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I’ve been going to church all my life. I’ve heard a lot of people’s interpretations of a lot of scripture passages. They don’t always agree. Often, only one or two verses are quoted to reinforce a point that is being made. Then when I’ve studied the verses for myself, I’ve seen them in a different light because of the context. Without context, you can make a verse seem to say anything you like, but it may or may not be accurate.

A good example of this is Psalm 37:4. I first heard this verse in the New International Version: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” It has been interpreted to mean that if you focus on God, He will give you what you want. The important thing to note is that the promise of getting what you want is based on the fulfillment of the command to delight yourself in the Lord. If you put God first, your desires will be holy, and He will fulfill them. (Matthew 6:33) I’ve also heard it explained that God puts your desires in your heart. You want what you want because God put that thought in your head. I would not want to say that God doesn’t give us our dreams, or that our desires don’t come from Him, but I don’t believe that the context of this verse supports that interpretation. If you look at the rest of Psalm 37, you will see that the major focus is not to fret when things go well for those who do evil. (Psalm 37:1, Psalm 37:7-8)

I believe that the first interpretation is more accurate. But I think it is important to realize that the fulfillment of our desires will not necessarily (or even likely) be instantaneous. That is why in Psalm 37:7 David reminds us to wait patiently and confidently. It is possible that our desires will not be fulfilled before we reach heaven. Don't be discouraged by that. In this life we will have our good days and our bad days, days of blessing and days of frustration, but whatever is happening, we cannot look at the evildoers and think that we would be better off if we lied, cheated or stole. Whatever gratification they get from their actions is temporary.

The other thing I think it is important to consider is that we might often misinterpret our afflictions as well. The older I get, the more I can look back and see the benefits that came from my struggles—how job loss led to a better job, how working through conflicts led to stronger relationships, how hard times led to leaning more on God’s grace. David was looking back too when he wrote this Psalm, (Psalm 37:25) so his counsel was based on experience.

The New English Translation (the version you see when you hover over the reference) doesn’t isolate Psalm 37:4, but translates it as an extension of Psalm 37:3. (Psalm 37:3-4) Trust in the Lord, do what is right, maintain your integrity. Then you will delight in the Lord, your desires will be pure, and He will delight in giving good gifts to you. (Matthew 7:11)


Bullying has been a problem since the beginning of time. These days, most schools have a zero tolerance policy against bullying, and they are doing what they can to eliminate it. But bullying still exists. The Bullying prevention in schools document from the Public Saftey Canada website agrees that “not all interventions, despite their good intentions, have been effective in reducing bullying activities in school. Research has shown that narrowly focused programs directed solely at bullies or their victims; situation deterrents (e.g., increasing supervision in bullying hot spots); and zero tolerance policies including school expulsion have limited effectiveness and may actually increase or exacerbate the problem”. A solution that punishes the bully will only cause the bully to feel victimized and will create more anger and a desire for vengeance, which can cause the bullying to escalate. Any solution that requires intervention from a third party will be limited in its success unless every child has a bodyguard with them at all times in all places. So what is a person to do?

Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 5:43-48. He said to love your enemies. Don’t react to them the same way they treated you, which is what you do by fighting back. Don’t allow them to change your character from what you know it should be. If you fight back, you put yourself on the same level as the bully. By not reacting in anger or fear, you set an example for the bully to follow instead.

This is the approach taken by bullying expert Brooks Gibbs, an author and speaker, who speaks to audiences all over North America. His premise is that love is stronger than hate. He will tell you that this strategy works, because he used it himself when he was bullied in high school. As long as it is just words, and not physical harm, we should just let what the bullies say roll off our backs. We can choose not to be hurt by their words. If we don’t react, then we won’t give them the attention that they are seeking, and soon they will move on to bother someone else. If we could all learn to just let it go, bullies would see that there is no pay-off from their actions. Instead of zero tolerance policies against bullying, Gibbs would advocate teaching our children how to deal with them. He says, “Bullying is an opportunity to teach children resilience, and we should not try to rescue them from that, but teach them how to handle it and not allow it to affect them emotionally.” If you are a parent or educator you can find strategies at his website to help you do just that.

Bullying doesn’t end when we graduate high school; it will just take on other forms. There will always be someone who will not like you, who will criticize you, or who will try to make themselves look better by putting you down. If you get married, someone in your spouse’s family will think that you’re not good enough. If you have a position of authority in your company, you will have to make decisions that will not please everyone. If you do anything of consequence with your life, someone will disagree with it. If we learn how to deal with bullies when we are young, we will have already gained the skills we need to deal with these issues as an adult. Jesus knew that we would face these issues, and He provided the solution. The next time you face a bully, try it Jesus’ way, and trust Him to protect you from harm. (Romans 12:19)


Do you ever wonder if God really does have a plan for your life? Maybe you thought that God had a plan once, but it’s been so long that you are sure now that you were mistaken. Isaiah 44:24-28 tells us that God had a plan to release the people of Israel from exile in Babylon, and that it would be fulfilled by Cyrus, King of Persia, who would not be born until more than a hundred years later.

Isaiah 45:2-3 records God’s words to Cyrus. God assures Cyrus that He will make his path clear and remove all the obstacles that get in his way. God will provide Cyrus with treasures that are currently hidden away. In the context in which this passage was written, these words were meant literally. The Israelites would need someone to overcome all of these obstacles to rescue them from captivity, and there really were treasures that had been hidden away, typically in subterranean places. History books will tell you that Cyrus came away from his conquests with many thousands of pounds of gold and silver.

I think that we, however, can look at this passage figuratively. Although we will all face obstacles if we are following God’s plan for our lives, we can trust Him to clear the way for us. Look back at Isaiah 44:24; our God has the power to accomplish His plans. It doesn’t depend on our strength or ability. But that doesn’t mean that our days will always be easy. There will still be hurts, and things will probably take longer than we want them to. In many translations Isaiah 45:3 says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness…”. That has always symbolized for me that even in the darkest, hardest times of our lives, we will find blessing. That is the treasure. Through those hard times is when we will turn to God, and we will learn to rely on Him. We will learn that God is God, and that He calls us by name. No matter what we have to go through, God has the power to get us through it, and He loves us. What a source of hope that is!


Paul spends much of Ephesians telling us how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. In Ephesians 4, he calls us to unity and holiness, and to the understanding that even though we are all different and have different purposes, we are all part of one body under Christ. Ephesians 5 continues the theme of holiness and living as children of light. In the last verses of Ephesians 5 (Ephesians 5:22-33) and the first verses of Ephesians 6, (Ephesians 6:1-9) Paul gives us advice for our family relationships, and for our work relationships. He also tells us what our attitude towards our jobs should be, including if we are the employer and not just the employee. But Paul knows that it is not as easy as all that! Paul understands very clearly that we are in a constant spiritual battle. Since creation, God has provided us with a choice, to choose Him or the world, and He has been very gentlemanly about letting us make that choice.(Revelation 3:20) Satan, on the other hand, is working very hard at winning us over to his side, and he will use any means available. (II Corinthians 11:14, I Peter 5:8) We need to realize that our struggles on this earth are not with things, or circumstances or with each other. They are all part of a battle in the spiritual realm. (Ephesians 6:12)

The good news is that we don’t have to fight this battle alone. Hallelujah! We can rely on the strength of God’s power and His armour. Just as a Roman soldier was clothed in a suit of armour, we can be clothed with God’s spiritual armour. If we put on the full armour of God we will be able to stand against our enemy’s schemes and attacks, and to be left standing when all is said and done. What does God’s armour consist of?

1. The Belt of Truth: A Roman soldier used a belt to hold his garments together and to attach his armour. It made it easier for him to be able to move without tripping over his tunic. Wearing the belt of truth represents not only knowing and believing God’s truth, but also living a truthful life, thus allowing us easier movement without tripping over our words. Knowing and practicing the truth will give us protection against the father of lies. (John 8:44)

2. The Breastplate of Righteousness: We were declared righteous when we accepted Christ’s sacrifice as the substitution for our sins, (Romans 4:5, Romans 10:10) but again, Paul is referring here to the practical, daily actions of believers. We need to act in a way that no one can make an accusation against us, a way that protects our hearts.

3. Preparation That Comes From the Good News of Peace: You can be ready for whatever comes your way if you place your trust in the all-powerful God of peace. The Greek word translated as preparation here indicates to be on a firm footing. It refers to the stability that you get from the gospel of peace that allows you to stand steadfast in the face of battle.

4. The Shield of Faith: Roman soldiers had large shields that would interlock together so that they could advance with a wall of protection before them. They were coated in leather that was soaked in water so that flaming arrows would be extinguished. Satan is certainly attacking us with fiery arrows, and it is our faith that will protect us from them. Since we cannot know when or how these fiery arrows will come, constant faith is absolutely essential.

5. The Helmet of Salvation: The helmet of salvation is a gift from God that protects our heads and our minds. God does not require our faith to be blind. We are encouraged to question and to understand. We need to protect our minds from Satan’s schemes, by growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:18)

6. The Sword of the Spirit: The sword used by Roman soldiers was double-edged so that it could cut in both directions and sharp enough to pierce armour. But the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, and able to judge the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) It is by being very familiar with the Word of God that we will be able to discern what is right and defend ourselves from Satan’s attacks. Satan also knows the Word of God, and he uses it to his advantage--not fully and out of context. (Matthew 4:5-7) If we are to defend ourselves as Jesus did, we must know the Word of God as Jesus did.

Add to all of these prayer for all the saints. If we are praying for each other, we will be alert to the needs and struggles of our fellow warriors. This is not a battle that we can fight ourselves. Remember that Paul’s words here come at the end of a passage about unity, and being one body. Working together as one body, with God’s strength, we can win the battle in the spiritual realm.


United we stand; divided we fall.  Is that really true?  I think it depends on who you are standing with.

Imagine this.  Setting: the poor side of town.  A lot of boarded up businesses and homes.  People gave everything they had to keep their businesses alive and to keep their homes, but the job loss from plant closures was just too hard on them.  Since there are now more buildings than people, there are not as many eyes on the activities of the remaining few to keep them accountable.  Two rival gangs have emerged:  the Angels of Light and the Candles.  Both gangs see the desperation and hopelessness around them.

The members of the Angels of Light (they call themselves Angels for short), meet mostly at night.  They search the empty houses for anything that might be valuable.  They use whatever they can find to buy drugs and booze for their parties.  When they are done with a building they tag it with graffiti. This lets their members know that it has already been searched  and lets everyone else know that the Angels have claimed it for their territory.  They vandalize and steal, and they intimidate the remaining residents.  The Angels want you to know that they are in charge.  They are working to become the only gang in town.  So far, they have managed to swallow up all the other gangs except the Candles.

The Candles have a different reaction to the changes around them.  They spend their time helping out the people who are left by doing odd jobs for them—painting houses, weeding gardens, running errands.  They know that if they are going to save what’s left of their neighbourhood, they have to help the people who are still here.  They have a vision for the future, and realize that if they don’t help, there will be nothing left for any of them.  Deep down in their hearts they know that, but it’s hard.  The Angels have been laughing at them and giving them a hard time.  The Angels have tried to break the Candles up by telling members lies about the others.  “Did you know that Joe has been secretly hanging with us at night?”  “Did you hear what Rosa said about you the other day?”  “You know that what you’re doing won’t do any good, right?  This town is doomed, and you know it.”  The Angels have also tried to convince some of the Candles to join the Angels.  “At least we have some fun.  We don’t have to put up with all those do-gooders, who think they are so right about everything.  They believe in something that will never happen.”  The Angels have even, occasionally, pretended to help the Candles out with their good deeds, but then… sabotage.  Whatever will help them reach their goal of being in control, the Angels will do.

The Candles know that they have to stick together.  If they let the Angels get to them with their ridicule and lies, they will break apart and the future will be hopeless.  They've chosen not to believe the rumours or the lies.  They have made a pact to be there for each other and to continue to work together for a better tomorrow.

I have readers from all over the world so I don’t know if you have a poor side of town where you live, or if your city has been affected by the economic challenges of recent years, or if you live in a place that never knew wealth in the first place.  But this I do know.  All of us are caught in the middle between these two gangs in the spiritual realm.  Satan masquerades as an Angel of Light (II Corinthians 11:14), and his goal is to destroy any good work that we, as children of light, (Philippians 2:14-16) might do.  God wants us to stand in unity despite any disagreements or misunderstandings. (Ephesians 4:1-3)  Yes, this might take work, but if we are willing, we will be able to do it through Him.  God has equipped us to grow together in love, to become one body, His body. (Ephesians 4:11-16) Through His strength, we will be able to show His love to the rest of the world.  Do not be deceived by those who masquerade as Angels of Light, and do not hide the light from your candle.  It is needed to dispel the darkness.


When I was in my first year of university, I had the very good fortune to meet a friend who encouraged me to memorize scripture.  We would choose a passage, and then one week later recite it to each other.  One of the first passages we chose was Ephesians 3:14-19.  It is a prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, but that we could, and should, pray for our Christian brothers and sisters.

Paul begins this passage with the words, “For this reason”.  He has returned to what he started to say in Ephesians 3:1, after a lengthy parenthetical discourse in which he elaborated on the point he had made in Ephesians 2:11-22.  That is, that Gentiles were also welcome into God’s family, and that they, together with the Jews, were being built into a dwelling place for God’s Spirit.  On that basis, Paul begins his prayer for all believers in Ephesians 3:16-19.

Paul prays for three things, but they are not material things, and they are not separate and distinct.  Each request builds upon the one that preceded it.  First he prays that, according to the wealth of God’s glory, not according to our merit or what we have to offer, but according to what God has to offer, that we may be strengthened in our inner being, that we may become mature and more like Christ.  Second, Paul prays that Christ may dwell in our hearts.  The word translated dwell does not simply mean that Christ has entered our hearts.  He has done that through the Holy Spirit the moment that we accept the gift of His sacrifice for us.  Paul was speaking to those who had already taken that step.  What the word dwell more accurately means is that Christ will feel at home in our hearts, that there would be nothing within us, no thought, or word or deed, that would make Christ feel uncomfortable, disheartened or grieved. Third, because we have been rooted and grounded in the love of God—it is our anchor and our foundation—Paul prays that, although it is beyond what we could truly understand, we might still grasp how great God’s love is, that we would know God’s love, and that we may be filled with it until it overflows from us.

What Paul has prayed for is more than our minds can truly conceive, and certainly beyond what we have the capability to accomplish in our own strength.  Paul turns from petition to praise in Ephesians 3:20-21.  It is God’s power working within us that will accomplish this, and He is able to do far beyond anything that we could ever ask or imagine.  May God be glorified and praised through all generations.


  • We are not asked to obey our parents simply to make our lives more challenging or less fun, but so that we may have a long, good life.  This is the first commandment with a promise.  (Ephesians 6:1-3)
  • Parents, don't just try to make your kids go crazy with rules, but bring them up to be like Jesus.  (Ephesians 6:4)
  • Work as though you were working for Christ.  Do your best no matter who is watching because God always is.  God will reward those who do the right thing, even if the circumstances are less than ideal.  (Ephesians 6:5-8)
  • Masters, employers, need to keep the same principle in mind and treat their slaves, employees, the way Christ would.  (Ephesians 6:9)
  • We live in a world that is a battlefield between good and evil.  God has provided resources for us to fight this battle, if we are willing to make use of them.  (Ephesians 6:10-17)
  • Pray.  All the time.  About everything.  (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Please share your thoughts on Ephesians 6 in the comment section.

I believe that the grace of God is much more amazing than we as humans can comprehend, and yet it is available to each one of us. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the dire situation that the human race was left in because of Adam’s sin. Then verse 4 starts with “But God”. It begins the explanation we find in Ephesians 2:4-7 of God’s mercy and grace. Mercy means that we are not given the punishment that we deserve. Grace means that we are given the salvation that we don’t deserve. Both are given to us because of Christ, a fact that is repeated three times in these four verses, and they are gifts that are available to anyone, even the thief who was minutes from death on the cross beside Jesus. Because of Christ we have been transformed from spiritual death to spiritual life. We have been raised up in Him, and when this life is over we will be with Him in the heavenly realms. Spiritually, we are already there. This was made possible only because He loved us enough to die as a sacrifice in our place. Can you even begin to imagine this?!

I am also encouraged by Ephesians 2:7 which tells us that the surpassing wealth of His grace will be demonstrated to us in the coming ages. It is only going to get better and better. We will continue to know God more and more, but what I find most uplifting is that we are not expected to know it all right now. God’s love and grace is beyond what we can fathom, but there is a lot that He has already made known to us as well. He has given us the gift of the scriptures, His Holy Word, so that we might learn more about Him and His great love at our own pace. No pressure. It’s a gift.


  • God loves us so much, and He gave (and gives) of Himself for us.  He wants us to follow His example.  (Ephesians 5:1-2)
  • God wants us to be pure and holy.  This takes discipline and self-control.  (Ephesians 5:3)
  • Our words should be gracious, uplifting and grateful.  (Ephesians 5:4)
  • We all make mistakes, but a person who has accepted Christ has accepted Him as Lord and wants to be like Him.  (Ephesians 5:5)
  • Don't bow to peer pressure.  (Ephesians 5:6-7)
  • Live as children of light--full of goodness, righteousness and truth.  Find out what pleases the Lord, and then do it.  (Ephesians 5:8-10)
  • Darkness cannot overpower light, but light can overpower darkness.  (Ephesians 5:13)
  • Make conscious decisions about how you live based on God's will. (Ephesians 5:17)
  • Don't get drunk, because you will lose your self-control.  (Ephesians 5:18)
  • Let your joy come from the Spirit rather than from drink. (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Always be filled with gratitude to God.  (Ephesians 5:20)
  • The way we treat each other should reflect our reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
  • God has roles for husbands and wives, but neither is expected to submit to abuse of any kind from the other.  If both do their parts, and follow Christ's example, what a team they would be!  (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Please share your thoughts on Ephesians 5 in the comment section.


  • In Ephesians 4 Paul gives us a lot of practical advice on how to behave and how to treat others in a way that lives up to our calling in Christ.  We were meant for better things than the petty situations that we sometimes find ourselves in. (Ephesians 4:1)
  • We need to realize that no one is perfect, and people won't always live up to our expectations.  Rather than take it personally, or react in a similar fashion, we need to take the high road--be patient and loving. (Ephesians 4:2)
  • What will it take from you to keep the peace? (Ephesians 4:3)
  • If we have accepted Christ we are all one with Him, part of His body.  His purpose is to for us to be built up, to mature, in unity and faith.  (Ephesians 4:4-6, Ephesians 4:11-13)
  • When we reach maturity in Christ, we will be less vulnerable to the ways of the world, the cunning and deceitful ways of Satan.  (Ephesians 4: 14-15)
  • We all have a part to play, but we do it together as one body. (Ephesians 4:16)
  • Do not live a life that is focused only on your own desires and ignores God. (Ephesians 4:17-24)
  • Paul's practical advice for living a better life, one of righteousness and holiness, pleasing to God.  Take time to read these verses again, slowly.  (Ephesians 4:25-32)

Please share your thoughts in the comment section.