Archive for February, 2016

Not fear but power, love and a sound mind

February 28, 2016

2 Timothy 1-7

The Verse of the Day for February 28, 2016 is found in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV):

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP):

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

In this epistle written to his “faithful and true spiritual son,” Paul explains what kind of spirit God has not given to believers, in contrast to the kind of spirit that He has given:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear.” God who is love, loves us and as 1 John so clearly makes known that there is no fear in love. The spirit that God gave us was not a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, and cringing and fawning fear, all of which reflect weakness.

On the other hand, the spirit that God has given is one of “power, love, and sound mind.” As the Amplified Bible elaborates:

[He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

Spirit of Power

The word power is translated from a form of the Greek word dunamis, an expression of potential power, as demonstrated as the root of the English words, dynamite and dynamo, both of which reveal power at rest, power that must be demonstrated or activated or manifested. Power always accompanies the Holy Spirit. The Church of Jesus Christ began with the fulfillment of the promise that believers would receive into manifestation power:

Luke 24:49:(AMP)

49 Listen carefully: I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.”

This promise is echoed in Acts 1:8 (AMP)

8 But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”

In 2 Timothy 1:8 Paul continues to exhort Timothy:

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or about me His prisoner, but with me take your share of suffering for the gospel [continue to preach regardless of the circumstances], in accordance with the power of God [for His power is invincible]

Love—agape

In this instance, love refers to, the love of God or agape, a unique term which is used exclusively in the New Testament, reveals the uniqueness of God’s love, so clearly defined in I Corinthians 13, particularly verses 4-7 of the Amplified Bible, illustrates the distinctive power of the love of God:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self- seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

We speak of the love of God whereby there is a manifestation or demonstration of that love. Love is a verb, but without corresponding action, it is only a word.

Sound mind—whole thoughts

Having a sound mind relates to having whole thoughts or being “sober-minded.” As the Amplified Bible puts it having “a calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” It is the opposite of an “unsound mind.” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “A person of unsound mind is an adult who from infirmity of mind is incapable of managing himself or his affairs.” The term is related to persons designated as “insane.”

The expression “being of sound mind and judgment” is a phrase often included in the introductory paragraph of a will in which the testator (writer of the will) declares that the individual signing the will is “of sound mind and memory.” That person is aware of his/her surroundings and is capable of making rational judgments regarding his/her personal affairs. Again, Black’s Law Dictionary offers this definition of “sound mind”: Having the ability to think, understand and reason for oneself.”

The Verse of Day reveals that believers are endowed with a triple source of unfathomable power: God desires that we might know the exceeding greatness of God’s power to those who believe according to the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:18). He also wants us know, intimately, personally, as we experience the power of the love of God which is beyond our understanding. Finally, our Father desires that we do not conform ourselves to the world’s standards but that we transform ourselves and renew our minds and thus prove what is that “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Listen to this musical reminder that God has not given unto us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind:

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Actions speak louder than words

February 27, 2016

1 John 3--18

The Verse of the Day for February 27, 2016 once again draws our attention to the verb “to love”:
Originally posted a year ago, today’s blog entry has been modified and re-posted below:

1 John 3:18 (NIV):

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

The designation of “children” or “dear children” is used 15 times in 1 John. The Amplified Bible renders the verse this way:

1 John 3:18 (AMP)

Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

This translation brings to mind the common expression: “Actions speak louder than words.” This phrase is particularly noteworthy in light of recent discussions regarding the love of God, for love is the foundational principle upon which all relationships are built. God commands us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Book of 1 John emphasizes the importance of love, for God is love. If we say that we love God, we ought also to love another. Recall the words of Jesus Christ: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love toward one another.”

Love is where it begins, and love is where it ends. Also remember that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Each day we must

Decide to demonstrate, freely give and practice love:
The first thread whereby we must launch all relationships
And follow Christ’s command that we love one another.

When it comes to loving God and loving one another, there must be a demonstration of our love for Him beyond mere rhetoric, as the poem “The World’s Bible “by J. E. Hamilton reveals:

Christ has no hands but our hands
to do His work today.
He has no feet but our feet
to lead men in His way;

He has no tongue but our tongues
To tell men how He died,
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible
The careless world will read,
We are the sinner’s gospel,
We are the scoffers’ creed;

We are the Lord’s last message
Given in deed and word,
What if the type is crooked?
What if the print is blurred?

What if our hands are busy
With other things than His?
What if our feet are walking
Where sin’s allurement is?

What if our tongues are speaking
Of things His life would spurn,
How can we hope to help Him
And welcome His Return?

A recent blog entry spoke of the love of God being “perfected” or made complete or brought to maturity in us when we walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, the ultimate example of perfect love. We must do more than think about love or talk about love; we must demonstrate love by what we do, just as God did in offering His son. We speak of the love of God in manifestation, so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

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.

The Sound of Music, one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all times, gives us these memorable lyrics from Oscar Hammerstein II:

A bell is not a bell till you ring it.

A song is not a song till you sing it.

Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay.

Love isn’t love till you give it away.

The last line reminds us that with love, there must be a demonstration or manifestation to express the reality of that powerful emotion.

I recently came across this anonymous quote: “Love is a verb. Love is doing, saying, showing. Never think just saying you love someone is enough.” There must be corresponding action to show that we love. Every day should be “show and tell.” Another statement reiterates the same point: “Love is a verb. Without action it is merely a word.”

The Verse of the Day reminds us to love God and one another expressed in the closing lines of “A Single Image”:

there is
no fear
in love
so why
should we

we are His
He is one
so are we

one
plus
one
makes
one
in
word
in
deed
in
truth

Dimitri Caver offers an upbeat musical version of 1 John 3:18:

Further reflections on Black History Month

February 26, 2016

Lonnell's class photo 1951

In reflecting upon events connected to Black History Month 2016, my mind goes back to an event that that occurred 65 years. On February 22, 1951, I smiled while my class picture was taken, as an ever eager, third-grade student. The bulletin board in the back of the classroom was decorated with these words: “Negro History Week.” This original designation was established in February, 1926, as the fruitful vision of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Since 1976 the celebration has been transformed into the current month-long celebration.

The bulletin board in the picture reminded me that at that time I consciously determined that I would someday “make history” and do something significant as an African American. Back in the day, I expressed this burning desire this way: “I want to be a credit to the Negro Race.”

As I reflect upon my diverse life, I have been blessed to work in various careers. As a former registered pharmacist, licensed in Indiana and North Carolina, I was the first African American graduate from Purdue University’s 5-year pharmacy program. Years later I continued to work in pharmacy while pursuing an academic career in higher education while working on a doctorate in English from Indiana University. After teaching English on the university level for more than 30 years in Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and North Carolina, I retired as a Professor of African American literature. I continue to teach, however, because I love “the teacher’s task.”

Most amazingly, I was introduced to classroom teaching after being drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam era when I chose to teach pharmacy technicians rather than work in a dispensary. Having experienced the joy of teaching while in the military, I eventually discovered immense satisfaction from teaching on the collegiate level.

In 1976, I served as an adjunct instructor at The Way College of Emporia in Kansas where I taught New Testament History. In the opening session I recall quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “The reader of history must replace the words ‘there’ and ‘then’ with the words ‘here’ and ‘now.’”

Forty years following that initial teaching experience on the collegiate level, I am serving as an adjunct professor at another Bible College, Carolina College of Biblical Studies in Fayetteville, NC, where I teach public speaking, writing, American literature and other general education courses. In addition, I also serve as an adjunct professor at Fayetteville State University, the place where I first taught composition and literature as a full-time instructor more than 20 years ago. “Oh, the Providence of God!”

In addition to teaching writing, as a professional writer I have published articles on various  subjects, such as biblical research and African-American literature. Furthermore as a published poet, I continue to write, maintaining this personal blog while also serving as a writer for another Internet publication.

Over the years I have been blessed to work in an array of careers, as hospital pharmacist, editor, administrator, director of public relations, information analyst and others. As I began to savor the joys of teaching on the collegiate level, I also endeavored to hone my poetic skills. As I concluded the opening session of New Testament History class that I taught 40 years ago, I used an illustration to I emphasize the importance of “making history” and that all believers today are also a vital part of the history of the New Testament. I brought a full length mirror to the class along with an empty canvas. I stressed that during the class each of us would be painting a life-sized self-portrait which would eventually hang in the “Living Gallery of the New Testament.” I ended by reciting this original poem related to the ongoing theme of the course:

The Living Gallery of the New Testament

In the living gallery of the New Testament is reserved a special space:
An empty canvas awaits each feature of your face.
Each of us paints a self-portrait in minutest detail.
To develop your life’s masterpiece, you can never fail
When you follow Christ’s example, the Master of the Word,
Beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord.
Each day abounds with potential for matchless artistry.
Now is your golden moment—you are making “His Story.”

We conclude our comments with “The Truth of His Story” a song written by Keith Washo, featuring Vanessa Lombera/Vocals

Love God, Love people

February 25, 2016

 

Matthew 22--37-39

The Verse of the Day for February 25, 2016 sets forth words from the Lord Jesus:

Matthew 22:37-39(NIV):

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

To understand more fully his response, we need to determine “What was the question, and who asked it?” Looking closely at the verses preceding the Messiah’s reply, we learn this:

Matthew 22:34-36 (NLT):

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses?”

Here is Jesus’ complete response:

Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT):

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

In the Lord’s answer we find the foundation upon which all relationships are built. Once again, we acknowledge that “It’s all about relationships,” beginning with our relationship with God, our heavenly Father, and extending to how each individual relates with one another in a variety of contexts.

This often quoted passage, including the summary statement found in verse 40, was the inspiration, in part, for the following poem that expresses the ultimate reward of building and sustaining our relationships with God and with one another:

Building Godly Relationships

Matthew 22:36-40

God sets aside and keeps for Himself a remnant
Of beloved daughters and sons, whom He foreknew
And thus predestined them to keep His covenant,
His righteous ones, called and chosen, faithful and true.
In Christ is defined a Godly relationship,
But we must submit to Jesus and make him Lord
To understand the essence of this true friendship,
Unfolded in these two commandments of God’s Word.
May we renew our vows and never violate
The trust God placed in us but ever seek to find
In Him the strength to walk in love and never hate
But to love God with all our heart and soul and mind.
No longer called servants, may we now be called friends
Who know firsthand that God’s faithfulness never ends.

Israel Houghton summarizes the message and offers this lively reminder: “Love God, Love People”:

I know the plans

February 24, 2016

Jeremiah-29-11

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV) is the Verse of the Day for February 24, 2016:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11, the first verse of this celebrated passage, is listed as second of the Top 10 most popular verses accessed through Biblegate.com in 2015. I recall hearing this verse for the first time in the New International Version of the Bible more than 20 years ago:

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.

To more fully understand the magnitude of God’s declaration, take a look at the following video that graphically illustrates the context of the verse taken from Jeremiah 29:11-14

The New Living Testament renders Jeremiah 29:11-13 in this way:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.

13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

As I reflected on this familiar passage from the Old Testament, I thought of the first time that I heard Jeremiah 29:11 which occurred as I was embarking upon a new assignment in my career as well as in my ministry. Two decades later I find myself in a similar position of transition, having returned to the same place where I was at that time. “Oh, the Providence of God!”

Although the words of Jeremiah were specifically addressed to Israel concerning their release from Babylonian captivity after seventy years, we recognize the truth expressed in Romans 15:4:

Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.

The prophetic word from Jeremiah can certainly have personal application, in that the plans that God has for each of His children are no less grand than those He has for the Children of Israel.

As we ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead us and teach us all along the path that unfolds as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). Jeremiah 29:11-13 also informs us of God’s concern for our future or “final outcome”, so that we need have no fear for our future.

Damaris Carbaugh shares “I Know the Plans” (Audrey’s Song) a musical reminder of Jeremiah 29:11

 

To do evil or to do good

February 23, 2016

Proverbs 14--22

The Verse of the Day for February 23, 2016 sets forth two options as to how believers should conduct their lives:

Proverbs 14:22

Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Proverbs 14:22

If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.

Throughout the Psalms we find numerous indications as to the path we should take. When it comes to doing evil or doing good, here are some verses that encourage us to

To do good

Psalm 34:14 (AMP)

Turn away from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 37:3 in the Amplified Bible reveals what occurs when we do good:

Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness.

Not only are we to do good, but God will do good to those who do good:

Psalm 125:4 (AMP)

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good And to those who are upright in their hearts.

In the New Testament as well we find words that encourage believers “to do good.” Jesus Christ exhorts his followers with these words:

Luke 6:27 (AMP):

“But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you,

Galatians 6:10 (AMP) expands the number of recipients to whom we should “do good.”

So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers).

To do evil

In contrast, in the Book of Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture we find sobering words regarding those who “do evil.”

Psalm 5:5 (AMP):

The boastful and the arrogant will not stand in Your sight; You hate all who do evil.

Psalm 34:16 states God’s position this way:

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Psalm 36:12 also speaks of those who do evil in this way:

11 Do not let the foot of the proud [person] overtake me,
and do not let the hand of the wicked drive me away.

12 There those who [are perverse and] do evil have fallen;
They have been thrust down and cannot rise.

Psalm 37:9

For those who do evil will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.

Seemingly the choice to refrain from doing evil and to practice doing good continually would be simple one. Note what God says about those who practice or who do evil:

Jeremiah 13:23 (NKJV)

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.

Jeremiah 18:10 (AMP) indicates that there are severe consequences to those who “do evil”:

and if they do evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will reverse My decision concerning the good with which I had promised to bless them.

1 Peter 3:12

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Clearly, those who conduct their lives with evil intentions are not looked upon favorably with God. As the Verse of the Day reminds us: those who choose to do good will be rewarded.

This final exhortation regarding good and evil comes from Romans 12:21 (AMP):

Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Steve Green offers this musical rendition of Romans 12:21 “Overcome Evil with Good” directed to children of God of all ages:

No fear in love

February 22, 2016

1 John 4 18

Verse of the Day for February 22, 2016 provides yet another reference to the love of God:

1 John 4:18 (NKJV):

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.

The Amplified Bible offers this rendering:

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

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

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

In those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the love of God is “perfected” or made perfect or complete, wanting in nothing or brought to maturity in them. To be “perfected” is to be brought to a full end.

The Verse of the Day provides the basis for love being the perfect antidote to fear. When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there is no room for fear.

The words “Do not fear” or some variation thereof appear 365 times in the Bible. We can, thus, view the expression as a daily memo from God with instructions as to how we should live. In the midst of our turbulent times laden with fear that seems to pervade the world, we must never forget that God loves us. Knowing that God loves us and that nothing can separate us from His love, we find comfort and strength when we face the challenges of life that seem to overwhelm us at times. The words of the Psalmist, however, remind us of this truth:

Psalm 23: 4 (NLT)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The lyrics to this original song also reinforce the message that God loves us and is always with us:

When You Walk through the Valley

When you walk through the valley,
I’ll be right there to guide you.
I will lighten your path all along the way.
I will turn your darkest night into the brightest day.

When you go through the fire,
It will not singe or burn you.
I will quench the fiery flames of the enemy.
Don’t look right or left but only unto to me.

When you go through the flood,
It will not overwhelm you.
I will bear you up on eagle’s wings.
You are more than conquerors in all these things.

I will uphold you and keep you.
I will sustain and support you.
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
All my promises are sure.
I know you, and I love you.
I will supply all your need.
Never fear, my child,
I am here, my child.
I love you, and I am always near.

As we reflect on the Verse of the Day and related scriptures, the lyrics to this powerful song by Phil King reinforce the message “Love casts out fear”:

The greatest commandment

February 21, 2016

 

Romans 13--9-10

Most amazingly, Valentine’s Day was a week ago, and we’re still talking about love. The Verse of the Day for February 21, 2016, summarizes the last five of the Ten Commandments, all of which are connected to our relationship with one another:

Romans 13:9-10 (NKJV)

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Whereas the first five of the Ten Commandments discuss our relationship with God, this passage reminds us once again that “It’s all about relationships” and how we should treat one another:

Whether with God, family, friends, co-workers, husband or wife,
“It’s all about relationships,” the foundation of life

The following comments are taken from a blog entry posted a year ago that was inspired, in part, by a life-changing conference called “It’s All about Relationships” hosted by Apostles Eric and Carolyn Warren of Equip U Ministries of Reynoldsburg, OH:

Dane Findley, health writer and wellness coach, commented that “Paying close attention to the relationships in your life is not an extracurricular activity — it’s the reason for life itself.”

Without question, “It’s all about relationships,” starting from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. The Book of Genesis and subsequent books of the Bible unfold the consequences of the first broken relationship when Lucifer chooses to break fellowship with God, thus becoming the “first murderer” and “the father of lies” who begets an untruth in the very presence of truth. We see the devastating consequences of his deadly influence in the Fall of Man and the degradation of humanity and all of earthly life itself.

The Scriptures reveal God’s ultimate desire for reconciliation and the healing of all broken relationships, expressed through Jesus Christ. As ambassadors or representatives of Christ, we stand in his place, using the word of reconciliation which is part of the ministry of reconciliation, as we endeavor to restore broken relationships, first with God and with others as well (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

The primary relationship in life is one’s relationship with God. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” We also recognize “The first and great commandment: To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Believers are further instructed to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When we love God, first of all, and then love others to the same degree that we love ourselves, we fulfill the law of love which is the highest expression of God who is love.

Here is a musical expression of these profound truths by Martha Hall Bowman, who sings “The Greatest Commandment”:

Fear exposes but love covers

February 20, 2016

Proverbs 17--9

In the Verse of the Day for February 20, 2016 we find yet another reference to love in Proverbs 17:9 in the Amplified Bible:

He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.

Proverbs 10:12 (AMP) goes on to contrast the actions of hatred and love:

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers and overwhelms all transgressions [forgiving and overlooking another’s faults].

The covering of sin of others in the context of love is indeed an admirable action mentioned in Proverbs; however, the expression “to cover one’s own sins” is not a positive action, as Proverbs 18:23 reveals. Here the Hebrew verb kasha, means to conceal or to “cover up.”

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJ) points this out:

He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The Verse of the Day from Proverbs 17:19 along with Proverbs 10:12 reveal the connection between the covering of sins and love. This connection is further reinforced

1 Peter 4:8 (AMP)

Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins [it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].

The Book of James concludes with this reference to the covering of sins

James 5:19-20

19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and falls into error and [another] one turns him back [to God], 20 let the [latter] one know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save that one’s soul from death and cover a multitude of sins [that is, obtain the pardon of the many sins committed by the one who has been restored].

In a discussion Love Never Publicly Exposes the Faults of Others Pastor Mitch Horton mentions 1 Corinthians 13:7 which states that “love bears all things.” He elaborates with these comments:

The word bear is the Greek word stege which simply means a roof or a covering. In this verse it means to cover by silence the offences of others! In fact the Berkeley translation of the New Testament of this phrase reads, Love covers all things in silence. . . . A believer who walks in love will not gossip about others’ problems!

Pastor Horton concludes his comments with a reference to Mrs. C. Nuzum, author of the book The Life of Faith [1] [who] has this to say about love covering with silence:

Love covers sins, even when there is a multitude of them. Love not only hides the evil in others, but refuses even to speak of it. Then, if we tell of the evil someone has done, criticize, judge, condemn, or murmur against anyone, no matter who he is or what he has done, we are proving that we have not love, because love covers in silence.

It has been said that fear exposes or uncovers sin, but love covers a multitude of sins. Of course, the Word of God once again reminds us of this eternal truth regarding fear and love:

1 John 4:18 (AMP):

18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

To close this discussion here is a musical composition that repeats this message: “There is no fear in love.”

[1] Mrs. C. Nuzum, The Life of Faith (Springfield, MO:  Gospel Publishing House, 1928, 1956), p. 84.

I am persuaded: Neither, nor

February 18, 2016

Romans-8-38-39

The Verse of the Day for February 18, 2016 is part of the powerful passage concluding Romans 8:

Romans 8: 38-39 (AMP):

For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The celebrated passage offers a series of “neither/nor” statements to express that when we look at the choices between possibilities that two or more things could interfere with our relationship with God, “nothing” or literally, “no thing” will be able to separate us, as believers, “from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here is how the series unfolds:

“neither death nor life”

Most remarkably, the last shall be first and the first shall be last. In this case the final state that humanity must face is mentioned first, for “it is appointed unto man, once to die. Nevertheless, because of the victory that Jesus Christ achieved when he arose, triumphantly conquering sin and its consequences of sin, including sickness and even death itself, as believers we also share in that mighty triumph.

Hebrews 2:14-15 reiterates that very point about death:

14 Therefore, since [these His] children share in flesh and blood [the physical nature of mankind], He Himself in a similar manner also shared in the same [physical nature, but without sin], so that through [experiencing] death He might make powerless (ineffective, impotent) him who had the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and [that He] might free all those who through [the haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives.

In the same way, not even life can come between us and Christ’s love. The life we now live, we live by the faith of Jesus Christ, who is our life, the one who gives us life and more abundant life. In actuality, that life is eternal.

“nor angels nor principalities”

Whether we are talking about deceptive angels of light that seek to distract and throw us off track or whether we are dealing with the powers of darkness, principalities and powers from on high that we wrestle with, not one of these spiritual entities and disrupt our closeness with God and the ever-abiding presence of His love revealed through Christ Jesus.

“nor things present nor things to come”

No present successes nor personal triumphs in any area of our lives, nor can current failures nor shortcomings, destroy the bond that keeps us close. Nothing that we say or do not say, nothing that we do or do not do, can separate us since past, present, and future all converge in Christ Jesus.

One translation of this section states that “no condition of the present life and none of the unknown possibilities of the life to come” can sever our close connection that we have with the Father expressed in Christ Jesus, who loved us and gave himself for us.

Nor height, nor depth

Job 11:7-8 raises these probing questions about God:

Job 11:7

“Can you discover the depths of God? Can you [by searching] discover the limits of the Almighty [ascend to His heights, extend to His widths, and comprehend His infinite perfection]?

Job 11:8

“His wisdom is as high as the heights of heaven. What can you do? It is deeper than Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead). What can you know?

The lyrics of one of the spirituals proclaim this about God:

He’s high (so high you can’t get over Him)
And He’s wide (so wide you can’t get around Him)
He’s so deep (so deep you can’t get under him)

“nor any other created thing”

The phrase “created thing” refers to any other thing in the whole created universe of God.

Romans 1:20 offers this statement regarding God’s creation:

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.

So in response to the question, is there “any-thing” that has even the slightest possibility of separating us from God’s love, the answer is clear: absolutely “no-thing” can even come close.

Paul’s response begins with this emphatic expression: “I am persuaded,” title of this musical selection by Natalie Shaver: