Archive for May, 2016

Unflappable 3: Final thoughts

May 31, 2016

Romans 3--3-4Today marks the third time within the past week that the blog entry on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe has focused on the Word for the Day rather than the Verse of the Day. On May 27, 2016 we introduced the term “unflappable” and noted some details regarding this distinctive adjective. A couple of days later  we continued the discussion, introducing other related terms with “Unflappable 2—more in store”,  the Word for the Day on yesterday, May 30, 2016. On the last day of the merry month of May, May 31, 2016, we want to share some final reflections concerning “unflappable.”

The following comments come from the first two entries:

By way of review, “unflappable,” an adjective, means “not easily upset or confused, especially in a crisis; imperturbable.” Thought to have its origin in the mid-1950s, the expression “cool, calm, and collected” would be another expression associated with being “unflappable.” Other synonyms include “being at ease, clearheaded, not easily upset, unruffled, and untroubled.”

The first entry also mentioned the term “unflappability”, a character trait demonstrated by those who remain composed and having sound judgment at all times, being impossible to fluster. An individual described as being unflappable exemplifies “unflappability”: remaining composed and level-headed at all times, being impossible to fluster. Note also this statement:

Learning to become unflappable in all situations is an admirable trait that not only leaders, but, indeed, all believers should aspire to maintain such a state of unflappability.

In “Unflappable 2—more in store” we expounded upon the word and introduced an acrostic “F-L-A-P” a term connected to four attributes of spirits of wickedness: Fear, Lust, Anger, and Pride. This entry also introduced a new verb: “unflap”:

Often when these negative emotions are stirred up in situations that believers encounter, we become anything but “unflappable” under circumstances where we should remain confident and assured, unmoved, but we fail to maintain our state of “unflappability.” In such situations we need to respond to the tactics of the adversary of our souls and “unflap” the enemy by moving in the opposite spirit. Although you cannot find the verb “unflap” in the Official Scrabble Dictionary, I am coining the term and using it in a spiritual context. . . . We ‘unflap’ the enemy by learning to be unflappable.”

As believers each time we “flip the flap” and move in the opposite spirit when confronted by Satan and the forces of evil, we “unflap” the enemy and score a victory: Now thanks be unto Christ who always causes us to triumph in Christ, thus being “unflappable” each time.

Today we want to take a final look at the word “unflappable”, as we note that it has two parts: a prefix and its root—un + flappable.  “Un” generally means “not” and renders a negative or opposing force to the word that it precedes. It can also mean to deactivate or to make something inactive. In this case, not flappable or easily upset. God desires that His people become rooted and grounded, not blown about by every wind of doctrine, being steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

In exploring words with the prefix “un” I noted several adjectives and their corresponding adverbs as well as numerous nouns, but very few verbs use this prefix. Among the few is the verb “undo” and, of course, we are familiar with the relatively recent verb form that is frequently use informally, “unfriend”, as in the context of Facebook.

When I came across the verb “undo,” it brought to mind a poem related to this whole discussion of how to “unflap” the enemy in order to become and remain “unflappable.” Take a look at this:

Unbelief, the Thief

For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make

the faithfulness of God without effect?

4Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.

As it is written:

“That You may be justified in Your words,

And may overcome when You are judged.”

Romans 3:3-4

As a leech would siphon the life force from our blood,

This insidious culprit clings to our belief,

To undermine our confidence that God is good.

This unwelcome foe invades our minds as a thief,

A bold embezzler, defiling our faith with doubt;

This robber goes undetected, misunderstood.

So we search for each negative to wipe it out,

For a little leaven slowly grows and corrupts

The measure of our faith and gradually weakens

Our trust in God’s promises and subtly disrupts

Assurance, though faith still increases and strengthens,

As muscles respond to an exhausting workout.

We will capture and behead this ungodly thief

To undo his “un” and make solid our belief.

As noted Bible teacher, John Piper, states, “… the top priority in the Christian life is learning to battle unbelief and fight the fight of faith.” Knowing this,  we strive to remain “unflappable” in every situation that we encounter every day.

Jason Feller, lead vocalist on Indelible Grace, offers “Begone Unbelief,” a hymn with lyrics by John Newton, composer of “Amazing Grace.”

 

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Unflappable 2: more in store

May 30, 2016

Psalm 1--3

A couple of days ago, instead of sharing the Verse of the Day, I chose to share the Word for the Day on May 27, 2016  when we looked at the word  “unflappable” and noted how it applied to us. After reviewing my notes and upon further reflection, I have chosen to continue the discussion of this distinctive adjective and other related terms. We, thus, have “Unflappable 2—more in store” on the Word for the Day on May 29, 2016.

Take a look at this definition of the term on  YouTube:

The previous blog entry also mentioned the term “unflappability”, a character trait demonstrated by those who remain composed and having sound judgment at all times, being impossible to fluster. An individual described as being unflappable exemplifies “unflappability”: remaining composed and level-headed at all times, being impossible to fluster.

Other related terms include the adjective “un·flapped,” meaning not upset or confused, unperturbed. Some additional forms include nouns “unflappability” and “unflappableness,” along with the adverb “unflappably.”

Following the initial post on “unflappable,” I reviewed some notes from a previous teaching that I had heard, and I came an acrostic that I had composed in connection with four attributes of spirits of wickedness: Fear, Lust, Anger, and Pride.

Often when these negative emotions are stirred up in situations that believers encounter, we become anything but “unflappable” under circumstances where we should remain confident and assured, unmoved, but we fail to maintain our state of “unflappability.” In such situations we need to respond to the tactics of the adversary of our souls and “unflap” the enemy by moving in the opposite spirit. Although you cannot find the verb “unflap” in the Official Scrabble Dictionary, I am coining the term and using it in a spiritual context.

We “unflap” the enemy by learning to be unflappable. To come out of the cave—those dark caverns of our minds that the enemy constantly seeks to lure us into, we must move in the opposite direction and “FLIP the FLAP.” When we encounter Fear, we move forward in Faith; In situations where Lust abounds, we respond with Love; Where we find “Anger” we walk away “In Peace”; Where Pride seeks to dominate, we counter with a “Pure heart of Humility:

Fear to Faith

Fear is said to be the only thing that defeats the promises of God. In a recent blog entry posted on Friday the thirteen, I commented that expression, “Do not fear” or some variation of “Fear not” occurs 365 times in the Bible, corresponding to a daily memo from God to have no fear. When we encounter the precursors of doubt and worry that too often culminate in fear, recall the comforting exhortation to Philippians 4:6

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

We, of course, recall the acronym for fear: “false evidence appearing real” recognize that evidence is something that is seen Instead of reacting in fear, based on what we see, as believers must learn to act or move out in faith which is defined In Hebrew 11:

Hebrews 11:1, 6

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 who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Lust to Love

In the ongoing spiritual battle that confronts believers every day, we endeavor to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Titus 3:3 (NLT) reminds us:

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.

1 John 2:15-17 (NLT) offers this reminder of the source of lusts or inordinate affections, excessive inner yearnings that draw us away from God’s heart:

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

In the same way that love is the perfect antidote to fear, in that perfect love casts out all fear, Love also counters Lusts.

Anger to abiding  “In Peace”

In the midst of times of intense pressure and opposition, situations that we encounter may arouse anger within us, but the Psalmist exhorts us:

Psalm 4:4

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah

Psalm 37:8(NLT) repeats this message:

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.

How about this statement from Ecclesiastes 7:9 (HCSB):

Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.

James 1:19 (NIV) offers these words of wisdom:

[Listening and Doing] My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

When we find ourselves in midst of situations that generate anger, we counter anger when we walk “In Peace.” The lines from the spiritual assure us:

We shall walk through the valley in peace;
we shall walk through the valley in peace.

Refrain:
If Jesus himself shall be our leader,
we shall walk through the valley in peace

The first blog entry discussing “unflappable” spoke of maintaining the peace of God in stressful situations whereby believers learn to “Hold Your Peace.” Without question, the peace of God only comes from the God of Peace through His Son, the Prince of Peace.

Pride to “Pure Heart of Humility”:

Pride, the most dangerous of emotions, if left unchecked, can lead to destruction, as indicated in the closing lines of “Dangerous Emotions”:

Each deadly emotion yields deadly consequence.

Pride, described as the most dangerous of them all,

Leads to destruction and goes before a downfall.

In thinking about pride, I recall the first poem that I wrote, long before I recognized my poetic inclination and seriously pursued developing the poet’s craft and art. As a sophomore in college, I enrolled in a poetry appreciation course taught by a well-known poet and teacher who asked the class to write a couplet, and these two lines came to mind:

Beware, Pride locks the heart and keeps the key.

Take care that Pride has not a lock on thee.

Among the seven negative attributes that God hates, “indeed, seven are repulsive to Him” . . .  the first being “A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Those who walk in pride are despised in God’s eyes, but those who walk with a pure heart in humility bring a smile to God’s face: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Proverbs 18:12 tell us:

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

More than 40 years after the first couplet that I wrote regarding pride, I wrote another two lines with this message:

We know that when we touch the heart of God,

We show that true humility is the key.

As believers each time we “flip the flap” and move in the opposite spirit when confronted by Satan and the forces of evil, we “unflap” the enemy and score a victory: Now thanks be unto Christ who always causes us to triumph in Christ, thus being “unflappable” each time.

To close out our discussion of “unflappable” here is “Tree” by Justin Rizzo, inspired by Psalm 1, the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory and which expresses my ultimate desire and prayer to be like the man so described:

 

 

 

 

Rejoice and weep

May 28, 2016

Romans 12--15

Revised and re-posted is this blog entry:

The Verse of the Day for May 28, 2016 comes from Romans 12:15 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 in the New Living Testament also remind us:

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.   A time to grieve and a time to dance.

One of the times when we “weep with them that weep” occurs with the death of a family member, a friend or loved one. During such times we may experience deep sorrow and great loss, as we look to the Word of God to find the comfort and strength to overcome the sense of anguish that can be overwhelming.  Because of the hope of Christ’s return, the Scriptures indicate that believers should not sorrow as others who have no hope, but the Bible does not state that we should not sorrow at all. Indeed, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

When it comes to “weeping with them that weep,” from time to time someone expresses the misguided notion that “a man ain’t supposed to cry.” On the contrary, the greatest man who ever lived, a real “man’s man,” a man for all seasons,  openly displayed his emotions in the John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.”

In the hours prior to his crucifixion, Jesus Christ experienced great sorrow, as Matthew 26:37-38 (NLT) reveal:

37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.

38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Jesus Christ before his departure from this life was forewarning his disciples that they would likewise experience great sorrow in John 16:20-22 (NLT):

20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.

21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.

22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.

As believers when we experience great loss, we are reminded that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. The essence of the message regarding sorrow and loss is expressed in this poem

Ain’t No Harm to Moan Sometime

A blues sonnet of sorts

 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Ecclesiastes 3:4

 

 

Jesus, the Savior said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”

Yes, sir, the Master said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”

Think about that the next time you’re sad and forlorn.

 

Though you be a witness, proclaiming the gospel news.

Yes, you may be a witness, proclaiming the gospel news.

Yet and still, all God’s children gotta taste the blues.

 

Hard times come–some folk have few, and some have many.

Hard times come–some folk have few, and some have many.

Don’t forget, even Jesus had His Gethsemane.

 

Though dark clouds hang so low you don’t know what to do,

Though dark clouds hang so low you don’t know what to do,

Remember, the sun shines on the other side of “through.”

 

Don’t matter how low you go, how high you climb,

I declare, “Ain’t no harm to moan . . . sometime.”

 

Though our hearts may be heavy during times of sorrow and loss, we rejoice, knowing that God will turn our mourning into joy, and will comfort us, and make us rejoice from our sorrow.  Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) remind us:

Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.  They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 126 Song “Those Who Sow in Tears Shall Reap in Joy” (Christian Praise Worship w/ Lyrics)

 

Unflappable

May 27, 2016

Exodus 14--14

On most mornings I begin my day by reflecting on the Verse of the Day shared on Biblegate.com and then posting a blog entry inspired by that particular passage of Scripture. From time to time, however, I will share the Word for the Day, meaning that I will select a particular word and expound upon its meaning and personal application. The Word for the Day chosen on May 27, 2016 identifies an admirable trait for those confronted by the tempestuous times in which we live: “unflappable.”

The term is an adjective meaning not easily upset or confused, especially in a crisis; imperturbable. Thought to have its origin in the mid-1950s, “cool, calm, and collected” would be another expression associated with being “unflappable.” Other synonyms include “being at ease,” clearheaded, level-headed, unruffled, and untroubled.

An individual described as being unflappable exemplifies “unflappability”: remaining composed and level-headed at all times, being impossible to fluster. This leadership value was first associated with Harold McMillian, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963, whom Fergusonvalues.com identifies as “The Unflappable Leader.”

Learning to become unflappable in all situations is an admirable trait that not only leaders, but, indeed, all believers should aspire to maintain such a state of unflappability. I think of the opening lines of “If” by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

To be unflappable to is to be at peace, to be secure, unshakable, and unmovable. I recall an expression that my grandmother and other elders would say to children and others on occasion “Hold your peace.” You can take that figuratively, meaning to remain calm or to abide in peace, as the scriptures exhort believers to “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts and be thankful. You could also think of holding on to the peace of God, retaining it, keeping it close at hand, and maintaining a state of tranquility, despite circumstances that generate turmoil and uncertainty.

Recall the situation when Moses led the Children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, as they moved toward the Promised Land. With the Egyptians in hot pursuit behind them, the people confronted the Red Sea before them. Clearly, here is a situation where the people of God needed to be “unflappable.” As they began to murmur and complain, God spoke to Moses and commanded him to say this:

Exodus 14:14 (NKJV)

14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”

This account was also the inspiration for the following poem that has application the present times in which we live.

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 comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

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!”

I recall some of the lyrics to Phillips, Craig and Dean’s “You are God Alone”:

“Unchangeable—Unshakable—Unmovable—That’s who you are . . .” and that’s who we are, for we are created in His image. . . 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.

We close our discussion of the term “unflappable” with this powerful song:

Love in action

May 26, 2016

John 3 17

The Verse of the Day for May 26, 2016 comes from  John 3:17 (KJV). This verse, of course, follows John 3:16, one of the most often quoted verses in the Bible, and it precedes John 3:18 which further distinguishes between those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and those who do not. Take a look at these three verses in the Amplified Bible:

John 3:16-18 (AMP):

16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.

17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him.

18 Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]; but the one who does not believe [and has decided to reject Him as personal Savior and Lord] is judged already [that one has been convicted and sentenced], because he has not believed and trusted in the name of the [One and] only begotten Son of God [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, the One who alone can save him]

The book of I John chapter 3 also elaborates on the love of God in the corresponding verses:

1 John 3:16-18 (AMP):

 16 By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers.

17 But whoever has the world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him?

18 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].

These two sets of verses touch upon the subject of love as demonstrated as an action verb. In a previous entry we find the following anonymous statement:

“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.

Another statement reiterates the same point: “Love is a verb. Without action it is merely a word.” The section of scripture in 1 John 3 reinforces this message. In fact, this section is identified as “Love in Action” in 1 John 3:16-18 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Here is verse 18:

18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.

The love of God is “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 as a demonstration that He so loved the world.

Leon Patillo offers a distinctive musical version of John 3:17:

 

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

May 25, 2016

James 1-19

Revised and re-posted below is the Verse of the Day for May 25, 2016. These comments are based on an Examiner.com article: “Positive Attitude Month: Guarding 3 Gates of Your Heart.”

James 1:19 in the Amplified Bible offers a stern reminder as to why God designed people to have two ears and one mouth:

Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];

The familiar King James Version offers this statement:

James 1:19

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind a comment from writer John Bunyan, who recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys also comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

Three_wise_monkeys_figure

As guardians of the gates of our heart, we must:

 Watch what we hear: Hear No Evil

Whenever possible, individuals should consciously and consistently make every effort to listen to words and music that edify and encourage rather than words and music that tear down and destroy. Positive generates positive, while negative produces negative. We must learn to listen attentively that we might not only hear but also understand. We should consciously make a concerted effort to listen to hear words of life and hope, for as K. Eubanks noted, “It is faith that breathes life into hope. It is hope that fuels a positive life-giving attitude.”

 Watch what you see: See No Evil

Without question the mind can be flooded with negative images of all sorts, but we can choose to focus our attention on the positive aspects of life as revealed in the Word of God. In the same way that David determined: “I covenant with my eyes to see no evil,” we must determine to dwell upon positive mental images rather than negative ones. We can use visualization techniques to see ourselves successfully completing the tasks set before us. Paul J. Meyer maintains that “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass.”

Watch what you speak: Speak No Evil

Since “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” we must carefully choose the words that we speak, as this poem states:

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others. The Scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

The essence of the importance of guarding these three gates is captured in a simple children’s song expressing profound truths:

 

Anointing of honor

May 24, 2016

Romans 12--10

The Verse of the Day for May 24, 2016 examines the intertwining of love and honor as revealed in Romans 12:10. Here are three renderings of this verse expressed as an imperative sentence or a request:

Romans 12:10:

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; [New King James Version]

Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; [Amplified Bible]

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. [Holman Christian Standard Bible]

Spoken word poet, Amena Brown reads selections from Romans 12, from The Voice, a new Bible translation, from which the Verse of the Day was taken.

The Verse of the Day and its connection with love and honor also brings to mind a teaching by Apostle John Tetsola, who discussed three keys to “The Anointing of Honor”

  • “Our honor activates the honor that is in the heart of God.”
  • “Honor produces an exchange.”
  • “Honor is about value”

“Our honor activates the honor that is in the heart of God.” He went on to explain that there is no activation of power without the activation of honor. “Everything in scripture hinges upon this principle.” As believers we are exhorted to “give honor where honor is due.” We begin with God to whom all glory and honor are due. When we honor God and, in turn, we honor one another, we release honor upon ourselves in return, which leads us to the second point:

“Honor produces an exchange,” in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return. This is essentially the principle of giving and receiving. Of course, we always receive in greater measure than we give. Luke 6:38 reveals this universal principle:

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

Although this verse is often used in terms of the financial resources that we give, it has wider implications which include the giving and receiving of honor. We honor God by giving of our time, our talent, and our treasure.  The teacher went on to explain that “God releases toward those who serve Him based on the bridge of honor that has been built.”

The third principle gleaned from the teaching related to the statement: “Honor is about value.” To value is to hold in high esteem in your sight.  Said the teacher, “What you don’t value, you don’t honor. . . You never sow into anyone’s life whom you don’t value.” Honor, he explained, is a genuine expression of the heart. You cannot offer what is not in your heart to give. Honor is more than lip-service, as Isaiah 29:13 reminds us:

Therefore the Lord said:  “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

The teaching concluded with a statement indicating that honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” This is called the “process of acceptance.”

Later after reviewing my notes, I was inspired to complete the following poem that captures the essence of the message:

The Anointing of Honor

 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom;

and before honor is humility.

Proverbs 15:33

 

“Our honor activates the honor

that is in the heart of God.”

Apostle John Tetsola

 

“Before honor is humility,” says the Lord.

We give honor to those who minister the Word,

Not withholding honor to whom honor is due.

We follow these precepts, for the Word of God is true,

Giving life, sharper than any two-edged sword.

 

We honor one another and walk in one accord.

Husbands and wives—symbolic of a three-fold cord—

Must cherish honor, appreciate its value:

“Before honor is humility.”

 

The power of this precept cannot be ignored.

All those who bestow honor have great reward.

We must give honor in all that we say and do,

Pressing toward the mark for the prize, we continue

Striving for the perfection we all are moving toward:

“Before honor is humility.”

We conclude with “For the Honor”—featuring Chris Brown and Elevation Worship:

For the good of your neighbor

May 23, 2016

Romans 15--2

The Verse of the Day for May 23, 2016 encourages believers to be concerned about the welfare of others:

Romans 15:2 (AMP):

Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].

The Verse of the Day brings to mind a similar expression regarding how one should behave toward one’s neighbor and that is “to do good” to those who whom we encounter.  Throughout the Scriptures we find references that encourage believers as to how they should behave. Here are two illustrations from the Psalms of David:

Psalm 34:14 (AMP)

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

Psalm 37:3

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

Proverbs 14:22 (NLT) makes clear that those who choose to “do evil” or “to do good” will be rewarded accordingly:

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

In the Gospels the Lord Jesus Christ encouraged his followers to “do good,” even to one’s enemies:

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,

Luke 6:35 (AMP):

But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Galatians 6:10 (AMP) offer this sound advice:

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).

1 Thessalonians 5:15 reinforces this message:

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

The exhortation “to do good” also brings to mind the sage advice of John Wesley:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

The musical group Commissioned closes our comments with this reminder that in all that we do “Only What You Do for Christ Will Last.”

To serve

May 22, 2016

Galatians-5-13

The Verse of the Day for May 22, 2016 brings to mind one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Bible, an extraordinary paradox that continues to baffle all those who encounter the duality of freedom and servanthood, the distinction between “bond and free.” One of the scriptures that highlights the paradox of being free yet choosing to serve is found in Galatians 5:13 (AMP):

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

In discussing the two concepts of freedom and serving one another, one encounters a most provocative, related term translated from the Greek word doulos, meaning “servant”, “bond servant,” or “bond-slave,” or “slave.” In fact, the verb “to serve” in Galatians 5:13 is derived from the Greek word doulos and has been translated “to be a slave, to serve or render service or serving.”
Paul reiterates the message that though as a believer he is free in Christ, yet he chooses to serve others:

1 Corinthians 9:19 (AMP):

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].

As believers the state or condition whereby we have been called to salvation is liberty or freedom: freedom from the yoke of bondage, freedom from the chains that bind us in sin. We are, however, not to use our freedom as an occasion for the flesh or as an excuse or pretext for indulging our selfish desires. Instead, we are to be servants, those bound by love to serve one another.
In the midst of our times that preclude a super-abundant harvest season, we must learn

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5, 6

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy that fulfills God’s will lives beyond
The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain.
This precious token of our covenant, the bond
Of devotion to the Master, perfected love
Is shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

The Verse of the Day brought to mind once more the significance of the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond-slave” as revealed in the Scriptures. The portrayal of this Biblical figure has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America. In the early 1970s or thereabout, I was introduced to the previously mentioned Greek term “doulos.” 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. A year ago, I re-posted a blog here at “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” which also featured the original article along with poetry and music videos related to the term “doulos.” Click here to access a link to that entry that might be of interest.

Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” unforgettable sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who unfolds the beauty and simplicity in the words “To serve.”

Perfectly joined together

May 21, 2016

1_Corinthians_1-10

The Verse of the Day for yesterday focused on being of “one mind,” and the Verse of the Day for today, May 21, 2016, could be considered a second verse of the same song calling for unity in the One Body. Take a look at this request:

1 Corinthians 1:10 [Amplified]

But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments.

The Darby Bible offers a similar translation:

 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and that there be not among you divisions; but that ye be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion.

The verse expresses God’s desire for unity among believers, that there be no divisions, literally, no splits, breaches, or schisms, for we have been called in one body. Ephesians 4:3-6 (AMP) also remind believers to strive to remain unified within the Body of Christ:

 Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation] — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.

Instead of being divided, the body of believers is to be unified, perfectly joined together. The term “joined together” is derived from the Greek word meaning to repair, to mend, to reunite and make perfect what has been broken. We are familiar with the colloquial expression: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The converse would also hold true: “If it’s broken, then fix it!” Certainly this would apply to the Body of Christ, which is to be unified and not fractured nor divided, just as the human body is designed to be whole. Ephesians 4:16(AMP) speaks of the one body following the example set by Jesus Christ:

15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love

In reflecting upon the Verse of the Day, my mind goes back to 1971 when I was in the beginning stages of my development as a teacher and writer. I remember being asked to produce a writing sample, and I wrote a brief commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10. Since that time, I have endeavored to study and teach the Word of God, as an expression of my gratitude to my Heavenly Father, who preserved me and kept me while I served in the US Army during the Vietnam era. Like countless young people and adults, I rode the crest of the Jesus Revolution, the revival movement that swept the nation during the 1960s and 70s. One of the popular Christian songs considered to be an anthem of that unforgettable time-frame captures the essence of the message of today’s blog entry: “We Are One in the Spirit / By Our Love” offered by the Mark Swayze Band.