Archive for September, 2014

Wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues. . . Oh, my

September 28, 2014

Luke-21 28

Those with eyes to see clearly recognize that we are living in the last days, as 2 Timothy 3:1 makes known:

This know also: that in the last days perilous times shall come.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].

During such intense times, many Christians continue to look heavenward, in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. Bible scholars and others look at world events and interpret them in light of words spoken by Jesus Christ. When asked about the signs of his return, he spoke of signs and wonders appearing in the sun, moon and stars . . . in the heavens above and in the earth beneath.

The following passage from Luke 2:7-11 continues to generate much discussion:

And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?

And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

In light of intensifying world events any observers of the times and seasons continue to wonder if Christ’s return is at hand. The nightly news reports escalating conflict among nations, along with increasing earthquakes and other natural disasters. Famine continues to be a global issue of great concern, not to mention deadly diseases that threaten civilization. The culmination of what some call “signs of the times” appear to indicate the return of Christ draws closer and closer day by day.

Taken from Matthew 24, known as the Mount Olive Discourse, and from Luke 2, the list spotlights five of the signs said to occur before Christ returns:

11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven

Wars and rumors of wars

Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:

At the heart of the phrase “nation against nation” is the Greek word ethnos, from which the English word “ethnic” is derived. With increased globalization, come increased ethnic conflicts which now ravage the world.

Never has there been a more revealing picture of kingdoms in conflict than with the recent focus on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its threat to the Middle East and beyond. The Islamist militant group with its determination to establish a Caliphate that will dominate the world with its ideology is a demonstration of “Kingdom against kingdom.” Caliphate is another name for “kingdom.”

Earthquakes in various places

On Thursday, September 25, 2014 a magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit south-central Alaska. Although tremors were felt throughout the region in Anchorage, there was no major damage or injuries.

In an article “Are earthquakes signs of the end times?” Steven A. Austin and Mark L. Strauss discuss the controversy generated by such Christian writers and Bible teachers who maintain that Jesus predicted that an increase in frequency and intensity of earthquakes would occur prior to his return.

Famine

According to the United Nations World Food Programs, hunger continues to be a worldwide crisis. About 842 million people in the world do not eat enough to be healthy.  That means that one in every eight people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night.

Pestilences

The global health crisis with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has captured the attention of  the world. Other infectious diseases, such MRSA, (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection), along with flesh-eating diseases and sexually transmitted diseases fall into the category of “pestilences” that some would say that Jesus Christ spoke about.

Cosmic phenomena

There has been a noticeable increase in meteors and other phenomena provide ample opportunities to consider the meaning of such celestial occurrences. In February 2013, a massive meteor hit Russia, causing considerable alarm. Recently Perseid meteor shower, an annual occurrence, was upstaged by a “super-moon” the fourth such occurrence with the past year, including a “blood moon” which some believe refers to the prophet Joel’s statement, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” (Joel 2:31)

The increasing frequency of “great balls of fire” and other cosmic phenomena cause many to wonder about these so-called “signs and wonders” which some see as more signs of the end times and point to Luke 21:25-28:

25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.

With such signs and wonders appearing in the sun, moon and stars, many observers of the times and seasons believe that Christ’s return is at hand; indeed, our redemption appears to be drawing closer and closer, closer than it has ever been.

Derrick Drover sums it all up in music with “Signs of the Times.”

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Matthew 6:33–First things first

September 27, 2014

Matthew-6-33

The primary relationship in life is one’s relationship with God. Matthew 6:33, the Verse of the Day for September 27, 2014, reminds us of this truth:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”

We also recognize “The first and great commandment: To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

I see a similarity between the building of relationships, beginning with God, and the building of individual or separate fires in our lives. I became glaringly aware of this reality during graduate school while working on my doctorate, and I made this comment in an article entitled “‘My Soul Looks Back and Wonders. . .’ Reflections on My Journey”:

Getting a Ph.D. was important, unquestionably, but for me it was not the most important aspect of my life. My relationship with God is foremost in my life, and I attempt to always maintain that priority. My relationship with my wife and children, and others, at times, took precedence over my graduate studies. I learned how to keep many fires going at once–cooking at four different fires–moving from pot to pot–as a student–as a teacher–as a husband/father (home fires need special attention)–and as an employee. So often I felt like a Boy Scout, a builder and sustainer of fires.

A number of years prior to enrolling in graduate school, I participated in an outdoor wilderness experience at the Total Fitness Institute in California where I actually built a fire, the inspiration for this work:

Once I Built a Fire

For our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:29

 

Scout’s honor—Once I built a fire from scratch:

Gathered dried grass, spindly twigs, kindling and

A love letter, then proceeded as planned.

The careless wind brought me to my last match.

I held my breath and prayed this time it would catch,

Then knelt, exhaled, coaxing with bellows mild

As baby’s breath to inspire my ailing child.

Throughout the night I lie awake and watch.

Indeed, I did my duty to protect,

To build and gather even more to give

To nourish this infant and not neglect,

For no fire has power within itself to live.

Though ablaze, fire demands not less but more.

Once from scratch I built a fire—Scout’s honor.

How do you build and sustain an intimate, personal relationship with God? How do you also build close relationships at home, at school, at work or in some other social setting? Building relationships and then nurturing them so that they flourish and grow require being consistent and persistent in our efforts. The challenge is not only to build a fire but to keep the fire burning, recognizing that “home fires,” in particular, demand time, energy and consistency in order to obtain the desired results.

Inspired by Matthew 6:33, “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God” is offered as a scripture memory hymn:

We have an advocate: Take Jesus as your lawyer

September 25, 2014

1-John-2-1

The Verse of the Day for September 25, 2014 is a blog entry from a year ago which is modified and reposted below:

I John 2:1 in the New Living Translation renders the Verse of the Day in this way:

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous

The Verse of the Day brings to mind lines from songs that I recall from childhood: hymns and gospel songs composed of

“Lyrics I did not know when I was young

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.”

I remember descriptions of Jesus Christ, as a “doctor in the sickroom,” “a lawyer in the court room.” Other lyrics describe the Son of God as “a lawyer who never lost a case.” First John speaks of Jesus Christ as our advocate, one who pleads our case, and echoes this same idea. The late Dr. Adrian Rogers describes the term in this way:

“Advocate is just a fancy term for a lawyer, someone who pleads your case before the bar or justice. . . . Jesus goes before God on our behalf and says, ‘Father, I know they are sinners, but they have repented and My blood has cleansed them. They belong to Me.’”

The word advocate is translated from the Greek word parakletos, the same word used for the Holy Spirit, also referred to as the Paraklete: one who pleads another’s cause, who helps another by defending or comforting him.

Romans 8:27 in the Amplified Bible speaks of Holy Spirit, our advocate, in this way:

 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.

Despite our best efforts, we will sin; indeed, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are all sinners, saved by grace. On those occasions where we fall short or miss the mark in our efforts to serve the Lord, we have a defense attorney, a barrister, an advocate with the Father.

How comforting to know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, serves as our advocate or defense attorney, who is seated at the right hand of God, as he ever makes intercession for us. Thank God that he is “a lawyer in the courtroom.” and that he has “never lost a case.”

Buddy Causey offers a piece of advice for those who are wise:

Endurance: Remaining faithful to God, despite the most difficult times

September 24, 2014

2 Timothy-2--1-4

Recently I thought of the power of a single word:

The power of a single light

Like a cloven tongue of fire

To shatter the darkest night

The word was “endurance,” the subject of a teaching by Dr. Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC. The teaching objective was to help believers remain faithful, despite hardship. The focus was on 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (KJV):

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

He went on to define “endurance” in this way: the ability to follow and trust the Word of God when something difficult takes a long time to resolve. Believers are encouraged to remain faithful to God, despite the most difficult times.

Dr. Mellette shared three “Principles to Build Endurance”:

  1. Choose to accept that God is greater than any person you know:

Romans 8:31-32 makes known this profound truth in the face of opposition:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

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

The Psalmist also declares:

Psalm 118:6

 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

Psalm 27, my favorite psalm that I committed to memory as a teenager and still recall today as a source of great comfort in the midst of the challenging times in which we live, provides this encouragement:

The 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.

The second point was expressed in this way:

  1. Choose to pray for the right people to be involved with you, not the people whom you necessarily want to be involved with.

He encouraged believers to be aware of people who have the power to influence you, those who exert an overwhelming push in a direction, whether good or bad.

I thought of the exhortation in 1 Corinthians 15:33:

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

The verse is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.

The teaching closed with this reminder:

     3. Choose to rejoice in the Lord

This final point brought to mind a recent blog entry in which I focused on scriptures related to “joy and rejoicing”:

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Paul’s exhortation to rejoice is clear, as the same sentiment is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:16:

Rejoice evermore.

These scriptures are simply a reiteration of Psalm 118:24:

This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

As I went over my notes and reflected on the teaching, I recall this original poem which was dedicated to a US retired Army veteran who had served our nation in a most admirable manner:

Endure Hardness as a Seasoned Soldier:

 Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering

[which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:3 (Amplified Bible)

 

Endure hardness as a seasoned soldier, so said Paul.

Be ever steadfast and continue to give your all.

When you heard the call to serve, you were first to enlist.

When you saw the need, you were so willing to assist.

In strength you ran through a troop and leaped over a wall.

 

You confronted every challenge, whether great or small

And aided fellow soldiers when they happened to fall.

Though situations change, never give up but persist.

Endure hardness as a seasoned soldier.

 

The Lord provided and protected through each close call,

So you must finish your race, even if you have to crawl.

Though troubles surround, God promised to be in the midst.

When enemies attack, continue to stand and resist.

Though some may disappoint you, continue to stand tall.

Endure hardness as a seasoned soldier.

 

The Dust to Glory Band closes this blog entry with “Soldier of the Cross.”

Receive one another

September 22, 2014

Romans 15--7

In the verses preceding the Verse of the Day for September 22, 2014, we find a discussion of how believers should related to one another in Romans 15:2 (KJV)

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].

In a previous blog entry I discussed seven principles that were taught at the “It’s All about Relationships” Conference in 2013. Apostle Carolyn Warren discussed these principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These seven principles were expressed as verbs which connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” Here is a poetic summary of those principles:

We must learn to value and steward relationships,

As we ever strive to launch, grow and to maintain them.

As we love, honor, forgive and encourage each other,

We must admonish, serve, and make peace with one another.

In order to apply these seven principles, believers must apply the overarching principle expressed in Romans 15:7 and that is to “receive one another.” The New Living Translation puts it this way:

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.

The J.B. Phillips Translation offers this rendering:

So open your hearts to one another as Christ has opened his heart to you, and God will be glorified.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind the first principle: “love one another.” Each day we receive or accept one another, as we decide to demonstrate, freely give and practice love: the first thread whereby we must launch all relationships and follow Christ’s command that we love one another.

Michael W. Smith offers comments and a spirited rendition of a “Love One Another.”

Grace,love, and fellowship: A three-fold cord

September 21, 2014

2-Corinthians-13-14

The Verse of the Day for September 21, 2014 can be seen as a benediction to close out the second epistle to the Corinthians, rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

This verse was also the inspiration for:

Grace, Love, and Fellowship: A Three-fold Cord

                                      

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.

Dr. John Fawcett

 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (New Living Translation)

 

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and fellowship bind our hearts as three-fold cord.

 

That the love of God never fails cannot be ignored.

Spanning from age to age the same, this love shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Fellowship with God abounds when we live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

 

All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

We commune with God and find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, love, and fellowship bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.                

 

Here are three songs that express the essence of these three spiritual qualities:

Grace:

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

Love:

The Love of God, as performed by Mercy Me, is among the most recognized songs describing God’s love:

Fellowship:

The contemporary Christian group A cappella describes “Sweet Fellowship” in song:

Pray: The latter rain is on the way

September 20, 2014

Joel_2-23

 

The Verse of the Day for September 20, 2014, taken from Joel 2:23, reminds us that God is a God of order and planning. He never simply causes it to rain randomly, but He sends rain in due season. God instructed the Children of Israel to walk in His precepts and follow His guidance. They would then be fruitful, as God showered them with His blessings. God expresses His desires for His children in terms of rain.

Deuteronomy 28:11-18

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

Leviticus 26:4 reminds us of God’s promise:

Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Rain is the life source for an agricultural people whose lives are dependent upon crops. In the Land of Israel God, indeed, sends rain in due season in two specific forms: the former rain and latter rain. In the Middle East, the former rain occurs in October or November, accompanying the planting of crops, while the latter rain occurs in the Spring, around March or April, just before the harvest. In addition to Joel, Jeremiah and Hosea also speak of both of the seasons of rain:

Jeremiah 5:24

Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

Hosea 6:1-3

Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will  raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

The same message is spoken in Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, when Peter addresses the multitude in referring to the Prophet Joel:

Acts 2:16-18

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

To appreciate the promise of God who will send the latter rain when He pours out of His spirit upon all flesh, think of what happened when God opened the windows of heaven and “poured” out the rain. Genesis 7 gives the account of Noah and the ark when the heavens opened and it rained for forty days and nights. In the last days when God opens the windows of heaven to pour out of His spirit on all flesh, do you think the outpouring will be any less great than the first time God poured out? God predates Morton salt whose motto is “When it rains, it pours.”

Anyone who is spiritually observant can sense that a great outpouring of the Spirit of God is about to take place. In a similar way, one can tell when a torrential downpour is about to occur. The essence of what is about to take place spiritually is seen in the lyrics to a popular ballad from bygone days, “Soon It’s Gonna Rain”:

See how the wind begins to whisper.

See how the leaves go streaming by.

Smell how the velvet rain is falling

Out where the fields are warm and dry.

 

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can see it

Soon it’s gonna rain, I can tell

Soon it’s gonna rain, what are we gonna do?

To answer the question posed at the end of the song, here is my advice: “Pray and get ready for rain!” Poetically expressed: “Pray–The latter rain is on the way!”

Alvin Slaughter sings with power of “The Latter Rain”

Watching the words we speak

September 19, 2014

Ephesians-4--29

On September 19, 2014, I begin my day with the Verse of the Day found in the New Living Translation of Ephesians 4:29:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

This exhortation to pay attention to the words we speak is expanded in the passage from Ephesians 4:29-32 (KJV), as Paul employs the figure of speech called polysyndeton or many “ands” to reinforce his message:

29 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.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

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

Romans 14:19 also 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.

In a previous blog entry, “Guarding the mouth gate: speak no evil,” I comment that the verses from Ephesians and elsewhere serve to make believers aware of what they say. For the words that we speak are expressions of what is in our hearts. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” says Solomon. With this in mind, John Bunyan recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

Without question, as believers we must watch what we speak and speak no evil. Since “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” we must carefully choose the words that we speak, recognizing:

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8

 

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongues to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others.  Johnny Holmes expresses the essence of the our desire that thoughts that come from our hearts conveyed in the words that come from our mouths will be acceptable unto God, as revealed in Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Consider others better

September 18, 2014

Philippians-2-3

From Philippians 2:3-4, the Verse of the Day for September 18, 2014, comes this reminder:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Take a look at the New Living Translation:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, those who serve the Lord seek to set their priorities: They say to themselves and to others, “God is first; others are second, and I am willing to be last.” The first and great commandment establishes the order for our lives:

Matthew 28:37-39:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 12:10 is another related verse that comes to mind when we think of putting others first:

Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

In a previous blog entry, I discussed the term “Honor one another” and commented, “To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10.

Apostle John Tetsola notes that “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborates upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

This same sentiment is expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:13:

 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

To wrap up our discussion, song writer Jimmy Scott sings a composition “To Honor You,” a tribute to the memory of a loved one.

His faithful follower

September 17, 2014

Ephesians-5 1-2

Taken from Ephesians 5:1 (KJV), the Verse of the Day for September 17, 2014, offers this exhortation:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].

 

The idea of being followers or imitators of God brought to mind something that I had written five years ago when I was attempting to more fully grasp the significance of the season of life in which I found myself. I recognized that I was and continue to be in the autumn of the years and that apples are among the produce currently in season. The idea of harvesting produce in their season is to pick the fruit at the peak of their flavor—not too soon, when, in the case of apples may be hard and not be sweet enough, and not too late when the fruit may be overripe and begin to spoil. I read this statement from an orchard that is known for its tasty apples: “One of the reasons that Ela Orchard apples are so good is that they often pick the apples later in their season than most orchards. This increases the flavor of the apple although it means that there is more risk of apples dropping off the trees.”

Most remarkably, I also came across this endorsement from someone who had sampled the apples from, of all places, “Farmer Johnson Apple Orchards” in Washington State. The individual commented, “I have had the opportunity to try all the varieties of Farmer Johnson apples, they are the best apples I have ever tasted. Fresh, crisp…. the perfect apple.” I couldn’t help but smile, as I reflected upon my desire to be “neither barren nor unfruitful” but to be productive and highly fruitful in all my endeavors. I was inspired to write this poem which most amazingly makes reference to being a “follower”:

Farmer Johnson

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who

through faith and patience inherit the promises.    

Hebrews 6:12

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Lyrics by Joseph H. Gilmore

Farmer Johnson owns orchards in Washington State.

His apples are renowned and said to be the best.

As scriptures remind us to labor and to rest,

This Farmer Johnson is patient and learns to wait

For the bountiful fruit of his harvest season.

Patience now abounds to complete and perfect me,

As I walk by faith, despite all that I may see.

I assess my times and unfold the real reason

For all the trials and seeming setbacks that came.

At times I felt as though being torn asunder

But like Job, I still abide and bear up under.

God yet delivers those who call upon His name.

Committed to go wherever the Lord shall send,

A faithful follower, I endure to the end.

 

The poem opens with lyrics from the hymn “He Leadeth Me” which is the perfect way to end this blog entry: