55 for 55: Passages of Scripture that mean a lot to me (1-5)
Thanks for taking time to read something that’s very special to me. As I’m turing 55 this year (September 5th), I thought I’d share with you 55 passages of scripture that have meant a lot up to this point in my life.
I’m very grateful for the years that God has given to me and the Bible has been a guiding light to me through many of my years. I don’t know what I would’ve done without God’s counsel, comfort, inspiration, conviction, teaching and guidance that I’ve found in His word. Words can’t express my gratitude for Him changing my life through my daily interaction with Him with via the Bible.
The majority of the passages listed in these posts are in no certain order, however the scriptures in this post and the next (6-10) are, due to the fruit I’ve received from them. The passages of scripture (which are all from the New International Version) are:
1. Luke 10: 25-28: “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
This is my cornerstone. The passage speaks about the Two Greatest Commandments, but it reveals far more than two “rules” for me to live by.
My first takeaway is that I see God wants me to know what love (Agape) is, then, to open up and love Him, love myself and then love others in the same way that He loves me. I’ve come to call the loving myself “the Middle Commandment,” because if I don’t know how to personally apply love to myself in healthy ways then my ability to love others will be challenged as well.
Second, this scripture has helped me to realize that there are “7 Core Areas” in my life where God wants me to experience balance, productivity and fruitfulness among other blessings that come when I love and embrace Him.
I extract these core areas from Jesus’ comments about loving Him with our “Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind.” The Core Areas simply illuminates we’re all (1) Spiritual, (2) Cognitive, (3) Emotional, (4) Physical/Biological and (5) Sexual beings (these relate to the 1st Greatest Commandment). In addition, we’re (6) Social/Relational beings and we’re (7) “Environmentalists” as well, meaning we’re called and desire to be salt and light or agents of change in the communities we live in with our neighbors (these last 2 are related to the 2nd Greatest Commandment).
I liken these 7 Core areas to rows in the garden of my life that I need to personally and relationally do work in every day, if I’m to experience any form of nourishment, balance, productivity or fruitfulness. When I feed my Spirit, strengthen my Cognitions, express my Emotions safely, take care of my Physical body, and honor my Sexuality, then I’m loving myself and the healthy practice of my personal values in these areas ensures I’ll have better and safer relationships with others.
Finally, just as people realized two thousand years ago when Jesus walked the Earth, if we work the land (our personal garden, i.e. our heart and mind) then we eat. If we neglect the land (our mind and body), then we’ll experience deficiencies of growth in these core areas as well. Today, I’m enjoying my work and the fruit of my labor and I hope you’ll experience the same!
2. Luke 10:29-35: “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
This scripture is a continuation or is the practical application that follows Luke 10:25-28 (above) and has caused me to pause and ask “who is my neighbor,” and what’s the appropriate loving and “reasonable response” to him or her, in light of our momentary encounter or lifelong relationship?
My studies have helped me to see that my neighbor (Plesion) is actually the person who’s in closest proximity to me, which could be my wife, son, my colleagues, people I counsel with or the person in the car next to me on the way home. My neighbor(s) could also be identified people that our church ministers to (local or abroad) where I’m called to be an “Environmentalist” where I use my skills, talents and gifts reasonably and responsibly to impact him or her for good (salt and light and as a change agent).
In connection with the previous passage (Luke 10:25-28), this means that loving myself then loving my neighbor means that I need to hear what form of love God wants me to convey to my neighbor without overextending myself beyond my resources, abilities and capabilities. Working to effect the right outcome for all involved where loving behavior is demonstrated with my neighbor requires thoughtfulness, discernment, introspection, empathy and wisdom because I need to strike a balance between caring for others without being careless toward my own needs and abilities.
3. Ecclesiastes 5:3: “The dream comes by much effort but the voice of a fool through many words” (NASV).
This was my “Senior verse” in my yearbook profile when I graduated from Pacific Christian College (now Hope International University). Unfortunately (but eventually fortunately) I’ve come to know both parts of this verse, however, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to value and experience the wisdom that Solomon conveys here.
Over the years I’ve realized a soberness and seriousness that accompanies the dreams I’ve wanted to achieve and the wants, wishes and dreams of others who I’m fortunate to encounter, collaborate with and assist.
I realize my words, these encounters, the opportunities that God has given to me and the possible outcomes that could be obtained all matter and are deserving of my best effort. At times in my life I’ve not always demonstrated nor given my best, but today, per the verse, I recognize and appreciate the hard work it takes to make anything meaningful become a reality.
4. Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
There are many takeaways from this verse, but one noticeable point for me has been to be mindful of the potential of my thoughts. Energes or “Energy” bears the word picture of freshly plowed land (remember the old saying, “the land is teeming with energy?”). Lest we forget, we are finely attuned “dust” (Genesis 3:19) who function miraculously due to the breath of God that empowers us and whatever we place in the soil of our mind we’re going to grow; good, bad or ugly.
As a Clinician, I encourage people to “Kill the A.N.T.S. (Automatic Negative Thoughts) in the soil” and the best way to do that is to follow the prescription given to us in this verse. It does take work to fertilize or pollinate your mind with that which is good versus contaminating it with that which robs us of fruitfulness and effectiveness but I’ve realized my outcomes are better personally and relationally when I’ve practiced these verses. One last point: “Practice” (Prasso) means that we’re to continue doing this as if we’ve not completed the action, in other words, to make it part of our daily rituals and habits continuously.
5. Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I’ve done a whole series on the Fruit of the Spirit and I’ve learned so much from looking at and applying these principles in my life and I’ve been fortunate to “harvest” fruit through my counseling when others allow the Holy Spirit to permeate and change their lives and relationships as well.
I’ve mentioned to others that if I could just focus on developing the Fruit of the Spirit and the ten characteristics of Love, then I’ll have my job description cut out for me for the remainder of my days.
There’s no greater gift that could be wrought within us than to see the Fruit planted in our mind, nurtured, protected, matured (or practiced) and delivered for self-edification or the edification of others. This is the best use of one’s energy and one of the best ways to overcome some of the devastating challenges in life. I pray you’ll experience this truism in your life!
You could find the next 5 passages of scripture (#6 – 10) in this “55 for 55” series by clicking here.
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