Archive for June, 2017

The Kingdom of God

June 30, 2017

Revised and re-posted from a previous blog entry, the Verse of the Day for June 30, 2017 comes from the Message Bible:

Zechariah 14:9

God will be king over all the earth, one God and only one. What a Day that will be!

The New Living Translations renders the verse this way:

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

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

Revelation 11:15 makes known:

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

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

Isaiah 54:5:

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

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

Psalm 47:2 (NKJV):

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

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

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

Psalm 97:9 (NLT):

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel 2:44

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

Daniel 4:3 proclaims:

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

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

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

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

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

In recognizing that the Kingdom of God abides forever, as believers we must never forget that we are

Living in the Realm of the Kingdom of God

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;
but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

In the place of transition where God makes covenant
We find the comfort that we seek and the sweet release
Of the Jubilee extended to His bondservant.
Though turmoil surrounds us, we are kept in perfect peace
With a blessed assurance that we are ever secure,
Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty,
But we must wait with patience and not faint but endure.
While pressing toward the mark for the prize triumphantly
We are living in the realm of the Kingdom of God,
As we submit our lives to Kingdom authority
And respond to each fiery trial with the Word of God.
No longer in bondage, we are redeemed and set free.
“It is written”: the true standard where we always find
Strength to triumph, transformed in the spirit of our mind.

Ron Kenoly offers this reminder of where we live, as he proclaims, “We declare the Kingdom of God is within you.”

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His plans for my life

June 29, 2017

The Verse of the Day for June 29, 2017 reveals David’s confident expectations toward God and a request in the Message Bible:

Psalm 138:8

When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, with your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

The New Living Translation says this:

The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

Here is the entire psalm:

Psalm 138

A psalm of David.

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will sing your praises before the gods.
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD,
for all of them will hear your words.
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD’s ways,
for the glory of the LORD is very great.
6 Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble,
but he keeps his distance from the proud.
7 Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
and the power of your right hand saves me.
8 The LORD will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

The rendering of the verse 8 in the New Living Translation also brings to mind a parallel passage from Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT):

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Although the words of Jeremiah were specifically addressed to Israel concerning their release from Babylonian captivity after seventy years, we recognize the truth expressed in Romans 15:4:
Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.

The prophetic word from Jeremiah can certainly have personal application, in that the plans that God has for each of His children are no less magnificent than those He has for the Children of Israel.
As we ask God for guidance and direction, He will lead us and teach us all along the path that unfolds as a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). The assurance that the Lord will work out his plans for my life, as the Verse of the Day declares, along with the encouraging words of Jeremiah 29:11-14 also inform us of God’s concern for our future or “final outcome”, so we need have no fear for our future.

Jason Silver offers this moving musical rendition of Psalm 138:

The patience of God and the patience of Job

June 28, 2017

The Verse of the Day for June 28, 2017 brings to our remembrance that God is faithful to fulfill each of His promises, and that He is also patient:

2 Peter 3:9 (Message Bible):

[The Day the Sky Will Collapse] Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.

The New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

At times it may appear that our Father is slow when He does not respond to our requests when we think that He should. Just as God is patient, He instructs us to be patient. We must remember that God may not be early, but He is never late. Just as God is being patient toward us, we are, likewise, encouraged to be patient toward God and toward one another:

Another related verse is found in Hebrews 10:36 in the Amplified Bible:

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

The following excerpt from a previous blog post offered a more detailed discussion of the character trait of patience or endurance or perseverance, meaning steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience, as a fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord. One of the words related to “patience” or being patient as a verb means “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure. The word translated patience as a noun is also translated: endurance, patient enduring, perseverance, and steadfastness.

In addition, another passage from James 5:7-11 stresses the importance of patience and provides an excellent example of both the verb and the noun in a particular individual who embodies the character trait of patient endurance:

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

In discussing Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance,” we also note some distinctive features of the Book of Job. Although it is not listed with the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, E.W. Bullinger and other Bible scholars believe that the first book written was the Book of Job, believed to be composed by Moses. Job, was, indeed, a real person, and his account is one of the first demonstrations of many spiritual principles: God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.”

Recall Job 42:10:

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the
LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

In his book, The Gatekeepers, Nate Wolf has this to say about the classic Biblical example of endurance:

Job’s patience was the golden secret that helped him overcome the pain he faced. Patience is more than just having the ability to not become angry in a difficult situation. Patience is the power that will carry you through the painful moments of life into the pleasurable moments of life. . . . The patience of God within you will always outlast the pain that’s trying to come upon you. . . . Patience is the power that will keep you in the proper place and mindset, during discomfort or pain, until you possess your final promise and reach your ultimate purpose.

The Verse of the Day and other related passages along with the Book of Job demonstrate the compassionate and merciful qualities of God, who is patient and who rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” Our discussion also brings to mind a statement from Graham Cooke  used to introduce this poem:

A Prayer for Patience

“My suggestion for people in a season of birth or

upgrade is to write out a prayer for patience and pray it every day.”

Graham Cooke

 

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance,   

so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God,                                                    

and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

Hebrews 10:36 (Amplified Bible)

 

We look back and pause and then look ahead to see
All that God is and all He plans for us to be.
We still journey down the road less traveled by
And pray that patience may serve as a trusted ally.
We must say “No” to the pressures of this life
And say “Yes” to the rest God gives, despite the strife.
As we stay our minds on Him, we abide in peace.
When we praise God, works of the enemy decrease.
May we remain and not fall by the wayside as some
But like Job wait until at last our change shall come.
Patient endurance seems delayed for some reason,
But fruit abounds to those who wait in this season.
We pray that in this time of transition and shift
That we embrace waiting as a wonderful gift.

We conclude with John Waller offering “While I’m Waiting”:

God is beyond hide and seek

June 25, 2017

Revised and re-posted is the Verse of the Day for June 25, 2017 comes from Jeremiah 23:24 (AMP):

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

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

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

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

Psalm 139:7 reminds us

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

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

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

Psalm 9:9-10:

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

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

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

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

A recent blog post discussed two passages from Isaiah 40 and Psalm 27 related to watching and waiting, and they also brought to mind that while we are watching and waiting, we are also seeking. The three action words converge in this poem:

Watching, Waiting, Seeking

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

We are strengthened by the words of the bard gone blind,
Who said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
We look into the mirror of God’s word and find
That God has been ever faithful and never late.
We trust in the Lord, as the Word of God extols.
Like Job we wait until at last our change shall come,
Assured that in patience we now anchor our souls.
May we not faint and fall by the wayside as some
But follow in Christ’s steps, as we quickly obey
And bear up under and yield fruit of endurance.
We must walk in God’s love, the more excellent way
And through faith and patience claim our inheritance.
In these perilous times we are yielded and still,
Watching, waiting, seeking to fulfill all God’s will.

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

God our deliverer

June 24, 2017

The Verse of the Day for June 24, 2017 reminds us of who God is and what He will do:

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 2
Throughout the Bible we see the faithfulness of God never fails to deliver those who serve him.

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

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

Psalm 31:1-5 states this:

1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.
2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.
3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.
5 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

Isaiah 46:4 offers this promise in the New King James version:

Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

In the New Testament the Greek verb ruomai is translated “to draw or snatch to one’s self from danger, to rescue, to deliver.”
In the poem “Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord, “my personal testimony expressed poetically I make reference being rescued from of a horrible situation:

With lovin arms you reached way down
And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,
Sought me and flat-out rescued me,
Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

The Verse of the Day also uses the expression “keep from evil.” We recognize a similar phrase in the prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke before his crucifixion:

John 17:15 (New Living Translation)

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

We are, of course, familiar with closing words of the Lord’s Prayer in

Matthew 6:13 from the King James Version

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

The New Living Translation renders the verse this way:

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

II Timothy 4:18 also reminds us

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

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

As children run to safety in their father’s arms,
So we, too, run to you, “our shelter from life’s storms.”
Lord, we long to dwell with you in the secret place,
Our buckler, our shield, deliverer, our fortress,
Strong tower, defender, who responds to our prayer.
For Lord, you are faithful, who will establish us
And protect us and deliver us from evil.

The Verse of the Day and other related scriptures remind us of God’s promise to deliver, even though we may not know how:

Just How God Will Deliver Us

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves,
but in God which raises the dead:
Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver:
in whom we trust that he will still deliver us;
1 Corinthians 1:8-9

Just how God will deliver us we do not know,
But of His unfailing love and power we are sure:
He can send a raven and command a widow
To sustain Elijah and all who will endure.
Though He may not be early, God is never late.
We rest in knowing that our Father is faithful,
As we trust Him, learning to labor and to wait.
For each promise fulfilled we are ever grateful
And express our gratitude in word and in deed.
Despite the gross darkness of these perilous times,
Each day we walk by faith wherever Christ may lead,
For grand mountain vistas await the one who climbs.
The hand of God brought us thus far along the way,
And we will finish my course is all we can say.

Psalm 18 speaks of God as our deliverer, expressed musically by Clint Brown:

Waiting on Lord with patience

June 23, 2017

One of my favorite passages from the Old Testament is taken from the closing verses of Isaiah 40, where we find the Verse of the Day for June 23, 2017. This passage offers comfort and assurance revealed in Isaiah 40:31 in the Message Bible:

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.

The New Living Translation renders these verses this way:

Isaiah 40:28-31:

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

In Psalm 103:3-5 (NLT) we find another reference to being renewed like the eagle.

He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Esther Mui offers Scripture Worship Lyrics in the Song “Those Who Wait on the Lord” based on Isaiah 40:25-31:

These passages also bring to mind the closing verses of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

A previous blog post discussed waiting on the Lord in relation to the character trait of patience or endurance or perseverance, steadfastly bearing up under and remaining faithful while waiting. Patience or perseverance is a fruit of the spirit that should be evident in our lives, as we wait on the Lord. In examining “patience” in the scriptures, the term is translated “to stay, remain, abide”, literally abiding under. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy — enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies our heavenly Father, not merely to grin and bear it.

These two related passages from Isaiah 40 and Psalm 27 become the inspiration for lyrics for the following original song:

They That Wait Upon the Lord
(Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 27:13, 14)

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as an eagle.
They shall run and not be weary.
They shall walk and shall not faint.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

I had fainted unless I had believed
To see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait upon the Lord, and he shall strengthen your heart.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

There are times when you may feel your strength is almost gone.
Pressed and beset on every hand, you just can’t seem to carry on.
But at the point when your world seems to be torn apart,
That’s when the Lord comes through for you,
Your strength He promised to renew.
He will encourage your heart.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

At times it seems you are always climbing up an endless hill.
All the pressures and the trials of life have broken down your will.
Those about you seem to doubt you and say this is the end.
Don’t give up; try one more time.
Straight ahead is the finish line.
The Lord will give that second wind.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as an eagle.
They shall run and not be weary.
They shall walk and shall not faint.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.
Wait, I say, upon the Lord.

Karen Clark Sheard and Donnie McClurkin offer a stirring rendition of a song that captures the essence of patiently waiting as expressed in Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the Lord.”

Unto the hills: Looking toward Zion

June 22, 2017

Taken from Psalm 121:7-8 in the Message Bible, the Verse of the Day for June 22, 2017 provides great comfort and assurance to the believer:

GOD guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

A previous blog entry entitled “Psalm 121: Looking beyond the hills” gives a more in-depth discussion of this celebrated psalm which is said to be among the Psalms of Degrees or Songs (Psalms) of Ascent. Psalms 120-134 comprise a “hymn book” from which pilgrims sang as they were ascending Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem, the place of celebration of the annual feasts mandated by God for the Children of Israel. Paul Stroble, in his blog devoted to this psalm, points out that “Clift McCann writes in The New Interpreter’s Bible that these psalms are all short enough to be memorized and several contain references to everyday life, implying that these psalms reflect the experiences of everyday people traveling or arriving at Jerusalem.”

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

Indeed, Zion is the ultimate destination of those pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem and those sojourning through life. Fourteen years ago I heard a life-changing teaching on the spiritual significance of Zion in a believer’s life, and the message inspired this poem:

Zion

For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
Psalm 132:13

To ascend the holy hill, the quest to reach Mount Zion,
To dwell in that high mountain, a place of untold beauty.
Still onward and upward in this lifelong journey,
We situate ourselves in an accurate position,
As our obedience activates the blessings of God.
Our spirit overflows and floods our heart with new song.

With all that is within us, we yearn to sing the Lord’s song,
As we migrate upward from Babylon to Mount Zion,
Up to Jerusalem, the place of the Temple of God,
The place where we shall worship God in all of His beauty.
We are ever moving toward that ultimate position,
Knowing both anguish and joy in our perfecting journey.

We are moving toward a place of wholeness as we journey
From an alien land where we could not sing the Lord’s song,
As we arise to a more elevated position,
To stand on the Rock, the chief cornerstone, laid in Zion,
Where we shall behold the Lord in His resplendent beauty
And see more clearly revelation from the heart of God.

Great and glorious and wondrous is the City of God.
We celebrate the goodness of God along this journey.
The Lord, our God, has fashioned the perfection of beauty.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised with joyful song.
God displays His passion for Jerusalem and Zion:
He reigns over all the earth from this lofty position.

The grace of God flows freely from the highest position,
From the exalted place of the tabernacle of God,
Who has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion.
The sons of God shall be blessed and refreshed on their journey,
Teaching each other with psalm and hymn and spiritual song.
Ascend to worship at the transcendent throne of beauty.

The stone once rejected is now the stone of great beauty.
The chief cornerstone has become the foremost position.
The Rock of our Salvation fills our hearts with a new song.
Glory and honor and power and wisdom to our God,
Who strengthens and sustains us with power on our journey
To our destiny, perfected in a place called Zion.

The Lord, the Almighty God, is enthroned in great beauty.
As we journey, we maintain an accurate position,
For from Mount Zion flow countless blessings and endless song.

To conclude, Clint Brown offers a stirring medley Zion/Highest Praise:

Secure and at rest in the shadow of the Almighty

June 21, 2017

               Psalm 91:1 expresses the deepest yearning of our heart.

Since 2007 a World Economic Forum survey of about 750 experts has identified some of the mostly likely threats confronting the world. In the initial years of the survey, economic risks dominated the responses, but for the past two years, geopolitical, environmental and societal threats have risen to the top, particularly the threat of “large terrorist attacks.” The overriding the threat of massive terrorist attacks preoccupies the mind of countless individuals across the globe. Despite these threats, as believers we are comforted and strengthened by the words of the Psalmist who reassures us that we should have no fear when we abide in the presence of God Almighty. The Verse of the Day for June 21, 2014 reinforces this message:

Psalm 91:1 (AMP):

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

In light of the seemingly endless list of global crises that arise, the entire psalm is especially meaningful:

Psalm 91 (AMP)

Security of the One Who Trusts in the LORD.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].
2
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”
3
For He will save you from the trap of the fowler,
And from the deadly pestilence.
4
He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions,
And under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.
5
You will not be afraid of the terror of night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6
Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction (sudden death) that lays waste at noon.
7
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But danger will not come near you.
8
You will only [be a spectator as you] look on with your eyes
And witness the [divine] repayment of the wicked [as you watch safely from the shelter of the Most High].
9
Because you have made the LORD, [who is] my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
11
For He will command His angels in regard to you,
To protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service].
12
They will lift you up in their hands,
So that you do not [even] strike your foot against a stone.
13
You will tread upon the lion and cobra;
The young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14
“Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him;
I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].
15
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16
“With a long life I will satisfy him
And I will let him see My salvation.”

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind a teaching entitled “God is Looking for a Dwelling Place,” and it inspired the following which uses Psalm 91:1 as its introductory verse.

Our Dwelling Transformed

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

Psalm 91:1

Despite perilous times embroiled in confusion and strife,
We continue to learn that everything has its own price.
As we pursue the ultimate goal, we offer our lives
Of service presented as a living sacrifice.
With clean hands and a pure heart, we prepare our dwelling place.
To attract you, Lord, we provide a pleasing ambiance:
Our songs of love flow from the depths of our inner space,
A habitation designed and arrayed for your entrance.
Our desire is to please you in all we say and do,
As we are transformed by the renewing of our mind,
Striving to understand that You alone make all things new.
As the eyes of the Lord scan this green planet, may they find
Our dwelling transformed into a place of simple beauty,
As we offer all that we are and ever hope to be.

Esther Mui offers this moving Christian Scripture Praise Worship song based on Psalm 91:

Ephesians 5:25-26: Husbands love your wives

June 19, 2017

The Verse of the Day for June 19, 2017 is a passage from a section of Scripture often recited at weddings and other occasions centering on the role of husbands:

The Message Bible offers this exhortation:

Ephesians 5:25-26

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

Here is how the Amplified Bible (AMP) puts it:

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],

A couple of years 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. That particular 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 roles as husbands, fathers, co-workers, and other areas of responsibilities.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind this poem that captures the essence of one of the principal attributes of authentic manhood that husbands should demonstrate in their relationship with their wives:

Sacrificial Living: Assignment of Manhood

Forgetting things left behind, we press toward the mark.
The passion that now inflames our souls was once a spark.
This all-consuming fire, great light dispels the dark,
As we abide in God’s presence in a place beyond the Ark.

We continue to strive ever toward the highest good
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Like Christ, we endure the cross while despising the shame
And accept this high calling and embrace our new name.
By grace we stand in His presence without any blame;
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Always remaining aware that God is in control,
We are still running to serve as our life’s highest goal.
This zeal for God and His Word burns deep within our soul,
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

Being fully persuaded, we now know that we know
That God will fulfill His will and declare, “It is so!”
We set aside pride; where He leads us we will follow
And continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Looking to the future, we walk by faith, not by sight.
To do all the will of God still remains our delight,
To follow Christ’s command that we should be salt and light
With sacrificial Living: assignment of manhood.

To speak the Word of life in all that we do and say,
To follow in the steps of Christ all along the way.
Until the final victory, we must watch, fight and pray.
We continue to strive ever toward the highest good.

Triumphant from faith to faith and glory to glory,
We still seek God’s face in the place of our destiny.
Our lives unfold as scrolls read by those with eyes to see
Our sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

With a love so strong, yet ever so tender,
Nothing can dissuade us, nor can anything hinder.
We will hold fast to the faith and never surrender.
God’s Word hidden in our heart, we’ll always remember:

We continue to strive ever toward the highest good
With sacrificial living: assignment of manhood.

In order for us to love as Christ loved the Church, we must first receive that same love ourselves and then demonstrate the love of Christ to our wives. The song “My Lord, What Love is This” expresses the wonder of such “Amazing Love”:

Faith of our Fathers and our Legacies

June 18, 2017

Today is the third Sunday in June, June 18, Father’s Day 2017. This is day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recall the lyrics to one of the stalwart hymns of the Christian Church sung so many times as a child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate in light of recently sharing my personal testimony involving the importance of faith in life.

Faith of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

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.

This poem composed on Father’s Day fifteen years ago takes on even more significance this year with the birth of Kingston Edward Simkins, my first grandson, who was born August 11, 2016. This experience has heightened my awareness of “Legacies” and the importance leaving behind a legacy as a faithful man of God. This song by Nicole Nordeman expresses the deepest yearning of my soul: “Legacy”