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9 Verses that You Won't Find on Coffee Cups (But You Should)
We have all seen them. The coffee cups, bumper stickers, and t-shirts that proclaim to the world that it’s owner is a Christian (or at least wants to be viewed that way). They all sport the feel good verses we memorized when we were young. Each one assuring us of forgiveness, mercy, God having a plan for us, and Him being in complete control. Some are even more edgy taking the feel goodness to a new evangelistic level, like the shirt that uses the word “swag” as an acronym for “saved with amazing grace”. (Yeah, I just laughed too.)
But what about the dirty, grimy side of life that God allows to exist and all the verses that talk about that? You won’t find them on any bumper stickers in rush hour tomorrow. Which is incredibly sad and frustrating, because we know that the bad times are much more formative for us spiritually than the good (Ecclesiastes 7:3). Here are nine of those verses that should be tattooed on everyone’s neck:
1.“Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12
Paul had been through it all by this point (just check out his list of agonies in 2 Corinthians 11:24-29). Sitting in a bleak Roman dungeon awaiting death, Paul implores Timothy to “Preach the word” (the very thing that had rendered him a prisoner on death row). However he doesn’t do that until he reassures Timothy that he will get his share of persecution too. This verse would definitely make that awkward office conversation about your faith even more awkward if it were on your coffee cup…..
2.“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
Times in Israel were tough. There were enemies in every direction bearing down on the tiny nation itching to destroy it. Israel had wandered far from God and he was planning on reconciling her to Him one more time. The best way for God to accomplish this (in his divine wisdom and foreknowledge) was to put her in the fire of agony and edify her like a silversmith would do his metal. Often, we find ourselves in the same position and ask really silly questions like “Why” and “What did I do to deserve this” when we should be simply asking God “What do you want me to learn from this” or “How can I glorify you in this”. Affliction and hardship is how an eternal God cultivates your eternal soul in the drudgery of this present world. Be happy that hard times are here and you’re having to lean on God to get through them. It is a sign of His love and commitment to you. Now go slap THAT on a bumper sticker.
3.“The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Matthew 11:19
You know when you got up, and put on your suit last week…do you remember what you called it? Was it your “Sunday Best”? Something weird has happened to Christianity in America. Somehow we have taken a Savior that was all about meeting people wherever and however they are and turned him into a “Wear your ‘Sunday Best’ to meet me” kind of clown. We show up on Sunday morning pretending we are all good, there are no problems, and we aren’t sinners. There is never an instance in the Gospel where Jesus says “Hey, go clean up your life then you can follow me.” Instead, he frequently says “drop what you’re doing right now, and follow me just as you are”. The message was the same for fisherman as it was rulers. But that wouldn’t look to sporty underneath all those little fish on your bumper.
4."He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:37
Yeah this one won’t be on a t-shirt any time soon. Yet it is a fundamental principle that we often glance over when we open up our Bibles. It’s not about you. It’s not about anything or anyone other than Christ. When we prioritize anything over Christ it doesn’t go well for us. As a matter of fact, there is a word for that, its “idolatry” (Crazy, right?) We have to put God first in all things and seek to have an eternal view on everything. We subject our families, jobs, hobbies, dreams, desires, and needs to God and know that whatever happens is to glorify Him and sanctify us.
5."We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wi
If sex sells, humility does not. That is exactly what this verse is all about. Isaiah takes the best of you and equates it to filthy rags (interesting enough the Hebrew word for this is menstrual rags, so basically your best efforts equates to a used tampon….let that sink in) which makes you “unclean” (which means you’re not worthy to be in God’s presence or even his temple). If that wasn’t enough to take you down a peg, Isaiah also reminds us that we are here today and gone tomorrow. Just think about the vastness of the universe and how long it’s been around. Your short 80 years (fingers crossed) is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Jesus came humbly and lived a humble example. From his feeding trough birth place to washing 12 grown men’s nasty feet (bear in mind they likely didn’t have shoes) he was consistently humbling himself even though he was God. How much more humble should you and I be?
6.The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth; he is a blameless and upright man, who fears God and s
This better blow your mind. Job had it all together. He was in church when the doors were open, tithing, raising good kids, never got road rage, and he even paid for the guy behind him in the drive thru every once in a while. What does God give him in return for all hi’s good works? He sends Satan to destroy him and everything that’s his. Truth is we think that if I do good things for God and in turn he blesses me”. When it doesn’t go our way we either think that we have done something that has offended God (idolatry) or that God obviously hates us (really stupid AND idolatry). Life boils down to two things, God’s glorification (firstly) and our sanctification (secondly). God allowed Satan to have his way with Job (but not kill him) in order to further sanctify Job (by showing him that despite his being an awesome person, he is still a sinner in need of grace) and to glorify Himself as Creator and Savior of the universe. Job’s good works actually caused his hardship and he was better for it!
7.“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from you country and from your relatives and you’re your father’s house to the land which I will show you” Genesis 12:1
“I go where God tells me even when it sucks a lot” probably wouldn’t be something you would see on some office stationary or a necklace on some little old lady (though it would be awesome), but that’s exactly what Abraham did when God called on him out of the clear blue sky. In his day, family was everything and God called him away from what he held dear in order to have a deeper walk with him. In verses two and three God goes on to tell Abraham that he has his back and that he will restore him in ways he can’t imagine if only he will be obedient. He was and we know the rest of the story. I wonder how many of us would be so compliant if God were to place a call on our life (even if it were to only go to an unfamiliar side of town or be nice to that jackass at work that no one likes).
8.“Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You" Proverbs
In the land of the American dream, this one is a hard sell (which is probably why most people haven’t read it). Agur had his priorities straight as well as his perspective of himself. He knew he was a sinner and that he wasn’t going to be on earth very long. Therefore, he wanted to have exactly what he needed in order to live as close to God as possible. He knew he would jack someone bread if he didn’t have enough and he knew if he had too much he would be strutting around the barnyard like he was someone important. His priority was to have his heart completely dependent on God for everything (both spiritual needs as well as physical ones) so that he would be as blameless as possible. (Notice he didn’t think that he could evoke good behavior from himself, rather God had to do it for him).
9.“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" Daniel 3:
Now this one should be on every coffee mug there ever was. Talk about faith and guts! Here the infamous three (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) stand facing the “God King” of the movie 300 and telling him that he isn’t all that he thinks he is. He isn’t God or anything close to Him so they aren’t going to worship him or anything he has constructed. Moreover, the line “even if He does not” is intensely powerful. They knew God could rescue them just as easily as he could let them burn. Either way, their faith wasn’t about to be shaken. What if the next time you prayed “God I really need this raise” or “God I could really benefit from passing this test” you followed it up by “even if You do not, your still the God of the universe that I love and serve”. Boom! That’s some radical t-shirt selling stuff!