Profound. Simple.

Genuine spiritual knowledge lies not in wonderful and mysterious thoughts but in actual spiritual experience through union of the believer’s life with truth.”– Watchman Nee

If you’ve ever listened to two doctors or two lawyers talk, you know we can be lost quickly in the four-syllable words of their professions.

We sometimes encounter a similar situation related to our faith. There are those who have studied ancient languages and know theology from every angle. And that theology is often expressed in several-syllable words. Because these are important concepts, I have great appreciation for those who study at that level.

But sometimes I look at the Bible and just have to smile at the simple ways God expresses profound truths. Here’s one from Numbers 14:9, “The Lord is with us; do not fear them.” In a few one-syllable words, he helps us understand his presence with us and his loving care for us. In this simple expression, he erases our reason to be afraid.

Here are others:

“You are the light of the world. . .” (Matthew 5:14a). Seven simple words alluding to the world as a dark place that we, by being like Jesus, can light up. That’s a lot of encouragement in a short statement.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth” (Psalm 100:1). Could an instruction be any clearer? We should experience joy in our relationship to God and should express it loudly to him in worship. And, not just us, but everyone, everywhere.

See if you can find some of your own one-syllable word statements in the Bible that contain deep and understandable truth. The Christian life is profound, but it is also simple. There is nothing we need to know that we cannot grasp as God reveals it word-by-word and step-by-step.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (from John 14:6)

He’s not leaving.

Nothing in or of this world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God. — A. W. Tozer

None of us is a stranger to loneliness. Even when we’re with people, we sometimes feel unattached, alone. But, if you and I are children of God, we are never alone. In fact, when Jesus came to earth, Joseph was reminded by the angel of Isaiah’s prophecy that this child would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us”. Then, after his living his life among us, Jesus said this to his disciples, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). He was leaving – and still promising to be with them.

The Bible is full of promises about God’s presence with us. Here are a few:

“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b).

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Do we believe what we are reading? That God is really with us? That he will never leave us? That where we go, he goes? He hears our prayers, knows our thoughts, understands our needs, and directs our steps.

The first step toward experiencing God in our lives is to believe these promises are true. The second step is to cultivate an ongoing, prayerful conversation with our ever-present God. Over time, we begin to realize we are never alone. We’re never, never alone. He is with us, and he’s not going away.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9b).

Unshakable Joy

“Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy.” – SD Gordon

I think God likes it when we laugh – true, deep-down, teary-eyed laughter! He wants his children to be happy, to live in joy. Sometimes God-given joy is light-hearted laughter and, at other times, it’s quietly internal. But, if we follow Jesus closely, there will be joy, no matter what circumstances we face.

This is what biblical joy may look like:

“. . . my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;” (from Psalm 16:9). I get the picture here of a dog wagging his tail so hard his whole body is in motion!

” . . . the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10). Have you ever noticed that you have more energy when you are joyful?

And even this one: “. . .we rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3). OK, that one’s harder. But it must be possible if Paul, who suffered a lot, can say this honestly.

Real joy isn’t something we can conjure up. It’s a gift – one given directly from God. Joy is part of the fruit the Holy Spirit grows within us. It starts small, and as we get to know Jesus better, it grows bigger, stronger, and more evenly consistent over time.

Creating (or pretending) joy is not on our spiritual “to do” list! Our job is to keep our eyes on Jesus. See him in his Word, in his creation, and in his actions in this world. He is here. He will reveal himself. The more we make Jesus the center of our thoughts and the more we learn to trust him, the more we will have genuine unstoppable joy.

” . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control;” – from Galatians 5:22

A Very Important Work

“A God unbound by our rules of time has the ability to invest in every person on earth. God has, quite literally, all the time in the world for each one of us.” – Philip Yancey

Sometimes we pray and have to wait patiently for the answer. There are other times, though, when it seems like God is talking right back to my prayers. Immediate answers. Answers that satisfy. Here’s an example from a few days ago:

God: Ask for whatever you want.

Me: I want your presence with me.

God: I am with you always. I will never leave you or forsake you.

Me: I want to learn from your Word.

Holy Spirit: I’m here. I’m your teacher.

Me: I want to be useful in your Kingdom.

God: OK, but that’s not the most important thing to me. The most important thing is that you know me and receive my love.

Me: M-m-m-m-m-m

Me: Take care of my family.

God: I’ve got them.

Me: Give us safe travel today.

God: Sending the angels.

With that, I was all out of immediate requests. All answered. Don’t we serve an amazing God? He invites us to ask and, then, he cares enough to answer.

Don’t think that I am trivializing prayer or God. I think, though, that if we don’t see prayer as a conversation, we are missing something. God not only listens, he responds. He loves our questions and our requests. He loves that we are paying attention to him and that we acknowledge his presence with us. He wants to draw us close. Prayer is the way that relationship happens. It is very important work to pray.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18