Remember: God is faithful

January 18, 2019

This morning as I began my day, I thought of the faithfulness of God, as this familiar passage from Lamentations 3:22-23 came to mind:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Refrains from one of my favorite hymns flooded my soul with song:

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever will be
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me

Other scriptures also remind me that God is faithful beginning with Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible:

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

God completes the good work begun in us so that as believers we will be complete in every good work to do His will, as Hebrews 13:20-21 offers this benediction:

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen

Throughout the Scriptures we find that “. . . God is faithful and means what He says.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (AMP) makes know this truth:

God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

This blessing and benediction also remind believers of God’s faithfulness:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (AMP):

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

In Hebrews 6:10 (AMP) we find another reminder that God is faithful and that He is not unjust:

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown for His name in ministering to [the needs of] the saints (God’s people), as you do.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Hebrews 6:10

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

As believers we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another. 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), as the following poetic comments illustrate:

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

All the good deeds you have done may not be extolled
When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.
Some so quickly forget all the good you have done,
And they fail to recall 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 our God knows all things, for He alone sees
Your labor and saves every tear 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.

In reflecting upon God’s faithfulness as expressed in Philippians 1:6 and elsewhere in the Bible, I thought of this song which has come to mean so much to me: “Great Work” offered by Brian Courtney Wilson:

You will prosper but the weapons won’t

January 12, 2019

 

As the spiritual battle rages before us day by day, I recall a recent blog post which encouraged believers to “hold their peace,” even in the midst of the most intense and stressful situations, knowing that the Lord is fighting for us. We closed with a musical reminder that “The battle is not yours: It’s the Lord’s.” Today I recall similar words of encouragement regarding the spiritual attack that intensifies before our eyes. Isaiah 54:17 offers words to strengthen and fortify our faith:

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD.

This verse was the inspiration for the following:

You Will Prosper, but All the Weapons Will Not

 Isaiah 54:17

According to God’s promises, you will prosper:
All your days overflow in goodness and mercy.
Indeed, you will prosper, but the weapons will not.

In every trial, you rise as more than conqueror.
Though the weapons of your warfare you cannot see.
According to God’s promises, you will prosper.

You press toward the new level, as you now enter
And leave a legacy to touch eternity.
Indeed, you will prosper, but the weapons will not.

You set yourself to remain fixed in the center
Of the will of God, striving toward your destiny.
According to God’s promises, you will prosper.

No weapon formed against you can ever alter
Your purpose or change all God has called you to be.
Indeed, you will prosper, but the weapons will not.

You rest in knowing that God’s grace is far greater than sin, for He said, “Their righteousness is of me.”
According to God’s promises, you will prosper:
Indeed, all the weapons formed against you will not.

While meditating on the verse from Isaiah, I also thought of my recently published book Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Chapter Four focuses on the power of prayer which I came to understand and appreciate as a prayer warrior engaged in spiritual warfare after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000. Here is an excerpt sharing some of the lessons I learned:

In his book Crafted Prayer: The Joy of Always Getting Your Prayers Answered, Bible teacher Graham Cooke, shows how to use the Scriptures to construct specific, targeted prayers, addressed to God offered individually as well as corporately. Cook maintains that crafted prayer is designed that those who pray will know “the joy of always getting your prayers answered.” The Bible offers this assurance to those who “pray the Word of God”:

Isaiah 55:11

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing to which I sent it.

I John 5:14-15 also reminds us:

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us: 15And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Crafted prayers are like handcrafted arrows, works of art within themselves, designed to be on target consistently. Jeremiah described the nations who attacked Babylon in this way: “Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; none shall return in vain” (Jeremiah 50:9). Similarly, crafted prayers are exquisitely designed and accurately dispatched to specific targets, and they always hit the mark.

Prayer has been described as a powerful offensive weapon in the spiritual arsenal of believers. The illustration and application of crafted prayer as arrows provides a picture of how prayer can be used offensively with precision to a limited degree. In light of how modern warfare has changed as we have moved further into the 21st Century, a more precise revision of the original analogy would take us from arrows to smart-bombs released with pinpoint laser accuracy.

In an article in the LA Times, Peter Pae writes about lasers and their use in modern warfare:

The word ‘laser’ is an acronym that stands for ‘light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.’ The technology turns atomic particles into light with enough radiation to damage an object it encounters. The range and severity of the damage depend on how much power can be generated and how well the light can be focused on the target.

. . . [L]aser scientists say significant technical challenges recently have been overcome, transforming laser weapons from a laboratory project into a promising part of the U.S. arsenal. With such lasers, a fighter jet could destroy ground targets with pinpoint accuracy, significantly reducing the chance of injuring civilians.

The passage from Ephesians 6:18 also reminds believers of the power of prayer, used as an offensive weapon in the ongoing spiritual battle called life. For the Christian believer putting on the whole armor of God should apply to every situation, but this passage had particular application to my specific situation regarding cancer, especially the last verse of the passage:

Ephesians 6:18:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

Finally, we recognize this truth regarding our spiritual weaponry:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Without question, prayer can be a powerful offensive and defensive weapon. We recognize that “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” as lyrics from Fred Hammond conclude our discussion:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and online. For more details check out https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com.

A New Year: A new way

January 9, 2019

As the New Year continues to unfold, I happened to read a statement from Apostle Eric Warren, and it will serve as the Quote of the Day for January 9, 2019:

God wants to reveal Himself to you and through you in a new way this year! Are you available?

Several thoughts came to mind as I continued to consider deeply the passage from Isaiah: which serves as a launching pad for the New Year.Isaiah 43:16, 18-19:

16 This is what the Lord says,
He who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters,
“Do not remember the former things,
Or ponder the things of the past.
19
“Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even put a road in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

The Message Bible puts it this way:

“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.

Each New Year represents a new beginning, as God reminds us once again that He makes all things new. In thinking about a new beginning or a fresh start, I thought of the power of the Word of the Lord when spoken and believed:

God’s Unfailing Power

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper
than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division
of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 [NKJV]

No word of God spoken shall be devoid of power
But shall prosper in the thing to which it is sent,
Beyond all past limits, to its farthest extent
And thus abound in fruit as seed of the sower,
Returning four-fold measure to the one who lent.
It is impossible not to fulfill God’s will,
Once spoken and thus declared that the Lord might show
The wonders of His amazing ways and instill
In us His unfailing power that we might know
That in the beginning God spoke, and it was so.
Sharper than a two-edged sword, cutting as a knife,
The word is quick to energize and encompass
The past, present and future, merging to bring forth life.
While yet in our mouths, it has come already come to pass.

The question raised at the end of the Quote of the Day brought to mind this response expressed in one of my all-time favorite Gospel songs: “Lord, I’m Available to You”:

 

Walk in love, as Christ also loved us

January 7, 2019

Taken from Ephesians 5:1-2, the Verse of the Day for January 7, 2019, offers this exhortation from the New American Bible—Revised Edition:

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma…

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].
2 and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.

The Verse of the Day speaks of being followers or imitators of God and 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.”
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.

Here is another expression related to our discussion of walking in love:

Also

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,
and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice
to God for a sweet-smelling savor

Ephesians 5:2

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.

Elevation Worship offers “Walk in Love” inspired by Ephesians 5:1-2 and other verses:

 

Thinking about Day Four of Creation on January 4

January 4, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

The number four relates to creation as noted on Day 4 in Genesis.

On the 4th day of the first month in the New Year, I happened to think of a statement a dear friend used to make regarding the Lord God Almighty when it comes to arranging life in all of its beauty: “God is very creative.” I also recall a previous blog entry re-posted today: Thoughts about the 4th Day of Creation on January 4, 2019.
Biblical scholar and prolific writer, E.W. Bullinger, discusses various aspects of the number 4 in his book Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance:

FOUR

Now the number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelation of God. . . namely, His creative works. He is known by the things that are seen. Hence the written revelation commences with the words, “In-the-beginning God CREATED.” Creation is, therefore, the next thing—the fourth thing, and the number four always has reference to all that is created. It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created. . . .

The fourth day saw the material creation finished (for on the fifth and sixth days it was only the furnishing and peopling of the earth with living creatures). The sun, moon, and stars completed the work, and they were to give light upon the earth which had been created and to rule over the day and over the night

Genesis 1:14-19.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.

This painting by Aaron Douglas accompanied “The Creation” in James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: 7 Negro Sermons in Verse.

Renowned African American poet, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), offers a vivid description of Genesis in “The Creation” taken from God’s Trombones, 7 Negro Sermons in Verse, one of his most celebrated works. This opening excerpt describes the fourth day:

And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
and flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

For a powerful rendition of the entire poem recited by Whitley Phipps, click here.

Johnson and Johnson

As a practicing poet, I have been notably influenced by James Weldon Johnson, with whom I have much in common. In addition to being poets with the same last name, we have both taught literature at historically Black institutions, and both of us have been involved in careers outside of teaching, but most remarkably we both share the same birthday, June 17. I am not exactly sure what all of this means. That is perhaps the topic of another conversation.

A few years ago I recall having read about newly discovered rings around Saturn and other phenomena in outer space that caused me to see and appreciate the magnitude of the creative power of God in a new way. This information is staggering in light of the demonstrated power of God manifested through the Spoken Word of God recorded in Genesis where the account of the fourth day indicates, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. . .” Then almost as a modest aside, we learn that “He made the stars also”: All the starry hosts with its millions upon millions of stars God made, each of which He numbered and called by name. That particular passage from Genesis inspired the following poem:

“. . . He Made the Stars Also”
Genesis 1:16

Seventy thousand million million million stars
Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;
Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars:
Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.

Ten times more than grains of sand that cover the earth;
Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also.
Each star formed and fashioned and called by name at birth.
The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.

Sparkling the night with lights, God made the stars also:
Witness to Abraham of what was yet to be.
The heavens declare God’s glory that men might know.
As the stars and grains of sand, so shall your seed be.

All creation unified by a single bond.
Galaxies that span far beyond Saturn and Mars
Express the breadth of God’s love, reaching far beyond
Seventy thousand million million million stars.

On the fourth day of the New Year, we close with Karen Clark Sheard offering a musical interpretation of Psalm 19:1: “The Heavens Are Telling”

To number our days

January 2, 2019

As the New Year continues to unfold, the Verse of the Day for January 2, 2019 offers sound advice from the Psalmist:

Psalm 90:12 (New American Bible Revised Edition):

Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Here is the more familiar expression from the King James Version:

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Proverbs 4:7 also reminds us that

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

In thinking about applying wisdom to our lives, we must recognize that wisdom is not a static entity; it is not a trophy to be displayed with pride, but wisdom connotes action; it is something that must be applied.

The Psalmist further states, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when will you come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart (Psalm 101:2).

Wisdom is said to be the application of knowledge. We, thus, see that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding are intertwined as a three-fold cord. Furthermore, in discussing wisdom, we see that the Book of James identifies two sources of wisdom:

James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

In the Book of Proverbs we find two additional references to a synonymous phrase for “applying our hearts unto wisdom,” and they are “walking in wisdom” or “to walk as the wise”:

Proverbs 13:20

He who walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 28:26

He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walks wisely, he shall be delivered.

Two of the most enlightening scriptures regarding walking in wisdom occur in the New Testament:

Ephesians 5:15

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

To walk circumspectly, means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”

Colossians 4:5 instructs believers to

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”

The exhortation to number our days begins with today, as we learn to take one day at a time. The lyrics to the song “Day by Day” from the musical Godspell, based on the Gospel of Matthew, offer this reminder:

Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

Walking in wisdom also involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of our purpose in God. Here is another reminder to heed the words of the Psalmist in the Verse of the Day:

To Number Our Days

Psalm 90:12

To number our days we must ascend to this place
To view another day beyond our three score years
Symbolic sum of God’s divinely ordered grace,
Flowing to each grateful heart that still perseveres.
From this summit of sweeping vistas now we see
The Great Divide where streams of understanding flow,
Unfolding golden days beyond our jubilee.
Even as we are known, so may we also know
The fullness of the love of God in word and deed:
This passion burns within as an enduring flame.
With ears near to the lips of God may we still heed
The call heard long ago when He first called our name.
Let us walk with wisdom and seek to know His ways
As we continue to learn to number our days.

We close with the Family Radio Broadcasting offering a musical reminder: “Teach Us to Number our Days.”

A new thing in the New Year

December 31, 2018

As we conclude another year, the Verse of the Day for December 31, 2018 reveals the creative power of God Almighty who declares:

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 (NIV):

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

We reflect upon blessings of the past year with gratitude and anticipate even greater blessings awaiting us in the coming year, as each New Year represents a fresh start, as God reminds us once again that He makes all things new. As we considered deeply the concept of a new beginning or another chance, think about these simple lyrics:

It’s new, new, new–brand new.
God is doing a new thing.
Lift your voice and sing His praise.
Bless the Lord and glorify His name.
It’s new, new, new–fresh as the morning dew.
God is doing a new thing in our midst.

If we do not faint, we shall reap in due season.
Open your eyes and see, it’s a brand new day.
God is pouring out His spirit in this new season.
Open your ears to hear what the Spirit has to say.

It’s new, new, new–brand new.
God is doing a new thing.
Lift your voice and sing His praise.
Bless the Lord and glorify His name.
It’s new, new, new–fresh as the morning dew.
God is doing a new thing in our midst.

As we embark upon this new season unfolding before us, we pause to reflect upon God’s goodness and mercy that sustained us through the most challenging circumstances of the past year. We also recognize that in the coming year we may encounter even more challenges and more difficult situations that seem impossible to resolve on our own. We are assured that if God triumphantly came through on our behalf before, He can and will do it again. During this time we also savor the present reality that in all our circumstances “we conquer more and more.” Finally, we look forward even greater triumphs in the days ahead, as we move from faith to faith, glory to glory, and victory to victory. Here is a word of encouragement that we all might be

Strengthened for the Journey

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,
Not with longing to relive bygone days.
Though some were fine, such moments cannot last
A lifetime. The budding rose never stays
The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.
Let us linger to absorb the essence
Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase
Of growth we note within our lifetime since
We first began the quest toward excellence.
Let us look ahead with vision and strive
Toward greater goals, for each day we commence
To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.
May we see clearly where our paths have led
And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

Michael John Poirier offers a song of encouragement to remind us that the Lord provides “Strength for the Journey.”

Still perfecting the art of patience

December 28, 2018

A recent blog entry examined a passage from James 1:2-4 which ended by focusing on patience. The discussion of this timeless topic also brought to mind my newly published book: Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 which opens with this statement from Brian Adams:

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.ing

Throughout the entire healing process of my encounter with prostate cancer, I have been learning to perfect the art of patience by waiting on the Lord. The closing verses of my favorite psalm also 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 has been translated to mean 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 the 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 an 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 in 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 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 of 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.

After being introduced to Graham Cooke and his book on crafted prayer, I recall reading a statement he made regarding prayer and patience, part of the introduction to the psalm that closes Chapter 8—

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 traveled 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
We will embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We close with encouraging from John Waller:
“While I’m Waiting”:

Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs is now available wherever books are sold and online. For more details check out https://lonnelledwardjohnson.com.

Psalm 103:1-2: Reading with a new mindset

December 27, 2018

The Verse of the Day for December 27, 2018 comes from Psalm 103:1-2, one of my favorite psalms posted in its entirety:

Psalm 103

[A Psalm] of David—Amplified Bible]

1 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—
3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy;
5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]!
6 The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness.
9 He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge.
10 He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe].
14 For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children—
18 To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts].
19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word.
21 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, all you His hosts, you His ministers who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion; bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul!

Although I had previously read the entire psalm many times, this morning’s reading impacted me deeply as I viewed the passage with a new mindset expressed in this original psalm with the Verse of the Day as its introduction:

A New Mindset

1 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not [one of] all His benefits—

Psalm 103:1-2 (Amplified Bible)

That you called us and chose us, may we never forget.
In response we vow to serve and honor the Lord.
Like David, we declare we will not forget your Word.
Transformed into the image of Christ with a new mindset,
Like Jacob, we walk by faith despite our circumstance.
Just as the Good Shepherd richly provides for his flock,
So you will feed us with sweet honey flowing from the rock,
For God is faithful to provide yet another chance
To demonstrate once more the power of God to change.
Though we may not see them, we father countless hosts of sons,
Future heirs of Kingdom salvation, His chosen ones:
Endless influence only the hand of God could arrange.
We shall soar to new heights far beyond where we have been
And behold our true selves—as giants among mighty men.

We close with a musical rendering of Psalm 103 by Zach Jones:

Simeon’s song and our new song

December 26, 2018

In the blog entry for December 26, 2018, we encounter an illustration of God’s perfect timing in an occurrence taking place eight days after the birth of Jesus Christ, as recorded at the end of chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke. Here we find a remarkable man who comes into the Temple in Jerusalem at the same time as Mary and Joseph, who are bringing the newly born Christ-child to be circumcised, according to customs described in Luke 2:22-24 (AMP):

22 And when the time for their purification came [that is, the mother’s purification and the baby’s dedication] according to the Law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord [set apart as the Firstborn] 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy [set apart and dedicated] to the Lord)” 24 and [they came also] to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord [to be appropriate for a family of modest means], “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

The passage goes on to relate more information regarding Simeon, who offers a magnificent prophetic declaration in response to what he has seen:

Luke 2:25-32 (AMP):

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout [carefully observing the divine Law], and looking for the Consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). 27 Prompted by the Spirit, he came into the temple [enclosure]; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him the custom required by the Law, 28 Simeon took Him into his arms, and blessed and praised and thanked God, and said,
29
“Now, Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to leave [this world] in peace,
According to Your word;
30
For my eyes have seen Your Salvation,
31
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32

A Light for revelation to the Gentiles [to disclose what was previously unknown],

Sometimes referred to as “Nunc Dimittis,” translated from the Latin phrase meaning “you can now dismiss,” Simeon’s psalm of praise has been set to music by Michael Card and other composers. Indeed, Simeon was a witness to the Salvation of the all nations revealed in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. This amazing bond-servant of the Lord received personal assurance that he would not die until he had seen this promise fulfilled in “the Lord’s Messiah, Lord’s Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).” Being led by the Spirit of God, Simeon was in the right place at right time, and he sang his “swan song” before he departed from this life.

In a similar manner, our heart’s desire is to witness the Return of Jesus Christ in the same way that those who witnessed his life on earth, his death, burial and resurrection. We who are alive and remain will also see the Lord return in same way that believers saw him ascend to his Father.

Thinking of Simeon’s song also inspired this new song:

Our Rendezvous with Destiny

As Simeon sang, so our new song resounds in beauty:

The return of Christ–our rendezvous with destiny.

The Daystar shall arise, even as we watch and wait.

Though circumstances may hinder, we shall not be late,

But we shall behold the unfolding of this mystery.

 

Past, present and future all merge in eternity

Before the Lamb of God, in all of His glory,

Transformed into this transcendent and perfected state:

Our rendezvous with destiny.

 

In the new heaven and earth where we find no more sea,

Where we shall all know the fullness of God’s sovereignty

And shall receive our reward, our heavenly estate.

But until then we fill our lamps with oil and await

As the Savior shall descend to gather you and me

When we shall savor God’s love for all eternity:

Our rendezvous with destiny.

Sandi Patti reminds us of the glorious day of Christ’s Return when “We Shall Behold Him”: