Archive for August, 2015

Peace, peace: A double portion of peace

August 27, 2015

Isaiah-26-Verse-3post

The verse for August 27, 2015, is taken from Isaiah 26:3; however, to  appreciate more fully what the verse reveals about trust, we need to examine the following verse as well, where a familiar reference also speaks about the individual who trusts in God:

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

The two verses are rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].

Bible scholar, E.W. Bullinger, notes that the figure of speech “epizeuxis” is used in Isaiah 26:3.  To emphasize the concept of peace, the phrase “perfect peace” indicates this figure of repetition where the word for peace is repeated in the Hebrew text, literally “peace, peace.” God provides a “double portion of peace” to those who trust in Him. A similar expression is used elsewhere in Isaiah:

Isaiah 27: 5

    unless they turn to me for help.
Let them make peace with me;
yes, let them make peace with me.”

Isaiah 59:17

 Or else [if all Israel would escape being burned up together there is but one alternative], let them take hold of My strength and make complete surrender to My protection, that they may make peace with Me! Yes, let them make peace with Me!

“Peace” has been described as a priceless commodity. Without question, the concept is vitally important in our war-torn world today. The definition of peace moves beyond the traditional definition that recognizes that this concept is far more than “the normal non-warring condition of a nation, a group of nations or the world. . . a state of harmony among people or groups; cessation or freedom from strife or dissension.” The biblical definition speaks of a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being. It is an inner reality . . . the peace of God indicates being free from anxiety and care; it is not dependent upon outside conditions. The peace of God is only possible through the Prince of Peace, who reminds us of the priceless gift that he alone gives:

John 14:27

27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Whenever we find ourselves in distressful situations that attempt to disrupt and disturb our inner peace, we must recall the words of Moses to the Children of Israel as they were being pursued by the Egyptians when the monstrous Red Sea confronted them, as they moved from bondage to freedom; likewise, we must also “hold our peace” as this poem reminds us:

Hold Your Peace

So shall they fear the name of the Lord,

from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun.

When the enemy shall come in like a flood,

the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

Isaiah 59:19

 

The LORD will fight for you,

and you shall hold your peace.”

Exodus 14:14

 

These days when the enemy enters as a flood

With distress and intense pressure on every side,

Despite signs of defeat, the Lord God is still good.

In the thick of battle in peace we will abide.

The Spirit of the Lord raises a bold standard:

Lord of Hosts bears His arm, as Jehovah Nissi

Covers us with His love; though foes may have slandered,

His royal banner is displayed for us to see:

Faithful Adonai has never slept nor slumbered.

He is not slack but hastens to perform His Word.

Despite outward signs, we are never outnumbered,

For we know that the battle belongs to the Lord.

On the battlefield, fierce attacks seem only to increase,

But as God told Moses, “Stand still and hold your peace!”

A year ago, the focal point of a blog entry posted at that time was Isaiah 26:3 and other related verses dealing with trust along with five accompanying songs. The final song of trust was written and performed by Gary Oliver: “I will trust in you.” In actuality the lyrics refer to Isaiah 26:4, the next verse after the Verse of the Day, that reinforces the comforting and reassuring message expressed in Isaiah 26:3 which promises that God will keep us in a state of perfect peace as we trust him. As a result, we should trust in the Lord God forever, for He is the everlasting Rock of Ages.

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Spared not his own son, but freely gave him up

August 22, 2015

Romans_8-32The Verse of the /Day for August 22, 2015 was originally posted a year ago, but it has been modified and re-posted here:

Romans 8:32 (NLT)

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Romans 8:32 causes those who read it to think about the degree to which God, our Father, was willing to go to express His love. It brings to mind that God is the ultimate “Giver.” As the supreme giver, God practices the very principles that He implements. As a liberal giver par excellence, our Father gives, withholding nothing. Without question, He is generous and extravagant in His giving. As the supreme expression of giving, God applies the very principles that He establishes.

We find a parallel example of the ultimate expression of sacrificial giving when we examine the heart-wrenching account where Abraham “does not withhold his son, Isaac, his only son, whom he loved dearly.” At the point where he is willing to “offer up” Isaac, we learn of angelic intervention in Genesis 22:12:

12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

If this account moves us to tears, how much more should we moved by another father “who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?” [Amplified Bible]

Giving is a demonstration or manifestation of love. It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Whenever we think of love and its connection with giving, we think of God who demonstrated or manifested His love as revealed in one of the most quoted Bible verses of all time: John 3:16:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse also relates to Romans 8:32, in that we also ask, “If God is willing to give the greater, would he withhold the lesser?” Verse 32 is part of the section of Romans 8 that contains a series of questions that lets believers know that with God there is no accusation as verses 32-34 reveal:

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Though the adversary of souls, the accuser of the brethren, still brings railing accusations against us day and night, Jesus Christ, our advocate, intercedes for us. As such, he is the consummate expression of giving that the Verse of the Day speaks of so clearly.

Here is a musical rendering of Romans 8:32:

Songs in the night, sung in the morning

August 21, 2015

Psalm 42--8The Verse of the Day for August 21, 2015 is found in Psalm 42:8 (NLT):

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

The latter part of the verse tells us “. . . through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.”

The New King James Version mentions “. . . And in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.”

In Job 35:10 we find a reference to “God, my maker, who gives songs in the night,” while the Psalmist makes a similar reference in Psalm 77:6

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

Isaiah 30:29 in the Amplified Bible also describes such a special song:

You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart as when one marches in procession with a flute to go to the temple on the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.

The expressions related to “songs in the night” bring to mind this original song:

 Songs in the Night

Though the battle is long

And opponents seem so strong

And everything you do seems to always turn out wrong,

At your point of need, God is faithful and true.

God will encourage your heart and strengthen you,

He will lengthen your courage and see you through.

You are not alone; God remembers His own.

God will give,

Yes, God still gives songs in the night.

Songs in the night to brighten the road.

Songs in the night to lighten the load.

Songs in the night to comfort and assure,

To uphold you and to help you to endure.

You are not alone; God remembers His own.

God will give,

Yes, God still gives songs in the night.

The Concordia Choir provides a moving rendition of “My Song in the Night”:

As we conclude this blog entry, Psalm 30:5 (NLT) comes to mind:

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

Indeed, God gives “Songs in the Night, Sung in the Morning”:

Songs in the night, sung in the morning:

Behold, the Light, a new day is dawning.

This is the day that the Lord has made;

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

We praise the Lord, our God who gives

Songs in the night, sung in the morning.

We praise the Lord, our God, who gives

Songs in the night, sung in the morning.

Whoever has the Son has life

August 19, 2015

KJV_1_John_5-12The Verse of the Day for August 19 differentiates between those who have life and those who do not, as 1 John 5:12 (NLT) reveals:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

To more fully comprehend what God is saying, we also need to examine these related verses:

1 John 5:11-15 (NLT)

11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

Conclusion

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

In reflecting this passage, I recall a poem written at the beginning of the New Year in 2011.

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus

has made me free from the law of sin and death

Romans 8:2

 

As I move into the New Year to see just what it brings,

I must learn that the life in the Spirit is where I should be.

As I press toward the mark of the prize set before me,

I have been brought into the new to do new things.

Though my desire is to please God, to succeed and to excel,

I know that I am saved by grace, not by my own merit.

I covenant with God that I will walk in the Spirit

And provide a place where the Spirit of God may dwell.

Ever aware of God’s loving kindness and faithfulness,

I embrace the Seven Spirits of God and understand

That to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh, is God’s command.

As I mature, I attain a measure of Christ’s fullness.

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free

To walk into the true fullness of God in Christ in me.

Later in the year, I recognized that God had answered my prayer, as I was inspired to pen this poetic response:

So shall you find the balanced life

Oh, let me be weighed in a just balance

and let Him weigh me,

that God may know mine integrity!

Job 31:6 [Amplified Bible]

Son,

Faithful and true,

All that you ask

I have given to you,

For the Lord weighs the spirits.

I know your deepest desire to please,

As you transform yourself by renewing your mind,

So shall you find the balanced life you seek.

It is my good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.

You have not withheld from me, so I balance your equation

And stabilize your life, as you strive to do my will.

For in the innocence of your hands and the integrity of your heart

I have found in you a perfected dwelling place where my Spirit can abide.

Many times while reflecting deeply upon the Word of God, I recall Psalm 19: 12-14 as expressed in this Christian Scripture Praise and Worship song by Esther Mui:

Reserved: Come and dine

August 14, 2015

Revelation 3_20In Revelation 3:14, 20 (NLT) we find the Verse of the Day for August 14, 2015:

Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

In discussing this passage from Revelation 3:20, Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, points out various  Eastern customs and manners, Orientalisms, an appreciation of which adds to our understanding of the Scriptures. He notes that in the East when an individual is merely a guest, the host will serve that person. When the meal is complete and the guest departs. The host and his family will then dining together. If, on the other hand, the guest is more than a mere acquaintance but a close, intimate, beloved friend, the host will dine with his special guest. This is the situation expressed in Revelation 3:20: The Lord stands at the door and knocks, offering a verbal invitation to come and dine. If the guest hears the voice of Lord and responds by opening the door, the host will come in and dine, as the two “will share a meal together as friends.”

Thirteen years ago I was one of the coordinators of a summer educational program, and I composed a number of scripture memory songs to help students learn the Word of God by heart. One of the songs that we sang before serving the noon meal was based on Revelation 3:20:

Come and Dine with Me

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If any man hears my voice and opens the door,

I will come unto him and will sup with him and he with me.

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me on my throne,

Even as I also overcame and am sat down with my father in His throne.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“Come and dine with me,” Jesus said.

“I have prepared the table to set before you.

Won’t you come and dine with me?”

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.”

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.

Gary Chapman expresses the essence of this powerful message in the song “Come and Dine”:

Bought with a price

August 12, 2015

1 Corinthians-6 20The Verse of the Day for August 12, 2015 comes from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT):

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

The Amplified Bible renders the two verses this way:

19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,

20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

This passage, in making reference to one who has been “bought with a price,” “a purchased possession,” brings to mind the idea of the servant or slave. In the early 70s or thereabout, I was introduced to the Greek term “doulos”, translated servant or more literally “bondslave.,” one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Scriptures. The portrayal of the servant or slave, as revealed in the Bible has particular significance at this time, in light of the sesquicentennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, a document that changed the legal status of millions from “slave” to “free.”

In 1975 I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave.” In 1978 while completing my Master’s thesis, I explored the subject in light of Paul’s literary style in the Church Epistles. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in 1986 with a dissertation entitled Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets. Four years ago, I posted a blog at “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” that is revised and re-posted in light of the Verse of the Day.

doulosFor more than forty years I have been studying the term doulos, which has been translated “servant, bond-servant, bondslave, slave.” Accompanying my study has been a desire to see its personal application in my life. The concept has thus become deeply embedded into my soul, revealing the essence of who I am, expressed in this poem:

More Than Metaphor

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,

separated to the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

To capture my essence I strive to find a word,

Phrase, image or mind picture to bring clarity,

To express my deep yearning for intimacy.

Like Paul, my calling card reads: “servant of the Lord.”

Each fiber of my being and each emotion

Pulsates with lifeblood flowing from a servant’s heart.

As I endeavor to learn and live to impart

The joy of serving with pure-hearted devotion,

I pledge to work in voluntary servitude,

As I fix my eyes, looking unto my Lord’s hands,

To heed His Word and to do more than He commands,

To serve with love from a heart filled with gratitude.

Beyond a single concept, more than metaphor

Is this branded bondslave, who embodies “the more.

basin and towelThe basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 13.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bondslave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13. This very moving excerpt inspired another related poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet

            John 13:4-5, 19

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel

around himself,

So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and

expose myself.

As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.

You could yourself

Perform this deed of loving service, but let me

Serve you myself.

To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,

as Christ himself

Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.

You have yourself

The key to the door of blessing for you and me:

As Jesus took

Upon himself

The servant’s form

That I myself

Might freely give

To you yourself,

So I ask you

As Christ himself

Still asks of me,

So I ask you to

Let me to wash your feet.

One of the ancient practices associated with bondservants in the Bible is the year of the Jubilee, the Old Testament practice whereby the 50th year was a special sabbatical period when Hebrew slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established. On my 50th birthday, I wrote “This Year of My Jubilee” which alludes to this Old Testament practice:

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17 

 

I stand alone, clothed only with the wind

At the end of my seventh sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bondslave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as you command,

Pierce my ear–place your brand upon my soul.

Enlighten me so I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of your ways

And seal my vows to serve you all my days.

Once more Michael Card has the perfect song entitled “Jubilee” to accompany this poem.

I will conclude this entry by posting a PDF of the original article “Doulos: A Different View of a Slave” which was first published in 1975. Accompanying the article is a letter to  Apostle Thamo Naidoo to whom I sent the original article along with two of the poems posted above: “More Than Metaphor” and “This Year of My Jubilee.” I am grateful to my beloved Brother Lester Wiley Carver, who encouraged me to post the article. I trust that it will minister to all who read it. I welcome any comments or thoughts that this post might have inspired.

Before reading the article, listen to a powerful song written and performed by Dean Ellenwood, who captures the depth of commitment embodied in the individual called of God to be a bondslave, a true Doulos. 

Doulos

Doulos: A Different View of a Slave

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ as Lord, that individual assumes the position of a

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ as Lord, that individual assumes the position of a “servant” or “bondslave”–a doulos

 

Walking worthy of the calling

August 11, 2015

Ephesians 4--1August is a special month, in that during the eighth month, which symbolizes “new beginnings,” I am celebrating a particular milestone in my life. An event of supreme significance occurred 41 years ago when I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable amount time prior to the actual ordination ceremony. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers sayings, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, as I also came to understand more fully the words from 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV):

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

This verse brings to mind that most memorable event that occurred August 11, 1974. Today I reflect upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years. I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call             

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

Those who, having heard, rise to heed the call.

I also make reference to my ordination and celebrate this milestone in this poem:

Forty-one Years Ago

Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number,

both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity

of its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement. . . .

It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5),

leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). (The number eight

also signifies “a new beginning”)

There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number [one].  

In all languages it is the symbol of unity.

E.W. Bullinger

Forty-one years ago, the passion to fulfill the call

inflamed deep within my soul a desire to give my all.

In this golden moment, past, present, and future all converge

Where the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God emerge,

As words that God spoke over my life I vividly recall.

“The Teacher” laid hands upon me to bless and to install

Me to lead God’s people and to give my all in all.

In my mind I stand in another place where two roads diverged

Forty-one years ago.

Renewed in strength to run through a troop and leap over a wall,

To fulfill God’s divine calling nothing can ever forestall.

The rivers of understanding God’s purpose and grace still merge.

Today I stand triumphant in Christ Jesus while on the verge

Of a renewed commitment to give all or nothing at all:

Forty-one years ago.

The accompanying video also invites us to “Answer God’s call”

Anointed, a contemporary Christian musical group, offer “The Call.”

Our refuge and strength: A very present help

August 10, 2015

Psalms-46--1-5In case we should ever forget, the Verse of the Day for August 10, 2015 offers this blessed assurance found in Psalm 46:1 (NLT):

[Psalm 46] [For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.] God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1 NLT

As we examine the verse more closely, we find great comfort and strength. First of all, God is described as “our refuge,” a place of trust, described in Psalm 2:12( NLT):

Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry,
and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere we find numerous references to God as a source of strength. Psalm 27:2 reveals that “The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid,” while Psalm 18:2 declares:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.

The expression “a very present help” literally means “a help He has been found exceedingly.” As the Amplified Bible puts it, “a very present and well-proved help in trouble.” I also recall the opening and closing stanzas of the hymn by Dr. Isaac Watts: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

“In the time of trouble” also brings to mind other verses:

Psalm 27:5

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Psalm 37:39

But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.

Isaiah 33:2

O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Psalm 46 opens with a striking declaration regarding who God is in verse 1, and the powerful psalm ends with a directive from God Almighty in verses 10 and 11:

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

The psalm ends with the Hebrew expression “Selah,” meaning, “pause and calmly think of that!” As we “selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

Be Still

 

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still my soul and be at peace.

Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

We close, as Kari Jobe tenderly encourages us: “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)

Good pleasure of His will, revisited

August 9, 2015

Psalm 149--4The Verse of the Day for yesterday, August 8, 2015, came from Psalm 149:4. In discussing the verse, I used the Amplified Bible:

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

As I was reflecting on the topic “God’s good pleasure,” I thought of a journal entry that I made in 2004, but I could not locate it. While looking for another entry on another topic this morning, I discovered what I was seeking yesterday. Here is a journal entry written in response to one of the questions asked as part of the follow-up discussions based on Rick Warren’s The Purpose-driven Life which I was reading at that time. Here are lyrics of two songs composed in response to the following:

When you live in the light of eternity, the question changes from “How much pleasure am I getting out of life?” to “How much pleasure is God getting out of my life?” God is looking for people like Noah in the 21st century—people willing to live for the pleasure of God. This lifestyle of worship is the only wise, sensible way to live.

The Days of Noah and Now

When God searched the earth during the days of Noah,

What did He see?

His creation lay in violence: Every thought of the heart of man

was only evil continually.

But there was a just man, perfect in his generations,

A man who walked with God, and God was pleased with him.

Violent men lived in sin and defiled the Word of God,

But Noah found grace,

But Noah found grace,

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

The eyes of the Lord still search the earth;

God seeks that He might find.

He looks for those willing to pray the price,

Those who put off the works of the flesh

And who are renewed in the spirit of their mind.

As in the days of Noah God is still seeking.

As He was seeking then, I am seeking now that I might also find.

May I find grace in Your eyes, O Lord.

May I find grace in Your eyes, O Lord.

May I find favor according to Your Word.

In all I say, in all I do,

may I learn to be meek.

In Your eyes may I find all that I seek.

Here is another song regarding the pleasures of God, in terms of an inquiry as to what pleases Him:

What Is Your Pleasure?

What is your pleasure? What shall I bring?

What do you desire as an offering?

What shall I give you? What will suffice?

What shall I offer as a perfect sacrifice?

Tell me your desires: what do you say?

Your only desire is that I learn to obey.

You desire truth in the inward parts:

A broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.

This is your pleasure. This will I bring.

I give you my life as an offering.

You have purchased me: You have paid the price.

I am your offering: a living sacrifice.

I am your offering: a living sacrifice.

Teach me to follow you; teach me your way.

Teach me to listen and quickly obey.

I long to please you and see you smile.

May a heart of worship be my lifestyle.

May a heart of worship be my lifestyle.

This journal entry written more than 11 years ago, still has personal application for me today.

Good pleasure of His will

August 8, 2015

Psalm 149--4

Revised and re-posted below is the Verse of Day submitted a year ago:

In Psalm 149:4 (NLT) we find the Verse of the Day for August 8, 2015:

For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation and adorn the wretched with victory.

The Psalmist makes known that the people of God are a source of pleasure or delight for the Lord. Just as a father rejoices and celebrates his children, as they grow and mature, so does God, our Father. Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us:

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

How comforting to know that God takes pleasure in our company.

Often when we encounter situations whereby we must make a choice, the individual presenting the options will ask: “What’s your pleasure?” What would you like? What would bring you pleasure or what would delight you? Delight can be used as a synonym for pleasure. As a verb, it means –to take pleasure in, to enjoy, to appreciate, to savor; as a noun it is means–joy, a high degree of pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, etc.

I recall that the first poem that I wrote was a rather accidental (providential) occurrence taking place during my first year in college in my freshman composition class when I was asked to write a response to this prompt:”May I Tell You What Delights Me?” I made a list of things that brought me pleasure, and when I read what I had written to the class, my professor described it as poetry. Years later I realized that I had written a free-verse, catalog poem, in the style of Walt Whitman. Near the top of the list of sources of delight for me was the Book of Psalms, which not only speaks of what God takes pleasure in but the expression “good pleasure” is also used.

Psalm 51:18 offers this request to God:

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

The expression of God’s “good pleasure” is found in the Gospels in Luke 12:32:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The phrase is twice used in Ephesians and once in 2 Thessalonians:

Ephesians 1:5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:9

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

2 Thessalonians 1:11

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

Bible teacher John Piper discusses the phrase “good pleasure” and notes that it is a verb in Greek, meaning “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “it pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” One of the best places to see how the expression is used occurs in Philippians 2:13

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

God is both the energy and the energizer—even beyond the Energizer Bunny that keeps on going and going. The verse also expresses God’s desire: “Both the willing and the working (the energizing).” God does it all, then. Yes, but he puts us to work also, and our part is essential.

As believers we ask, “What delights God? What brings Him pleasure? What is His good pleasure?” Our good pleasure is to do His good pleasure of His will, as the following poem makes known:

The Good Pleasure of His Will

Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,

according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:5 [NKJV]

 

“The safest place in the whole wide world

is the perfect will of God.”

Contemporary Christian Song

God makes all things new in yet another new season,

In this place where our divine destinies intersect.

As we finish the work, what we lack, He will perfect,

Far beyond anything our mortal minds can reason.

To abide in God’s perfect will Jesus led the way.

In the garden, he said, not my will but yours be done,

Praying that as he and the Father, so might we be one

To reverse the curse of Adam who chose to disobey.

God’s desire is that we know joy without measure.

In fulfilling God’s will His presence is ever near.

Signs, wonders, and miracles happen when we are here

Where we prove His perfect will and know His good pleasure.

The will of God is a safe haven where we can hide:

In the good pleasure of His will where we long to abide.

Esther Mui offers this Christian Scripture Worship Song with lyrics from Psalm 149 in its entirety, from which the Verse of the Day is taken.