Archive for September, 2014

God is love

September 15, 2014

1 John 4--16

The Verse of the Day is found in 1 John 4:16 (KJV):

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

The Amplified Bible expresses the verse this way:

And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.

In 1 John 4:8 we find an expression of who God is:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Rendered in the Amplified Bible this way:

 He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

For Christian believers nothing is more satisfying than to know that God is love and that God loves us.

Hillsong offers this reminder that “Our God is Love.”

 

 

One mind: Let this mind

September 14, 2014

Phil-2-1

For the Verse of the Day for September 14, 2014, we go to Philippians 2:1-2:

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

The passage is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

So by whatever [appeal to you there is in our mutual dwelling in Christ, by whatever] strengthening and consoling and encouraging [our relationship] in Him [affords], by whatever persuasive incentive there is in love, by whatever participation in the [Holy] Spirit [we share], and by whatever depth of affection and compassionate sympathy,

Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.

Chapter 2 goes on to explain just how we should think. Philippians 2:5 in the Amplified Bible offers this reminder:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

This verse became the inspiration for the following Scripture Memory song:

Let This Mind Be in You

 

Let this mind be in you

Which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

Let this mind be in you

Which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

Let this mind be in you

Which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind be in you.

 

(Repeat)

 

God gets no pleasure

In forcing us to obey,

But He wants us to follow Him.

His spirit leads the way.

 

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind be in you.

 

We say we are waiting,

Waiting on God to move,

But we’re the ones God’s waiting on,

His perfect will to prove.

 

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind be in you.

 

Now don’t keep God waiting.

He wants to reign in you.

Ask yourself what is God waiting

For you to let Him do?

 

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind . . .

Let this mind be in you.

 

The passage from Philippians 2:5-11 is also the inspiration for the song “Mind of Christ” by the HiMiG Gospel Singers:

Love one another

September 13, 2014

1 Peter 3_8

The Verse of the Day for September 13, 2014 is found in 1 Peter 3:8 (KJV):

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Since the expression “be pitiful” generally has negative connotations in contemporary times, perhaps the verse is better understood in another version, such as the Amplified Bible:

Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).

The Verse of the Day brings to mind one of the seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These key concepts were shared in a life-changing conference conducted last year at Equip U Ministries in Reynoldsburg, OH : “It’s All about Relationships Conference—2013.” Apostle Carolyn Warren discussed seven principles expressed as verbs which involve action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The first principle was “love one another.”

Love, indeed, is the first principle of all relationships, the foundation stone expressed in the first and great commandment: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets,” said Jesus Christ.

Each day we must

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.

“Love one another.”

I also recall that after attending the conference last year, as I went over my notes and endeavored to process all that I was learning, I was inspired and wrote this poem which captured the essence of the theme of the conference:

“It’s All about Relationships”

Inspired by the teaching of Apostle Eric Warren

It’s All about Relationships Conference 2013

 

God floods the eyes of our hearts with light that we might know,

As we discover new depths of our relationships

While we mature, applying the Word that we might grow.

We recognize that “It’s all about relationships.”

Enlightened, we now no longer walk in ignorance,

Being much more aware of vital spiritual matters,

We experience victory, healing and deliverance.

The anointed Word of God breaks all yokes and shatters

Barriers that hinder fellowship with God and others.

When the enemy raises his head, we fight to maintain

Relationships with God and with sisters and brothers,

Returning to “His image” the source that will sustain.

Whether with God, family, friends, co-workers, husband or wife,

“It’s all about relationships,” the foundation of life.

 

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

Rejoice in the Lord always

September 12, 2014

Philippians 4--4

The Verse of the Day for Friday, September 12, 2013 is a marvelous reminder of the attitude that we should have not only on Friday but every day.

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.

Joy, a fruit of the spirit, is a word that resonates throughout the Book of Philippians which Biblical teachers, such as John McArthur, call the “Epistle of Joy.” Indeed, Paul mentions some form of the word “joy” at least 16 times in these four chapters. In chapter 4 some form of the word is found in verses 1, 4, and 10. McArthur notes that Paul also mentions Christ 50 times and states, “And that is because his joy is found in Christ and so is our joy.”

Philippians 4:4 is simply a reiteration of Psalm 118:24:

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

The lyrics to these two popular praise songs reinforce this truth:

This Is the Day (Medley)

This is the day. This is the day that the Lord has made,

That the Lord has made.

I will rejoice. I will rejoice.

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is the day. This is the day that the Lord has made.

 

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart.

I will enter His courts with praise.

I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.

I will rejoice, for He has made me glad.

He has made me glad. He has made me glad.

I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

He has made me glad. He has made me glad.

I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

 

I have fond memories of Philippians 4:4 taught as scripture memory song that was sung as a round in the Children’s Ministry classes that I taught for years. Here is a recording of the verse:

Israel Houghton offers a lively contemporary arrangement inspired in part by Philippians 4:4:

Psalm 121: Marching to Zion

September 11, 2014

psalms-121-1-2

Re-posted and modified below is the blog entry from last year’s anniversary of 9-11:

The Verse of the Day for September 11, 2014 is a familiar passage from one of the most recognized Psalms of David:

Psalm 121: 1-2:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, dedicated his life to enlightening students of the Bible regarding Orientalisms or customs and practices from the Eastern sectors of the world that so clearly influence our understanding of Scripture. Pillai and other scholars point out that the first verse of Psalm 121 is often rendered as a statement when in actuality it should be a question. In contrast to the rendering of in the verse 1 in the King James Version which opens with “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help”, Pillai suggests that the verse should be read: “Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills? From whence comes my help?” The answer follows in verse two: “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

This particular psalm is said to be among the Psalms of Degrees or Songs (Psalms) of Ascent. Psalms 120-134 comprise a “hymn book” from which pilgrims sang as they were ascending Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem, the place of celebration of the annual feasts mandated by God for the Children of Israel. Paul Stroble, in his blog devoted to this psalm points out that “Clift McCann writes in The New Interpreter’s Bible that these psalms are all short enough to be memorized and several contain references to everyday life, implying that these psalms reflect the experiences of everyday people traveling or arriving at Jerusalem.”

Stroble, also mentions that various writers refer to Psalm 121 as “the psalm for the journey of life,” and “the psalm for sojourners.” He continues his discussion of the merits of this psalm that he finds especially meaningful “because of the comfort of its promises as one travels literally and figuratively.”

One of my favorite musical compositions inspired by Psalm 121 is offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

In its rendering of Psalm 121:1 the Amplified Bible makes reference to Mount Zion:

 I will lift up my eyes to the hills [around Jerusalem, to sacred Mount Zion and Mount Moriah]—From whence shall my help come?

Indeed, Zion is the ultimate destination of those pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem and those sojourning through life. Eleven years ago when I most providentially found myself in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, I heard a life-changing teaching on the spiritual significance of Zion in a believer’s life, and the message inspired this poem:

Zion

For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

Psalm 132:13

 

To ascend the holy hill, the quest to reach Mount Zion,

To dwell in that high mountain, a place of untold beauty.

Still onward and upward in this lifelong journey,

I situate myself in an accurate position,

As my obedience activates the blessings of God.

My spirit overflows and floods my heart with new song.

 

With all that is within me, I yearn to sing the Lord’s song,

As I migrate upward from Babylon to Mount Zion,

Up to Jerusalem, the place of the Temple of God,

The place where I shall worship God in all of His beauty.

I am ever moving toward that ultimate position,

Knowing both anguish and joy in my perfecting journey.

 

I am moving toward a place of wholeness as I journey

From an alien land where I could not sing the Lord’s song,

As I arise to a more elevated position,

To stand on the Rock, the chief cornerstone, laid in Zion,

Where I shall behold the Lord in His resplendent beauty

And see more clearly revelation from the heart of God.

 

Great and glorious and wondrous is the City of God.

We celebrate the goodness of God along this journey.

The Lord, our God, has fashioned the perfection of beauty.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised with joyful song.

God displays His passion for Jerusalem and Zion:

He reigns over all the earth from this lofty position.

 

The grace of God flows freely from the highest position,

From the exalted place of the tabernacle of God,

Who has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion.

The sons of God shall be blessed and refreshed on their journey,

Teaching each other with psalm and hymn and spiritual song.

Ascend to worship at the transcendent throne of beauty.

 

The stone once rejected is now the stone of great beauty.

The chief cornerstone has become the foremost position.

The Rock of our Salvation fills our hearts with a new song.

Glory and honor and power and wisdom to our God,

Who strengthens and sustains us with power on our journey

To our destiny, perfected in a place called Zion.

 

The Lord, the Almighty God, is enthroned in great beauty.

As we journey, we maintain an accurate position,

For from Mount Zion flow countless blessings and endless song.

I recall a familiar hymn from childhood “We’re Marching to Zion” which turns out to be one of the hymns composed by Isaac Watts. The simple lyrics and rousing melody have become much more meaningful within the past 11 years. Here is a rousing rendition of the classic hymn recorded live with the Gaithers:

Even I will carry and will deliver you

September 10, 2014

 

Isaiah 46--4The Verse of the Day for September 10, 2014 is taken from Isaiah 46:4, rendered in the New King James version:

Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

The closing promise that God will deliver me brought to mind a poem composed sometime ago, but it has a timeless message that echoes in my life today:

Just How God Will Deliver Me

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,

that we should not trust in ourselves,    

but in God which raises the dead:

Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver:    

in whom we trust that he will still deliver us;  

1 Corinthians 1:8-9

 

Just how God will deliver me I do not know,

But of His unfailing love and power I am sure:

He can send a raven and command a widow

To sustain Elijah and all who will endure.

Though He may not be early, God is never late.

I rest in knowing that our Father is faithful,

As I trust Him, learning to labor and to wait.

For each promise fulfilled I am ever grateful

And express my gratitude in word and in deed.

Despite the gross darkness of these perilous times,

Each day I walk by faith wherever Christ may lead,

For grand mountain vistas await the one who climbs.

The hand of God brought me thus far along the way,

And I will finish my course is all I can say.

 

So often in times of distress and discouragement, we call out to God for help. Recently I recall reeling and feeling overwhelmed by the challenges that confronted me on a number of fronts, and I cried out to God, “Lord, help me!” As I reflected upon that particular experience, I thought of one of Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Daily Devotionals that focused on Isaiah 41: 14:

“I will help thee, saith the Lord.”

This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help thee.” “It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. ‘Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. ‘Help thee?’ Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. ‘I will help thee. ‘”

O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here-thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper!

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay’d! I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.”

The closing line of the devotional comes from the ever popular hymn “How Firm a Foundation”:

In the poem “Protect me,” from a series of teachings entitled “A Five-fold Prayer,” I recognize who God is and what He will do.

 

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.

 

I make reference to God as “My deliverer who knows me by name,” in a poem inspired by series of teachings from Nehemiah related to rebuilding the wall and restoring the gates of Jerusalem:

A Prayer While Waiting at the Horse Gate

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:

but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 20:7

 

 

May I remember the source of true strength at this gate,

As I recall the matchless name of the Almighty,

Who may seem to tarry but indeed is never late.

May I understand His ways, for I have eyes to see,

As I come to recognize that God is my resource,

While ever striving toward the place of my destiny.

 

May I not place my trust in a chariot or horse,

Symbolic of authority, worldly goods and power,

But trust in God and not presume to chart my own course.

 

May I come to know God as my defense, my strong tower,

My deliverer who knows me by name, the all-wise one,

Who calls me into the Kingdom for this very hour.

 

God gives power and renews the strength of those who wait.

May I remember the source of true strength at this gate.

 

I conclude this blog entry with the closing verse from my favorite psalm: Psalm 27:14:

Wait on the Lord, be of courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

Here is a magnificent rendition of this verse in song offered by Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard:

Be sober, be vigilant

September 9, 2014

Titus_2-2

We begin this day, September 9, 2014, with the Verse of the Day, which is found in Titus 2:2

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

The expression “be sober” is used three times in Titus in relation to four categories of individuals: “older men, older women, young women, and young men:

Verse 3 is directed toward the older women who are instructed to teach the young women to be sober. Clearly, one cannot teach what one does not practice oneself.

Titus 2:4

That they (the aged women) may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

Titus 2:6

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

To be sober is a strong reminder to everyone, both old and young alike.

The expression is also used elsewhere in the New Testament:

1 Peter 1:13 (KJV):

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Amplified Bible (AMP) also offers a powerful rendering of the verse:

So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert); set your hope wholly and unchangeably on the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.

In addition to 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8 offers another reason for sobriety:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

The expression “be sober” is generally thought of in terms of “do not be drunk” or “don’t get intoxicated.” His graceoasis.com points out that “the word does not mean to abstain from the use of alcohol but rather to refrain from the abuse of it which leads to intoxication.”

Translated from the Greek word nepso, the verb means “to be sober-minded, watchful, and circumspect.” Variations of the verb include ananephō, translated to become sober; eknephō, meaning “to return to one’s sense from drunkenness, become sober” and nēphálios: sober.

One translation of the Greek word renders the term: “to be sober, calm and collected, to have good sense, good judgment, wisdom, and level-headed in times of stress.”

Altogether, “Be sober” is used eight times in the New Testament:

2 Corinthians 5:13

For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

This verse mentions that it doesn’t matter if we are “beside ourselves” or “mad” or “plum out of our minds” or if we are “sober” or “clothed in our right minds” or “of a sound mind”—it is all for the sake of the believers.

We notice that 1 Peter 1:13 connects the idea of being sober with the hope of the Lord’s return which is also the context for two uses of the verb in 1 Thessalonians, whose focal point is the parousia or gathering together at the return of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:6

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

The Verse of the Day is but one of eight strong exhortations to “be sober.”

Listen to this upbeat contemporary cut of “1 Peter 5:8” from Allen Swoope’s The Zoo.

Lead me, guide me

September 8, 2014

Psalm 143--10

Psalm 143:10 (KJV) is the source of the Verse of the Day for September 8, 2014:

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

The verse is rendered this way in the New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.

This verse brings to mind a previous blog entry which was part of a series of posts inspired by a statement that explains what occurs when we find ourselves in perplexing, painful situations where we seemingly by no means desire to be.

During such times, we ask ourselves, “Why am I here? How did I get here? God, what are you doing? What are you trying to teach me?” We recognize that God does everything on purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Romans 8:28). He is directly involved in every situation, and He is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct you; Inspect you; Correct you; Protect you; Perfect you.”

I took those five verbs and put them into a request, a petition, a personal prayer to God. God becomes the initiator of the action, and I become the object of his action. In a teaching series I examine each of the verbs with examples from the Old Testament and New Testament, as I offer this a Five-Fold Prayer: Direct Me—Inspect Me—Correct Me—Protect Me—Perfect Me. I close each teaching with a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb. Here is the first of the series: “A Five-Fold Prayer: Direct Me”:

Direct: to lead or to guide straight, as toward an object

O.T.: to lead, guide gently, softly and with care, as a shepherd guides his flock;

to lead or to guide; most frequently of God who leads men.

One of the first scriptures that I committed to memory is found in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Growing up in the Church during the 1950s, I recall a popular Gospel song that was also an expression of a prayer to God, asking for His guidance: “Lead Me, Guide Me”

Jeremiah 10:23 also reminds us that we cannot direct our own steps:

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

One of my all-time favorite gospel songs related to this desire for God to guide and direct us is “Order My Steps in Your Word”:

Two verses from the New Testament are part of benedictions that close out Thessalonians:

I Thessalonians 3:11:

Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

II Thessalonians 3:5:

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

I close the teaching with this psalm rendered as a prayer:

Direct me

Prepare the way, straighten my path, order my steps,

Shine your light upon me that I may not stumble,

That I may not walk in the light of my own sparks,

But illumine my way with the lamp of your Word.

Lord, direct my heart into the love of God

And into the patient waiting for Jesus Christ.

Raise me up in righteousness and direct all my ways.

I begin my prayer and say, "Lord, direct me. . ."

I begin my prayer and say, “Lord, direct me. . .”

Christ in you, the hope of glory

September 7, 2014

Colossians-1 28

The Verse of the Day for September 7, 2014 is found in Colossians 1:28:

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

In order to understand the specifics as to “whom” the verse is speaking, we need to take a look at the preceding verse as well:

Colossians 1:27-28 (KJV)

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

These verses were the foundation for a previous blog entry which I have modified and re-posted below:

This passage from Colossians 1:27-28 mentions the concept of “the mystery” which Dr. Mark Hanby refers to as part of the “progressive revelation of God”—reflected in God’s desire for a dwelling place, displayed in Tabernacle in the Wilderness (first dimension) leading to Solomon’s Temple (second dimension), and culminating in the Temple of the Living God, the body of Christ (third dimension).

Derived from the Greek word musterion, translated “sacred secret,” the essence of “this mystery” is that Jews and Gentiles would be united in one body, the Body of Christ. This “great mystery” was hidden in Christ before the foundations of the earth. Had Satan known this mystery or great secret, the Scriptures declare that he never would have crucified the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul as the context of the Verse of the Day indicates.

In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the spiritual impact that the Church, the Body of Christ, was designed to demonstrate:

Ephesians 3:10 (New Living Translation)

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

God’s desire is that members of the Body of Christ, both individually and corporately, might know and apprehend more fully the meaning of the mystery of the one body. I express my yearning to understand the riches of the glory of this mystery to a greater degree in this way:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Ephesians 3

 

Enlighten my eyes that I might openly see;

Expand my mind and widen my comprehension

To understand the temple of the mystery.

Teach me to fully comprehend each dimension

And ascertain the magnitude without measure:

Reveal to me the true length,

though it is endless;

Teach me to find the full breadth,

though it is boundless;

Help me to reach the vast height,

though it is measureless;

Teach me to probe the great depth,

though it is fathomless.

 

Show me your divine design for the inner man.

Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry

Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan

For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.

Share with me the value of this priceless treasure,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.

Take my hand and lead me, as you would guide a youth,

A son who lives to explore the depths of your truth.

 

The lyrics to this original song were also inspired by Colossians 1:27-28:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

Even before the world began,

God put together His master plan,

Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see

All that you have called me to be.

Share with me the secrets that you have for me,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

 

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.

Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find

He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.

I once was so blind, but now I see.

I’m walking into my destiny:

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me the hope of glory.

 

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

 

Charlie LeBlanc offers a musical reminder that it’s “Christ in You!: (Hosanna! Music)”

Love: Key to intimate dining

September 6, 2014

John-14 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 14:23 (KJV)

The Verse of the Day, for September 6, 2014, begins with the conditional clause “if a man,” followed by the verb “love.” “If an individual loves Jesus Christ, he will adhere to the words that the Lord speaks. If those conditions are met, that individual who meets those conditions will be graced with the very presence of God, the Father and Jesus Christ, His son. John 14:23 establishes the conditions which, if met, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part.

I have heard the expression that when someone whom you love makes a simple request, it is treated as if it were a command. Certainly this should be the case with the request that Jesus Christ makes in John 13:34 (Amplified Bible):

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

As I continued to reflect upon the Verse of the Day, a parallel verse also came to mind, as I began to focus on Revelation 3:20, as my mind became flooded with warm memories of a recent experience related to dining:

Revelation 3:20 (Amplified Bible):

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.

Biltmore_EstateThis past Labor Day weekend, my wife Brenda and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary with a trip to Asheville, NC, where we visited the Biltmore House, described as “America’s largest home,” on a magnificent 8,000-acre estate nestled in the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fifteen years prior to that occurrence, I recall another delightful experience related to dining when visited another Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, NY. Here is an excerpt from a journal entry made at the end of a writing workshop that I attended at Bard College in 1999, later incorporated into a blog entry:

Once more I gained great spiritual insight from observing a physical place which provided another glimpse of the grandeur of God. Upon entering the palatial estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a man of enormous wealth–though modest in comparison to some of his brothers–I immediately thought of the verses in John 14: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I shall come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.”

The magnificent estate of fifty-four rooms with fourteen bathrooms on a mere 600+ acres is indeed modest in comparison with the Biltmore Estate built by the younger, more extravagant brother, George Washington Vanderbilt, whose mansion of 220+ rooms has as many bathrooms as the Hyde Park mansion has rooms (54) situated on originally 2000 acres. The opulence of the rooms overwhelms me, with each individual room decorated to reflect a splendor and uniqueness. The bedrooms, especially, but the entire house seems to have been designed with royalty in mind. As I stand awe and walk, observing the rooms on the two levels, I sense the reality that the splendor awaiting us in God’s magnificent “buildings not made by hands,” reserved for us in the heavenlies far surpasses what I am observing in a temporal context.

The last rooms we observe before exiting the building are the servants’ quarters in the lower level of the building. I was especially moved when I saw the servants’ dining room where we were informed that the servants of the household were served by other servants. As I stood observing the servants’ dining room, I thought of Luke 12:37 (Amplified Bible):

Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are those servants whom the master finds awake and alert and watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them recline at table and will come and serve them!

That particular verse I make reference to in another musical composition:

The Servant’s Song: My Eyes Are Only on You

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

As the eyes of a servant look to the hands of His Lord,

As the ears of a servant know so well his master’s voice,

So my mind stays focused to watch and learn how you move.

Create in me a servant’s heart; teach me to serve in love.

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

As I continue to wait upon my Master and Lord,

I will quickly obey and gladly submit to His will.

I fulfill my calling as I watch and wait to see

When He bids me to the wedding feast, and He will wait on me.

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

As one who enjoys preparing and serving meals, I also appreciate dining at fine restaurants. In many instances, one must make reservations ahead of time to be assured that your party and you will be able to eat at the time that you would like. The idea of making reservations or having a place “reserved” for you, brought to mind this poem:                                     

           RESERVED                               
 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again

to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,

reserved in heaven for you,

 

1 Peter 1:3-4

 

 

To know intimately the fullness of your grace,

To grasp the truest meaning of being “reserved”

For your glory: for your purpose I am preserved

To someday stand in your presence, face to face

With the Lord in the jeweled splendor of that place

Where those of every kindred, tribe and tongue shall hear

The voice sounding as though many waters are near;

To stand on the bema at the end of the race,

To apprehend living in the eternal now

When all the praises of the ages shall resound:

Every tongue shall confess and every knee shall bow.

Where sin once reigned, grace does now even more abound.

“I ‘reserved’ you, set you apart, for you are mine.

Beloved, this is ‘reserved’ for you—come and dine.”

 

The Verse of the Day, Revelation 3:20, and other related verses build our anticipation for the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” which will be like no other dining experience known to humanity. Such a glorious occasion is the fulfillment of the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ to “Come and Dine,” as Gary Chapman sings: