The patience of Job

January 19, 2018

Instead of the Word of the Day, we are going to examine the Quote of the Day for January 19, 2018, a remarkable statement about patience:

Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.

Brian Adams

As believers, perfecting the art of patience involves learning to wait on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm come to mind:

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

In the Bible the word for patience been translated endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord.

When we examine one of the words translated “patience”, we see a compound word meaning “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under. The verb form means to stay under or behind, remain; figuratively, to undergo, that is bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure, take patiently, suffer, tarry behind.

The root idea of the noun is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy — enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

James 5:11 provides an excellent example of the word for patience being used as a verb and as a noun in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance. The New Living Translation offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait most often associated with Job:

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

The Book of Job is a classic example of the principle of first usage and first spiritual principle, which highlights as particularly important the first time that a concept is mentioned in the Bible. E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars surmise that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to have been composed by Moses. Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” was, indeed, a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles, one of the first being that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that He rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” Although it is said that “Patience is its own reward,” God also rewards patience, as so clearly demonstrated at the end the Book of Job. 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.

The topic of the need for patience in our lives brings to mind a statement by Graham Cooke whose words inspired this poetic response:

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 a 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 Karen Clark Sheard and Donnie McClurkin offering a song to capture the essence of our discussion on patience: “Wait on the Lord.”

Walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh

January 18, 2018

According to BibleGateway.com, the Verse of the Day for January 16, 2018 was found in Galatians 5:16 (NIV):

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Most amazingly this verse is one I discuss in detail in my forthcoming book that gives an account of my 18-year battle and ultimate victory over prostate cancer. Stay tune to Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe as the publication details unfold. Here is an excerpt from the section “The real battle field is the mind” where I talk about the mental or emotional challenges confronting me when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 years ago.

My experience helped me to understand more fully this intense conflict raging within every believer: the ongoing battle between good and evil, the constant struggle between fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and walking by the spirit. This dilemma is sharply delineated in

Galatians 5: 16-18 in the Amplified Bible:

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

Paul goes on to draw a sharp contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. This never-ending internal conflict is also depicted in Romans 7:18-25, where Paul speaks of his desire to do good , to do the right thing , but he winds up doing the very thing that he doesn’t want to do, and regrettably he does not do what he so longs to do:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

During the time of my internal struggles “to get it together and keep it together,” I was teaching a class on America literature, and one of the writers whom we discussed was Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), who personalizes the constant conflict raging within her own mind and within every Christian believer in this excerpt from “The Flesh and the Spirit”:

I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call’d, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.

This intense internal conflict is depicted in this original poem as a fight where each individual can determine the outcome:

Two Ravenous Wolves

An elder Cherokee chief took his grandchildren
into the forest and sat them down and said to them,
‘A fight is going on inside me. This is a terrible fight
and it is a fight between two wolves.
One wolf is the wolf of fear, anger, arrogance and greed.
The other wolf is the wolf of courage, kindness,
humility and love. . . .This same fight between the
two wolves that is going on inside of me
is going on inside of you, and inside every person.”

Rabbi Marc Gellman

Two ravenous wolves wage constant warfare within.
Each stalks the other, striving to survive, to reign.
One embodies fear, anger, arrogance, and greed,
The other courage, kindness, humility and love:
One a sinister serpent, one a gentle dove.
Each tries to gain the upper hand and to restrain
Its foe, but only one will rise to seize the lead.
Each is seeking to dominate, driven to gain.
One will be defeated–only one will remain.
Since each beast demands the opposite kind of food,
We select the diet, whether evil or good.
In each conflict, the soul determines who will win,
For wolves are ravaged by an all-consuming need,
And we decide the wolf we starve, the wolf we feed.

Every moment of the day, as believers we must decide the direction we will take, whether we will walk in the spirit or walk in the flesh.

Hosannah! Music closes our discussion with “Walking in the Spirit,” a medley to remind us where we desire to be:

Walking on the water

January 15, 2018

The third week in the New Year seemed to get off to a most inspiring and encouraging start, as I listened to a teaching from Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC. Taken from a series of teachings entitled “Lord, Do You Have More for Me?” with the subtitle: “God is Bigger,” the message was especially challenging for me, as I think of some of the projects I hope to accomplish during 2018.

The message focused on the account where the Lord Jesus Christ came walking on the water during a fierce storm. Peter recognized the savior and asked that he tell him to come to him. As Peter followed the instructions, he climbed out of the ship and began walking toward the Lord. When he noticed the howling winds and the stormy circumstances, Peter became frightened and began to sink. He cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord spoke these word: “O you of little faith; why did you doubt?” Jesus responds to Peter’s call and helps the fearful disciple. Hand in hand, they both walk back to the ship.

Bishop Mellette emphasized that “God is bigger,” and He has greater goals for us to accomplish. He encouraged us not to be afraid to go after every good thing God has put in our hearts to pursue. He went on to say: “It is time to step up and step out because confidence looks good on us,” noting confidence is a fragrance everybody needs to smell. His remarks caused me to think of 2 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified Bible):

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

This record of Peter’s bold accomplishment under seemingly impossible circumstances, brings to mind one of the poems written following a series of storms that arose after the nation experienced the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms. This particular work is inspired by the same passage from Matthew 14:

Walking on the Troubled Waters of Life

Matthew 14:22-33

In the fourth watch, long before the sun begins to rise,
A tempest attacks my ship with waves that overwhelm.
My vessel seems abandoned with no one at the helm
When a vision of the Savior appears before my eyes:
Jesus comes walking on the troubled waters of life.
As storms of our times bring conflict, confusion and strife.
May I not be fretful, anxious, cowardly like some,
But like Peter say, “Since you are my Lord, bid me come.”
And step out of the boat to walk on the storm-tossed sea.
While battered by fierce waves, tormented and tossed about,
In the time of my distress I cry out, “Lord, save me!”
He then asks, “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
In the midst of turbulent times, may I “get a grip”
And walk hand in hand with the Master back to the ship.

We conclude with a lively exhortation from the musical group Exodus 4:12: “Get out of the Boat:”

Moving forward: understanding the process

January 13, 2018

As 2018 continues to unfold, we recognize that as members of the Body of Christ, we are ever in transition, individually and corporately, moving from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory. In thinking about this reality, I recall a made statement by Dr. Tom Edwards during his workshop series “Moving My Life Forward” which serves as the Quote of the Day for January 13, 2018:

“Every great assignment and destiny requires transition”:

Dr. Edwards went on to define transition as ‘”a passage, development or movement from one state, condition, phase, or place to another . . . a period of instability proceeded by and followed by a period of instability.” The in-between time can be painful and completely black at times and you cannot see where you are going , but you are pressing toward your destination, the place of your destiny.

The transitional period we are all experiencing is related to the three stages leading to the ultimate fulfiling of the promise of God or a word of the Lord that we have heard. Dr. Edwards notes that the first stage involves hearing and receiving a promise while the second stage indicates the process, the refining or finishing stage that we must not only endure but come to embrace before we reach the third stage: the prize. The poet proclaims: “You’ve got to go through to get to the prize.”

Here is a poetic description of the second stage:

The Process

“When everything that can be shaken is being shaken,

we must acknowledge the process . . . trust the process. . .

embrace the process. . . and enjoy the process.”

Dr. Mark Chironna

 

My brethren, count it all joy
when you fall into various trials,

James 1:2

 

“When everything that can be shaken is being shaken,

 we must  acknowledge the process … trust the process…

 embrace the process…and enjoy the process.”

Dr. Mark Chironna

 

My brethren, count it all joy

 when you fall into various trials,

James 1:2

  

What we perceive as failure, God sees as success.

In peace and confidence we know that we will find

Understanding that reveals what God had in mind.

As we pursue truth, we acknowledge the process.

Though adversity seeks to hinder our progress,

Though we may be shaken to the depths of our soul,

If we refuse to give up, we will be made whole.

Because our God is faithful, we trust the process.

God’s heart of compassion forever seeks to bless.

We no longer wrestle but surrender—we yield.

As strong soldiers, we vow to stay on the battlefield.

Though we would shun it, we embrace the process.

Our gracious God is good, despite the strain and stress;

Resting in the Lord, we now enjoy the process.

During this most painful period of transition, many questions may arise: “What is going on?” Why is this happening to me when I am right at the point of my breakthrough?” “Why me?” “Why now?” We may question God and ask “What are you doing?” Our question should be “Father, what are you trying to teach me?” We must learn to echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who declares:

Psalm 119:71

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.

These lyrics also express the song of our heart:

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I might learn Your statutes,
To walk in Your precepts,
To keep Your commandments,
To follow as You teach me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

We recognize that God is good, and that all things work together for the good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. While we are going through the process, it may not feel good, but it is good for us, working together for our good.

We close with this musical exhortation: “Moving Forward”—Israel Houghton:

Taking a look at leftovers: God’s remnant

January 8, 2018

amos-5 14

Recently the Verses of the Day on Biblegateway.com have focused on what the people of God should and should not be doing. Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for January 8, 2018 comes from Amos 5:14-15 (NLT):

Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

This passage from the Old Testament is part of a dirge, a song expressing sorrow or distress over a great loss, such as the death of a loved one. If the people of God will adhere to the commands of God, “perhaps” or “peradventure,” God will be merciful to “the remnant of His people.”  Maurer goes on to explain “the remnant of Israel that shall have been left after the wicked have been destroyed.” On the Logos Research System this concept is further described as a

. . . group of people who survive a catastrophe brought about by God, ordinarily in judgment for sin. This group becomes the nucleus for the continuation of mankind or the people of God; the future existence of the larger group focuses in this purified, holy remnant that has undergone and survived the judgment of God.

Our discussion of “the remnant” also brings to mind a recent article spotlighting a number of popular London restaurants, such as WastED (the ED stands for education), and other venues who have been taking kitchen leftovers and turning them into ­spectacular meals. In an attempt to highlight Britain’s staggering food waste problem, some of Britain’s top chefs explain how we can all love our leftovers at home and reduce the millions of tons of food thrown away each year. Certainly God, our gracious Heavenly Father, is far greater than any master chef, and He can take what has been rejected and discarded and transform it into a glorious masterpiece.

Throughout the Bible we find accounts referring to a remnant people who will ultimately fulfill the purposes of God. The passage from Amos brings to mind this portrait:

God’s Remnant

God is never left without a remnant.

Apostle Eric L. Warren


And the remnant that is escaped of

the house of Judah shall yet again take

root downward, and bear fruit upward.

2 Kings 19:30

 

God is looking for a remnant; what is left over

Will suffice in the strong hands of a master craftsman.

Those who seek to know the mind of God will discover

That He keeps a remnant, set apart to stand alone,

A residue, an intricate part of His grand plan.

What the builders rejected is the chief cornerstone.

God uses what is left to fulfill His purposes in the earth.

As God’s remnant, to be hidden is our destiny.

We take root downward and bear fruit upward to give birth

To the glory that God intended our lives to be,

For remnant people maintain the same integrity

As the original: pure in essence—whole, complete,

As leaven remains hidden in three measures of wheat.

In closing, Worship Central reminds believers that we are “Set Apart”:

 

 

Good, better, best

January 7, 2018

good-better-best

As a rule, I choose not to make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolve to make each year the best year of my life. I try to follow the admonition I give to the writing students whom I teach, but at the same time this motto can be applied to athletics and to any endeavor:

Good, better, best

Never let it rest

Until your good is better

And your better is best.

In my classes I provide an illustration of this motto in action as I play “the death crawl” scene from “Facing the Giants.” Here we have a coach asking one of his players to “give him his best.” That’s really all that anyone can ask of another person. Even so, as the player-coach that I am, all I am asking of my students—“Give me your best.” After viewing the video, I ask the students to see its personal application to the class and beyond.

In light of the class motto, let us look for a moment at the adjective “good.” The word good is derived from “God” who alone is good. Indeed, Jesus Christ said, “There is none good but the Father.”  Good is an adjective, and an adjective has a comparative form and a superlative form; however, with God there is no comparative nor superlative.  No, God has not seen “better” days, and certainly God does not have the “best” day He’s had in a long time in comparison to others. With God every day is a “Good News Day” because “God is good.” Period! Because God is good, “. . . all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28—my favorite verse in the whole Bible) So no matter how bad the situation may appear to be, it will work together for the good.

We proclaim with the Psalmist:

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that puts his trust in Him.”

“For the Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever.”

As the New Year continues to unfold, we can strive to apply the class motto, not only to the classes that we take or teach but to every aspect of our lives. Our underlying motivation should be our desire to express to God our gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ Jesus, His Son. In this case, the least that we can do is give him our best. Like the coach in “Facing the Giants” that’s all that God is asking of us. And this should be our response.

We close with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, as they sing: “Giving My Best to You Lord.”

 

The shepherd and his flock

January 6, 2018

Ezekiel 34--11 jpeg

The verse featured on the home page of the Logos Bible Software on January 6, 2018 portrays God as a shepherd in Ezekiel 34:11, but to comprehend more fully this comparison, let us take a look at the entire passage:

Ezekiel 34:11-16 (New Living Translation):

11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them!

In many of the Psalms written by David, who himself served as a shepherd in the early years of his life, we find references to “the shepherd” as a title for God and Israel as the sheep of His flock

Psalm 80:1 (NLT)

Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock. O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory

This image of God as a shepherd points to his continual direction, guidance and care for His people.

Psalm 95:7 (NLT):

For he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

Psalm 79:13 (NLT):

Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.

Psalm 100:3 (NLT):

Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

In thinking of qualities of “the good shepherd,” one who pursues the lost sheep, provides for, and protects them, Psalm 23 comes to mind. As one of my favorite psalms, I committed it to memory as a youngster and continue to draw strength from these comforting words:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Although the references from the Old Testament reveal God’s compassion as a shepherd who watches over Israel, in the New Testament as well we find that Jesus Christ uses a similar metaphor in John 10:14-15 (NKJV):

I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

1 Peter 5:2 (AMP) speaks of the Church as “the flock of God” and exhorts elders, pastors (another term for shepherd) and spiritual leaders:

shepherd and guide and protect the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not [motivated] for shameful gain, but with wholehearted enthusiasm;

We, thus, see that metaphor of the shepherd and his sheep extends throughout the Scriptures.

We close our discussion with one of the most popular songs of worship related to the figure of the Good Shepherd: the Don Moen classic: “Like a Shepherd He Leads Us”:

 

Miracle of the bread

January 5, 2018

John 6--11

On January 5, 2018 the Verse of the Day according Logos Bible Software comes from John 6:11 rendered here in the Amplified Bible:

Then Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated; the same also with the fish, as much as they wanted.

In John 6, we encounter the followers of Jesus Christ, who witness a series of miracles whereby he feeds multitudes with a few fish and a small amount of bread. Later when they find the Lord on the other side of the Sea of Galilee after they had looked for him in the last place where he had been seen, they ask how they could perform similar miraculous works that they had seen him do:

John 6:26-29 (Amplified Bible):

26 Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, you have been searching for me, not because you saw the signs (attesting miracles), but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures [and leads] to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you; for God the Father has authorized Him and put His seal on Him.” 28 Then they asked Him, “What are we to do, so that we may habitually be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.”

A previous blog post which is excerpted below takes a closer look at this passage and examines the circumstances leading up to the statement that Jesus Christ makes regarding the “works of God”

This discussion brings to mind a teaching by Apostle John Tetsola who talked about the power of consistency in overcoming adverse situations where there is overwhelming lack of provision during seasons of difficulty, in the midst of the storms of life. He covered a number of accounts whereby Jesus performed mighty works in word and in deed. He spoke of some of the miracles of feeding the multitude with the fishes and the loaves, having an abundance of “leftovers” afterwards. That life changing ministry of the Word inspired this poem which is also the title of his teaching:

The Miracle of the Bread

 For every single problem that you have, 

the answer lies in the miracle of the bread.

Apostle John Tetsola

 

We will trust in the Lord and will not be afraid.

When the storms of life arise and seem to prevail,

When our strength is gone, and we seem destined to fail,

In these tough times we recall words that Jesus said:

“O you of little faith, tell me, why did you doubt?”

No matter how midnight-black our nights seem to be,

We still access the power of consistency.

Although the world says no way, God will bring us out.

We learn never to elevate facts over truth

But recall past victories and bring them to our mind

When thousands were fed and abundance left behind

From two fishes and five loaves given by a youth.

In times of lack, we will not doubt but have faith instead

And always remember the miracle of the bread.

Corrine May closes with “Five Loaves and Two Fishes,” a wonderful musical illustration and application of the account from John 6:

And it came to pass: This too shall pass

January 4, 2018

and it came to pass

H. Hobbs recalls hearing an old man who was asked his favorite Bible verse. He replied, “It’s the one that says, ‘And it came to pass.’ ” When questioned why, he answered, “When trouble comes, I just say, ‘And it came to pass.’ ” When trouble comes my way, I make a similar comment and say, “It did not come to stay; it came to pass.”

The words of the Psalmist also come to mind as a comforting reminder:

Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

As believers we all encounter physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges from “Old Man Trouble,” but we must never forget that “if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it,” a statement that was the inspiration for these words of encouragement

In happy moments, praise God.

In difficult moments, seek God.

In quiet moments, worship God.

In painful moments, trust God.

In every moment, thank God.

 

 At All Times

  I will bless the Lord at all times,

 His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

  Psalm 34:1

 

When you see the goodness of God and His mercy,

As you savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods your soul, you must praise God.

 

When gripped by the devices of this transient life

And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,

During these difficult moments, you must seek God.

 

When you long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of your soul, you must worship God.

 

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs your brain

So that you can scarcely scream His name, you must trust God.

 

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,

Through every why and wherefore, for every reason

Every moment you draw breath, you must thank God.

 

As you seek the Lord, ask yourself, “What shall I do?”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

In the midst of the turbulent times in which we live, “perilous times” or times that are difficult to deal with, we must endure hardness and hard times as seasoned soldiers. We find comfort and encouragement from the lyrics to “This Too Shall Pass”:

In the middle of the turbulence surrounding us,

These trying times are so hard to endure

In the middle of what seems to be your darkest hour

Hold fast your heart and be assured

This too shall pass

We conclude as Yolanda Adams reinforces this message with her powerful song:

 

Life’s grandest paradox

January 3, 2018

Romans 11--33

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, we begin with “The Word for the Day for January 3, 2018: Paradox:

Often used in literature and in life, the term is defined as “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.”  Paradoxes are often contrary to what we believe and thus can widen our understanding, as we think more deeply regarding the subject discussed.

Here is paradoxical statement, “Sometimes less is more” or think about this:  “It is only in losing that we really win.” How about “You can save money by spending money.”

The Bible is full of examples of paradox. Consider these words:

You save your life by losing it: “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33).  To be wise, we must become fools. “If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (I Corinthians 3:18). To be first, we must be last. “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).

The term paradox brings also brings to mind God, our all-wise, all knowing Father, whose ways are past finding out.  Romans 11:33 sets forth the incomprehensible greatness of God Almighty:

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways!

In the Book of Job and in the Psalms we find similar sentiments expressed:

Job 5:9 (NLT):

He does great things too marvelous to understand.

He performs countless miracles.  

Job 11:7-9 (NLT)

“Can you solve the mysteries of God?

Can you discover everything about the Almighty?

Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—

And who are you?

It is deeper than the underworld*—

What do you know?

It is broader than the earth

And wider than the sea.

In describing the ways of God, one of the terms used is “unsearchable” which is also translated “indelineable, marked by being impossible to plot, travel, or trace to the end of, therefore, incomprehensible or impossible to understand.”  All in all, it clearly becomes evident that God’s ways are not our ways; indeed, beyond the most profound examples of paradoxes, His ways are past finding out.

The Word for the Day is the inspiration behind this poetic response.

Life’s Grandest Paradox

One word: the power of a single light, 

like a cloven tongue of fire

to shatter the darkest night.

Lonnell E. Johnson

 

No matter how we try, God will not be put in a box,

For we know it is His glory to conceal a matter.

Behold, He brings death to life: the ultimate paradox.

To water wastelands and to refresh the most barren place.

The full extent of God’s power no mortal can define:

The heavy burden of dark sin He unshackles with grace.

Despite the weaknesses of our frail flesh, He makes us strong,

Causing the barren womb to flourish as a fruitful vine;

He fills our mouths with laughter, releasing our joyful song.

With our blinded eyes wide opened, now we can really see:

We are an enigma you can’t figure, an anomaly.

It is what it is and not what it may appears to be.

We are life’s grandest Paradox with a capital P.

We conclude with a musical expression of who God is and what He does, as Gwen Smith offers contemporary song of worship “Unsearchable”: