Archive for November, 2014

Oh, give thanks: His mercy endures forever

November 29, 2014

Psalms-9  21-and-136 26The Psalms overflow with prayers of thanksgiving, as expressed in the Verse of the Day for November 29, 2014 found in Psalm 136:1, 26:

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!

For His mercy endures forever.

One of the awesome attributes of God is that He is a God of mercy, and His mercy never fails. Although our Father is a God of justice, he tempers justice with grace and mercy. Justice has been defined as “getting exactly what one deserves.” Whereas grace is said to be unmerited favor or getting something that one does not deserve, while mercy is defined as “withholding merited judgment” or “not getting what one deserves. God ever displays His mercy toward His children, as Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The mercy of God as expressed in Lamentations 3 is the inspiration behind one of my favorite hymns: “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Listen to this moving rendition of this timeless classic:

Throughout the Psalms, we see that God abounds in mercy:

Psalm 119: 64:

The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 57:10

For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.

Psalm 69:13

But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.

Psalm 103:17

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

Israel Houghton and New Breed conclude this entry with this reminder: “Lord, You are Good and Your Mercy Endureth Forever”:

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Call upon His name

November 28, 2014

1 Chronicles-16 8The Verse of the Day for November 28, 2014 comes from 1 Chronicles 16:8 (KJV):

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

In addition to 1 Chronicles 16:8, other verses also remind us to call upon the name of the Lord:

Psalm 105:1

O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

Romans 10:13 so clearly makes known the results occurring to those who petition the Lord:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Throughout the Scriptures we see that believers are encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. Note this invitation extended in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV):

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

One of the most often quotes passages from Jeremiah relates a promise given by God to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11-13, a passage that applies to Christians today as well:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 107 reveals the seemingly never-ending cycle whereby the people of God stray from the pathways of God and find themselves in difficult straights, and as verses, 6, 13, 19, and 28 make known:

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

I make reference to God’s response to those who call upon His name in the following poem:

The Strong, the Wise and the Righteous

In times of famine, those who survive

and prosper are the strong,

the wise and the righteous.”

Apostle Eric L. Warren

 

In times of severe famine those who survive are the strong

In mind, those empowered by the Spirit of Might.

Though living in a strange land, they sing the Lord’s song,

Striving to please their God, in whom He takes delight.

During drought and scarcity of food, the wise

Follow wisdom as a hunter pursues his game.

They seek to do all God’s will and not compromise.

God hears every cry when they call upon His name.

The strong right hand of the Lord upholds the righteous ones,

And satisfies the deepest hunger of their soul.

Walking worthy of their calling as faithful sons,

They learn that to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

In times of famine they shall find grace in God’s eyes

And shall be found strong in the Lord, righteous and wise.

Despite the truth that God consistently delivers those who cry out to him, His people too often fall back into trouble whereby they only call upon the Lord in the midst of their struggles. Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere in the Scriptures we see that our faithful God responds to those who call upon Him.

Jim and Ginger Hendricks provide a moving musical exhortation: “Call unto Me”

With each breath, each move live thanks to Him

November 26, 2014

1 Thessalonians-5 18 NewAs we have been moving steadily toward Thanksgiving Day, a number of scriptures related to being thankful have come to mind. The Verse of Day for the past several days has focused on expressing our gratitude to God for all that He has done. In commenting on aspects of thankfulness in every situation that we encounter as believers, I recalled the words of J. Rufus Moseley, who spoke of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” This attitude should be pervasive, as we attempt to express our gratitude to God in thought, word and deed. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” a lifestyle that some have called “thanksliving.” The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this poem:

Thanksliving

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God

in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

What shall we render to the Lord for all

His grace? What can we say to offer praise

Worthy of His glory? How can we call

With all our being upon His name and raise

A new song from the depths of our heart?

We must do more than mouth a platitude–

To express our soul in words is an art;

Yet words cannot express our gratitude.

Mere words are empty and without merit.

“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.

So we must worship God with our spirit

And must give thanks well for all of our days.

To live is give thanks with tongue and limb;

With each breath, each move, let us live thanks to Him.

The closing lines of the poem reiterate the exhortation to express our gratitude to God in all that we say and in all that we do, as expressions of “thanksliving” which I describe as a lifestyle of gratitude.

In reflecting on how we can convey our gratitude to God for all that He has done, I thought of the ways in which we are fearfully and wonderfully made, so as to show forth praise to God. Recently I thought of three ways whereby we get in synch with the natural phenomena that remind us to say “thank you.”

The beat of a healthy heart is made up of two sounds. In healthy adults, these two sounds occur in sequence with each heartbeat that is often described as a “lub-dub” sound. In my mind, I hear the same sequence of sounds as “thank you.” Every beat of my heart pulsates “thank you” to God.

The accompanying video explains how the heartbeat or lub-dub sound is formed.

Another natural process that can be related to giving thanks is respiration. This process of breathing involves has two distinct phases: inspiration (inhalation) and expiration (exhalation). During inspiration, the diaphragm contracts, as air rushes in to fill the lungs. During expiration, the diaphragm relaxes, as the lungs contract, forcing the air out.

In a manner similar to our association with our heartbeat, we can connect our breathing with “thank you.” As we take in oxygen (inhale), we thank God, saying “thank you,” and as we release carbon dioxide, we also release a “thank you” to God. Every breath that we take can be an expression of our gratitude to God, as “we breathe thanks to Him.”

The respiration process is explained in the following video:

In yet another manner, I attempt to be more consciously aware of saying “thank you” in this way. I jokingly named my right foot “Thank you” and my left foot “Lordy.” This means that everywhere I go, I say, “Thank you, Lordy!”

Occasionally I have conscientiously made that pattern a means to express my gratitude, but far too often I walk here and there without consciously thinking of or giving thanks to God. I must do more to continually express my gratitude to God, not only with each breath that I take but with each move that I make, all of which is the essence of “thanksliving.”

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offers this closing exhortation in song: “In Everything Give Him Thanks”:

Thanksliving: an attitude of gratitude

November 25, 2014

Colossians-3 17Apropos of the approaching holiday occurring on the 4th Thursday in November, Thanksgiving Day, the Verse of the Day for November 25, 2014 is found in Colossians 3:17 in the Amplified Bible:

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

In a previously posted blog entry on thanksgiving, we find some of the following comments:

God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. The Word of God reminds us of this truth in a number of places, including this rendering of Colossians 3:17 in the King James Version:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7, another celebrated thanksgiving passage, is rendered this way in the New Living Translation (NLT):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:15 (KJV) offers yet another reminder:

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in I Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ.

In any situation, one of the critical factors contributing to our success or failure is “attitude.” Of course, the discussion of attitude comes full circle with this reminder that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” For believers thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” which some have called “thanksliving.”

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. This time of the year, as we approach the final holiday season of the year, our lives should especially abound with thanksgiving to God for “His unspeakable gift.” Without question, “thanksgiving” is the reason for every season.

We show with all our being, “Thank God it’s Sunday through Saturday.” We join with the psalmist in declaring, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night. (Psalm 92:1,2) Each day is a celebration of the grace of God through Jesus Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being. The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this poem:

Thanksliving

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God

in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

What shall we render to the Lord for all

His grace? What can we say to offer praise

Worthy of His glory? How can we call

With all our being upon His name and raise

A new song from the depths of our heart?

We must do more than mouth a platitude–

To express our soul in words is an art;

Yet words cannot express our gratitude.

Our words are empty and without merit.

“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.

So we must worship God with our spirit

And must give thanks well for all of our days.

To live is give thanks with tongue and limb;

With each breath, each move, let us live thanks to Him.

This music video by Bill & Gloria Gaither “In Everything Give Thanks“ features Charlotte Ritchie and Jeff & Sheri Easter:

Expressions of a grateful heart

November 24, 2014

Colossians-2-6-7

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP):

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.

The Verse of the Day for November 24, 2014 reminds believers that as we have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, we are to walk in him. This practice is an aspect of renewing the mind, whereby we put off the old and put on the new.

These lines reflect our prayer to God:

Open our ears to hear the Word that we might do it,

To put on the mind of Christ and learn to renew it.

The following poem refers to

The Key to the Renewed Mind

Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old

(unregenerate) self with its evil practices,

And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self],

which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into

[fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after

the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.

Colossians 3:9-10 (AMP)

It has been said that the key to power is the renewed mind,

But what is the key to the renewed mind? God please show me,

For I seek to walk in power and excel and not be left behind,

As I strive to know levels of deepest intimacy.

With laser precision I target the old man nature

And put to death and mortify my members once for all.

I respond in obedience in answer to God’s call;

Not conformed, I transform myself, as new man, mature.

In the secret place of the Lord who ever inhabits

The praises of His people, here I desire to abide,

To put off the old man, vile, corrupt, wrapped in sinful pride

And put on the new man, as one changes garments, habits.

Above all I put on compassionate love from the start

And abide in my hiding place, filled with a grateful heart.

The last line of the poem makes a reference to “a grateful heart,” the title of one of the songs on the “List of the Top Ten Plus One Songs of Thanksgiving.” Published on Examiner.com, the list includes a history of each of the songs along with the lyrics. The section on “Grateful Heart” by the Christian rock group, Petra, is reprinted here:

Petra, prominent Christian rock band, has regarded by many as a pioneer of the Christian rock and of the Contemporary Christian music genres. Formed in 1972 in Fort Wayne, Indiana by Bob Hartman, Greg Hough and John DeGroff while they were students of the Christian Training Center, the group grew in prominence, ultimately influencing a number of notable Christian bands. Petra takes its name from the Greek word for “Rock.”

Petra’s distinct sound evolved into a more energetic, driving rock sound in the early 80s. The late 80s and the early 90s were successful periods for the band, when it was considered the best-known, best-selling Christian band. Despite strong opposition from some church circles, Petra grew in popularity.

Among the most recognized compositions of Petra is “Thankful Heart,” a song based on Ephesians 5:20: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”:

Another song on the Top 10 plus one Thanksgiving Songs also reminds believers to “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart,” which is excerpted from the article:

As former President of the Integrity Label Group, Don Moen has been responsible for producing and directing hundreds of projects on the company’s Integrity Music, Hosanna! Music, Vertical Music and Integrity Gospel labels. He has composed over 100 songs and led worship across the globe, having more than five million Integrity Music CDs.

When asked about his purpose in life, Moen responded that God has destined him “To be an architect and builder of worship events and products that draw people closer to Jesus and change their lives.”

In 1984, Integrity Music asked Moen to lead worship on one of the first Hosanna! Music albums, Give Thanks. The project became one of Integrity’s most popular recordings ever, and a benchmark for the genre of praise and worship. The title song continues to enjoy widespread popularity, especially during this time of the year:

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks unto the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son (repeat)

And now let the weak say, ‘I am strong’
Let the poor say, ‘I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us’ (repeat)

Give thanks

Give Thanks

Don Moen offers this version of this classic song of worship:

As we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, renewing our minds as we walk in love, our souls overflow with gratitude, expressions of a grateful heart.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving

November 23, 2014

Psalm 100-4As we enter the week of Thanksgiving Day, the Verse of the Day for November 23, 2014 can be found in Psalm 100: 4-5 in the Amplified Bible:

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

A similar exhortation is found Psalm 95: 1-2 in the Amplified Bible:

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation!

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

A recent blog entry in Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe discussed “Thanksgiving in the Psalms” and examined these two familiar passages and others related to the practice of giving thanks to God.

The Marantha! Singers offer a rousing rendition of “He Has Made Me Glad,” reminding us to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise.”

A recently published Examiner.com article listed the Top 10 Thanksgiving songs plus one and offered background information and the lyrics to each of the songs, including “He Has Made Me Glad” which is reprinted here:

Maranatha! Music began as a non-profit outreach of Calvary Chapel in 1971. Coming out of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, song writers began to compose new hymns and worship songs with a folk-rock style. Maranatha! Music was founded at this time in order to publish and promote this new type of Christian music. One of its signature musical compositions has been He Has Made Me Glad with its opening refrain from Psalm 100:4: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. The ongoing desire of Maranatha! Music involves “Connecting the song of faith with today’s church.”

I will enter His gates/He has made me glad Medley:

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

Chorus:
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.

We joyfully enter the presence of the Lord with thanksgiving, not only during the week of Thanksgiving Day, but every hour of every day of every week of every year our hearts overflow with gratitude to God.

At all times: Give thanks

November 22, 2014

Colossians-3-Verse-15postColossians 3:15 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for November 22, 2014, offers another reminder to be thankful:

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

When we look at the context of verse 15 and read the next two verses as well, we find a wonderful “gratitude sandwich” with three references to being thankful, as noted in the Amplified Bible:

15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

16 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.

17 And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

In light of our being in the “Thanksgiving season,” we find that in its most basic sense, “thanksgiving” is the application of an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.”

As Christian believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses negative thinking patterns. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair and any other toxic emotions of life. We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times, as Colossians 3:17 reminds us:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the  Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. Of course, we must remember that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.”

For believers, maintaining such an attitude of gratitude is our magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude.”

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, we express our gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is always an appropriate time to give thanks to God. One of the songs I recall from years ago declares, “Now is the right time to praise the Lord!” No matter the circumstances, no matter the conditions, weather-wise or otherwise, we are to follow this exhortation:

In happy moments, praise God.

In difficult moments, seek God.

In quiet moments, worship God.

In painful moments, trust God.

In every moment, thank God.

At All Times

 

I will bless the Lord at all times,

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

When God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,

And we savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life

And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,

During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain

So that we can scarcely scream your name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,

Through every why and wherefore, for every reason

Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Don Moen offers this moving reminder to “Give Thanks”:

Thanksgiving in the Psalms

November 20, 2014

Psalm 95 1 2 310904561The Verse of the Day for November 20, 2013 is found in Psalm 95: 1-2 in the Amplified Bible:

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation!

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

Verse 2 with its great exhortation to “come before his presence with thanksgiving” is a reminder that we are in the “Thanksgiving season.” At this time of year there is an almost automatic association with turkey and dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (or sweet potato pie, depending upon your ethnic tastes). For Christians, however, thanksgiving is more than a holiday observed the fourth Thursday in November. Actually, “Thanksgiving” is a way of life, a lifestyle that is always appropriate. “Thanksgiving” is the reason, not only for this season, but “thanksgiving” should be the reason for every season.

When I use the term “thanksgiving,” I look at the word in its most literal sense, meaning “to give thanks” or “to show one’s self grateful.” It is an expression of gratitude, a form of prayer specified in I Timothy which speaks of “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. . . .”

As Christian believers, expressing thanks to God for His grace and goodness should never be confined to a single period of time. God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. The Book of Psalms offers eight reminders or references to thanksgiving. The number eight is spiritually symbolic of a new beginning, whereby we come to the end of the eighth exhortation and then begin again.

Thanksgiving in the Psalms:

  1. Psalm 26:7
    That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
  2. Psalm 50:14
    Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
  3. Psalm 69:30
    I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
  4. Psalm 95:2
    Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
  5. Psalm 100:4
    Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
  6. Psalm 107:22
    And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
  7. Psalm 116:17
    I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
  8. Psalm 147:7
    Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

The Marantha! Singers offer a rousing rendition of “He Has Made Me Glad,” reminding us to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise.”

We joyfully come before God’s presence with thanksgiving, not just the week before Thanksgiving Day, but every hour of every day of every week of every year.

Psalm 1: Talk about a man

November 19, 2014

Psalm_1-1

The Verse of the Day for November 19, 2014 provides a magnificent description of the man of God spoken of in the first two verses of in the First Psalm, one of my favorite psalms:

Psalm 1: 1-2 (NIV):

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night..

When I think of the First Psalm, I recall the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory. More than 60 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school,” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood in a kind of impromptu Vacation Bible School in her home, which was located behind “Little’s “Funeral Parlor.” She told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still recall by heart to this day.

In the years that have transpired since the first time I recited the passage, I have come to identify with the man so described as “blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable” in the Amplified Bible:

I express my identification with this individual in the following poetic self-portrait:

Talk about a Man

Psalm 1

 

Talk about a man that show is blessed—you’re the man.

Talk about a man that show is blessed—you’re the man.

At first you couldn’t, but now you see God’s master plan.

To study the Word of Life show is your delight.

To study the Word of Life show is your delight.

You’re all the time thinking about it—day and night.

Planted by the rivers of water, your roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, your roots reach deep.

By the still waters the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

You have been so blessed since you can remember when.

The Word of God soothes your soul like a healing balm.

You’re the man they talking about in that First Psalm.

Now that I think about it, that experience occurred around the same time as another related experience when I asked if I could “join the church.” In order to become a member of the church, you had to be at least twelve years old. Shortly after turning twelve, on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, I walked down the aisle at Carter Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church and shook the minister’s hand, but I recognized, even then, that sometime significant had happened that was more than just a formality.

In the Jewish tradition there is a rite of passage called the bar mitzvah for young men and the bat mitzvah, for young girls. The term literally means “son/daughter of the commandment.” This religious initiation ceremony is conducted for a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 and is regarded as ready to observe religious precepts and thus eligible to take part in public worship.

Accepting Jesus Christ as my savior and my expressing my desire to “join the Church,” happened about the same time which I feel may have represented a kind of rite of passage similar to the bar mitzvah, thus have been some of my thoughts while reflecting on the First Psalm and its significance in my life.

Listen to a musical version of this beautiful psalm offered by Kim Hill.

God’s Word: A light and a lamp

November 17, 2014

psalm 119 105

The Verse of the Day for November 17, 2014 is taken from Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. Also known as the Torah Psalm, this passage makes reference to the Word of God in every verse, employing such synonyms as “statues, Law, judgments, precepts, etc. One of the most familiar metaphors used to describe the Scriptures is found in Psalm 119:105 (NIV):

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Biblical scholar, EW Bullinger, points out that Psalm 119 is an acrostic psalm of 22 sections of eight verses each, with each section starting with one of the 22 consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Take a look at the psalm and note that the first eight verses are labeled under Aleph, verses 9-16 are labeled under Beth; the same sequence follows for all 176 verses (8 x22).  This arrangement made the psalm easier to memorize, according to the Holman Bible Handbook.

The Verse of the Day is part of the Nun section set to music in the following video by Clear:

This particular verse was among the first scripture memory songs that I ever composed with the following lyrics:

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet.

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

When I am in the dark

And cannot find my way,

I open up the Bible

To see what God will say.

I look and find the answer

And then I gladly obey.

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

When you have a problem,

And you don’t know what to do,

Just open up the Bible

See what God says to you.

Just look and find the answer.

Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet.

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

God’s Word is a lamp, a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105 is the inspiration for this beautiful worship composition “Lamp unto My Feet” by Hillsong

David W. Morris is the worship leader on “Thy Word” (Psalm 119:105) by Hosanna! Music.

Reflecting on Psalm 119:105 is a great way to launch our day.