Crafted prayer for this hour that we might be strengthened in the Lord

March 26, 2020

Psalm 18_1--3

As believers across the globe are calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ during these intense times that challenge us to the depths of our souls, I thought of this blog entry which is modified and re-posted here. Psalm 18:1-2 is a is an expression of David’s calling upon the Lord, and it reflects the cry of our hearts also:

Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT)

[Psalm 18] [For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:] I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

In this passage we find two references to the strength that comes from God Almighty: “O Lord, my strength” and “my God, my strength.” As I reflected upon this passage, I recall a “crafted prayer” composed as a petition to God that, as believers, we might be strengthened in the Lord.

Developed by Graham Cooke, the concept of “crafted prayer” involves using the Scriptures to construct specific, targeted prayers, addressed to God. Such prayers may be expressed individually as well as corporately. In his book Crafted Prayer, Cooke reveals that those who “pray the Bible” or use the Scriptures as the basis for their prayers will experience “the joy of always getting your prayers answered.”

A Crafted Prayer that We Might Be Strengthened in the Lord, Our God

O God, you have been our help in ages past; you have delivered our souls from destruction in days gone by, and we know that you are a very present help in the midst of every one of the trials and tribulations that we face each day, as you continue to deliver those who call upon your name. God of power and might, you are our hope for every tomorrow. As the days of our lives unfold before us, we face the future with confidence, knowing that our times are in your hands and that you shall deliver us out of the hand of the enemy.

God, you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. We come to you, the source of all strength and might, thanking you that you have fortified us through Christ Jesus. We know that the Lord saves His anointed; you will answer us from your holy heaven with the saving strength of your right hand.  Though our flesh and our hearts may fail, God, our almighty fortress, is the rock and firm strength of our hearts and our portion forever. In the day when we cry out to you, you answer us and strengthen us with strength in our souls.

We declare that the LORD is our light and our salvation; whom or what shall we fear? The LORD is the strength of our lives; of whom or what shall we be afraid? You declare that we should not fear, for you are with us. We should not be dismayed, for you are our God. You will strengthen us; yes, you will help us. Indeed, you will uphold us with the right hand of your righteousness.

We had fainted, unless we had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. As we wait on the LORD, we will be of good courage, assured that He shall strengthen our hearts. We are confident that as we wait upon the LORD, we shall renew our strength. We shall mount up with wings as eagles; for you make known that just as you bore Israel upon eagles’ wings and brought them unto yourself, so you will elevate us and raise us above any circumstance that seeks to keep us from being all that you have called us to be. As we wait on you, we know that in due season, we shall run, and not be weary; and we shall walk, and not faint.

As you bless and refresh us and fill us anew with your overflowing goodness and mercy, so we pour into one another, as we encourage ourselves and one another in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who infuses inner strength into us. We minister and pray for one another that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, as we go from strength to strength, and glory to glory, even from faith to faith. Your desire is that we may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of your glory, to exercise every kind of endurance and patience, perseverance and forbearance with joy.

We conclude our petitions with this declaration:

That we will be strengthened, perfected, completed, and made to be all that you have called us to be. We will be encouraged and consoled and comforted and will be of the same agreeable mind one with another. We proclaim that we will live in peace, knowing that the God of love, who is the source of affection, goodwill, love, and benevolence toward men and the author and promoter of peace is with us. We make known that according to the riches of God’s glory, that we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love, are able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height and that we know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we are filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. All these things we declare to be so through the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our soon-coming King, who is the strength our lives. Amen.

Psalm 18:1-2 are among the verses forming the foundation for “In Christ Alone,” the source of strength in whom we stand:

More than the crown

March 23, 2020

James-1 12The Verse of the Day for March 23, 2020 comes from James 1:12 (NIV):

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Today’s post, a revision of a previous entry, focuses on some of the references to “crowns” found in the Bible. Translated from the Greek word stephanos, the word crown relates to the symbol of victory given to athletes in the Greek games, such as the Olympics or other contests, where winners are honored or crowned with laurel leaves or olive branches. This reference to “the crown of glory” is one of five different crowns mentioned in the New Testament.

Incorruptible crown:

Paul uses athletic imagery in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 where he describes the crown placed on the head of those who win a race. He contrasts this “corruptible” or perishable crown with the “incorruptible” or imperishable crown awaiting believers who discipline themselves and compete lawfully, those who “run their best race and win it”:

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.

Crown of joy

The apostle Paul looked forward to a “crown of joy” or a “crown of rejoicing” to be enjoyed in the resurrection when he is reunited with fellow believers whom he led to the Lord and taught and served.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NKJV):

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Crown of righteousness

In the second epistle to Timothy, Paul’s offers sobering yet encouraging words to his beloved son in the faith and makes reference to a crown of righteousness awaiting those who have remained faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and those who eagerly awaiting his return:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (New Revised Standard Version)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Crown of life

The Verse of the Day mentions a “crown of life” awaiting the individual who endures trials while carrying out the purposes of God’s plan,

James 1:12:

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Crown of glory

1 Peter 5:4 speaks of a “crown of glory” awaiting those who fulfill their calling and finish the work that has been set before them:

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In reflecting upon the various aspects of crowns as they relate to athletic endeavors, I also think of what motivates me beyond the desire to receive rewards at the bema or the judgment seat of Christ, in that I am striving to hear something that will make all the time, energy and effort put into living my life for Christ worthwhile. I express that deepest yearning in the poem:

Much More

His lord said to him, “Well done,

good and faithful servant;

you have been faithful over a few things,

I will make you ruler over many things:

enter into the joy of your lord.”

Matthew 25:23

 

More than mere status or the embrace of the crown

Around the head or glory, honor or renown;

More than medals of gold or laurels that fade

With the thundering applause and ceaseless accolade;

More than any crowning achievement or success

Or the rarest prizes eyes could ever witness;

More than the taste of victory every time you try:

Such alluring sweetness can never satisfy.

So much more are these words when the race is finally won,

When we finish the course and cross the finish line,

And stand upon the bema where we shall incline

Our ears to hear God say, “Good and faithful servant, well done.”

We shall bask in ultimate ecstasy of victory

And savor the goodness of God for all eternity.

The phrase “Well done, good and faithful servant” is used in the Parable of the Talents and is the inspiration behind the contemporary rendition of “Well Done” by Erica Campbell:

 

What are you going to wear? Above all things put on love.

March 17, 2020


Colossians 3:12 in the New Living Translation, the Verse of the Day for March 16, 2020, provides a picture of how we should behave toward one another. To gain a fuller understanding of what our behavior should be, take a look at verses 12-17:

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

One approach is to view this passage in light of clothing that everyone puts on every day. We ask, “What are we going to wear today?” The Word of God provides the answer:

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Put another way, we ask, “What are we going to put on?” The answer comes forth clearly:

13 Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We must recognize that forgiveness is another garment that is always fashionable, but we must choose to put it on. As poet John Oxenham notes:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,
And while it stands with open hands, it lives.
For this is love’s prerogative:
To give and give and give

Indeed, forgiveness is an aspect of love, the outer garment that we are instructed to put on that will pull together all the other garments that we should wear.

Colossians 3:14:

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

In addition to putting on the proper garments, God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times and make gratitude or thanksgiving a part of our daily attire, as verses 15-17 also reminds us:

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we are encouraged to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” whereby we express our thanks to God in everything we say and do. The closing verse of the passage from Colossians 3 brings to mind these poetic 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 God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,
And we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will 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, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
So that we can scarcely scream your name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Don Moen offers this moving reminder to “Give Thanks”:

March Forth on March 4th—one more reminder

March 4, 2020


Today’s date speaks a command—March Forth—on March 4th. The two words form an imperative sentence that encourages us to march forth into victory. . . today!

In a previous blog post, I discuss this unofficial holiday that has been created by Deborah Shouse, noted writer, speaker and creativity coach, who invites individuals to march forth into their lives, take on new experiences, and celebrate their accomplishments. Most remarkably, I am currently teaching an online writing course with a grammar component for North Carolina College of Biblical Studies.

This blog post is a revision of one of the original entries posted on March 4th. In looking at the Bible, we find a similar expression to “march forth” in Psalm 68:7 (Amplified Bible):

O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness—Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!—

We find a related verse in Psalm 45:4

In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.

Now thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ and makes manifest the sweet savor of His knowledge by us in every place. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

In the military we hear the command “Forward March. “Forward “ is the preparatory command whereby the individual shifts weight to the right foot before stepping out smartly on the left foot with on the command “march.”

As believers we find that we can follow the command to “Forward March” in four areas: Family Life, Finances, Favor, and Faith:

Forward March in Family Life, as we recognize that God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell (Psalm 68:6), and we pray the prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

In addition, we “Forward March in Finances”:

God’s desire for His people is health and well-being:3 John 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. The blessings of the Lord makes us rich and adds no sorrow with it. We are blessed that we might be a blessing.

Moreover, we also Forward March in Favor:Where sin did abound, grace (favor) did much more abound.—We are blessed and highly favored in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us:

And God is able to make all grace (favor) abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Finally, we Forward March in Faith, as we move from—Faith to Faith—Victory to Victory. We follow in the footsteps of faithful Abraham, our Father, the father of Faith. Like Abraham, we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Romans 4:20-21 describes the “Father of Faith” in this way:

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

And so, we march forth on March 4, 2020, as we “Forward March” in four areas: Family Life, Finances, Favor, Faith.

An appropriate song to close out this blog entry is “Moving Forward” by Israel Houghton:

Giving and receiving –taking another look

February 26, 2020

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well in illustrating the principle of giving and receiving.

It has been a while since I posted a blog entry inspired by the Verse of the Day, so I thought I would share comments based on a recent experience while waiting for my appointment with my oncologist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Washington, DC. My wife and I have relocated from North Carolina to Northern Virginia, and this was my first appointment with the VA Hospital in DC where I formerly worked as a pharmacist more than 45 years ago. Oh, the Providence of God. . . As I sat in the waiting room, a chaplain came in spreading “some good news for the day.” He handed strips of paper with Bible verses to those who wanted to receive them. I smiled and accepted the “Verse of the Day” he gave me, a verse that you could apply that day and every day for that matter:

Luke 6:38 (New King James)

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

This verse relates an immutable principle expressed in Scripture in a number of ways. In Genesis, after the flood, we find a reference to “seed-time and harvest.” Malachi mentions the principle of “tithing,” a specific form of giving. In Philippians, Paul speaks of “giving and receiving” while he mentions “sowing and reaping” in Corinthians and Galatians.

In a previous blog post on the subject of “giving and receiving,” I offered an illustration of the principle by discussing “Spiritual Implications and Applications of Pomegranates” in this excerpt :

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. Since the fruit abounds with seeds, the pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seed-time and harvest.” Here we note that God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, not 1:100, but just for purposes of rounding off, let’s say, 1:500 as an example of the ratio of return. From planting one seed, if you get one tree which eventually produced 100 pomegranates that would be a ratio of 1/50,000 in one year. What if you planted an orchard from just one pomegranate and eventually had 100 trees with hundreds of pomegranates with hundreds of seeds produced every year, you could not calculate the total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of the magnitude of this spiritual principle is expressed poetically in this way:

A Hundredfold

But others fell on good ground, sprang up,
and yielded a crop a hundredfold. . . .
Luke 8:8a

Orchards of pomegranate trees
stem from fruit of a single seed
whose life is found within itself,
sown in fertile soil of the heart.

While reflecting on the “Verse of the Day” the chaplain gave me, I also thought of a song by Ron Kenoly who captures the essence of the promise given by the Lord Jesus Christ, as we will close with “Give and it will come back to you” [ Luke 6:38 ]

Reflecting on God’s goodness: If it had not been for the Lord

February 1, 2020

This morning I wake up and begin my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for as I reflect upon the goodness of God. I think of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, my book where I share the challenges I faced and the victories I’ve won in my battle against prostate cancer. Chapter 4 closes with a reference to Psalm 124 which I would read aloud in the New Living Translation over and over. Here the Psalmist stimulates my thinking with one of those “What if?” questions.

Psalm 124
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

1 What if the LORD had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
2 What if the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
3 They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
4 The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.
6 Praise the LORD,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
8 Our help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
6 Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!

Verse 1 in the King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
Psalm 124:1

If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,
But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand-new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

We close this time of reflection with “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord,” Christian worship and scripture song by Esther Mui:

 

Renewed like the eagles: a word to the 60+ and others

January 29, 2020

This morning I read a word of exhortation from Kathi Pelton: “For All Who Are 60+…The Lord Has a Word for You!” She made this declaration:

“In 2020 your 60+ will be like your 20s again!” She went on to say : “. . . I saw that a weariness and fatigue of age was weighing them down, but suddenly the words from Isaiah 40:28-31 will come upon them and renew them!”

She referred to one of my all-time favorite passages from the Old Testament which I discussed in a previous blog entry which is revised and re-posted here.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV):

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

In Psalm 103:3-5 (NLT) we find another reference to being renewed like the eagle.

He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Exodus 19:4 also gives this comforting reminder:

You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

The references to being renewed like the eagles also remind us of the closing verses of my favorite psalm :

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)
13 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!

This passage also became the inspiration for an original psalm expressed as a prayer:

“. . . And the Spirit of God Moved. . . .”

“Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.”
Traditional Gospel Song

As the Spirit of God moved upon the water,
As an eagle ascends on high and stirs her nest,
Attentive to the cries of her starving young ones;
As she satisfies her young and then spreads her wings,
So Holy Spirit with a gentle wavering,
Flutter over, move upon us in a new way.
As a gentle dove would hover over her brood,
Cover our soul and saturate our whole being.
As we wait upon you, spread your wings, bear us up
That we might soar to heights above the fowler’s snare.
Renew our strength and refresh our desire to serve.
As you feed us and sustain us, we shall mount up
On eagle’s wings. We shall run and not be weary.
As we look to you, we shall walk and not faint.

Esther Mui offers a spiritual song based on Isaiah 40:25-31: “Those Who Wait on the LORD”:

 

The power of renewing the mind

January 27, 2020

The Verse of the Day for January 27, 2020 in Biblegateway.com comes from Ephesians 6:12-13, one of the most celebrated passage related to putting on the whole armor of God, beginning with verse 10 and continuing through verse 20. King James Version renders the first five verses of passage this way:

Ephesians 6:10-14:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

In addition to its use in this passage, the expression “to put on” is used in various other places in the New Testament. Note this reference to putting on something other than specifically “the whole armor of God”

Romans 13:12 (NKJV):

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 (AMP) speak of similar elements of the armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:

But since we [believers] belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope and confident assurance of salvation.

Romans 13:14 (NKJV) mentions something else to be put on:

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

References in Ephesians and Colossians in the King James Version mention “putting on the new man” as part of the renewing of the mind: In Ephesians 4:22-25 (KJV) we this find this exhortation:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another

Colossians 3:10 continues with these words:

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:12-14 elaborate in terms of what believers are to put on:

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

The discussion of the above Scriptures reveal that the phrase “to put on” is connected to renewing the mind, whereby Paul encourages followers of God to “put off, put on, and put away.” We are encouraged to change of our minds and develop new thinking patterns. We are to put off the old man and to put on the new man, as we put away lying or any other ungodly practices. This transforming process is ongoing in the life of every believer and becomes the topic of the following poem:

The Power of Renewing the Mind

9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off
your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.
10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn
to know your Creator and become like him.

Colossians 3:9-10 (Amplified Bible)

I am learning once more the power of renewing the mind
As I call upon the Lord for new insight to help me see,
For I seek to walk in power and excel and not be left behind,
As I strive to know deepest levels of intimacy.
With laser precision I target the old man nature
And put to death and mortify my members once for all.
I respond in obedience in answer to God’s call;
Not conformed, I transform myself, as new man, mature.
In the secret place of the Lord who ever inhabits
The praises of His people, here I desire to abide,
To put off the old man, vile, corrupt, wrapped in sinful pride
And put on the new man, as one changes garments, habits.
Above all I put on compassionate love from the start
And abide in my hiding place, filled with a grateful heart.

We conclude with another Scripture Memory Song: Put on the Full Armor (Ephesians 6:11-12)

The first day in 2020—another brand-new beginning

January 1, 2020

Today, January 1, 2020, we awake to embrace the first day of the New Year. In the Hebrew calendar the New Year has already begun, and we note this designation for the Year 5770—Year of the Mouth. Many times, I start off the New Year with a theme which I often express poetically:

Overflowing goodness from Almighty Jehovah’s horn of plenty
will abound toward those who open their mouths and
declare His favor without measure in 2020.

Thinking further about today representing a new beginning or a fresh start inspired this response:

The first day in 2020—another brand-new beginning

Today, the sun arises in splendor, in glorious array,
As we declare once more with conviction, “Yes! It’s a good news day.”
We seek to do the will of God and more fully and learn to serve Him
With gladness of heart, as we usher in the coming Kingdom.
Each day we draw breath flames the passion to be all God called us to be.
We fervently pray, Lord, open our eyes that we might truly see.
With outstretched necks we lookup, waiting to mount as eagles ascend
Each new day blossoms in beauty, a new the beginning of the end
When the Lord shall restore all the thief came to steal, kill, and destroy
When at last we dwell in God’s presence where there is fullness of joy
We learn once more that to love is also totally to forgive
And know the more abundant life we were designed to live.
For His glory, our spirit, soul, and body the Lord has healed
When face to face what we knew in part our God has fully revealed.
As we walk in love, we never lose, but we are always winning.
On the first day in 2020—another new beginning.

As we think about the Year of the Mouth, we should follow this simple admonition from Brent Jones:

“Open Your Mouth and Say Something” and the exhortation of Pastor Patti Mellette: “Open Your Mouth and Say Thank You.”

As we do, however, we must also realize the importance of speaking or confessing the Word of God with our mouth:

Isaiah 55:11(AMP)

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Luke 1:37 (AMP):

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

In this Year of the Mouth, this is my prayer:

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV):

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

As we begin the New Year, this familiar passage from Isaiah reveals the creative power of God Almighty who also 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 from Ricky Dillard and New Generation who make this declaration: “Today Will be the Best Day of My Life.”

A gratitude sandwich the day before Thanksgiving

November 27, 2019

Colossians 3:16, the Verse of the Day for November 27, 2019, offers another reminder to be thankful. When we look at the context of this verse and read the verse that precedes it and one that follows it, we find a wonderful “gratitude sandwich.”

Colossians 3:15-17 (New Living Translation):

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

In this “Thanksgiving season,” we find that in its most basic sense, the term is the application of an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.”

As believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses negative thinking patterns. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair and any other toxic emotions of life. We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly, we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. Of course, we must remember that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.”

For believers, maintaining such an attitude of gratitude is our magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude.”

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, we express our gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is always an appropriate time to give thanks to God. One of the songs I recall from years ago declares, “Now is the right time to praise the Lord!” No matter the circumstances, no matter the conditions, weather-wise, health-wise, or any otherwise, we are to follow this exhortation:

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 God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,
And we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will 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, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
So we can scarcely scream the Lord’s name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason,
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Don Moen offers this moving reminder to “Give Thanks”: