Two Words—Life Application for March 12, 2017

March 5, 2017 No Comments »
Two Words—Life Application for March 12, 2017

By David Faust

In a sermon I mentioned that the shortest verse in the English Bible contains two words and nine letters: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). My point was that even though the verse is very short, it speaks profound truth about Jesus’ empathy and compassion. I made a little joke and said, “If you struggle to memorize Scripture, at least you can commit John 11:35 to memory.”

When the worship service was over and I talked with members of the congregation afterward, I was surprised to learn about an even shorter verse tucked away in the Old Testament. Some sharp-eyed teenagers pointed it out, and at first I didn’t believe them until I looked it up in the New International Version and saw it for myself. Sure enough, Job 3:2 contains only two words. The whole verse states simply, “He said.” The King James Version translates it, “And Job spake, and said.” Now that is a challenging verse to use as the basis for a sermon!

Two other New Testament verses contain only two words. They follow each other consecutively in 1 Thessalonians 5: “Rejoice always” (v. 16) and “pray continually” (v. 17). The Bible’s Spirit-guided authors could pack a lot of meaning into a few short words.

God’s Intervention

In Ephesians 2 a major transition hinges on the words, “But . . . God.” The chapter begins by spelling out the sad reality of humanity’s spiritual condition.

• “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (v. 1).

• “You followed the ways of this world” (v. 2).

• “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts” (v. 3).

• Because of sin’s deadly effects, “we were by nature deserving of wrath” (v. 3).

Then comes the transition. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (vv. 4, 5).

“But . . . God.” What a difference those two words make! We were spiritually dead, but God gave us life again. We were guilty, but God designed a plan to wipe our sins away. We were selfish and out of control, headed down a path toward destruction, but God intervened. When we were hateful, his love abounded. When we were undeserving, his mercy overflowed. When we couldn’t find our way out of spiritual bondage, he saved us by his grace.

Simply Stated

“But . . . God.” Those two words bring us great encouragement. We were lost, but now we’re found. We are weak, but God is strong. We experience frustration, but God gives us peace beyond understanding. We get discouraged, but God provides the resources to carry on. We are inadequate, but God is omnipotent. We worry about the future, but God holds tomorrow in his hands. We grieve, but God offers hope.

Is it possible to sum up the gospel story in a few short pairs of words? Let’s try: God created. People sinned. Death reigned. God planned. Israel survived. Prophets preached. People waited. Messiah came. Word incarnate. Jesus died. Resurrection followed. Hope restored. Spirit given. Faith confessed. Repentance, baptism. Church grows. Jesus reigns. Mission continues. We’re included. Heaven awaits. Joy unending. Amazing grace!

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Feb. 27

M.

1 John 3:11-17

Christ Died for Us

Feb. 28

T.

John 14:18-24

Jesus and the Father’s Love

March 1

W.

1 John 3:18-24

Believe in Jesus, Love One Another

March 2

T.

1 John 4:1-6

The Spirit of God Confesses Jesus

March 3

F.

1 John 4:20–5:5

Loving God and Brothers and Sisters

March 4

S.

Psalm 40:1-10

Thankful for God’s Steadfast Love

March 5

S.

1 John 4:7-19

Dwelling in God’s Love

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