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Pastors share their Bible verse and what it means to them, their life

Whether through the family, Sunday school or catechism in Parochial school, children are taught scripture from the Bible and in many cases are asked to memorize passages that later help strengthen their individual faith.

And somewhere during their education in the Bible, many people will come across a verse that affects them and becomes a favorite that stays with them through their life.

The Vicksburg Post asked several pastors for their favorite verses from scripture and why they liked it:

• The Rev. Elisabeth Malphurs, priest in charge, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“The entirety of chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans is a theological feast,” Malphurs said.

“But it is Paul’s conclusion that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love, that I turn to again and again in my own moments of grief or despair.

“Even in this time of physical distancing and separation from our friends and faith communities, God’s love is ever-present to us, able to overcome any barrier. God’s love is stronger than coronavirus, stronger than quarantine, stronger even than death.”

• The Rev. Andy Andrews, rector, Church of the Holy Trinity, Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, The Lord’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” 

“A biblical understanding of mercy is rich with compassion, forgiveness and love,” Andrews said. “The writer of the Book of Lamentations claims the Lord’s mercy never ceases.  It is mysteriously fresh and new each morning.

“The past is gone, and today is a renewed remarkable day to be alive.  Neither do we know what tomorrow brings, but it too is filled with possibilities.  Although the way is not always clear, we can trust this reality about our creator.

• The Rev. Bill Talbert, pastor, Solid Rock Pentecostal Church, Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’” 

“This verse contains the concise direction of God’s plan of salvation,” Talbert said.  

• The Rev. Thomas E. Bernard, senior pastor, Travelers Rest Baptist Church Isiah 61:1:

“When I was asked what is my favorite scripture in the Bible it quickly became a competing question in my spirit,” Beard said. “You see, my preaching and pastoral life extends through some 40 years of teaching and ever learning from the lessons taught while dealing with life’s interesting experiences.

“However, there is one book, one chapter and one scripture which I consider my favorite but not by choice but by purpose. The book is Isaiah chapter 61 and verse 1.” 

To respond to the second question as to the reason this scripture holds such a favorite place in his life, he said, “I must recall my calling into the ministry 40 years ago.

“It was one dark October night while sleeping but not resting that the miraculous and mysterious experience captured and controlled the very being of my existence. The Spirit of the Lord carried me into spaces and places unknown to me while I trembled within and without as in the presence of an awesome and unexplainable God.

“It was then that I bowed on my knees with my face to the ground and prayed this prayer, “God if you are calling me, show me what you would have me to do,” he said.

At that moment, Benard said, a great calm came over him as he returned to his bed and slept until morning.  “The trip to work that morning was controlled by the Spirit as He carried me on a detour and I ended up sitting in my car at the parking lot outside of Krystal,” he said.

“This experience is where the answer to my prayer becomes the guiding scripture for the rest of my life.  I wondered why am I here and in that defining moment my hand picked up a Bible that I had never seen before from the seat beside me with a scripture printed in bold letters on the back cover which read and I quote,  Isaiah 61:1:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”

While there are so many other scriptures that I can proclaim as one of my favorites, Isaiah 61:1 has been granted to me by God to keep me focused on His purpose for my life along this journey of ministering to others.

By the way, my favorite chosen scripture would have to be Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

• The Rev. Joe Mosley, pastor Calvary Baptist Church:

“One of my favorite scriptures that I often revert to is Ephesians 3:20 that says, ‘Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.’ “This is in my fave file because Paul takes his personal prayer and now slides it over to God to fill in any empty blanks.

“Any personal and human limitations Paul could have had in his prayer concerning the church, he now takes off by allowing God’s infinite ability to work in his prayers. It’s here that I’ve learned that when you pray make sure you leave room for God to work.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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