More than crowns

March 23, 2018

James-1 12The Verse of the Day for March 23, 2018 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 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:


Spirit, soul, and body

March 22, 2018

1 Thessalonians_5-23Although this particular verse is not designated as the Verse of the Day for March 22, 2018 for, this scripture came to mind as I began my day with a time of prayer and reflection:

1 Thessalonians 5:23

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As part of the benediction that closes out the first epistle to the Thessalonians, the verse reminds us that believers are tri-dimensional beings with a body —the physical dimension–as well as a soul—the mental or emotional aspects of our being, along with the spiritual components—having been created in the image of God. .

I happened to think growing up in the church and hearing the personal testimonies of older members, many of whom began by saying, “I thank God for my life, health, and strength.” Some would remark, “I thank God for a reasonable portion of health and strength.” Others would express their gratitude that they were “yet clothed in their right mind.” Years later, I recall an elderly gentleman who always expressed thanks to God for “a healthy body and a sound mind.”

This morning I recognized the importance of having a sound mind and being able to process whole thoughts and to recall information needed to complete a particular task. As I was preparing today’s blog post, I thought of a particular poem that I thought would be appropriate for the discussion. I went to retrieve it from a file of collected poetry, but it was not there. I knew that it was somewhere on a flash drive that I was using, but I couldn’t pinpoint the location. “Out of the blue,” the name of another of collection of poetry flashed across my mind, and I went on to locate the piece I was searching for.

When I realized what I had done, my soul erupted in praise to God for the presence of mind and the mental stamina to figure out how to retrieve “the lost item”  and then go on to incorporate it into my blog. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I couldn’t complete the task at hand. Yes, indeed, I had to stop and thank God that I am “yet clothed in my right mind.”

The selected verse of the Day reminds us that, as believers, we are formed, made, and created as marvelous displays of the wisdom, power, and might of God in these three areas:


The spiritual dimension is vitally important because God is Spirit, and His masterpiece is created in the image and likeness of God. Those who are born-again of God’s Spirit receive everlasting life. God’s desire for His people is conveyed in this powerful prayer:

Ephesians 3:16-21

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


When God breathed into man the “breath of God,” man became a living soul, with a mind, a will, and a host of emotions.  Again, the Psalmist asks, “What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him?” God’s masterful creation is always on God’s mind. Shakespeare also expresses admirable qualities of humanity:

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how
express and admirable! In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the
world! . . .


The human body with its delicate and intricate parts was initially formed, in that Adam’s body was fashioned from the dust of the Earth. The Psalmist reveals that God knows all about His matchless creation:

Psalm 139:13-16

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 looking for the poem I could not find earlier today, I came across this piece relating the absolutely priceless value of having “a healthy body, a sound mind, and a fruitful spirit”:

A Question of Wealth

 Beloved, I wish above all things

that thou mayest prosper and

be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2

How do you measure the fullest meaning of wealth?

What is the total value?  How much is the price

Of a fruitful spirit, a sound mind and good health?

Can you calculate the sum and then square it twice?

To prosper and be in health, even as your soul

Prospers cannot be measured by any amount

Withdrawn from the world’s treasures, for even the whole

Earth could never contain so vast a bank account.

But those who set their affections on things above

And not on things on the earth are free to explore

The infinite riches of God’s favor and love,

For they alone know their true value even more.

The truly rich ask to receive and seek to find

The priceless wealth of strength in God and peace of mind.

We close with a musical benediction from Hosanna! Music – The God of Peace (1 Thessalonians 5:23 – NIV)

This vibrant garden scene

March 21, 2018

Jeremiah-17 7-8The Verse of the Day for March 21, 2018 is found in Jeremiah 17:7-8 in the New International Version:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Here is the passage in the King James Version:

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

This familiar passages echoes the truths expressed in the First Psalm, one of my favorite psalms.

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

When I think of the First Psalm, I also recall the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory. In reflecting on these two related passages, I realized that the Verse of the Day for yesterday identified the fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23, resulting in a post entitled “Fruit of the Spirit in the Garden.” The passages from Jeremiah and Psalm 1 along with the reference to the fruit of the spirit merged in my mind, inspiring this fresh poetic response:

This Vibrant Garden Scene

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Psalm 1

Galatians 5:23-24


I have tasted your goodness and put my trust in you.

Assured of great promises, the Lord is my hope

Who strengthens my soul when I feel I cannot cope.

From deep waters you bless and refresh and make new.

Bearing fruit throughout every season of my life,

Love and joy never diminish, only increase.

Gentleness, goodness, and a great harvest of peace

Bring forth even in the midst of turmoil and strife.

Planted by the rivers as a bountiful tree,

Faithfulness and meekness rooted in self-control

Add to the fruitful harvest that restores the soul,

As fruit of the spirit abounds beyond all we see.

Even in times of drought, my leaves will remain green:

The boundless bounty of this vibrant garden scene.

We close with a musical rendition of the Verse of the Day from Jeremiah 17:7-8:

Fruit of the spirit in the garden

March 19, 2018


The Verse of the Day for March 19, 2018 provides a list of “the fruit of the spirit” offered in the New International Version:

Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

This familiar passage brings to mind God’s desire that our lives should always abound in fruitfulness. No matter the season, we should always bring forth fruit, so says the Psalmist in the first Psalm, the first passage of scripture committed to memory as a youngster back in the middle of the 20th Century. It describes the man of God I continue to strive to be:

Psalm 1:1-3 (KJV):

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

A personal metaphor often used to describe my life is “a garden,” a place where the fruit of the spirit should so abound that those whom I encounter will partake of bounty of my life and be nourished and refreshed by my fruitfulness.

The following poem makes reference to such a place where the fruit of the spirit flourishes; here I cultivate those attributes which reveal a fruitful, bountiful life:

I Sing in My Garden

Oh, sing unto the LORD a new song!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;

 Proclaim the good news from day to day.

 Psalm 96:1-2


I sing in my garden and reap the good,

The bounty of living seventy-five years.

Each note seems to evoke a stream of tears

That fall, not because of some somber mood

But flow from a heart filled with gratitude.

The folk song of the farmer thrills my ears

Each time plowing, planting or harvest nears.

I compose my song, having understood

Lyrics I did not know when I was young,

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.

Now from my green garden I garner truth.

A song of conviction flows from my tongue.

I am seasoned and strengthened to endure,

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung.

In thinking about life as a garden, the familiar gospel song often heard as we approach Resurrection Sunday comes to mind: “In the Garden” sung by Alan Jackson:

Overflow with hope

March 18, 2018

Romans 15--13

As part of the benediction from the closing chapter of Romans, the Verse of the Day for March 18, 2018 speaks a joyful, peaceful blessing full of hope to believers:

Romans 15:13 (NIV):

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As Christian believers we go to the Word of God and find out that God is our hope. The Psalmist offers this marvelous reminder:

Psalm 71:5

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

One of the verses from “Amazing Grace” also encourages us:

The Lord has promised good to me

His Word my hope secure

He will my strength and portion be

As long as life endures.

One definition of hope is the expectation of a future good, as Romans 8:23-25 also speaks of our hope:

 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

The Verse of the Day with its reference to God’s desire that our lives “abound in hope” or “overflow in hope,” brought to mind the closing verse of “Good News Day”:

It’s a live it up day

overflowin cup day

It’s a bright and bubbly

doubly lovely

Show-nuff good news day

Because our lives are overflowing with hope, these words encourage and strengthen us to be:

Drinking from the Saucer

John Paul Moore

I’ve never made a fortune,
And I’ll never make one now
But it really doesn’t matter
‘Cause I’m happy anyhow

As I go along my journey
I’m reaping better than I’ve sowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
‘Cause my cup has overflowed

I don’t have a lot of riches,
And sometimes the going’s tough
But with kin and friends to love me
I think I’m rich enough

I thank God for the blessings
That His mercy has bestowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
‘Cause my cup has overflowed

He gives me strength and courage
When the way grows steep and rough
I’ll not ask for other blessings for
I’m already blessed enough

May we never be too busy
To help bear another’s load
Then we’ll all be drinking from the saucer
When our cups have overflowed

We close with Cheri Keaggy offering Romans 15:13 as “the Benediction Song”




March 14, 2018

wholeheartedInstead of the usual “Verse of the Day,” from time to time I will post the “Word or the Phrase of the Day.” On March 14, 2018 we are going to take a closer look at the word “wholeheartedness.” As a noun, the word refers to the quality or state of being wholehearted, that is completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic. A wholehearted person is said to be marked by complete, earnest commitment: free from all reserve or hesitation. Synonyms for the noun include eagerness, enthusiasm, intense devotion and dedication, zeal, or passion.

Throughout the Scriptures we note the Lord God’s concern that His people honor and serve Him with their whole hearts. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus makes this declaration:

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

38 This is the first and great commandment.

1 Chronicles 28:9 (NLT) offers words of wisdom to Solomon:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancest1ors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

Note God’s response when His people seek and serve Him with their whole heart:

2 Chronicles 15:15 (AMP)

All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought Him with their whole heart, and He let them find Him. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.

Note what the Psalmist has to say:

Psalm 119:2 (American Standard Version)

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, that seek him with the whole heart.

Finally, Jeremiah 24:7 (American Standard Version) makes known God’s desire for His people:

And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart

The expression also brings to mind a life-changing teaching entitled “Wholeheartedness” heard a number of years ago. The teaching was part of a series of messages based on the Love of God, emphasizing that as believers we are to love God wholeheartedly. One of the principal scriptures quoted came from Deuteronomy 6:5, used in the introduction to the following poem also inspired by the teaching:

With Our Whole Heart

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:5


“When you have a heart for something,

you prepare for it.”

Pastor Michael T. Bivens


We will never be satisfied until we love You,

Not with half nor the greater part, but with our whole heart,

Where we have reserved a space for You alone to dwell,

That only You might fill each crevice with Your presence.

As a faithful friend, may You always choose to linger,

To abide in this place set apart for Your comfort

And to confide with the most gentle reassurance,

Never being disturbed by any occurrence.

Lord, may we never settle for mediocrity

But ever seek to excel and love You wholeheartedly,

Serving You with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength,

To soar beyond any height or depth or breadth or length.

As the bride listens to hear the voice of the bridegroom,

So we watch and wait in our heart prepared as Your throne room.

The teaching also brought to mind this song “With All My Heart,” composed by Babbie Mason and sung by Into the Light:






All things work together for good

March 13, 2018

The Verse of the Day for March 13, 2018, has become especially meaningful for me over the years, and I have designated this scripture as my “Life Verse.” According to the Middletown Christian Church, “Life Verses are those words from Scripture that anchor our faith and become touchstones that illuminate, assure, uplift and energize us to live out our faith.” Here are three of my favorite translations of my favorite verse:

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [KJV]

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. [Amplified Bible]

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [NIV]

Romans 8:28, my favorite verse in the Bible, offers this reminder that because God is good, “We know that all things work together for the good, to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” So no matter how bad any situation may appear to be, we know that it will work together for our good.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind another passage of scripture that has become especially meaningful to me at this time in my life:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV):

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.
13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Although the words of Jeremiah were specifically addressed to Israel concerning their release from Babylonian captivity after seventy years, we recognize the truth expressed in

Romans 15:4:

Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.

The prophetic word from Jeremiah can certainly have personal application, in that the plans that God has for each of His children are no less grand than those He has for the Children of Israel.

As we ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead us and teach us all along the path that unfolds as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11-13 also intersect to inform us of God’s concern for our future or “final outcome”, so that we need have no fear for our future because God is good.

Romans 8:28, one of the most often quoted verses, at least for me, is the inspiration for this Don Moen’s classic song of praise: “All things Work Together”:

Very great and precious promises

March 12, 2018

The Verse of the Day for March 12, 2018 reveals exactly what God, our magnanimous Father, has given to each of us as believers and what we have as a result of his generosity:

2 Peter 1:4 (NIV):

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

No matter how you phrase it, the promises given to us are rare and extraordinary expressions of love: The American Standard Version speaks of “precious and exceeding great promises,” while the Amplified Bible says they are “precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value].” According to the Message Bible, these “absolutely terrific promises” are “of great worth and no amount of money can buy them,” says the New Living Version.

One of the distinguishing attributes of God is that He not only makes promises whose value is beyond calculating, but He keeps every promise that He makes. A recent blog entry described God in this way:

Promise Keeper

God Almighty, creator of the heavens and the Earth, is faithful and true, the original “Promise Keeper” who cannot lie. The Word of God declares God has given us exceeding great and precious promises that shall all be fulfilled:

His will is to fulfill every promise He has spoken.
We know no word of the Lord can ever be broken.
Each promise fulfilled is but a foretaste, a token.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind this passage from 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (New Living Translation)

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.
20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

As believers we recognize that the Word of God is energetic and life-giving, for each word in the Word of Life is an expression of power. Luke 1:37 in the King James Version says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The American Standard Version offers this translation: “For no word from God shall be void of power.” Indeed, there is life-changing power in a single word from the Word. Think about the expression used to describe all the promises of God: “Yes!” Used to show agreement or endorsement, “yes” often indicates an affirmative reply. Certainly we are aware of that the word as an interjection or strong expression of joy, pleasure, or approval. When a player scores the winning shot in an overtime game, often excited fans respond with a vigorous “Yes! Way to go!”

In discussing the essence of God’s promises I thought of this poetic response:

“Tomorrow Is Today’s Promise”

For you have need of patience, that,
after you have done the will of God,
you might receive the promise.

Hebrews 10:36

We work in faith, labor in love and wait in hope,
Patient in all our trials that test and refine.
Despite the times, we perceive His divine design
And see with new eyes far beyond our narrow scope.
After doing all God’s will, we receive the promise.
We come through intense fires as a precious gem.
Rewards await those who endure to receive them,
As time swiftly passes with each sunset and sunrise.
Yesterday was the promise of the day before.
Today is yesterday’s tomorrow as it unfolds:
A gift full of potential and all that it holds.
Tomorrow is today’s promise waiting in store.
Past, present and future all merge in Christ, the Lord,
Who upholds all things by the power of His Word.

Matt Redman offers “Yes and Amen,” the perfect expression in song regarding the promises of God.


To know God

March 11, 2018

Deuteronomy 7--9

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for March 11, 2018 found in Deuteronomy 7:9:

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

The verb “to know” in this instance is translated from the Hebrew word yada , which according to Strong’s Concordance means: to  know, to learn, to perceive, to discern, to experience, to confess, to consider, to know people relationally, to know how, to be skillful, to be made known, to make oneself known, to make to know.

The same verb occurs in Deuteronomy 4:35 in the Amplified Bible:

To you it was shown, that you might realize and have personal knowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him.

This kind of knowing corresponds to the Greek word ginosko, translated “to know” in the New Testament.  Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger translates the verb:

To perceive, observe, obtain knowledge of or insight into.  It denotes a personal and true relationship between the person knowing and the object known, i.e. to be influenced by one’s knowledge of the object, to suffer one’s self to be determined thereby.

Once a person knows God on such an intimate, experiential level, that person “knows for himself or herself,” and such an individual is forever changed.

God desires that we know him, as He expresses His deep desire for intimacy on a very personal level. We come to know God through the Word of God. As we establish and maintain our relationship with him, we also experience his love. I recall the popular love song of the 1950s recorded by the Teddy Bears expresses a profound truth when connected to God: “To know him is to love him.’

Not only can we know God, but we can know that we know Him, as 1 John 2:3 makes known:

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

As we continue to draw even closer to God, we also come to know Him at even deeper levels of intimacy, as God expresses His desire that we might be filled with the knowledge of His will revealed by the spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Him. This desire is expressed in the prayer found in Ephesians 1, which serves as an introduction to this response:

The Spirit of Knowledge

  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,

  the Father of glory, may give to you

  the spirit of wisdom and revelation

  in the knowledge of him;

  Ephesians 1:17


To excel in mighty works that demonstrate God’s power,

Far above the knowledge of any human mind,

Beyond the confines of any exalted tower,

We pursue knowledge and seek that we might find,

To know the exceeding greatness of that power,

Surpassing natural intellect of the mind;

That we may be filled with the knowledge of His will.

Such knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord,

Knowing that every promise our God will fulfill,

We receive the spirit of knowledge, not just a word.

We have been bought with a price, we are not our own.

Assured that God keeps His covenant we stand still.

The fullness of that knowledge shall someday be shown:

When Christ returns, then shall we know as we are known.

Our desire to know God to an even greater degree is to know His Son, Jesus Christ, so beautifully expressed in the worship song “Knowing You Jesus”:

Reasons for hope

March 10, 2018

Verse of the Day for March 10, 2018 comes from 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV):

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.

The Verse of the Day brings to mind comments from Pastor Greg Laurie who said that if you’re a Christian, you have a testimony, and you should always be ready to share your testimony. The Word of God declares that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Indeed, until we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were all “dead in trespasses and sin, without God and without hope.” But God in His love reached out to us and forgave us of our sin, and we responded to that love. When God saved us, as the lyrics to the old gospel song tell us, “It took a miracle of love and grace.”

Pastor Laurie goes on to tell us our testimony is worth sharing! Some believers are hesitant to share their life’s story of how they came to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, thinking that they were not in a a seemingly horrific situation. They were not hooked on crack or alcohol or some other addictive substance. They were not gang members who experienced a life-changing conversion that mystified others who witnessed the dramatic change. Perhaps they grew up in the Church with a loving, supportive family and accepted Christ at a young age. Many may think that their testimony does not really matter, but remember this: “Your story could be the key that can unlock someone else’s prison.”

Other scriptures reveal that we can encourage each other by sharing testimonies.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us this:

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Hebrews 10:24-25 also exhorts us:

And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer.

Sharing our story of deliverance can “cheer up those who are discouraged, and help those who are weak.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Reflecting on the Verse of the Day and other related scriptures inspired this response:

Reasons for Hope

1 Peter 3:15

To change or remain the same is always a choice:
Each day as new creations in Christ, not conformed
But ever ready, willing, able to share the Word.
To rise to another level demands a price:
To follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our Lord,
We must renew our minds and a make a sacrifice
As we mature in Christ, we walk forth in wisdom.
Knowing our faith, hope, and love will thrive and abound.
With our words and deeds we influence God’s Kingdom,
Bringing forth fruit one hundredfold sown on good ground.
We share reasons for hope with meekness and respect,
Confident that our God will provide and protect.

Matt Weeks offers a brief reminder based on 1 Peter 3:15-16: