Eight Powerful Words

By: Julian Wells

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

Sometimes, it’s the simplest Bible verses that have the greatest impact when we face the inevitable challenges of life. And the events of recent weeks in our nation and around the world certainly qualify as challenging and fearful. Almost five years ago I published this article which I have edited in light of those current events.

In my mind, I don’t know if there are eight more powerful words to minister to us in times like these than those found in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Such a simple verse, easily memorized, yet packed with extraordinary theology and practical application.

Implicit in those eight words are the ideas of rest, trust, reflection, and surrender – all essential elements of the abundant life Christ desires for each of us (John 10:10). But in these troubling times they take on even greater significance.

In my writing and teaching, I often stress the importance of spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, Bible Study, worship, and service in the Body of Christ. But another discipline that is often overlooked is that of listening to God. In fact, in my experience, it may be the most important spiritual discipline.

And no verse of Scripture better sets the stage for listening to God than “Be still, and know that I am God.” Voicing those words in my mind several times a day has a way of quieting my spirit so that I am better able to hear his still, small, but unmistakable voice. They so effectively convey the promise of God’s continued presence and intervention in our lives for good. (Romans 8:28)

No matter what circumstances you are facing in your life today, I promise you Psalm 46:10 will minister to your heart.

  • Grieving over the loss of a loved one? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Wrestling with a life-changing decision? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Out of work or considering a job change? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Considering a move to a new home? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Dealing with a financial hardship? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Stricken with a life-threatening illness? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Perplexed by the endless mysteries of life? … Be still, and know that he is God.
  • Or paralyzed with fear over the threat of a global pandemic? … Be still, and know that he is God. (But also be prudent and maintain social distancing!)

Bottom line – there is no situation or circumstance you may face this day or for the rest of your life for which Psalm 46:10 will not comfort you, encourage you, and give you a clear sense of direction. I challenge you to stop several times each day, quiet your mind, and let God minister to your heart as you rest in the truth conveyed in those eight powerful words, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

I guarantee you it will be time well spent.

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

Love That Shows

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13: 4-8 NIV)

In John 11:35, Jesus said that the defining characteristic of his followers should be our love for one another. People can only see that love in us through our actions. That old adage that actions speak louder than words should be especially true of us, considering who we are representing- the God who is love. 1 John 3:18 (ESV) tells us, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

And yet, sadly, too often our actions (starting with me) look more aligned with those outside the faith rather than the standards so well articulated by Paul in those opening words from 1 Corinthians 13. Perhaps the answer as to why the church seems to be waning in its influence on the world might be found in that observation.

“If we have got the true love of God shed abroad in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do.” – Dwight L. Moody

Clothed With Compassion

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV)

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Kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience seem to be in short supply these days. The society around us is looking more and more like the days Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:2-4 where so many have become “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

May our lives as Christians stand in such stark contrast to those trends that it demands an explanation. May we always be quick to explain that the hope, kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience others see in us is rooted in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And may we always be prepared to introduce them to the Savior who “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Fred Rogers

The Word Became Flesh

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. … For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14, 16-17 ESV)

While our most familiar Christmas accounts are found in the pages of Matthew and Luke, in recent years I have been drawn more to John’s account. John’s presentation of the Christmas story is very unique from the other synoptic gospels because John’s purpose was uniquely different. Those other gospels focused heavily on presenting the detailed events of Jesus’ life. John’s purpose was to capture the person of Jesus Christ.

imageJohn’s account of Jesus’ birth was very plainly spoken. Only nine words in length, it can be easily memorized. But while short on words, it speaks volumes theologically. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14 ESV)  We sometimes miss the awesome impact of that simple truth in our own Christmas traditions. We are thrilled each year by the thought of the spectacle of that night. We imagine the majesty of the angel and the heavenly host that appeared to the shepherds; the simple, yet touching manger scene with the precious little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

I love what Luke says concerning Mary’s reaction to all the events of that night. While the shepherds gazed in awe and wonder at the spectacle and all who heard their story “were amazed at what the shepherds said to them”, Luke says Mary “treasured” them up and “pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV) At Christmas, we could all use a little less hustling and bustling and a lot more treasuring and pondering … treasuring and pondering the person of Jesus Christ – who He is and why He came. And nobody answers those questions better than John in the pages of his gospel.

From his unique perspective as the self-described “disciple whom Jesus loved“, (John 13:23) John offers us the most comprehensive and insightful look into the heart of God found in all of Scripture. He understood better than anyone that Jesus came to show us the Father; that he spoke to us the very words of God so that we can better know the Father more intimately and personally ourselves. 

Only through John do we hear Jesus tell Phillip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. … The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  (John 14:10-11 NIV)

That is the unparalleled message of Christmas – that Jesus came to show us our Heavenly Father – a message so uniquely  and profoundly articulated by John with those memorable words, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

I pray that this Christmas you will ponder those words, treasure them in your heart, and reflect upon their implication for your life. El Shaddai, The Almighty God, is also Immanuel, God with us. May you experience the reality and the power of His presence this Christmas as never before. And the Gospel of John would be an excellent place to start!

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

A Christmas Reflection

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40 ESV)

These words from our Lord echo his response when he was asked by a Pharisee lawyer in Matthew 22:36 to identify the greatest commandment. He linked the command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind to the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. The implication in both passages is that our treatment of others, especially the least fortunate among us, is the measure of our love for and dedication to Christ.

It is a great reminder in this Christmas season, as we reflect on all the blessings God has lavished upon us, none greater than the gift of his Son, that we are called to be a channel of those blessings, rather than a reservoir.

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that he will get us involved in his plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.” – Corrie ten Boom