Most Misinterpreted Scripture Verses – Philippians 4:13

It had been a tough game.  A tough game to watch, and it was a tough game to play.  I could tell that my son was frustrated as I watched him skate to the bench after a particularly brutal shift on the ice.  His midget hockey team was up against a rival out-of-town team with some boys on defense who outweighed him by fifty pounds or more.  A finesse player, he hadn’t been able to skate or stick-handle his way past that defense.  They blocked him and hip-checked him soundly into the boards each time he got the puck.  The coach called a time-out and the players circled in to get some much-needed words of encouragement. I’m not sure what was said, but in the next shift, the boys looked fired up.  When my son was passed the puck behind our team’s net, he looked up the ice with fierce determination.  As a spectator watching the events unfold, it seemed like he was skating in slow motion.  He managed to weave his way almost effortlessly past the opposing players only to face the tallest boy on defense who stood like a sentinel barring his way.  I wished I had the presence of mind to film what happened next, because it was talked about for months after.  In a moment of desperation, my son slid the puck to one side and then ducked under and between the boy’s long legs to pick up the puck again so he could fire a wrist shot past the stunned goalie and into the net.  The home team fans, myself the loudest, erupted in one great cheer as my son skated past his bench, high-fiving his teammates as they congratulated him.

After the goal, my son excitedly shared with his team mates what had transpired on the ice that led to that spectacular goal.  “When I got the puck, I remembered my favorite Bible Verse: ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me’.  I just kept saying it over and over to myself all the way down the ice!”

Through the years, my son has been greatly encouraged by Philippians 4:13 motivating him to even have the verse tattooed on his body.  As a mom, I am so thankful that my children find strength in Christ and His Word.  Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out, that Philippians 4:13 really has nothing to do with he or anyone else being “successful” at school, in business, or in scoring spectacular hockey goals.  The verse has everything to do with being content regardless of life’s circumstances.

When he wrote the letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul was under house arrest awaiting trial, and based on previous experiences with those who opposed his preaching, Paul fully expected that this time he would be put to death if found guilty.  Paul had faced all kinds of suffering as he alludes to in vs. 12., but he had learned to be content in any kind of circumstance whether good or bad.  He was trying to teach the young church in Philippi that he could endure any and every hardship, including a death sentence if it came to that, because he knew Christ would give him the strength to endure anything.  He could make the best of his situation because he was not focused on his personal circumstances but on Christ alone.

I have discovered that when we interpret Scripture in an attempt to prop up self and boast about our personal accomplishments, we’ve likely got it wrong.  Scripture focuses on God’s Glory, not ours.  With our misinterpretation of Philippians 4:13, we tend to focus on our achievements rather than give full credit to God.  “I can do all things” with God’s help.  While it is true, God can give us victories, the focus should never be on us, but always centred fully on God.  Let’s go back to my son’s hockey game.

Although the outcome achieved was a favourable one in that my son scored a goal, he was able to credit his achievement by giving God the Glory.  It was a way to share his faith with his teammates in a tangible way.  That said, I wonder what he might have done or felt if he hadn’t scored the goal.  Would he have lost faith in God?  Would he have been angry, dejected, or hurt that his favourite Scripture verse did not deliver a positive result?  Would he have shared the verse with his teammates regardless?

My son has grown up and has experienced both victories and defeats, but he has learned to focus on God knowing He remains trustworthy in every circumstance.  Philippians 4:13 allows us to once again yield to God’s Sovereignty in our lives.  We need not sink under times of trial because He will strengthen us.  We need not fall into temptation, as I wrote in my previous blog posting, because He provides the means for us to endure and not succumb to temptations.  We need not fear, worry or be anxious because Jesus will strengthen us, bolster us, and give us courage to face any adversity.  We can be content in any circumstance because we know He will never leave us or forsake us.

No matter what trials, temptations and challenges you may face today, friend, use Philippians 4:13 to encourage you today!


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Most Misinterpreted Scripture Verses – 1 Corinthians 10:13

I cringed when he said it.  He was using the verse to strengthen his argument but although his intention was good, misinterpreting Scripture, and using it out of context, hindered the point he was trying to make.  On Journey Thoughts some of my most popular posts are 25 Encouraging Verses that are topical in nature.  I am delighted people turn to these posts so frequently, but I also encourage people to READ THE VERSES IN CONTEXT to get the full meaning of the text!

Many times we don’t even realize we’ve put our own “spin” on Scripture until it’s pointed out to us.  This has prompted me to write a series of blogs on some of the most popular Bible verses that are often misused or misinterpreted.  The first one being the verse that had me cringing last night:

“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.”  1 Corinthians 10:13  (NIV)

Other translations read: “He will not allow you to be tempted more than you can take.” (NLV) or “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle.” (The Voice) or “he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” (ESV)  I focus on that little phrase within that verse because that’s what trips up more people to misunderstand this entire passage.  Many people use that verse to claim that God will not allow them to face anything that’s too difficult a task.  Or they take comfort knowing God will not allow them to be “tempted” or “tested” beyond what they are able to handle.  The problem with that interpretation is that in my experience, God DOES allow people to be “tested” and/or “tempted” way beyond what they can bear.  If this were not so the Apostle Paul is contradicting himself when he says in 2 Corinthians 1:8 “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”

I think about my young friend, a mom with three children, who is fighting Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.  Another friend, who is grieving the loss of her precious son to suicide.  There are people who are picking up the pieces after a tornado ripped through their neighbourhood in Ottawa.  More often than not, I hear about people going through the most difficult of times and I know it is way more than they can bear.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, I faced a situation I could not handle…on my own.  The misinterpretation of that verse makes people question God, and decry the unfairness of life.  Why does God allow bad things to happen?  He promised we would never face more than we can bear!

We have completely missed the meaning and message of that Bible verse because we have completely misinterpreted it!

Read the Scripture in context to glean its full meaning.  Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, is warning the church, using Israel’s past history to prove his point, that they will face all manner of temptations but as long as they anchor themselves to God He will give them the spiritual strength to handle whatever they may face.  God will not allow any temptation to come their way that they are unable to resist.  The entire passage is about temptation and the fact that people fall into temptation when they are being disobedient and rebellious.   Verse 12 warns: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

Sin is insidious.  When people are not following God, when they insist on going their own way and not obeying God, sin, disguised as temptation, will lure them in.  Verse 14 says the solution to being tempted is to “flee” but if we ignore that advice and instead succumb to temptation, God will, in His mercy, help us by providing a way out.  He will ask us to repent, to be restored to a right relationship with Him first.  Leaning on Him, we can endure the consequences that follow as a result of our disobedience.  He won’t remove the consequences, but He will give us the strength we need to handle them.

The promise is not that God won’t let bad things happen, but when they happen, we are to trust that God is bigger than any problem, trial, or temptation we may go through in life.

Be encouraged, friend.  Are you feeling tempted by sin’s pull?  Flee!  God’s got your back!  With His help you can overcome any temptation.  Have you already fallen into temptation?  Don’t be disheartened.  Face the consequences, repent and ask God’s forgiveness.  God will give you the strength you need to endure.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10



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25 Encouraging Scripture Verses for Your Pastor

Today is our Pastor’s Birthday.  As I prayed this morning for this man, this wonderful under-shepherd of our church, God prompted me to also compile and pray Scripture over him.  Our Pastor has a fickle flock, as do most Pastors I suppose.  It is sometimes a lonely and thankless calling, filled with discouragement and frustration.  There are countless distractions in a Pastor’s life and spiritual attack is prevalent in this line of work.  I love this quote from R.C. Sproule: “Your task, O preacher, is to make sure that you are faithful to the text, that you are faithful to the proclamation of that gospel, that you are faithful to set forth the whole counsel of God, and then step back and let it happen.”

I am thankful for our Pastor who answered that Call to proclaim the Gospel each week to a sometimes wayward flock and often wary community.  Thank-you, Pastor for teaching us from the Word by being faithful to the text, and for your leadership in effectively equipping us for ministry.  May WE as the Church be grateful, and appreciative of all your hard work and support you in all your efforts!

Ephesians 4:11-12  “ So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

1 Peter 5:1-4  “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

Proverbs 27:23  “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;”

Romans 10:14  “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

1 Timothy 3:1-7  “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.  Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

Psalm 119:130  “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

2 Timothy 4:2  “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

Titus 1:7-9  “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.  Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

Acts 20:28  “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Hebrews 13:17  “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

1 Corinthians 15:58  “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Jeremiah 3:15  “Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”

Mark 16:15  “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Colossians 1:28-29  “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

Isaiah 55:10-11  “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Galatians 6:9  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Isaiah 40:31  “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

1 Peter 3:15  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

Philippians 4:19  “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 9:14  “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

2 Corinthians 5:18  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:”

2 Corinthians 4:1-5  “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

1 Timothy 3:13  “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:12-17  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

1 Corinthians 9:22-27  “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.   I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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