Bezalel son of Uri Exodus 31:2-4, Moses and his helpers Numbers 11:16-17, Caleb Numbers 14:24, Balaam Numbers 24:2, Joshua Numbers 27:18, The judge Othniel, younger brother of Caleb Judges 3:9-11, Gideon Judges 6:34, Jephthah Judges 11:29, Samson Judges 13:24-25, King Saul (at first) 1 Samuel 10:9-13, King David 1 Samuel 16:13, Elijah and Elisha 2 Kings 2:9, Amasai, chief of the Thirty 1 Chronicles 12:18, Azariah son of Oded 2 Chronicles 15:1 , Jahaziel son of Zechariah 2 Chronicles 20:14, Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest 2 Chronicles 24:20, Ezekiel in Ezekiel 3:12 and many other verses, Daniel aka Belteshazzar Daniel 4:9

Job was aware of the Spirit’s power Job 33:4

The prophets Micah, Haggai, and Zechariah all mention the Spirit of the Lord.

Jesus is baptised by John

Luke the physician (medical doctor) wrote about John’s parents, Elizabeth and the priest, Zechariah. Elizabeth was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The angel Gabriel visited Zechariah and told him that John would be born. John was not to drink alcoholic drinks, but would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.

Luke set the scene of John’s ministry firmly in history. When John began to preach and baptise people Tiberias Caesar was the emperor, having already ruled for 14 years. Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee. He mentions other rulers too. The high priests were Annas and Caiaphas.

Crowds went out to the other side of the River Jordan near Bethany to hear John preach. He was dressed in the same way as Elijah had been, wearing a garment of camel hair with a leather belt around his waist. He quoted the prophet Isaiah, telling people that his prophesies were about to be fulfilled.

He told people how they should behave, sharing their goods and food with the needy, acting honestly and being content with what they were paid.

John prophesied that another man would baptise with the Holy Spirit. John himself baptised with water as a symbol that people repented of their wrongdoing.

That was why he was surprised when Jesus went to him and asked to be baptised. Jesus had done nothing wrong. He did not need to repent. John suggested it would be better for Jesus to baptise him, but Jesus insisted on being baptised by John.

The two of them went into the river. John baptised Jesus. Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. A voice from Heaven declared, ‘You are my son, whom I love. I am very pleased with you’. (See also Letter L)

John had been waiting for a sign that the one he was preaching about had arrived. He had received a prophecy from God that the man on whom the Spirit would come down and remain on was the one, who would baptise with the Holy Spirit.

John testified that Jesus is the Son of God.

The story is compiled from Luke 1-2, Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:1-11, Luke 3:1-23, John 1: 1-34

In the New Testament there is more information about the Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches his disciples and the writers of letters to churches and individuals share their understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

(John 14:15-29, Romans 5:1-5, Galatians 5:22-23 and many more passages, especially in the Acts of the Apostles.)


Rejoice #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 R

Rejoice appears in the Bible over 200 times. Rejoice is a word which means ‘be joyful’. It is often associated with giving praise and thanksgiving to God. The books of law give instructions to rejoice. The Psalms are full of instructions and reasons to rejoice. The prophets wrote about rejoicing; even Jeremiah, who gained a reputation for being miserable, used the word rejoice many times, including (possibly ironically) in his Lamentations!

Reasons for rejoicing are different in the New Testament and the Old Testament. One Old Testament example was given in my post for the letter N.

In the Old Testament the people were to rejoice when they met together to worship God. Sometimes they rejoiced over their enemies and other times their enemies rejoiced over them. (It depended on the outcome of battles!)

Instruction to rejoice before the Lord for seven days at the feast of Booths (A commemoration of the people living I tents in the wilderness.) Leviticus 23:40

Rejoice when bringing sacrifices Deuteronomy 12:7

There are prayers that enemies will not rejoice over the psalmist (writer of a psalm). Psalm 35:19 is one example.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5 Letter E and Letter L

In the New Testament God’s steadfast love is also a theme.

In the Beatitudes the word rejoice is used. Matthew 5:12

Jesus promised that his disciples would rejoice and no-one would take their joy from them John 16:22

Like Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes, Paul writing to the believers in Rome told them that he ‘rejoiced in sufferings’. They led to perseverance. Romans 5:3

Lost things

‘The Teacher is telling stories again. Let’s be quiet and hear what he has to say!’

We sat down on the edge of the crowd that had gathered. The teacher’s voice carried from where he was to all the people. We had no trouble hearing him. It was not always so easy to understand the meaning behind the stories he told.

This time he made his meaning very clear. Both his stories were about things that people had lost. The first story was about a man – a shepherd. He had a large flock of sheep, one hundred animals. When he counted them there were only ninety-nine. One was missing.

He left the ninety-nine sheep grazing in open country and went to find the lost sheep. When he found it he carried it back to the flock on his shoulders.

He was so happy to have found it that he invited his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him.

This time the teacher explained his meaning. The lost sheep represented a sinner, who repented and the ninety-nine represented righteous people, who did not need to repent. He told us that there would be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repented than over ninety-nine, who did not need to repent.

We could see that the religious people were not best pleased with this teaching, but the Teacher had not finished.

He told another story. This time it was about a woman inside her house. She had ten silver coins, but lost one of them. So she lit a lamp and swept the house, looking everywhere until she found it.

Then she called her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her because she had found her lost coin.

Again the Teacher pressed the point home: ‘I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner, who repents.’

Luke 15:1-10 The lost sheep and the lost coin

These stories in Luke’s Gospel are followed by the story of the lost son.