Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mysterious Ways

This began as a personal Bible study concerning the quote, “God works in mysterious ways.” However, it turned into something totally different. Before posting it as a blog, I usually edit so that it will ‘flow’. But this time, I just let it ride. (I hope you enjoy this brief trip into how my mind works.) In the end, I learned that while I don’t really like using, or hearing, the aforementioned quote, (it has become too cliché) it is somewhat true at our human level. What began as my own research into the Bible concerning that quote, meandered through some thoughts about Bible translations, and ended up on 1 Corinthians 14; where I think I heard the Voice say, “You need to get back to praying privately in tongues, now that you realize a little better what you are really doing.” And lastly, a reminder of the Power of Peace as a result of Pursuit through Prayer.

The phrase “God works in mysterious ways” is quoted quite often; and, it is a fairly accurate statement. His ways can be difficult to understand-especially when He allows ‘more than we can handle’ in our life. But are His ways really mysterious-in the way that we understand that word? I did a word search in five different versions and here are the results.

One thing jumps out at me. The word mysterious is used often in the NLT, which is the only version that I will not read. I have run into too many verses that give an idea that is simply not what the original text says. In the past, I would use it as a study aid when I ran across a particular text that was difficult to understand. Too often, as I did word studies, I found that the NLT was slightly off. There are too many other versions out there that are just as easy to read, whose translations are far more accurate. As I understand it, most Bible scholars say that some of the most accurate translations are as follows:
King James (KJV or AV [Authorized Version])
New King James (NKJV)
Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
Darby’s Translation (DARBY)
American Standard (ASB)
New American Standard (NASB)
New International Version (NIV)
Amplified Version

The NKJV, NIV, ASB, NASB are all easy to read. In fact, I understand that the NASB is the most accurate ‘modern’ translation; and, it is surprisingly easy to read. The Amplified Version is a great one to read if you want to know the meaning of some words as you read along without having to look them up in the Strong’s Concordance/Dictionary. (Don’t use an English dictionary to look up definitions of words in the Bible. While it may be accurate at times, often, it is slightly off. Use a Bible Dictionary or Strong’s)

Here are four versions side by side of 1 Corinthians 14:1-3, looking particularly at verse 2 and the use of speaking mysteries as opposed to being mysterious.
In the last part of 1 Corinthians 14:2, the NLT says, “You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious”. However, the other versions say, “…in his spirit, he speaks mysteries.”

To the casual Bible reader, this is may be nothing; but, there is a big difference between being mysterious and speaking mysteries. When praying to God privately in tongues, I would much rather know that the Spirit is speaking mysteries through me, rather than the whole thing simply being mysterious.

I feel that this is one of those things that happen in us without even realizing it. We read ‘mysterious’ instead of ‘speaking mysteries’, and just don’t get the whole picture. We sell ourselves short and don’t walk in fullness.

Hmmmm….maybe that is what this is all about. I should not fret too much about a cliché phrase; instead, I should understand what one is really doing when praying in tongues, and get back into that discipline.

Maybe God does work in mysterious ways; or, at least in ways that we cannot understand. But even that is not really the issue. The issue is that when things happen to us that we can’t comprehend, we can receive peace that passes comprehension.

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