Subtraction

Biblical Mathematics (2)

2-Image by Luiz Jorge de Miranda Neto- Luiz Jorge Artista from Pixabay

I hope you’ve had a great week of addition, adding to the good things God has already given you. Today we’ll look at simple subtraction—the act of taking something away.

Our first instinct is to possessively object to have anything taken from us. After all, didn’t we say last week that God makes us bigger, better, more? That’s true, but we need to subtract to allow space for increase. We see this when we look at what God has subtracted from our lives to replace with something greater:

  • He took my sin and made me righteous.
  • He took my guilt and granted me forgiveness.
  • He took my condemnation and set me free.
  • He took my hopelessness and gave me purpose.
  • He took my emptiness and filled me.
  • He took me out of slavery and made me His child.

Jesus, the great Subtractor, has made me less to make me more. He moved me from the negative column to the plus side. In response, I participate in His Biblical subtraction process by renouncing these:

  • Bitterness
  • Anger
  • Selfishness
  • Fear
  • Unforgiveness
  • Worry

The difference between Jesus’ subtraction and mine is that He subtracts once and for all—He removes my sin completely and forever. My subtraction, however, is an ongoing process—a daily removal of life’s inevitable sin-stains.

So while the definition of subtract is simply to take away, the process for us is not simple or final—but so worth it. Every negative we subtract makes room for something positive.

And that’s an oxymoron of Biblical mathematics—the more we subtract, the greater we become.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

See also Eph.4:22-5:15.
Image by Luiz Jorge de Miranda Neto- Luiz Jorge Artista from Pixabay

Addition—accumulation, supplementation

Biblical Mathematics (1)

Image by Andrew Martin from PixabayOf the three academic basics—reading, writing & ‘rithmetic—math is my least favorite. If I had my way, the world would be labeled with letters, not numbers. Can you imagine? “Your caramel swirl cappuccino is $M.cw.” So simple!

As much as I dislike math, I’ve become intrigued with Biblical mathematics. Today’s post is a first look at the four basic operations of math found in the Bible: addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.

Add simply means to join or unite, to bring about an increase or improvement. Addition is anything added—creating an increase.

Increase, to make greater, more, bigger.

When we give our lives to God, that’s exactly what He does for us—He makes us bigger, better, more. Using a timeless addition process, He adds to our lives that which lasts through eternity:

  • Faith & joy, complete and free
  • Grace & peace in abundance
  • Understanding & wisdom
  • Power, love & self-discipline
  • Hope & an inheritance
  • Everything we need for life and godliness
  • Belonging, a Father-child relationship with Him

We are no longer needy, but have been made complete, full, fulfilled—we lack no good thing.

“For this very reason,” says Peter, “make every effort to add…” We’ve been added to, now we enrich the life we’ve been given by adding to it:

  • Faith
  • Goodness
  • Knowledge
  • Self-control
  • Perseverance
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly kindness
  • Love

To all of us who have been added to, let’s continue the addition process.

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Scripture references: John 15:12, 2 Peter 1:1-7, Job 32:8, James 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:7, Psalm 34:10; 84:11
Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

I am Eternal

Like a Tree… (5)

5image_by_geralt_on_Pixabay

Like the Tree of Life, I am eternal. Not I will be, but I now am. Notification of my death will include inaccurate information—I will have simply relocated to my eternal home, beside the river that flows from the throne of God, enjoying fruit from the tree of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:1-2)

Life uninterrupted.

Health uncompromised.

Fruit unblemished.

Unity unchallenged.

Vitality unflagging.

Worship undistracted.

Me and you undying.

All because we gave our lives to God now so we will live forever with Him.

I am eternal.

Lord, thank you for the hope that is ours, the truth that is reliable, the promise that is sure, the grace that is free, and the love that is You.

Image by geralt on Pixabay.

I am Righteous

Like a Tree… (4)

4oakTREEImage by k_r_craft on Pixabay

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

Who are they? “They” are those who have been saved and belong to God. “They” are those redeemed from poverty, brokenness, and despair. “They” are us.

We are called oaks of righteousness—two words we may not be comfortable owning, but who’s to argue with Isaiah? This is what I know about oaks:

  • Oaks are hardy, adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and not prone to disease.
  • They thrive worldwide, reach fifty to seventy feet, and can live longer than 200 years.
  • Their wood is not only beautifully grained but is hard—used for ships of old and preferred for flooring and furniture.
  • Oak trees are considered one of the best shade trees and have long been a symbol of strength, wisdom, and stability.

Durable. Adaptable. Healthy. Strong. Stately. Beautiful. Feeling even less like an oak? We’ve not yet touched on the righteousness aspect.

Righteous—yes, you are, as am I. Even though I was angry yesterday, struggle with self-pity today, was jealous of my friend and doubted God, I am righteous because I am a “planting of the Lord.”

  • Because of His rescue and forgiveness,
  • Because my extensive taproot system seeks the water He supplies,
  • Because I am His planting,
  • Because God has made me so, I am righteous, and so are you.

My leaves will shade those who need respite from the heat, my acorns will fall and reproduce, I will stand as a symbol of strength and dignity—all for the display of His splendor.

I am righteous.

Image by k_r_craft on Pixabay

I am Fruitful

Like a Tree… (3)

3cherry-blossom_auntmasako_Pixabay

From cherry blossoms in the spring to apples ripe for picking in the fall, we enjoy the beauty of bountiful trees in the Garden State. We wait for peak season to stroll through Branch Brook Park, wowed anew that Newark’s cherry blossoms rival those in D.C. In autumn we plan a day to pluck apples from their branches to make pies and sauce. The gray, dormant trees of winter do not disappoint—come spring, one by one, they begin producing their fruit. And so do we.

We could turn this discussion to seasons and the need for warmth and sunshine, or review the necessity of water-searching roots. Instead, let’s look at a simple secret to bearing fruit—being connected.

Fruit production should not be viewed as work; it’s less complicated than that. Fruit doesn’t come from our labor but through our connection to the branch.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NKJV)

That sounds simple, but it’s not easy to lie dormant, to wait, to trust things will happen without effort. It’s not easy to trust when I don’t even see buds. It’s not easy to be expectant when I feel nothing coursing through my veins. And it’s certainly not easy to submit to pruning and believe that somehow it will help. But abiding is a sign of faith in the unseen, mysterious ways of God. It’s believing that the premise of John 15 is true and a connected branch will bring forth fruit, and more fruit, and then much fruit. And there’s no expiration date.

So I’m just a quiescent, expectant branch hanging on to the Tree for dear life—and that position, that connection, that dependence is producing fruit.

I am fruitful.

3apple-tree-Nelya_PixabayThe righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. Psalm 92:12-14 (NIV)

Photos compliments of Pixabay.com (apples by Nelyah, blossoms by auntmasako)

 

I am Green

Like a Tree…

maple-leaf_Sweetaholic_PixabayI am not the green defined as naive, envious, or unripe. Rather, I am the green defined as fresh, vigorous and, to quote Webster, “pleasantly alluring.” Praise God!

His life flows through me and His Spirit teaches, directs, and improves me. I have hope, peace, and joy that may be distracted by troubles but never destroyed. I have purpose, a reason to be alive, to walk this earth and breath its air. And all of this means… I’m not brown.

I’m not drying out and wrinkling up—well, maybe my outward self is, but not my spirit.

“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”*

I’m not hanging on for dear life, expecting the next strong gust to blow me to the ground. I’m well connected to the branch, enjoying my relationship with the tree and the company of other green leaves.

Because of my bond with the Tree and my confidence in Him, I will not fear when heat comes or worry in time of drought. I rely on the truth of Jeremiah 17:7-8.

The one “who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him… will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Did you notice the two activities mentioned as incongruous with green leaves? Fear and worry. Though pressures, disappointments, and worries come, my connection, my confidence, my correlation to the tree of Life makes me “pleasantly alluring!”

I am green.

*2 Corinthians 4:16
Photo from Sweetaholic@Pixabay.com

I am Planted

Like a Tree…

1Tree RootsWe have a lot of trees in our backyard. The fall consumes my husband’s time with raking and blowing, but right now the trees are peacefully barren.

I see no hints of green that promise the arrival of future leaves but I know they’re coming for one simple reason—the trees are planted. Their roots are spread through the earth drinking nourishing water and offering sturdy stability.

However, an upright tree doesn’t necessarily signify a planted tree. A severe storm toppled a large tree in our yard that appeared healthy. We were puzzled when it crashed to the ground—until we saw its roots. Shallow roots revealed that it was not firmly planted, despite its outward appearance. You know where I’m going with this, but it’s worth the repetition.

The person who delights in God’s Word is “like a tree planted by streams of water.” (Psalm 1:3)

The person in that verse is you and me—righteous people who have become so thanks to God’s forgiveness. Not content to make a good show by standing straight and looking respectable, we reach and stretch our roots to become strong, healthy, productive trees. We are balanced and nourished by roots that continually want more—more life, more knowledge, more fruit.

This is how I know a storm won’t down me like the tree in our backyard:

  • I am positioned near the water; I don’t hang out in dry places.
  • I am proactive in my thirst for God and the refreshment of His Word.

I am firmly planted.

Graphic from lmchouston.com

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