Archive for June, 2014

His kingdom shall reign over all the earth

June 30, 2014

Zechariah 14-9

The Verse of the Day for June 30, 2014 is taken from Zechariah 14:9 (KJV):

And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.

This verse brings to mind that not only shall the Lord be king over all the earth, but “of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Other scriptures also proclaim that “of his kingdom there shall be no end,” as Revelation 11:15 makes known:

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.

We also recall another passage containing the fulfillment of words spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah:

Luke 1:30-33:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Psalm 45:6 makes known that the throne of the Messiah would be everlasting:

Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.

Psalm 145:13 further indicates that “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”

Daniel 4:3 proclaims:

How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

A similar declaration was also made in Daniel 7:13-14:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

In 1 Chronicles 17:11-12 we find a similar declaration regarding the throne of the everlasting kingdom of the Lord:

And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.

He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.

To close out this blog entry, Ron Kenoly offers a stirring rendition of “Ancient of Days” which proclaims “Your kingdom shall reign over all the earth . . . your kingdom shall not pass away. . . O Ancient of Days.”

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A five-fold prayer: Perfect me

June 29, 2014

The Verse of the Day for August 16, 2014 is found in 2 Corinthians 7:1 (King James Version)

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This particular verse with its use of the term “perfecting,” which is a form of the verb “perfect,” also brings to mind a previous blog entry which was part of a series entitled a “Five-fold Prayer.” I am re-posting the entry “A Five-fold Prayer: Perfect Me,” the final devotional which is posted below:

Slide12

This blog entry is the final part of “A Five-fold Prayer,” a series of commentaries based on a statement regarding the ways of God when we find ourselves in perplexing situations that challenge our faith. In such instances, God is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct you; Inspect you; Correct you; Protect you; Perfect you.” After hearing those words, I took those five verbs and formed them into a request, a petition, a prayer to God for me.  I asked God to become the initiator of the action, and I would become the object of his action. I also examined each of the verbs with scriptural illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament and composed a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb at the end of each section related to each of the five verbs. In writing out my personal application of the scriptures, I also incorporated music related to the verbs as well. In Part 5 I ask God to “Perfect Me.”

“Perfect” can be used as an adjective or a verb in various places in the Bible.

In the Bible the word “perfect” can be used as an adjective or as a verb, as defined in the following manner, with some of the verses where the term is used:

Perfect:

In the Old Testament, as an adjective, “perfect” means: “blameless, upright, righteous; the proper action of simplicity, sincerity, absence from guile or evil intention.”

As a verb the term means “to complete, to make full, perfect or entire; to finish.”

II Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…

Psalm 37:37

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.

II Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 37:37 comprise the lyrics to a this song:

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

To show Himself strong, to show Himself strong,

To show Himself strong in behalf of them

Whose heart is perfect toward Him.

The man with a perfect heart is whole and complete:

Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,

For the end of that man is peace.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

In the New Testament, “perfect” is translated from the Greek word teleios. As an adjective it means–describing what has reached its end; complete, perfect, full, fully grown, wanting nothing, with special reference to the end for which it was intended.” 

As a verb teleioo means—”to complete, make perfect, so as to be full, wanting nothing, to bring to a full end.”

Hebrews 13:20-21:

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

James 1:2-4:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I Peter 5:10:

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

II Corinthians 13:11:

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

 Perfect me

What I lack fulfill, that I may not come up short.

Bring to maturity any deficiency

That I may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Make me perfect in every good work to do your will.

May the inner spaces of my heart catch your eye.

As you scan the vast landscape of this green planet,

May you see the perfect man you asked me to be.

“Change My Heart, O God” (Hillsong) is an appropriate song for this final section of my “Five-fold Prayer”:

“Something Beautiful,” written and performed by Bill and Gloria Gaither, expresses musically my ultimate desire which is also God’s desire for transformation.

“Have Thine Own Way” is another hymn that I learned as a child and continued to draw strength from as I grew into adulthood.

Conclusion

To conclude expounding upon the verbs that encompass my “Five-fold Prayer, I have formed a new compound verb—a neologism—as I make one final request, “Dir-ins-cor-pro-per” me, Lord:

Lord, I pray that you

direct me,

inspect me,

correct me,

protect me,

perfect me

That I may know you and the fullness of your grace.

This I pray in the name above all names, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I combine all five verbs to form a new compound verb used to conclude my Five-fold Prayer.

THINK before you speak

June 28, 2014

Think before you speakRecently the Office Manager at Carolina College of Biblical Studies, Pam Recod, shared an intriguing acrostic based on a statement that she has shared with her children as they were growing up. The words of wisdom that she imparted centered on this statement: “THINK before you speak.”

When written as an acrostic, the word “T-H-I-N-K” was broken down into a series of questions.

Instead of reflecting on the Verse of the Day for June 28, 2014, I have composed a devotional based on the statement: “Think before you speak.” I then looked for scriptures related to each of the questions asked in the acrostic.

“THINK before you speak.”                                            

This particular statement immediately brought to mind James 1:19:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

The Amplified Bible renders the verse in this way:

Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry

Proverbs 17:28 in the Amplified Bible makes this astute statement regarding speaking, or rather, not speaking:

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent

Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) also speaks of the center of our thoughts:

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost].

This verse is coupled with this sobering reminder from Luke 6:45 in the Amplified Bible:

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

Philippians 4:8 instructs believers as to what they should think:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things

Every believer is to be conscious of what that individual thinks. We are reminded to control our thoughts. Paul exhorts us to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We must never forget that “Thoughts are the seeds to our words and deeds.” We should, therefore, always “Think before you speak” and ask these questions:

T     Is it true?

In every situation we want always to speak the truth, and so we ask this question before we open our mouths in response: “Is it true?” We are always looking to the Word of God as our standard for what is true:

Psalm 19:9 declares:

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

Psalm 119:160 reiterates this truth:

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Whenever we open our mouths to speak we want to be a “true witness,” as Proverbs 14:25 indicates:

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.

Jesus Christ made this statement in John 17:17:

Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.

H   Is it helpful?

The words that we speak should be helpful, as Romans 14:19 reminds us:

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Colossians 4:6 also offers this encouragement regarding the words we speak:

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Ephesians 4:29 reinforces the same message:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I   Is it inspiring?

The words that we speak can build up or tear down; they can encourage or discourage. Before we speak, we should ask, “Will what I say inspire and motivate those who hear me?”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 offers these words of encouragement:

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

Believers are also exhorted to “admonish one another” in Romans 5:14

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

A similar expression is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:14:

And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

A Bible study from Xenos Christian Fellowship explains that to admonish is to “apply moral correction through verbal confrontation which is motivated by love.” We should always endeavor to speak the truth in love which involves “Communication of God’s truth in love in ways that strengthen Christians to go on following God’s will.”

N Is it necessary?

Although the Scriptures encourage us to always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks (I Peter 3:15), we may encounter situations whereby we should “hold our peace” and say nothing. Indeed, there are occasions when it may not be necessary to say what we have in mind. Indeed, Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking.

In exercising the grace of God, some believers may feel that they can say whatever they think whenever they want to. 1Corinthians 10:23 calls to our attention this truth:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

In life we all may encounter situations where it may be better to say little or nothing, as we ask, “Is it necessary?”

K Is it kind?

Most remarkably, what we put into our minds is what comes out of our mouths. Colossians 3: 12-14 (AMP) exhorts us:

12Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].

 13Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].

 14And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].

If we put kindness into hearts and minds, then the what we say and what we do will clothed with kindness, as we follow Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:32:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

If we are endeavoring to speak the truth in love, we can be assured that what we speak will be kind because “love is kind.” (I Corinthians 13:4)

And so we have endeavored to answer the five questions which form the acrostic based on the statement: “ ‘T-H-I-N-K’ before you speak.”

The essence of the message of this post is captured in this song by Fernando Ortega, “Let the Words of My Mouth”:

 

You are stronger than you think you are

June 25, 2014

Psalm 73--26

The Devotional for June 25, 2014 is inspired, in part, by life-changing a message that I heard last night. I was moved to write this poem based on a teaching which began with a word from the Lord, who said, “You are stronger than you think you are.” That statement became the title of the following poem:

You are stronger than you think you are

You are stronger than you think you are, says the Lord your God.

Though you trust Him with your whole heart, some think of you as odd.

You not only survive but thrive: stronger, wiser, better.

As a living witness, your life is an open letter,

A testament in praise along the path that you have trod.

 

Provided for, protected by the Shepherd’s staff and rod,

Released from bondage, you tear down any facade.

With the strength of the Lord you can shatter any fetter.

You are stronger than you think you are.

 

You have learned to obey and not to kick against the prod.

You seek to please the Lord and not to hear people applaud.

Just as God has forgiven you, you forgive each debtor.

You may be knocked down, but you rise as a real go-getter.

The Lord is the strength of your life, so says the Word of God,

You are stronger than you think you are.

 

Upon further reflection upon the message, I thought of Psalm 73:25-26:

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.

The New Living Testament renders the passage in this way:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.

Along with the Psalmist, I also declare that “God is the strength of my heart,” in that verse 26 of Psalm 73 became the inspiration for the following scripture memory song:

God Is the Strength of My Heart

 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

And my portion, my portion, and my portion for evermore.

 

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.

He’s the lifter, the lifter; He’s the lifter up of my head.

 

In thinking about the passage from Psalm 73, I also recall the opening verses of Psalm 27, my favorite psalm which I committed to memory as a youngster.

Psalm 27: 1-3

 1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

We also find another reference to “my heart “and “my flesh” in Psalm 16:8-10

8I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Throughout the Psalms we find references that reveal that God will strengthen our hearts. Psalm 27 ends with this reminder:

Psalm 27:14

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 31:24

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.

Psalm 84:2

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God

The classic Don Moen composition “God is the Strength of My Heart “closes the devotional and reinforces its message in a special way:

God: Our faithful deliverer

June 24, 2014

2 Thessalonians-3--3

The Verse of the Day for June 24, 2014 reminds us of who God is and what He will do, as expressed in 2 Thessalonians 3:3:

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

Throughout the Bible we see that the faithfulness of God never fails to deliver those who serve him.

In the Old Testament some form of the verb palat, the Hebrew word for “deliver,” is translated “to pluck out of the hands of an oppressor or enemy; to preserve, recover, remove; to deliver from danger, evil, trouble; to be delivered, to escape.” Note how the term is used in Psalm 31:1-5

1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.

3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

4  Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

5  My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

The phrase “my times are in thy hand” brings to mind the lyrics to this song:

My Times Are In Your Hand

There are times in life when I simply don’t understand,

When I cannot see the intricacy of your perfect plan,

When I’m tossed about and full of doubt,

When it seems I just can’t endure,

Your spirit comes beside me,

To comfort and to guide me,

To redirect and reassure,

To help me understand that my times are in your hand.

 

My times are in your hand.

My times are in your hand.

Your spirit comes beside me,

To comfort and to guide me,

To redirect and reassure,

To help me understand that my times are in your hand.

 

My times are in your hand.

My times are in your hand.

I submit every vision, each purpose and plan.

Though I may never fully understand,

I stand secure in knowing my times are in your hand.

 

It’s so comforting to know

My times are in your hand.

My times are in your hand.

 

In the New Testament the Greek verb ruomai is translated “to draw or snatch to one’s self from danger, to rescue, to deliver.”

In the poem “Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord, “my personal testimony expressed poetically, I make reference being rescued from of a horrible situation:

With lovin arms you reached way down

And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,

Sought me and flat-out rescued me,

Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

Why don’t somebody help me praise the Lord!

The Verse of the Day uses the expression “keep from evil.” We recognize a similar phrase in the prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke before his crucifixion:
John 17:15 (New Living Translation)

  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.

We are, of course, familiar with closing words of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 from the King James Version:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

The New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

II Timothy 4:18 also reminds us

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever.

The poem “Protect me,” from a series of teachings entitled “A Five-fold Prayer,” reinforces the message that God is faithful and that He will deliver, just as He promised:

 

As a child runs to safety in his father’s arms,

So I, too, run to you, “my shelter from life’s storms.”

Lord, I long to dwell with you in the secret place,

My buckler, my shield, deliverer, my fortress,

Strong tower, defender, who responds to my prayer.

For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish me

And protect me and deliver me from evil.

 

Clint Brown provides a musical version of Psalm 18 which speaks of God as “my fortress and my deliverer.”

Isaiah 40:31–Renewed as eagles

June 23, 2014

Isaiah 40_31

Taken from the closing passage of Isaiah 40, the Verse of the Day for June 23, 2014, Isaiah 40:31, offers comfort and assurance revealed in Isaiah 40:28-31 (New Living Translation):

28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.

30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.

31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

The passage also brings to mind the closing verses of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:13-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

These two related passages become the inspiration for the following song:

They That Wait Upon the Lord

(Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 27:13, 14)

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.

They shall mount up with wings as an eagle.

They shall run and not be weary.

They shall walk and shall not faint.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

 

I had fainted unless I had believed

To see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait upon the Lord, and he shall strengthen your heart.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

 

There are times when you may feel your strength is almost gone.

Pressed and beset on every hand, you just can’t seem to carry on.

But at the point when your world seems to be torn apart,

That’s when the Lord comes through for you,

Your strength He promised to renew.

He will encourage your heart.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

 

At times it seems you are always climbing up an endless hill.

All the pressures and the trials of life have broken down your will.

Those about you seem to doubt you and say this is the end.

Don’t give up; try one more time.

Straight ahead is the finish line.

The Lord will give that second wind.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.

They shall mount up with wings as an eagle.

They shall run and not be weary.

They shall walk and shall not faint.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

 

Eagles in the Scriptures:

Among the birds mentioned in the Bible, we find 34 references to eagles in the King James Version. One of my favorite passages connected with eagles speaks of protection and provision in speaking to the Children of Israel when they escaped from the bondage of Egypt:

Exodus 19:4

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

Watching an eagle in flight is awe-inspiring, as Proverbs 30:18-19 proclaims:

There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

Of course, one of the most recognized references to eagles occurs in the Verse of the Day from Isaiah 40:31. Lee in his blog “Birds of the Bible” examines “Birdwatching from a Christian Perspective” and provides fascinating commentary on “eagles” with references to Isaiah 40:31 and other scriptures, along with astounding photography of the growth stages of an eagle. Lee notes that the eagle spoken of in Scriptures is actually a golden eagle, indigenous to the Middle East and beyond, rather than the bald eagle which is found throughout North America.

Jeff Conte offers a moving rendition of “Wings as Eagles,” based on Isaiah 40:28-31 with a video clip of an eagle in flight.

This video played during Bald Eagle Watch Month reminds us of the awesome beauty and majesty of some of God‘s most amazing creations: eagles.

Don Moen also offers “As Eagles,” a song of encouragement based on the closing passage from Isaiah 40:28-21

Psalm 91:1–My dwelling transformed

June 21, 2014

Forestwander.com

The Verse of the Day for June 21, 2014 is taken from Psalm 91:1 (KJV):

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

A number of years ago I recall hearing a message “God is Looking for a Dwelling Place,” and I was inspired to write the following poem which uses Psalm 91:1 as its introductory verse.

 My Dwelling Transformed

 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1

 

Despite perilous times embroiled in confusion and strife,

I continue to learn that everything has its own price,

As I pursue the ultimate goal, I offer my life:

A first-born son, presented as a living sacrifice.

With clean hands and a pure heart, I prepare a dwelling place.

To attract You, I must provide a pleasing ambiance:

As your songs of love flow from the depths of my inner space,

A habitation designed and arrayed for your entrance.

To walk by the spirit of life I am driven to pursue.

I dance to my own music, softly playing in my mind,

And strive to understand that You alone make all things new.

As the eyes of the Lord scan this green planet, may they find

My dwelling transformed into a place of simple beauty,

As I offer all that I am and ever hope to be.

 

After completing the poem, I thought of Yolanda Adams, who offers a version of the traditional hymn sung so often during my childhood and beyond, as she asks, “Is Your All on the Altar?”

Many fellow believers are earnestly seeking to situate themselves to be in position for the next “move of God,” yearning for a fresh visitation from the Lord. While to bask in His glorious presence would bring with it unspeakable joy, the innermost yearning of my heart is to experience an unprecedented visitation that goes on without interruption, a move of God extending indefinitely. Francis Frangipane reiterates this point, “Let us also keep in mind that the goal of a visitation from God is that we become the habitation of God.” Three years ago while driving about town, I noticed a billboard on a neighborhood church with this message: “2011: Make this a year of transformation.” Even though three years have passed, the exhortation applies to the current year and to every year for that matter. The poem “My Dwelling Transformed” expresses my desire to see times of visitation transformed into times of habitation.

Imagine this scenario—You have a good friend who sometimes comes by to visit. You would like to have that individual come by more often, so you prepare a place for them to stay when they’re in town. In a similar way, the Shunamite woman and her husband prepared a special abode for Elijah, who visited them periodically. You know what your close acquaintance likes and doesn’t like, so you have what he/she likes, so you custom-design and appointed the place to suit your visitor.

It is no different with God. We endeavor to provide the perfect atmosphere, the ideal conditions that will welcome Him so that He shows up often and stays long. In fact, our ultimate desire is to turn a visitation into a habitation, but how is this accomplished?

When God makes visiting a habit, then visitation becomes habitation. God visits so often and enjoys Himself so much that His visits become more and more frequent, and He stays longer and longer until His visits are a habit, and He decides to abide. Our heart’s deepest yearning for intimacy is expressed in this poem:

Times of Visitation

As you once visited Abraham, our father,

and sent angelic hosts to reinforce your pledge,

in these times of barrenness and seeming defeat,

where are the times of visitation set for us?

We offer our heart, a place prepared for you to meet.

As you sojourn, may you find in our lives a place

so prepared for you to come with friendly intent

that on each occasion where you show up

that your ultimate purpose is most apparent.

As you clearly reveal your promise to fulfill

your will, receive our obedience as sacrifice,

and favor shall be our portion as faithful sons.

 

May you find us yielded vessels, clean and fitted

for the glory of your presence that you might pour

blessings without measure to overflow and flood

our soul, as we commune with you in perfect peace.

May we never squander times of visitation

but shut the door in face of the enemy,

as we open wide the portals of our spirit

and transform our heart into your habitation.

 

As I concluded these comments, the lyrics from a cherished hymn from childhood days and beyond came to mind:

Abide With Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Abide, O Lord, abide with me.

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge provide a stirring rendition of this hymn which is the musical expression of our heart’s desire:

Abba, Father: Taking another look

June 19, 2014

In the days after Father’s Day, we were still reflecting on fathers and looking at what the Scripture have to say about God and fathers. Psalm 103:13, the Verse of the Day, for June 16, 2014 talked of the qualities of God as a father:

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

Other related scriptures included:

Proverbs 3:12

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

1 Thessalonians 2:11

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.

Ephesians 1:3

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

Abba, Father:

God is our father: We have the privilege, not just to call God, “our Father”, but we can call him “Abba, Father”

The word “Abba,” is a transliteration of the word “Father.” Since no English word adequately conveys the meaning of the Aramaic word, “Abba,” the translators use the transliteration of the term. The word conveys a close intimacy that is reserved for parents and children. We might compare the word to dad or “Daddy” or some other term of endearment, but such translations do not really express the closeness implied by the term. Here are three places where the expression is used.

Mark 14:36

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Romans 8:15

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

 

The latter two verses form the epigraph or introductory statement to a poem with the title:

 

Abba, Father

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,

but you received the Spirit of adoption

by whom we cry out,”Abba, Father.”  

 

Romans 8:15        

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son

into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Galatians 4:6                                        

Abba, Father,

All creation is groaning and moaning,

Wrapped in a winding sheet

Straining for relief, release. . .

Sighing and crying,

we no longer suppress

the primeval urge to scream

but wail as if travailing in childbirth

 

 Abba, Father,

Our heart’s cries rise

from the depths of our souls,

stifled in some by disappointment,

crushed by discouragement and besetting sins—

heart-songs hushed in so many by hardship,

and buried in despair by hope deferred,

muffled and all but snuffed out by offense.

 

 Abba, Father,

hear our yearning to express

what cannot be uttered,

listen to our guttural lament,

the alto rhapsody of

our navy blue notes,

fashioned from the twelve bar blues

of our soulful melancholody

 

 Abba, Father,

hear this ecstasy of our prayer:

this inexpressible, irrepressible,

unspeakable joy infused into

the love song of a captive bird

released from the snare of the fowler,

a new sound, our song of the lark

composed to sing on the wings of freedom

 

Abba, Father,

we long to sing a new song of the Lord,

a beautifully crafted ballad,

an aria de capo arranged for our Beloved,

a duet sung in two-part harmony

fashioned from our own Willow Song,

as our midnight cry harmonizes

with the voice of the bridegroom

 

Abba, Father,

as the Daystar dawns

and the sun of righteousness

rises to dispel the frigid, dark night,

receive these our brand new praisesongs,

songs in the night, sung in the morning,

raised to glorify and magnify your name,

as perfected true sons of God

now emerge to transform the earth

 

Listen to a heartfelt song entitled “Abba Father” from the group Acapella

 

Maranatha Singers also offer a rendition of “Abba Father/We Give You Glory” from a collection entitled “Abba” 18 songs to the Father.

Fathers: Don’t provoke. . .

June 18, 2014

Ephesians-6 4

Once again, the focus of the Verse of the Day for June 18, 2014 is on fathers:

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4 KJV

Colossians 3:21 provides a similar exhortation:

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Not only are fathers not to provoke their children, but all believers in general are not to provoke God, their Father, by means of unrighteous behavior and unbelief, as the Children of Israel did in the Old Testament. Hebrews 3:16 points out what occurred:

For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

The exhortation reminds believers that they should

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

Believers today are to learn from the provocative behavior of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness whereby they did not enter into rest that God desired for them because of their unbelief.

Rather than provoking our children to wrath or to respond in anger, Hebrews 10:24 offers this reminder:

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: This verse applies, not only to fathers, but all believers.

Listen to a scripture memory song based on Hebrews 10:24-25: “Provoke unto Love and Good Works.”

Birthday reflections from a father

June 17, 2014

Psalm-68 4

Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name Jah, and rejoice before him. A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. Psalm 68:4-5 KJV

The Verse of the Day for June 17, 2014 is another verse related to God as a father. In this case he is a father to those who have no father. Indeed, the absence of fathers or fatherlessness is beyond crisis stage, not only in America but around the world. Statistics clearly reveal the devastating consequences of fatherlessness which impacts society, in terms of the resulting poverty and the health and emotional challenges suffered by children from fatherless homes. God has been and continues to be deeply concerned about those who have no fathers. And that “God sets the solitary in families:” Yes, indeed, God is very concerned about fathers and the state of fatherhood in the world today.

This is a special week in that it contains two occasions to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday which today.

Usually on my birthday I write a poem of celebration. This tradition goes back to the first time that I consciously took upon myself the mantle of an occasional poet—meaning that I consciously determined to write a poem for a specific occasion. The first occasion that I remember writing a poem for was my 21st birthday when I composed this short piece:

Upon Turning Twenty-one

 

The day came and went,

but felt no different—

a day like any other,

yet why so much significance.

This special date:

June 17, 1963

Should mean so much to me,

But I felt as I did at seventeen.

Was I then a man or am I yet to be?

 

Today, I as I reflected upon my first poetic attempt and beyond, I composed this poem of celebration:

 Now is the Yet to Be

“. . . the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is what motivates you to serve

and continue to be faithful.

Christological Astronomy Profile Worksheet for Lonnell Johnson

Dr. Dale Sides

 

Abiding in His presence and overwhelmed by God’s favor,

Still compounding after the art of the apothecary

The precious anointing oil, my life a sweet smelling savor.

I reflect with gratitude and offer this commentary.

A new dawn emerged on this day seventy-two years ago,

As planets converged in Taurus; Cancer rose to battle Mars.

God makes known His will and shows His desire that I might know.

I look up, as the Eastern sky unfolds: witness of the stars,

And I see clearly once more that now is the yet to be.

I continue to stand strong in the power of His might,

As past, present, and future merge into eternity.

I press toward the mark for the prize, as I still fight the good fight.

Walking hand in hand with God toward the place of my destiny,

The hope of Christ’s return still undergirds and motivates me.