Coming through stronger

May 23, 2018

James 1--2-3

In a challenging message delivered during a midweek Bible study called “Hour of Power,” Bishop Charles Mellette encouraged the congregation at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC that as we face trials on every hand, we are “Coming through Stronger.” In unfolding the opening verses of James 1:2-4, he reminded us that we will encounter various trials; however, “The problem is not the problem but our perception of the problem.”

He went on to explain what he meant by trials which are the “trying, testing, the putting to the proof of something.” They are experimental actions applied in order to obtain results. Trials involve being subjected to intense and challenging times that test our motives and values. In the same way that God sent the Children of Israel through the wilderness for an extended period of time in order to test or to prove what was in their hearts, the trials we face prepare us for the next level of service to God. He went on to say, “You will shorten your season of testing or trials if you will only allow your trials to make you stronger.”

The time of ministry in the Word of God brought to mind a previous blog post based on a similar teaching by Bishop Mellette discussing the same passage from James 1:2-4, rendered here in the New Living Translation:

Faith and Endurance

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Included in that teaching was the whole idea of trials as tests, the inspiration behind this poem written from the perspective of a “student/teacher”

All Tests

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and

Challenges come at you from all sides.” [The Message]

 James 1:2

 

With zeal we make our calling and election sure,

As we attempt to complete yet another test.

As ever eager students, we will do our best.

You promised good to us, your Word our hope secure.

Search us and know us—discern that our motives are pure.

Our souls now anchored in hope; in You we find rest.

You are our light, even when times seem their darkest.

Just as a patient father seeks to reassure

Children, so the Master Teacher shows His design:

All tests are formed not to punish but to refine.

Despite shortcomings and failures that we have made,

You are gracious and generous each time You grade.

Knowing this, trials we face we resist no longer.

This too shall pass, as we are coming through stronger.

The message concluded with a reminder of the blessings and benefits of trials which are a way of life for every believer. Trials forge humility and give birth to perseverance. Indeed, we have the capacity to persevere to see God’s promises come to pass in our lives.

Hebrews 10:36 also offers this reminder in the New Living Translation:

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Knowing this, we can count it all joy when we encounter various fiery trials that test our faith and build patient endurance.

We close with this scripture memory song based on James 1:2-4:

Paradox: Free to serve

May 22, 2018

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2018 brings to mind one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Bible, an extraordinary paradox that continues to baffle many of those who encounter the duality of being free yet choosing to serve, the notable distinction between “bond and free.” One of the scriptures that highlights the paradox of being free yet choosing to serve is found in Galatians 5:13 (NKJV):

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

In discussing the two concepts of freedom and serving one another, one encounters a most provocative portrayal translated from the Greek word doulos, meaning “servant”, “bond servant,” or “bond-slave,” or “slave.” In fact, the verb “to serve” in Galatians 5:13 is derived from the same Greek word and has been translated “to be a slave, to serve or render service or serving.”

Paul reiterates the message that though as a believer he is free in Christ, yet he chooses to serve others:

1 Corinthians 9:19 (AMP):

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].

As believers the state or condition whereby we have been called to salvation is liberty or freedom: freedom from the yoke of bondage, freedom from the chains that bind us in sin. We are, however, not to use our freedom as an occasion for the flesh or as an excuse or pretext for indulging our selfish desires. Instead, we are to be servants, those bound by love to serve one another.

In the midst of our times that preclude a super-abundant harvest season, we must learn

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

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy that fulfills 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
Is shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind once more the significance of the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond-slave” translated from the previously mentioned Greek term “doulos.” The portrayal of this Biblical figure has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America. In the early 1970s or thereabout, I was introduced to the term which provided the original inspiration for an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave” which has been re-posted along with poetry and music videos related to the term. Click here to access a link to that entry that might be of interest.

Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” unforgettable sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who unfolds the beauty and simplicity in the words “To serve.”

We conclude with Frontline Music offering a Galatians Meditation based on Galatians 5:13-15 which includes the Verse of the Day:

Being like-minded with a new mindset

May 20, 2018

Romans 15--5-6

The Verse of the Day for May 20, 2018 comes Romans 15:5-6 in the New Living Translation:

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The New King James Version renders the passage this way:

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we find a verse that encourages believers to be “likeminded,” but exactly what does that mean?  In addition to its use in Romans 15:5, the phrase is used in Philippians 2:2 (NKJV):

Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

In these two instances the expression is derived from a compound word in the Greek: “autophroneo.” Phroneo, as a verb, means to think, “to be minded in a certain way, attitude, disposition of mind.” The prefix “auto” means “the same.” The Jubilee Bible translates the phrase “to be unanimous among yourselves.”

The phrase “likeminded,” however, is used as an adjective in Philippians 2:20 where Paul describes his relationship with his “spiritual son,” Timothy:

For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

Here the term is translated from another compound word: “isopsuchos” with the prefix “isos” meaning “the same” and “psuchos” meaning “soul” In other words, Paul is saying that he and Timothy are “equal souled.”

Verse 6 of Romans 15 exhorts the followers of Christ to be unified with “one mind and with one mouth glorify God. . . .” The one mind that Christians should have is “the mind of Christ” referred to in Philippians 2:5 in the Amplified Bible which offers this reminder:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

The Scriptures also encourage us to put on the mind of Christ, to put off the old and put on the new. We are not to be conformed to the world, nor should we think as the world thinks, but the Word of God exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we, as believers, keep our minds focused or stayed on the Lord, we are kept in perfect peace. Although we endeavor to remain consistent in our efforts to let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus, our thoughts stray from time to time. This poetic response makes our desire to be transformed as we change our thinking patterns with:

A New Mindset

Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love,

being of one accord, of one mind.

Philippians 2:2 (NKJV)

                   

That you called us and chose us, may we never forget.

In response we vow to serve and honor the Lord,

As we form new thought patterns according to your Word,

Transformed into the image of Christ with a new mindset.

Determined, we walk by faith despite our circumstance.

With one mind and with one mouth we give God the glory

And sing of amazing grace as we tell our story.

For God is faithful to provide yet another chance

To once more demonstrate the power of God to change.

The Spirit of the living God restores, makes all things new

That our lives may truly speak in all we say and do

With boundless potential that only God could arrange.

Walking into the fullness of Christ with no regret,

We harmonize our thoughts toward all with this new mindset.

Kim and Kathy Burrell close with this  exhortation: “Let this Mind Be in You”

Words of wisdom: A New Anointing

May 19, 2018

The Verse of the Day for May 19, 2013 provides a portrait of godly wisdom found in James 3:17-18 in the New International Version

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

This passage brings to mind a previous series of blog posts: “Words of Wisdom”—a daily dose of “words to the wise,” poetically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

In reflecting upon wisdom and looking over some of the poetry that I had written with references to wisdom, I came across a journal entry written over ten years ago where I discussed the term “apothecary” which is part of the name used for my blog. Here is an excerpt:

“[I am] reading Exodus 25: a discussion of the recipe given to Moses to prepare the holy anointing oil for the tabernacle, to be “compounded after the art of the apothecary.” I am moved to tears as I read the passage and think of the years I spent as a pharmacist; indeed, I was endeavoring to follow recipes “to compound after the art of the apothecary.” Only within the last three or four years have I come to realize the connection between the natural and the spiritual within the context of my “compounding after the art of the apothecary,” both in terms of my bi-vocational endeavors. The phrase, of course, is also the title of a poem “After the Art of the Apothecary.”

The poetic entry for today is “A New Anointing” with a reference to the anointing oil that I mention in the journal excerpt.

A New Anointing

But my horn you have exalted
like a wild ox; I have been
anointed with fresh oil.

Psalm 92:10

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

We are still overwhelmed, utterly astounded
When we recall all that the Lord has done and stand
In this place of grace where sin had once abounded.
Yielded and still, we submit to all that He has planned.
Here we receive a new anointing compounded
Still after the art of the apothecary.
Fragrant blessings caress all that we do and say,
As we touch the realm of the extraordinary.
We must walk in wisdom and not be confounded
By devilish devices that distract and dismay.
We look to God who shall bless and refresh our soul,
As He pours this precious ointment upon our head
That we might be sanctified, preserved and made whole
And trade sorrow for the oil of gladness instead.
Trusting in God’s will is never disappointing,
As we receive from on high this new anointing.

David Baroni gives us a spirited rendition of “A New Anointing,” a perfect musical selection for today’s blog entry, more “Good Medicine” placed on the shelves of Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.

Three poems from Hebrews 6

May 18, 2018

Recently a blog entry featured three poems focusing on a single theme which I called a “Triptych on the Will of God.” The entry went on to explain the term “triptych” as “a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.” In this case, the three poems, two original works and a third by an anonymous author, all touched upon “The Will of God.” Most remarkably, I looked closely at the Verse of the Day for May 18, 2018, and I recalled another “Triptych from Hebrews 6” begin with verse 10:

Hebrews 6:10

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

As believers we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another, but we must remember this: Our efforts may not always be recognized nor appreciated. Those whom we serve in love may not always remember what we say and do, but we are assured that God never forgets. Not only is God, our Father, faithful and just, but He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

The Verse of the Day also inspired this response:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,
which you have shown toward his name,
in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

The good deeds that you have done may not be extolled
When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.
Some quickly forget all the good that you have done
And fail to recall that you were the only one
To answer the call, seek the Lord, and intercede.
Time after time you were the one to meet the need.
When others were busy and chose to walk away,
You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.
In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,
Recall that God knows all things, for He alone sees
Your labor and saves all the tears that you have shed.
Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,
And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.
As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:
Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

Hebrews 6:11 goes on to offer these words of encouragement:

11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.

Believers are encouraged to demonstrate or put forth the same diligent effort that will be reward if we do not faint. The Scriptures also remind us to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Hebrews 6:11 along with lyrics from the traditional gospel song heard countless times in my formative years, “We’ve Come this Far by Faith,” introduce the second piece in the “triptych”:

This Far by Faith

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence

to the full assurance of hope until the end,

“We have come this far by faith.”

Traditional Black Gospel Song

 

Though we see truth, there is the rest of the story,
As we strive to be all that God called us to be,
Created to be to the praise of His glory,
We walk by faith and not by what we can see.
We now rise above to view life from God’s grand scope:
Each day our faith will increase and not diminish.
With diligence to the full assurance of hope,
We will complete our course, striving toward the finish.
A great cloud of witnesses surround us to cheer
Us on from faith to faith and victory to victory.
The mighty hand of our gracious God brought us here,
For such a time as this—behold our destiny.
As we press toward the mark, we must not lose our gait.
Lyrics remind us “We have come this far by faith.”

In a previous blog post on patience as a fruit of the spirit that seemed to be in season during this season of my life, I thought of apples as I was discussing the reference to the farmer waiting patiently for the harvest described in James chapter 5. In my research on apples and harvesting them in their season, most remarkably, I also came across an endorsement from someone who had sampled apples from, of all places, “Farmer Johnson Apple Orchards” in Washington State.

Just as apples were at that time in season in the natural at “Farmer Johnson’s Apple Orchards”, so in the spirit, patience is the fruit I am endeavoring to perfect in this my season. Moreover, I personally identify with “Farmer Johnson,” as revealed in the third poem of the “triptych” from Hebrews 6:12:

Farmer Johnson

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them

who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:12

 

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Lyrics by Joseph H. Gilmore

 

Farmer Johnson owns orchards in Washington State.
His apples are renowned and said to be the best.
As scriptures remind us to labor and to rest,
This Farmer Johnson is patient and learns to wait
For the bountiful fruit of his harvest season.
Patience now abounds to complete and perfect me,
As I walk by faith, despite all that I may see.
I assess my times and unfold the real reason
For all the trials and seeming setbacks that came.
At times I felt as though being torn asunder
But like Job, I still abide and bear up under.
God yet delivers those who call upon His name.
Committed to go wherever the Lord shall send,
A faithful follower, I endure to the end.

As we close the “Triptych from Hebrews 6,” we are strengthened and reassured by the lyrics from the hymn composed by Charles Gabriel: “Sweet is the promise. I will not forget thee.”

 

Depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

May 17, 2018

Romans 11--33-36

A recent blog post discussed the indescribable vastness of God, the creator of the universe as revealed in the final section of Romans 11 which is designated as a doxology or hymn of praise. The Verse of the Day for May 17, 2018 is opening verse of this passage found in Romans 11:33-36 in the New International Version:

[Doxology] Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it would be paid back to him? 36 For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen.

God is to be praised and glorified, for He is the fountain of all wisdom and life-source of all knowledge. Because of the frailty of our flesh, we acknowledge our need for the wisdom of God and the knowledge of God to fulfill His will in our lives.

The passage from Romans 11:33-36 brings to mind the relationship between the wisdom and knowledge of God:

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 and destined to walk upright,

Your beloved ones, whose heart 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.

 

We concludes with Romans 11:33-36 Song “Oh, The Depths of the Riches” (Christian Praise Worship w/ Lyrics)

Song of the Lord: Mighty to save

May 16, 2018


The Verse of the Day for May 16, 2018 offers a strong exhortation found in Zephaniah 3:17 in the Amplified Bible:

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

The first part of the verse describes the Lord our God as “A Warrior who saves” and brings to mind a similar picture found in Jeremiah 20-11-12 in the New International Version:

But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.

12 LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous
and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

This passage was also the inspiration behind this portrayal of God,  as the Almighty One:

Mighty Warrior

The LORD will march out like a mighty man,

like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;

with a shout he will raise the battle cry

and will triumph over his enemies.

Isaiah 42:13 (NIV)

 

Mighty Warrior leads the charge into victory.

When we face each foe, Adonai begins to laugh.

As the Man of War, He destroys each enemy,

For the Lord of Hosts arises on our behalf.

In the midst of battle He bears His arm and rides

Upon all the fiery chariots of the wind.

He surrounds with power and protects on all sides,

As the ungodly fall and the righteous ascend.

The Almighty Judge rises to discern each heart.

He shakes the heavens and loosens all strongholds

And then probes the depths of truth in the inner part,

As the panoply of total victory unfolds.

Undefeated Super-conqueror—none superior:

The Master of Breakthrough is our Mighty Warrior.

A previous blog post also commented on Zephaniah 3:17, with this original psalm which also provides words of comfort and assurance:

Song of the Lord

The LORD your God in your midst;
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you with His love;
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

Be well assured that the Lord, your God, in your midst is mighty;
He has always been there, even in times when you could not see.
His strength never fails—His love prevails through all eternity.

Have no fear, only persevere. Rest in Him, for He will save.
To know the fullness of His great love, look at all that He gave.
Now you are free, released you from every snare that seeks to enslave.

Know your triumphant end; He will rejoice over you with joy.
Your gracious Father has given all things richly to enjoy.
Recall the Word planted in your heart as a young or boy.

He will complete what He began, and He will rest in His love.
Cast off all your cares and set your affection on things above,
He is able to do above all that you can ask or think of.

Weep no more, but know that He will joy over you with singing.
Celebrate a bountiful harvest with sheaves you are bringing.
Drink from the fountain where unspeakable joy is springing.

Listen to the Song of the Lord. . .

We close with a song inspired by Zephaniah 3:17, written at and for Camp Barnabas, a camp a for special needs individuals.

You cannot understand the activity of God

May 15, 2018

Ecclesiastes 11-5

The Verse of the Day for May 15, 2018 is found in Ecclesiastes 11:5 in the New Living Translation:

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

This verse reminds us that God, the creator of the universe, is far beyond our ability to comprehend. In thinking about this verse, the word “unsearchable” comes to mind, a term discussed in previous blog post that is revised and re-posted here:

Romans 11:33 (AMP) also 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!

Here is the rendering in the New International Version:

[Doxology] Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

The final section of Romans 11 is designated as a doxology or hymn of praise. Derived from two Greek words, doxa, meaning “glory” and legein, meaning “to speak,” Romans 11:33-36 give praise to the indescribable virtues of God:

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! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it would be paid back to him? 36 For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen.

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.

The Psalmist also notes the incomprehensible nature of the Creator in Psalm 139:1-6 9 (NLT)

O Lord, you have examined my heart

And know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel

And when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say

Even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

Too great for me to us to understand!

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, His ways are far past finding out.

Gwen Smith offers another contemporary song of worship “Unsearchable”:

Search me O God: in the natural and in the spiritual

May 14, 2018

The Verse of the Day for May 14, 2018 comes from Psalm 139:13-14 in the Amplified Bible:

For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

My forthcoming book Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror,  discusses this passage in a blog entry posted during a time when I was recently hospitalized. This particular post focused on the “Word of the Day” which turned out to be “research,” whose root is “search”, a term related to what God continually does to the human heart.

Research, in its most literal sense, means to “re-search” or to “search again.” God, our Father, as the ultimate “Researcher” conducts this grand “research project” whose primary purpose is for the advancement of human knowledge about God, that we might “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” In the process we discover, interpret, and develop knowledge, which we apply as we grow in our understanding of the Creator and His vast universe. I recall this poem that centers on “searching” or “trying,” as in examining closely and scrutinizing in detail in order to render some kind of assessment or evaluation. Introducing the work is a section of Scripture from Romans 8:27-28 (NKJV):

27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

God Searches

Romans 8:27-28

God searches the depths of each soul and probes each heart,
To uncover each motive and extract the pure,
Discarding dross, thus perfecting the refiner’s art.
The word of prophecy stands as even more sure,
The touchstone to measure the essence of all life.
All else shall fail, but the Word shall ever inspire.
This two-edged sword, sharper than a finely honed knife–
Living, powerful, piercing each thought and desire,
Penetrating soul and spirit, joints and marrow–
Probing deepest emotions, dispelling the dark.
Life-giving and powerful, swift as an arrow
That finds its target and that always hits its mark
Reaching its own perfection, to its fullest extent,
The Word of God prospers wherever it is sent.

In thinking about God as “the ultimate researcher,” the passage from Psalm 139 also comes to mind. The Psalmist opens with recognizing that God knows all about us. Verses 13-16 reveal the intricate and delicate complexity of His matchless creation:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

In some Hebrew texts, the reference to the “inward parts” or “inmost being” in verse 13 has been literally translated “kidneys”, the seat of inner human desires. Indeed, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Most amazingly, during this time I was also a patient undergoing a cystoscopy, an example of a deep internal examination of parts of the urinary tract. This surgical procedure allows the urologist to examine the lining of the bladder and the urethra by means of a device equipped with a camera and a light inserted into the urethra. Such advances in medical technology make possible the deep probing of our “inward parts” in the natural.

Spiritually speaking, all of Psalm 139 can be viewed as an invitation to deepest, divine inspection, as the celebrated psalm closes with this heartfelt request:

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT} :

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

This passage, in part, also inspired this original psalm, an expression of my innermost heart’s desire during this very trying time:

Search Me: A Song for You

“I know your image of me is what I hope to be
If I’ve treated you unkindly, can’t you see
That there’s no one more important to me.
Oh, won’t you please look through me. . . “

“A Song for You”–Leon Russell

Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139: 23-24

The whole of my life unfolds as an open book,
Known and read by all with eyes to see, page by page.
As you read each line, take an even closer look,
Probe the depths of each of my thoughts, as you engage
The text, searching my heart for its deepest meaning.
Your searching and knowing is the ultimate scan.
As you discern my essence, my inmost being,
I will align myself according to your plan.
Beyond scans, scopes, devices to diagnose,
You see and assess any abnormality.
In these times of watchful waiting, you draw me close:
Despite what tests reveal, you will heal and deliver me.
At times I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do,
“But we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song to you.”

Hillsong offers a most moving rendition of “Search Me O God,” an appropriate musical accompaniment to close today’s blog entry:

Search me: in the natural and in the spiritual

May 13, 2018

Psalm 139--3-14The Verse of the Day for May 14, 2018 comes from Psalm 139:13-14 in the Amplified Bible:

For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

In my forthcoming book Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror, I discuss this passage in a blog entry posted during a time when I was recently hospitalized. This particular post focused on the “Word of the Day” which turned out to be “research,” whose root is “search”, a term related to what God continually does to the human heart.

Research, in its most literal sense, means to “re-search” or to “search again. God, our Father, as the ultimate “Researcher” conducts this grand “research project” whose primary purpose is for the advancement of human knowledge about God, that we might “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” In the process we discover, interpret, and develop knowledge, which we apply as we grow in our understanding of the Creator and His vast universe. I recall this poem that centers on “searching” or “trying,” as in examining closely and scrutinizing in detail in order to render some kind of assessment or evaluation. Introducing the work is a section of Scripture from Romans 8:27-28 (NKJV):

27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

God Searches

Romans 8:27-28

God searches the depths of each soul and probes each heart,
To uncover each motive and extract the pure,
Discarding dross, thus perfecting the refiner’s art.
The word of prophecy stands as even more sure,
The touchstone to measure the essence of all life.
All else shall fail, but the Word shall ever inspire.
This two-edged sword, sharper than a finely honed knife–
Living, powerful, piercing each thought and desire,
Penetrating soul and spirit, joints and marrow–
Probing deepest emotions, dispelling the dark.
Life-giving and powerful, swift as an arrow
That finds its target and that always hits its mark
Reaching its own perfection, to its fullest extent,
The Word of God prospers wherever it is sent.

In thinking about God as “the ultimate researcher,” the passage from Psalm 139 also comes to mind. The Psalmist opens with recognizing that God knows all about us. Verses 13-16 reveal the intricate and delicate complexity of His matchless creation:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

In some Hebrew texts, the reference to the “inward parts” or “inmost being” in verse 13 has been literally translated “kidneys”, the seat of inner human desires. Indeed, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Most amazingly, during this time I was also a patient undergoing a cystoscopy, an example of a deep internal examination of parts of the urinary tract. This surgical procedure allows the urologist to examine the lining of the bladder and the urethra by means of a device equipped with a camera and a light inserted into the urethra. Such advances in medical technology make possible the deep probing of our “inward parts” in the natural.

Spiritually speaking, all of Psalm 139 can be viewed as an invitation to deepest, divine inspection, as the celebrated psalm closes with this heartfelt request:

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT} :

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

This passage, in part, also inspired this original psalm, an expression of my innermost heart’s desire during this very trying time:

Search Me: A Song for You

“I know your image of me is what I hope to be
If I’ve treated you unkindly, can’t you see
That there’s no one more important to me.
Oh, won’t you please look through me. . . “
“A Song for You”–Leon Russell

Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139: 23-24

The whole of my life unfolds as an open book,
Known and read by all with eyes to see, page by page.
As you read each line, take an even closer look,
Probe the depths of each of my thoughts, as you engage
The text, searching my heart for its deepest meaning.
Your searching and knowing is the ultimate scan.
As you discern my essence, my inmost being,
I will align myself according to your plan.
Beyond scans, scopes, devices to diagnose,
You see and assess any abnormality.
In these times of watchful waiting, you draw me close:
Despite what tests reveal, you will heal and deliver me.
At times I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do,
“But we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song to you.”

Hillsong offers a moving rendition of “Search Me O God,” an appropriate musical accompaniment to close today’s blog entry: