Those verses that make your heart shudder each time you read them? These are (some of) mine.

The concept of fullness in Christ is so contrary to our guilty nature. We want to hand our heads in shame as we read Scripture with a discouraged heart. How can we possibly fulfill all God asks of us? Sometimes the Christian life seems so hard and sin seems to win. Wait. Stop. Are we listening to his Word? We have all we need in Christ who is our righteousness. Whatever our failure in living up to his standards, He has done it for us. He has given us his fullness.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

My parents chose Colossians 1:9-10 as a life verse for me, but I couldn’t stop there, not with such a beautiful picture of Christ following. This passage was read at my wedding.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:9-20

 

The Psalms. How can you not love them? They’re full of power and love, fear and anger, sadness and brokenness, praise and joy. For a moody teenager, the Psalms hit home with me, and I’ve loved them ever since. These three are my favorites.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

The image of prayer rising before the Lord like incense harkens back to the Tabernacle where the altar of incense was kept burning day and night. The fragrance helped mask the stench of blood and sacrifice, representing that our sin had been covered and now the aroma ascending toward God’s throne was pleasant. Our prayers, our lifting of our hands (and all of ourselves) is a beautiful picture of surrender.

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2

As a musician, I cherish the idea that God has become my song. Every note I play on the piano comes from him and is played, not only with my fingers, but with his Spirit. Indeed, the movement of the Holy Spirit within us is like music. Additionally, the connection between music and mood is deep. Trusting the Lord and receiving his strength enables us to sing a new song to the Lord; whereas fear and weakness silence our praise.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

I memorized this passage in college because I fell in love with the imagery or wilderness turning to garden. Isn’t that what Christ does for us? He quenches our parched hearts, heals our lame spirits, and fills us with joy. And we get to see his glory. We get to be in his presence on the highway of the redeemed. I seek to embody the heart of this passage in all my writing.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35

If Jesus had a theme verse while on earth, this was it. This was his first public speaking engagement–and it was in his hometown, nonetheless. This was an incredibly bold proclamation to make. And it still is. Jesus presents himself as the redeemer and invites us to receive this favor. Have you?

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21

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