Archive for May, 2017

The return of Christ: comfort one another

May 31, 2017

1 Thessalonians 4_16-17

Each day we are confronted with this harsh reality: There is “a time to be born and a time to die.” Even though death can be one of the most challenging issues to confront us, the Scriptures provide great encouragement, comfort, and hope. Such a passage is found in 1 Thessalonians, an epistle whose focus is the return of Jesus Christ. Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 31, 2017 speaks of the glorious appearance of our Lord and Savior in this way in the Message Bible:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.

Often recited at funerals or memorial services, this celebrated passage makes reference to a subject that continues to generate much discussion: the return of Jesus Christ. Whether referred to as “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” or somewhat irreverently called “the Big Snatch,” the Return of Christ still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the Bridegroom, went away to prepare a place and promised to return for his bride. That promise ignites passion in the heart of believers. Lately this “enduring flame” burns even more brilliantly, as we grow older and witness the passing of family members, friends and loved ones, especially contemporaries of our same age range. Such occasions bring to mind the words of the Psalmist who describes our lives as but a vapor.

Whether the person who dies is a celebrity in politics, entertainment, or some other area or an ordinary co-worker or neighbor who lived and died in obscurity, during such times we may experience the depths of sorrow and a sense of loss that can be overwhelming. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we take comfort and encouragement from the passage that includes the Verse of the Day. The New Living Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 offers great comfort and assurance:

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

The lyrics to one of the classic hymns inspired by the hope of Christ’s return provide a vocal picture of what will occur “When He Shall Come”:

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I trust in God. What can man do?

May 30, 2017

Psalm 56--4

In the midst of the tempestuous times in which we live, when we are beset on every hand by circumstances that increase our stress levels, we receive strength and comforted by the words of the Psalmist from the Verse of the Day for May 30, 2017:

Psalm 56:4 (Message Bible):

[A David Psalm, When He Was Captured by the Philistines in Gath] Take my side, God—I’m getting kicked around, stomped on every day. Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; they make it their duty to beat me up. When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. I’m proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?

Addition verses in the Psalms echo the same viewpoint:

Psalm 56:11 (NKJV):

In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

The words found in the Psalms resound in Hebrews 13:5-6 where the bold declaration of what God has said precedes the closing question of the passage:

Hebrews 13:5-6 (Amplified Bible)

5Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

6So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

This passage brings to mind the lyrics to the powerful hymn of the Christian Church “How Firm a Foundation.” The last stanza reinforces the message of the passage from Hebrews which echoes the same sentiments of Psalm 56:4 in a particularly profound way:

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake!”

The passage from Hebrews also serves as the introduction to this poetic exhortation:

 “This We Know Is True”

Hebrews 13:5-6

 

God says, “I will never, never, never leave you.”

“All those called by My name I will never forsake.”

Despite all that befalls us, this we know is true.

 

To do His will we do whatever it may take.

The Word of God encourages us to speak boldly:

“All those called by name I will never forsake.”

 

We walk by faith beyond anything we can see.

Since God is our helper, we say, “We will not fear.”

The Word of God encourages us to speak boldly:

 

Though He may seem far away, He is always near.

We will not covet anything: We are content.

Since God is our helper, we say, “We will not fear.”

 

When fiery trials press us to the fullest extent,

We rest in the Word of God, in absolute trust.

We will not covet anything: We are content.

 

We rest in the Word of God, in absolute trust.

God says, “I will never, never, never leave you.”

We rest in the Word of God, in absolute trust.

Despite all that befalls us, this we know is true.

 

Psalm 56 is set to music by Jon Micah Sumrall

 

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

May 25, 2017

James 1-19

In the Verse of the Day for May 25, 2017 we find further directives for Godly people:

James 1:19 (AMP)

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

In reflecting on this verse of the Day, I divided the instructions into three essential commands for believers and added a poem related to each topic.

Be quick to hear [a ready listener],

The first part of the verse in the Amplified Bible mentions hearing in light of being “a ready listener,” implying a difference between “hearing” and “listening” which are not synonymous. Hearing is perceiving sound waves that are received on the ear. On the other hand, listening involves interpreting and evaluating what is being said with intent to respond.  Hearing is passive, whereas listening should be active. Keith Davis comments, “Hearing is with the ears; listening is with the mind.”

This discussion also brings to mind that listening is an art that is perfected over time by conscious, consistent effort to improve, especially in a spiritual context as we learn to listen to God. As we continually place our ears near to the lips of God, we develop our proficiency in listening to hear the Master’s voice, as we practice in order to perfect this art:

The Art of Listening

God has something to say to you,

God has something to say.

Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.

God has something to say.

Children’s Song

     

The Lord GOD has given Me
the tongue of the learned,

That I should know how to speak
a word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.

The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.

Isaiah 50:4-5

 

Listen, listen, and learn: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

Understand to listen is not same as to hear.

To listen intently and to learn is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hear and listen in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass each word that I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, and learn: hear with the inner ear.

This message reinforces the Irish Proverb: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

Be slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words . . .]

Throughout the Scriptures believers are exhorted to be mindful of the words they speak.

Ephesians 4:29 in the Message Bible states:

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

We are encouraged not only to watch what goes into the mouth but watch what comes out of the mouth

Paul further reminds us: Let your words always be seasoned with salt that they may minister grace to the hearers.

We must be very concerned about the words that we speak since “life and death” is in the power of the tongue.

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8

 

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

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

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongue to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

Be slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];

This last section brings to mind encouragement to change. Where we once were quick to respond angrily or impulsively, we should now strive to become more patient, reflective and forgiving. This section of the verse causes us to recall that as we change our attitude, we can change our world. We can become “change agents” who by our very presence can impact where we interact with others. As agents of change we transform our environment; we give no offense and remove every stumbling block. We have salt in ourselves, and make peace with one another. All in all, we can make a difference as we follow

A Different Approach 

2 Corinthians 5:14-17                                 

Because of Christ’s undying love, we choose to love

Based on the love of God, not on what we can see.

Though blindsided by sin with a distorted view,

Through the lens of God’s love we now have a new creation reality.

We longer know Christ or anyone from a human viewpoint

And refuse to imprison others because of their last offense.

God in Christ forgave us each time we would fail or disappoint.

Each day provides one more fresh start, another day to commence:

The old life is gone; a new life has begun so that we

Can take a different approach: To love, see, and know differently.

Indeed, James 1:19 offers sound advice for us to heed, so aptly stated in the more familiar rendering in the King James Version:

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

Taylor McCall offers a musical rendering of James 1:19-27 from which the Verse of the Day is taken.

 

Love one another; honor one another

May 24, 2017

Romans 12--10 KJV

The Verse of the Day for May 24, 2017 offers another strong word of encouragement to
love one another:

Romans 12:10 (AMP)

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

The New King James Version says this:

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

We might joking say that believers are encouraged to take a side trip to “Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love,” since this is the term translated “brotherly affection.” The ESV goes on to say “Outdo one another in showing honor.”

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

The Verse of the Day also incorporates two principles of Christian living expressed as verbs applied in terms of how we should behave toward “one another.” In this case, love one another and honor one another, as these previously posted comments exhort us:

Love one another:

To decide, demonstrate, freely give and practice love:

The first thread whereby we must launch all relationships

And follow Christ’s command that we love one another.

Love is an essential element of life, and Jesus Christ is the model, the standard of love who offered this reminder:

John 13:34-35

 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

35 By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

Honor one another:

To place value on, respect and hold in high esteem:

Giving preference, we take the lead–we are intentional;

With genuine affection we honor one another.

Another vital component for building and maintaining fruitful relationships is honor.  To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10

Apostle John Tetsola comments, “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborated upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

The musical group Acapella offers this vocal reminder of actions that we can take, as we love one another and honor one another, and “Be Devoted”:

Be still and know that I am God

May 23, 2017

Psalm 46--10a

A new day dawns after the horrific unfolding of events taking place in Manchester, Great Britain on yesterday. As I begin to pray, I look at the bookshelf above my desk and notice a silver-framed plaque with the words “God is in control.” This quotation is a comforting reminder during these stressful, perilous times described as “difficult to deal with.” The quote also brings to mind Psalm 46: 10:

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Here is the entire psalm taken from the Amplified Bible:

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 this poem with the first three 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 seem to have faded and 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 enemies surface to assault flesh and bone.

Darkness reveals the lights I have called you to be.

My Word strengthens and comforts and helps you to see

I am your refuge and strength, the Almighty One:

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.

We are encouraged by Steven Curtis Chapman singing “Be Still and Know.”

Serve one another in love

May 22, 2017

Taken from Galatians 5:13 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2017 highlights the paradox between freedom and servitude:

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

Footnotes in Bible Gateway.com offer the following explanations:

The “sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness)” literally means “the flesh.”

The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.

The New Living Translation renders the Verse of the Day this way:

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

A related verse is found in also in the New Living Translation:

1 Peter 4:10

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

The basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13.

A number of years ago, my wife and I received a special Christmas gift: a statue of Christ washing one of his disciples’ feet with the inscription John chapter 13 embossed on the base. I was deeply moved when I opened the package and discovered such a priceless gift inside. Here is a replica of the sculpture that we received.

Nowhere is this portrait of a true servant of the Lord more vividly revealed than in the account where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples in John 13. This very moving passage, in part, inspired this poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet
John 13:4-5, 19

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel
around himself,
So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and
expose myself.
As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.
You could yourself
Perform this deed of loving service, but let me
Serve you myself.
To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,
as Christ himself
Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.
You have yourself
The key to the door of blessing for you and me:
As Jesus took
Upon himself
The servant’s form
That I myself
Might freely give
To you yourself,
So I ask you
As Christ himself
Still asks of me,
So I ask you to
Let me to wash your feet.

“The Basin and the Towel,” musical composition by Michael Card, also portrays this moving account of John 13 in this video:

“To Serve” is a powerful verb. Listen to this excerpt from the classic sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who opens the door to vast possibilities for greatness for those who choose to serve.

We conclude with Frontline Music offering a Galatians Meditation based on Galatians 5:13-15:

In the same mind and in the same opinion

May 21, 2017

1 Corinthians 1--10

The Verse of the Day for May 21, 2017 presents a similar challenge related to yesterday’s topic of being “like-minded” or thinking the same thing. Today we examine 1 Corinthians 1:10 in the Amplified Bible:

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

The New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

1 Corinthians 1:10:

[Divisions in the Church] I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

The Darby Bible offers a similar translation:

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

This particular verse brings to mind the time when I first began to reflect upon a passage of scripture, while engaging in the writing process. In 1971, I remember being asked to produce a writing sample, and I wrote a brief commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10. At that time I was intrigued by the Amplified Bible that concludes the verse in this way :”. . . that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments.”

Regarding the term “opinions,” someone has said that opinions are like noses—everybody has one. Even so, believers are encouraged to hold the same opinion regarding who we are in Christ. The verse from 1 Corinthians also came to mind in response to this statement by Nate Clements: “Don’t let someone else’s opinion become your reality.”

As we continue on our lifelong journey of discovery of who we are, many times we encounter varying opinions, as our identity unfolds through the changing seasons of life. Recently conversations with various individuals have centered on the issues of identity, as we all, particularly Christian believers, struggle to find and maintain our “true identity.”  Among of the principal challenges of the whole of humanity is to find the answer to two of life’s fundamental questions: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” For followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, God, our Father, the Creator of Life, provides the answers to those questions and every other question anyone may seek to find answers to in the Word of God which becomes the mirror in which we see ourselves clearly revealed.” The following poem also expresses what we are learning about who we really are:

Our True Identity

But we all, with open face beholding

as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory,

even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:18

We look in the mirror of God’s Word and we see

People of God transformed to be all we shall become,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

Released from shackles of a slave mentality,

The bondage of Egypt we have now overcome.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word and we see.

 

As we are pressing onward to our destiny,

In our hearts we have prepared for God a new home,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

In Christ we are made new, our new reality:

Walking in love, models of the Father’s Kingdom.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word and we see.

 

Blessings in double measure abound toward us richly,

Flowing by the spirit in knowledge and wisdom,

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

 

We live to fulfill our prophetic destiny,

As joys unfold with even greater joys to come.

We look in the mirror of God’s Word and we see

Reflected in our eyes, our true identity.

As believers, the essence of who we are is grounded in God’s opinion of us and not any individual’s assessment of who we are.  As Steven Curtis Chapman sings, we are “Who You say we are.”

Like-minded: of the same mind

May 20, 2017

Romans 15--5-6

On May 20, 2017, The Verse of the Day can be found in Romans 15:5-6 (AMP):

Now may the God who gives endurance and who supplies encouragement grant that you be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify and praise and honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This passage is an expression of God’s desire for unity or oneness, not only for the Church at Rome but throughout the Body of Christ. This call for being unified and of the same mind is to be according to Christ Jesus, whose final prayer on earth was that those who followed him would be one, even as he and the Father were one.

Throughout the Church Epistles, we find that believers are called to be “like-minded” or “of the same mind.” We note a similar exhortation expressed in the phrase “with one mind” used in Philippians 2:2:

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Philippians 2:5 in the Amplified Bible offers another reminder:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

In these two instances the expression is derived from a compound word in the Greek: “autophroneo,” a verb meaning to think “to be minded in the same way, attitude, or disposition of mind.” The Jubilee Bible translates the phrase “to be unanimous among yourselves.”

The phrase “like-minded,” however, is used as an adjective where Paul describes his relationship with his “spiritual son,” Timothy:

Philippians 2:20

For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state.

Here the term is translated from another compound word: “isopsuchos” with the prefix “isos” meaning “the same” and “psuchos” meaning “soul.” In other words, Paul is saying that both Timothy and he are “equal-souled.”

Verse 6 of Romans 15 exhorts the followers of Christ to be unified with “one mind and with one mouth glorify God. . . .” The one mind that Christians should have is “the mind of Christ” referred to by Paul who provides these words of encouragement:

Philippians 1:27 (AMP):

Only [be sure to] lead your lives in a manner [that will be] worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I do come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit [and one purpose], with one mind striving side by side [as if in combat] for the faith of the gospel.

In a similar manner to the closing comments leading to a benediction in Romans 15:5-6, we find this final reminder in 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV):

 [Greetings and Benediction] Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Likewise, take a look at the this statement from 1 Peter 3:8 (New Living Translation):

[All Christians] Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.

In reflecting upon the concept of being like-minded or unified with one mind, the words of Jesus Christ also come to mind when he spoke of what can occur when two believers come into agreement or “are of one mind.” His words inspired these comments in poetry:

The Power of Agreement

Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind,

in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God],

it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:19 (AMP)

 

If only we completely understood that

when we come into full agreement with God’s will

and His Word, He actually breathes life into us,

as well as our situations.

Sandie Freed

 

Boundless power lies in the hands of those who agree.

As touching anything that two of them shall ask,

God hastens to perform, to fulfill their decree,

No matter how small or how great the task.

Those who ask shall receive, and those who seek shall find.

To those who knock, it shall be opened unto;

Those who become one in heart and soul and in mind

Scale the mountain of faith to gain a grander view,

To know the transforming power of the spoken word,

Far beyond the bounds that finite minds encompass.

Nothing shall be withheld from those in one accord,

Who declare that their words have already come to pass.

Once agreed upon, the deed is already done

For those whose heart and soul have been fused into one.

David Haas provides a moving musical offering that captures the essence of today’s entry: “One Heart, One Mind.”

 

 

 

 

Wisdom and faith

May 19, 2017

James 3--17-18 2.jpg

Taken from James 3:17-18 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for May 19, 2017 lists a number of the attributes of the wisdom that descends from above:

But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness (spiritual maturity) is sown in peace by those who make peace [by actively encouraging goodwill between individuals].

In reflecting upon and considering deeply this celebrated section from the Book of James, thoughts also came to mind regarding a recent blog entry related to “redeeming the time” which mentioned the concept of “walking in wisdom.” The expression is used in Colossians 3:5-6

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Another most enlightening scripture regarding this concept is found in Ephesians 5:15 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise.

The New King James Version puts it this way:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,

In this instance the term “To walk circumspectly” means to walk carefully, accurately, “to be watchful on all sides.”  Walking in wisdom involves being intentional and making deliberate choices that determine the direction and ultimate fulfillment of one’s purpose in God.

In addition, I recall a series of blog entries related to faith, the essential element in the life of a believer, described in this way:

“For me, faith is the bedrock of my life. I define faith as confident assurance, trust and conviction that I will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

This poetic reminder blends the exhortation to “walk in wisdom” with the expression “walk by faith”:

Wisdom and Faith

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,  

but in the power of God.

I Corinthians 2:5     

 

Through words of wisdom and faith, we call forth blessing

Upon blessing to overtake us and abound.

We forget the past, pursue the goal, progressing

Until all who love His appearing will be crowned.

Through wisdom and faith we call forth that which is not,

And walk by faith just as Abraham, our father,

The father of all who still believe, no matter what.

Despite all we see, we are not weak but stronger,

As we align our lives with the coming Kingdom.

Through the Blood of the Lamb and our testimony

We overcome by faith and the power of Christ’s wisdom,

For nothing can deter us from our destiny.

We walk by faith and in wisdom, displaying power within

And press toward the mark, the prize we are destined to win.

We conclude with “Wisdom Song” by Laura Woodley Osman

God is not unjust; God is fair

May 18, 2017

Hebrews 6--10

On May 18, 2017, we examine the Verse of the Day taken from the Book of Hebrews where we find a reminder of who God is not as well as who God is:

Hebrews 6:10 (AMP)

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown for His name in ministering to [the needs of] the saints (God’s people), as you do.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

Take a look at this graphic illustration of this verse:

The opening phrase makes known that God is not unjust. On the contrary, God is just. One translation of the first part of Hebrews 6:10 states, “God is fair . . .” The Psalmist declares, “The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Psalm 145:17 (AMP) notes:

The Lord is [unwaveringly] righteous in all His ways and gracious and kind in all His works.

Deuteronomy 32:4 (NKJV) says this:

He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

The Verse of the Day goes on to say “For God is not unjust so as to forget. . .” How well we have come to learn that God does not forget, except He does not remember our sins and shortcomings, as Hebrews 10:17 (AMP) reminds us that in certain areas of our lives God has “selective amnesia”:

“And their sins and their lawless acts I will remember no more [no longer holding their sins against them].”

Hebrews 8:12 (AMP) reiterates this message:’

“For I will be merciful and gracious toward their wickedness, and I will remember their sins no more.”

Though God does not remember our sins and iniquity, He is mindful of us and does remember this:

He has given food to those who fear Him [with awe-inspired reverence]; He will remember His covenant forever.

Ezekiel 16:60 (AMP) makes known God’s covenant relationship with His people:

[The Covenant Remembered] “Nevertheless, I will remember [with compassion] my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

As believers we endeavor to serve God and minister to one another, but we must remember this: Our efforts may not always be recognized nor appreciated. Those whom we serve in love may not always remember what we say and do, but we are assured that God never forgets. Not only is God, our Father, faithful and just, but He is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

The Verse of the Day inspired these poetic comments:

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love,   

which you have shown toward his name,        

in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

 Hebrews 6:10

The good deeds that you have done may not be extolled

When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.

Some quickly forget all the good that you have done

And fail to recall that you were the only one

To answer the call, seek the Lord, and intercede.

Time after time you were the one to meet the need.

When others were busy and chose to walk away,

You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.

In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,

Recall that God knows all things, for He alone sees

Your labor and saves all the tears that you have shed.

Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,

And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.

As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:

Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

Listen to the hymn composed by Charles Gabriel who reassures: “Sweet is the promise. I will not forget thee”