Archive for November, 2016

Lord, you are good

November 29, 2016

psalm136-1

Five days after Thanksgiving Day, we continue to encounter reminders to be thankful, as the Verse of the Day for November 29, 2016 encourages us:

Psalm 136:1, 26 (NKJV):

[Thanksgiving to God for His Enduring Mercy] Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever.

In the opening verse of Psalm 136 we note the refrain: “For His mercy endures forever.” The same refrain is repeated to conclude verse 26, the last verse. In fact, the expression punctuates every verse of the Psalm in the same way.

In reflecting on this passage, a previous entry that discussed the expression “Call and response” comes to mind. In music, particularly in jazz which incorporates improvisation, we find a technique labeled “call and response,” whereby a musician issues a phrase or line, and another player answers with a phrase or comment in response. The same technique is also seen in other areas of African American culture involving speakers, such as preachers or ministers of the gospel or worship leaders who issue a series of calls, and the audience, the congregation, or group being addressed answers with responses. In the case of the Verse of the Day, there is an opening exhortation or call to give thanks to the Lord, followed by the response: “For His mercy endures forever.”

One of the awesome attributes of God is that He is a God of mercy, and His mercy never fails. In Psalm 126 the term mercy is also translated “lovingkindness or grace.” Although our Father is a God of justice, he tempers justice with grace and mercy. Justice has been defined as “getting exactly what one deserves.” Whereas grace is said to be unmerited favor or getting something that one does not deserve, while mercy is defined as “withholding merited judgment” or “not getting what one deserves. God ever displays His mercy toward

His children, as Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Throughout the Psalms, we see God abounds in mercy:

Psalm 119: 64:

The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy: teach me Your statutes.

Psalm 57:10

For Your mercy is great unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds.

Psalm 69:13

But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of Your mercy hear me, in the truth of Your salvation.

Psalm 103:17

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

Israel Houghton and New Breed conclude this entry with this reminder: “Lord, You are Good and Your Mercy Endureth Forever.”

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God does not need help

November 26, 2016

Jeremiah-32--17

In keeping with the recently established tradition of the “Quote of the Day” rather than the “Verse of the Day, we would offer the “Quote of the Day” for November 26, 2016:

“God does not need help; all He needs is cooperation.”

So often when believers encounter challenging situations, we call upon the Lord in our times of great need in the midst of seemingly impossible situations. When the resolution of the difficulties that we face are not coming forth as quickly and in the way that we think they should, our tendency is to try and help God out. Another quote from an unknown author provides a similar reminder in the form of message from God:

“Good Morning. This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help, so relax, and have a great day!”

When we encounter overwhelming situations that we cannot handle ourselves, here is a verse of scripture and comments to remember:

Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV):

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

This particular verse brings to mind two scriptures that speak of the awesome power of God. Both say the same thing but in different ways, that nothing is too hard for God. In one place in the Gospels, Jesus Christ states “. . . with God all things are possible.” In another place, the Word declares, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The Amplified Bible renders Luke 1:37 in this way:
For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

As we acknowledge that the two verses express the same concept but in different ways, a principle from Geometry comes to mind: “Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” These two verses also inspired this poem:

No Matter How You Phrase It

And Jesus looking upon them said,
with men it is impossible, but not with God:
for with God all things are possible
Mark 10:27

For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37

There is none like God who never fails to come through:
Whether you say “With God all things are possible”
Or say “With God nothing shall be impossible.”
No matter how you phrase it, the Word is still true.
As those who observe the times, we wisely surmise
That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,
Leading captive even death to release new life,
Just as from ashes beauty and splendor arise.
We boldly declare the Word of God and assert
The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes
Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.
With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.
We seek to walk in wisdom and number our days,
Humbly discerning that your ways are not our ways.

The line “Just as from ashes beauty and splendor arise” brings to mind the verse which says, “God gives beauty for ashes.” Did you know that ashes under extreme heat and pressure form gemstones, and that diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and such come from ashes? You see this with many of the volcanoes that erupt: when they settle and cool, you find beautiful gems at the base. In a similar way, watch God turn around what seems like a total disaster. No matter how challenging the situation may appear to be, He can turn it into a magnificent triumph. Some of the lyrics to an old gospel song remind us “He is God all by Himself/He needs no help from anybody else.”

The Quote of the Day and Jeremiah 32:17 both reinforce the message that “Nothing is too difficult for God.” That message is the inspiration for one of the most popular songs of praise composed by Don Moen: “Ah, Lord God. . .”

At all times: Praise God

November 25, 2016

colossians-3-17

On the day after Thanksgiving, as our souls overflow with gratitude to God for all He continues to do on our behalf, we read the Verse of the Day for November 25, 2016:

Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Regarding everything that we do as believers, similar sentiments are expressed in Colossians 3:23-24:

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

The Psalmist also encourages believers to ever be diligent in praising God:

Psalm 86:12

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore.

Psalm 34:1

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. We can always find something to be thankful for, if for nothing more than that we are alive or that our situation could be worse. We can begin with thanking God that we are alive and then adding to the long list of blessings we are enjoying at that moment. Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, which is the innermost desire of every believer. To give thanks is to do the will of God.

I recall this “all-occasion” poetic exhortation regarding the situations encounter:

In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.

At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

When I see God’s goodness and mercy follow me,
As I savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods my soul, I will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life
And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,
During these difficult moments, I will seek God.

When I long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of my soul, I will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs my brain
So that I can scarcely scream your name, I will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason
Every moment I draw breath, I will thank God.
I seek the Lord and ask myself, “What shall I do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

One of the above verses from Psalm 86:12 is set to music in this Scripture Memory Song:

Abounding with thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

 

colossians-2-6-7-new

The Verse of the Day for November 24, 2016, Thanksgiving Day, speaks of expressing thanks or showing gratitude to God for what He has given to believers through His son:

Colossians 2:6-7

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

These same sentiments are expressed in the prayer found in Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT):

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

In reflecting on these verses, I thought of an incident that occurred a year ago. Sitting in a waiting room, I observed a young child who was given a coloring book and some crayons. The child smiled and said, “Thank you.” He showed items to his mother, and she asked her son, “Did you say thank you?” The person who gave the gifts responded, “Yes, ma’am. He sure did.”

From the earliest days of childhood we are taught that when someone gives you a gift, our response should be some expression of gratitude, namely to say “Thank you.” And so it is with the Children of God, we are taught not only to express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father with the words that we speak but with way we conduct our lives. Our lives should be abounding with giving thanks to God, not just on the Fourth Thursday in November every year, but our lives should overflow with gratitude to God every day and in every way.

In a previous entry on Thanksgiving Day, I posted some of the following comments:

In any situation, one of the critical factors contributing to our success or failure is “attitude.” Of course, the discussion of attitude comes full circle with this reminder that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” For believers thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” which some have called “thanksliving.”

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. This time of the year, as we approach the final holiday season of the year, our lives should especially abound with thanksgiving to God for “His unspeakable gift.” Without question, “thanksgiving” is the reason for every season.

We show with all our being, “Thank God it’s Sunday through Saturday.” We join with the psalmist in declaring, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night. (Psalm 92:1, 2) Each day is a celebration of the grace of God through Jesus Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being. The essence of our attitude of endless gratitude is expressed in this poem:

Thanksliving

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God

in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

What shall we render to the Lord for all

His grace? What can we say to offer praise

Worthy of His glory? How can we call

With all our being upon His name and raise

A new song from the depths of our heart?

We must do more than mouth a platitude–

To express our soul in words is an art;

Yet words cannot express our gratitude.

Our words are empty and without merit.

“Thank you” too soon becomes a hollow phrase.

So we must worship God with our spirit

And must give thanks well for all of our days.

To live is give thanks with tongue and limb;

With each breath, each move, let us live thanks to Him.

The closing phrase of the poem matches the ending of the Verse of the Day with reminders of “abounding in thanksgiving,” as the lyrics of a song appropriate of this season also come to mind: “Give Thanks with a grateful heart.” Don Moen offers this expression of gratitude to God in song:

 

 

 

More reminders to be thankful

November 23, 2016

Psalm 100-4

On Wednesday, November 23, 2016, the day before the national celebration of Thanksgiving Day, the Verse of the Day is another reminder to express our gratitude to God:

Psalm 100:4-5

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we find similar exhortations to offer thanksgiving to God for His goodness and lovingkindness:

The Psalms overflow with prayers of thanksgiving, as expressed in Psalm 136:1, 26:

[Thanks for the Lord’s Goodness to Israel.] Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever.

Here is the more familiar rendering of this passage:

          Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!

For His mercy endures forever.

We find similar encourage to be thankful in the Church Epistles. In fact, the Verse of the Day for yesterday reminded believers to always be thankful, as Colossians 3:17 states:

And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6-7, another celebrated thanksgiving passage, is rendered this way in the New Living Translation (NLT):

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.

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. These three verses are inter-related, forming a three-fold cord that intertwines with our lives, as we seek to do God’s will. Here is the Amplified Bible’s rendering of these verses:

16 Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always);

17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];

18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

In a previous blog entry I made the following comments:

More than a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, “Thanksgiving” should be an essential part of our ongoing conversation with God. Literally it is “giving of thanks” as an expression of “showing oneself grateful.”  It is an all-encompassing “attitude of gratitude” involving everything we do and say: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Jesus Christ also reminded us that “Men ought always to pray and not to faint,” another reminder “to pray without ceasing.” We can “continue to be instant in prayer, as we follow these instructions: “In everything give thanks.” We combine these scriptural references to praying without ceasing in the following scripture memory songs:

We ought always to pray and not to faint.

We ought always to pray and not to faint.

We ought always to pray and not to faint.

To pray, pray, pray, pray, pray without ceasing.

In Everything Give Thanks

 

In everything give thanks,

In everything give thanks,

For this is the will of God

In Christ Jesus concerning you.

 

Repeat

 

When things in life don’t seem to turn out

Just as we think they should,

We know that God still has a grand plan

And works all things together—

He works all things together for our good.

 

 

In everything give thanks,

In everything give thanks,

For this is the will of God

In Christ Jesus concerning you.

 

 

The sun shines bright or the darkest night,

No matter what the mood,

We still give thanks always for all things.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

We keep an attitude of gratitude.

 

 

In everything give thanks,

In everything give thanks,

For this is the will of God

In Christ Jesus concerning you.

As the circumstances of our lives continue to unfold in the midst of the perilous times in which we live, unquestionably, “There is always something to pray about” and something always to give thanks for.

Listen to this lively music video by Bill & Gloria Gaither performing “In Everything Give Thanks,” featuring Charlotte Ritchie and Jeff & Sheri Easter.

Always be thankful

November 22, 2016

Colossians-3-Verse-15post

Colossians 3:15 in the New King James Version, the Verse of the Day for November 22, 2016, speaks of the peace of God and connects it to being thankful:

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

For a more detailed rendering of the context, take a look at Colossians 3:15-17 in the New Living Translation:

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Clearly the context of the passage relates to “giving thanks.” We find the mirror image of these verses in Ephesians 5:19-20 which also speaks of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” When we examine these two passages, we find a parallel connection in light of the context of “giving thanks to God.”

These two passages remind us that expressing our gratitude to God is to be connected to everything that we do: “Always giving thanks to God the Father for all things” with the exhortation reinforced that no matter what you do in word or deed, it is to be done with gratitude, giving thanks to God the Father through Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives. There is to be a continual overflow of gratitude to God, as we encourage ourselves through psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, as we allow the Word of God to dwell in us richly or to make itself at home in our hearts. Not only are we to edify and reassure ourselves, but we are to become a source of strength and encouragement for one another.

Each year around the Thanksgiving holiday, I like to post my list of “Top Ten Thanksgiving Songs”: five are traditional hymns, and five are contemporary songs of praise and worship, all of which focus on being thankful.  In actuality the list could be viewed as a collection of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Here is here a brief definition of these terms plus a sampling of music from these three categories:

Psalms

Psalms are consider songs of praise directed to God, as directed in the Book of Psalms. Today a number of the Psalms of David have been set to music, as illustrated in one of most popular songs of thanks from the Bible is “ I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving /He Has Made Me Glad offered by Maranatha Music.

Hymns

Hymns are described as formal and traditional songs often sung by a congregation in praise of God in a public worship setting. Out of the Protestant Reformation emerged songs written in the vernacular of the people. Here is a medley of three popular hymns of thanksgiving: “Come Ye Thankful People Come,” “We Gather Together,” and “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

Spiritual songs:

This category of songs is said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, often based on a spiritual theme or teaching of spiritual principles. Much of contemporary praise and worship can be placed in this category.

Here is a new song of gratitude “I’m Thankful” by Alexander Delgado:

Every day let us encourage ourselves and one another, “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

We conclude with Katherine Abbot offering a musical rendering of Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of heart”:

Grace, mercy, and peace

November 21, 2016

1-corinthians-1-4-8-kjv

From 1 Corinthians 1: 4-5 in the New King James Version comes the Verse of the Day for November 21, 2016:

[Spiritual Gifts at Corinth] I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,

To gain an even  more comprehensive view of this opening salutation, let us take a look at the preceding verse as well in the Amplified Bible:

1 Corinthians 1:3-5:

Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, so that in everything you were [exceedingly] enriched in Him, in all speech [empowered by the spiritual gifts] and in all knowledge [with insight into the faith].

In reflecting on these verses, 1 Peter 1:2 also comes to mind, as the verse ends with the greeting “Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

2 Peter 1:2 indicates the source of this multiplication:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

Jude 1:2 goes on, adding two more virtues:

Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

In thinking about grace, mercy and peace, lyrics to an original song also come to mind:

Grace, mercy, and peace,

From God the Father

From God the Father

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father

And the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

 

Gracious Lord, gracious Lord, gracious Lord,

Full of grace and mercy

Gracious Lord, gracious Lord, gracious Lord,

Where sin abounded, grace prevailed freely.

Without amazing grace, where would we be?

 

You bless with grace, mercy and peace.

We speak peace and the storms of life shall cease.

Lord, God who protects His own.  You are Jehovah Shalom

The peace of God from the God of peace.

 

You are gracious, Lord.

You are gracious, Lord.

You are gracious, Lord.

 

The theme of “grace, mercy and peace” also inspired this poem:

 

Grace, Mercy, and Peace: A Three-fold Cord

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Dr. John Fawcett

 

To Timothy, my dearly beloved son:

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father

and Christ Jesus our Lord

2 Timothy 1:2

 

 

 

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

These three traits never diminish but only increase.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Grace: a priceless gift that no one on earth can afford.

God’s great grace abounds toward us and shall never decrease.

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as three-fold cord.

 

That God is truly merciful cannot be ignored.

Streams of the sure mercies of the Lord shall never cease.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Peace cancels all strife, but we must live in one accord.

All those who are bound the Word of the Lord will release.

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

 

All who seemed forsaken, God, our Father, has restored.

As we seek God, we find that in His will is our peace.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

Boundless love and favor are waiting to be explored,

For we are so designed to shine as God’s masterpiece.

Grace, mercy, and peace bind our hearts as a three-fold cord.

Our lives are enriched as we learn to walk with the Lord.

 

 

We close with “Out of the Grey” who offer this tender reminder: “Grace, Mercy, and Peace.”

We are confident that God’s grace, mercy, and peace are multiplied to us this day and every day of our lives.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving

November 20, 2016

Psalm 95 1 2 310904561

The Verse of the Day for November 20, 2016 is found in Psalm 95:1-2 in the New King James Version of the Bible:

[A Call to Worship and Obedience] Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

During the remaining days in November, moving toward Thanksgiving Day, we are encouraged to be thankful or to offer thanksgiving to God. Throughout the Bible, we find reminders to express our gratitude. The Book of Psalms with its array poetic expressions or compositions written by David and others contains several passages that relate to thanksgiving. Here are eight such verses to reflect upon with a grateful heart during this season:

1. Psalm 26:7

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

2. Psalm 50:14

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

3. Psalm 69:30

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

4. Psalm 95:2

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

5. Psalm 100:4

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

6. Psalm 107:22

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

7. Psalm 116:17

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

8. Psalm 147:7

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

 

A previous blog entry discussed “Thanksgiving in the Psalms” and examined these passages and others related to the practice of giving thanks to God. In addition, we looked at background information and the lyrics to one of the popular songs of the season, “He Has Made Me Glad” by Maranatha! Music which is reprinted here:

Maranatha! Music began as a non-profit outreach of Calvary Chapel in 1971. Coming out of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, song writers began to compose new hymns and worship songs with a folk-rock style. Maranatha! Music was founded at this time in order to publish and promote this new type of Christian music. The ongoing desire of Maranatha! Music involves “Connecting the song of faith with today’s church.”

One of its signature musical compositions has been He Has Made Me Glad with its opening refrain from Psalm 100:4: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

 

 

We joyfully enter the presence of the Lord with thanksgiving, not only during the week of Thanksgiving Day, but every hour of every day of every week of every year our hearts should overflow with gratitude to God.

Psalm 1: Learning by heart

November 19, 2016

Psalm 1--3

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day for November 19, 2016, an expression also came to mind that I generally associate with this particular passage, and so once again we have the Verse of the Day along with the Word or Phrase for the Day Combo.

This familiar passage opens one of my favorite psalms:

Psalm 1: 1-2 (NKJV):

[BOOK ONE: Psalms 1—41] [The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly] Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

The First Psalm is especially meaningful to me in that it is the first passage of scripture that I “learned by heart.” We, thus, introduce the “Phrase of the Day.” I recall committing the entire psalm to memory in the mid-fifties, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I vividly remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood in a kind of impromptu Vacation Bible School in her home, which was located behind “Little’s Funeral Parlor.” She told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still “know by heart” to this day.

Here is the entire psalm in the King James Version which I committed to memory:

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Recently I came across a discussion of idioms on EnglishStackExchange.com where someone asked if “learn by heart” and “learn by rote” meant the same. In making the distinction between these two expressions, one writer commented that “[to] go over many times is the process of ‘rote learning’; I learned it by heart is the effect it produced or the quality of learning that was acquired.”  Learning by heart means to learn something so well that it can be written or recited without thinking; to memorize something.

Another writer went on to say: “Learning by heart — which may be somewhat of a dying tradition — means to learn something so deeply that it becomes part of our core: it fills us; it changes us. The difference might be less in technique than in what we do with the acquired information.”

In the years that have transpired since the first time I recited the passage, I have come to identify with the man so described as “blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable” in the Amplified Bible:

In a previous blog post I express my identification with this individual in the following poetic self-portrait:

Talk about a Man

Psalm 1

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

At first I couldn’t, but now I see God’s master plan.

 

 

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

I’m all the time thinking about it—day and night.

 

 

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

By the still waters the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.

 

 

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

In God all His promises are yes and amen.

I been truly blessed since I can remember when.

 

 

The Word of God soothes my soul like a healing balm.

I’m the man they talking about in that First Psalm.

In thinking about the phrase “to learn by heart,” I recall another related verse which was the first verse in a set of 25 scripture memory cards that I later committed to memory as well:

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV):

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

Today, more than 60 years have passed since I first encountered the First Psalm in all of its beauty and learned it by heart. Indeed, the Word of God remains deeply implanted within me.

Listen to a musical version of this beautiful psalm offered by the Sons of Korah:

Sanctified: Set apart

November 18, 2016

john-17-17

From the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ come the words that comprise the Verse of the Day for November 18, 2016 in the New King James Version:

John 17:17:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

The Amplified Bible offers a more detailed definition of the verb:

Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.

Moses speaks to the Children of Israel and explains their unique relationship in light of the purpose that God has established for them:

Exodus 31:13 (AMP):

 Say to the Israelites, Truly you shall keep My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you [set you apart for Myself].

The same verb is used to describe the unique relationship between a husband and his wife in terms of God’s intent which is parallel to the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church which is described as the Bride of Christ

Ephesians 5:25-27:

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, 26 so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], 27 so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.

In a similar way, Paul uses the verb “sanctify” in as it relates to members of the Body of Christ:

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (AMP):

And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

The words spoken by Jesus Christ in John 17:17 are echoed in Paul’s exhortation to the Church:

2 Thessalonians 2:13 (AMP):

But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought and are obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, because God chose you from the beginning as His firstfruits (first converts) for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth.

Clearly, we see that God desires His people, as members of the Body of Christ, to be:

Sanctified Vessels

Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter,

he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified

and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

II Timothy 2:21

 

We offer these yielded vessels, now sanctified,

Set apart and consecrated for God’s glory,

Transformed from faith to faith, from victory to victory.

Tested in the furnace of affliction and tried

Seven times as silver, as gold is purified,

We have been purged to be a vessels of honor,

Prepared and made suitable to serve even more,

Even as the Lord presents his beloved bride.

As miracles revealed, no longer to conform

And be poured into the molds of this present age

But beholding fullness of glory to transform

Our total being into His glorious image.

Set apart in a place where miracles abound,

Through these sanctified vessels God’s praises resound.

Worship Central express the essence of the message in “Set Apart”: