Monthly Archives: April 2015

Are Your Favorite “Verses” Really in the Bible? Surprise!

Over the years we’ve coined some pithy, tweetable idioms and given credit to Scripture. Some are fun and even useful.  This post is mostly for enlightenment and laughs… oftentimes our stumbles are harmless and not far off the mark.

IMG_0809Other common “verses” attributed to the Bible are heresy — meaning unTrue with a capital T. It’s human nature to try to fit God and His Word into a box we can understand — but He’s so much bigger than that. When we add our human understanding, values, and morals to the Bible, we sometimes land on dangerous ground. These distortions are serious business, and I’ll cite Scripture to debunk them.

“When God closes a door, He opens a window.” Mother Superior actually says it in The Sound of Music. I love the musical AND the sentiment. Maybe because it allows me to spiritualize my own desires a bit? I’m sure we could also find an argument that it’s saying there’s always a path with God.

Mostly harmless, but it’s not in the Bible. The Bible does say, “What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts, no one can open.” (Revelations 3:7)

“God will never give you more than you can handle.” No. It’s not there. I’ve been underwater, overwhelmed, devastated… where I couldn’t handle it. This “verse” sounded more like a taunt than encouragement at the time! When we’re in situations beyond what we can handle on our own, it forces us to turn to God in humility and weakness. With Him all things are possible. Two similar but different verses offer encouragement —

IMG_09922 Corinthians 4:8 promises “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing.” That I can attest to. God meets me and shows me the way to restoration every time. I don’t try so hard in my own power any more.

Maybe the “verse” originated in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

“God helps those who help themselves.”  My research attributes this popular “verse” either to Benjamin Franklin or Aesop’s fable, “Hercules and the Waggoner.” There’s danger here if someone applies it to the gift of salvation, because salvation is through Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“

However, we do join in the work of sanctification/ spiritual growth even though it is by grace through faith. And there is definitely something to the fact that when Jesus asks us to “go,” we usually have to move in faith before He offers more.

IMG_0273All things work together for good…”  You might say I’m nitpicking here… but context matters on this one. We often use it to paint a rosy picture of something “good” being just around the bend from a present hardship.

What the beloved verse, Romans 8:28, says is this: “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.” Subtle, but different.

Romans 8 is a gory chapter. Read verses 35-36, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'”

Then verse 37 proclaims, “No! In all these things we are more than conquerors.” IN THE MIDST of suffering and persecution the Christian has great HOPE! All that bad stuff that’s happening is turned into God’s servant for HIS purposes and our good.

IMG_0921“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” No — lol. Sorry moms. But it is Biblical, sort of… so use it! James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” But, in Matthew 7:18-23 Jesus also warned us to be concerned more about the sin in our hearts than our dirty hands (probably goes for bedrooms too) — so don’t go overboard. 😉

“Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Sounds Biblical, right? Not there, directly. It loosely quotes Gandhi in 1929, “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” In AD 424 St. Augustine similarly said: “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.”

There is a close Biblical principle in Jude 1:22-23 (MSG), “Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.” The “hating sin” part is coming under fire today, as many resent God’s guidelines in His Word — so this is probably the best of misquotes!

IMG_2096“Spare the rod, spoil the child” is the “verse” I thought I knew. It’s popular and again, pretty close. A precocious child may point out that Proverbs 13:24 actually says: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Discipline can come in many forms. Just be sure to remember another discipline verse spoken by Jesus to Christians: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelations 3:19

This too shall pass.Not quite the Bible, but a misquote of Old English poetry. In “The Lament of Doer” the troubles of other mythological figures are called to mind. Each refrain ends with “that passed away, so may this.”

There are related Biblical passages… Matthew 24:35 says “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” It’s definitely comforting to know that all the sorrows of earth will one day be gone, but when we say this too shall pass, it’s usually with resignation.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

IMG_1840“Rejoiceth in the pollen of Spring for tomorrow the vehemence of summer doth assuredly come.” Reflections 4:10

Please let me know below if you’d like to subscribe to get future posts. Also, thank you so much for sharing Pink Reflections and for your comments. 😉I love them.

The Inevitable Ups and Downs of Spiritual Growth

Do you ever feel like your spiritual growth is measurable in two steps forward then one step back? For me it feels akin to a childhood game. I’d take four giant bunny hops forward and all but taste the victory. Then in my exuberance next round, I’d forget to say “Mother may I.” Back to the starting line. I was so frustrated with myself. The game only has one rule to remember, for heaven’s sake!

IMG_0066In case you can relate, I’m going to share a few things I had to remind myself of today, when I was frustrated with my spiritual setback — three truths good for getting us back on track when we slip off course. I’m not a theologian, but I’ve got some personal experience in recovering from derailment with the Bible as my encouragement. First, let me tell you the circumstances that prompted my writing.

Last week’s post left me high on God and life. To quote myself, “I want to live fully celebrating my life’s present potential and all that God just keeps making better! Gratitude is my new best friend, as we’re becoming more deeply acquainted.” Ahh… the bliss.

It was honest;  spoken in acknowledgement of the Spirit’s real and amazing work in my heart that week. Thank goodness God is patient and long-suffering!

IMG_2505Fast forward to Sunday night; I was discontented, tired and teary. My thoughts were of gloom and doom. I still don’t understand all I was feeling, but I was definitely grieving and fearful. Why? Partially because I spent a wonderful Easter weekend in Atlanta with four of our five children. Then Rob and I came home to a silent house (I even returned the grand-dog we were babysitting). There was no junk food to comfort me. No laundry to distract… a funk set in. Our tidy empty nest felt foreign and bleak — all over again.

After doing such a great work in my heart, why did God allow me to slip so fast? I forgot to live to what I had attained through the Spirit’s guidance. I didn’t quit praying or forget Jesus.  I did let the emotions in my heart of flesh get the best of me and caved to fatigue and doubt. Sound familiar?

photo (24)I’m encouraged that the Bible addresses the inner turmoil of faithful people. Following are some thoughts and encouragement for our inevitable times of struggle: flesh vs. spirit. As Paul confessed, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

1. Christians aren’t exempt from bad stuff on earth.

As has often been the case in difficulty, I wanted to implore God to spare me. He could save me from my darkness and fear without lifting a pinky — if He wanted to. But I’ve learned that’s not His usual MO. He wants more for me.

Good and bad is experienced indiscriminately by all people. “This is what God does. “He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty” (Matthew 5:44-45).

IMG_2021And the bad? Why does God allow the bad stuff to happen to His people? I’m not sure, but God created a perfect world before the fall. Much hurt results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. In this case, I temporarily ignored His Truth and drowned in my earthbound understanding.

Believing in Jesus doesn’t earn us a hall pass from the certain struggles and pain associated with a fallen world.  John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Believing does mean we can trust God in it all.

Our disappointments give us a great chance to behave like Jesus. They test our level of surrender to His ways in our words, actions, and thoughts. He graciously offers to fill us with His Spirit where ever we offer Him our emptiness. 

2. The more you offer God, the more interested the enemy gets in you.

IMG_2144This sounds like “bad” news.  It’s not just that Christians experience common troubles. We also attract the attention of Satan (king of lies and adversity) when we live for God’s Kingdom.  Untapped, lukewarm, Sunday morning faith doesn’t worry the devil so much. But when you make following Jesus  your priority, Christ can use you for His purposes. And when He does, get ready cause you can count on increased attacks. The Christian life isn’t always easy. Spiritual warfare is real.

“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” (1 Peter 5:8,9)

Keep the faith — the Good News is so much better. Jesus has already defeated our foe! James 4:7-8 says, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”

3. No matter what happens, God remains in control.

IMG_5924In the next verses Peter tells us this: “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10,11)

Hallelujah and thank you God for restoring me! I’m joyfully back in the game today — well except for getting frustrated during a morning of many long automated phone messages. Three babysteps back.

Let’s add a few more verses for reinforcement.

“I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 49:7)

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)


“The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” (Isaiah 14:24)

In Jesus we have the assurance of a life filled with hope and promise. Because of our flesh, fear and uncertainty we sometimes live in doubt. God wants to take all the love,  joy and peace of heaven along with all the missteps, pain, and heartache endured on earth to create a story of grace fulfilling all His purposes in our lives.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I am greatly encouraged by your comments and thoughts!  If you would like to get future posts by email, please let me know below. You can unsubscribe at any time.