Archive for June, 2016

Over all the earth

June 30, 2016

Zechariah 14-9

Revised and re-posted from a previous blog entry, the Verse of the Day for June 30, 2016 is taken from Zechariah 14:9 (NLT):

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped.

This verse brings to mind that not only shall the Lord be king over all the earth, but “of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Other scriptures also proclaim that “of his kingdom there shall be no end,” as Revelation 11:15 makes known:

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.

Throughout the Old Testament God establishes His unique relationship with Israel who are an integral part of the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah 54:5:

For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.

The Book of Psalms also speak of the Lord as “King over all the earth.”

Psalm 47:2(NKJV):

For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.

Psalm 83:18 (NLT) echoes the same sentiments:

Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth.

Psalm 97:9 (NLT):

For you, O Lord, are supreme over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

Psalm 45:6 makes known that the throne of the Messiah would be everlasting:

Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.

Psalm 145:13 further indicates that “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations.”

The Book of Daniel also speaks of the Kingdom of God:

Daniel 2:44

During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever.

Daniel 4:3 proclaims:

How great are his signs! And how mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

A similar declaration was also made in Daniel 7:13-14:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

In 1 Chronicles 17:11-12 we find a similar pronouncement regarding the throne of the everlasting kingdom of the Lord:

And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.

He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.

We also recall another passage containing the fulfillment of words spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah:

Luke 1:30-33:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Ron Kenoly offers a stirring rendition of “Ancient of Days” which proclaims “Your kingdom shall reign over all the earth . . . your kingdom shall not pass away. . . O Ancient of Days.”

 

 

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Another paradox: Gaining and losing

June 28, 2016

Matthew 16--25

The Verse of the Day for June 27, 2016 comes from Matthew 16:25 (AMP):

For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Matthew 16:25

25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Jesus Christ also point out the paradox of gaining and losing in a similar context in Matthew 10:38-39 (AMP):

38 And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me.

39 Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].

Christ contrasts life which is temporal vs. life eternal. If a follower of Christ focuses time, energy, and effort only on “the things of this world,” that is only on temporal matters, seeking to gain life, eventually that individual will lose that which he or she sought so desperately to gain. On the other hand, if a follower of Christ is willing to “lose his or her life” in an earthly, temporal context, that individual will gain eternal life far beyond the timespan of life on this Earth.

Philippians 3:7-8 also speaks of gain and loss:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Paul expresses a similar duality in terms of gaining and losing in Philippians 1:21(AMP):

[To Live Is Christ] For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity].

To sum up the discussion, Sidewalk Prophets provide this musical offering: “To Live is Christ”:

Choose to forgive

June 27, 2016

Leviticus 19-18

The Verse of the Day for June 26, 2015 is found in Leviticus 18:19 (AMP):

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself; I am the Lord.

Leviticus, the third book of the Pentateuch, literally means The Book of the Law and indicates how the Children of Israel should conduct their lives in relationship to God, to one another, and to the wider community. The phrase “I am the Lord” also serves as a reminder of the source of the pronouncements that are made throughout the Book of the Law. In chapter 19 the phrase is used not only to punctuate verse 19, but the expression is the final phrase of fourteen additional verses.

The expression to “not take revenge nor bear any grudge” is “to forgive,” and most remarkably, the Verse of the Day spotlights National Forgiveness Day, a designated time to forgive and be forgiven, according to the Committee for Educational and Cultural Action. From an Examiner.com article discussing National Forgiveness Day, comes the following excerpt:

Forgiveness, a vitally important concept in Christianity, is described as a two-way street. This virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ, who was also brutally slain, as he spoke before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In addition, Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Dr. Arch Hart, Christian psychologist, offers a definition of forgiveness that seems to be particularly applicable. . . : “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

James E. Hurst cites Dr. Sidney Simon who offers this definition of this of this critical concept:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

Dr. Robert D. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and pioneer researcher with the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, has developed Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This study guide demonstrates how forgiveness, when approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven, indicating that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one’s future. The title of Dr. Enright’s workbook also brings to mind this poem composed thirteen years ago:

I Choose to Forgive

 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

 

I choose to forgive and to release from payment,

To clear the account and forego the debt once more.

Though rightfully owed to me, I choose to forgive,

To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.

My desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;

Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me,

I rise to the occasion of the Word of God.

Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,

I seek to walk in the footsteps of the Savior.

As Joseph, in compassion, assured his brothers

What Satan meant for evil, God fashions for good,

Widen my vision to see a much more grand scope:

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

A year ago on June 17, 2015, a series of horrific events occurred in Charleston, SC, where Dylann Roof sat in on a midweek Bible study for an hour before opening fire in a brutal attack that left nine dead at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. When Roof appeared in court on the following Friday facing nine counts of murder, many of the family members of those slain stated, “I forgive you.” The response to the events in Charleston in 2015 served as a prelude to National Forgiveness Day.

This year in the early morning hours on June 19 Omar Mateen, wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, opened fire inside the crowded Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Certainly, this unimaginable sequence of events provides ample opportunities to apply the principles of forgiveness on National Forgiveness Day 2016.

Matthew West, popular Christian singer, tells the story behind one of the songs that he wrote “Forgiveness”:

Listen to Matthew West, as he performs “Forgiveness” in its entirety:

 

I cannot hide from you

June 25, 2016

Jeremiah 23--24

Verse of the Day for June 25, 2016 comes from Jeremiah 23:24 (AMP):

“Can anyone hide himself in secret places So that I cannot see him?” says the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.

The Verse of the Day brings to mind the childhood game of “hide and seek”, played countless times as we were growing up. At times we would be the individual who would “hide” while the other player would endeavor to find the person hiding and tag him or her before they reached “home base.”  At other times a player would switch roles, hence the name of the game is “hide and seek.”

As believers grow in their relationship with God, we sometimes seem to be playing “hide and seek with God.”  It seems that at times He is doing all the hiding, and we are doing all the seeking. On other occasions, we are doing all the hiding, and He’s doing all the seeking.”

I recall playing hide and seek with one of my nieces as she was growing up.  I was baby-sitting her when she was about eight or nine years old, and we went to a park where she was trying to hide behind a tree. From her perspective she could not see me, and she thought that I could not see her.  Her body, however, was slightly wider than the tree, and from my perspective, I could clearly see the outline of her body when I looked at her “hiding place.”

How much more is the case when we endeavor to hide ourselves from God? Psalm 139:7 reminds us

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

The Scriptures clearly reveal that God is omnipresent and that we cannot by any means hide from Him, just as the Verse of the Day so clearly states.

While we cannot hide from God, we can seek Him, being reminded to “Seek the Lord while he may be found,” knowing that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). The Psalmist declares, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. . . when you said seek my face, my heart said to you, your face will I seek.” (Psalm 27:4-5, 8).

Psalm 9:9-10:

The Lord also will be a refuge and a stronghold for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble;

And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.

Jesus Christ in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well points out these truths:

John 4:23-24:

23 But a time is coming and is already here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit [from the heart, the inner self] and in truth; for the Father seeks such people to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit [the Source of life, yet invisible to mankind], and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

One of my favorite passages from the Old Testament also relates to those who seek God:

Jeremiah 29:11-13:

11 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. 13 Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Greg Long captures the essence of Verse of the Day and other related scriptures with the song “I Cannot Hide from You.”

The Lord is faithful to deliver

June 24, 2016

2 Thessalonians-3-3

From a previous blog post comes the following revised entry that examines the verb “to deliver” as used in the Old Testament as well in the New Testament:

The Verse of the Day for June 24, 2016 reminds us of exactly who God is and what He will do:

2 Thessalonians 3:3:

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil

Throughout the Bible we see the faithfulness of God, who never fails to deliver those who serve Him.

In the Old Testament some form of the verb palat, the Hebrew word for “deliver,” is translated “to pluck out of the hands of an oppressor or enemy; to preserve, recover, remove; to deliver from danger, evil, trouble; to be delivered, to escape.”  Note how the term is used in Psalm 31:1-5 in the New Living Translation:

O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me;
rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection,
a fortress where I will be safe.
You are my rock and my fortress.
For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.
Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
for I find protection in you alone.
I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God.

Take a look at Psalm 18:1-2 (NLT):

For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:

I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
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.

In the New Testament the Greek verb ruomai is translated “to draw or snatch to one’s self from danger, to rescue, to deliver.”

In the poem “Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord, “my personal testimony expressed poetically, I make reference being rescued from of a horrible situation:

With lovin arms you reached way down

And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,

Sought me and flat-out rescued me,

Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

Although the Verse of the Day uses the expression “keep from evil,” we recognize a similar phrase in the prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke before his crucifixion:
John 17:15 (New Living Translation)

15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.

We are, of course, familiar with closing words of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 from the King James Version:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

The New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

II Timothy 4:18 also reminds us

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever.

The poem “Protect Me,” from a series of teachings entitled “A Five-fold Prayer,”reinforces the message that God is faithful and that He will deliver, just as He promised:

As a child runs to safety in his father’s arms,

So I, too, run to you, “my shelter from life’s storms.”

Lord, I long to dwell with you in the secret place,

My buckler, my shield, deliverer, my fortress,

Strong tower, defender, who responds to my prayer.

For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish me

And protect me and deliver me from evil.

Clint Brown provides a musical version of Psalm 18 which speaks of God as “my fortress and my deliverer.”

Listen to this musical reminder that “The Lord is Faithful” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

 

 

 

Like eagles

June 23, 2016

Isaiah 40_31

The Verse of the Day for June 23, 2016 is found in Isaiah 40:31 in the Amplified Bible:

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.

We find great comfort and assurance, not only in the last verse of Isaiah 40 but the entire passage leading up to it:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (New Living Translation):

28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

In addition to the often recited verse from Isaiah 40:31, other places in the Scriptures also make reference to eagles. In fact, among the birds mentioned in the Bible, we find 34 references to eagles in the King James Version. One of my favorite passages connected with eagles speaks of protection and provision in speaking to the Children of Israel when they escaped from the bondage of Egypt:

Exodus 19:4

You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

Watching an eagle in flight is awe-inspiring, as Proverbs 30:18-19 proclaims:

There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

Lee in his blog “Birds of the Bible” examines “Birdwatching from a Christian Perspective” and provides fascinating commentary on “eagle renewal” with references to Isaiah 40:31 and other scriptures, along with astounding photography of the growth stages of an eagle. Lee notes that the eagle spoken of in Scriptures is actually a golden eagle, indigenous to the Middle East and beyond, rather than the bald eagle which is found throughout North America.

KC Pillai, converted Hindu Bible teacher whose area of expertise is connected to Orientalisms or customs and cultural practices ingrained in the Middle East and beyond, points out some distinctive features of eagles, as recorded in the Bible.  He refers to the birds mentioned in Isaiah 40:31 and elsewhere in the Old Testament as “holy eagles,” which are described in this way:

The holy eagles are likened to heavenly beings; they are the “king of the birds.” Once every five, ten or fifteen years, (people differ on the time interval) the eagles build a nest high in the coconut tree, and then abandon themselves, like advanced swimmers that dive into the water. So these eagles, from the top of the high palm tree, dive down into a lake, or pond or well, or any still water; they don’t fly, but dive headfirst, with their wings folded intact on their backs. They abandon themselves and we see them dropping into the water, and when they come up they have lost every single feather. They are floating on the water, and the eagles are left stranded in the water, unable to swim or fly.

Somehow, they struggle and manage to reach the shore. Then the people come and feed the eagles, because the Eastern people look upon these holy eagles as representatives of God. Nobody will hurt them because they look upon them as heavenly beings. Then in six or seven weeks’ time, their new feathers have grown out and they fly back to the treetops. Nothing can stop them now. That is why “…they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they all mount up with wings as eagles;”

The eagles lose their feathers first; then they wait. They lose all their old feathers of negativism and of limitations…. A Christian loses all his feathers when he comes to Christ, because “…old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17). Paul says, “…I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. (Galatians 2:20).  Pillai goes on to speak of getting rid of “hindering feathers” that keep believers from receiving the fullness of the God’s blessings. As they put off the old and put on the new, followers of Christ are transformed into a new creation in Christ Jesus. They are fortified and undergirded with renewed strength as they wait upon the Lord.

We close with Don Moen, who offers “As Eagles,” a song of encouragement based on the closing passage from Isaiah 40:28-31:

 

 

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Another look unto the hills

June 22, 2016

Psalm 121--7

Revised and re-posted from a year ago is the following blog entry:

Taken from Psalm 121:7-8 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for June 22, 2016 provides great comfort and assurance to the believer:

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

These verses make up a familiar passage from one of the most recognized Psalms of David which opens in this way:

Psalm 121: 1-2:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Bishop KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, dedicated his life to enlightening students of the Bible regarding Orientalisms or customs and practices from the Eastern sectors of the world that so clearly influence our understanding of Scripture. Pillai and other scholars point out that the first verse of Psalm 121 is often rendered as a statement when in actuality it should be a question. In contrast to the rendering of verse 1 in the King James Version which opens with “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help,” Pillai suggests that the verse should be read: “Shall I lift up my eyes to the hills? From whence comes my help?”  The answer follows in verse two: “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

This particular psalm is said to be among the Psalms of Degrees or Songs (Psalms) of Ascent. Psalms 120-134 comprise a “hymn book” from which pilgrims sang as they were ascending Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem, the place of celebration of the annual feasts mandated by God for the Children of Israel. Paul Stroble, in his blog devoted to this psalm points out that “Clift McCann writes in The New Interpreter’s Bible that these psalms are all short enough to be memorized and several contain references to everyday life, implying that these psalms reflect the experiences of everyday people traveling or arriving at Jerusalem.”

Stroble, also mentions that various writers refer to Psalm 121 as “the psalm for the journey of life,” and “the psalm for sojourners.”  He continues his discussion of the merits of this psalm that he finds especially meaningful “because of the comfort of its promises as one travels literally and figuratively.”

The passage from Psalm 121 and its reference to the Lord who “shall preserve thy soul from all evil” also brings to mind a series of blog entries entitled “A Five-fold Prayer.” The commentaries were based on a statement regarding the ways of God when we find ourselves in perplexing situations that challenge our faith. In such instances, God is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct us; Inspect us; Correct us; Protect us, and Perfect us.”

After hearing those words, I took those five verbs and formed them into a request, a petition, a personal prayer to God.  I asked God to become the initiator of the action, and I would become the object of his action. I also examined each of the verbs with scriptural illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament and composed a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb at the end of each section related to each of the five verbs. In writing out my personal application of the scriptures, I also incorporated music related to the verbs as well. In Part 4 I asked God to “Protect Me.” Since there was no word “protect” used in the King James Version, I used the term “deliver” and shared this personalized psalm or poetic petition at the end of discussion of this particular verb:

Protect me

As a child runs to safety in his father’s arms,

So I, too, run to you, “my shelter from life’s storms.”

Lord, I long to dwell with you in the secret place,

My buckler, my shield, deliverer, my fortress,

Strong tower, defender, who responds to my prayer.

For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish me

And protect me and deliver me from evil.

We conclude our discussion with one of my favorite musical compositions inspired by Psalm 121 “My Help” offered by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

He who dwells in the secret place

June 21, 2016

Psalm 91--1

The Verse of the Day for June 21, 2016 is taken from Psalm 91:1 (AMP):

[Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.] He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].

This Psalm of David in its entirety provides great comfort and strength in the midst of the chaotic times in which we presently live:

Psalm 91 (NKJV):

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler 
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

A number of years ago I recall hearing a message “God is Looking for a Dwelling Place,” and I was inspired to write the following poem which uses Psalm 91:1 as its introductory verse.

My Dwelling Transformed

 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1

Despite perilous times embroiled in confusion and strife,

I continue to learn that everything has its own price,

As I pursue the ultimate goal, I offer my life:

A first-born son, presented as a living sacrifice.

With clean hands and a pure heart, I prepare a dwelling place.

To attract You, I must provide a pleasing ambiance:

As your songs of love flow from the depths of my inner space,

A habitation designed and arrayed for your entrance.

To walk by the spirit of life I am driven to pursue.

I dance to my own music, softly playing in my mind,

And strive to understand that You alone make all things new.

As the eyes of the Lord scan this green planet, may they find

My dwelling transformed into a place of simple beauty,

As I offer all that I am and ever hope to be.

Esther Mui offers a moving rendition of Psalm 91: My God, In Him I Will Trust:

Profit and loss

June 20, 2016

Mark_8-36

 

 

The Verse of the Day for June 20, 2016 is found in Mark 8:36

For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul?

The King James Version puts the question this way:

36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Just as in any business, owners are interested in “the bottom line” or the end result, as followers of Christ, we must examine the profit and loss and statements of our lives.

Here is how Matthew 16:26 phrases similar questions:

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul ?

The benefits gained from the world are temporary, lasting but a brief moment. In contrast, the benefits coming from God are eternal. The Psalmist asks this question:

 

Psalm 116:12

 

What will I give to the Lord [in return]
For all His benefits toward me?
[How can I repay Him for His precious blessings?

 

He goes on to declare:

 

Psalm 103:2

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

 

Psalm 68:19

19 Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation! Selah

Those who seek God and demonstrate a desire to please Him rather than seeking the temporal pleasures of the world will reap everlasting benefits:

 

Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

2 Corinthians 4:18 sums up where our focus should be:

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This final reminder comes from

1 John 2:15: (NLT)

[Do Not Love This World ] 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.

As believers, when we love God and keep His commandments, we have everything to gain—benefits and blessings immeasurable and nothing to lose, certainly not our very souls because we loved God more than the fleeting riches of this world.

 

Joann Rosario expresses our ultimate desire to love God “More than Anything”:

On Father’s Day: We Be Brothers

June 19, 2016

Proverbs 17--17

On Father’s Day, June 19, 2016, I would like to share a special poem originally written in tribute to men of God, those who are connected as beloved brothers in Christ. I preface the poem with an experience that occurred several weeks ago during a Sunday morning service at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC when Bishop Charles Mellette called on me to be a part of a living illustration to emphasize a particular aspect of the message that he was delivering. He asked me and another member of the congregation to stand as two believers, two brothers connected by the Spirit of the Living God. In describing us, Bishop Mellette remarked, “Spirit is thicker than blood.”

His comment brought to mind a statement that I first heard more than 30 years by the late Skip Mesquite, celebrated saxophonist and songwriter, who performed with Tower of Power and other prominent musicians and singers back in the day. When I learned of his falling asleep in Christ, I commented about one of his songs: “Hey, Brother,” the composition written for his brother by blood, trying to explain why he was closer to his brothers in the spirit than to his own “flesh and blood.” I was so moved by his performance that I was inspired to write “We Be Brothers” which I dedicated to Skip. Since first completing the poem, I have read it countless times, expressing the bond of brotherhood shared with fellow believers. It is certainly a fitting tribute to fathers and those who strive to maintain the ideals of true brotherhood:

We Be Brothers

“Spirit is thicker than blood.

Oh, yes, it is, brother.”

Skip Mesquite,

songwriter, saxophonist

         

men born again in brotherhood

beyond thin skinship of the soul

not blood but spirit makes us kin

we be true brothers, brother-man

 

I dig your gig, so rap to me

and play the sounds I need to hear

tune me in and play my number

just call me on your saxophone

 

soothe my soul with those mellow notes

flowing from your horn of plenty

man, make your heart-song melt my dark

and paint my skies in sunrise hues

 

I can escape the basement gloom

to scale the palace stairs with you

we climb to where the air is rare

we be true brothers, brother-man

Happy Father’s Day to all “true brothers, brother-men.”