Archive for August, 2016

Unity in the One Body

August 29, 2016

Galatians 3--28

The emphasis of Verse of the Day for August 29, 2016 is on the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:28 in the Message Bible:

[In Christ’s Family] In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

The verse is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God is one, and all that He has created expresses oneness or unity, as Acts 17:26 reveals regarding all of humanity:

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity and diversity within unity

Ephesians Chapters 2 and 3 make known God’s intention regarding His Church, the Body of Christ. Ephesians 2:10 in the New Living Translation (NLT) indicates

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 3:10 in the New Living Translation also reveals what God had in mind:

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

A previous blog post introduced an original poem that related my personal understanding of my role in the Body of Christ. The two verses from Ephesians also reminded me an experience that occurred when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles a few years ago. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”  The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

 he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

 

ryoshi-bako

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10:

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

To conclude our discussion on unity within the One Body, Tommy Walker offers this heartfelt request in song: “Make Us One”:

 

 

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Works of God

August 28, 2016

John 6--28-29

The Verse of the Day for August 28, 2016 comes from John 6:29 in the Message Bible:

Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”

In John 6, we encounter the followers of Jesus Christ, those who had witnessed the series of miracles whereby he fed multitudes with a few fish and a small amount of bread. When they found the Lord on the other side of the Sea of Galilee after they had looked for him in the last place where he had been seen, they asked how they could perform similar miraculous works that they had seen him do:

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

John 6:28-29

Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].

Throughout the Scriptures we find references to the works of God.

Job 37:14 is this statement:

Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

The Psalmist declares, “Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!” in verse 8 and throughout Psalm 107.

Psalm 40:5

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

The hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” comes to mind when thinking of the wondrous works of God.

We are reminded that as we read the Word of God we should not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments while Psalm 77:11:

I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

As Acts 15:18 reveals:

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

I recall a teaching where Apostle John Tetsola talked about the power of consistency in overcoming adverse situations where there is overwhelming lack of provision during seasons of difficulty, in the midst of the storms of life. He covered a number of accounts whereby Jesus performed mighty works in word and in deed. He spoke of some of the miracles of feeding the multitude with the fishes and the loaves, having an abundance of “leftovers” afterwards. That life changing ministry of the Word inspired this poem which is also the title of his teaching:

The Miracle of the Bread

 For every single problem that you have, 

the answer lies in the miracle of the bread.

Apostle John Tetsola

 

We will trust in the Lord and will not be afraid.

When the storms of life arise and seem to prevail,

When our strength is gone, and we seem destined to fail,

In these tough times we recall words that Jesus said:

“O you of little faith, tell me, why did you doubt?”

No matter how midnight-black our nights seem to be,

We still access the power of consistency.

Although the world says no way, God will bring us out.

We learn never to elevate facts over truth

But recall past victories and bring them to our mind

When thousands were fed and abundance left behind

From two fishes and five loaves given by a youth.

In times of lack, we will not doubt but have faith instead

And always remember the miracle of the bread.

We must also remember what Jesus Christ declared in John 14:10-12 (Amplified Bible) regarding the works of God that he performed:

10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? What I am telling you I do not say on My own authority and of My own accord; but the Father Who lives continually in Me does the (His) works (His own miracles, deeds of power).

11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.]

12 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.

Knowing that the Word of God never returns void but that it accomplishes what God desires and prospers where He sends it, we can walk forth on those promises which have already come to pass.

Listen to this recording of a song entitled “All You Works of God.”

Keep in perfect peace

August 27, 2016

Isaiah-26--3-4

The verse for August 27, 2016, is taken from Isaiah 26:3 in the Message Bible where a particular statement describes the blessings extended to those who put their trust in the Lord:

People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.

To appreciate more fully what the verse reveals about trust, we need to examine the following verse as well, where a familiar reference also speaks about the individual who trusts in God:

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT):

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 27: 5 (NLT):

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

Isaiah 57:19 (NKJV)

“I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord,
“And I will heal him.”

Philippians 4:6-7 also offers these words of encouragement and comfort regarding the peace that comes from God:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This passage, especially verse 7 reinforces the comforting and reassuring message expressed in Isaiah 26:3 which promises that God will keep us in a state of perfect peace as we trust him. Recently I posted a song that makes reference to Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:7. Listen as Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir featuring Eric McDaniel sing of God who is the ultimate “Keeper”:

We are one body

August 26, 2016

Romans 12--4-5

In Romans 12:4-5 in the Message Bible we find the Verse of the Day for August 26, 2016:

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

A previous blog entry focusing on these same verses pointed out the correspondence between a natural body and a spiritual body:

1 Corinthians 15:44 (AMP):

44 it is sown a natural body [mortal, suited to earth], it is raised a spiritual body [immortal, suited to heaven]. As surely as there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body

Ephesians chapters 2 and 3 also speak of the “mystery of the one body—the Church—the Body of Christ.” In discussing this concept of the one body, we mentioned that “Everybody is somebody in the Body.” We also shared a well-known selection that is related to the topic: “The Parable of 4 People—The Parable of Responsibility.” This selection by an unknown author is a condensed version of Charles Osgood’s “A Poem about Responsibility”:

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody were members of a “Church.”

There was an important job to do, and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody would have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought Anybody would do it, but Nobody realized that Anybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when Nobody did, what Anybody could have done.

In closing out our discussion of the “one body,” I thought of the lyrics to the Children’s Ministry song:

“We are all members of the Body of Christ”

Sons of God by birthright.

We are chosen gems, polished by God and His Word.

We are beautiful in God’s sight.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) also speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ:

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Kevin Conner in his book The Church in the New Testament brings out these points:

  • Every member of the church is part of God’s family.
  • Members are a building with Christ being the chief cornerstone.
  • Each member is described as the body, all having special parts and functions.
  • God has given each Christian a special gift. This means each person has talents and abilities that can be used to help other believers and advance the Kingdom of God.

Conner closes out the discussion by pointing out the significance of Romans 12:4-5, as revealed in the New Living Translation:

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,

so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Another song also tells us:

Remember we are all members of the Body;

Each one has a special place.

We try to build up everybody

For we are members of one another,

saved by grace.

To summarize our discussion, Tom Inglis offers a lively rendition of “We are One Body”

Call upon the name of the Lord

August 24, 2016

psalm 116_1-2

From Psalm 116:1-2 in the Message Bible comes the Verse of the Day for August 24, 2016:

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him. Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels. Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn; then I called out to God for help: “Please, God!” I cried out. “Save my life!” God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

The verses are rendered this way in the King James Version:

Psalm 116:1-2:

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

The Psalmist acknowledges his love for the Lord who heard him when called upon His name. Because the Lord “inclined his ear unto” the one who called upon Him, the caller will continue to call as long as he lives.

 

Verse 4 reiterates the same point:

Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

 

Echoes of these verses can be heard in this excerpt from “Plainsong,” a poem that I wrote in tribute to my father:

 

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

The poem also makes reference to one of the vintage hymns composed by the great 18th Century hymn writer, Dr. Isaac Watts, who uses Psalm 116:1  as the inspiration for  “I love the Lord; He heard my cries” with this opening stanza:

I love the Lord; he heard my cries,
And pitied every groan:
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to his throne.

The hymns of Dr. Watts found their way into African American churches, being transformed into chants and acapella songs that formed the foundation of 20th Century gospel music. Listen to Gloria Henderson who leads a congregation in lining out this classic hymn by Dr. Watts.

In addition to Psalm 116:1, other verses also remind us to call upon the name of the Lord:

1 Chronicles 16:8

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

 

Psalm 105:1

O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

 

Romans 10:13 so clearly makes known the results occurring to those who petition the Lord:

 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Throughout the Scriptures we see that believers are encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. Note this invitation extended in Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV):

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name:

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

 

One of the most often quotes passages from Jeremiah relates a promise given by God to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11-13, a passage that applies to Christians today as well:

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.

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

Psalm 107 reveals the seemingly never-ending cycle whereby the people of God stray from the pathways of God and find themselves in difficult straights, and as verses, 6, 13, 19, and 28 make known:

 

Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

 

Despite the truth that God consistently delivers those who cry out to him, His people too often fall back into trouble whereby they once again call upon the Lord in the midst of their struggles.  Throughout the Psalms and elsewhere in the Scriptures we see that our faithful God responds to those who call upon Him.

 

Jim and Ginger Hendricks provide a moving musical exhortation: “Call unto Me”

 

He who spared not his own son

August 22, 2016

Romans_8-32

From Romans 8:32 in the Message Bible comes the Verse of the Day for August 22, 2016:

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

The verse is rendered this way in the King James Version:

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

The celebrated passage from Romans 8 also brings to mind that God is the ultimate “Giver.”

As the supreme giver, God practices the very principles that He implements.  As a liberal giver par excellence, our Father gives, withholding nothing.  Without question, He is generous and extravagant in His giving. As the supreme expression of giving, God applies the very principles that He establishes.  Jesus Christ teaches this foundational principle in Luke 6:38:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

The essence of this principle is poetically expressed in this excerpt opening with a poem by John Oxenham, followed by an original stanza:

 Love ever lives,

Outlives, forgives,

And while it stands

With open hands, it lives.

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give.

 

He who lives and never gives,

May live for years and never live.

But he who lives and lives to give

Shall live for years and years and years

With more to give and give and give.

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

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

This verse relates to Romans 8:32-34, a section that lets believers know that with God there is no accusation in that we also ask, “If God is willing to give the greater, would He withhold the lesser?” Here is our response:

Romans 8:32-34 (Message):

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

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

Here is a musical rendering of Romans 8:32:

Ephesians 5:25: Beyond sacrificial living

August 19, 2016

 Ephesians 5--25

From time to time, as we read and study the Word of God, we may encounter a reference to particular verse that we may have heard numerous times before, but this fresh encounter offers an illustration or application of a particular verse in a specific content that widens our understanding and deepens our appreciation of what the God is really saying. Recently I thought of a verse that is often recited at weddings and other occasions where the role of the husband is presented:

Ephesians 5:25 (AMP):

25 Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

A year ago, I attended a men’s Bible study with one of my sons-in-law, focusing on “The Journey to Authentic Manhood,” as modeled by Jesus Christ in his 33 years on earth. The session was one of a series of discussions related to some of the challenges that confront men in the quest for “authentic manhood” in our relationships as husbands, fathers, co-workers, and other areas of responsibilities.

In thinking about Ephesians 5:25, I also thought of this poem that captures the essence of one of the principal attributes of authentic manhood:

Sacrificial Living: Assignment of Manhood

Forgetting things left behind, I press toward the mark.

The passion that now inflames my life was once a spark.

This all-consuming fire, great light dispels the dark,

As I abide in God’s presence in a place beyond the Ark.

 

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

 

Like Christ, I endure the cross while despising the shame

And accept this high calling and embrace my new name.

By grace to stand in His presence without any blame,

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

 

Always remaining aware that God is in control,

I am still running to serve as my life’s highest goal.

This zeal for God and His Word burns deep within my soul,

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

 

Being fully persuaded, I now know that I know

That God will fulfill His will and declare, “It is so!”

I set aside pride; where He leads me I will follow:

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

 

Looking to the future, I walk by faith, not by sight.

To do all the will of God still remains my delight

To follow Christ’s command that I should be salt and light

With sacrificial Living: assignment of manhood.

 

To speak the Word of life in all that I do and say,

To follow in the steps of Christ all along the way.

Until the final victory, I must watch, fight and pray.

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

 

Triumphant from faith to faith and glory to glory,

I still seek God’s face in the place of my destiny.

Life continues to unfold as a scroll before me.

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

 

With a love so strong, yet ever so tender,

Nothing can dissuade me, nor can anything hinder.

I will hold fast to the faith and never surrender.

God’s Word hidden in my heart, I’ll always remember:

 

I continue to strive ever toward the highest good

With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Recently I heard a reference to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in his undying commitment to the Church. As I listened to Chris Webb, spoken-word poet, his riveting rendition of “Mattress” aroused in me an even deeper appreciation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who modeled the depth of sacrificial living that men should have for their wives:

Having heard and seen this, my reading and understanding of Ephesians 5:25 will never be the same.

Reflections on my legacy:ordination, a grandson, and more

August 18, 2016

Ephesians 4--1

Last Thursday, August 11, 2016 was indeed a special day of celebration, as three significant events converged in a remarkable overflow of gratitude to God.  My day began with a time of reflection and expression of my gratitude to God for my ordination to the Christian ministry which first occurred August 11, 1974. Most providentially my wife, Brenda, and I received news around 1 a.m. that our older daughter, Melissa, had gone into labor, as she and her husband, Will, were expecting their first child. We rushed to be with our daughter and son-in-law to share in the birth of our first grandchild, Kingston Edward Simkins, who made his grand entrance at 4:41 p.m. on August 11, weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces with a 20 and three-quarter inch frame. Later in the day while trying to take in the magnitude of the moment, I recognized that these two events had occurred during August which has been designated as “What will be your legacy month?”

Previously, I had commented on the significance of ordination in a blog post:

Ordination is said to be a process whereby individuals are called, chosen and set apart to serve as clergy. It is thought of as a “special sacrament.” Such an entry point for service can begin with “the new birth” experience when one accepts Jesus Christ as savior and endeavors to follow in his steps.  A child, however, who gratefully and joyfully accepts the blessings of the Father, eventually matures to the point of being about the “Father’s business.” In the minds of some, ordination is considered a kind of “rite of passage” which commences a new period of service in ministering to Body of Christ. . . .

In reflecting upon my ordination ceremony which also involved a prayer of consecration, the laying on of hands, and a word of prophecy, all of which have been sources of inspiration and direction over the years, I continue to respond to God whereby I first heard His voice and answered:

The Call

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

beseech you to walk worthy of the calling

with which you were called,

Ephesians 4:1

 

 

The call resounds like a repeated name

From the lips of a dear friend who knows you.

I clearly hear my name and see the flame

That lights the path of those whom God foreknew

Would hear and heed a higher destiny.

This calling only God can verify.

My ear cannot hear; my eye cannot see;

Yet within my heart I cannot deny

That I have heard and seen what few will know.

I must arise and strive to reach the place

Where the rivers of understanding flow

And never doubt God’s purpose and His grace.

I stand in the unbroken line of all

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

While reflecting on my calling as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I also thought about the birth of my new grandson, Kingston Edward Simkins, as well as the offspring of my “spiritual son” in Capetown, South Africa, Neil Demas, who named one of his sons after me: Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas. I think of these individuals and others who are a part of my life and part of my response to the question raised during August: “What will be your legacy?”

Kingston Edward Simkins

A website devoted to various holidays, offers this definition of the term: “A legacy is defined as what someone or something is remembered for or what they have left behind that is remembered, revered or has influenced current events and the present day.”

Offspring of my "spiritual son" Neil Demas is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

Offspring of my “spiritual son,” Neil Demas, is Lonnell Edward Johnson Demas of Capetown, South Africa.

The legacies that are part of our lives at this time we pass on, and they will impact generations to come, as we sow seeds of the Word of God while we live our lives. We anticipate that the seeds that we sow will fall upon fertile ground and abound with fruit, even as this poem suggests:

Legacies

 

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

 

II

 

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

 

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

 

Benjamin Disraeli made the statement, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” We are perhaps familiar with the statement, “The greatest gift you can give someone is a good example.” Similar sentiments are also expressed in Proverbs 22:1:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Overall, my desire is to leave a legacy of a man called to serve and to minister to the people of God, a legacy that will touch eternity. Indeed, the example that we leave for others to follow is part of our legacy, which should be of concern to everyone, not just during August but every day of our lives. We close with “Find Us Faithful,” a song which reminds Christian believers of the importance of the legacies that they leave:

Get it together

August 16, 2016

Psalm 124--1

Instead of looking at the Verse of the Day, as we so often do, our focus today is on a particular phrase or Word for the Day. On August 16, 2016, we are going to take a look at the phrase “Get it together!”

The expression is sometimes defined as “to get one’s life in order” or “to get one’s current state of mind in order.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs offers this definition: “to become fit or organized; to organize one’s thinking; to become relaxed and rational.” Another source defines the expression this way: “to make a decision or take positive action in your life.”

In thinking about this particular verb phrase, I happened to recall a statement by Donald Lawrence which provided an introduction to the following poem:

In the Fight for Your Life

“God will keep it together until you get it together.”

 Donald Lawrence

 

 

In the fight for your life,

Get it together and keep it together

God will strengthen you

So that you can weather any storm

God will keep it together

Until you get it together

 

No matter what happens,

Keep on watching and waiting

With outstretched necks,

Yearning, ever anticipating

Until Christ returns to gather us together

 

Until then. . .

In the fight for your life,

Get it together and keep it together

 

Despite my best efforts, there were countless times when I struggled to get it together, when I felt overwhelmed and seemed to be about to “lose it,” as I earnestly endeavored to renew my mind and maintain a state of mental equilibrium. During those times of turmoil, I now recognized that I would have “lost it altogether” had it not been for the Lord. I echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who made a similar declaration in the introduction to the following:

 

If It Had Not Been for the Lord


If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side,

Let Israel now say–

Psalm 124:1

If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,
But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

 

Now I recognize that the Lord helped me to get it together and keep it together because he is my keeper, so sing Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir featuring Eric McDaniel in “Keeper.”

 

A very present and well-proved help in trouble

August 10, 2016

Psalms-46--1-5

The Verse of the Day for August 10, 2016 acknowledges who God is and what He alone provides:

Psalm 46:1(AMP)

[God the Refuge of His People.] [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to soprano voices. A Song. ] God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

In addition to verse 1, the entire Psalm reassures believers of God’s presence in the midst of chaotic conditions.

Psalm 46:

1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas,

3Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

4There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.

5God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early [at the dawn of the morning].

6The nations raged, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our Fortress and High Tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

8Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations and wonders in the earth.

9He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.

10Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

11The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Verse 10 also introduces an original poem with the first four words of the psalm as its title:

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10

 

Be still and know that I am God, that I am the eternal one.

Though your cherished dreams have faded and long since gone

The way of all flesh, my divine plans you shall see,

As I weave the tapestry of eternity.

Though you seem forsaken, you are never alone,

Even when the burden of dark sin cannot atone,

And the hearts of men have hardened and turned to stone:

Be still and know that I am God.

 

Though storms may overwhelm and friends may abandon

When diseases surface to assault flesh and bone.

These scenes will reveal the man I thought I could be,

As words of the Psalmist comfort and remind me,

When this life is over and all is said and done:

Be still and know that I am God.

As we pause and calmly think about that—as we “Selah” this Psalm, we also give heed to these words—

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still my soul and be at peace.

Rise above your circumstance and rest in me.

In closing, listen to Steven Curtis Chapman singing “Be Still and Know.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C01lLxEo3xM&feature=related