Archive for July, 2014

Light of the world: Change agents

July 30, 2014

Matthew-5--14-16

The Verse of the Day for July 30, 2014 is found in the section of Scripture known as “The Beatitudes”:

Matthew 5:14, 16 (KJV):

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Here Jesus uses a metaphor to describe the impact that his followers can have upon the world. When light is introduced, the environment changes. In our contemporary society those who carry the light and thus bring about change are sometimes called “change agents,” which education.com defines in this way: “Individuals or groups who attempt change, aid in its accomplishment, or help to cope with it.”

Jorge Luis Boria notes that “Change does not ‘Happen’” in an article related to “change facilitators” or those who facilitate change within an organization: “A change facilitator is a person that leads the process of change. He or she is aware of the risks of the transition and helps the organization to prepare and execute a plan to make the change happen.” Such “change facilitators” or “change agents” make the difference within an organization; indeed, they make the difference in life.

T.M. Moore speaks of three metaphors that Jesus Christ uses to describe the Church as agents of change: “The Church changes its society by serving as light, salt, and leaven.They show up and everything changes. Change agents not only make the difference; they are the change. Mahatma Ghandi is said to have offered this exhortation: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

The following poem was originally dedicated to a group of missionaries who were sent to local areas to carry the light and introduce Jesus Christ:

Light of the World

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on

a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp,

and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand;

and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they

may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.”        

Matthew 5:14-16

 

A call comes ringing. . .     

 

The light that from creation split the dark

still shines today. The same sun that once graced

Eden’s green place still warms the earth each day.

Without the light there is no life, no hope

For growth, no power to live and give birth.

Without the light there is only the night

To swallow the land and smother all life.

Somewhere someone sits in darkness, crying. . .

Send the light. . .

 

The love of Christ constrains us to go forth,

To shine as beacons and carry the love,

To offer shelter from stormy places,

To light the path of everyone who longs

To be at home within God’s family room.

Send the light. . .

With torch held high, let us stand upon the Rock:

a lantern, a lampstand, a beacon, a lighthouse,

a city set on a hill that cannot be hid

                                   

Let it shine. . .

 

Though the darkness thickens, let our lights so shine.

Let us speak God’s Word and echo God’s voice that

First spoke light into being, commanding it to shine

 

So let it shine. . .

 

So let it shine. . .

                                                                                               

So let it shine. . .

 

forever more.

 

Cindy Black offers a contemporary version of the classic hymn that provides the refrain used in “Light of the World.”

                            

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I will not forget: I will remember

July 29, 2014
The beautiful petals of five lobes of the "forget-me-not" bring to mind the words of Psalm 119:93.

The beautiful petals of five lobes of the “forget-me-not” bring to mind the words of Psalm 119:93.

The Verse of the Day is found in Psalm 119:93 (KJV) where the Psalmist boldly declares:

I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.

Note how this truth is expressed in the New Living Translation:

Psalm 119:93

I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.

The Living Bible renders the verse in this way:

I will never lay aside your laws, for you have used them to restore my joy and health.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

I will never forget Your precepts, [how can I?] for it is by them You have quickened me (granted me life).

The Psalmist expresses similar sentiments in Psalm 103:1-2 in the familiar King James Version:

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

The New Living Translation offer this rendering:

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.

The Amplified Bible adds this:

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits—

I recall listening to a teaching series by Dr. David Jeremiah in which I made some notes regarding keys to not forgetting the Word of God. I used this heading for my comments:

Do Remember God’s Goodness (Don’t Forget How Good God’s Been):

I recall the lyrics to an old familiar gospel song: “Do Lord, Do Lord, do remember me.” Just as God declares that He won’t forget us (Isaiah 49:15-16), we must remember not to forget God and His precepts.

To facilitate the remembrance of God’s goodness, I suggest writing down those times of deliverance, of answered prayers. Dr. Charles Stanley recommends that we write down those victories as reminders to go back and read in the dark times when God seems distant and so far away.

During times of turmoil and mounting pressures that tend to obscure our vision of who God is and what He will do, we must remember that God does not forget:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love,

which ye have shewed toward his name,

in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

 

The good deeds that you have done may not be extolled

When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.

Some quickly forget all the good that you have done

And fail to recall that you were the only one

To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.

Time after time you were the one to meet the need.

When others were busy and chose to walk away,

You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.

In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,

Recall that God knows all things, for He alone sees

Your labor and saves all the tears that you have shed.

Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,

And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.

As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:

Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

 

As I reflected upon the Verse of the Day, I thought of the lyrics to an original song in which I expressed a similar desire:

 I Will Remember

I will remember. I will remember

I will remember your love in times of joy, in times of sorrow.

I will remember, always remember, each triumphant victory we have won

In the love you displayed in Your Son.

I will remember, always remember

I will remember. I will remember.

 

I will remember the fire that first warmed my heart.

I will remember. I will remember.

I will remember the desire to love and to serve only You.

 

I will remember, always remember.

I will never forget Your Word.

I will remember, always remember.

I will never forget You are my Lord.

I will remember, always remember.

I will remember. I will remember.

I will remember, always remember.

I will never forget Your Word.

 

To close out this blog entry Tommy Walker offers this magnificent praise and worship song: “We Will Remember.”

Forget the past: Press toward the mark

July 28, 2014

Philippians 3--12-14

Although the Verse of the Day is taken from Philippians 3:14, to fully understand that particular verse, we need to take a look at the preceding verse as well:

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Our understanding is illuminated as we examine some of the athletic imagery in the passage. Immediately my thoughts turn toward my high school track days when I ran anchor on the mile relay. Once the baton hit my hand, I grabbed it and focused on completing the race. If the other three members of the team had given me a lead, my task was to maintain it or if we were behind when I got the baton, I had to make up the distant and then pull ahead before crossing the finish line. To press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” as one does with a telescope which blocks everything out except that which you are looking at.

I recall that I had to be “single-minded,” focusing all of my energy and efforts on finishing my race. I did not look to the right nor to the left, certainly I did not want to look behind, but I pressed toward the mark, striving to cross the finish line. I recognized that I had to cross the finish line before I could receive the prize.

Philippians 3:13-14 is used as the introduction to a poem that expresses where we as believers find ourselves as we finish the race that is set before us:

In the Home-stretch

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:

but this one thing I do, forgetting those things

which are behind, and reaching forth

unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize

Of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark,

Secure in the Savior, as all things become new.

Constantly seeking, we know we shall someday find

Our heart’s desire fulfilled, for God’s Word is still true,

Even as these perilous times have never been more dark.

Though at times we faint and grow weary in our mind,

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark.

Each day we grow in grace, empowered by the Word.

We fix our heart and set our affections above.

Like David, we encourage ourselves in the Lord.

Nothing can separate us from His boundless love.

We rest in hope, assured that all those who endure

Shall lay hold of the prize that they have sought to win.

We purify our hearts, as the Lord himself is pure.

Strengthened by the presence of Christ who dwells within,

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark,

We live to give, and we love to serve above all:

Waiting for the Lord, we still say “Yes” to our call.

We rest in the home-stretch, as we press toward the mark.

The song “Press Toward the Mark” by The Wild’s Music has lyrics based on Philippians 3:13-14

As I recall my track and field experiences, many times the outcome of the entire track meet was known beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events, with the last two races being relays. Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena that we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, believers are encouraged in their individual races to

Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets;

Forget the past, press toward the mark;

Look straight ahead with no regrets.

An unforgettable concert

July 23, 2014

John 4--24

Last Friday night, July 18, 2014,  my wife Brenda and I attended a concert in Fayetteville, NC where Martha Munizzi and Israel Houghton blessed those in attendance with an amazing time of worship and celebration of the goodness of our God.

Martha, along with her musicians and singers, offered a worship medley that ushered those in attendance into the very presence of God, where we lingered in glorious worship. It seems as though most of Martha’s music was devoted to worship. During her time of ministry, she mentioned a remark that someone whose name I don’t recall had made that went something like this:

“God can trust His worshippers to go through the valley of despair because He knows that they will turn it into a resort.”

Israel Houghton also provided a powerful time of ministry, as he mentioned the phrase “Don’t count me out!” which the Lord seemed to be emphasizing as he spoke. The entire worship experience with both of these outstanding musicians and worship leaders was unforgettable. It was the inspiration for the following poem:

Through the Valley of Despair

With gratitude to God for Martha Munizzi

and Israel Houghton

 

5What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.


When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

Psalm 84:5-6 (New Living Translation)

 

God can send His worshippers through the valley of despair,

Knowing that they will turn a valley place into a resort.

As long as Jesus goes with us, we will go anywhere.

We will go where He sends us and bring back a good report.

We do what we have to do, for the Lord will bring us through.

He makes a way in the wilderness, where there seems to be no way,

Even rivers in the desert where He makes all things new.

Some said we wouldn’t make it, but we don’t care what they say.

The daily pressure mounts, asking how much more can we take.

True worshippers rise and boldly proclaim, “Don’t count me out!”

We know God’s sovereign plan for our lives is not a mistake.

Praise God! We shout with a voice of triumph on the way out.

Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning,

Transforming the Valley of Weeping into refreshing springs.

 

Here is also a video of the lyrics to one of the songs that Martha Munizzi included in her worship medley: “Because of Who You Are.”

A reminder to the Church : The gates of hell shall not prevail

July 22, 2014

Matthew 16--16

Matthew 16:15-16 (NLT) provide the Verse of the Day for July 22, 2015 which is modified and re-posted from a year ago :

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

This exchange between Peter and the Lord Jesus Christ brought to mind a scene from The Bible, the popular mini-series featured on the History Channel two years ago. In the fourth of five 2-hour episodes, the focal point was Jesus Christ and his earthly ministry. Viewers gained a glimpse into the heart of the Savior through his words and deeds, as he taught his disciples and others through parables and words of wisdom spoken in the Sermon on the Mount and other occasions.

The film unfolded in a moving encounter between Jesus and Peter where Jesus asked him, “Who do men say that I am?” When Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God,” the Master commended him by stating, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this unto you, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16:17-18)

Most providentially around the same time that the Bible was being watched by millions of viewers, an ancient entryway, a portal labeled “Gate to Hell” or “Pluto’s Gate” was being excavated in southwestern Turkey. What follows is an excerpt from an Examiner.com article posted on April 14, 2013:

An ancient entryway, a portal labeled “Gate to Hell” or “Pluto’s Gate,” has been excavated in southwestern Turkey, according to Fox News. Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento, and a team of archaeologists confirmed the location near the ancient city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, a place known even today for its warm mineral springs believed to have healing properties.

The portal was discovered “by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring” to the cave where D’Andria was also able to identify the ruins of a temple, pool, and steps — from which pagan pilgrims would watch sacred rites performed at the portal’s opening known as the Plutonion in Greek or Plutonium in Latin. The opening of the cave emitted toxic fumes which ancient Greek geographer Strabo described: “Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” D’Andria has conducted extensive archaeological research at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis.

Hierapolis in the Bible

The only reference occurs when Paul speaks of Hierapolis in Colossians 4:12-13, indicating that there was a group of believers who lived in the city, for whom Epaphras, a servant of Christ, was always laboring fervently in prayer, not only for the followers of Christ at Colosse, but he was also zealous for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis, the location of the “Gate of Hell.”

SacredDestinations.com reports that Hierapolis had a significant Jewish population in ancient times, pointing out various inscriptions on tombs and elsewhere in the city. Jews also are named as members of the various craft guilds of the city. This was probably the basis for the Christian conversion of some residents of Hierapolis, that Paul referenced Colossians 4:13.

In the 5th century, in the midst of rampant paganism in Hierapolis, several churches were built. The hostile environment, however, contributed to the deaths of a sizeable number of Christians who sacrificed their lives for their faith. In addition to his unearthing the “Gate of Hell,” Italian archaeologist D’Andria in an earlier excavation reportedly located the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, on what has become known as “Martyrs’ Hill.”

E.J. Banks notes:

“Several of the early Christians suffered martyrdom at Hierapolis, yet Christianity flourished, other churches were built, and during the 4th century the Christians filled the Plutonium with stones, thus giving evidence that the paganism had been entirely supplanted by the church.”

The excavation of the “Gate to Hell” at Hierapolis and the subsequent demise of that ancient stronghold of demonic activity brought to mind the words of Jesus to Peter: “. . . upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Indeed, this is one “Gate of Hell” that the Church prevailed against and brought to ruins.

To reinforce this truth regarding the Church of Jesus Christ, Steve Eager offers a stirring rendition of “The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail.”

The way of truth: The road less travelled by

July 21, 2014

Psalms-119-Verse-30

In Psalm 119:30 we find the Verse of the Day for July 21, 2014:

I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

The expression “the way of truth” is translated from the Hebrew word derek, meaning “way, road, path, distance, journey, manner.” It is also referred to as direction, manner, habit, way of life, a course of life or mode of action, a lifestyle.

The reference to “the way of truth” brings to mind an earlier blog entry in which I discussed “The Will of God,” using the analogy of the will of God being a road, a path or a way, looking at the Hebrew word derek which is translated “way, road, path, distance, journey, manner.” It is also referred to as direction, manner, habit, way of life, a course of life or mode of action, a lifestyle.

In the New Testament, the Greek word hodos is translated “a way, a traveled way, road, and when used as a metaphor it means “a course of conduct” “a way (i.e., manner of thinking, feeling, deciding. It is used 100 times with 54 of those times the word is translated “way.”

In “Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?” a poetic expression of my personal testimony, I refer to “the path of truth”:

Stumblin down the road of life,

I was wastin all my youth,

Then took a right turn to Jesus Christ;

Now I’m walkin the path of truth.

 

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

In a previous post on the Will of God, I spoke of the will of God as the road less travelled, referring to the often quoted poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.” Most remarkably I first committed that poem to memory as a junior in high school, back in the middle of the Twentieth Century. I still know the poem by heart and recognize now more clearly than ever its application to my life at this time:

The Will of God: the Road Less Travelled by

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

The Road Not Taken

—Robert Frost

 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,

but let God transform you into a new person          

by changing the way you think. Then you will learn

to know God’s will for you, which is good and            

pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)

I begin again this year of my jubilee.

Reflecting on life’s journey, I cannot deny

That the will of God is the road less travelled by:

To choose to serve, even though having been set free.

The straight and narrow way I once again select.

I press on, still striving toward the highest good.

In this place we renew our covenant of blood,

Reassured that “As for God His way is perfect.”

I see clearly with new eyes where our paths have led.

In the midst of turbulent times I remain still,

Proving that good and acceptable and perfect will.

I look back, waiting in the now, then look ahead.

Each day God offers another chance to commence:

The choice to do God’s will makes all the difference.

To follow the Will of God is to decide which path we are going to take. Many times it is easier to follow our own path and seek our own way rather than God’s way or God’s will. Like the Psalmist, we should choose to follow the path of truth, taking the “road less travelled by.” When we choose to follow that path, we will realize the truth expressed in the hymn composed by Fannie J. Crosby, one of the most prolific hymn writers of all times: “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.”

 

If we walk in the light, we have fellowship

July 20, 2014

1 John-1--7

The Verse of the Day is taken from 1 John 1:7:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

The context for 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers, as verses three through ten reveal:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Verses 6-10 begin with the conditional clause “if we” followed by a verb: “If we say…, if we walk…, if we say…, if we confess…, if we say….” These expressions establish the conditions which if met on our part, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part.

Verse 7 sets the condition: “If we walk in the light. . .we have fellowship with one another. Translated from the Greek word koinonia, fellowship involves communion or oneness, harmony. In Acts the believers of the early Church were said to be “of one heart and one soul.” Having this close fellowship with God and with one another is God’s desire for His people expressed in 1 John.

Maranatha! Singers offer a country music version of “If We Walk in the Light” (1 John 1:7)

The passage from 1 John 1, especially verse 7, also brings to mind the opening lyrics to a familiar hymn “Trust and Obey”:

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Have no fear–Walk in love

July 19, 2014

Isaiah 41--10

The Verse of the Day for July 19, 2014 is taken from Isaiah 41:10 (King James Version):

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

This encouraging word is one of 365 scriptures that address the issue of fear, providing yet another reminder to believers: “Do not fear.” We could view this particular verse as one of our daily memos from God to have no fear.

We also find great comfort when we add verse 13 of Isaiah 41, from which the lyrics to a Scripture Memory Song are taken, offering these words of encouragement:

Do Not Fear

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

 

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand;

It is I who say to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.”

 

Recognizably, fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that can run rampant to limit and inhibit our maturation process as believers.

As with each of the toxic emotions of life, we want to counteract their harmful effects with the proper remedy. When we encounter a negative emotion, we are encouraged to move in the opposite spirit. In terms of responding to fear in light of moving in the opposite spirit, we find that love is the perfect antidote.

The book of I John reveals the “perfect” connection between fear and love, particularly in 1 John 2:5

But whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this know that we are in Him. [NKJV]

In those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is “perfected” or made perfect or complete, wanting nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be “perfected” is to be brought to a full end. This concept is further discussed in chapter 4 verse 12 which reminds us:

No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

Verses 13-16 go on to explain just how the love of God comes to abide or remain or dwell within us:

By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

The love of God is “perfected” or made complete or full in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love. Verse 17 elaborates on this reality:

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world

Verse 18 provides the basis for love being the perfect antidote to fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there is no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free.

Self-imposed Prison

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you

from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

Rick Warren

 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,

because fear involves torment. But he who fears

has not been made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

 

This self-imposed prison, not made with bars of steel,

Nor formed with bricks, yet each subtly constructed wall

Restricts the mind, scars the soul and cripples the will

And impounds us to a state of constant free fall.

Held captive by past mistakes that seek to instill

Fear: this deadly acronym binds, confines the heart,

So disguised as “false evidence appearing real”

Keeps us from being all God intends us to be.

But Christ, our sovereign Lord, pardoned each life sentence,

Commuted penalties, declaring not guilty.

With his blood, having blotted out every offense,

Displayed undying love: key to set captives free.

Pure freedom to serve awaits those with ears to hear,

For perfected love destroys all walls built by fear.

 

The essence of the message for today is “Have no fear—walk in love.” We conclude as Whitley Phipps offers this encouraging musical reminder: “No Need to Fear”

God is looking for “the upright in heart”

July 18, 2014

Psalm  119-Verse-7The Verse of the Day for July 18, 2014 is found in Psalm 119:7

I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

The Lord is a righteous judge who seeks those who are like Him, those who are upright and righteous in their judgments, just as He is.

At the dedication of the Temple, David, who is described as “a man after God’s own heart,” comments on the attributes of God by saying,

I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.

David goes on to speak of his own state before God:

2 Samuel 22:23-26

23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.

24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.

25 Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.

26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.

God is always on the lookout for individuals who are “upright in heart.” A classic illustration of God looking for and finding such an “upright” person is found in Job, who is described in this way in the first verse of the book that bears his name:

Job 1:1 (Amplified Bible):

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who [reverently] feared God and abstained from and shunned evil [because it was wrong].

 

Psalm 11:7 also makes known the kind of people who get God’s attention:

For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

II Chronicles 16:9 reveals that the eyes of Lord are always scanning the planet, looking for individuals with an upright or perfect heart. Such an individual is further described in Psalm 37:37 as “the perfect man. . . the upright,” whose life is a reflection of the peace of God. These two verses are combined in a Scripture memory song with these lyrics:

II Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 37:37

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

We end our commentary on the Verse of the Day with a prayer to God expressed musically in our desire that He “Give Us Clean Hands and a Pure Heart”:

Because he bore the shame, I am not ashamed

July 17, 2014

Romans 1_16

In Romans 1:16 we find the Verse of the Day for July 17, 2014:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Because of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he endured on our behalf, as believers we rejoice and celebrate the good news (the gospel of Christ). We are not put to shame because of Christ’s obedience. Looking at Hebrews 12:1-2, we can really appreciate what the Lord accomplished on our behalf:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When we turn our eyes upon Jesus Christ, we recognize all that he endured when he was made a curse, as he endured the cross, despising the shame and humiliation associated with such a disgraceful and shameful act, such as crucifixion.

In reflecting upon the Lord Jesus Christ and overwhelming burden of our sins that he bore, I recall the inspiration for a poem that I wrote in which I understood to a greater degree that the Lord was indeed my “Burden Bearer” 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 everyone else’s load 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 on my behalf. 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.

 

Because the Lord willingly bore our sin and iniquity on the cross where he took upon himself all of our guilt and shame, he released me from bondage of guilt and shame for past failures. The lyrics from contemporary gospel song “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” reinforce the message of the Verse of the Day, recorded here by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: