My delight is in you

August 23, 2017

The Verse of the Day for August 23, 2017 is found in Psalm 94:18-19 (English Standard Version):

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

The New Living Translation says this:

18 When I said, my foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up.
19 In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!

Verse 19 became the inspiration for this scripture memory song:

In the Multitude of My Thoughts

In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts delight my soul.
You soothe my mind and strengthen the depths of my heart and soul.
I delight myself in the abundance of Your peace.

You are my God. I know You love me.
You are my God. You’ve set me free.
You are my God. You will never leave me.
You are my God. I long to be all you’ve called me to be.

In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts delight my soul.
Your comforts delight my soul.
Your comforts delight my soul.

Psalm 37:3-4 reminds us:

3 Trust in the LORD and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you your heart’s sires.

This particular passage can be viewed as a double entendre or as having two meanings. If we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the deepest yearnings of our heart. In addition, we could state that as we find pleasure in the Lord, He will place those heart’s desires within each of us, so that our innermost longings become our insatiable hunger to please Him.

Again, Psalm 40:8 reveals this truth:

I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is within my heart.

I recall that the first poem that I wrote was a rather accidental (providential) occurrence taking place during my freshman year in college in my composition class when I was asked to write a response to this prompt: “May I Tell You What Delights Me?” I made a list of things that brought me pleasure, and when I read what I had written to the class, my professor described it as poetry. Years later I realized that I had written a free-verse, catalogue poem, in the style of Walt Whitman. Near the top of the list of sources of delight for me was the Book of Psalms, which not only speaks of what God takes pleasure in but also relates what the Psalmist delights in or takes pleasure in.

From time to time, we may lose our focus and become anxious regarding our ever-fluctuating circumstances. During times of uncertainty when trouble and anguish attempt to derail us from our destiny, when our feet seem to slip, and we are about to lose our grip, we can turn our thoughts toward the promises of God, assured that just as He has been with us through the stormy trials of the past, so He will be with us now. Along with the Psalmist, we take comfort in this knowledge which delights our souls so much.

We close with Christy Nockels, expressing the essence of this message with the song “My Delight is in You.”

Total solar eclipse: Prelude to the Great Sign

August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse

Today, August 21, 2017, the nation, indeed, the whole world is directing its attention toward the solar eclipse of the sun, described as “the sight of a lifetime.” This rare astronomical event occurs when the New Moon moves between the Sun and Earth, blocking out the sun and casting a shadow on parts of Earth for a limited amount of time. This path of the eclipse will cover 14 states, stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Columbia, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk. Because of modern technology, this event will be the widely viewed total eclipse ever.

Many observers are trying to decipher the meaning of this astronomical phenomenon.  Dr. Dale Sides points out what he describes as the Christological significance of the event said to be a prelude to “The Great Sign” spoken of in Revelation 12:1-2.

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

On September 23, thirty-three days after today’s total eclipse, Rosh Shoshana, the Jewish New Year, will occur,  announcing the 120th Jubilee Year in the Hebrew calendar. According to Sides, this astronomical phenomenon is designed to display Jesus Christ and the glory of his second coming.

Christians, in particular, view the increasing frequency of current cosmic phenomena as “signs of the times and the end of the age,” referring to “signs and wonders” said to occur before the return of Jesus Christ spoken of in Luke 21:25-28:

25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.

With such signs and wonders appearing in the sun, moon, and stars, observers of  times and seasons are more certain than ever that Christ’s return is at hand; indeed, for countless Christians, their redemption appears to be drawing closer and closer, closer than it has ever been, as this poem reveals:

Signs and Wonders Still

The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2

 

Signs and wonders still abound in the daytime skies;

Principalities and powers assault and strive.

This solar eclipse witnessed with protected eyes:

A bold prelude before the Daystar shall arrive.

By looking above, we determine where we are.

The heavens declare the wonders of God’s glory;

Maker of sun and moon, calling by name each star,

Unfolds this tapestry for those with eyes to see.

The mystery of His will is now clearly revealed,

For we have an even more sure prophetic word.

On display by night and day, no longer concealed,

Such signs and wonders confirm the Word of the Lord.

Behold! The beloved bridegroom stands at the door:

Our redemption is nearer than ever before.

 

The song “Redemption Draweth Nigh” further reinforces this message:

Life, the spirit of life

August 19, 2017

 

1 John 5--11

The Verse of the Day for August 19, 2017 differentiates between those who have life and those who do not, as 1 John 5:11 in the English Standard Bible clearly reveals:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

To more fully comprehend what God is saying, we need to examine these related verses:

1 John 5:11-13 (ESV):

11 And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

That You May Know

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we recognize that his ultimate purpose was to offer his life that humanity might have life, life in all its fullness, more abundant life, overflowing life abounding throughout all eternity.

This passage also brings to mind Paul’s reference to the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, the inspiration for this work:

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus  

has made me free from the law of sin and death

Romans 8:2

As we move into this new season, we shall see what it brings,

As we learn that the life in the Spirit is where we should be.

No longer in bondage to sin and death we have been set free.

Since we have been brought into the new, we can now do new things,

For our desire is to please God, to succeed and to excel,

We know that we are saved by grace, not by our own merit.

We covenant with God that we will walk in the Spirit

And provide a place where the Spirit of God may dwell.

Ever aware of God’s loving kindness and faithfulness,

We embrace the Spirit of the Living God and understand

That to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh, is God’s command.

As we mature, our lives reveal the measure of Christ’s fullness.

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free

To walk into the fullness of all God has called us to be.

As believers, we navigate through the challenges of life, endeavoring ever to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ while seeking to find “the balanced life.” God’s desire is expressed in the final benediction in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our desire for wholeness, for balance merges with God, our Father who assures us with these words:

So shall you find the balanced life

Oh, let me be weighed in a just balance

and let Him weigh me, that God may know mine integrity!

Job 31:6 [Amplified Bible]

 

My

Children

Beloved,

Faithful and true,

All that you have asked

I have given to you,

For I, the Lord, weigh the spirits.

I know your deepest desire to please.

As you transform yourselves by renewing your mind,

So shall you find the balanced life you seek.

It is My good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.

You have not withheld from Me, so I balance your equation

And stabilize your life, as you strive to do My will.

For in the innocence of your hands and the integrity of your heart

I have found in you a perfected dwelling place where My Spirit can abide.

We close our comments with this reminder of the ultimate purpose of Jesus Christ, this lively musical rendering of John 10:10: “I have come”

Great deliverance

August 17, 2017

 

Genesis 45--7

Today’s blog entry examines the Quote of the Day for August 17, 2017, from David Wilkerson:

“How quickly we forget God’s great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles he performed in our past.”

In the midst overwhelming circumstances that challenge our faith, we can become so quickly embroiled in the present that we sometimes forget that we have been entangled in seemingly impossible situations in the past but God came through and rescued us by a great deliverance.

The expression “great deliverance” is used in Genesis 45 where Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers who have come to Egypt during the time of famine, as he explains the circumstances that led to their arrival:

Genesis 45:7

So God sent me ahead of you to assure your survival in the land, and to keep you alive for a great deliverance.

Joseph assures his brothers that the plans of the Enemy were designed to destroy him, but God’s plans unfolded to bless him that Joseph might be a blessing. Indeed, all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We can learn from this account, in that so often our current circumstances appear to be an absolute catastrophe, but if we patiently endure these trying circumstances, we will survive and we will reach:

The Other Side of Deliverance

 

We know the Spirit of the Lord God has set us free,

That we might manifest all God desires us to be.

We are empowered to perform miracles and more,

Being anointed to preach glad tidings to the poor.

The brokenhearted will be healed and captives set free.

We shall release from bondage all those bound in prison.

A new day of deliverance waits on the horizon.

To comfort and console all those who mourn in Zion,

We shall give them beauty for ashes, even from the dead.

We shall receive the oil of joy for mourning instead,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,

To be transformed into flourishing trees of righteousness.

For all who risk being called foolish and who take a chance,

Endless joy awaits on the other side of deliverance.

Despite overwhelming circumstances that so often appear to be plummeting to a total disaster, our situation is being transformed into conditions suitable for a great deliverance.

In closing, Matt Maher reminds us that God is our “Deliverer”:

Reserved: Come and dine

August 14, 2017

Revelation 3_20

Revelation 3:14, 20 in the English Standard Version offer the Verse of the Day for August 14, 2017:

[To the Church in Laodicea] “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Revised and re-posted, today’s blog post discusses this celebrated passage from Revelation 3:20 and focuses on a particular aspect of dining as revealed in the Bible.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, points out various Eastern customs and manners, called Orientalisms, appreciation of which adds to our understanding of the Scriptures. He notes that in the East when an individual is merely a guest, the host will serve that person. When the meal is complete and the guest departs. The host and his family will then dine together. If, on the other hand, the guest is more than a mere acquaintance but a close, intimate, beloved friend, the host will dine with his special guest. This situation is expressed in Revelation 3:20:

The Lord stands at the door and knocks, offering a verbal invitation to come and dine. If the guest hears the voice of Lord and responds by opening the door, the host will come in and dine, as the two “will share a meal together as friends.”

Lyrics to this scripture memory song were designed to help students learn the Word of God by heart. One of the songs to be sung before serving a meal was based on Revelation 3:20:

Come and Dine with Me

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If any man hears my voice and opens the door,

I will come unto him and will sup with him and he with me.

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me on my throne,

Even as I also overcame and am sat down with my father in His throne.

 

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

Reserved_Sign

As one who enjoys preparing and serving meals, I also appreciate dining at fine restaurants. In many instances, one must make reservations ahead of time to be assured that your party and you will be able to eat at the time that you would like. The idea of making reservations or having a place “reserved” for you, brought to mind this poem:

Reserved 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again

to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  

to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,

 reserved in heaven for you,

 1 Peter 1:3-4

 

To know intimately the fullness of your grace,

To grasp the truest meaning of being “reserved”

For your glory: for your purpose we are preserved

To someday stand in your presence, face to face

With the Lord in the jeweled splendor of that place

Where those of every kindred, tribe and tongue shall hear

The voice sounding as though many waters are near;

To stand on the bema at the end of the race,

To apprehend living in the eternal now

When all the praises of the ages shall resound:

Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow.

Where sin once reigned, grace does now even more abound.

“I ‘reserved’ you, set you apart, for you are mine.

Beloved, this is ‘reserved’ for you—come and dine.”

Revelation 3:20 and other related verses build our anticipation for the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” which will be like no other dining experience known to humanity.

Gary Chapman expresses the essence of this powerful message in the song “Come and Dine”:

Reflecting on ordination and more

August 11, 2017

Ephesians 4--1

I begin this day, August 11, 2017, reflecting on an event of supreme significance occurring forty-three years ago, when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Biblical scholar, E.W. Bullinger discusses the symbolic significance of the number 43, which is a combination of forty and three:

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. . . . A period of testing.

Now the number three stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. . . All things that are specially complete are stamped with this number three, representing divine completeness or perfection.

Many times periods of reflection result in a poetic output, as Wordsworth observes, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Today’s occasion brought to mind three poems written related to my calling to the ministry:

Although my ordination was the public recognition of my individual response to the call of God to serve, this recognition of my inner prompting to be of greater service transpired long before my actual ordination ceremony on August 11, 1974. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow1

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

Another related poem is “This Year of My Jubilee.”  To understand some of the references in this poem, one must first be familiar with the Old Testament concept of the Sabbath Year observed every seven years. Also known as the “Year of Release,” during this period no farming nor manual labor was to take place. In addition, all debt payments were remitted. At the end of every seven Sabbath Years, a special Sabbatical Year, The Year of Jubilee, was observed, during which time bond-slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants, however, could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established.

As it turns out, some have calculated 2017 will be another Jubilee Year in the Hebrew calendar, so that this poem is even more significant in that light.

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17

 

I stand alone clothed only with the wind

At the end of another seventh Sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bond-slave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as You command,

Pierce my ear, place Your brand upon my soul;

Enlighten me so that I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of Your ways

And renew my vows to serve You all my days.

A year ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Reflections on a convergence of events,” as my heart overflowed with gratitude to God for being alive to celebrate not only my ordination, but most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I were present to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 5:45 p.m. on August 11, 2016, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

The closing piece in this series of celebratory poems makes reference to the importance of the legacy that one leaves behind:

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again

with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5, 6

 

I learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,

To pour from the fountain of my soul and to give

All my strength to the Lord’s work and to do my part

To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,

For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.

The legacy to fulfill God’s will lives beyond

The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain,

This precious token of our covenant, the bond

Of devotion to the Master, perfected love

Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace

That passes understanding, flowing from above.

As I plant and water, our God gives the increase.

Freely I have received that I might come to know

The love of Christ, as I learn to serve and to sow.

I closed my blog post last year with these comments and a music video which still apply today:

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful” which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

Our refuge and strength, a very present help

August 10, 2017

Psalm 46--1-3

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for August 10, 2017 offers this blessed assurance found in Psalm 46:1 (AMP):

[God the Refuge of His People.] [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song. ] God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble

As we examine the verse more closely, we find great comfort and strength. First of all, God is described as “our refuge,” a similar place of trust, described in Psalm 2:12 (NLT):

Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry,
and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere we find numerous references to God as a source of strength. Psalm 27:2 reveals that “The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid,” while Psalm 18:2 declares:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

The expression “a very present help” literally means “a help He has been found exceedingly.” As the Amplified Bible puts it, “a very present and well-proved help in trouble.” I also recall the opening and closing stanzas of the hymn by Dr. Isaac Watts: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

 “In the time of trouble” also brings to mind other verses:

Psalm 27:5

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

 Psalm 37:39

But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.

Isaiah 33:2

O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Psalm 46 opens with a striking declaration regarding who God is in verse 1, and the powerful psalm ends with a directive from God Almighty in verses 10 and 11:

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

The psalm ends with the Hebrew expression “Selah,” meaning, “pause, and calmly think of that!” As we “Selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

 Be Still

 Be still and know that I am God.

Be still my soul and be at peace.

Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

We close, as we Kari Jobe tenderly encourages us: “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)”

Serving at the King’s good pleasure

August 9, 2017

Psalm 149--4

Instead of the traditional Verse of the Day, we are going to examine the Phrase of the Day for August 9, 2017: “At the pleasure of the King.” The phrase is sometimes expressed as “at His Majesty’s pleasure” or “the King’s pleasure.” This legal term refers to the indeterminate length of service of certain appointed officials or the indeterminate sentences of some prisoners. The expression is used to say that something is done or can be done because someone wants it to be done.

In the Book of Psalms we not only notice what God takes pleasure in, but we also find an expression of “God’s good pleasure”:

Psalm 149:4 (AMP) makes known that the people of God are a source of pleasure or delight for the Lord.

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

Psalm 51:18 (NKJV) offers this request to God:

Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.

The expression of God’s “good pleasure” is also found in the Gospels in Luke 12:32:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The phrase is twice used in Ephesians and once in 2 Thessalonians:

Ephesians 1:5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:9

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

2 Thessalonians 1:11:

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

Bible teacher John Piper discusses the phrase “good pleasure” and notes that it is a verb in Greek, meaning “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “it pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” One of the best places to see how the expression is used occurs in Philippians 2:13

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

God is both the energy and the energizer—even beyond the Energizer Bunny that keeps on going and going. The verse also expresses God’s desire:  “Both the willing and the working (the energizing).” God does it all, then. Yes, but he puts us to work also, and our part is essential.

Often when we encounter situations whereby we must make a choice, the individual presenting the options will ask: “What’s your pleasure?” What would you like? What would bring you pleasure or what would delight you? Delight can be used as a synonym for pleasure.  As a verb, it means –to take pleasure in, to enjoy, to appreciate, to savor;

As believers we ask, “What delights God? What brings Him pleasure? What is His good pleasure?” Our good pleasure is to do the good pleasure of His will, as the following lyrics ask:

What Is Your Pleasure?

 

What is your pleasure?  What shall we bring?

What do you desire as an offering?

What shall we give you? What will suffice?

What shall we offer as a perfect sacrifice?

 

Tell us your desires: what do you say?

Your only desire is that we learn to obey.

You desire truth in the inward parts:

Our broken spirits with broken and contrite hearts.

Our broken spirits with broken and contrite hearts.

 

 

Teach us to follow you; teach us your way.

Teach us to listen and quickly obey.

Open our ears, Lord, may we know your voice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

 

This is your pleasure. This will we bring.

We give you our lives as an offering.

You have purchased us: You have paid the price.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

Esther Mui offers this Christian Scripture Worship Song with lyrics from Psalm 149 which includes a reference to the people of God as source of pleasure for God.

 

Righteous judge, perfect lawgiver, coming king

August 7, 2017

Isaiah-33-22

Today, August 7, 2017, we look to Isaiah 33:22 (AMP) to find the Verse of the Day which has been revised and re-posted:

For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Ruler, The Lord is our King; He will save us.

Looking at this verse in the King James Version, we note special emphasis on three aspects of the Lord God Almighty, demonstrating three levels of authority in a personal way: “our judge, our lawgiver, and our king,” representing the three branches of government—judicial, legislative, and executive–embodied in a single entity.

“Our judge”

Abraham makes reference to “the Judge of all the earth” in Genesis 18:25:

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord is described, not just as a judge, but He is a righteous judge, as Psalm 103:6 reminds us that “The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

Psalm 9:8 further describes our judge:

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

In the New Testament, we find that a new judge has been appointed:

Acts 10:42

And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.

Finally, 2 Timothy 4:8 (NLT) offers another hopeful reminder:

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

 “Our lawgiver”

Not only is the Lord our judge, He is our lawgiver, one who draws up and enacts laws.

James 4:12 reveals:

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

God is the ultimate lawgiver who has implemented all the laws of nature, such as “the law of gravity,” laws that relate to the moral and social behavior of humanity, along with all the other laws of the universe. Psalm 19:7-10 also relate these truths regarding the law of the Lord:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

 “Our king”

The final attribute of God expressed metaphorically is that of the Lord, our king. Jeremiah 23:5 prophetically speaks of this king:

Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth

Isaiah 32:1-3 speaks of “our King” who is yet to come:

Look, a righteous king is coming!
And honest princes will rule under him.
Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.

Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth,
and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it.

Lyrics to the children’s song describe “The Lion of Judah”:

He’s the Lion of Judah; His name is Jesus.

He’s the Lion of Judah, the Holy One.

He’s the lion of Judah, Who reigns in righteousness.

He’s the lion of Judah, God’s only begotten Son.

 

He’s the lion of Judah; His name is Jesus.

He’s the lion of Judah, Master of everything.

He’s the Lion of Judah; God raised him from the dead.

He’s the Lion of Judah, our soon and coming king.

We conclude today’s post on this hopeful note from the Gaither Vocal Band: “The King is Coming”:

Such great faith—Crazy faith

August 5, 2017

Matthew 8--10

A recent blog post focused on Hebrews 11:1 and verse 6 as the Verse of the Day and offered comments regarding faith, some of which are excerpted here:

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we grow and develop, as we discover that faith is the bedrock of our lives. We define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that we will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

In the midst of thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!”  Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “We can and we will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than we can number, faith gives us courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible and from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible.  We recognize and rejoice, knowing that “with God all things are possible.”

As believers, we sometimes encounter circumstances that seem impossible, and our response is that we know the situation will turn out favorably, despite what appears to be a hopeless case. The world might respond to our positive expectations with, “That’s crazy!” We know, however, that we walk by faith and not by sight, and we counter with “That’s not crazy. . . That just means we have ‘crazy faith.’”

Dennis Marquardt, states, “Crazy faith is the kind of faith that will respond to God in obedience no matter how crazy it may seem at the moment!  It is the kind of faith that CAN remove mountains, and even more amazingly, it can move man!”

When asked what he means by “crazy faith,” Faithwriter Larry King, offers this definition: “Crazy faith is when you simply refuse to let what you perceive –that is, your circumstances, your situations, your trials, tests and obstacles – interfere with what you believe.”

Bishop Charles Mellette states that walking by faith in such conditions, “. . . doesn’t make sense, but it does make great faith.” “Crazy faith,” I might add.

For an illustration of such “crazy faith” in the Bible, let us look at an individual who is not listed in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11. In fact, this person is an altogether unlikely candidate who is described as having “great faith.” In the context in which the designation was spoken, you might characterize the person as having “crazy faith.” The centurion in Matthew 8 comes to Jesus Christ with a request that he heal the man’s servant. In response, the Lord says that he will come and do as he asks. Matthew 8:7-10 reveals the exchange between the two of them:

 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied to Him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority [of a higher rank], with soldiers subject to me; and I say to one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those who were following Him, “I tell you truthfully, I have not found such great faith [as this] with anyone in Israel.

With his belief that Jesus Christ had but to speak the word and the results that the officer desired would come to pass, the centurion demonstrated “such great faith” and profoundly impressed the Lord.

The following poem uses Matthew 8:10 as its introductory verse or epigraph and also makes reference to a question asked by Jesus Christ in Luke 8:8b: “. . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Such Great Faith

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed,

Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith,

not even in Israel!

Matthew 8:10 (KJV)

 

As servants of a king assess his vast treasure,

When the Lord returns, will he find faith on the earth?

When He appraises our faith, what will it be worth?

When all is said and done, may we add our measure,

Though small as the grain of a tiny mustard seed.

Should the Lord come during the Age of the Gentiles,

May our faith be found so pure that nothing defiles.

May we be living by faith in word and in deed,

For God is ever faithful and His Word is true.

May such great faith descend from the centurion

To the faithful ones who bear this criterion:

Whatever God shall speak, this shall He also do.

We will still be walking by faith, not by what we see,

While pressing toward the mark, reaching toward our destiny.

 

We conclude with John Waller and his rendition of “Crazy Faith.”