But seek first the kingdom of God

September 27, 2016

matthew-6-33

Revised and re-posted are comments based on Matthew 6:30-33 in the Message Bible, the Verse of the Day for September 27, 2016:

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

From this passage verse 33 is often recited as a reminder of what our priorities should be as believers:

Matthew 6:33 (Amplified Bible):

33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

Here is the familiar rendering from the New King James Version:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

In light of the Gospel of Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as the King, the expression “the kingdom of God” is used four times in the first book of the Gospel writers: Matthew 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43. In its simplest form, the term is translated from the Greek word basileia, referring to the reign, rulership, the authority or dominion of a king.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word malkūt generally refers to the authority or to his rule of the heavenly king. The Psalmist declares: “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power.… Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145; 11, 13) “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps 103:19). Ultimately this sovereign rule of God, which Jesus Christ initiated with his earthly life and ministry will be fulfilled when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

The Verse of the Day and other references to the Kingdom of God remind us that we are all

Living in the Realm of the Kingdom of God

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;

but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

 

In the place of transition where God makes covenant

We find the comfort that we seek and the sweet release

Of the Jubilee extended to a bondservant.

Though turmoil surrounds us, we are kept in perfect peace

With a blessed assurance that we are ever secure,

Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty,

But we must wait with patience and not faint but endure.

While pressing toward the mark for the prize triumphantly

We living in the realm of the Kingdom of God,

As we submit our lives to Kingdom authority

And respond to each fiery trial with the Word of God.

No longer in bondage, we are redeemed and set free.

“It is written”: the true standard where we always find

Strength to triumph, transformed in the spirit of our mind.

The Maranatha Singers offer Matthew 6:33 as part of a medley of commands from the Lord Jesus Christ: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Ron Kenoly provides a lively reminder that “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost” are the essential elements of the Kingdom of God.

On Prostate Cancer Awareness Day wear blue

September 25, 2016

prostate-cancer-awareness-month-ribbon

Instead of comments related to the Verse of the Day, we are going to look at the “Color of the Day” for September 25, 2016, which has been designated as “Prostate Cancer Awareness Day,” and in recognition of that observance, supporters are encouraged to wear blue—light blue. In thinking about blue as a color, I recall a multi-media presentation that highlighted various shades of blue, as expressions of “the blues”–the African American musical and poetic form. Here is an excerpt from the presentation that seeks to find an answer to this question: “Just what is the blues?”

As part of the oral tradition, the musical form is composed in a minor chord that is marked by melancholy, sadness, disappointment, disillusionment.  They are often sung slowly but not always. The tragic flavor is often laced with humor and irony with an underside of happiness or pleasure. Ralph Ellison offers this penetrating definition of this evocative musical form:

The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger the jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by consolations of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism.  As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.

 As we learn more about the Blues, we find a whole range of emotions expressed in musically. Just as the color blue has wide variety of shades, so does the blues in terms of their intensity.  Kandinsky, the noted philosopher and artist, comments about the color blue and its various shades:

Blue is the typical heavenly color: deep, inner, supernatural, peaceful.  The ultimate feeling it creates is rest.  The more intense it is, the more it calls us to the open sky, and demands purity and transcendence.  Light blue is like a flute, a darker blue a cello, a still a darker the double bass, and the darkest an organ.  When it darkens to black, it evokes a profound grief.  Sinking toward black, it has the overtone of a mourning that is not human.

Included in the presentation were a number of poems connected to the subject, including “All Blues,” a poetic expression of my impressions of the blues, as inspired by one of the paintings of the late Terrance Corbett, who painted a massive mural in shades of blue inspired by the music of the blues.

All Blues

pitch-black blue

bluer than

the toothless gums

of a black blues singer

screamin

moanin bout

how his baby

done left him

 

Mm mmm soon one mornin

blues come fallin down

Mm mmm soon one mornin

blues come fallin down

Said they fell so heavy

Till it caused my heart to moan

 

can no anodyne soothe

this state of mind

can no elixir elevate

this mood indigo

 

midnight blue

this thick

blue funk rises

etherizes

swirls, eddies

makes folk giddy

done stunk up

they minds

with stinkin thinkin

suffocatin in self-pity

dazed, crazy  from

this haze of blue funk

 

 I got these blues

Reason I’m not satisfied                                                    

I got these blues

Reason I’m not satisfied                                                    

That’s the reason why                                                       

I stole away and cried

 

freight-train blue

trailin down the track

lonesome echoes blowin

from a steel blue

dark harmonica

navy blue notes

wailin for Miles

from that long gone train

 

Took my baby to meet the mornin train

Took my baby to meet the mornin train

And the blues come down Baby like showers of rai

 

pastel blue

lighter, brighter

subtle twinge

of powder blue

like Betty Lou

hop-scotchin

up to sky blue

and back

 

peacock blue

glimmers, shimmering

like the lining

of Queen Esther’s

royal blue robe,

penetrates this thick

blue upon blueness

in a lighter vein

 

bright sea-blue

swirling like burgundy blue

new wine

springing from an

inner fountain blue

from the soul of a man

who swapped his low-down blues

for pure turquoise joys

 

 

Trouble in mind I’m blue

but I won’t be blue always

Trouble in mind I’m blue

but I won’t be blue always

cause the sun’s gonna shine

in my front door someday

 

just what is the blues?

 

is it somethin you get

a show nuff dis ease

like de rheumatiz

or de rockin pneumonia

and de boogie-woogie flu

or is it like Lightnin said

somethin you just borned with

whatsonever it is

somethin gets a holt of you

dis mornin    dis evenin    soooo blue

just what is the blues?

maybe Lady Day summed it up

when she said,

“The blues is everything.”

 

The sea, the sky, the blues and I know all colors;

sea and sky,  the blues and I know all colors:

all shades                                all hues                            all blues

Accompanying the poem is music of the unmistakable Miles Davis, performing “All Blues” from the album “Kind of Blue” recorded in 1959.

 

You have need of patient endurance

September 24, 2016

hebrews-10-35-36

The Verse of the Day for September 24, 2016 offers strong words of encouragement expressing the need for patient endurance:

Hebrews 10:35-36 in the Message Bible:

Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

Hebrews 10:35-36:

35 Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. 36 For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.

The passage pinpoints the importance of the character trait of patience or endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord. One of the words related to “patience”  or being patient as a verb means “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure.  The word translated patience as a noun is also translated: endurance, patient enduring, perseverance, and steadfastness.

Another passage from James 5:7-11 stresses the importance of patience and provides an excellent example of both the verb and the noun in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance:

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

 

In discussing Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” we also note some distinctive features of the Book of Job. Although it is not listed with the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars believe that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to have been composed by Moses. Job was, indeed, a real person, and his account is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles, notably: God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.”

Recall Job 42:10:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the                 LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Nate Wolf has this to say about the classic Biblical example of endurance:

Job’s patience was the golden secret that helped him overcome the pain he faced. Patience is more than just having the ability to not become angry in a difficult situation. Patience is the power that will carry you through the painful moments of life into the pleasurable moments of life. . . . The patience of God within you will always outlast the pain that’s trying to come upon you. .  . . Patience is the power that will keep you in the proper place and mindset, during discomfort or pain, until you possess your final promise and reach your ultimate purpose.

This discussion of the importance of patience also brings to mind this poem:

                           A Prayer for Patience

“My suggestion for people in a season of birth or upgrade

is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day.” 

Graham Cooke

 

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance,

so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God,

and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

Hebrews 10:36 (Amplified Bible)

 

 

We look back and pause and then look ahead to see

Clearly who God is and who He has called us to be.

We still journey down the road less travelled by

And pray that patience may serve as our trusted ally.

We must say “No” to the pressures of this life

And say “Yes” to the rest God gives, despite the strife.

As we stay our mind on Him, we abide in peace.

When we praise God, works of the enemy decrease.

May we remain and not fall by the wayside as some

But like Job wait until at last our change shall come.

Patient endurance seems delayed for some reason,

But fruit abounds to those who wait in their season.

We pray that in this time of transition and shift

That we embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

 

We conclude with John Waller offering “While I’m Waiting”:

Hope does not disappoint

September 23, 2016

romans-5-3-5

Verse of the Day for September 23, 2016 comes from Romans 5:3-5 in the Message Bible:

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

The passage is rendered this way in the New Living Translation:

Romans 5:3-5:

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

This particular passage from Romans lead us to hope, a topic of considerable importance today. Here is a revised excerpt from a previous blog entry “Hope: the antidote for despair”:

In the midst of tumultuous times that flood our souls, it is easy to see how persistent discouragement can lead to despair which is defined as the complete loss or absence of hope; to despair means to lose or be without hope. Once despair sets in, this mental state is perpetuated by prevailing unbelief. The downward spiral plummets into the depths of despair, a living hell with the welcome banner: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

To overcome a toxic emotion such as despair, we must move in the opposite spirit or in the opposite direction.  We find that “hope” is the antidote for despair. Hope is the expectation of a future good. Again as Christian believers go to the Word of God, they will find out that God is our hope

The Psalmist offers this marvelous reminder:

Psalm 71:5

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.

Hope counteracts thoughts of despondency, when we recognize that hope is a joyful and confident expectation. Though we are confronted with challenges on every hand, even in the face of death itself, we still have hope:

2 Corinthians 1:9-10

Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

Jesus Christ is described as our “blessed hope,” and because of Jesus Christ’s victory over sin, sickness and even death itself, we have hope that lives eternally. In thinking about our eternal hope, I remember lines from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems that describes hope in a particularly intriguing way, and the opening lines serve as the title and epigraph for this poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers. . .”

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul

And sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

Romans 8:24-25 (New Living Translation)

 

As a rare exotic bird, arrayed in brilliant plumes,

Hope rises as a phoenix, a many-feathered thing:

As a lark ascending at sunrise sings on the wing

A melody that fades but then suddenly resumes,

So Hope conveys a message without a single word.

This glorious song of Hope will take us to the place where

Golden notes provide escape from any fowler’s snare:

The tune lingers to remind us that we, too, have heard

Heavenly harmonies in our innermost ear.

Perched in the depths of our soul, Hope has found a new home.

The songbird prepares our heart to receive what is to come.

While we wait in patience, God’s presence is ever near.

In these times of darkness and despair we will recall

And listen to hear Hope’s song that never stops at all.

 

We close our blog entry with Missi Hale offering a musical rendition of Romans 5:5; 8:24-25 (NKJV):

“Hope Does Not Disappoint.”

Grace, love, and fellowship

September 21, 2016

2-corinthians-13-14

From the closing verses of the second epistle to the Corinthians comes this benediction which serves as the Verse of the Day for September 21, 2016:

2 Corinthians 13:14 (MSG)

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

The verse is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

The powerful benediction at the end of 2 Corinthians embraces believers as a three-fold cord which begins with “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the means whereby we “receive and experience “the love of God,” which leads to sublime, indescribably sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The verse also brings to mind the lyrics to “Blessed be the ties that bind,” the classic hymn sung countless times in the small church where I grew up in the 1950s, way back in the day:

This verse was also the inspiration for:

Grace, Love, and Fellowship: A Three-fold Cord

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

 Dr. John Fawcett

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (New Living Translation)

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and fellowship bind our hearts as three-fold cord.

That the love of God never fails cannot be ignored.

Spanning from age to age the same, this love shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Fellowship with God abounds when we live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

We commune with God and find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.                

Here are three notable songs that express the essence of these three spiritual qualities:

Grace:

 A song with a simple title is “Grace,” written and performed by Michael W. Smith

Love:

“The Love of God,” as performed by Mercy Me, is among the most recognized songs describing God’s love:

Fellowship:

The contemporary Christian group A cappella describes “Sweet Fellowship” in song:

Send the rain

September 20, 2016

Joel_2-23

From the Old Testament prophet Joel comes the Verse of the Day for September 20, 2016:

Joel 2:23 (Message Bible):

[The Trees Are Bearing Fruit Again] Fear not, Earth! Be glad and celebrate! God has done great things. Fear not, wild animals! The fields and meadows are greening up. The trees are bearing fruit again: a bumper crop of fig trees and vines! Children of Zion, celebrate! Be glad in your God. He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right— Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do. And plenty of food for your body—silos full of grain, casks of wine and barrels of olive oil.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.

The time frame of the abundant rain that will be forthcoming and the subsequent abundant harvest has also been described as the former rain and the latter rain.

This passage in Joel reminds us of the importance of rain as a life source for an agricultural people whose lives are dependent upon crops.  In the Land of Israel God, indeed, sends rain in due season in two specific forms:  the former rain and latter rain.  In the Middle East, the former rain occurs in October or November, accompanying the planting of crops, while the latter rain occurs in the spring, around March or April, just before the harvest. Both of these seasons of rain the Prophets Jeremiah, Hosea, and Joel speak of:

Jeremiah 5:24(NLT):

They do not say from the heart,
‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT):

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Amos also prophesies of abundance that shall cover the land, described in this way:

Amos 9:13 (NLT):

“The time will come,” says the LORD, “when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested. Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine

James 5: 7 (NLT) says:

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

Some have described the forthcoming abundance to the Church as a series of banner years with bumper crops . . . a constant flow of supply shocks that overwhelm the Body of Christ with God’s goodness and graciousness, as souls are multiplied in magnitude in the Kingdom of God.

William McDowell offer this expression of our heart’s desire at this time: “Send the Rain”

In humility esteem others better than yourselves

September 18, 2016

Philippians-2-3

From Philippians 2:3-4, the Verse of the Day for September 18, 2014, comes this reminder in the Message Bible:

[He Took on the Status of a Slave] If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

The King James Version puts it this way:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, those who serve the Lord seek to set their priorities: They say to themselves and to others, “God is first; others are second, and I am willing to be last.” The first and great commandment establishes the order for our lives:

Matthew 28:37-39:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Romans 12:10 is another related verse that comes to mind when we think of putting others first:

10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

In a previous blog entry, I discussed the term “Honor one another” and commented, “To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10.

Dr. John Tetsola notes that “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborates upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

 

He goes on to note that before honor is humility, expressed in Proverbs 15:33, the inspiration in part, for the following poem:

 The Power of Honor

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom;

and before honor is humility.

Proverbs 15:33


“Our honor activates the honor

that is in the heart of God.”

Apostle John Tetsola

 

“Before honor is humility,” says the Lord.

We give honor to those who minister the Word,

Not withholding honor to whom honor is due.

We follow these precepts, for the Word of God is true,

Giving life, sharper than any two-edged sword.

 

We honor one another and walk in one accord.

Husbands and wives—symbolic of a three-fold cord—

Must cherish honor, appreciate its value:

“Before honor is humility.”

 

The power of this precept cannot be ignored.

All those who bestow honor have great reward.

We must give honor in all that we say and do,

Pressing toward the mark for the prize, we continue

Striving for the perfection we all are moving toward:

“Before honor is humility.”

A similar sentiment regarding humility is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:13:

13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

To wrap up our discussion, Elevation Worship offers this: “For the Honor”:

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us

September 17, 2016

Ephesians-5 1-2

Ephesians 5:1 in the Message Bible offers the Verse of the Day for September 17, 2016:

[Wake Up from Your Sleep] Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering of Ephesians 5:1-2:

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

As believers we are to be imitators or mimics of God, our Father. In a similar manner to a young boy who wants to walk in his father’s shoes and wear his father’s hat, we are to be followers of God. Our lives are to be filled to overflowing with love. Our lives should be a reflection of the saying, “Like father, like son.”

This passage from Ephesians also brings to mind 1 John 4:16, expressed in the Amplified Bible this way:

16 And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

In 1 John 4:8 we find an expression of who God is:

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

For Christian believers nothing is more satisfying than to know that God is love and that God loves us.  We can thus, follow Christ’s example as we offer our lives as sacrificial expression of our devotion to God.

The idea of being followers or imitators of God is established in verse 1, and verse 2 provides a notable example of such a faithful follower, as displayed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the ultimate illustration of “Like father, like son.”

Here is a poetic expression related to our discussion of walking in love inspired by verse 2 of Ephesians 5:

Also

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us,

an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)

We must exercise authority and know who we are.

We must then walk in the fullness of that authority

We must also recognize that our hands were made to war,

 

As we demonstrate the power within that all might see.

 

We must walk in love, for love is the more excellent way.

We know love alone is the standard by which we measure.

We seek to please God and pour love upon all we do and say.

We must love as Christ loved, for love is a priceless treasure.

 

 

We also learn that our lives should reflect our stewardship.

We know each steward shall be called to give a full account,

God, our Father, evaluates our life-long fellowship,

And assesses our service and then totals the amount.

 

 

Even more than sacrifice, God seeks our obedience,

As we too seek to fulfill the Father’s deepest desire.

We learn that to obey is the highest form of reverence:

To be like Christ is the model toward which we all aspire.

 

Once more God tempers authority with love; this we know:

As dear children, we learn to steward and obey also.

Integrity Music offers this scripture memory song for Ephesians 5:1-2:

 

Do you want to be wise?

September 16, 2016

 

james_3-13-nasb

From James 3:13 comes the Verse of the Day for September 16, 2016 in the Message Bible:

[Live Well, Live Wisely] Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

The King James Version of this verse also begins with a question, followed by this answer:

James 3:13

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

In light of the topic of wisdom, this verse brings to mind a series of teachings posted as blog entries entitled “Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise.” Here is one of the entries modified and re-posted below:                                                              

Despite the sweet savor of past victories that we desire to linger forever or the bitter aftertaste of former times of seeming defeat that we seek to forget, each day unfolds as a new beginning, an opportunity to make a fresh start. How do we begin? We go back to the beginning.  As we reflect upon wisdom, so brilliantly displayed in the Book of Proverbs, we find that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” poetically expressed in this manner:

 

The Beginning of Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. 

Psalm 19:9


The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:

 and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

 

We begin and stand in absolute awe of You,

Thoroughly washed in the fountain of holiness.

The old has passed away—Behold, You make all things new:

Redeemed and justified by Christ, our righteousness.

As You search the earth, may we find grace in Your sight.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Here we stand perfected, those destined to walk upright,

As beloved ones, whose hearts Your Word purifies.

We are filled with knowledge and wisdom from above

And bound by a covenant no one can sever,

For nothing can separate us from God’s love:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

We are renewed in strength and upheld by God’s Word,

As we pursue wisdom, growing in the fear of the Lord.

A perfect accompaniment of this blog entry is the worship song by Tommy Walker: “The Fear of the Lord.”

He who abides in love abides in God

September 15, 2016

1-john-4-16

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for September 15, 2016 which is found in 1 John 4:16 in the Message Bible:

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

The King James Version puts it this way:

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The Amplified Bible expresses the verse in this manner:

16 And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

In 1 John 4:8 we find an expression of who God is:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Rendered in the Amplified Bible this way:

 He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

For Christian believers nothing is more satisfying than to know that God is love and that God loves us, and nothing can separate us from that love.

Hillsong offers this reminder that “Our God is Love.”

In John 15:5, 8 NLT  we find parallel scriptures used by Jesus, who speaks of a parable where he uses this comparison:

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

This reference relates to the parable of the vinedresser, the vine, the branches and the fruit. That is, it explained how the Twelve were to produce a spiritual harvest for God.

The passage from John 15 records how Jesus, during the evening when he was betrayed and captured, said to the eleven apostles who remained at the table with him (Judas had departed and gone to betray the Lord), that his Father was a “vinedresser” (grape farmer), or “husbandman” as some translations have it, and that he, Jesus, was “the true vine”, and that those apostles were “branches” who were attached to Jesus, the Vine. In order to be fruitful the branches must “abide” in the vine. When the branches remain intact with the vine, God is glorified as the branches bear much fruit.  When thinking of fruit, the fruit of the spirit comes to mind, and what is the principal fruit of the passage from Galatians 5:22-24? Love, as the Scriptures also remind us.

grapes

The accompanying photo shows a fruitful vine from a vineyard that illustrates the parable where Jesus describes himself as “the true vine.”  To conclude Mike Newlin offers another rendition of this metaphor: “I am the Vine.