Archive for October, 2017

Reformation Day 2017 and the New Apostolic Reformation

October 31, 2017

Originally written in Latin by Martin Luther in 1517, the Ninety-Five Theses, which Luther posted on the door of the Cathedral at Wittenburg, are regarded as a primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

The last day in October is special for many Christians who recognize and celebrate Reformation Day. Today marks the 500th Anniversary of one of the most significant events in Western Christian history when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, igniting the Protestant Reformation on October 31, 1517. Luther and other reformers who preceded him, such as John Wycliffe, John Hus, and William Tyndale, were not only concerned with what the Scriptures taught, but they also wanted the common people to have access to read the Bible in their own language. The conditions were perfect, as the truths declared by Luther set most of Europe ablaze with the biblical doctrines of grace.

From the Protestant Reformation emerged five phrases that summarized the movement. Using the word Sola, the Latin word for “alone,” these basic theological beliefs stood boldly in opposition to the prevailing teaching of the Roman Catholic Church at the time.

  • Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) teaches that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God, the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all and that the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself.

 

  • Sola fide (“by faith alone”) teaches that justification, the act of “being declared right by God”, and assumed to mean exactly “salvation”), is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, though in classical Protestant theology, saving faith is always evidenced by good works.

 

  • Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) teaches that salvation comes by God’s grace or “unmerited favor” only. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

  • Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) Teaches  that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other.

 

  • Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”) Teaches  that all glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

With Scripture alone as the sure foundation, the Reformers affirmed that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone because of Christ alone — for the glory of God alone. Today Christians around the world give thanks to God for Martin Luther’s bold proclamation which occurred 500 years ago and for the unfolding of God’s design for Church.

New Apostolic Reformation

In reviewing the history of the Christian Church, some historians recognize that the Protestant Reformation was actually the Second Apostolic Reformation, with the very first movement occurring in the 1st Century with the launching of the New Testament Church in the Book of Acts. The Protestant Reformation transitioned the Church from the “Dark Ages” to beginning the period of the restoration of the Church, described in Acts 3:21 as the “restitution or restoration of all things.” The underlying purpose of the second reformation was to restore and build the Church to another new level of maturity through the ministry of Christ Jesus.

A number of church historians indicate that the Third and Final Apostolic Reformation is underway. One of the largest, broadest and most powerful movements within Christianity today is The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).  Described by Gary Gilley as “a loose coalition of mostly Pentecostal and charismatic Christians, organizations and churches,” one of the focal points of the movement is the restoration of the five-fold gift ministries spoken of in Ephesians 4:11-13. Central to the NAR is the belief that beginning with the apostles and prophets, signs, wonders and miracles be will be evident throughout the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:20).

As we not only look back and rejoice, celebrating one of the most remarkable moves of God, we  also look to the future, recognizing God continues unfold his intent and purpose for the Church to rise triumphantly as the remarkable display of the multi-faceted wisdom and demonstration of the glorious power of God (Ephesians 3:10).  Christ will restore His Church to fulfill God’s original purpose and intent as the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. The beauty and splendor of the Church in its fullness is yet to be seen, as another mighty move of God is gaining momentum.

A new sound for a new movement:

Out of the Reformation, came forth a “new sound”, commonly called “the hymn.” We now recognize the distinctive nature of this musical form, as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” became known as “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” Luther composed the song after reading Psalm 46 which became the text for this most popular and best known hymn.

Likewise, we note a “new sound” representative of the times in which we live. One of the tenets coming from Luther is Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”).  Here is a contemporary worship rendition of “In Christ Alone.”

Advertisements

More grace

October 30, 2017

The Verse of the Day for November 30, 2017 focuses on the mind-b0ggling concept of God’s grace, His priceless gift revealed in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJ):

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Here is the passage as rendered in the Amplified Bible:

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

The Amplified Bible offers perhaps the most common definition of grace as “unmerited favor.” To receive grace is to receive a gift, something so valuable that it must be given away because no one is wealthy enough to purchase something of inestimable value and worth. A common acronym for grace is “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.”

This passage speaks of what Hodge calls “the gratuitous nature of salvation” which involves the opposing ideas of grace and works, of gift and debt; of undeserved favor and what is merited. One excludes the other. “If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work,” so says Romans 11:6.

Another related verse also comes to mind:

Corinthians 1: 4-5 (KJV):

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

In reflecting upon God’s grace, we note that even though God’s grace is described as “sufficient,” God gives even more grace to those who are humble, according to James 4:6 (Amplified Bible):

But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].”

The expression “more and more grace” is also used once in the epistles to Peter:

1 Peter 1:2 (New Living Translation)

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

2 Peter 1:2 (New Living Translation)

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

Not only is grace a difficult concept to grasp, but “more grace” is an even more mentally overwhelming idea to consider. The expression is the inspiration for this response:

More Grace

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:6

Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble.
To abide in your presence we must seek your face,
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

Our defenses suddenly weaken and crumble
When we seek to dwell with you in the secret place.
Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble.

As vessels now grounded, we no longer tumble
But are strengthened from within to quicken the pace.
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

In the fullness of your presence we still tremble,
As we strive to please you and know your warm embrace.
Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble.

May we not be wise in my own eyes but simple
To savor fullness of favor—grace upon grace.
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

We must glorify God in our earthly temple.
Like Paul, we fight the good fight and finish the race.
Shine your light on our path that we may not stumble,
For you declare you give more grace to the humble.

Don Moen offers a moving rendition of the classic hymn “He Giveth More Grace”:

We continue to marvel at God’s amazing grace; I shudder to think where we would be without this precious gift received by faith.

 

The word of the Lord remains forever

October 28, 2017

1 Peter 1--24-25

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for October 28, 2017 proclaims the enduring properties of the Word of God:

1 Peter 1:24-25 (New Living Translation):

As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But t.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

In James 1:11 we find a similar reference to fleeting nature of all mankind.

11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.J

The Verse of the Day is also an expression of Isaiah 40:6-8 which echoes the same message:

A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade more
but the word of our God stands forever.”

This particular passage is used as the epigraph or introduction to a poem written almost 45 years ago while living in northwest Ohio. I recall standing on the stump of a massive oak tree that had gradually died over a period of time, eventually having to be cut down. Although the tree had been around for centuries, its demise brought to mind how fleeting life is in the light of eternity.

The Old Oak Stump

 The grass withers, the flower fades,

 because the breath of the LORD blows upon it:

 surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

 but the word of our God stands for ever.

 Isaiah 40:7-8

 

I stand dead center on the old oak stump,

The ruin of a woodland monument,

My feet encircled by the woody rings

That number far beyond remembered years.

I read between the lines of annual

Reports a history of all you have seen:

You saw the Shawnee dance around his fires;

You knew the name of each German who came

To farm, to build, and to beget his sons

Under the shaded beauty of your boughs;

You spread your arms and offered shelter as

A dwelling place for bird and beast and boy.

Yet time’s swift stroke condemned the tenement

As progress served its eviction notice.

Men leveled the tree whose lease had expired,

Legend of a people, long since cut off,

Like meadow grass overgrowing the land

Where I stand and read man’s life history:

Fleeting as baby’s breath, man’s day sprinkles

Grasslands for a season, then blows away.

All life evaporates like dew, except

The Word of God, which ever shall inspire.

The Psalmist also proclaims the same truth:

Psalm 119:89

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:160 reiterates this message:

 The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.

Jesus Christ, himself, makes a similar declaration in Matthew 24:35 (KJV):

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Indeed, the Holy Bible, the Book of Life, the Word of God, the word of the Lord endures forever.

We close with Ken Whitson offering “The Word Will Stand Forever.”

 

God-breathed Word of Life

October 26, 2017

2 Timothy 3 16-17

The Verse(s) of the Day for October 26, 2017 is taken from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 in the New King James Version:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

These two verses indicate the source and purpose of Scripture which is more clearly expressed in the Amplified Bible:

16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Scripture Release offers this version of 2 Timothy 3:16 as a scripture memory song:

In thinking of the Scriptures as words given by the inspiration of God or as the” God-breathed word,” another related verse also comes to mind:

2 Peter 1:21

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost

In discussing “Our God-breathed Bible”, teacher John McArthur comments,

So, when you pick up your Bible, you’re not reading the word of men, you’re reading the Word of God that was written down by men who were moved along in the process by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Not  only is all scripture “God-breathed,” but its purpose is that the believer, the one who puts his trust in God, might be “complete and proficient,” fully equipped, as a cruise ship is thoroughly prepared and outfitted for its maiden and subsequent voyages.

The New Century Version offers this rendering of 2 Timothy 3:17:

Using the Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.

Upon further reflection, the God-breathed Word inspired this poetic expression:

The Word of God

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: 

but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed                                                 

with faith in them that heard it.

Hebrews 4:2

 

Quick, powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword,

Once spoken, the Word energizes to give birth

And clearly reveal the perfect will of the Lord,

Proclaimed and framed in the heavens and in the earth.

Searching the hearts of men—ungodly and righteous,

As the critic, the Word examines each intent.

This Word was preached unto them as well as unto us.

It critiques motives, whether to praise or lament,

Discerning those who bring God pleasure or cause grief.

God’s Word penetrates soul and spirit, probing the source,

Piercing both pure and evil hearts of unbelief

To act as Judge, arbiter of final recourse.

The spoken Word dispels fear and banishes strife,

Confirming, ever-living, God-breathed Word of life.

When God breathes, life comes forth. When God breathed into the nostrils of his creation in Genesis, mankind became a living soul. Likewise, the Word that God breathed is “alive and full of power” or living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12). In thinking about the power of the breath of God, the song “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” came to mind, rendered here by Hillsong United:

The Verse(s) of the Day are wonderful reminders of the source and the purpose of the Word of God.

 

Forgiveness Day is every day

October 25, 2017

 

Ephesians 4--32

Recognized as a time to forgive and to be forgiven, the last Saturday in October has been designated National Forgiveness Day by the Positive Peaceful Partners and Center of Unconditional Love. Various organizations in a several countries sponsor “Forgiveness Day,” but the name has been changed from “National” to “International” or “Global,” with dates that vary, with most occurring during the summer months from June to October. No matter which National Forgiveness Day individuals choose to celebrate, the universal ideals of pardoning and reconciliation are always worthy of recognition.

We know that forgiveness is a vitally important concept in Christianity, and the ideal is also seen in the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. In Christianity, however, forgiveness is not a one-time act on a one-way street, but the virtue is a two-way street. Not only are believers asked to forgive others, but they also ask others to forgive them for any offenses or violations, real or perceived.

This virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ spoke before his death on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Forgiveness begins with acknowledging some kind of error or offense has occurred. Once the mistake has been acknowledged, many times what follows is a verbal expression of the ten most difficult words to say in the English language: “I’m sorry—I made a mistake. Please forgive me.”

Those words bring to mind lyrics to an original song which begins by asking God to forgive me, followed by asking others to forgive me and to forgive others, and finally telling others that God forgives them:

Please Forgive Me

 

For each careless word and each thoughtless deed,

For each time I failed to follow your lead,

Each time I ignored you and went astray.

And let go your hand and walked my own way.

 

Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.  Please forgive me.

Please forgive me this time.  Please forgive me each time.

Please forgive me.

 

Though I may have offended unknowingly,

I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.

As God in Christ Jesus has forgiven me,

I release all past hurts and I set you free.

 

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

 

God first gave to us so that we might live.

We give to others when we learn to forgive.

Jesus, our example so perfect and true,

Said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

 

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you. I forgive you.

I forgive you this time. I forgive you each time.

I forgive you.

 

Do not resist Him; He wants you to yield.

Accept His forgiveness, and you will be healed.

Each sin committed, each iniquity

Is cast into the depths of the deepest sea.

 

God forgives you. God forgives you.

God forgives you. God forgives you.

God forgives you this time. God forgives you each time.

God forgives you.

 

When it comes to “forgiving and being forgiven,” we do not have to wait until the last Saturday in October or some other designated day. Each day of the year is Forgiveness Day.

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

We conclude with Matthew West, as he performs “Forgiveness” in its entirety:

Fear of the Lord: Where it begins

October 24, 2017

Proverbs 9--10

Proverbs 9:10 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for October 24, 2017, makes a bold statement regarding the origin of wisdom:

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

The word “beginning,” transports us to the first verse in the Bible:

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Proverbs 8:23 in the Amplified Bible brings to our attention that even before the beginning spoken of Genesis 1:2, the wisdom of God was on the scene:

From everlasting I was established and ordained, From the beginning, before the earth existed, [I, godly wisdom, existed].

If wisdom existed before the beginning, what is origin or the beginning of wisdom? Once again, the answer comes from Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom:

Proverbs 4:7 (Amplified Bible)

The beginning of wisdom is: Get [skillful and godly] wisdom [it is preeminent]! And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation].

The Psalmist adds to the discussion with these enlightening words:

The [reverent] fear of the Lord is the beginning (the prerequisite, the absolute essential, the alphabet) of wisdom; A good understanding and a teachable heart are possessed by all those who do the will of the Lord; His praise endures forever.

The message regarding the origin of wisdom expressed in the Verse of the Day is reinforced and augmented in Proverbs 1:7[Amplified Bible]:

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.

In order to comprehend more fully the essence of wisdom, we must go back to the beginning.

As we reflect upon wisdom, so brilliantly displayed in the Book of Proverbs and elsewhere, we find that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” poetically expressed in this manner:

The Beginning of Wisdom

The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.                                                                                                                                

Psalm 19:9 (AMP)

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

 

Proverbs 9:10 (AMP)

We begin and stand in absolute awe of You,

Thoroughly washed in the fountain of holiness.

The old has passed away—Behold, You make all things new:

Redeemed and justified by Christ, our righteousness.

As you search the earth, may we find grace in your sight.

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

We stand perfected offspring destined to walk upright,

Beloved ones, whose heart Your Word purifies.

We are filled with knowledge and wisdom from above

And bound by a covenant no one can sever,

For nothing can separate us from God’s love:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

We are renewed in strength and upheld by God’s Word,

As we pursue wisdom, growing in the fear of the Lord.

As we attempt to apprehend to at greater degree the magnitude of God and His infinite power and glory, we speak of the fear of the Lord. We stand in absolute awe, in wonder, and amazement. Recognizing both an awareness of terror and dread, we tremble in light of our coming up short and perpetually missing the mark. At the same time we are aware of the reverence, respect, and honor that God Almighty rightfully deserves, knowing that He loves us, and His unconditional love casts out all fear.

We rejoice with the Psalmist who declares:

Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:4).

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).

A perfect musical accompaniment to this entry is the song “The Perfect Wisdom of Our God.”

“We Choose the Fear of the Lord” by the Maranatha Music also relates to the beginning of wisdom.

1 Corinthians 13: A positive view

October 23, 2017

1 Corinthians 13--1-3

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, let us take a look at the “Quote of the Day” for October 23, 2017,

“If I don’t, then I won’t—if I do, then I will.”

Actually the line is the title of a freshly composed poem inspired by 1 Corinthians 13 where the Word of God answers in detail one of the questions of the ages: “What is love?” The chapter unfolds as an extended  definition of the concept of “love” or “agape”, the unique expression of the love of God used throughout the New Testament, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13. Actually, the extended definition of love takes the form of a definition by negation, meaning the concept is explained in terms of its opposites or what it is not.What something is not becomes what it is. “It is what it is,” one of the popular sayings of the day, brings to light that “charity” or “the love of God” or “agape” is the opposite of what the Scriptures declare it is not.

In reflecting on this celebrated chapter so often recited as a whole or in part on Valentine’s Day or at weddings or other special occasions, I thought I would read it from a different view point in light of principles that I recall from high school lessons in math and English.

In math if you have a negative number and you multiply it by a negative number, the result will be a positive number; for example, -4 x -3 = + 12. Likewise, in English, we have a “double negative” when you use of two negative words in the same sentence. The resulting sentence will convey the exact opposite of what you intended, as your negatives cancel each other out. “I do not want you to NOT love” is the same as saying “I want you to love.”  These concepts bring to mind the lyrics of the popular song from the 1950s reminding us to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

Here is a different view of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 in the Amplified Bible modified from a more positive viewpoint:

 1IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, [and do have] love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am [more than] only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.   I become an instrument of peace.

 And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but [do have love] (God’s love in me) I am [not] nothing (a useless nobody). I am really something (I am somebody).

3Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that [God may be glorified], [and have love] (God’s love in me), I gain [everything].

When we choose to walk in love or demonstrate the power of love, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Here is a poetic summary of our discussion:

If I don’t, then I won’t—If I do, then I will

A different take on I Corinthians 13

 

What does 1 Corinthians 13 really say? Talk to me;

Follow me and let me show you what I see.

The Word never returns void but prospers where it is sent

When read from another view, this is what I think it meant:

If I speak in tongues fluently but don’t have love,

Though I have evidence of the sign of the dove,

I am a clanging cymbal, nothing more than noise

But if I choose to love, I can now use my voice

To make new music as an instrument of peace,

To silence discord and cause all jangling to cease.

Although I flow prophetically with faith that is great,

But without love I am not even second rate.

But if I love, I am not least but the greatest.

Even if I give my life, the ultimate test,

Without God’s love what have I really gained—nothing,

But when I give, moved by love, I gain everything,

Kingdoms may fade, but the love of God will never cease.

For love will not diminish but only increase.

Whether to walk in love or not, we each must choose.

Strange as it may seem, when you give you cannot lose.

If God’s love is not the motive, you cannot win,

For the one who loves always wins, again and again.

Bernie Armstrong offers “1 Corinthians 13—The Wedding Song–Love Never Fails,” not just a lovely song for marriage but a truly beautiful song of life:

 

A fitly spoken right now word

October 22, 2017

Proverbs 15--23

The Verse of the Day for October 22, 2017 offers a word of wisdom taken from Proverbs 15:23 in the King James:

A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

New Living Translation puts it this way:

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

The Amplified Bible says this:

A man has joy in making an apt answer, and a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!

The expression “a word spoken at the right moment” brings to mind another related verse found in Proverbs 25:11 (AMP):

A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

KC Pillai, a converted Hindu, who dedicated his life to enlightening students of the Bible regarding Orientalisms or customs and practices from the Eastern sectors of the world, indicates that the reference to “apples of gold” is actually referring to a variety of succulent oranges grown in the Middle East. He comments on the often quoted verse from Proverbs:

“Verse 11 ‘Apples of gold’ had nothing to do with apples. These are a kind of orange we grow in Egypt, Syria, and India of which there is no English name. . . There is a special orange tree called Kitchilika tree, sweetest of all oranges. This fruit makes a refreshing drink which soothes and comforts. It is gold in color, and does not last long after it is ripe and can’t be exported outside of the country. Very tasty, we make sherbet of it, and it is easily smelled when ripe on the tree. They are very beautiful to look at and quench the thirst quicker than any other juice. It was called apples of gold because there was no other English word.

The verse should read: ‘A word appropriately spoken is like oranges placed in a tray of silver.’ So a word appropriately spoken to a weary or troubled person will refresh, soothe, comfort, revitalize, strengthen. The Word of God is the only “word fitly spoken.” It will lift a person out of trouble and despondency. Words appropriately spoken (to a troubled person) are like golden oranges in trays of silver. They are refreshing, strengthening, pleasing, uplifting.”

Believers today sometimes speak of words that another believer may speak to them or words that flow from the Scriptures as a “rhema word from the Lord spoken in due season.” The website ShareFaith.com speaks of the Greek word rhema which means an utterance, as a portion of scripture that “speaks” to a believer. “In most cases, a rhema word received while reading the Bible applies to a current situation or need. In essence, the rhema word is timely and extremely valuable in a Christian’s walk with God.” We can think of a rhema word as a “right now word in a right now moment.” Indeed, the Verse of the Day reminds us such a response is saying “the right thing at the right time.”

In the New Testament we find a corresponding passage related to exercising wisdom in how believers should conduct their lives:

Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT):

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Some may be more familiar with the King James Version:

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.

The passage begins with an exhortation to “Live wisely” or “Walk in wisdom.” Another most enlightening scripture regarding walking in wisdom occurs in Ephesians 5:15 (NLT):

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.

Correspondingly, here is the verse in the King James:

See then that ye 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.

These references in the New Testament can be viewed as illustrations of what it means to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” If you say that someone “talks the talk and walks the walk,” you are saying  the person acts in a way that agrees with the words that are being spoken. There should be a corresponding action to accompany the words that an individual speaks.

As believers the Scriptures also encourage us to “walk in wisdom” as well to speak words of wisdom when we talk.

Stephen Curtis Chapman offers words of wisdom in “Walk with the Wise.”

Reflections on Psalm 1

October 21, 2017

Psalm 40--8

The Verse of the Day for October 21, 2017 comes from Psalm 40:8 in the King James Version:

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

In reflecting on this verse, my mind immediately went to the First Psalm, the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory when I was in grade school, more than 60 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize Psalm 1, which I did and still recall by heart to this day.

Psalm 40:8 echoes the sentiments expressed in the opening verses of the First Psalm:

Psalm 1:1-2:

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.

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:

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 have been so blessed since you 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.

Now that I think about it, that experience occurred around the same time as another related experience when I asked if I could “join the church.” In order to become a member of the church, you had to be at least twelve years old.  Shortly after turning twelve, on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, I walked down the aisle at Carter Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church and shook the minister’s hand, but I recognized, even then, that sometime significant had happened that was more than just a formality.

In the Jewish tradition there is a rite of passage called the bar mitzvah for young men and the bat mitzvah, for young girls. The term literally means “son/daughter of the commandment.” This religious initiation ceremony is conducted for a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 and is regarded as ready to observe religious precepts and thus eligible to take part in public worship.

Accepting Jesus Christ as my savior and my expressing my desire to “join the Church,” happened about the same time which I feel may have represented a kind of rite of passage similar to the bar mitzvah. Certainly, I did not realize what may have occurred at the time, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts while reflecting on the First Psalm and its significance in my life.

Today’s post concludes with a musical version of this beautiful psalm by the Sons of Korah:

Wait on the Lord one more time

October 18, 2017

 

To explore the Verse of the Day for October 18, 2017, we go to the last verse of Psalm 27, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 27:14 (KJV):

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

The opening phrase “Wait on the Lord. . .” brings to mind a teaching series by Bishop Charles Mellette of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC entitled “Wait Training.” The objective of the series was to help believers become excellent “wait trainers” for God. He mentioned two vital components of “Wait Training”: love and service . . . by love, we serve one another. He added, “In learning how to serve and work for God, our strength will be renewed, and our lives will be changed while helping others to have an encounter with God.”

The expression “Wait Training” is a homonym for “Weight Training”: a system of conditioning involving lifting weights, especially for strength and endurance.” Those who excel as “Wait Trainers” will have their strength renewed and their lives will be changed. While we wait on God and work for Him, He will work for those who wait for him.

Many times after reciting Psalm 27 in its entirety and concluding with verse 14, I will go right into the closing verses of Isaiah 40, another passage related to the rewards of waiting:

Isaiah 40:28-31(NLT):

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.

During periods of transition, as believers advance from faith to faith, from glory to glory, and from victory to victory, we can sometimes grow weary to the point of utter exhaustion as we strive toward the next level of excellence in our lives. Here are words of encouragement inspired in part by the Verse of the Day:

Strengthened for the Journey

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,

and he shall strengthen your heart;

wait, I say, on the LORD!

Psalm 27:14

 

Let us pause to reflect upon the past,

Not with longing to relive bygone days.

Though some were fine, such moments cannot last

A lifetime. The budding rose never stays

The same but unfolds in lovelier ways.

Let us linger to absorb the essence

Of this moment’s triumph. Another phase

Of growth we note within our lifetime since

We first began the quest toward excellence.

Let us look ahead with vision and strive

Toward greater goals, for each day we commence

To grow toward our perfection, as we thrive.

May we see clearly where our paths have led

And be strengthened for the journey ahead.

Sherri Youngward concludes with a Scripture Song inspired by Psalm 27:13-14: