Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The twenty-third psalm is probably the most well-known of all the psalms. It is memorized and said during times of fear, despair and grief. Like the Lord's Prayer, the twenty-third psalm was something I memorized when I was very young. And also like the Lord's Prayer it was something that was recited at almost every funeral I attended. Why? Because Psalm 23 offers comfort and hope to a weary soul. But it also shows us the attributes of God and what our relationship with Him should be like.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The above verse is probably one of the most quoted verses when something bad happens in our lives. I think every time I've had a death in my family someone, somewhere will quote this verse to me. It is meant as a comfort of course, and people mean well when they say it, but how does it really apply to our lives? Do all bad events have a good purpose? Does God purposely cause all things to work out in a Christian's favour?
The verse immediately after Romans 8:28 gives the impression that not only does God make everything work out for the Christian, but He basically has preordained who would become His, thus enjoying His blessings.
I can do all things through Christ
What does it mean to have the power of Christ within you and available to you? What should that look like? Does it mean you can perform miracles like Jesus did? Should we be able to heal people, or do extraordinary things in His name? What does Philippians 4:13 mean when it says, "I can do all things?"
I am a big believer in keeping scripture in context because when we don't we can take a verse and make it mean something it wasn't intended to mean. So let's look at the verses that precede and follow Philippians 4:13.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
The verse above is often used by Christians as a source of comfort when our plans fall through, or life just gets too hard. I know in my own life, because I have so much to deal with in relation to my health, it's nice to have one of those "go to" verses that help me to not lose hope or give up entirely.
Prosperity teachers would have you believe that Jeremiah 29:11 is all about how God wants us to prosper financially. But that is not what this verse is all about. So what does Jeremiah 29:11 tell us about God? What are His plans for us? In order to get to the heart of this verse, we need to first take it in context. This was a message from God to the Jews who were being held in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. The verses surrounding Jeremiah 29:11 are specifically to tell the Jewish people that God had a plan and after seventy years, He would bring them back to Jerusalem. You can read the whole chapter at Biblegateway.com.
So, does that mean the verse has no benefit for us today? On the contrary, we are at the heart of God's plans. So what does this verse tell us?
Today's meditation or devotional is a poem I wrote some years ago during a time when I was purposely quiet before the Lord. Rather than coming to Him with all my worries and prayer requests, I deliberately sat still and just listened - waiting for Him to speak. This poem is the result of that time of quiet reflection.