Garment of Praise: Part 2 (ATP) 

Question: What is the “Garment of Praise?” Is this part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17)? Isaiah 61:3 “To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (KJV) 

If you have not read last week’s part 1, I would strongly encourage you to do so before continuing on in this reading. Find it on

This is part of a comparing and contrasting. Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Not bound but free. Not in darkness, but in light. Not mourning but joy. Not a spirit of despair but a garment of praise. Praise literally means honor, commendation, and worship.

Besides this, because you specifically asked about the “garment of praise”, let’s look at the cultural significance of garments that the people of Isaiah’s time would have understood. In ancient Israel, garments and clothing were often used symbolically to represent various states of being, emotions, and societal roles. Wearing a “garment of praise” would signify joy, celebration, and thanksgiving, contrasting with garments of mourning or sackcloth, which represented sorrow and repentance. This is symbolic of a significant change in the people, it’s an outward expression of an inward change, reflecting God’s promise to restore and bless His people, moving them from sorrow to joy. Some scholars believe that the “garment of praise” could signify being prepared and set apart to worship and give thanks to God. So the garment of praise is a metaphor that the people being spoken to would have understood. 

Consider the way people typically dress at a funeral, in all black representing a state of sadness and mourning. At times I’ve gone to funerals and the family has asked that we dress in bright colors to represent the joy that loved one is experiencing now being home with the Lord. Likewise, I’ve been to birthday parties where I’ve been given a colorful hat to wear representing a celebration of fun and happiness.  At graduations and weddings people often dress in their nicest clothes representing the honor for those involved and significance for what is transpiring. We understand this concept quite well in today’s society. 

The other day we went to dinner with some friends and the wife was quite cold and shivering. Her husband took and draped his jacket over her to warm her up as we sat at dinner. Consider a garment of praise like this. When you’re in sorrow, when you’re mourning, Jesus gives you His jacket of praise so to speak to help you. He brought comfort, peace, joy, and restoration to the weak and weary. But just as my friend could have refused her husbands jacket and stayed cold, we Christians can choose to refuse to live in the joy and participate in the praise of thanksgiving that comes with making Jesus the Lord of our lives. 

Both the garment of praise and the armor of God are metaphorical, meant to give the readers truth and principles but they are not one in the same.  Both represent the idea that we have a choice to make in living differently because of who our Lord is. The idea of the garment of praise is a beautiful visual of the hope, joy and peace that Jesus brought to the world, whereas the idea of the armor of God is about Christians taking a stand against the schemes of the devil and standing firm in their faith. Both are significant and both would be good for us to understand. Perhaps next week I’ll do a part 3 and speak more to the meaning behind the armor of God. 

Be Blessed,

Pastor Renée 

Garment of Praise: Part 1 (ATP)

Question: What is the “Garment of Praise?” Is this part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17)? Isaiah 61:3 “To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (KJV)

Let’s look at Isaiah 61 in the NIV: Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

This is a proclamation from the Messiah. These scriptures in Isaiah are books of prophecy of what Jesus would come and do. We see in the gospels of the New Testament that Jesus actually reads these very scriptures. Luke 4:16-17, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written…” In the context of synagogue services, which Jesus was very accustomed to, growing up Jewish, after the reading from the Torah, a related passage from the Prophets would be read. In Luke 4:16-21, when Jesus stood up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. He read from Isaiah 61, a passage that speaks of the anointed one bringing good news and liberation. But look at what transpired after the reading. Luke 4:20-21, “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

There is so much to unpack here and the concept of the garment of praise, though it holds some significance at heart, is a very small piece of what’s actually transpiring here. This day marks the first time Jesus openly proclaimed Himself as Messiah to His own hometown. The people recognized His power and were amazed knowing full-well where Jesus had come from, “the son of Joseph”. That amazement quickly turned to anger as Jesus boldly spoke about who He was and what He came to do and the people wanted to cast him out! 

Several key events led up to this moment such as Jesus’ Baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him affirming His identity and mission. Following His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where He fasted for forty days and was tempted by the devil but did not succumb. After returning from the wilderness, Jesus began His public ministry in the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, and a reputation as a powerful teacher spread through the people. All these things culminate with a climactic moment that reveals His mission to His hometown audience. 

What transpired that day in the synagogue is an example of Jesus taking His job description, what He was sent to earth to do, declaring it openly and then going on to do that work. Jesus declares that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him, and he is sent to bring good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and comfort those who mourn. He goes on to heal, cast demons out of people and to call to action His first disciples. Let’s consider the true significance of this passage of scripture. Wow! 

I found it useful to discuss this significance before answering the question of the garment of praise, so stay tuned. Next week’s Faith Fix will continue for part 2. 

Be Blessed,

Pastor Renée 

Who’s Got The Power? (ATP) 

Question: Is God in control on the earth? 

This is another one of those questions whose answer depends on what exactly is meant by control. For that reason, I will cover a few aspects of it.

There are two basic extremes to this question. I believe that both have some validity to them and both have error, which is why, as always, it’s important to try and stay in the middle. The first idea is that God controls (actively) everything that happens. In other words, all that happens He specifically plans out. The other extreme is that He can’t (by choice) do anything because He’s turned all authority and power over to man. Both of these have a hint of truth but neither fully lands on it.

We are called to submit our will to Him. That doesn’t mean that we have all control, just control over our will. It also means that we don’t try and be in control. This is similar to parenting. A child may think they can be autonomous, but the truth is they should not be. Why is this? It’s because a child is often immature without experience and knowledge. Decisions they make may be enjoyable for a while, but ultimately they cause failure. A child may get away with being childlike for a time, but sooner or later (hopefully) they will be made to do what they should. If not, well, the world is full of examples of the negative effects of this. Submission isn’t about the transferring of authority or power, it’s about being useful within a system that is designed to work a certain way. Children that have been trained to be obedient to right things, will grow to be successful and effective adults. The same goes with all of humanity.

This is where we can look at God’s sovereignty. He designed everything to work a certain way, then chose to have us “partake” of it. 2 Peter 1:4 (NASB) says, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” Partaking doesn’t set the control, it only allows us to play along. Think of the board game. You make all your decisions as to how you walk through the game, but your ability to win is only found within the confines of your ability to walk through the game according to the rules and boundaries set forth. Sure you can change the rules (in a board game) because its creator isn’t forcing his will. God however, will have His will. He sets boundaries that man or even the devil himself cannot cross. As Acts 17:28 (NIV) says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Also Romans 14:11 (NASB), For it is written,


Some have erroneously made the claim that if God is in control, He is doing a horrible job. That is a statement of utmost arrogance and devoid of understanding. We cannot look at a fallen world, that was made with this capacity, that God knew would go that way and automatically assume that He has no say or control within it. If we think that way, then why pray at all? If He has no control, then why seek Him to change something? Romans 8:28 (NASB) tells us, “And we know THAT GOD CAUSES all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The purpose of prayer is to know the will of God so that we can align our will with it. Not for God’s purposes but for our sake, in order to be the image bearers He made us to be. Philippians 2:13 (NIV) tells us, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Some might say, as has also been said, “God cannot do anything unless we ask Him.” This is to forget scriptures like Colossians 1:17 (NASB) which says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” The truth is, we just never see this concept in scripture. We do see time and time again, God doing what He always did, utilizing humans for His purpose because it was His decision to do so and it still remains His prerogative. If He chooses to use angels, He employs them too. Or animals, then He uses them. Waves and the wind, or any other method, God makes the choice. 

There does however remain a truth, God allows man to choose, within a certain measure. He also allows certain processes to continue on without specific control. God, I do not believe causes every wind to blow, or every fluctuation in temperature. If there’s anything creation tells us, it’s that God set things in motion and watches over it. I love the example of conception for reproduction. God hasn’t determined every baby that is born, the parents do that. However, He does determine who they will be, their personality and talents. Those things can of course be shaped by their environment and the choices of the people around them, but God ultimately makes us, us.

These concepts can cause a lot of confusion, in people. The key to remember is that God made us for a purpose and we are in a process of becoming that purpose. Like the apostle Paul said, we have not arrived yet, but we are being perfected. God is moving His creation toward what He wanted it to be through the processes He has chosen. This is why Jesus told us to pray for His Kingdom to come. It puts in us a constant state of longing for the fullness of His redemption in all of creation to be manifest. We should groan and yearn for the fullness of the redemption of creation along with all of creation, just like the Bible tells us to do!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Keeping Watch (ATP)

Please explain John 10:10 in context. Is Jesus talking about Satan, Pharisees, or could it be both? 

I may be misunderstanding this question slightly but I’d say it matters on what part you’re referring to. John 10:10 (NIV) says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The “I” here is obvious, that is Jesus. In the context of this section of scripture, the shepherd is always referring to Jesus. The thief on the other hand could have several meanings as I see it.

First, let’s remember this is a parable. Parables are not necessarily one for one truths. It’s like the way visions or dreams are presented to us. They sometimes need interpreted because one thing doesn’t just automatically translate and in fact sometimes can be referring to a few things. Literal interpretation of scripture is beneficial when it is being literally given. However, the Bible is not always literal and great care must be taken in these cases.

When it comes to such things, we really need to focus on message that is being relayed more than the specifics. For instance here in John 10, the idea is about those coming to God and trying to do so by any means other than the One (Jesus) who brings them. And notice I said brings. We don’t just get to come but we are brought. Why does this matter? Think about going to a fancy party with lots of dignitaries. There may be security at the door that checks for and scrutinizes invitations. Some people get turned away because the invite was not legit. Seeing this, one waiting in line may get fearful. “What if my invitation was not legitimate?”Now consider that the host of this party asked you to accompany him. Security is not going to question who comes in arm and arm with the host. They don’t need any credentials at all. As you approach the door, there would be a certain confidence of entering. Boy, that will preach!

There are those that will try to gain entrance by other means. These are the thieves. Certainly this could represent Pharisees, satan, or anyone really who tries to do it another way. In verse 10, the thief certainly can be seen as satan. It can also be implied as others as well. The heart of it is that it doesn’t matter as long as you recognize the Shepherd and know who is not Him.

These scriptures are to point to the hope of what Jesus was bringing and to tell us that there is no other way in which it will happen. To recognize that a thief is a thief and to be wary and reject any that try to do things separate from the way of the Shepherd. This is because the very nature of the thief is opposite than that of the Shepherd. If the Shepherd brings life, then the thief only can bring death and destruction. 

The abundant life in John 10:10 has everything to do with the life that God wants to bring us into. It is not focused on this life here, but the life that salvation consists of ALL TOGETHER. This would include this life here, but only as it is connected to the culmination of all the life that is found in God. I want to stress, this is not just about this life here. If we try and see it that way, when things are less than perfect, we will grasp at straws to figure out why. 

We are in process. Salvation both belongs to us today and is a future reality that we are moving towards. Until we attain the fullness of this salvation, there will be thieves, satan himself and those he inspires to try and rob us of that. The key is not to be distracted by thieves, but follow the Shepherd who walks you right in!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Hey, How’d You Get Here? (ATP)

In Job, satan went to God’s throne and God told satan he could do whatever to Job except death. I have always wondered how satan could go to God? I thought that dark and the light of God couldn’t be together. Also does satan have access to heaven anytime? How can satan be in the presence of God?

What you are talking about is actually quite a deep study, and will be hard to lay all out in a single Faith Fix. However, I will attempt an overview.

I think it is important for us to understand that satan isn’t firstly a name (possibly not at all) but a word. When we read our bibles we are reading a translation from a different language. In the book of Job, the original language is Hebrew. When we see “satan” we are accustomed to seeing it as a name. However, it is an actual untranslated Hebrew word that means adversary, opponent, or one who withstands.  It’s similar to the word translated angel which is more of a title of function than a description of a specific entity. You could think of the word human in the same way. The translators have opted to capitalize it, making us see it as a name. Actually, as it’s used in Job, it is always preceded by the Hebrew article “ha” meaning “the”. In other words, “ha satan” could rightfully be translated in Job as simply, “the adversary”. In fact, the notes in my Bible actually say this.

This IS NOT to say that who we understand to be satan, the devil, the prince of darkness is not the one talked about here. I simply bring this up to try and broaden our understanding of it. We actually find this same idea come up in the garden of Eden as the creature that tempted Adam and Eve was probably not actually a snake. I know, I know, mind blown right? The people who wrote these things in the first place used imagery that the people of those times would understand, because this is how ancient communication worked. Our translators have taken those languages and that imagery and tried to bring it to us in a way that we would understand.

I say all that to say that what we know is what is clearly given and for what’s not been clearly given, we don’t know. We have to therefore try and extract the heart behind what is being portrayed, and not be distracted so much by the functionality of it all. At this point I want to bring up what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB). “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Notice the end part of this verse, “training in righteousness.” The Bible was never meant to be a manual on how everything works. People get into this problem all the time when they try to make it say what it was never intended to say. People build doctrines and whole theologies at times around very little text. I once knew of someone who wrote an entire book based on a single scripture with little information and only a few words. It was a big seller, but the unfortunate truth is that it was primarily speculation in the mind of the author. Sure an articulate and charismatic writer or preacher can make something sound super good, however that doesn’t make it truth! If someone presents theological ideas we need to ask ourselves a simple question. Is this something I can see simply by reading or studying the text? If the answer is no, the ideas are shaky at best. That is not to discount someone who through serious study has built a strong case for something. What I’m referring to is when someone presents little biblical information, but adds a lot of ideological fluff.  

Now, I have only touched on the possible things that can be touched on with this but I want to bring up another. This is what it says in Job 1:6 (NASB) and I want you to pay attention to the wording here. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” It does not say they went to  Heaven and it does not say that they were at God’s throne. It does not in fact tell us anything about the meeting or meeting place. In fact, one of the only conclusions we can actually draw out of Job on this is that it seems as though this was some sort of ongoing thing, though we can’t say for sure. Maybe even, this type of thing could be happening continually, but we don’t know. Also, I’d like to point out that it talks about the “sons of God”. It doesn’t say all these were even bad beings. The only indication that one is bad is the text which specifically points out one as the adversary. The Bible gives us glimpses into the spirit realm, however there are many things that remain a mystery to us, enough to keep us interested, but these things shouldn’t distract us. 

I do not want to discourage the one who asked the question, because I think it’s wonderful that it was asked. I just want to say that it’s important to think about the text for what it’s given for. These things make for great discussion, but I’m not convinced they can be fully known. I would also add, if someone comes with all the answers, it’s really important to find out where they get their info from. God saw fit to keep some things a mystery. Some things we will know here and some we will wait for. That’s by His design.

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Walking Among Us (ATP)

Question: Never thought of this until now, but when God created Adam & Eve, was he physically with them in the garden? Stemming from Genesis 3:8 “And they heard the sound of the LORD walking in the garden in the cool of day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

This is an interesting question and unfortunately I can’t answer it definitively because the Bible doesn’t speak more about this specifically. Many Bible scholars have addressed this same question, however. There are a few different interpretations I have heard. 

Some scholars suggest that the text uses language that attributes human characteristics to God to make the divine more relatable to human readers but that He didn’t need to be in actual physical form. They believe it’s representative of God’s presence and relationship with Adam and Eve. Another interpretation is that God appears in a physical form to interact directly with humans, implying that God took on a temporary, physical form to walk in the garden. Of course there’s also scholars who say it’s metaphorical, symbolizing God’s intimate and close presence with humanity. Yet another scholarly interpretation is narrative in order to set the scene and create a vivid story that shows God’s relation to humanity. 

I cannot say which interpretation I would lean towards, but other scriptures discuss God appearing to mankind in different ways. Remember Moses could not look unto the face of God but only to His back because His glory was too strong for a human to behold. (Exodus 33) And of course we also know that Jesus came to earth as a man and walked among humanity. Throughout scripture God also appears in visions and is heard as well.  

While the interpretations vary greatly, there is not proof to which if any are accurate. This leads me to the conclusion that it was less important to have that spelled out specifically and more important to understand why it’s included in scripture. The Bible is clear that God wants to have relationship with humanity. He  interacts with humanity, communicates in various ways, manifests His glory and presence, and wants to live among His people. 

Look at Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared to him (Israel) from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” James 4:8 also gives us good understanding of God’s heart to be near His people. It says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.“ This is principle and truth we can be sure of. 

There’s nothing wrong with pondering these things, but remember to always keep an open heart about them. Interpretation can be exciting and worthwhile, but always look for the heart behind the scripture and what it teaches us about God and our relationship to Him. 

Be Blessed,

Pastor Renée