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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Difficult Sayings

Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.
~ Revelation 10:10 (NKJV)

Difficult Sayings

The Bible has many difficult sayings. Some seem to be at odds with reason, some seem at odds with other portions of Scripture, and some simply defy us to apply them.

If you've been around this site even a little bit, you know how sweet I consider the words of the Bible. My heart leaps when the living Word speaks to me. But I'll admit that my stomach can likewise do a flip when God's Word issues a challenge such as Philippians 3:12-13 (NIrV):

I have not yet been made perfect.
But I move on ...
I forget what is behind me.
I push hard toward what is ahead of me.

How does one move on to grasp the impossible when one is not yet perfect enough to touch the reachable? How does one sufficiently forget and travel light—light enough to follow hard after Christ without falling out of step?

Anyone else care to share what difficult sayings you've run across in the Bible?

How great You are, our God. How small we are. How much we need You to understand, to reconcile, and to apply Your Word. Please give us such great love for you that we never grow weary in the effort.

I appreciate hearing from you. Questions are welcome. Reply to comments or e-mail me—my address is
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Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. Jeremiah 31:22, but I think it references Israel encompassing God. I'll have to get back to you with some others. Great topic!

  2. You know that I travel light. ;)

    I always struggle with the one that tells us to pray for our enemies. It's beautiful, but hard.
    ~ Wendy

  3. Some things are indeed hard to understand. God is the source of understanding ~ so maybe in time He will show us more completely. I agree ~ until then may our love indeed increase and our weariness be diminished in His strength.

  4. The one that came to my mind was the prayer of Agur in Proverbs 30:8-9,

    8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.

    9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
    Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

    Sounds just like how Jesus directed us to pray, but my heart tries to justify storing up for myself for a "rainy day" when what He desires is to be my Provider every day.

  5. I struggle with Jesus question on the cross, asking why "he was forsaken." It seems so "human".

  6. Anne, I have always wondered about the passage about Jesus that says, "He learned obedience through the things He suffered" not sure if I worded it correctly, but I have always pondered that. Why did Jesus have to learn anything, He already knew everything?? It is part of the mystery of His being human and God both I guess....I love finding verses to puzzle over! Lori

  7. T ~

    That's a passage that probably has so many applications that the discussion is nearly endless. I'm not sure I understand it fully, and I wouldn't be able to discuss all my perceptions here. You picked a good one.

  8. Wendy ~

    That is agreeably one of the most difficult passages to actually apply. I've been told that the measure of full forgiveness is the ability to ask God's blessings for those who have offended us.

  9. Patty ~

    He is so big, so great! I can feel so weak and insignificant in His presence. And I can also feel wonderfully empowered and loved.

  10. Jason ~

    You've selected one of my favorite passages. The Lord recently brought it back to me concerning relationships. If they are too rich, might we depend on others more than on Him? Yet let me not be a pauper either, lest I covet what others have. I think the idea is to always cultivate dependence on God, and to recognize that it is inherently more difficult in time of plenty, whether plenty of material riches or emotional ones.

  11. David ~

    I cry very easily. But that passage ... I know of nothing else in the Bible which moves my heart as those words of Jesus from the cross. Whatever was behind them, I am grateful I never need experience it, because Jesus did.

  12. Lori ~

    This is another of those passages that draws my amazement. I can only imagine that it refers to the difference between head and heart knowledge, and the knowledge which comes by experience. Though Jesus was always in submission to the Father, He became something more by living it out as a Man.

    Mind-boggling that God Himself could become something more by His human experience. Absolutely mind-boggling.

  13. How about James 1:2 ~ Consider it ALL joy / pure joy.

    And the Amplified says: "Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations."

    The word "enveloped" says a lot.

  14. Well, there's huge portions of the old testament, for instance, that deal in war and hatred and slaughtering people. I know there's a theological rationale for it all, but it turns my stomach just the same. I don't like it. And Jesus threw out a few zingers - the one that is hardest for me is forgiving enemies. But sometimes I wonder if he put out those paradoxical statements also for shock-treatment, to get people's attention. It certainly worked.

    Anne, thanks for this invitation. I appreciate that you, I am sure, are not afraid to grapple with difficult questions. You are a spiritual warrior! (what is the female version of that? Warriess?)

  15. Snady ~

    I actually heard someone recently pray and give thanks for the difficulties which have brought opportunities. I think I'm showing my age and miles. I used to often say that the only difference between a stepping stone or stumbling block is how you look at it. I think I need to start saying that again ...

  16. Brad ~

    You voice one of the most common difficulties people have with the Old Testament (Old Covenant). Some churches even avoid reading it.

    The value of the OT is understanding everything that played out in the physical realms for its spiritual significance under the New Testament / Covenant. One of the most clear is that the Passover is a picture of lamb's blood which brought deliverance, looking forward to Calvary. Another is that war was commanded against utterly wicked pagan nations, which committed such abominations as child sacrifice, ritual prostitution in worship of demonic "gods," and gross sexual perversity. Thorough annihilation is a picture of how thoroughly we are to attack the spiritual strongholds in our lives.

    The seven nations God told Israel to drive from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1-2) all even have names which correlate some of the most powerful strongholds we face:

    Hittites = Fear
    Girgashites = Lusts of the flesh
    Amorites = Pride
    Canaanites = Materialism
    Perizzites = [Unrestrained] Anger
    Hivites = Bitterness (offenses kept alive)
    Jebusites = Treading down others (gossip, criticism, ridicule)

    As for Jesus, He did have a way of stunning us, but I believe He meant every word. Without the empowerment of His Spirit, we'd have no hope of following Him.

    And I'll accept the title of warrior princess. Yes, I've had my share of battles. I may someday tell the tale of a demon I once faced willingly. I've never known such terror in my life, and wouldn't too quickly do it again. I don't share that to claim any recognition, but to acknowledge that the devil is a very real enemy, and must be battled as ruthlessly as the Israelites fought their enemies.

  17. Okay Annie, now after your comment to David...tears are welling up in my eyes.

    I have always had trouble with the scripture of "many are called but few are chosen". Why does Satan get to win more souls than Jesus? I just hate the thought of that!

  18. I love His precious word, but there are some things that I guess we are just not suppose to understand until He chooses to reveal them to us.

  19. You always give me something to think about. That's what I like about you.

  20. Mary ~

    Oh good! You know I love to touch people deeply enough to make them cry. I only wish I'd been there to share the tears with you.

    As for the devil "winning" more souls ... I've said before that I don't pretend to know all the answers. This is what I do see as possible.

    It's not that the devil wins, because we do a thorough job of sinning without his help. I don't think he even wants us. He was ready to trade all the world's inhabitants for the worship of Jesus. His motivation in tormenting us seems to be seeing God cursed, and denying
    the Lord His praise and glory.

    The few chosen—the few who find the narrow path—may be few in relation to the many, but Revelation paints a picture of a very full Heaven. It would seem to me that God receives greater glory when the praise and worship is offered freely, not as the many will one day be compelled to give it. Perhaps the knowledge that we have received a privilege the many refused makes us appreciate God's love and Heaven all the more. (There is no victory in entitlement.) And while the many are condemned to Hades and Death, those two locales are one day cast into the lake of fire—indicating their utter destruction. I am willing to entertain the notion that the condemned's time in a place where the fire is not quenched and their worm does not die lasts until the final judgment, and that when Hades and Death are destroyed, the condemned are also annihilated (—not sure if that would include the devil). Revelation 21:4 refers to a final time of no more pain. It would not surprise me if that includes the damned, who God may judge to have been sufficiently tormented for their rejection of Him.

    I would not think of teaching this as probablility. But I don't find anything in the Bible that doesn't make it a possibility, and would be happpy to have someone argue the case from Scripture either way.

  21. PS to Mary ~

    As I understand it, the Hebrew mind does not think of eternal as equal to infinity. The word for both "everlasting" and "universe" is the Hebrew olam, which literally means too far in the distance to be seen. An idea of torment for the damned which isn't infinite doesn't mean it's not "everlasting"—and MUCH to be avoided.

  22. Denise ~

    My mind is sufficiently addled simply trying to remember all that the Lord does reveal. I often read the notes in the margins of my Bible with awe and fresh understanding. I've no doubt that I forget far more than I remember, and that the Lord hides far more than He reveals.

  23. Duane ~

    Why thank you! I like you plenty myself! My continual prayer is that the Lord use me to help people better understand the Bible, and thereby better understand God, and therefore better LOVE God—and that the end result is His glory plus the building up of His body (the Church) in faith, hope, love.

    (I hope some of that results, as I give you stuff to think about besides wedding plans. :D)


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