Knowledge

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain. You can read his archives at www.roberlain.wordpress.com .

Psalm 131:1–3 (ESV)
1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.


It’s human nature to want to know all the answers, and to understand everything. But it’s also because we are mortal, finite beings that we don’t know all the answers. We don’t understand everything.

It requires humility to acknowledge that we don’t know everything. It’s good for us to “let go and let God” be God and recognise ourselves for who we are. We might like to think we are omniscient, or at least that Google is, but that quality is reserved for God alone. Even Google isn’t fool proof.

The alternative to seeking to be a “know-it-all” is to calm and quiet our souls. We might not know all the answers, but God does, and He cares for us. We can rest in His love like a small child with their mother.

Who or what is our hope? That we know everything? Or that we know our loving heavenly Father who knows everything? It’s liberating to know God and to know that we don’t need to know all the answers.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for knowing all things, and that we don’t need to. May we hope in You, both now and forevermore, amen.”


What about Your Plans?

Reading the Word

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.(Proverbs 16:9, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We all make plans. We are even told that we should think about the future and plan for it in places like Luke 14:25-33. Wisdom tells us to plan ahead. However, as we make our plans, we must not forget that it is ultimately God who determines the outcome. We must not think we can rely on our own strength and understanding, but we must always look to the Lord and trust in him. Consider our proverb for today and the verses below:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.(James 4:13–16, ESV)

Lord, we thank you for holding our futures in your hands and we trust in your plans. Amen.


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Our Lack of Understanding

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

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Reading the Word

Job 38:1–7 (ESV)

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Understanding and Applying the Word

How often do you question God? Have you ever wondered why certain things happen and think, “This is not right and God should not allow such a thing?” This was the mindset of Job when he lost his family and was stricken with sores all over his body that tormented him. He felt it was not fair and that if he could get an audience with God, he would make his case and prove why it was not right.

Job finally got his audience with God and God’s response to Job is partially recorded in our reading for today. In it, God pointed out that Job did not have full understanding of all things and therefore could not see the entire picture. Job was wrong in his assessment because of his lack of knowledge and understanding.

The thing that Job most needed to learn was to trust in God even in the difficult times and when all of the “Why?” questions are not answerable. We all need to learn this lesson because many of the things we go through in life will be for unknown reasons, but we can be assured that God’s plans and purposes are for good and that they never fail.

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Taste and See that the Lord Is Good

Psalm 348 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 34:8–10 (ESV)

8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Understanding and Applying the Word

A friend of mine lost his wife just a few days ago. I attended the funeral service today. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman who loved the Lord, her husband, and her family and friends. She left a wonderful legacy.

In the service, I was touched by the words shared by her children and her husband. They expressed that they would miss her and that her absence would be hard. But they also expressed their confidence in where she is now and the hope they have in a future reunion. Their confidence and hope are present in the face of death because they know the Lord and they know he is good. This family has experienced God’s goodness in their lives as he has walked alongside them in the past. Now, they continue to trust in him as they walk into the future. Knowing the Lord does not mean that nothing bad will ever come our way. It will. However, knowing the Lord does mean that our God is with us and we can lean on him and his promises. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that God is good.

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Have No Fear

bare feet boy child couch

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Reading the Word

Psalm 56:1–4 (ESV)

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt attacked or looked down upon for being a Christian? Have you ever been made fun of or left out because you are a child of God? What was your response? How did you find encouragement?

The psalmist reminds us that God is with his people. We do not have to fear the world or become discouraged. Our God is for us and we can trust in him! Do you believe that? How will it change how you live each and every day?

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Quiet Confidence

man standing in the middle of road

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Reading the Word

Matthew 27:11–14 (ESV)

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Parallel Text: Mark 15:2-5

Understanding and Applying the Word

Pilate was amazed as he questioned Jesus. He was amazed because of the outrage of the religious leaders. How could Jesus cause such heated feelings that these men would want him put to death? He was also amazed because Jesus remained calm and collected even in the midst of the accusations and looming condemnation. How could Jesus seem so confident during all of this?

In the eye of the storm that was raging around him, Jesus stood confidently trusting in the Father. Jesus knew he was going to the cross. He knew that he had to die. He did not panic. He did not plead for his life to be spared. He stood in quiet confidence. This amazed Pilate.

Believers should also be marked by confidence. We may face difficult things in life, but we know what the future holds and it is good. It is very good. We will be with the Lord forever in a world without sin and suffering and death. We are confident because we trust in the plans and purposes of God. Our confidence should be something that others notice about us. As Peter wrote in his letter:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:14–15, ESV)

Let us go forward in confidence, proclaiming the goodness of God and trusting in the future he has promised.

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The Power of Prayer

man standing on rocks near beach during golden hour

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Reading the Word

Matthew 21:20–22 (ESV)

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Parallel Text: Mark 11:20-26; John 14:12-14

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the disciples saw the fig tree wither, they were amazed. They were not focused on the meaning of Jesus’ sign, but on its power. How could Jesus do this? Jesus answered by telling the disciples if they “have faith and do not doubt” they could tell the mountains to be thrown into the sea and it would be done. In fact, they could ask for anything in prayer and receive it, as long as they had faith.

This is a passage that has been abused and misused by many. Jesus is not telling the disciples that they can hold God hostage to give them whatever they desire as long as they use the correct magic formula (i.e. faith). In the Bible, true faith is not one’s ability to believe in a particular outcome. True faith is the exercise of trust in God, whether the circumstances or outcomes are what is desired or not. So, to exercise faith is to trust in the plans and purposes of God, even in the midst of difficulty. Jesus is not teaching “name it, claim it” theology. John 14:12-14 says that whatever you ask “in my name” will be done. The phrase “in my name” tells us that what we ask for has to be consistent with the plans and purposes of Christ.

Jesus’ words to his disciples are to encourage them. They will have great power and authority of their own and it will be exercised through prayer. The Lord stands behind them and what may seem impossible to them, like throwing a mountain into the sea, will be possible through the power of God working in and through them. This is a truth that the disciples would need to remember in the days ahead as Jesus departs from the world and they are left to bear witness to the world. It is also a message that Jesus’ followers today need to remember as we proclaim the gospel in a world that stands in opposition to Christ. Incredible things can happen through prayer and the power of God working in and through us. Let us pray and let us have faith!

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A Man Willing To Give It All Back

Luke 1910 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 19:1–10 (ESV)

1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

If you grew up going to church, you are probably familiar with this story. You may have even learned a catchy little song about this incident. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. They were despised by the Jewish people and thought of as traitors and thieves. They both worked for the Romans and cheated their own people out of money to line their own pockets. This is why we often read of the “tax collectors and sinners” listed together. They were thought of as the lowest of the low.

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowds. To get a better view, he climbed a tree. While he was in his tree, Jesus passed by and called up to Zacchaeus to climb down because he desired to go to his house with him. Zacchaeus immediately got down and welcomed Jesus. Of course, many grumbled that Jesus would spend time with someone so unworthy!

When Zacchaeus came to face to face with Jesus, he promised to give back all of the money he had cheated from people and to give back four times what he had taken! In response to Zacchaeus’ words and willingness to do what was right, Jesus declared, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

This account comes after a series of passages where Jesus addresses money, possessions, and coveting. In the previous chapter (cf. Luke 18:18-30), we read of the rich young ruler who was unwilling to give up his possessions to gain eternal life. Zacchaeus serves as the contrast to that mindset. Zacchaeus was willing to give up all that he had to receive what truly mattered: salvation and eternal life. Through his words and actions, Zacchaeus showed where his heart was and what he truly valued. He desired Jesus and the things of God. He wanted to do what was right and turn from what was wrong. In short, he was repentant and trusting in the words of Jesus and it changed his life.

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Like a Child

Luke 1817 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 18:15–17 (ESV)

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

People were bringing their children to Jesus “that he might touch them.” Such a touch would have been to bless the children. At first, the disciples sought to stop this from happening. They shared the cultural mindset that thought of children as a burden until they were physically capable of helping the family. Jesus, however, welcomed the children.

Jesus’ words “to such belongs the kingdom of God” should not be misunderstood. Jesus was not addressing the status of children in relation to the kingdom, but using children as an example. The emphasis of Jesus’ words falls on “for to such.” It is those who are like children that belong to the kingdom. Those who have a simple, childlike trust in Jesus and his teaching are those who belong to the kingdom. It becomes more clear in the last verse. There, Jesus tells the disciples that the kingdom of God must be received “like a child.”

We must be careful no to over-complicate the gospel. Jesus does not require us to have extensive knowledge or the answers to every complex question. All we need is childlike faith. If we know we are sinners and trust that Jesus saves us from our sins through his death and resurrection, we belong to him. It then becomes our delight to continue to learn, grow, and mature in our faith.

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Increase Our Faith

King of the hill in Arizona sunset

Reading the Word

Luke 17:5–6 (ESV)

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ disciples, after hearing him teach asked him to increase their faith. They wanted the amount of faith necessary to live according to Jesus’ words. Jesus’ response shows us that the apostles were thinking wrongly about faith. Jesus does not tell them how to increase in faith, but tells them that the faith of a mustard seed is sufficient. A mustard seed was often used in proverbial illustrations to speak of the smallest measure. In saying that mustard seed faith was sufficient, Jesus made the point that it is not the amount of faith, but the object of faith that is important. Faith must be in God and his word. When one trusts in God, even what seems impossible becomes possible.

When we place our faith in God, we understand that he is the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of all things. Nothing is too difficult for him. This does not mean that he will do whatever we ask him as “name-it-claim-it” prosperity theology teaches. It does mean that when we seek to live our lives for the Lord and do his will, he enables us to do so, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Who or what are you trusting in?

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