Metaphors With Meaning

The Bible is full of metaphors. Metaphors? Yes. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a likeness, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.”

God is not literally a fortress, but He does for us what a fortress does for its occupant. It provides strength and protection.

Humor is found when people mix their metaphors, as in:

He is trying to get all of his ducks on the same page.

He has a lot of black sheep in his closet.

I’ve got it right on the fork of my tongue.

I looked to see what I could hear.

Consider the following metaphors in the Bible and their meaning.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Here Jesus compares Himself to a vine and calls His followers branches of the vine, in that they are extensions of Himself and good things will come as a result of their faith.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His people to sheep. A shepherd’s job is to protect the sheep from danger and lead them to pasture. Similarly, Jesus explains that He has to die to protect His people. This is a clear depiction of Jesus dying for our sins, and of our relationship to Him.

As sheep in the Bible are completely dependent on the shepherd, so we are dependent on Him. As the shepherd is to the sheep, so Jesus is to us.

As you venture in life, go forth with the confidence of the psalmist who wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … He restores my soul.” 

Reenact that and live confidently, as in a mixed metaphor, don’t run around like a chicken with a bad haircut.

Prayer With a Purpose

Jesus Christ prayed for you as noted in John 14. If Jesus prayed for us, we should pray for one another. 

Paul prayed what might be considered a model prayer for one another in Colossians 1:9-11. This prayer embodies two great requests:

(1) For an understanding of God’s will, and

(2) For the power to do it.

Prayer is not so much trying to make God listen to us as it is us trying to listen to Him. 

It might be described like a ship docking. The ship’s mooring rope is thrown over the docking post on the wharf, not to draw the wharf to the ship, but to draw the ship to the dock. Prayer is not an attempt to convert God to our will, but to draw us to His will. This prayer includes a request for …

* Knowledge of God’s Will. (vv. 9-10)   His will is revealed in His Word. Knowledge is God’s will for our general moral conduct, perception of spiritual values, and priorities basic to a Christ pleasing life.

* Wisdom is the knowledge of the best way of attaining God’s will.

* Understanding. Ability to apply first principles. It is the conversion of comprehension into conduct.

This prayer contained an appeal to be real. (vv. 10-11a)

“To walk” is a summary expression for lifestyle. Let your lifestyle be —

“Worthy” (axios) as used means “having the weight of another thing.”  The picture is of a set of balancing scales. Christ is the counterbalance against which your life is to be measured. The more nearly the scale is balanced the more “fully pleasing it is to Him.” To do this you must be —

“strengthened” (dunamoo) meaning to have the inherent power to do, to be made strong. To accomplish this God gives “power” (kratos). You have a certain inherent strength which is motivated by His manifested strength.

Therefore, don’t just hope for the best while thinking the worst. Your thoughts are the architects of your deeds. God Himself wants to be the builder.

Such a lifestyle results in three virtues. (v. 11b)

* Patience, under trial (hupomone), with things and circumstances. This is the ability to deal triumphantly with anything life throws at you. It is not the kind of patience that just sits with head bowed and lets life roll over you like a tidal wave. It is the ability to turn them into your good and His glory.

* Longsuffering, under provocation (makrothumia) of people. This is the ability to bear people’s maliciousness and bitterness. It is the mental ability not to give vent to passionate violence. It is brave patience. 

* Joy. This results from a heart at peace with itself because of a preoccupation with Christ. It refers to a buoyant sense of mastery.

Having read this, now go back and study it, asking for these qualities.

More Than Conquerors

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

The Greek translation provides a modern expression we can understand, “hupernikomen.” it is translated “we are more than conquerors.” The prefix, “huper,” means “over and beyond,” actually “super.” The root “nike” is a word for modern athletic wear. It means “champion” or “conqueror.”  In Christ we are super-champions, winners. We are conquerors. Is that the concept you have of yourself?

In the gospel of John insight regarding being a champion is noted: “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” 

You can never be a conqueror if other persons control your feelings. The feeling of bitterness is an emotional cancer. At times friends hurt and disappoint us by what they say and do. Often they simply let us down. At times it is what they say that hurts.

If our disappointments turn to anger and result in bitterness, we lose. If we nurse and rehearse our hurts until they become bitterness, we lose. Deal with any bitterness in your life.

Dale Carnigie wrote in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: “When we hate our enemies, we give them power over us — power over our sleep, our appetites, and our happiness. They would dance with joy if they knew how much they were worrying us. Our hate is not hurting them at all, but it is turning our days and nights into hellish turmoil.”

Bitterness is the fruit of an unforgiving spirit. A formula for overcoming bitterness is: “… be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Take these steps. Acknowledge and thank God for forgiving you. Acknowledge your injury and the hurt. Tell God out of gratitude for Him forgiving you, you are showing gratitude by forgiving the offended. That is how you are demonstrating you are an overcomer. 

How does God help us become overcomers, more than conquerors? By giving us grace for the disappointments, strength for the trials, and hope for the end of life.

The blessings God has provided for us are ours, but we must possess them. How?


“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

Joy Unspeakable

There is something happening in America and it is not good. Have you noticed that peering out from those masked faces are increasingly blank, joyless eyes? The light has gone out in the faces of many, and COVID-19 is not all together responsible for all of it. 

By no means have all persons been Christians, but our culture has been permeated by the Christian ethos. It has been and continues to be slowly eroded and a swamp of emotions consisting of bitterness, vitriol, sullenness, hate, disdain, and indifference has emerged. A “whatever” mood prevails. Who cares?

Missing are those smiles, uplifting greetings, warm words, and positive verbal reinforcements. “Missing” is the operative word.

Ours has been called “an age of overt anxiety.” Worry has been termed the “official emotion of our generation.” It is the most pervasive psychological problem of our time. Worry robs us of joy. Worry is simply negative thought. It is pulling tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.

Who among us has not hugged a warm word of encouragement to our heart and brought it out on a dark day to let it light the way? Many who have formerly embraced the promises of God found in His Word are abstaining from it. Absence from the Word robs us of both hope and joy. Church closures have contributed to this cultural malaise. Optimism is considered a false euphoria in some quarters, naivety gone wrong.

You can be a kick-starter by getting into the Word and the Word deeper in you. Program your mind on it and it will show up in your disposition. Your temperament will all the more be tempered by it. If you read the Word and believe it I Peter 1:8 will be fulfilled in you: “…believing, you will rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

As you become a more submissive subject in His kingdom, then the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” How strong are you?

Chara, the Greek word for joy, means gladness or delight. Jesus was so full of joy that He was accused of being drunk. He was drunk, on love.

Remember “He, Himself, is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14a)

Jesus gave us an antidote to the present social and moral crisis when He said, “These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

A return to intimacy with the Lord and His Word is a return to joy, gladness and delight.

Make a daily plan that provides time to read, study, and resolve on how to apply God’s Word. The resulting blessing is worth the effort.

Oh, joy!

Your Own Code of Conduct

Shulchan Aruch is the precise “Code of Jewish Law.” It is the most widely consulted code of conduct for religiously observant Jews. The book begins with a command that is intended to be the first thought upon awakening in the morning: “Strengthen yourself like a lion to arise in the morning to serve the Creator….”

A modern version reads: “Rise up like a lion for the service of the Lord!”

What a marvelous mindset to give yourself in starting a new day. Write it across the sky of your mind. Fix your mind on it. When you do, you can have peace of mind in a world that tends to make you feel like Alice in Wonderland, who had to run as fast as she could just to stand still. You can because you are purpose driven. Your purpose is to serve the Lord in a world populated by persons whose hands and heads have outgrown their hearts. Therein you can be purpose driven. That purpose being to render lion hearted service in the name of the Lord.  

It is not so much what you do as how you do it. You will do many things in a day, all of which can be colored by the spirit with which you do them. You can live motivated so that “Whatever you do, (you can) work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Let your spirit be Spirit driven. 

I have often told athletes playing basketball that you can’t run up and down the court thinking about Jesus all the time, but you can run up and down the court thinking like Jesus.

You have many tasks that demand concentration prohibiting you from thinking about Jesus all day, but you can think like Jesus all day.

Each day start by having a little talk with yourself. Some of my best talks have been with myself. In this way you are defining for yourself the spirit with which you will face whatever comes your way. It is good to have a simple but significant standard used every day. Do this often enough and soon you won’t have to repeat it to yourself, it will become your instinctive nature.

No matter how long you live, you will have a last day. Live this day as if it is that day. Live it with the attitude you would like most to be known for. Live it as to the Lord in the event it proves to be the vestibule of eternity.

Extend to others the care and kindness you yourself would like to receive. Leave no love unshared, no thoughtfulness unexpressed, no grace unspoken.

Be a beatific blessing to all you meet. In that way you can —

“Rise up like a lion for the service of the Lord!”