Archive for October, 2013

By grace: A quintet of songs

October 30, 2013

Ephesians 2 8-9

 

Take a look at the Verse(s) of the Day for October 30, 2013 as rendered in the Amplified Bible:

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

The Amplified Bible offers perhaps the most common definition of grace as “unmerited favor.” To receive grace is to receive a gift, something so valuable that it must be given away because no one is wealthy enough to purchase something of inestimable value and worth. A common acronym for grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.”

In reflecting upon God’s grace, a number of songs come to mind, hymns from the past and contemporary music as well. Here are five songs, a quintet with the number five being symbolic of grace,  related to the subject of grace:

The first song I thought of was the traditional hymn “Grace Greater than All our Sin.”

A contemporary song of grace is “Your Grace Finds Me” by Matt Redman.

A song with a simple title is “Grace,” written and performed by Michael W. Smith

One of my favorite contemporary compositions is “By Grace Alone” with lyrics and music by Scott Wesley Brown and Jeff Nelson, offered by Maranatha! Music

Another composition related to grace has been recorded countless times and is recognized around the world. Without a doubt “Amazing Grace” is the most popular hymn in the English language. Wintley Phipps gives the history of the hymn and closes with an unforgettable rendition of “Amazing Grace”:

God’s grace is truly amazing; I shudder to think where we would be without this precious gift received by faith.

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A living sacrifice: Expression of worship

October 29, 2013

Romans_12-1

In this case, the Amplified Bible offers this expanded rendering of the Verse of the Day for October 29, 2013:

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

I recall a quote heard frequently in the early days of my realizing what it meant to accept Jesus Christ as savior and to make him Lord: “We are born to live, and born again to serve.”

Romans 12:1 reminds us that serving God is an expression of worship.  In his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus Christ in a discussion about the place of worship spoke these words:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4: 23-24 New King James)

One expression of worship involves our offering praise and thanksgiving unto God, that is the “sacrifice of praise . . . the fruit of our lips,” whereby we declare that He is worthy of our worship and adoration. The Alleluia Singers offer an illustration of this kind of worship in “We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise.”

Another expression of worship involves doing or serving, as we follow God’s command and make a sacrifice to do His will, to serve Him alone. A musical illustration of Romans 12:1 is “Take My Life—A Living Sacrifice” offered by Chris Christian:

The Verse of the Day reminds us of our “reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”  Listen to the Romans 12-1-2 Song “A Living Sacrifice” (Christian Scripture Praise Worship Song with Lyrics).

The Word of the Lord endures forever

October 28, 2013

Collection of hundreds of Free Bible Verse from all over the world.

A previous blog entry is re-posted today:

The Verse(s) of the Day for October 28, 2015 from 1 Peter 1:24-25 is taken from Isaiah 40:7-8. This particular passage is used as the epigraph or introduction to a poem inspired when I stood on the stump of a massive oak tree that had gradually died over a period of time, eventually having to be cut down. Although the tree had been around for centuries, its demise brought to mind how fleeting life is in the light of eternity.

oak

                           The Old Oak Stump     

                  The grass withers, the flower fades,

              because the breath of the LORD blows upon it:

                  surely the people are grass.

               The grass withers, the flower fades,

               but the word of our God stands for ever.

                         Isaiah 40:7-8

                        I stand dead center on the old oak stump,

                        The ruin of a woodland monument,

                        My feet encircled by the woody rings

                        That number far beyond remembered years.

                        I read between the lines of annual

                        Reports a history of all you have seen:

                        You saw the Shawnee dance around his fires;

                        You knew the name of each German who came

                        To farm, to build, and to beget his sons

                        Under the shaded beauty of your boughs;

                        You spread your arms and offered shelter as

                        A dwelling place for bird and beast and boy.

                        Yet time’s swift stroke condemned the tenement

                        As progress served its eviction notice.

                        Men leveled the tree whose lease had expired,

                        Legend of a people, long since cut off,

                        Like meadow grass overgrowing the land

                        Where I stand and read man’s life history:

                        Fleeting as baby’s breath, man’s day sprinkles

                        Grasslands for a season, then blows away.

                        All life evaporates like dew, except

                        The Word of God, which ever shall inspire.

Jesus Christ echoes the same sentiment when he says, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matthew 24:35). The Psalmist also proclaims the same truth: Forever, O Lord,  Your word is settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). Indeed, the Holy Bible, the Book of Life, the Word of God, the word of the Lord endures forever.

Ken Whitson offers an original song “The Word Will Stand Forever.”

Take a look at this video with the text of I Peter 1 along with the song “There is Hope” sung against a backdrop of beautiful photos.

2 Timothy 3:16-17: The source and purpose of Scripture

October 26, 2013

The Verse(s) of the Day for October 26, 2013 is taken from 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

2 Timothy 3 16-17

These two verses indicate the source and purpose of Scripture which is more clearly expressed in the Amplified Bible:

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture Release offers this version of 2 Timothy 3:16 as a scripture memory song:

In thinking of the Scriptures as words given by the inspiration of God or as the” God-breathed word,” another related verse comes to mind:

2 Peter 1:21

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

In discussing “Our God-breathed Bible”, teacher John McArthur comments,

So, when you pick up your Bible, you’re not reading the word of men, you’re reading the Word of God that was written down by men who were moved along in the process by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When God breathes life comes forth. When God breathed into the nostrils of his creation in Genesis and he became a living soul. Likewise, the Word that God breathed is “alive and full of power” or living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). In thinking about the power of the breath of God, the hymn “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” came to mind, rendered here in a contemporary style:

Not  only is all scripture “God-breathed” but its purpose is that believer, the one who puts his trust in God, might be “complete and proficient,” fully equipped, as a cruise ship is thoroughly prepared and outfitted for its maiden and subsequent voyages.

The New Century Version offers this rendering of 2 Timothy 3:17:

Using the Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.

The Verse(s) of the Day are wonderful reminders of the source and the purpose of the Word of God.

The fear of the Lord

October 24, 2013

Here is a dramatic, graphic rendering of Proverbs 9:10, the Verse of the Day for October 24, 2013:

The verse opens with “the fear of the Lord,” a phrase that brings to mind another verse from Psalm 19:9:

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

Listen to Integrity Music’s offering of Psalm 19:8-10 which contains a reference to “the fear of the Lord.”

Both Proverbs 9:10 and Psalm 19:9 form the introduction to this poem:

The Beginning of Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

Psalm 19:9    

                                                                                                                                                                                                            
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:

and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

 

I begin and stand in absolute awe of You,

Thoroughly washed in the fountain of holiness.

The old has passed away—Behold, You make all things new:

Redeemed and justified by Christ, my righteousness.

As You search the earth, may I find grace in your sight.

I seek to be wise but never in my own eyes.

Here stands a perfect man, one destined to walk upright,

A beloved son, whose heart Your Word purifies.

I am filled with knowledge and wisdom from above

And bound by a covenant no one can sever,

For nothing can separate me from God’s love:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

I am renewed in strength and upheld by God’s Word,

As I pursue wisdom, growing in the fear of the Lord.

 

Proverbs 9:10 and Psalm 19:9 both provide points to ponder as we begin this new day.

Jesus Christ: The burden bearer

October 23, 2013

Galatians_6-2This particular blog entry was originally posted two years ago, and it is revised and re-posted below:

Taken from Galatians 6:2 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for October 23, 2015 expresses the idea that there is a burden that we can share:

Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].

Carry-burdensIf we see a brother or sister fall under a heavy burden, we can come along side of them and offer assistance in bearing that burden. There is, however, a burden that every believer must bear alone. This truth is revealed in Galatians 6:5 which indicates: “For every man shall bear his own burden.”

In thinking on these two verses, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975.  During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that the load for everyone was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore for me.  As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrived at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,

When I lay my burden down.

I stumbled up the rugged road;

I almost fell beneath the load

And spurned the pain inside my head,

Recalling words of one who said

Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

 

The yoke I bear cannot compare

With all he took upon Himself:

All sins, disease, and guilt, despair

That I could not forebear myself.

His burden was not made of wood,

His cross beyond all words can name.

Have I resisted unto blood?

Could I for joy endure such shame?

From a glimpse into his face

I’m strengthened by a second wind;

My mind’s renewed to keep the pace

The load is lightened by my friend.

 

I feel better, so much better

since I laid my burden down.

The epigraph or short intro to the poem as well as the closing stanza are lyrics from an old gospel song that I so vividly recall my childhood days, recorded here by the Staple Singers.

I am so glad that Jesus Christ is our “Burden Bearer.”

A word fitly spoken

October 22, 2013

Proverbs_15-23

The Verse of the Day for October 22, 2013 mentions the phrase “a word spoken in due season” which brings to mind another related verse found in Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, who dedicated his life to enlightening students of the Bible regarding Orientalisms or customs and practices from the Eastern sectors of the world, indicates that the reference to “apples of gold” is actually referring to a variety of succulent oranges grown in the Middle East. He comments on the often quoted verse from Proverbs:

“Verse 11 ‘Apples of gold’ had nothing to do with apples. These are a kind of orange we grow in Egypt, Syria and India of which there is no English name. . . There is a special orange tree called Kitchilika tree, sweetest of all oranges. This fruit makes a refreshing drink which soothes and comforts. It is gold in color, and does not last long after it is ripe and can’t be exported outside of the country. Very tasty, we make sherbet of it, and it is easily smelled when ripe on the tree. They are very beautiful to look at and quench the thirst quicker than any other juice. It was called apples of gold because there was no other English word.

The verse should read: ‘A word appropriately spoken is like oranges placed in a tray of silver.’

So a word appropriately spoken to a weary or troubled person will refresh, soothe, comfort, revitalize, strengthen. The Word of God is the only “word fitly spoken.” It will lift a person out of trouble and despondency. Words appropriately spoken (to a troubled person) are like golden oranges in trays of silver. They are refreshing, strengthening, pleasing, uplifting.”

This Indian hybrid orange may be closer to the fruit spoken of as "apples of gold" in Proverbs 25:11.

This Indian hybrid orange may be closer to the fruit spoken of as “apples of gold” in Proverbs 25:11.

A great way to start the day is with a glass of “OJ”—orange juice of a special kind.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_%28fruit%29

Psalm 40:8 and related verses with song

October 21, 2013

Psalm_40-8

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day for October 21, 2013, my mind immediately went to the First Psalm, the first passage of scripture that I ever committed to memory when I was in grade school, more than 60 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still recall by heart to this day. Psalm 40:8 brought to mind Psalm 1:1-2:

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.

Here is a reading of Psalm 1 in Hebrew with English subtitles:

Psalm 1 is set to music in this selection from Kim Hill:

Another related scripture from the Book of Psalms is Psalm 119:11, a special verse that I committed to memory by composing a melody to facilitate memorizing the scripture, the first of a long series of scripture memory songs.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Here is a similar Bible Memory Verse for Kids for Psalm 119:11 by Shannon Linville.

A great way to begin the day is with a couple of verses set to music from the Psalms.

Learning to wait on the Lord with patience

October 18, 2013

The Verse of the Day for October 18, 2013 is the last verse from my favorite Psalm:

Psalm_27-14

Associated with waiting on the Lord is the character trait of patience or endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord. When we examine one of the words for “patience”- hupomone, we see a compound word derived from hupo, meaning under and meno, meaning “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under. The verb hupomeno means to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

The root idea of the noun hupomone is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel.  It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy — enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

This artistic rendering of Job and his friends is done by William Blake.

This artistic rendering of Job and his friends and his wife  is done by William Blake.

Hupomone is used 32 times in the New Testament and is translated: endurance seven times; patient enduring once; perseverance twenty-one times; and steadfastness three times.  James 5:11 provides an excellent example of both the verb hupomeno and the noun hupomone in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance. The King James Version offers this rendering containing a familiar phrase that encompasses a character trait that is most often associated with Job:

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

The Book of Job is a classic example of the principle of first usage and first spiritual principle, which highlights as particularly important the first time that a concept is mentioned in the Bible.  It is believed by E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to be composed by Moses. Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” was, indeed, a real person, and his story is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles. One of the foundational spiritual principles that the Book of Job demonstrates is that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.”  A number of years ago I composed a little song based on the character trait “perseverance”, another word for patience:

 Never give up! Keep your chin up!

Never give up! And you will find

The strength you need to give it one more try.

Never give up Keep your chin up!

Never give up! But realize

You’ve got to go “through” to get to the prize.

So never give up! Keep your chin up!

In the end perseverance always pays.

In the end perseverance always pays.

Although it is said that “Patience is its own reward,” God also rewards patience, as so clearly demonstrated at the end the Book of Job. Recall Job 42:10:

 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

In reality when we respond to God in faith, we find that “without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Indeed, we see that the Lord is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” Verse 11 of Psalm 103 also states, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;”

Not only is patience its own reward, but God also honors and rewards patience, as we patiently wait on Him.

Karen Clark Sheard and Donnie McClurkin offer a stirring rendition of a song that captures the essence of the Verse of the Day: “Wait on the Lord.”

Two images of escape from two Psalms on Black Poetry Day

October 17, 2013

The Verse of the Day for October 17, 2014 brings to this previous blog entry which is modified and re-posted below:

In this mosaic a retiarius (net-fighter) named Kalendio is fighting a secutor named Astyanax. In the bottom image, the secutor is covered in the retiarius's net. The Verse of the Day relates to the Lord who rescues from the net those who fear him.

In this mosaic a retiarius (net-fighter) named Kalendio is fighting a secutor named Astyanax. In the bottom image, the secutor is covered in the retiarius’s net. The Verse of the Day relates to the Lord who rescues from the net those who fear Him.

The Verse of the Day for is a selection from the Book of Psalms:

Psalm 25:14-15 (Amplified Bible):

The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.

As is sometimes the case, I prefer a reading from another translation, such as this rendering from the New Living Testament:

 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.
My eyes are always on the Lord,
for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

Caged bird

The Verse of the Day in the New Living Testament also brings to mind a similar image of escape expressed in Psalm 124:7 (AMP)  relating to a captive bird:

We are like a bird escaped from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

Paul_Laurence_Dunbar_circa_1890

This particular verse of escape also brings to mind “Sympathy” one of the best loved poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ohio-born African American poet of renown:

Sympathy

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!

When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;

When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,

And the river flows like a stream of glass;

When the first bird sings and the first bud opens,

And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–

I know what the caged bird feels!

 

I know why the caged bird beats its wing

Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;

For he must fly back to his perch and cling

When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;

And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars

And they pulse again with a keener sting–

I know why he beats his wing!

 

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–

When he beats his bars and he would be free;

It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–

I know why the caged bird sings!

The closing line of this poignant work by Dunbar is the title celebrated teacher, poet, author, Maya Angelou selected for the first in her series of autobiographies I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Listen Tom Obedlam’s recitation of Dunbar’s Sympathy:

Since today is Black Poetry Day, sharing this particular poem is especially noteworthy, as we celebrate the birthday of Jupiter Hammon,  a devout Christian who rose to become the first of his race to publish a poem in America.