Call upon the name of the Lord

August 24, 2016

psalm 116_1-2

From Psalm 116:1-2 in the Message Bible comes the Verse of the Day for August 24, 2016:

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him. Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels. Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn; then I called out to God for help: “Please, God!” I cried out. “Save my life!” God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

The verses are rendered this way in the King James Version:

Psalm 116:1-2:

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

The Psalmist acknowledges his love for the Lord who heard him when called upon His name. Because the Lord “inclined his ear unto” the one who called upon Him, the caller will continue to call as long as he lives.

 

Verse 4 reiterates the same point:

Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

 

Echoes of these verses can be heard in this excerpt from “Plainsong,” a poem that I wrote in tribute to my father:

 

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

The poem also makes reference to one of the vintage hymns composed by the great 18th Century hymn writer, Dr. Isaac Watts, who uses Psalm 116:1  as the inspiration for  “I love the Lord; He heard my cries” with this opening stanza:

I love the Lord; he heard my cries,
And pitied every groan:
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to his throne.

The hymns of Dr. Watts found their way into African American churches, being transformed into chants and acapella songs that formed the foundation of 20th Century gospel music. Listen to Gloria Henderson who leads a congregation in lining out this classic hymn by Dr. Watts.

In addition to Psalm 116:1, other verses also remind us to call upon the name of the Lord:

1 Chronicles 16:8

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

 

Psalm 105:1

O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

 

Romans 10:13 so clearly makes known the results occurring to those who petition the Lord:

 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Throughout the Scriptures we see that believers are encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. Note this invitation extended in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV):

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

 

One of the most often quotes passages from Jeremiah relates a promise given by God to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11-13, a passage that applies to Christians today as well:

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.

 

Psalm 107 reveals the seemingly never-ending cycle whereby the people of God stray from the pathways of God and find themselves in difficult straights, and as verses, 6, 13, 19, and 28 make known:

 

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

 

Despite the truth that God consistently delivers those who cry out to him, His people too often fall back into trouble whereby they once again call upon the Lord in the midst of their struggles.  Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere in the Scriptures we see that our faithful God responds to those who call upon Him.

 

Jim and Ginger Hendricks provide a moving musical exhortation: “Call unto Me”

 

He who spared not his own son

August 22, 2016

Romans_8-32

From Romans 8:32 in the Message Bible comes the Verse of the Day for August 22, 2016:

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

The verse is rendered this way in the King James Version:

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

The celebrated passage from Romans 8 also brings to mind that God is the ultimate “Giver.”

As the supreme giver, God practices the very principles that He implements.  As a liberal giver par excellence, our Father gives, withholding nothing.  Without question, He is generous and extravagant in His giving. As the supreme expression of giving, God applies the very principles that He establishes.  Jesus Christ teaches this foundational principle in Luke 6:38:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

The essence of this principle is poetically expressed in this excerpt opening with a poem by John Oxenham, followed by an original stanza:

 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.

 

He who lives and never gives,

May live for years and never live.

But he who lives and lives to give

Shall live for years and years and years

With more to give and give and give.

Giving is a demonstration or manifestation of love. It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Whenever we think of love and its connection with giving, we think of God who demonstrated or manifested His love as revealed in one of the most quoted Bible verses of all time: John 3:16:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse relates to Romans 8:32-34, a section that lets believers know that with God there is no accusation in that we also ask, “If God is willing to give the greater, would He withhold the lesser?” Here is our response:

Romans 8:32-34 (Message):

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Even though the adversary of souls, the accuser of the brethren, brings railing accusations against us day and night, Jesus Christ, our advocate, intercedes for us. As such, he is the consummate expression of love that the Verse of the Day speaks of so clearly.

Here is a musical rendering of Romans 8:32:

Ephesians 5:25: Beyond sacrificial living

August 19, 2016

 Ephesians 5--25

From time to time, as we read and study the Word of God, we may encounter a reference to particular verse that we may have heard numerous times before, but this fresh encounter offers an illustration or application of a particular verse in a specific content that widens our understanding and deepens our appreciation of what the God is really saying. Recently I thought of a verse that is often recited at weddings and other occasions where the role of the husband is presented:

Ephesians 5:25 (AMP):

25 Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

A year ago, I attended a men’s Bible study with one of my sons-in-law, focusing on “The Journey to Authentic Manhood,” as modeled by Jesus Christ in his 33 years on earth. The session was one of a series of discussions related to some of the challenges that confront men in the quest for “authentic manhood” in our relationships as husbands, fathers, co-workers, and other areas of responsibilities.

In thinking about Ephesians 5:25, I also thought of this poem that captures the essence of one of the principal attributes of authentic manhood:

Sacrificial Living: Assignment of Manhood

Forgetting things left behind, I press toward the mark.

The passion that now inflames my life was once a spark.

This all-consuming fire, great light dispels the dark,

As I abide in God’s presence in a place beyond the Ark.

 

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

 

Like Christ, I endure the cross while despising the shame

And accept this high calling and embrace my new name.

By grace to stand in His presence without any blame,

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

 

Always remaining aware that God is in control,

I am still running to serve as my life’s highest goal.

This zeal for God and His Word burns deep within my soul,

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

 

Being fully persuaded, I now know that I know

That God will fulfill His will and declare, “It is so!”

I set aside pride; where He leads me I will follow:

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

 

Looking to the future, I walk by faith, not by sight.

To do all the will of God still remains my delight

To follow Christ’s command that I should be salt and light

With sacrificial Living: assignment of manhood.

 

To speak the Word of life in all that I do and say,

To follow in the steps of Christ all along the way.

Until the final victory, I must watch, fight and pray.

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

 

Triumphant from faith to faith and glory to glory,

I still seek God’s face in the place of my destiny.

Life continues to unfold as a scroll before me.

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

 

With a love so strong, yet ever so tender,

Nothing can dissuade me, nor can anything hinder.

I will hold fast to the faith and never surrender.

God’s Word hidden in my heart, I’ll always remember:

 

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Recently I heard a reference to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in his undying commitment to the Church. As I listened to Chris Webb, spoken-word poet, his riveting rendition of “Mattress” aroused in me an even deeper appreciation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who modeled the depth of sacrificial living that men should have for their wives:

Having heard and seen this, my reading and understanding of Ephesians 5:25 will never be the same.

Reflections on my legacy:ordination, a grandson, and more

August 18, 2016

Ephesians 4--1

Last Thursday, August 11, 2016 was indeed a special day of celebration, as three significant events converged in a remarkable overflow of gratitude to God.  My day began with a time of reflection and expression of my gratitude to God for my ordination to the Christian ministry which first occurred August 11, 1974. Most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I received news around 1 a.m. that our older daughter, Melissa, had gone into labor, as she and her husband, Will, were expecting their first child. We rushed to be with our daughter and son-in-law to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 4:41 p.m. on August 11, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

Previously, I had commented on the significance of ordination in a blog post:

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen and set apart to serve as clergy. It is thought of as a “special sacrament.” Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps.  A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” In the minds of some, ordination is considered a kind of “rite of passage” which commences a new period of service in ministering to Body of Christ. . . .

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

While reflecting on my calling as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I also thought about the birth of my new grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, as well as the offspring of my “spiritual son” in Capetown, South Africa, Neil Demas, who named one of his sons after me: Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas. I think of these individuals and others who are a part of my life and part of my response to the question raised during August: “What will be your legacy?”

Kingston Edward Simkins

A website devoted to various holidays, offers this definition of the term: “A legacy is defined as what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day.”

Offspring of my "spiritual son" Neil Demas is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

Offspring of my “spiritual son,” Neil Demas, is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

The legacies that are part of our lives at this time we pass on, and they will impact generations to come, as we sow seeds of the Word of God while we live our lives. We anticipate that the seeds that we sow will fall upon fertile ground and abound with fruit, even as this poem suggests:

Legacies

 

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

 

II

 

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

 

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Benjamin Disraeli made the statement, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We are perhaps familiar with the statement, “The greatest gift you can give someone is a good example.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in Proverbs 22:1:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful,” a song which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

Get it together

August 16, 2016

Psalm 124--1

Instead of looking at the Verse of the Day, as we so often do, our focus today is on a particular phrase or Word for the Day. On August 16, 2016, we are going to take a look at the phrase “Get it together!”

The expression is sometimes defined as “to get one’s life in order” or “to get one’s current state of mind in order.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs offers this definition: “to become fit or organized; to organize one’s thinking; to become relaxed and rational.” Another source defines the expression this way: “to make a decision or take positive action in your life.”

In thinking about this particular verb phrase, I happened to recall a statement by Donald Lawrence which provided an introduction to the following poem:

In the Fight for Your Life

“God will keep it together until you get it together.”

 Donald Lawrence

 

 

In the fight for your life,

Get it together and keep it together

God will strengthen you

So that you can weather any storm

God will keep it together

Until you get it together

 

No matter what happens,

Keep on watching and waiting

With outstretched necks,

Yearning, ever anticipating

Until Christ returns to gather us together

 

Until then. . .

In the fight for your life,

Get it together and keep it together

 

Despite my best efforts, there were countless times when I struggled to get it together, when I felt overwhelmed and seemed to be about to “lose it,” as I earnestly endeavored to renew my mind and maintain a state of mental equilibrium. During those times of turmoil, I now recognized that I would have “lost it altogether” had it not been for the Lord. I echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who made a similar declaration in the introduction to the following:

 

If It Had Not Been for the Lord


If it had not been for 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.

 

Now I recognize that the Lord helped me to get it together and keep it together because he is my keeper, so sing Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir featuring Eric McDaniel in “Keeper.”

 

A very present and well-proved help in trouble

August 10, 2016

Psalms-46--1-5

The Verse of the Day for August 10, 2016 acknowledges who God is and what He alone provides:

Psalm 46:1(AMP)

[God the Refuge of His People.] [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song. ] God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

In addition to verse 1, the entire Psalm reassures believers of God’s presence in the midst of chaotic conditions.

Psalm 46:

1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,

3Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

4There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.

5God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early [at the dawn of the morning].

6The nations raged, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our Fortress and High Tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

8Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations and wonders in the earth.

9He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.

10Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

11The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Verse 10 also introduces an original poem with the first four words of the psalm as its title:

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10

 

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.

Though your cherished dreams have faded and long since gone

The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,

As I weave the tapestry of eternity.

Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,

Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,

And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:

Be still and know that I am God.

 

Though storms may overwhelm and friends may abandon

When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.

These scenes will reveal the man I thought I could be,

As words of the Psalmist comfort and remind me,

When this life is over and all is said and done:

Be still and know that I am God.

As we pause and calmly think about that—as we “Selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still my soul and be at peace.

Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

In closing, listen to Steven Curtis Chapman singing “Be Still and Know.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C01lLxEo3xM&feature=related

Worth more than many sparrows

August 9, 2016

Luke 12--6-7

The Verse of the Day for August 9, 2016 is found in Luke 12:6-7 where Jesus Christ makes this statement:

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

A similar passage is found in Matthew 10:29-31 which speaks of a lesser bargain in the sale of sparrows:

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

In one of the indexes to the Companion Bible, E.W. Bullinger notes that these passages refer to the Greek word assarion, “ a bronze coin, value ¾ of a farthing, or 3/8 of a cent.”

A farthing is said to be ¼ of a penny or cent in British currency. Whether you purchase five sparrows for two farthings or two sparrows for one farthing, clearly sparrows are not of much value monetarily, yet God is aware when one of them dies. If God has that much concern for seemingly worthless sparrows, how much more concern does He have for us, as believers, as His beloved, who are the “apple of His eye.”

More than 13 years ago, I had a sparrow experience that drove home the message of the passage from Matthew, and I made the following entry in my journal:

February 6, 2003

I pull into the parking lot at Otterbein College, and as I get out of my car, I notice a sparrow that has been recently run over by a vehicle. Immediately Matthew 10: 29 came to mind: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Are ye not of more value than many sparrows?” On the way into the building I sing “His Eye is On the Sparrow”, and I am moved to tears, that overflow and flood my soul once I enter my office. I thank God for seeing with new eyes.

In the midst of maddening times where human life is seems to have so little value in the eyes of so many people, how comforting and reassuring to know that in God’s eyes we are of more value than many sparrows.

In reflecting upon the Verse of the Day, another contemporary gospel song expressing how valuable each believer is to God came to mind:

“Worth” by Anthony Brown and Group Therapy

What is your pleasure?

August 8, 2016

Psalm 149--4

Revised and re-posted below is the Verse of Day for August 8, 2016:

In Psalm 149:4 (AMP) we find something that God delights in:

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

The Psalmist makes known that the people of God are a source of pleasure or delight for the Lord. Just as a father rejoices and celebrates his children, as they grow and mature, so does God, our Father.  Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us:

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

How comforting to know that our Father takes pleasure in our company, just as His Word makes known.

Often when we encounter situations whereby we must make a choice, the individual presenting the options will ask: “What’s your pleasure?” What would you like? What would bring you pleasure or what would delight you? Delight can be used as a synonym for pleasure.  As a verb, it means –to take pleasure in, to enjoy, to appreciate, to savor; as a noun it is means–joy, a high degree of pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction.

I recall that the first poem that I wrote was a rather providential occurrence taking place during my first year in college in my freshman composition class when I was asked to write a response to this prompt:”May I Tell You What Delights Me?”  I made a list of items that brought me pleasure, and when I read what I had written to the class, my professor described it as poetry. Years later I realized that I had written a free-verse, catalogue poem, in the style of Walt Whitman. Near the top of the list of sources of delight for me was the Book of Psalms, which not only speaks of what God takes pleasure in but where the expression “good pleasure” is also used.

Psalm 51:18 offers this request to God:

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

The expression of God’s “good pleasure” is found in the Gospels in Luke 12:32:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The phrase is twice used in Ephesians and once in 2 Thessalonians:

Ephesians 1:5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

Ephesians 1:9

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

2 Thessalonians 1:11

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

Bible teacher John Piper discusses the phrase “good pleasure” and notes that it is a verb in Greek, meaning “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “it pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” One of the best places to see how the expression is used occurs in Philippians 2:13 9 (AMP):

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

God is both the energy and the energizer—even beyond the Energizer Bunny that keeps on going and going. The verse also expresses God’s desire:  “Both the willing and the working (the energizing).” God does it all, then. Yes, but he puts us to work also, and our part is essential.

As believers we ask, “What delights God? What brings Him pleasure? What is His good pleasure?” Our good pleasure is to do the good pleasure of His will, as the following lyrics ask:

What Is Your Pleasure?

What is your pleasure?  What shall we bring?

What do you desire as an offering?

What shall we give you? What will suffice?

What shall we offer as a perfect sacrifice?

What shall we offer as a perfect sacrifice?

 

Tell us your desires: what do you say?

Your only desire is that we learn to obey.

You desire truth in the inward parts:

Our broken spirit with broken and contrite hearts.

Our broken spirit with broken and contrite hearts.

 

Teach us to follow you; teach us your way.

Teach us to listen and quickly obey.

Open our ears, Lord, may we know your voice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

May we walk with you by faith and ever rejoice.

 

This is your pleasure. This will we bring.

We give you our lives as an offering.

You have purchased us: You have paid the price.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

We are your offering: a living sacrifice.

Esther Mui offers this Christian Scripture Worship Song with lyrics from Psalm 149 in its entirety, from which the Verse of the Day is taken.

The Lord our judge, lawgiver, king

August 7, 2016

Isaiah-33-22

Revised and re-posted is the following:

For the Verse of the Day for July 7, 2016 we look to Isaiah 33:22 (AMP):

For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us.

Looking at this verse, we note special emphasis on three aspect of the Lord God Almighty, demonstrating three levels of authority in a personal way: The Lord is “our judge, our lawgiver, and our king,” representing the three branches of government—judicial, legislative, and executive–embodied in a single entity:

“Our judge”

Abraham makes reference to “the Judge of all the earth” in Genesis 18:25:

25 Far be it from You to do [a]such a thing—to strike the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right [by executing just and righteous judgment]?”

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord is described, not just as a judge, but He is a righteous judge, as Psalm 103:6 reminds us that “The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

Psalm 9:8 further describes our judge:

And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

In the New Testament, we find that a new judge has been appointed:

Acts 10:42

And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.

Finally, in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT) at the end of his earthly life, Paul makes this declaration that is layered with hope:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

“Our lawgiver”

Not only is the Lord our judge, He is our lawgiver, one who draws up and enacts laws.

James 4:12 reveals:

There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

God is the ultimate lawgiver who has implemented all the laws of nature, such as “the law of gravity,” laws that relate to the moral and social behavior of humanity, along with all the other laws of the universe. Psalm 19:7-10 also relates these truths regarding the law of the Lord:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

The Law of the Lord is given that those who follow His commands would be blessed and prosper:

Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless], who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.

 “Our king”

The final attribute of God expressed metaphorically is that of the Lord, who is our king.

Jeremiah 23:5 prophetically speaks of this king:

Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth

Isaiah 32:1 also further describes our king:

Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

As the ultimate authority: “our king” rules and reigns in righteousness; indeed, Romans 4:17 describes His kingdom this way:

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Dr. S.M. Lockridge offers this stirring declaration entitled “That’s My King”:

In 1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV) we find  this blessing referring to the King:

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We conclude with a resounding rendition of this benediction: “Now unto the King Eternal” by Don Moen:

How comforting to know that as believers, the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king.

Word for the Day: Amen

August 5, 2016

2 Corinthians1--20

From time to time, my blog entry will focus on a phrase or a specific “Word for the Day” rather than the usual Verse of the Day. Such is the case for the post for today, August 5, 2016. Actually yesterday’s post on the Verse of the Day from Jeremiah 33:2-3 ended with a word that is frequently used in the Bible and throughout the world: “Amen”.

Derived from the Hebrew word aman, “Amen” has been translated “it is so!” “so be it” or “thus shall it most surely be.” When repeated, the word is translated “verily, verily,” or “truly, truly” or simply “Amen” and “Amen.” Not only do Christians commonly respond to proclamations from the Bible with the widely used word, but Jews and Muslims likewise use this expression in a variety of languages across the world. According to Klyne Snodgrass, “Amen” is one of the most widely known words in all the world.”

In commenting on the Verse of the Day from Jeremiah 33:3, I thought of the expression “Call and response” where ““Amen”” is often heard.  In music, particularly in jazz which incorporates improvisation, we find this technique whereby a musician issues a phrase or line, and another player answers with a phrase or comment in response. The same technique is also seen other areas of African American culture involving speakers, such as preachers or ministers of the gospel or worship leaders who issue a series of calls and the audience, the congregation, or group being addressed answers with  responses.

In the Bible, “Amen” is spoken as a response to what has been declared before. This is especially noted throughout the Old Testament. In response to a litany of curses leveled against those who choose to disobey the pronouncements of the Lord God in Deuteronomy 27: 15-26, the Children of Israel respond by saying “Amen” twelve times.

Elsewhere the phrase follows the declaring of blessings, as in

1 Chronicles 16:36 (AMP):

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, Forever and ever. And all the people said, ““Amen”,” and praised the Lord.

Ezra offers a similar blessing to which the people respond, as they affirm the words spoken by the prophet:

Nehemiah 8:6 (AMP):

Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, ““Amen”, “Amen”!” while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.

Throughout the Psalms confirmation of blessings is sealed with the repeated phrase found in Psalm 41:13 and elsewhere:

Psalm 41:13

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting [from this age to the next, and forever]. “Amen” and “Amen” (so be it).

Jeremiah speaks of the covenant that Jehovah made with Israel when He brought them out of the bondage of Egypt and seals his words with this response:

Jeremiah 11:4b-5 (AMP):

So you shall be My people, and I will be your God,’ that I may complete the oath which I swore to your fathers, to give them a land [of plenty] flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day.”’” Then I answered, ““Amen” (so be it), O Lord.”

In the New Testament the expression follows the words of the Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6:13 (AMP):

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. “Amen”.]

The powerful apostolic prayer of Ephesians 3 ends with this bold declaration:

20 Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. “Amen”.

Jesus Christ is the means whereby the Father affirms and confirms every promise that He has made to His people. The Savior is the resounding “yes” when a question arises as to whether God will fulfill his promises. Paul makes known this profound truth in 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.

In other places in the New Testament, the expression is used in doxologies declaring the glory of God, in benedictions, and in the giving of thanks as well as statements of praise.

One of the celestial scenes from the Book of Revelation speaks of a multitude of people beyond number who offer up praise to “Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb,” as “Amen” opens and closes their magnificent exultation:

Revelation 7:12:

Saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and majesty and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Most amazingly, ““Amen”” is the last word in the Bible. When all is said and done, God has the last say so, and the last word means “It is so!” The Scriptures unfold in their entirety and crescendo with a grace note:

Revelation 22:21:

The grace of the Lord Jesus (the Christ, the Messiah) be with all [the saints—all believers, those set apart for God]. “Amen”.

The perfect song to close our Word for the Day is by Matt Redman: “Yes and Amen”

 


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