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Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.

All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.

There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.

I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”

From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.

The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.

I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.

A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.

Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.

At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.

I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.

Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.

Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.

It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?

I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.

The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.

You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.

My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.

Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?

I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

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Poem: If, in leaving a place…

If, in leaving a place,
Those you leave behind
Sigh in relief and
Give thanks to God
For your departure
Then you can trust that
You offered no good
Provided nothing of substance
Added no value
To the space you vacated.

If, in leaving a place,
Your absence
Brings relief and praise
Then your presence must
Lend towards darkness.
Hate, malice, venom –
These are choices.
You choose to do wrong.
Plot to go out of your way
To cause harm.
You speak death even as
You’re wrapped in the embrace of life.
I have no sympathy for your wayward travels.
I spoke caution for the danger
You’re rushing towards
Offered respite from the
Consequences of your choices.
Warm shelter and full belly
In the midst of a concrete jungle.
You took what you wanted
Wasted the remainder unnecessarily
Misused, overused and abused my hospitality.
You left with no understanding of the
Safe harbor you cast aside in
Favor of lies and misrepresentations
There was no acknowledgement of grace
No thank you
No gratitude
Not even a: ♫♯ Dear John, by the time
you read this line, I’ll be gone…♭ ♫
No, instead you left a petition
for an order of protection
claiming harassment and abuse.
As if I were the one who
Showed up on your doorstep
Without warning or invitation
You asked for a restraining order
As if I were the one
Sleeping in your home with ill intent
Plotting against your peace
And dreaming of your downfall.

Entitled complaints all.
As if you have a right
To my life.
My property, my income,
My provision, my inheritance
Simply because you showed up
And lusted for the fruit of my
Praise, hard work and perseverance.
My struggle.
I have no curses to hurl at you
There’s no need.
You aren’t worth my frustration.
When I opened my home to you,
I made available to you everything
God has made available to me.
You have no idea how blessed you were
sitting in the shelter of the grace that covers me.
You rejected that when you attacked me.

A character like yours
doesn’t require strong sight to see.
Your stench permeates around you
It turns the edges of the space you inhabit.
You are your own worst enemy,
But you think you’re a boss
Making boss moves.
High-rise self-aggrandizement
In a borrowed Top Ramen reality.
Check yourself.
Check yourself.
Check yourself,
‘Cause you’re
Wr-wr-wr-wreckin’ yourself.

If, in leaving a place,
Those you leave behind
Are filled with satisfaction and joy,
Then your boss move –
Your departure –
Was actually an
Answered prayer.

Thank you for testing
My faith and resolve.
Thank you for dropping in.
Thanks so much more for leaving.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

~Ephesians 6:10-12

LaShawnda Jones
April 29, 2017

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Film: A Dream for Christmas (1973)

On Christmas day I watched a lovely movie about new opportunities, hope and perseverance. A Dream for Christmas was made in 1973 but is set in 1950. It should be on a classic Christmas movie rotation every year, but it’s not. I had never seen it nor heard of it before and I think that’s a shame since it’s a really good story about a family working together through change and challenges. It’s a slice of life and a looking glass into an every day poor African-American experience pre-Civil Rights Movement. Very intriguing. Very warm. Very well done.

a-dream-for-christmas-black-holiday-moviesA Dream for Christmas is a story about Reverend Will Douglas and his family moving from rural Arkansas in 1950 to Los Angeles to pastor a church. Unbeknownst to the Reverend Douglas, his new church is scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the block by a developer intent on building a shopping mall. Familiar story, isn’t it? Yes, this is also a very modern story of overcoming money and opposition with hope and faith while working towards a goal.

Treat yourself, your family and your friends – watch and share.

A Dream for Christmas
(1973, starring Hari Rhodes, Beah Richards, Lynn Hamilton)

The picture on this link is clearer: https://youtu.be/0wLZ1ZPlOrY

New York Times Review: http://www.nytimes.com/movies/movie/14754/A-Dream-for-Christmas/overview

 

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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Isaiah 51

A Call to Trust the Lord

“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—
all who seek the Lord!
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
the quarry from which you were mined.
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor,
and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.
Abraham was only one man when I called him.
But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”

The Lord will comfort Israel[a] again
and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.

“Listen to me, my people.
Hear me, Israel,
for my law will be proclaimed,
and my justice will become a light to the nations.
My mercy and justice are coming soon.
My salvation is on the way.
My strong arm will bring justice to the nations.
All distant lands will look to me
and wait in hope for my powerful arm.
Look up to the skies above,
and gaze down on the earth below.
For the skies will disappear like smoke,
and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing.
The people of the earth will die like flies,
but my salvation lasts forever.
My righteous rule will never end!

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong,
you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”

Wake up, wake up, O Lord! Clothe yourself with strength!
Flex your mighty right arm!
Rouse yourself as in the days of old
when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile.[b]
Are you not the same today,
the one who dried up the sea,
making a path of escape through the depths
so that your people could cross over?
Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem[c] singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

“I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.
So why are you afraid of mere humans,
who wither like the grass and disappear?
Yet you have forgotten the Lord, your Creator,
the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy
and laid the foundations of the earth.
Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors?
Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies?
Where is their fury and anger now?
It is gone!
Soon all you captives will be released!
Imprisonment, starvation, and death will not be your fate!
For I am the Lord your God,
who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar.
My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
And I have put my words in your mouth
and hidden you safely in my hand.
I stretched out[d] the sky like a canopy
and laid the foundations of the earth.
I am the one who says to Israel,
‘You are my people!’”

Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem!
You have drunk the cup of the Lord’s fury.
You have drunk the cup of terror,
tipping out its last drops.
Not one of your children is left alive
to take your hand and guide you.
These two calamities have fallen on you:
desolation and destruction, famine and war.
And who is left to sympathize with you?
Who is left to comfort you?[e]
For your children have fainted and lie in the streets,
helpless as antelopes caught in a net.
The Lord has poured out his fury;
God has rebuked them.

But now listen to this, you afflicted ones
who sit in a drunken stupor,
though not from drinking wine.
This is what the Sovereign Lord,
your God and Defender, says:
“See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands.
You will drink no more of my fury.
Instead, I will hand that cup to your tormentors,
those who said, ‘We will trample you into the dust
and walk on your backs.’”

Footnotes:

  1. 51:3 Hebrew Zion; also in 51:16.
  2. 51:9 Hebrew You slew Rahab; you pierced the dragon. Rahab is the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos in ancient literature. The name is used here as a poetic name for Egypt.
  3. 51:11 Hebrew Zion.
  4. 51:16 As in Syriac version (see also 51:13); Hebrew reads planted.
  5. 51:19 As in Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek, Latin, and Syriac versions; Masoretic Text reads How can I comfort you?
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ACAD – Praise: Luke 17

Temptations to Sin

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Increase Our Faith

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 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.

Unworthy Servants

“Will any one of you who has a servant[c] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,[d] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;[e] we have only done what was our duty.’”

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[f] who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[g]

The Coming of the Kingdom

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.  On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j] And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 17:1 Greek Stumbling blocks
  2. Luke 17:2 Greek stumble
  3. Luke 17:7 Greek bondservant; also verse 9
  4. Luke 17:8 Greek gird yourself
  5. Luke 17:10 Greek bondservants
  6. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
  7. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you
  8. Luke 17:21 Or within you, or within your grasp
  9. Luke 17:24 Some manuscripts omit in his day
  10. Luke 17:35 Some manuscripts add verse 36: Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left
  11. Luke 17:37 Greek body
  12. Luke 17:37 Or eagles

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Psalm 147

He Heals the Brokenhearted

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
    for it is pleasant,[a] and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;[b]
    he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
    he prepares rain for the earth;
    he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
    and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
    Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
    he blesses your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders;
    he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
    he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
    who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
    he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
    his statutes and rules[c] to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
    they do not know his rules.[d]
Praise the Lord!

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 147:1 Or for he is beautiful
  2. Psalm 147:6 Or afflicted
  3. Psalm 147:19 Or and just decrees
  4. Psalm 147:20 Or his just decrees

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Psalm 69

Save Me, O God

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

Save me, O God!
    For the waters have come up to my neck.[a]
I sink in deep mire,
    where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
    and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
    with waiting for my God.

More in number than the hairs of my head
    are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
    those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
    must I now restore?
O God, you know my folly;
    the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
    O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
    O God of Israel.
For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
    that dishonor has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
    an alien to my mother’s sons.

For zeal for your house has consumed me,
    and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
When I wept and humbled[b] my soul with fasting,
    it became my reproach.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
    I became a byword to them.
I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
    and the drunkards make songs about me.

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
    At an acceptable time, O God,
    in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
Deliver me
    from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
    and from the deep waters.
Let not the flood sweep over me,
    or the deep swallow me up,
    or the pit close its mouth over me.

Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
    according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Hide not your face from your servant;
    for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
    ransom me because of my enemies!

You know my reproach,
    and my shame and my dishonor;
    my foes are all known to you.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
    so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
    and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me poison for food,
    and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

Let their own table before them become a snare;
    and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.[c]
Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see,
    and make their loins tremble continually.
Pour out your indignation upon them,
    and let your burning anger overtake them.
May their camp be a desolation;
    let no one dwell in their tents.
For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
    and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
Add to them punishment upon punishment;
    may they have no acquittal from you.[d]
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
    let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

But I am afflicted and in pain;
    let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
    or a bull with horns and hoofs.
When the humble see it they will be glad;
    you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy
    and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Let heaven and earth praise him,
    the seas and everything that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
    and build up the cities of Judah,
and people shall dwell there and possess it;
    the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
    and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 69:1 Or waters threaten my life
  2. Psalm 69:10 Hebrew lacks and humbled
  3. Psalm 69:22 Hebrew; a slight revocalization yields (compare Septuagint, Syriac, Jerome) a snare, and retribution and a trap
  4. Psalm 69:27 Hebrew may they not come into your righteousness

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Psalm 92

How Great Are Your Works

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
    to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O Lord!
    Your thoughts are very deep!
The stupid man cannot know;
    the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
    and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
   but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
    for behold, your enemies shall perish;
    all evildoers shall be scattered.

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
    you have poured over me[a] fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
    my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
    they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 92:10 Compare Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Colossians 1

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters[a] in Christ.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.[b] He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,[c] always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom[d] and forgave our sins.

Christ Is Supreme

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[e]
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see —
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.[f]
    So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

Paul’s Work for the Church

I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect[g] in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:2 Greek faithful brothers.
  2. 1:7 Or he is ministering on your behalf; some manuscripts read he is ministering on our behalf.
  3. 1:11 Or all the patience and endurance you need with joy.
  4. 1:14 Some manuscripts add with his blood.
  5. 1:15 Or He is the firstborn of all creation.
  6. 1:18 Or the firstborn from the dead.
  7. 1:28 Or mature.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission ofTyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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ACAD – Giving Thanks: 1 Timothy 4

Some Will Depart from the Faith

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

If you put these things before the brothers,[a] you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Timothy 4:6 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church
  2. 1 Timothy 4:10 Some manuscripts and suffer reproach
  3. 1 Timothy 4:15 Greek be in them

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.