Archive for July, 2015

Looking for the children of God

July 31, 2015

john1-12The Verse of the Day for July 31, 2015 speaks of the concept of “the sons of God,” as expressed in John 1:12-13 (Authorized King James Version):

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The designation as “the sons of God” in the King James Version is translated “the children of God” in other versions: The verses are rendered this way in the New Living Translation:

12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

1 John 3:1 speaks of the source of our being called His children:

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.

From a spiritual perspective, those who are designated as sons of God, take on the character or the spiritual nature of their Father. “Like father, like son,” so goes the familiar expression. Jesus Christ whose very nature embodies the fullness of God is the Son of God, and those who receive him have obtained the power to partake of his nature, being born again. Romans 8:14 declares:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The New Living Translation offers this statement:

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Although our presence as children of God makes a critical difference in the world today, the fullness of who were are is yet to be totally realized. 1 John 3:2 points out the difference between what we see now and what we shall see in the future:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Romans 8:19 in the Amplified Bible speaks of this sense of anticipation:

For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are., the disclosing of their sonship].

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

Many believe that future day is close at hand.

To round out our discussion, John 1:12 is the inspiration for the following scripture memory song:

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Never forget: Always remember

July 29, 2015
The beautiful petals of five lobes of the "forget-me-not" bring to mind the words of Psalm 119:93.

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

On July 29, 2015 the Verse of the Day is found in Psalm 119:93 (KJV) where the Psalmist boldly declares:

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

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

Psalm 119:93

I will never forget your commandments,

for by them you give me life.

The Living Bible renders the verse in this way:

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

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

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

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

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

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

The Amplified Bible adds this:

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

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

The idea of “never forgetting” can also be expressed in another way, in terms of “always remembering.” From my early school years I recall the mathematical axiom: “Things equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.” I also remember listening to a teaching series by Dr. David Jeremiah in which I made some notes regarding keys to not forgetting the Word of God. I used this heading for my comments: Do Remember God’s Goodness (Don’t Forget How Good God’s Been).

That discussion also brought to mind lyrics to an old familiar gospel song: “Do Lord, Do Lord, Do remember me.” Just as God declares that He won’t forget us (Isaiah 49:15-16), we must remember not to forget God and His precepts. To facilitate the remembrance of God’s goodness, I suggest writing down those times of deliverance, of answered prayers. Dr. Charles Stanley recommends that we write down those victories as reminders to go back and read in the dark times when God seems distant and so far away.

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

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

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

which you have shown toward his name,  

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

Hebrews 6:10

The good deeds that you have done may not be extolled

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

Some quickly forget all the good that you have done

And fail to recall that you were the only one

To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.

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

When others were busy and chose to walk away,

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

In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,

Recall that God knows all things, for He alone sees

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

Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,

And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.

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

Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

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

I Will Remember

I will remember. I will remember

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

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

In the love you displayed in Your Son.

I will remember, always remember

I will remember. I will remember.

I will remember the fire that first warmed my heart.

I will remember. I will remember.

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

I will remember, always remember.

I will never forget Your Word.

I will remember, always remember.

I will never forget You are my Lord.

I will remember, always remember.

I will remember. I will remember.

I will remember, always remember.

I will never forget Your Word.

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

Kick it in: Press toward the mark

July 28, 2015

Philippians 3--12-14

Revised and re-posted below is the blog entry from a year ago which is especially applicable today:

Although the Verse of the Day for July 28, 2015 is taken from Philippians 3:14, to fully understand that particular verse, we need to take a look at the preceding verse as well:

Philippians 3:13-14

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

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

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

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

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

In the Home-stretch

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:

but this one thing I do, forgetting those things

which are behind, and reaching forth

unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize

Of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Philippians 3:13-14

 

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

Secure in the Savior, as all things become new.

Constantly seeking, we know we shall someday find

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

Even as these perilous times have never been more dark.

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

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

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

We fix our heart and set our affections above.

Like David, we encourage ourselves in the Lord.

Nothing can separate us from His boundless love.

We rest in hope, assured that all those who endure

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

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

Strengthened by the presence of Christ who dwells within,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forget the past, press toward the mark,

Look straight ahead with no regrets.

We close with a scripture memory song based on Philippians 3:13-14:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, the Burden Bearer

July 27, 2015

Hebrews-12-1-2

Verse of the Day for July 27, 2015 comes from the Hebrews 12:1 in the Authorized (King James) Version.

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

For a more comprehensive view, take a look at the first three verses of Chapter 12 of Hebrews:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

In thinking on this passage, my mind recalls a backpacking experience that occurred at TFI (Total Fitness Institute) in California back in December, 1975. During this outdoor wilderness adventure I was assigned to a platoon of believers, and we portioned out our food supply for the week among the group. I volunteered to carry the food for the last day, which meant that my load stayed the same while the load that everyone else carried got lighter.

On this particular day, we were told that we would hike for a mile and then take a break and rest for a while. After a considerable amount of time, I was certain that we had hiked more than a mile, but we continued. When I realized that I was carrying the food for the last day and that everyone else’s load was lighter than mine, I became agitated and began to complain in my mind that “This is just not fair. . .” During this time of frustration and agitation as I struggled under my heavy load, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he gladly bore on my behalf. As I took my mind off myself and turned my thoughts toward the Lord, the distress and exasperation seemed to fade, and we arrive at our destination in a short time. That experience was the inspiration for this poem:

The Burden Bearer

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,

When I lay my burden down.

I stumbled up the rugged road;

I almost fell beneath the load

And spurned the pain inside my head,

Recalling words of one who said

Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

 

The yoke I bear cannot compare

With all he took upon Himself:

All sins, disease, and guilt, despair

That I could not forebear myself.

His burden was not made of wood,

His cross beyond all words can name.

Have I resisted unto blood?

Could I for joy endure such shame?

From a glimpse into his face

I’m strengthened by a second wind;

My mind’s renewed to keep the pace

The load is lightened by my friend.

 

I feel better, so much better

since I laid my burden down.

 

The Verse of the Day also brought to mind this song: “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” offered by Michael W. Smith

My experience at the Total Fitness Institute also inspired “The Burden Bearer.” The epigraph or short intro to the poem as well as the closing stanza are lyrics from an old gospel song that I recall my childhood days, recorded here by the Staple Singers.

When we “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” we will see that he is our “Burden Bearer.”

Back to the first word: Faith

July 26, 2015

Hebrews 11--1,6The Verse of the Day for July 26, 2015 offers a definition of faith, as expressed in Hebrews 11:1 (NLT):

[ Great Examples of Faith ] Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Faith continues to be a topic of personal importance, especially during the challenging times in which we live. Often when confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I recall a statement made by Apostle John Tetsola: —“When you are in a difficult situation, go back to the first word; it still works.” For me, recalling “the first word” takes my mind back to 1957 at a Wednesday night teaching at Youth Night at Camp Gray in Saugatuck, MI. During this time I volunteered to teach the youth, and I put together my first teaching. The subject that I selected was “Faith,” and I remember using Hebrews 11:1, 6 in the King James Version:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

A few years ago, I was asked what faith means to me, and I crafted a kind of statement of faith. Here is an excerpt from a blog entry where I offer an extended definition of faith:

To build a magnificent mansion that will last a lifetime, the builders must beginning with a solid foundation. Similarly, to build a purposeful life of success and fulfillment, we must establish a firm foundation upon which we build. For the Christian believer faith is the bedrock of life. Faith is defined as confident assurance, trust and conviction that those who trust in God will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Faith is a Sine qua non—that without which there is nothing. Faith is the indispensable ingredient in a successful Christian life. The Scriptures remind us that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

In the midst thundering echoes of “No!” faith says “Yes!” Voices shout “You can’t” but faith proclaims “I can and I will!” At the point of total exhaustion, faith says, “Take one more step.” After more failed attempts than you can number, faith gives you courage to try one more time. Faith is tenacious—you hold on and never give up. Although the diagnosis, bank statement or other evidence says “No way!” faith responds with “God will make a way.”

In terms of illustrations of faith, we find excellent examples from the Bible. We begin with Abraham, “the father of faith,” who did not stagger at the promise of God that he should become the father of many nations, with descendants without number. Despite the circumstances of this hundred-year-old man with a barren wife of comparable age, Abraham grew strong and was empowered by faith. Hebrews 11 recounts the triumphs of men and women of faith in what has become known as the “Hall of Faith.”

Aside from the Bible, we can glean from the lives of great men and women who achieved impossible dreams. Despite a barrage of reasons why they would fail, they transformed failure into success. A notable example is the Wright Brothers, who persevered in faith to accomplish the impossible. We are also surrounded by “real heroes” who live by faith each day to make a difference.

Without faith it is impossible . . . but with faith, the impossible becomes possible. Indeed, for believers, faith is our solid foundation. Like the wise man who built his house on the rock, when the storms of life approach, if we have laid a firm foundation, the house that we build will stand, for faith is the Christian’s sure foundation.

This morning as I was praying and meditating on the topic of faith, I thought of a particular poem written four years ago that ministered to me, as I was being strengthened and encouraged in my faith again.

  The Song of Faith

   Faith is a bird that feels the light

   And sings while the dawn is still dark.

    Anonymous

 

   So then, faith comes by hearing,

  And hearing by the Word of God

 Romans 10:17

Like hope, faith is a thing with feathers, a rare songbird,

Feeling the light long before the daybreak has occurred.

Faith takes flight and sings on the wing, even in the dark.

The distinctive melody of the soaring skylark

Ascends to greet the promise of a new day dawning

With refrains of its song in the night sung in the morning.

Light penetrates threatening storm clouds of dawn’s first ray,

As faith loudly sings “Yes!” when the world clamors “No way!”

Now without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Though the Word was preached to us as well as unto them,

Defiled by unbelief, they did not pass the test;

Though on the verge, they did not enter into God’s rest.

God’s Word encourages believers to have no fear,

For you cannot sing the song of faith if you do not hear.

The Maranatha Praise Band offers a spirited song “I Walk by Faith.”

Fellowship: With God and each other

July 20, 2015

1 John-1--7The Verse of the Day is taken from 1 John 1:7 (NLT):

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

The context for 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers, as revealed in 1 John 1:3-10 (NLT):

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

Living in the Light

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

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

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

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

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

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

Have no fear: Remember love

July 19, 2015

Isaiah 41--10The Verse of the Day for July 19, 2015 comes from Isaiah 41:10 (NLT):

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

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

We also find great comfort when we add verse 13 of Isaiah 42, from which the lyrics to a Scripture Memory Song are taken, offering these words of encouragement:

Do Not Fear

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

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

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

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

In previous blog entries I have commented on fear and its impact upon our lives as believers. Recognizably, fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that can run rampant to limit and inhibit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are familiar with the acronym used to describe fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. A few years ago, a dear friend and sister in Christ shared another acronym for fear: Forgetting Everything Already Realized. This designation further inspired this line from a poem also offering another acrostic definition of love: Love Overcomes: this Victory we have Every time. Both descriptions are a part of this poem:

Have No Fear: Remember Love

With gratitude to Victoria Dunn

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

because fear involves torment. He who fears

has not been made perfect in love

I John 4:18

Forgetting Everything Already Realized,

Everything God performs He does with excellence.

Already set before us is every promise.

Realized with each sunrise this eternal truth:

Love Overcomes: this Victory we have Every time.

Only believe, knowing love energizes faith.

Victory is ours each time we trust God and believe,

Ever mindful that perfect love casts out all fear.

God cannot love us more and will not love us any less.

May we never forget but always remember:

Despite the storms and fiery trials, we will not fear,

Knowing nothing can separate us from God’s love.

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

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

Looking for the upright in heart

July 18, 2015

Psalm  119-Verse-7Biblical 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 for July 18, 2015 is taken from Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. Also known as the Torah Psalm, this passage makes reference to Word of God in every verse, employing such synonyms as “statues, Law, judgments, precepts, etc. Today’s Verse of the Day is the next to the last verse of the Aleph or the first section where David makes a bold declaration of his intent in verse 7:

Psalm 119:7

As I learn your righteous regulations,

I will thank you by living as I should!

The section ends with another declaration of intent, ending with a passionate plea:

Psalm 119:8

I will obey your decrees.

Please don’t give up on me!

David goes on to demonstrate his efforts to live uprightly and follow the precepts of God:

Psalm 119:11:

11 I have hidden your word in my heart,

that I might not sin against you. [1]

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

17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously. (1 Chronicles 29:17)

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

2 Samuel 22:23-26

23 I have followed all his regulations;
I have never abandoned his decrees.
24 I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
25 The Lord rewarded me for doing right.
He has seen my innocence.

26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.

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

Job 1:1 (Amplified Bible):

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

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

For the righteous Lord loves justice.
The virtuous will see his face.

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

II Chronicles 16:9 and Psalm 37:37

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

To show Himself strong, to show Himself strong,

To show Himself strong in behalf of them

Whose heart is perfect toward Him.

The man with a perfect heart is whole and complete:

Mark the perfect man and behold the upright,

For the end of that man is peace.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro,

Throughout the whole earth

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

Because He is not ashamed, I am not ashamed

July 17, 2015

Romans 1_16In Romans 1:16 (NLT) we find the Verse of the Day for July 17, 2015:

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.

This particular verse brought to mind a journal entry made over ten years ago where I examined a number of scriptures under the heading: “No More Shame!” According to Biblestudytools.com, the Arabic word for shame, disgrace, or dishonor is said to be ayb, translated as a dirty garment to be cast off by every effort. Indeed, shame is often associated with filthy garments. . . In the vernacular, we speak of “a lowdown dirty shame.” This concept related to soiled garments being removed is illustrated in Zechariah 3:3-4:

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

God speaks words of comfort to Israel through Isaiah, the prophet, who proclaims: Isaiah 54:4-5

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

The expression “not ashamed” is used distinctively in the Scriptures, beginning with its first usage in Genesis. In reflecting upon that place, we are “yearning to return to Eden, to get back to the Garden” . . . the place of innocence, the first place where there was no shame: Genesis 2:25

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

A number of references come from the Psalms regarding having no shame: Psalm 119:6

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

Psalm 34:5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. Psalm 31:1

In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

Psalm 119:116

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.

In the New Testament, a number of references also speak of having “no shame”: Hebrews 2:11 also reveals a similar attitude that Christ has toward those who call upon his name:

For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Hebrews 11:16 reminds us of God’s favorable attitude toward those who believe in Him:

But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Romans 5:5 makes a connection between having “no shame” and the hope of salvation:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto

Philippians 1:20 goes on to say:

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Regarding our hope that abides in our expectation of the Lord’s return, I John 2:28 encourages:

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Most believers are quite familiar with Romans 10:9-10 which relate to salvation through confessing the Lord Jesus as Savior and believing that God raised him from the dead, but we sometimes forget the following verse: Romans 10:11 (KJV)

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed.

This verse and all the above related scriptures reinforce the message of the Verse of the Day. The lyrics from the contemporary gospel song “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” echo those same sentiments, recorded here by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Renewing the mind: ongoing process

July 16, 2015

Colossians 2--6-7The Verse of the Day for July 16, 2015 reminds believers of who they are in Christ Jesus, as expressed in the following blog entry which was originally posted a year ago:

Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT)

For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

To more fully understand our identity in Christ, let’s take a look at the preceding verses found in Colossians 2:6-10

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

These verses tell us that as we have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, we are to walk in him, which 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.

Some of the same principles involved in renewing the mind are revealed in

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 [Amplified Bible]

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 culminating aspect of renewing the mind is to put on charity or to demonstrate or manifest or to put into action the love of God:

Walk in Love: Our Best Defense

Don’t bite the bait

Don’t take offense

Walk in the love of Jesus Christ

It’s your best defense

Scripture Memory Song

Always attacking, the Accuser stalks his prey,

Relentless in maligning Saints, both night and day.

Fiery darts of wicked words hurled in endless assaults:

The aim of evil deeds that magnify our faults.

He sets the traps, lures of the Spirit of Offense.

To counteract, we walk in love, our best defense.

He tries to trip us up, to be a stumbling block,

But we are ever vigilant around the clock.

Although we strive to reach the highest good,

Our motives are questioned; we are misunderstood

Despite life’s challenges, we seek to rise above.

Though deeply wounded when betrayed, we still walk in love.

The thief comes to offend, falsely accuse and betray,

But we conquer through Christ, each time we trust and obey

Listen to the Scripture Memory song by Zach Gilbert based on Colossians 2:6-7: