Archive for April, 2012

3 John 2: A Question of Wealth

April 20, 2012

Over the last decade, one of the focal points within certain segments of the Church, the Body of Christ, has been material prosperity. The second verse of the third Epistle of John has been among the verses used to support the view that emphasizes God’s desire for believers to experience physical well-being and material wealth—to be “healthy and wealthy.”

3 John 2

 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (KJV)

The English Standard Version offers this expression of the same verse.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

This particular verse brought to mind a poem written as a personal commentary on God’s desire for believers.

A Question of Wealth

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper

in all things and be in health,

 just as your soul prospers.

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Withdrawn from the world’s treasures, for even the whole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

In taking a closer look at that particular verse and other related scriptures, we find that the longing of God’s heart extends beyond just the physical or material. God’s ultimate desire is that believers experience a state of total well-being: where everywhere and at all times, we abide in peace. This state of total well-being is reflected in the Hebrew expression “shalom” which we understand to be a universal greeting meaning “peace.” As the following comments by the Refiner’s Fire indicate:

‘Shalom’ is used to both greet people and to bid them farewell, and it means much more than “peace, hello or goodbye”…. Hebrew words go beyond their spoken pronunciation. Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent and emotion. Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.

According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.

The essence of this sublime state of total well-being is expressed in the phrase “It is well.” In its most literal sense, when one is asked, “How is it going?” The response should be “shalom. . . I have peace. . . It is well.” The phrase “It is well” immediately brings to mind one of the most popular hymns of the Christian Church: “It is Well with My Soul.” Listen to a moving rendition of this timeless classic by the Isaacs, who also provide the historical background of the experience that lead to the composing of the song:

Despite the circumstances of life, which at times can be most tempestuous, God’s desire is that we be whole or that we be complete, perfect or full or experience total “wellness” or wholeness. God’s will is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Continually God reminds us through His Word that He is the God of peace, who gives peace through the Prince of Peace, through who we are made whole, that we might be complete, perfect or full or experience  total “wellness” or wholeness, that we also might continually proclaim: “It is well with my soul.”

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Isaiah 12:4 brings to mind Four for Twelve on 4-4-12

April 4, 2012

Isaiah 12--4a

In January, 2012, I posted a blog in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe based on my theme and scriptural focal point for that year. In this case, I had selected Isaiah 62, a passage that most providentially contained twelve verses. In studying the chapter, I decided to write a series of poems, as I personalized each of the twelve verses, calling the collection “Twelve for Twelve for 2012.”

The Verse of the Day for July 5, 2014 is taken from Isaiah 12:4:

And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

The verse from Isaiah brought to mind the fourth installment “Four for Twelve,” one of a series of poems based on a personalized poetic rendering of Isaiah 62:4, which was posted on April 4, 2012. I am re-blogging that entry which opens with Isaiah 62:4 in the New Living Testament:

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: “Twelve for Twelve in 2012.”

Isaiah 62 with its 12 verses comprises the theme for the New Year: “Twelve for Twelve in 2012.”

Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”
and “The Bride of God,”
for the Lord delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.

Four for Twelve

Isaiah 62:4

Never again to be called “The Forsaken   City”

Nor will they say that you are “The Desolate Land,”

But God smiles and says, “You show are pretty,

And He will uphold you with His righteous right hand.”

Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight”

You shall be called the “The Bride of God,” just as He said.

He promised to love you and always do you right.

He takes your sorrow and turns it to joy instead.

He keeps on telling you the Lord delights in you;

He will not leave you but will always walk by your side.

You can count on Him, for He said He will be true:

The Lord redeemed you and will claim you as his bride.

In reflecting on Isaiah 62:4 and the poem inspired by that verse, I thought of other poetry and music related to the bride. “Enoch’s Song,” a poetic expression of my heart’s desire, makes reference to “the bride”:

 Enoch’s Song

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he should not see death;

“and was not found, because God had taken him”,

 for before he was taken he had this testimony,

that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5

My heart’s song is to so sing like Enoch,

With all that lies within me, with each breath,

That I too may walk with God and please Him,

That one day when they seek me, I shall not

Be found, for I will have been gathered, caught

Up to meet the Lord in the clouds forever,

Never to taste the bitter root of death

But savor the sweetness of His favor.

That to do His will was my sole desire–

May I leave behind this testimony

Written on the pages of pure a heart

Prepared for the marriage ceremony,

Blameless in His presence with nothing to hide,

So transformed and fashioned to be the bride.

Each time we attend a wedding or see a marriage ceremony in a movie or in some other media, or look at a wedding album, we see with our eyes reflections of the highest expression of unity, whereby Ephesians 5:31   is displayed:

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This photo from the wedding ceremony of my sister, Cheryl, a widow, who experienced the reality of God’s provision of “another chance” when she met, Thomas, a widower, as they both were serving in ministry at their church.

Cheryl and Thomas Williams, radiant display of God’s love for the bride and groom.

Here is another poem that makes reference to “the bride.”

At My Own Well

“Every man of significance [in the Bible]

found his bride at a well.”

    Apostle Lyrica Smith

As I pass through this parched landscape, this barren place,

Transform my Valley of Baca into a well

Where I can rest and be refreshed for the journey.

As I draw from these rivers of living waters,

Flood my soul with your very presence, sustain me,

For you never fail to feed all those who trust you.

You alone can satisfy this thirsting for more,

“More love and more power, more of you in my life.”

“Spring up, O well, within my soul. Spring up, O well.”

I abide in hope, that I may be found worthy

To stand blameless before you with nothing to hide,

Persevering in peace, without spot or wrinkle,

Adorned in splendor, glorified to be the bride,

Watching, waiting for the bridegroom at my own well.

The music video “Wedding Day—Christ and His Bride” by the Rochesters offers a glimpse of the ultimate expression of the fulfillment of God’s promise that the Bridegroom will return for his bride:

Palm Sunday on April Fools’ Day?: Strange yet not so strange

April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday 2012 occurs on April 1--April Fools' Day.

The story is told of a man who wore a sandwich board sign in New York City, as he walked the streets. On the front written in bold letters was this statement:  “I’m a fool for Christ’s sake!”  People passed and chuckled or snickered, but they changed their expressions when they turned around to read the back of the sign which asked, “Whose fool are you?”

 This story shared on April Fool’s Day brings to mind the words of the Apostle Paul who reminds believers: “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”

The lyrics to the chorus of the popular song “Everybody Plays the Fool” also remind us of this truth:

Everybody plays the fool sometime

There’s no exception to the rule

Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel

I ain’t lyin’, everybody plays the fool

 

Since everybody plays the fool sometime in life and in love, many have decided that, like the gentleman in New York, we will be a fool  for Christ’s sake, since the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger that men,” so say the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 1:25).

 Most amazingly April 1 or April Fool’s Day occurs this year on Palm Sunday or “Passion Sunday”, the beginning of Holy Week, the solemn period leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated on Easter. Most assuredly here is a situation where we note the distinction between the ways of men who purport themselves to be wise, and the ways of God who uses foolishness to confound the wise: 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

The whole idea of being a “fool for Christ’s sake” on April Fool’s Day brings to mind this poetic self-portrait:

        My Madsong

We are fools for Christ’s sake,

but you are wise in Christ!

We are weak, but ye are strong!

You are distinguished, but we are dishonored.

   I Corinthians 4:10

 

 I am stark raving mad as a gitsy;

I am insane and crazy as a loon.

Though my voice is stronger,

My lyrics are wronger.

My madsong is plainly out of tune

(But all the while I smile).

 

I am a rare and bizarre exception

Who loves to laugh outloud and cry.

My mind borders hysterical;

Each day I see a miracle.

I live on earth with my home in the sky

(And all the while I smile).

 

I make my point with certainty–

Another fact which clearly shows

That I am deceived or naiver,

With the mind of a child, a believer

Who knows that he knows that he knows

(Why all the while I smile).

 

So I still dream my dreams and live

My life in such a simple style.

The world wants to eat me for supper,

But I just laugh and keep the upper

Hand and keep walking mile by mile

(As all the while I smile).

 

They call me kook, fanatic and fool

Because of my peculiar knack.

Folks think me still odder

Because I talk with God, my Father,

And furthermore, yes, He talks back

(And all the while I smile).

From Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance          

 The following music video by Destiny House International is entitled “The Foolishness of God is Wiser than Men.”

All of this is food for thought on Palm Sunday, April Fool’s Day, 2012.